Alim McNeill has had some good moments over his first two NFL seasons, but he made some changes to his offseason routine as he eyes a third year breakthrough.
Through his first two NFL seasons, Detroit Lions defensive tackle Alim McNeill has had good moments with the ups and downs common to a young player. A high point was in Week 10 last season against the New York Giants, when he set a Pro Football Focus record for a player over 320 pounds with 10 quarterback pressures.
But consistency has been elusive for McNeill. He has played all 17 games in both of his seasons, with a notable uptick in snap share last year (69 percent; 37 percent as a rookie). So he realized he needed to change something heading into his third season. If he hoped to take a step to join the group of the best defensive tackles in the league.
Alim McNeill talks about Lions’ defensive additions, outlines changed offseason routine
McNeill was one of the Lions’ players who spoke to the media on Tuesday, Day 2 of voluntary workouts. He started off by channeling fan sentiment about the additions made to the defense in free agency.
"It’s almost like we’re playing Madden, we adding some pieces for sure. I’m excited to see what we can do.”"
Via Justin Rogers of The Detroit News, McNeill went on to talk about changes he made to his routine this offseason.
"I had a couple games where I liked a couple things that I did, or coach might have liked it, but I just want to be more consistent,”…. That’s what it was for me, just consistency. So I just took a more professional approach to this offseason, diet-wise and things I was doing.”"
McNeill played at 325 pounds last year, and he said he anticipates being in that range again this year. But he changed his diet, eliminating red meat and candy, drinking more water and focusing on portion control. He also said he has incorporated a weekly yoga session into his schedule to go with upping the volume of his stretching routine.
"As far as how I’m feeling and stuff, I feel so much better, a lot more lean, a lot more flexible, can bend a lot better now,” McNeill said. “I was talking to one of my guys about it and he was asking me how I felt too. I was like, ‘I feel lean, I feel faster, I just feel a lot better.'”"
McNeill will obviously always be a big man. It comes down to good and bad weight at the size he is, and he changed his offseason approach without being pushed to by anyone else.
"Yeah, it’s just me,” he said. “That’s just me wanting to be great. Got to do what I got to do to be the best I can for the team.”"
McNeill will be a key piece of the Lions’ defensive line again this year. A full-on breakout may be coming.