It's a common offseason story: a player loses or gains weight and is confident that it will lead to improved play. Sometimes it does, while other times it doesn't - but the Colts are hoping it's the first of those when it comes to inside linebacker Nate Irving.
According to Colts.com's Kevin Bowen, Irving is "down nearly 30 pounds" from where he was playing at last year, which was around 260 pounds. The reasoning, according to Irving, was that he was still recovering from a torn ACL.
"Last year dealing with the [ACL], I never understood how people did it,” Irving told Bowen. “My weight ballooned up and that has affects on your knee and your muscles around it.”
It does make sense that a player who spent so much time rehabbing an injury would not be paying as much attention to staying in game shape and maintaining weight, so the hope is that with his knee now healthy and ready to go, plus with the weight loss, he'll be a much more productive and effective player for the Colts in 2016.
They will need him to be, as he's the presumptive favorite to win the starting inside linebacker job alongside D'Qwell Jackson that was vacated by Jerrell Freeman's departure in free agency. With Jackson missing some time in OTAs recently, Irving and Sio Moore have been receiving the "lion's share" of the reps, according to head coach Chuck Pagano. It will likely come down to those two for the starting spot, and Irving would seem to have a good shot.
He was productive during his time with the Broncos, but last year was hampered by the knee injury. Now that he's healthy, he's taking advantage of the offseason reps (last year was all mental in the offseason for him as he rehabbed). “I’m blessed to be in the position I’m in because this time last year I was limping around the training room still trying to get my knee right,” Irving told Bowen. “[My knee] feels way better. I’m not as sluggish. I feel great.”
Hopefully, the increased workload this offseason, his knee injury healed, and his weight down will all lead to improved play for Nate Irving in 2016.