IRVING - NOVEMBER 22: Marcus Spears #96 of the Dallas Cowboys looks on during the NFL game against the New York Jets at Texas Stadium on November 22, 2007 in Irving, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Still seven pounds north of 300, Marcus Spears is looking slim in camp.
Entering his fifth year in the league, the defensive end dedicated himself to a healthier lifestyle this offseason, and surpassed his coaches' target weight of 309, subtracting 21 pounds from his gargantuan frame; he hopes the change will make him lighter on his feet and alleviate the lasting effects of two right knee surgeries.
"I learned that you have to put down the fried foods and put down the potatos and stuff like that late night," Spears said. "You just got to learn to put enough calories in and burn more. So that's the key."
The Louisiana native put down his ever-loved fried catfish this summer, in lieu of a healthier seafood dish.
"I actually fell in love with grilled shrimp salads," Spears said. "I kill 'em. I will kill them with vinaigrette dressing and tomatoes--I throw all the toppings on there."
The shift in lifestyle may result in Spears being a more effective pass rusher, which would be a welcome change; he has only 5.5 sacks in his career, and has been most effective in stopping the run on the strong side and tying up blockers at the line of scrimmage.
He's done that deftly, though, thus far in the 3-4, and had no small part in freeing up Jay Ratliff and, indeed, allowing the nose tackle to earn his first Pro Bowl appearance last season.
The increased athleticism may also be reflected soon in Spears' pocketbook. The LSU product will be a free agent after the 2009 season.