“I only lost like two pounds,” said Spence, who played at 250 pounds last year and has since improved his lean body mass significantly. “I went from 15-16 percent body fat to 9 to 10 percent.”
Spence has been a fixture at One Buc Place this offseason and credits his transformation to his training regimen and cleaning up his diet.
“I just wanted to see how my body would respond and how I would feel moving,” said Spence, who didn’t want to reveal the details of his training and diet.
In his role as a pass rusher, Spence wins with quickness, and now he feels “more fluid.”
Teammate Robert Ayers has taken notice of the extra work and discipline Spence has exhibited and believes it’s starting to pay off.
“Being around Noah and talking to him, he’s motivated,” Ayers said. “I know how hungry he is, and I see what type of shape he’s in.
“He has a huge chip on his shoulder. A lot of people might think, ‘Why does he have a chip on his shoulder? He played pretty good as a rookie.’ But for him, he didn’t meet his standards and he didn’t do the things that he wanted to be doing.”
Ayers predicts a big season for Spence, who had 5.5 sacks as a rookie in 2016.
“I’m excited for him,” Ayers said. “I think he’s a player who could be a 15-plus sack guy this year – that’s my opinion. Whether he goes and does it is another thing, but that’s how I feel about him because I think he has tools that not many people come into this league with and he’s still learning. I’m excited for him. It’s going to be a big year.”
Teammates and coaches also have praised Spence’s toughness. He suffered a full tear of his labrum and a dislocated shoulder in Week 4, but did not miss a single game this season. In fact, during the season finale against the Carolina Panthers, he dislocated the shoulder again, popped it back into place on the field and continued playing. He underwent surgery in January.
“He’s a guy that we’re expecting big things from,” defensive coordinator Mike Smith said. “Unfortunately, he’s not going to be able to really participate with us until we get to training camp. But he is much more than what we anticipated, being able to be a three-down [player], and he is looking really good watching him work on the side. [We’re] very excited about having him join us when we get started in training camp.”