Q&A: Michael Haynes

A noticeably leaner Michael Haynes participated in the Bears voluntary "Organized Team Activities" last week. After three months of dieting the defensive end has dropped more than 15 pounds from his playing weight a year ago.

Haynes now weighs in the low 270s after playing at 287 pounds as a rookie.

When was the last time you weighed in the 260s?
"I came to college at 245 as a true freshman. So last time I was 260s was sophomore year. In the Big Ten everybody wants big defensive linemen, everybody wants top be able to manhandle tight ends. In this defense our coaches are telling us to go, just run. If you take off quickly, you're going to run into something and once you hit something, you'll know what to do. It's true. That was the hardest thing for our defensive line coach to teach us. Instead of reading and reacting, just go."

Is it easier for u to cut weight than to bulk up?
"I've never had to cut weight. It's hard because you're changing your eating habits, meeting with a nutritionist, working with the strength people, cutting out the Popeyes. You can't eat Popeyes every other day like I used to do. Overall it's not bad. I like soy sauce and Tabasco. So I throw that on pretty much anything and it tastes good so that's one of the things I'm starting to cook with now."

Are you comfortable in the new system Lovie Smith and defensive coordinator Ron Rivera?
"I like all the positive changes I'm seeing here. Sure, there's a lot of new stuff that we have to learn, but that's all good. We started with three new plays, now we're up to four. I can see the coaches gradually working us into it. When the players see noticeable improvement on both sides of the ball, that tells you the coaches are on the right track."

Haynes also likes the faster pace demanded by the new defensive system.
"There's so much energy out on the field right now. It's easy for the players to get right into it. This all makes perfect sense to me. To get to the ball, we have to be going a lot quicker. We are working on agility as well as on endurance and strength. This is giving us a completely new look on both sides of the ball. I think that a lot of teams are going to be taken by surprise the first time they meet the Bears this season."

In actuality are you reliving his rookie year all over again?
"No, not at all. I know so much more this year I can't even make a comparison to how I felt last year. It's much more than knowing the game or understanding the ins and outs of professional football. It's a sense of confidence that I've acquired. I know what I am capable of. I know how to practice. I am much more in tune with my body. I know how far to push without risking injury. That's probably the most important thing I learned all last season."


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