‘Eat a couple cows’: Rookie DT John Ridgeway to beef up after heat, speed of early practices

‘Eat a couple cows’: Rookie DT John Ridgeway to beef up after heat, speed of early practices

USA News

It’s been quite a month for John Ridgeway.

The defensive tackle woke up as a Dallas Cowboy for the first time the morning of May 1, having been drafted by the team in the fifth round just the day before. On May 7, he celebrated his 23rd birthday. On May 13, he signed his rookie contract with the organization and attended his first day of minicamp. May 24, his first day meeting the Cowboys veterans at Day One of OTAs.

And while there’s no word on how Ridgeway spent his Memorial Day weekend to close out the month, there’s a good chance he was following the example of so many others and hitting a holiday barbecue. Or two.

Mother Nature wasted no time in welcoming the Illinois native to his new North Texas home, blasting Frisco with temperatures that neared 90 degrees on the very first day of rookie work.

And while Ridgeway likely experienced a few southern scorchers during his time at Arkansas, the conditions proved to be a whole different animal when combined with the torrid pace of an NFL practice.

“I’d definitely say the speed,” Ridgeway answered when he was asked recently about the biggest adjustment from college, “because the NFL is go, go, go, go. In college, you can take a couple of plays and catch your breath. But you’re going against All-Pros everyday. So you can’t take any reps off at all.”

By Day Two, head coach Mike McCarthy and the staff elected to dial things down slightly, thanks in part to the mercury having climbed even higher.

The massive player nicknamed “The Vanilla Gorilla,” who stands 6-foot-6-inches and weighed in at 328 with the Razorbacks, admitted that the Dallas heat and humidity- not to mention battling with enormous rookie offensive lineman Tyler Smith- had already affected him physically.

“I’m about 320 right now, 318,” he told reporters before adding with a laugh, “I’m sure it dropped today.”

As with so many other things about his life right now, though, that will evolve in the days, weeks, and months to come.

“I haven’t talked to the strength and condition staff, but I’m sure they’ll probably cut me down a couple pounds and build me back up.”

Which leads us to what will undoubtedly be one of the more enjoyable parts of the big man’s rookie summer.

John Ridgeway doesn’t know exactly how he’ll be used in a defensive tackle rotation that also includes Osa Odighizuwa, Neville Gallimore, Quinton Bohanna, and Trysten Hill. He doesn’t know yet if he’ll be asked to line up in 3-technique, as a nose tackle, or a two-tech.

But he has a pretty good idea of how he’ll pack on any pounds that happen to melt away during Cowboys practices in the sweltering Texas heat.

“There’s probably some cows in Texas?” he asked with a grin. “You got hogs or something here? Probably eat a couple cows a week or something.”

Here’s hoping Ridgeway found himself a brisket or two at a Memorial Day cookout as OTA work resumes for the team on Tuesday.

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