"I was pretty lost last year," Stanback said. "There was so much to learn — it was almost like I'd never played at all before. Everything was new."
The former college quarterback studied … and asked questions … and worked … and made mistakes … and learned from his mistakes. Eventually, he got on the field as a return specialist. At least he was playing.
Now entering his second season — and fully healthy — Stanback has an idea of what's expected of him. He readily admits he still has a lot to learn, but he feels better about about his ability to do what's asked of him.
After his first season, the first thing he was asked to do was lose weight.
"When I first came over here, I was heavy," he said. "It had been about eight months since I'd run — I was up to 222 pounds. They told me they wanted me at about 208, but losing it was going to be hard. It's not like I was fat — I had a body fat of (about) four percent."
Stanback put in the work in the offseason, shedding about half of the amount coaches asked him to drop, to get to his current weight of 214. He said the lost weight makes him feel lighter, and "more natural" when running.
But even with his sleeker physique, Stanback acknowledges that he's still a work in progress.
"I'm so much better than I was at this time last year," he said. "I'm running better routes. I'm catching the ball a lot better. But there's always something to work on. Last week, I struggled getting my release (from press coverage at the line of scrimmage), so that's what I've been working on. But you have to identify something and work at it by itself — if you go in with the mentality that you have to work on everything, it can overwhelm you."
Stanback said dropping the extra pounds has helped significantly, although he insisted he didn't drastically change his diet or training regimen.
"I don't know, exactly, but it's gone," he said of the extra weight. "When you get to this level, it's all you. Your job is to be (physically) where you need to be to perform."
With his conditioning more in line with what he and the coaches want, Stanback is now working with the coaches to improve his technique and understanding of the position.
"I'm my own hardest critic," he said. "The coaches will say I'm doing good, but I know I've still got a lot to do."
Stanback sidestepped questions Wednesday about his expectations for the upcoming season, other than to say he plans to be more of a contributor, and less of an idle bystander.
"I plan to make some sort of impact this year on the offense," he said. "I can't say I'm good at everything a receiver is supposed to do, but I'm getting better all the time."
Stanback Learning, Improving at WR
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