Ravens middle linebackers Ray Lewis and Jameel McClain both slimmed down this offseason.
While they did it in the name of being faster in coverage, analysts expressed concern about whether they would still be able to stuff the run at a lighter weight.
According to Linebackers Coach Ted Monachino, the*body alterations haven't *changed the linebackers' physicality.
"I know one thing: I don't see their style of play changing at all," he said after Tuesday's practice.
"I don't see either one of them hanging on their shorts. I know they are in tremendous shape, because they are great pros. They love ball. They love to compete, and they're going to compete from snap to whistle from the bottom of their shoes to the top of their headgear every snap."
McClain came hard up the middle in Monday's practice and put a big hit on rookie running back Bernard Pierce on the goal line. Lewis is just as physical as usual.
The veteran linebacker also notched an interception in the back of the end zone in Tuesday's practice. He later blitzed up the middle for a sack on quarterback Joe Flacco.
So does Monachino feel dropping the weight was a necessary change?
"I think if it makes the player feel better," he said. "A lot of us will say it's not really important what you weigh, it's important how you play, and I haven't seen any drop-off in their play. So, I'm not really concerned about their weight."
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees didn't push Lewis or McClain to lose the weight. They came to him and told him about their idea, and he was on board.
"I thought it was a good idea," Pees said.
"I think it has to do with your schedule and who you're playing. If you're playing a black and blue division that's going to sit there and run, pound the ball, and that's four of your games during the year – which ours obviously is – then that's a little different. But teams are trying to spread out now quite a bit, and certainly, the more speed you can throw on the field, the better."
There are a number of Ravens players who have also been trying to get trimmer in the waistline. Tackle Bryant McKinnie is one of the most high-profile cases. Cornerback Jimmy Smith shed 15 pounds in an effort to get faster.
"The great thing about this organization is they allow you to better yourself as a player," McClain said.
"We all understand that we're all professionals and we're going to do what's best for us, but at the end of the day, when you're thinking about yourself, it's always about the team. So, if I get better as a player individually, I help the team out consequently."