Pouha's loss big gain for defensive line

Pouha's loss big gain for defensive line

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By Dennis Waszak Jr. The Associated Press

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. - Sione Pouha gave a quizzical look and then proudly pointed to his slimmer upper body after he was asked if he lost body fat in the offseason.

''Can't you guys tell?'' the New York Jets defensive tackle said Monday with a big laugh.

Everyone sure can. Pouha is noticeably thinner this summer after shedding 25 pounds from his 325-pound frame.

''Some of the fans came up with old media guides and stuff and I kind of saw the gut I had as a rookie,'' he said.

The former University of Utah player is reshaped and refocused - and ready to make a big impact on the Jets' defensive line.

''You want big bodies to play in there, and he's a stout guy, but there's different ranges of how big a body you want in there,'' Jets coach Eric Mangini said. ''I think that at this weight, he still has the same sort of power and strength, but his wind is better, his conditioning's better and I think his first-step quickness is better. In talking to him as he went through the process, he feels comfortable at this weight.''

Until last Friday's preseason game against Atlanta, it had been a while since anyone saw Pouha play. Coming off a quiet rookie year in 2005, Pouha injured his right knee early in training camp and was placed on injured reserve - ending his season before it started.

But he made certain his coaches and teammates wouldn't forget him.

''I made a choice to go to every single meeting that I would be involved in if I was not injured,'' Pouha said. ''So I went to all the game plan meetings and Coach even asked me questions about situations that might happen, just to ensure that I was taking the mental reps that I needed to take.''

Pouha also maintained his diet from when he was rehabilitating, and the results are clear. Mangini has praised Pouha for how he's looked during training camp.

''They just want me to be in great shape, be available, and be on the field,'' Pouha said.

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