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Rams’ Bell hires chef in bid for 300-pound club
Rams’ Bell hires chef in bid for 300-pound club
By R.B. FALLSTROM, AP Sports Writer May 9, 12:06 am EDT
ST. LOUIS (AP)—The St. Louis Rams are upgrading their offensive line and guard Jacob Bell(notes) has hired a personal chef to help him do his part.
Unlike most people, he isn’t looking for a diet that will help him shed a few extra pounds. Bell has a problem many men his age would envy: He needs to put weight on. Ideally, he’d like to get above 300 pounds.
Cresting that benchmark isn’t a big deal for most NFL lineman. The St. Louis Rams’ extended roster, for instance, has 20 members in the club.
But Bell melted down to a relatively scrawny 280 pounds during last season, when he was part of a unit that couldn’t protect quarterback Marc Bulger(notes), surrendering 45 sacks.
Given a mandate to bulk up during the offseason, Bell hit on the idea of hiring a chef, not to mention loading up on double portions, four times a day not counting a couple of power shakes.
“When you’re a young bachelor, sometimes it’s hard to stay on top of your diet and stuff like that,” Bell said. “But I have a full-time guy now and I think that’s helped.”
He weighed in at just under 300 pounds for the team’s second minicamp, much closer to his program weight of 297 last season. If he can keep it on, the Rams will consider it a no-cost upgrade.
“That was all him,” new coach Steve Spagnuolo said. “I give him credit for that.”
The Rams have already spent plenty this offseason on an offensive line overhaul that features free agent center Jason Brown(notes), who got a four-year, $38 million contract, and No. 2 overall draft pick Jason Smith(notes), who’ll likely get more.
Bell didn’t look in the want ads for a chef, opting instead to keep things in the family. The brainstorm came from a discussion with Tom McCann, a cousin preparing to enroll in culinary school.
“I said ‘Hey man, work for me. Get your feet wet. Start dabbling,”’ Bell said. “He likes to read about nutrition, he wants to major in nutrition.”
McCann gets up early so that when the lineman climbs out of bed there is a full breakfast waiting. Bell loves barbecue and since he’s the boss, he anticipates it will be a regular fixture on the menus for the other three meals.
But he stresses that he won’t be filling to overflow on empty calories. That, he could do himself.
“It’s all healthy stuff,” Bell said. “It kind of regulates my intake of calories and carbs and proteins.”
The Rams considered moving Bell to tackle in the offseason, if he could add the pounds. He played some at right tackle for a day in the first minicamp, but the plan was quickly scrapped after St. Louis took Baylor’s Smith with the second pick of the draft.
“I don’t know if it didn’t work out or if they didn’t like what they saw,” Bell said. “I think they liked this kid Jason Smith all along.”
Bell, a fourth-round pick of the Titans in 2004, is entering the second year of a six-year free-agent contract and feeling like a veteran except with a twist. When he was younger, Bell said it was no problem carrying 325 pounds on his 6-foot-4 frame.
Now that he’s all of 28, he claims to be the opposite of most people.
“I was a big guy,” Bell said. “As I got older I kept getting more and more lean, and couldn’t keep the weight on. I think this is something I needed to do.”
Funny, none of his linemates seem to have that problem. The Rams expect pushing the pile will be easier next season with Bell joining Brown (320), tackle Alex Barron(notes) (315), guard Richie Incognito(notes) (330) and Smith (310)—large and proud of it.
“I am a little girthy at times,” Brown said with a smile. “I have a great family that loves to cook and knows how to cook very well.”
Second-year player John Greco(notes) (325) could push Incognito for a starting job.
Together, the talent beneath those XXXL jerseys could transform one of the Rams’ biggest weaknesses into their biggest strength, while giving Bulger a break from the beatings he’s absorbed in recent seasons.
It’s all part of the Rams’ plan under general manager Billy Devaney and Spagnuolo to get bigger and stronger than the teams that went 5-27 the previous two seasons.
The Rams released offensive tackle Orlando Pace(notes) and wide receiver Torry Holt(notes), each a seven-time Pro Bowler, leaving defensive end Leonard Little(notes) as the lone holdover from two Super Bowls in 1999 and 2001.
“It’s actually pretty crazy,” Bell said. “With Orlando and Torry going, I think the guys are excited to kind of create a new identity for themselves.”
One that includes a larger profile for himself. Bell plans on packing on some bonus poundage as insurance before training camp, which will be held in often-sweltering St. Louis, realizing he can’t afford to melt again.
“I feel like no matter what,” he said, “the bigger you are, the stronger you are. That’s why I think you need to get a little buffer.”
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