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NFL Europe Players Aim To Bulk Up


B.J. Sander finished 2nd in punting in NFL-E with a 40-yard average (36-yard net avg.).

Following another demanding workout, Seante Williams sipped his EAS cookies and cream protein drink as he sat in front of his locker.

The defensive end has been sucking down the shakes since returning from his NFL Europe team, the Frankfurt Galaxy, three weeks ago.

Unlike most veterans who are trying to hone their bodies to last the season, the 14 Packers who recently completed NFL Europe play are trying to regain the bulk they lost.

"I'm just trying to get stronger ... get my weight back," said Williams, who tied for third in the league with five sacks.

Through lifting, ingesting protein shakes and bars and eating some good ol' American food, the six-foot-six Williams has added 10 pounds in a week-and-a-half, raising his weight from a linebacker-girth of 245 to 255. He has emphasized squats, an exercise he could rarely do in Europe, to build up his leg strength.

Punter B.J. Sander, last year's third-round draft pick, was allocated to the Hamburg Sea Devils where he dropped from 215 to 209 pounds.

Between daily practices and weekly games, NFL Europe players do not have much time to lift. Aside from practices, Williams could only work out twice-a-week for about 30 minutes.

"That just wasn't enough," he said.

NFL Europe is a microcosm of the grueling NFL season where most players try to maintain -- not add strength -- during the season but often lose muscle mass because of injuries and the season's grind. However, the players in NFL Europe faced other challenges.

Unlike the Packers' weight room, which is located next to the locker room, the Galaxy's weight room was half-a-mile away. Sander had to take a bus and train -- a trip that would take at least 20 to 30 minutes -- to get to the Sea Devils' weight room. When Punter Brooks Barnard played for the Rhein Fire last year, he had to travel 45 to 50 minutes from his hotel to the practice facility.

The European facilities have less equipment than the Packers. Williams worked out in a trailer that had only two bench presses, two squat racks and a leg press machine.

The European food also accounted for their weight loss.

"The German food had a different flavor," Williams said.

Sander could not pinpoint the difference, but prefers American cuisine to what he ate in Europe.

"I wasn't used to it," he said. "The way the food is prepared is different. I don't know if it's the way they cook it or what they do to it."

Through workouts and some home cooking, he has already boosted his weight to 212. Sander, who finished second in NFL Europe with a 40-yard average and 36-yard net average, will spend the rest of the offseason adding strength particularly to his lower body, which should help combat his sore knee. But he will also rest his leg, refraining from any punting.

"I probably won't pick up a football until a week before training camp," Sander said.

Despite the challenge of having to recover from another season and add strength, Sander said his experience in NFL Europe will help him this year.

"I got some good things out of it," said Sander, who deemed the competition at the level of a college all-star game. "It was definitely good to be able to apply what I learned last year into games."

But mostly he is happy to be home.

"(It's) great to be back," Sander said.

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