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Darian Stewart Focused On Staying Healthy


In Head Coach John Harbaugh's eyes, what has held newly signed safety Darian Stewart back from "taking off" as a player has been his health.

Stewart has yet to play a 16-game season during his four NFL years, and has missed seven games over the past two seasons.

So staying healthy is a major priority for Stewart this season, and it begins with coming into workouts in good shape.

"I'm just making sure I eat right," Stewart said. "And with my hamstring, I'm doing whatever I can to stay out there on the field – just doing extra treatment and things for my legs and making sure I'm in the best shape come offseason workouts."

Stewart went back to school before the 2012 season, which St. Louis Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher believes led to conditioning, and thus injury, problems. Stewart went from starting 13 games in 2011 to none in 2012, and missed four games entirely.

Stewart's soft-tissue and hamstring problems popped up again in 2013. He missed the first three games of the year, which delayed his growth at the spot. He returned to start six of the next seven contests.

"He's going to make sure he gets in probably the best shape of his life and stay healthy," Harbaugh said.

Besides his health, the lingering question about Stewart is whether he's ready to play free safety, and possibly start. He has previously played strong safety, although he has had deep coverage duties akin to those typically thought of being handled by a free safety.

Harbaugh and Fisher both said that Stewart can play either strong or free safety. And the player agrees.

"I feel like I'm interchangeable," Stewart said. "Whatever they want me to do, whether it's special teams, defense – anything position-wise on defense – I feel like I'm able to excel in it. I feel like they'll get an overall safety."

One thing that will help Stewart make the transition is that he will reunite with Assistant Head Coach and Secondary Coach Steve Spagnuolo. Spagnuolo was Stewart's head coach in St. Louis for two years (2010, 2011).

"Coach 'Spags' is a great guy," Stewart said. "He brought me in, and he put a lot of faith in me. I can't wait to be reunited with him. I know we work well together, and I know we'll get a lot of stuff accomplished."

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