Eating clean and a move inside has served Browns linebacker Joe Schobert well.
The second-year player and former Wisconsin standout has emerged as the team's starting middle linebacker after an impressive display in a win over the Giants.
Schobert, a former fourth-round draft pick who contributed mostly on special teams as a rookie, was seemingly all over the field Monday night, recording six tackles (one for loss), a sack and pass breakup in just 23 snaps. It all validated what's been a productive offseason for Schobert, who on Wednesday outlined the benefits of a healthier diet and increasing sense of confidence within new coordinator Gregg Williams' versatile defense.
"I definitely feel more comfortable," he said. "I mean, I felt comfortable last year, but just the scheme, the attitude that the coaches bring I think has fit in not with just me, but the whole defense and the whole team competing against the offense every day has been getting everybody amped up."
Ater spending last year at outside linebacker, Schobert said he was motivated to get into "my best shape possible" upon switching positions. It just so happened, he said, that he lost roughly 15 pounds in the process. "I feel a lot better moving around," he added. "I mean, 15-less pounds is a lot less stress on your joints being able to open up and run better and cover some space."
Over the past few months, this trimmed-down version of Schobert has caught the attention of head coach Hue Jackson and the coaching staff.
"I thought Joe is really improved and has done a great job. He has had a tremendous training camp and first two preseason games," Jackson said. "He is very smart, understands the system and what we are trying to implement from the MIKE linebacker position."
In that capacity, Schobert has embraced a newfound level of responsibility. As the MIKE backer, he's almost something of a quarterback for the Browns defense, making calls and adjustments pre-snap.
"Being in the middle, I'm not on the edge of the line of scrimmage taking on tackles and tight ends every play. I'm in the middle kind of reading, depending on the call my fits and stuff might be different on the end of the line of scrimmage if it is – one or two gaps every time, so now depending on the calls it depends," he said. "I just have to know my stuff and then being a lot more – pushed off the ball, run into the ball a lot more, in terms of scraping over the top and trying to make plays."
And with the recent loss of veteran linebacker Tank Carder, who will miss this season with an ACL injury, Jackson said the Browns can count on the former All American and Big Ten Linebacker of the Year.
"It's a real luxury when you lose somebody like Tank," he said. "I think Joe will fit the bill and do what is necessary to play the position and play it well."