A lot has been made about Buffalo's defensive line since the arrival of Mario Williams and Mark Anderson in free agency. A pair of pass rushers with a proven track record has the needle pointing up for Buffalo's collection of defensive line talent. However, there's also an area along the defensive line where the needle will be pointed down. And that's the needle on the scale.
With defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt preaching an attacking, up the field approach predicated on pass pressure with his defensive linemen, Buffalo's defensive tackles are looking to be a bit lighter on their feet. That means weighing in lighter on the scale.
Chief among them is Marcell Dareus. After playing nose tackle the second half of the season with a primary assignment of holding up two linemen to let his linebackers run and make plays, Dareus is looking to drop some weight to make himself even more agile inside in Wannstedt's attack first scheme.
"I want to be a little lighter this year because I want to be able to fly around the field and run to the ball," Dareus told Buffalobills.com. "I want to be able to play every down."
As a rookie last season Dareus played anywhere from 325 to 330 pounds, knowing he had to oftentimes hold up inside against a pair of offensive linemen. Now with free license to penetrate and pursue the quarterback or the ball carrier Dareus wants to give himself every edge possible to improve his already impressive burst and quickness.
"I'm going to be thinning up more in the time between minicamp and training camp," said Dareus. "I'm not far off now, but I've still got to get down. I'm putting on so much muscle because when you're lifting hard and you don't have much more body fat it makes dropping weight hard. But training camp will help with that."
Dareus plans to do a lot of cardio and "downgrade" his muscles a bit while maintaining strength.
"I'm bulky so I've got to be careful to stay flexible," he said.
Torell Troup is another interior defender looking to play leaner this fall. After hovering around 327 pounds last season Troup plans to play between 315 and 320 pounds in 2012.
Wannstedt hasn't issued an edict with a required weight for each of his interior defensive linemen, but he has made it clear he wants his defensive linemen to be quick off the ball on every snap.
"Obviously they've got to be able to move and get off of blocks," he said. "Our defensive linemen will never hear the phrase, 'Hey you've got to use up a double team or use up a block.' We want them making plays. I think that (Marcell) Dareus is an athlete, Dwan Edwards is an athlete. All those guys are."
"Our emphasis is going to be to get up the field and you don't want to be weighed down doing that," said Spencer Johnson, who will see time at both end and tackle. "Last year I was playing at about 305, but I want to be anywhere from 295 to 300 range. For me it's not going to be a drastic change."
But drastic change is just what Buffalo's defensive tackles hope their effort to be leaner and meaner along with Wannstedt's aggressive scheme deliver for Buffalo's defense this fall.