The Washington Times - June 1, 2011, 11:33AM

The usual player-getting-in-great-shape-during-the-offseason story is taking on a different dimension this spring because the lockout has left players to work out on their own.

There’s a reduced level of short-term accountability for players, who can more easily slack off while away from coaches. It will be very interesting to see the condition of certain players when the league returns to business, to say the least.

SEE RELATED:


The Redskins’ informal practices last week provided an opportunity to see which players’ bodies have noticeably changed for the better and to learn some details about what they’ve been up to.

Two guys stood out to me: receiver Terrence Austin and tight end Fred Davis. Some others looked slimmer, too—linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, for example—but this was the first time in a while that I’d seen Austin and Davis.

Austin’s upper body was obviously stronger. It turns out that he has put on about eight pounds of muscle from a boxing regimen. He hardly has any body fat, so the muscle was quite noticeable.

“It just came out of nowhere,” Austin said after practice last week. “I wasn’t even really trying to put it on. I actually gained weight in the last two weeks or so.

[The boxing] is a lot of cardio, so [the weight gain] doesn’t make sense to me. But I’m grateful that I got it.”

He dabbled in jiu-jitsu when he was in college but got away from it during his transition from UCLA to the pros. With some extra time on his hands this offseason, he decided to pursue boxing.

Austin, who is listed at 5-11 (generously, in my estimation), was approximately 177 pounds last season. He certainly could use the bulk, but that’s not the only upside of the boxing work.

“They teach you how to use your hands, how to get the most out of them with the least effort,” he said. “I noticed that the form that I was using before when I was first getting ready to get in the ring, I was kind of doing it a little too much.”

Austin showed last season that he can operate well in tight spaces. His sharp movements are crisp, and his footwork is good.

Quicker, stronger and more economical hands should help him release more cleanly from the line of scrimmage.

Davis, meanwhile, is down to 245 pounds from his playing weight of 258 last season. There was no directive from coaches to lose weight, he said.

“I started working out and started seeing I was getting slimmer,” he said last week. “I was eating differently and it felt good. I felt like I could run all day and not get tired, and I’m quicker.”

Davis also said that he had reduced his alcohol consumption this offseason.

Judge his new look for yourself: He was mic’d up for SportsBuzz during one of the practices last week.

I’m interested to see how his weight loss affects his blocking. His ability to get down field and separate from defenders is not as questionable as his effectiveness as a blocker.

Perhaps the reduced weight could hurt Davis in that regard, but his improved stamina could help. If he finds it easier to stay low in his blocks and if he feels fresh, it should be a boost.