With defensive leaders like Terrell Suggs, C.J. Mosley and Eric Weddle gone from Baltimore, the Ravens needed other veterans to step up as leaders this season.
Coming to minicamp overweight and out of shape was a bad start for defensive tackle Michael Pierce. After passing the team’s conditioning test on Wednesday, however, a noticeably slimmer Pierce took to the field on Thursday for the first practice of training camp.
“I told my teammates, I really apologize for letting them down in minicamp,” Pierce said. “That's never been indicative of my character to come in out of shape and I told them it won't happen again.”
Pierce did not shy away from questions over his conditioning and took ownership of the fact that he did not take care of himself the way he should have during the offseason.
“I missed OTAs, delayed my dieting, I wasn't diligent in my diet and wasn't diligent in my conditioning, focusing more on lifting,” Pierce said. “That's a mistake I learned from. It really, really won't happen again and that's going to be my mission to prove to the guys I'm here to work.”
Pierce said he lost “a little over 20” pounds after minicamp and hopes to lose more weight before the start of the season.
For anyone who doubts Pierce’s motivation or desire to prove himself to his teammates, consider this: After minicamp Pierce went on a trip to Italy ... and still lost weight.
Italy is the land of carbs, with pasta and bread essentially being the main staples of Italian cooking. It is not the ideal vacation destination for a player who needs to shed pounds.
Pierce, however, got to work before the trip and made sure he was approved to go.
“First and foremost, I paid for the trip prior,” Pierce said. “I booked the trip in December, not knowing, obviously, that I would have these issues. I had done bulk (sic) of the work before. So while the team was out in minicamp, I was in there with [head strength and conditioning coach Steve Saunders] twice a day. I had lost a considerable amount of weight before I went.”
Pierce said he not only kept the weight off, but he actually lost more on the trip.
How did he manage that?
“I kept a scale, I traveled with the scale,” Pierce said. “That was a thing.”
Pierce’s dedication to getting slimming down and coming into camp in shape was not lost on the team.
“He going to do what he gotta do to get on this field and that's what he did and that's what he showed his teammates, that whatever he got to do to commit to this team, he's going to get the job done,” Patrick Onwuasor said.
“Very impressed with the progress Michael Pierce has made,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “He's lost a lot of weight, it's all been good loss, weight loss. He's maintained his muscle mass, he's lost the bad weight, the fat weight. He still has a ways to go, but he passed the conditioning test and I think that's quite an accomplishment, especially for a big man like that. Impressed with what he's done and, and very confident he'll get the job done.”
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