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Jets' LT Ferguson looking bigger and stronger early in training camp

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) -Brick has a belly.

OK, so it's not really much of one, but D'Brickashaw Ferguson is noticeably bigger and stronger than he was at the end of his rookie season for the New York Jets.

"We actually have great meals over here at the facility," the left tackle said Monday with a grin. "I just try to take a couple of extra portions and stay consistent, really."

The Jets' first-round pick last year had a solid if unspectacular first season, one in which he showed flashes of being a future star at one of football's most important yet unheralded positions. It was the other times, when he looked undersized and, at times, outclassed, that worried some.

"I feel I've improved from last year, being that it was my rookie year," he said. "You try to pull on your experiences to put you in a better position for the upcoming year."

Ferguson appeared to drop a significant amount of weight from his 6-foot-6 frame as his rookie year went on, and that might have contributed to the perception that he wore down slightly.

"I think you eat and you may fluctuate," Ferguson said. "Different times, you're lighter and different times, heavier, but I think that's just natural."

Ferguson reported to camp this summer at 305 pounds.

"That's a good weight for me," he said.

And it's up from his playing weight of last season, when he was in the 290s. He's listed on the Jets' official roster at 312 - perhaps wishful thinking, but progress nonetheless.

"He's made strides there," coach Eric Mangini said.

Ferguson spent the offseason in a vigorous training program, trying to add muscle and pounds.

"I think his offseason was very good," Mangini said. "His strength, he really worked hard in the weight room and really worked hard in other areas. He really worked hard in the classroom, proactively trying to learn more and more about the system."

While Ferguson has gained weight, particularly in his lower body, Mangini has dropped quite a bit since last season.

"He's training hard, I'm trying to eat with him, so wherever we can meet a common ground it's always good," Ferguson said, drawing laughs.

Ferguson acknowledges the importance of being bulky but agile, especially since his prime responsibility is to protect quarterback Chad Pennington. He also knows his size will always be a weighty issue.

"It's a question that's often asked, but just like speed and agility and technique is a necessity, I think it is one of many tools that is necessary," he said. "I think, being that it's a great tool, coupled with other tools, it'll be a good grouping and it'll bring me great success, hopefully."

To help Ferguson and some of the other offensive linemen, the Jets brought in former left tackle Lomas Brown, a seven-time Pro Bowl selection who was also considered undersized at 6-4 and 280 pounds.

"He's had a lot of success - and you watch him on tape and you know how fluid he is and the types of techniques he uses, it's great as a young player to look at that and say, 'Here's a guy who's done it, so let me go try to pattern myself after him,"' Ferguson said. "You look at all the great left tackles in the league and you try to pull from the good things that they do."

Brown appeared happy with Ferguson's practice Monday, hugging the second-year player and chatting with him briefly as he walked off the field.

"He's a good person to really learn from, given the fact that he was in a similar position," Ferguson said. "He was an individual who used great technique to achieve his goals and whenever you can learn from an individual like that, it's very beneficial."

Brown, who wasn't available to the media Monday, played for Detroit, Arizona, Cleveland, the New York Giants and Tampa Bay - where he won a Super Bowl ring - over his 18-year career.

"Spending some time with him, having some similarities in their type of play, they can talk about that and the challenges one would face with having that type of style," Mangini said.

Center Nick Mangold, a rookie with Ferguson last year, has noticed his linemate's physical improvement.

"You can see what the effect the offseason had on him," Mangold said, "especially the mental preparation and physical as well, which has allowed him to be even more comfortable."

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Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) rushes during an NFL football game between the between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Peter Joneleit)

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