Monday, August 17, 2009

Crumpler Uses Dance To Improve Game

Tight end displays nimbleness on feet

By Jim Wyatt

Alge Crumpler might look a little heavier these days, but the Titans tight end has never been lighter on his feet.

If you don't believe it, then you haven't seen him do the Cha-Cha, the Salsa, the Swing or the Sexy Rumba.

Michael Hosale, owner of the Fred Astaire dance studio in Brentwood, worked with Crumpler and his wife this offseason. He was impressed with the big man's footwork even before he saw Crumpler toeing the sideline after making a catch against the Bills last Sunday night.

"He moves extremely well,'' Hosale said with a smile as dance music played in the background. "Give me 10 guys like that, big football players, and not every one of them is going to move like Alge. Some of my students who've been dancing with me longer were amazed at how well he moved across the floor.

"I told Alge, 'If Dancing with the Stars ever asks you to be on, you should definitely do it.' … And watching him (Sunday), I think some of those dancing steps he learned paid off. He got a couple extra yards.''

Crumpler had predicted Hosale might take some credit for "my nimbleness at such a hefty size.'' The fact of the matter is the ninth-year pro has displayed nifty footwork for years.

He couldn't help but chuckle when he realized his dancing secret was about to spread. So when the subject of his weight came up, well, he danced around it like Fred Astaire.

"I don't want to get into a weight battle,'' said Crumpler, who's listed at 262 pounds but admitted he's nowhere close to that. "I won't give up my weight. Talk to LenDale (White) about his; he'll talk about it, but I won't. And I don't want to make an issue out of it either.

"As long as I am doing everything I am supposed to do — and I am — the production speaks for itself. … That's the bottom line.''

On Monday, Titans Coach Jeff Fisher said he'd like to see Crumpler get back to last season's weight but complimented his mobility.

Chances are Fisher doesn't pay much attention to the football benefits of dancing, though General Manager Mike Reinfeldt might. He's also taken lessons with Hosale.

Beefy blocker

Crumpler had three catches for 32 yards in just two series against the Bills. Teammates rave about his agility, even though he doesn't get the opportunity to run routes like he used to.

"He's smooth, fluid,'' fullback Ahmard Hall said. "It's impressive, really, at his size.''

In seven seasons with the Falcons, Crumpler caught 316 passes and was named to the Pro Bowl four times. Last season, his first with the Titans, he had a career low 24 receptions.

But he also developed into a better blocker, and with pass-catching tight ends Bo Scaife and Jared Cook also on the roster, blocking is expected to be Crumpler's primary role again this fall.

And that's where his added weight — whatever it is — has worked to his advantage.

"Every tight end wants to catch the football,'' Crumpler said. "But if I am asked to do something and I am good at it I am going to do the best I can. And as long as I am holding up at the point of attack and making the plays that are there, that is my main concern. …

"The blocking part, right now it is a thousand times easier than it has ever been in my career. When I make contact, guys are moving — that I'll tell you. And that is pleasing to me. But, yes, I still want to drop a few pounds.''

Guessing game

So just how much heavier is Crumpler this season than last season, when he was also listed at 262 pounds?

Well, that's anyone's guess. He weighed 275 pounds as a blocking tight end in college, and admitted he was flabbergasted when the Falcons assigned him a weight of 260 as a rookie. He hasn't hit that number his entire career, he said.

This week his teammates had fun with "Guess Crumpler's Weight," almost as if they worked at a county fair.

"He is mad at himself because he said he gained 10 more pounds,'' Hall said. "I'd say he's about 285.''

Rookie Jared Cook went higher, as if he had inside information. He introduced his parents to Crumpler at the Hall of Fame game.

"And when he walked away I was like, 'I can't believe that man is 300 pounds running like that,' '' Cook said. "Once people find out how much he really weighs, they're surprised.''

Linebacker Keith Bulluck wouldn't offer a number: "He probably ate a few more cheeseburgers than he did last offseason. And maybe a few extra dips of ranch dressing, too.''

Others refused to weigh in on the subject.

"We don't go there,'' tight ends coach John Zernheldt said. "He don't go there, and I don't go there."

Dropping pounds

Crumpler said he would keep working to lose weight.

"I'm not as heavy as I've ever been, but I have been at this weight longer than I anticipated,'' he said. "I have been this heavy before, I just dropped it a lot faster.''

Crumpler's size is helping him at the line of scrimmage as a blocker, but Zernheldt said there are limits.

"Optimum weight is how big you can be and still maintain the speed to play that position. Obviously we don't want him too big,'' Zernheldt said. "So he deals with that, and his knees are getting a little older. So he has to watch his weight for more obvious reasons, health reasons too.''

Crumpler would probably concede that, just like he admitted Hosale might be on to something — all those dance lessons, 15-20 in all, could help him on the football field.

"Anything you do from a movement standpoint helps your game,'' Crumpler said. "Because you can only do so many squats and cleans and sprints. There were some turns and dips … different things that I did that might've helped, I don't know for sure.

"But I know it was all in fun and my wife and I enjoyed it."

No comments: