Heading into his second NFL season, linebacker Emmanuel Lamur is noticeably bigger than he was as a rookie. Chip Morton and the Bengals strength and conditioning staff deserve much of the credit, but they got some assistance from Emmanuel’s mother.
“Haitian food,” said Lamur when I asked how he added weight in the off-season. “My mom has been cooking rice, beans, jerk chicken, and a lot of pasta. I love to eat. I try to eat at least six times a day. And I’ve been lifting weights and working hard – that’s pretty much it.”
Lamur was a 210 pound safety as a sophomore at Kansas State before shifting to linebacker for his final two college seasons. Although he added some weight after switching positions, Emmanuel was still a spindly 6’4”, 232 pounds in his rookie season with Cincinnati.
But when the Bengals opened OTAs last week, Emmanuel said that he tipped the scales at 244 pounds.
“I’ve put on 12 pounds and I feel faster and stronger,” Lamur told me. “That’s going to help me when I’m taking on and shedding blocks and it should help my blitzing ability.
“He realized that if he wants to be an every down player he has to be able to hit with some of the bigger players,” said linebackers coach Paul Guenther. “That’s what he concentrated on this off-season. He did exactly what we asked him to do and he’s in great shape.”
“Last year I used my speed, which was my bread and butter, to play the game,” said Lamur. “But it takes more than that to play linebacker in this league. You have to be able to take on blocks and be physical. I had to gain weight and 12 pounds is going to help me a lot and I’m planning on gaining another five.”
Lamur signed with the Bengals as an undrafted free agent last year and was on the practice squad for the first seven games of the season. But after being promoted to the active roster in early November, Emmanuel was used frequently in obvious passing situations and made his first NFL start in the playoff loss at Houston.
“He got better and better each week,” said Guenther. “He started on the practice squad and continued to grow and as time went on, we realized that he should be in there playing for us – particularly on the passing downs.”
“He has a lot of athleticism and ability and he proved last year that the game wasn’t too big for him,” said Marvin Lewis.
The Bengals starting linebackers going into the season appear to be Vontaze Burfict (WILL), Rey Maualuga (MIKE), and James Harrison (SAM). But Lamur is likely to get considerable playing time.
“Emmanuel is fighting for a starting job,” said Guenther. “We have him with the first group in the nickel (defense) right now and he’ll be a swing guy in our base defense depending on the team that we play. If we play a spread-out team, he might be on the field a little bit more in the base. Right now he’s working at the two outside linebacker spots because he knows both of them.”
“Nothing is guaranteed – you’ve got to compete,” said Lamur. “Coach is going to play the best guys. This is a new year and I’ve got to improve and show the coaches what I’m capable of doing.”
At this point, there are 12 more pounds of him to like.
“He’s built like a linebacker and can run like a defensive back,” said Guenther. “I’m really happy with him.”
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