Professional athletes often are creatures of routine.
Jeffery Simmons is the opposite. He has been a man of adjustments.
The Tennessee Titans defensive tackle has tried something new in each of his first two NFL offseasons.
Last year, he focused on slimming down after he dealt with recovery from reconstructive knee surgery for the better part of his rookie season.
This offseason, he’s been more mindful of his diet.
“Just cleaning it up,” Simmons said. “When I want a snack or something, it’s not doing to get Doritos or something like that. It’s healthier snacks. More shakes and stuff like that and cutting out carbs. I have been cutting out a lot of stuff like that.
“... A lot of guys go on a diet. It’s not going on a diet. I call it just changing my habits and the way I eat. It’s smaller details.”
It’s safe to say the Simmons has not taken after a handful of his former Titans players and teammates who decided to go vegan a few seasons ago. The 2019 first-round draft pick admitted that he couldn’t do that, saying “I need to have some of that protein, chicken or something.”
In 2017, linebacker Wesley Woodyard, defensive tackles Jurrell Casey and Daquan Jones and others mostly cut meat out of their diets. The transition was sparked by former linebacker Derrick Morgan, whose wife, Charity, is a chef.
“My energy level’s gone up,” Woodyard said in 2017. “And it’s just putting in good fuel to your body. And of course, it’s always hard to keep weight on this time of the season. But it’s worth it for me staying on top of my health.”
Perhaps the 6-foot-4, 301-pound Simmons had reasons not to make that drastic of a change to his diet.
San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman Trent Williams also decided to go vegan when he was with Washington a few summers ago. Williams made the moves after he watched “What The Health,” a documentary on Netflix that “examines the link between diet and disease,” according to the Washington Post. He had to put an end to that dietary change when he noticed that he was losing too much weight.
“I can do it, but I’ll find myself just losing too much weight,” Williams told the Washington Post in 2017. “I know in regular people’s lives, that’s a good thing. But playing offensive line, you have to have some type of girth to you.”
As part of his current approach to eating, Simmons said he’s done his best to maintain a healthy meal schedule by eating around the same times every day. He also said he no longer eats fast food.
His decision to slim last offseason proved beneficial during the regular season. Simmons played and started 15 regular-season games and in the Titans’ lone postseason contest. He was much more explosive compared to his rookie season and his stats improved. He finished with 49 tackles, three sacks, 20 quarterback pressures along with a team-high three fumble recoveries.
Thus, he expects a similar improvement after once again deciding to do something different.
“I probably said this last time,” Simmons said, “but coming off the two seasons I just had, this is probably the best I have felt, body-wise and mentally.”