Training Camp

First year in AFC North left JC Tretter with realization bigger is better

Shortly after his first season Cleveland came to a close, JC Tretter watched every snap. Despite battling multiple injuries, Tretter didn't miss a single one, so it was a thorough review. 

Six games stood out in a big way. It was the Browns' matchups with AFC North foes Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Cincinnati. All three sported big bodies at nose guard and defensive tackle, and it made things difficult at times for Tretter, who weighed 290 pounds, give or take, when he lined up against them.

Tretter knows those teams won't change what makes them tough in the middle of their respective defenses. That left it up to him to make a change, and it's been visibly apparent during the first week of training camp.

Tretter added 10 pounds of good weight to his frame, putting him over the 300-pound threshold and taking him out of the basement as the lightest Browns offensive lineman.

"Every year at the end of the season you kind of look in the mirror and watch the film again and figure out what you need to change," Tretter said Sunday. "The defenses we play in this division, I think having 10 more pounds will be beneficial."

It starts Week 1 against the Steelers, whose nose tackles Javon Hargrave and Daniel McCullers each clear 300 pounds -- McCullers checks in at 352 -- with ease. Cincinnati's Geno Atkins is a five-time Pro Bowler. Baltimore's Brandon Williams is 336 pounds and has been a Pro Bowl alternate.

Any advantage helps in those one-on-one matchups and double teams. His linemate to the left has already noticed.

"He's real dialed in on his diet. He's one of those guys that kind of has to eat a lot to keep his weight on. Unfortunately I'm not one of those guys," left guard Joel Bitonio said. "He's really worked at it. You can kind of feel it when you work on a double-team. You go, 'this guy's got a little more strength in him.' He's always been a strong guy but having a little mass is going to help him."

Tretter credited former Browns left tackle Joe Thomas for the inspiration. Thomas, Tretter said, would constantly re-evaluate his body makeup based on how he fared the previous season and made the necessary adjustments.

Tretter had to put thought into everything he ate, when he ate it and how much he ate. He spent most of his offseason in Berea and devised a plan with the team's performance dietitian, Katy Meassick. His plan is to stay around the 300-pound mark for the entire season.

"This is one of the few times in my career I'm not the lightest lineman in the room," Tretter said. "It's new territory for me.

"As long as you can do your job, I think you're fine at whatever weight you can do your job at. This will only be helpful for me. I'll give it a try this year and hopefully it works out well."

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