Mike Pearson has added 10 pounds, reduced his body-fat by two percent and increased his weightroom strength measurably in this offseason. But, maybe, his greatest gain is his year of experience.
"I don't care how big you are, if you're a good football player, that handles itself. Some people don't realize I'm 22. I'm still growing, still maturing," Pearson said following this morning's rainy workout at Alltel Stadium.
Pearson came to the Jaguars last season following his junior year at Florida. He was young and a bit soft-looking. He was an investment that needed an offseason in the weightroom, and that's where Pearson has spent his spring.
"Mike has given his heart and soul to the program and he has made tremendous strides in his overall body strength," Jaguars strength and conditioning coach Mark Asanovich said.
"This is a guy who gives a maximum effort every time he comes into the room. He's one of the harder workers on the team. He has 100 percent attendance in the offseason program," Asanovich added.
Pearson knows his career is largely dependent on his strength gain, but he's not entirely sold on the idea of a body re-make. He's a thin-hipped, thin-legged tackle who may never possess the kind of bulk and power usually associated with the position.
"If I could be 350 pounds and still move like I do at 305, I'd do it. But you've got to use what you're given," Pearson said.
What he was "given" is the ability to move. He has the feet to be a top-notch pass-blocker. Now, he has to prove his thin physique does not forbid him from playing with power.
"There's no way to know if a guy has improved as a run-blocker without putting the pads on," head coach Jack Del Rio said when asked if Pearson has shown improvement during spring drills.
He will be under the microscope during training camp. After all, he plays one of football's most important positions.
"As for now, I'm comfortable with him. He's our left tackle and until someone comes along and beats him out, he'll be our left tackle," Del Rio added.
Pearson is intent on holding onto his job.
"Go out there and hold down the starting job. That's my goal this year; to be the starter from day one," he said.
Last season, he was forced into the starting job at midseason. He played well in his debut against Mike McCrary, Peter Boulware and the Ravens. Two weeks later, he had a long night in the Meadowlands.
"I'd have some really good games, and in other games I wouldn't play as well. The more you do something, the more comfortable you get. I don't want to have those roller-coaster games," Pearson said.
What will it take to become a more consistent blocker? Is it all about strength, is it a matter of experience, or a little bit of each?