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How Danny Shelton slimmed down this offseason

At a press conference last month, Browns defensive lineman Danny Shelton was in a playful mood when asked about his weight and what he did during the winter to shed pounds in preparation for offseason workouts.

"Man, I want to say I lost like 40 pounds," he said, "but really it's like 15 pounds."

The response was met with laughter in the room and Shelton couldn't help but smile, too.

"I mean obviously it's a work in progress," he said. "I've been dropping fat, gaining some muscles."

So Shelton flexed his biceps for the cameras and flashed a big smile.

Then he got serious again.

After all, dropping weight — and finding a way to do it — has been on Shelton's mind for some time. The 6-foot-2, 300-plus pound nose tackle is expected to play a key role on Cleveland's new-look defense under Ray Horton next season, and getting into better shape puts him in the best position to do so.

"Danny can be a unique player for us. He's really, really bright, intelligent, very outgoing. He wants to do well. He wants to succeed. He wants to be part of a championship defense. We are going to try to give him every opportunity to do that," Horton said in February.

"One of the things I don't want for Danny is I don't want him to always have to come off the field. I want him to be able to stay on the field as much as we want him on the field."

And Shelton — the 2015 first-round draft pick — has taken ownership of that, saying he needed to "prove" to the coaching staff that he was ready to take on a bigger role.

"(I had to make sure) that they're comfortable and I'm comfortable with my weight to be able to move around and do the stunts like I did in college and have more freedom really," he said.

But first, Shelton had to slim down.

"Honestly I was thinking about it the whole offseason and during the season, just thinking of something I was interested in and have fun doing," he said. "Because I hate cardio and a lot of big guys hate cardio."

While he occasionally runs gassers — a traditional football conditioning workout where players sprint sideline-to-sideline — Shelton said his "game-changer" has been mixed martial arts. It's a challenging workout and has helped him with using hands in the trenches, he said.

"I'm a big guy who likes to stay active and be energized," said Shelton, who added he trains at the Cal Crowell Fitness, Athletic & MMA Training Center near Parma.

And as the Browns continue their offseason workouts, Cleveland's strength and conditioning staff has offered Shelton an equally effective approach.

"Those guys are really the key to me jumping over the wall I had earlier in the offseason with my weight … I feel great just working with this staff," Shelton said.

"They brought my weight down, kept my muscle up. I feel even stronger than college. It's really something that I can proudly say that I'm proud to work with these guys."

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