Steelers' Holmes bulks up for coming season

| Tuesday, June 30, 2009

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — His huskiness makes him more resemble a running back than the slim receiver who was selected No. 25 by the Steelers in the 2006 NFL Draft.

Santonio Holmes' physical remake, particularly around his neck and through his shoulders, is the next step in the development of the MVP of Super Bowl XLIII.

The increase in Holmes' upper body is becoming so pronounced that he's beginning to look like an entirely different player.

"I tipped the scales (Monday) at 201 (pounds),'' Holmes said proudly following his workout at Tom Shaw Performance at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex.

That's an all-time high for Holmes, who played in the 190s last season and joined the league weighing considerably less.

Holmes' calculated weight gain addresses his long-term goal to increase his upper-body strength and speed under the tutelage of Shaw, a conditioning coach who also trains teammates James Farrior, Ike Taylor and William Gay.

"I look at it as if I have to be a complete receiver,'' said Holmes, who had nine receptions for 131 yards and the game-winning touchdown against Arizona in Super Bowl XLIII.

"I've got to be physical, I've got to still continue with my speed, I've got to have the great conditioning to last 16 games, play throughout the playoffs and be able to put in about 60-70 plays every week. I come here with great intentions of putting on weight.''

By building up his body, Holmes is also building his confidence for the upcoming season. However, he admits he may have to cut back some on bulking up.

"I wasn't expecting that, so I think I've got to slow down a little bit what I've been eating lately,'' Holmes said. "I'm looking forward to coming to (training) camp around this weight, because I know I'll probably shed about 8-10 pounds throughout camp.

"I'll play at about 195 for the season. I'll still have my strength, but losing the weight.''

The Steelers report to training camp at St. Vincent College on July 31.

Holmes' clutch play in the Super Bowl raised his respect level among NFL cornerbacks. He's no longer veteran Hines Ward's sidekick.

As the big-play receiver in the Steelers' passing attack, Holmes anticipates becoming the target of increased defensive scrutiny.

With Ward now playing in the slot, Holmes is the one Steeler receiver who will likely face consistent double coverage.

Holmes, who used to struggle against physical corners — partly because of his size — is seeking an edge to help him get open.

"The weight is starting to come on,'' he said. "I really need that strength in the upper body because I know I'm going to start getting more and more Cover-2 this season. I'm going to face a lot more bigger corners this year than I did in previous years, so I've got to get off those jams and separate myself from those guys.

"I think there's definitely going to be more attention with the performance I put up in the Super Bowl and throughout the playoffs. Those guys are going to say let's try to hold him (down).''

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Pittsburgh Steelers

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