Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Daniel McCullers is a very large man but the team’s former sixth-round draft pick hopes to get a little smaller weight-wise during the offseason in order to become a better player.
“This offseason I am going to train hard, hopefully I am going to drop some weight,” McCullers said recently, according to Teresa Varley of steelers.com. “I feel like I can get down and be more productive and effective. I would like to drop 15-20 pounds. I feel like if I can be around 335-340 pounds, I can have the movement that I want. I feel like I can be a much better player, if I get that quickness and explosion. If I have that quickness and explosion and work on my technique, I can be a great player. You just have to do it. I want to do it. I want to be a great player.”
McCullers, who played a career-high 182 defensive snaps last season for the Steelers, also told Varley that he hopes improve his fundamentals, techniques, and mental understanding of game during the offseasion as well.
“That is a big part of the league. You have to make sure you are mentally right for that every game. I want to work on that. It can be tough at times, the mental part,” McCullers said.
After the Steelers lost starting defensive end Cameron Heyward to a pectoral injury during the first half of the regular season, McCullers wound up needing to play more snaps and the Tennessee product ended the regular season with 17 total tackles and that included his first full sack of his career.
“It helped me grow, McCullers said of Heyward going down injured last season. “With him being hurt, it put me out there in the fire. It made me have to step up and be productive and help the team.”
McCullers certainly has a reason to be more motivated this offseason than he may have been in previous years as he’s about to enter the final year of his rookie contract in a few more weeks. If that’s not enough, the fact that the Steelers need him to become more than just a base 3-4 nose tackle is yet another reason why he should lose a few pounds in addition to improving his overall play.
Former Steelers’ great Joe Greene is probably still looking for something other than weight loss from McCullers.
“What I would like to see, I would like to see No. 62 (Dan McCullers) get his tail over the center and beat the crap out of the center, the guard on the right side and the guard on the left side,” Green said of the Steelers defensive tackle a few weeks into the 2015 regular season. “Then we will be better. Show some energy by what you are trying to do. You’ve got the size, you have the ability, you just have to get out there and do it. If he starts doing what he is capable of doing then the rest of that defense will fall in line.”
While McCullers appears to be somewhat of a lock to make the Steelers 2017 final 53-man roster as we sit here in late February, that outlook could change quickly if the team decides to select another big defensive lineman in this year’s draft or address the position during free agency. Even if the Steelers ignore the defensive line position during the draft and free agency, you can bet they’ll sign a few undrafted free agents to push McCullers and others during training camp.
It sounds like Big Dan is in store for some big changes during the upcoming months and it will certainly be interesting to see what he looks like this year in Latrobe if he accomplishes his goal of losing 15-20 pounds.