ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â€ÂSaints weak-side linebacker Colby Bockwoldt isn't letting a little NFL success go to his head.
Then again, Bockwoldt knows nothing is given to you in the pro ranks ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â€Â especially an unheralded seventh-round draft choice. So Bockwoldt, an eager youngster from Brigham Young, made sure to build on what he accomplished as a rookie in 2004.
The long hours of conditioning, weightlifting, meetings and practice sessions that are the lifeblood of NFL players every spring were especially helpful for Bockwoldt, who impressed everyone when he started the final seven games of the 2004 season.
Bockwoldt made the Saints' roster as a special teams player, impressed coaches and wound up starting because of his vast improvement, injuries and overall sub-par play by other linebackers. He was part of a defensive turnaround that saw the Saints win their final four games by allowing just 15.3 points a game after allowing 28.7 per game in the first 12 outings.
"He's doing great," coach Jim Haslett said of Bockwoldt's work before the team concluded its off-season work. "He's a lot stronger than he was before he came in last year. It's not even close."
Strength and conditioning coach Rock Gullickson said Bockwoldt went from 232 pounds to 248 during the eight weeks of conditioning that preceded the all-important coaching sessions in late May and early June.
"Two pounds a week is about the upper limit as far as what you think a guy can put on in muscle weight," Gullickson said, "but his body fat went from 11 to 12 (percent). He didn't really change all that much, so most of it was good weight."
Bockwoldt, whose 4.5 speed in the 40 caught coaches' eyes in a rookie minicamp last spring, finished the season with 46 tackles, one sack and a fumble recovery which he returned 6 yards for a touchdown at Oakland.
"I can't sacrifice speed for strength," Bockwoldt said. "Speed is my thing. My focus this off-season was to cut fat, stay quick and add some muscle. All my (weight) lifts are up. I feel great. I'm just trying to play fast."
Going into training camp, Bockwoldt will be the incumbent starter at weak-side linebacker. Veteran Derrick Rodgers was the starter last year before a season-ending back injury and he was held out of most off-season drills. That gave Bockwoldt a big leg up on keeping the job.
"I've really found that this second year things are coming much slower," said Bockwoldt, whose first season, like most rookies, was a blur. "I've played. I've had some starts. The defense is starting to make sense.
"I know where guys are playing, so this is a year for me to focus on the specialties and the little tweaks that are going to make me a better linebacker, which will help make us a better team."
RE: Inside Slant
Man, how do you not like this guy?
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