Derek Landri wants to change his stereotype from that of a change-of-pace defensive tackle to that of an every-downs player, and Landri has already taken steps in that direction.
"Since day one, I've practiced, I've trained to do everything to make a difference on the field. I'm about 295 (pounds) right now. I've put on a little more weight to be that every-downs player. I've never been a situation player," Landri said prior to an offseason conditioning session on Tuesday.
The Jaguars defensive tackle spent his first two seasons backing up Marcus Stroud, John Henderson and Rob Meier. Heading into his third pro season, the path may be clear for Landri to claim a starting job.
"Isn't that everybody's (goal)?" he asked. "I've never considered myself a change-of-pace or give-a-guy-a-break (player). Unless you're the same size as those guys (Henderson and Stroud), anybody is going to be a change of pace to them. A spot opened up and Rob (Meier) filled it last year. It's up to me to prove people wrong and become the player again that I had always been."
At Notre Dame, Landri started 37 consecutive games at nose guard. He was the classic undersized over-achiever who jumped out at scouts on film as a high-motor, no-quit competitor.
That part hasn't changed. Landri's motor is the same. He's serious about football and he's especially serious about winning a full-time job. It's his weight that's changed and the idea is that it will allow him to be more powerful at the point of attack.
Will it compromise his quickness?
"That's the question. I've played at 295 before and I've been effective. We'll find out as I begin to run. I don't think I've lost too much. My body fat is still at a good level," Landri said.
"He's in, maybe, the shape of his life and he's the heaviest he's ever been," Jaguars defensive line coach Ted Monachino said of Landri. "What he is is a top competitor, which is a phrase we use for guys who are going to play as hard as they can for as long as they can. You try to get guys in the game in situations in which they can use their dominant traits. That window has widened for Derek since he got here because he has gotten better at so many things."
Landri's natural trait is for quickness off the ball. In his first two years with the Jaguars, he has used his instincts and quickness to get into the gaps and disrupt plays. The hope is that his added weight and strength will allow him to hold his ground when quickness must be replaced by power. His ability to hold his ground will determine whether or not he will become a full-time player.
"I don't put labels on myself. I've always dreamed since I was a kid to be the best at anything I do. I set my goals high. I play to be the best. There's no pride in being second-best," Landri said.
The Jaguars' new conditioning program is similar to what Landri and teammate Maurice Jones-Drew did when they were high school teammates in California.
"Strengthening the little muscles in your body; we slowly transition into strengthening the bigger muscles but at a lighter weight and at a slower pace," Landri said. "We're going to use this type of training more on the field. It's about strengthening the body the right way, the athletic way."
Landri said he talks to Jones-Drew every day, no doubt giving his friend updates while Jones-Drew remains a conditioning program no-show.
"He's training. He's running, lifting and incorporating all this stuff we're doing so when he comes back there won't be any transitioning. He wants to be back with the team," Landri said.