For many NFL players, getting in shape during the offseason means shedding a little excess weight.
But Cleveland Browns linebacker, Jacob Phillips, is proud to weigh more than he ever has.
After a pair of injury-riddled seasons, Phillips felt adding a few pounds might make him stronger.
I locked in with tunnel vision just perfecting the craft pic.twitter.com/OtetgcIN83
— JP (@jacobphillips_1) July 13, 2022
And recent social media posts indicate he succeeded in adding muscle mass, with nary an ounce of fat to spare.
Phillips recently spoke to the Akron Beacon-Journal’s Chris Easterling about, among other things, his weight gain.
“I’m feeling good,” said Phillips. “This is the heaviest I’ve been since I’ve been in the league, the strongest I’ve been. …At the beginning of OTAs, I ran my fastest miles per hour. I feel good right now. I feel ready to go.”
This could be a make-or-break season for the Browns’ 2020 3rd-round draft pick.
And he might need every pound gained to claim the role he was drafted for.
Stuck In The Middle Again
Andrew Berry re-signed middle linebacker, Anthony Walker, for another season after a solid contribution last year.
Walker racked up well over 100 tackles and earned an impressive pass coverage grade from PFF in just 13 games.
But Joe Woods put Jacob Phillips in the middle during the bulk of the Browns’ OTAs.
Meanwhile, Walker bounced to an outside position opposite Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah.
Another #Browns player I’m excited to see take the next step:
3rd year vet LB Jacob Phillips
When healthy he is a sure-tackler with speed to chase down runs out to the perimeter
Missed tackle %
— Mac🦬 (@tha_buffalo) June 15, 2022
That doesn’t mean Walker will cede the MIKE spot all season.
And it is just as important that Phillips makes it through 2022 relatively healthy as it is that he plays effectively.
Berry might have the 23-year-old Phillips penciled into the roster spot for now.
But Walker is just 26 himself and could easily earn a multi-year deal if Phillips proves to be a liability.
Will The Work Pay Off For Phillips?
Jacob Phillips played in only 9 games as a rookie and 4 more last season.
In 12 of those 14 games, he didn’t see the field for even half the defensive snaps.
But each season, he showed what he can do in the final game of the season.
In 2020, Phillips racked up 10 tackles (8 solo), with a tackle for a loss and a quarterback hit, playing all 67 snaps.
Jacob Phillips led us with 9 tackles on a busy day for the 2nd-year LB
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) January 10, 2022
He followed that up with 9 tackles (7 solo), 2 TFL, 1 QBH, and threw in 2 defended passes in 85% of the plays.
All Phillips needs to do is put 16-17 games like that on his 2022 stat sheet.
Maybe a few extra pounds of muscle helps keep his body in one piece over a full season.
And Phillip’s social media photos show he is putting in the work he needs to earn his spot in the lineup.