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Justin Currie’s transition to LB required steady weight gain

Justin Currie hasn’t always been a linebacker. While at Western Michigan, he was a strong safety, weighing between 200 and 220 pounds.

Now entering his third NFL season, Currie is making a large transition: He’s playing linebacker. It’s relatively obvious that you can’t play linebacker in the NFL at such a light weight, so Currie had some work to do. This offseason, Currie worked with Browns performance dietician Katy Meassick, among other trainers, to pack on weight for the upcoming season.

For some, it would be hard to work out daily and simultaneously put on weight. For Currie, it was simple.

“He already came in with a really good sense of nutrition and what he needed to fuel his body,” Meassick said. “He has an affinity for working out. We’ve mimicked that. ‘All right, you want to work out on an off day, just make sure that you know what to eat and how to eat on those days.’

“It really helps when they already have good habits so he came in to us already and worked on that.”

Currie is hoping the position switch pays off with a spot on Cleveland’s 53-man roster. He’s been on the Browns’ practice squad a handful of times since 2016 and was elevated to the roster late last season, appearing in three games. Currie, who missed the early part of training camp with a concussion, picked up his first career sack in the Browns’ Christmas Eve loss to Chicago.

Even with good habits, weight gain can be a drag. Not for Currie, though. He enjoyed the process. It goes back to his days at Western Michigan under coach P.J. Fleck. Fleck’s staff had Currie and the rest of the Broncos on a good diet plan and workout routine. Currie became, and still is, a workout junkie. It might not have been as easy without prior knowledge, and working with the Browns’ staff helped, too.

“You learn a lot from them by just picking at their brains,” Currie said. “I love to train so it wasn’t too crazy of a jump for me. Our staff really helped out with educating me and gaining the weight the smart way.”

The smart way was to add weight gradually. On paper, he didn’t gain all that much weight. It was 10-15 pounds over the course of the offseason. It’s all part of the plan, too. He’s happy with the weight he’s put on this summer, and he is unsure of where he goes from here. The coaches will decide if he needs to add additional weight to get around 240 pounds. For now, the staff wants to make sure he keeps his speed and explosiveness as he gains the weight.

Since the increase was over a long timeframe, Currie didn’t have a specific diet. He didn’t have a calorie count or protein goal. Instead, it was a day-to-day operation. He would eat based on his activity and workouts for the day. Oh, and no junk food. That’s a big one.

“I’m not on too big of a system of counting calories or my carbs or anything like that. I keep it basic with don’t eat deep-fried food, don’t drink pop, don’t eat sugars, candies, cakes, all that. But whatever else it is, I eat a lot of it. It was that, maybe drinking an extra protein shake then before. Then continue my habit of working out constantly and making sure I had the proper nutrition to maintain what I was doing and go beyond that.”

Now that he knows how to put on weight the correct way, he likes to cook. It’s harder to find healthy food options when he eats out, so he’s less apt to dine away from home and the team facility. Instead, he’s found new recipes courtesy of Meassick.

“I don’t mind cooking,” Currie said. “I just bought a crock pot over the offseason and (Meassick) gave me a bunch of recipes. So I kind of enjoy doing that. I made some pretty good stuff.”

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