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Posted: Sunday April 12, 2009 6:43PM; Updated: Sunday April 12, 2009 6:43PM

Now trimmer, Alabama's Cody works on conditioning, pass rush

Story Highlights

Alabama's Terrence Cody wants to make a bigger impact with a smaller body

The 6-foot-5 nose guard said he has whittled around 10 pounds to 354

Cody said going through the Tide's offseason workout program helped greatly

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Alabama's Terrence Cody earned first-team AP All-America honors last season.
Bob Rosato/SI

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -- Terrence Cody wants to be a slightly smaller force on Alabama's defensive line next season.

The space-hogging nose guard has dropped a few pounds, worked on his conditioning and hopes to keep himself in the game on third-down passing situations -- and improve his NFL draft stock in the process.

The 6-foot-5 Cody said he has shed about 10 pounds down to 354 since the season. It doesn't seem like much shrinkage for the massive lineman but he said it is already paying dividends in spring practice.

"That's helped me out bigtime," Cody said. "I'm able to do a lot more things that I wasn't able to do when I was a little heavier. I'm quicker off the ball and I'm using my hips more and just using my hands more. I'm getting my footwork better.

"That was a real big motivation, slim down and get better on the pass rush so I don't have to come out of there on third downs."

Cody was often replaced by Josh Chapman on passing downs last season but still fared well enough to earn first-team AP All-America honors. Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said Cody can be a stronger pass-rusher than his one-half sack last season would indicate.

He just wasn't able to sustain it for long periods, especially after a knee injury sidelined him for two games and took a toll on his conditioning.

And now? "He's probably in the best shape he's been in in a long time," Saban said.

It's not just about getting sacks but also disrupting the quarterback and flushing him out of the pocket.

"If we can improve his mobility a little bit, he might become a little better pass rusher for us and push the pocket a little more in the middle, which to me is the most important thing about pass rush," Saban said. "Push the pocket in the middle so the quarterback can't step up and attack the middle of the field.

"Since one of our goals is to defend the middle of the field, to have guys who can do that is very important."

Saban said he thinks Cody has "made a tremendous amount of progress" toward being able to keep it up for longer stints and praised his offseason work.

Cody said improving as a pass rusher was one of his goals upon deciding to return for his senior season despite being projected as a likely first-round NFL draft pick.

He said going through the Tide's Fourth Quarter offseason workout program helped considerably.

"I feel like I'm way better conditioning-wise and stamina-wise than I was when I first got here," Cody said.

Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy said Cody already seems better at rushing the passer and has "done a fantastic job this spring."

That's especially impressive to McElroy considering the junior college transfer is already an All-American.

"Terrence is one of those guys, he's not going to be satisfied with where he stayed last year," the quarterback said. "You've got to applaud him for that because any guy that was a first-team All-American is bound to get complacent, and he hasn't done that.

"He's been an absolute force and I'm very, very thankful that we don't have to play him on a Saturday in the fall."

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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