Haloti Ngata is only consumed with a few specific types of increases these days, as he's intent on generating more victories and tackles and boosting his bank account by obtaining a lucrative contract extension.
To accomplish those goals, Ngata isn't looking to raise his weight anymore after playing his first five seasons at a bulkier 6-foot-4, 350 pounds. Now, his weight is running a reverse.
Through an improved diet and a rigorous workout regimen, the franchise player hopes he's transformed his body into a faster-moving wrecking ball.
"I just lost the weight basically to see how I felt during the season and see how it would affect me toward the end of the season," Ngata said. "I felt like last year I was kind of getting a little worn down just having so much weight on, and I just wanted to see how it felt this year. It feels good."
During the NFL lockout, Ngata was able to remain in Utah rather than traveling to Baltimore for the usual minicamps and organized team activities.
The result: a healthier diet of home cooking rather than eating fast food on the run.
"When I come back out here, I'm eating out more instead of staying home because I am not going to go out and grocery shop and cook for myself," Ngata said. "Out there, I just had a steady diet and a steady workout routine."
Ngata still appears to be a dominant force at the line of scrimmage.
Big, strong and fast, the former rugby player and Oregon consensus All-American is still collapsing the pocket at his lighter weight.
"I don't think he is going to lose any power at all," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "To me, he is going to be just as powerful, just as explosive, and then maybe a little bit quicker. You can tell he is in great shape, so he should be able to play harder and longer, and that means more plays."
The Ravens are about to launch contract talks with Ngata as soon as this week, according to general manager Ozzie Newsome. The goal is to lock up Ngata for several years to come and create more salary cap space by shedding his one-year, $12.476 million franchise tender.
The contract may wind up rivaling or exceeding Detroit Lions Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh's $68 million deal that includes $40 million in guaranteed money.
"As long as I can get that long-term contract, that's what I'm shooting for," Ngata said. "Right now, I'm just basically trying to be out here and help the guys out."
Drafted with the 12th overall selection of the 2006 NFL draft, Ngata already has recorded 328 tackles, a dozen sacks and three interceptions.
Since Ngata's arrival in Baltimore, the Ravens have allowed only 31 rushing touchdowns for the fewest in the NFL during that span and the second fewest rushing first downs with 347.
Now, the Ravens want to continue that run of success with Ngata for many years to come.
"We will keep our fingers crossed that he is doing it as a Raven for many years to come," Harbaugh said. "He is just a tremendous leader. He has a great demeanor. He works really hard. I think he loves football. He doesn't mind being out here working, so the sky is the limit."
A year ago, the Ravens ranked fifth against the run. They struggled to apply much pressure to the quarterback, though.
They finished with a franchise-worst 27 sacks, ranking 29th in the league in that category.
Upgrading that figure could happen if Ngata is quicker and able to penetrate the backfield.
"I think I'm OK with the run, but just being able to help out more with rushing the passer, especially because we have Terrell Suggs, who everybody is always keying on," Ngata said. "So, if I can help him out as much as I can by rushing the passer better and making that part of my game better, I think we will get a lot more sacks."
Still, there's always the fear of the unknown to account for.
That raises two questions: Why did Ngata change what was working? Can he gain the weight back if he's getting shoved around by blockers?
"I feel good, and now I'm just trying to see how it feels throughout camp and the beginning of the season and see what I want to do with the weight," Ngata said. "I can gain weight so easy. Keeping the weight down or losing the weight is a lot tougher for me. If I do gain weight, hopefully I can gain it in a healthier way instead of getting chubby."
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