The NFL regular season is a little more than a month away, but it could be argued what happens during the offseason helps develop a player.
Defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, who enters his second season with the New Orleans Saints, comes off a rookie campaign where he appeared in nine games and totaled 20 tackles (15 solo), four sacks and a forced fumble on 336 defensive snaps.
The 6-foot-2, 305-pound Rankins, whom the Saints selected in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft, produced impressive numbers after missing the first seven games while recovering from a fractured fibula suffered in training camp.
Now 100 percent healthy, Rankins enjoyed a different approach to training during the offseason months when compared to his rookie year, and it could set him up well in 2017.
“Coming from college, the Senior Bowl, (NFL Scouting) Combine, team visits, different things like that, then as soon as you get drafted, within a week you’re down here (for) rookie minicamp,” Rankins said. “I think the biggest thing this offseason was rest, allowed my body, my legs to get back under me, and then start fresh. I feel good, so far.”
Still, it wasn’t all rest and relaxation during the offseason for Rankins, as he and fellow defensive lineman David Onyemata worked out together at EXOS in Los Angeles.
And without having to train for draft-specific drills, Rankins focused on self-improvement on the football field, including gaining flexibility by incorporating yoga in his training.
“I think that goes hand-in-hand with being able to stay healthy,” said Rankins, who adds he started doing yoga when he went through…
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