OAKLAND, Calif. — David Sharpe bought himself a treadmill this summer.
Events in the spring dictated the investment.
In April, the Raiders offensive tackle reported to the team’s voluntary workout program. He met new teammates. He met new coaches like Tom Cable, who oversees the offensive line. His most impactful introduction, however, was with reality.
They met when Sharpe stepped onto a scale.
“I weighed about 369,” Sharpe said. “They had me worried. Very worried. I didn’t really know where (the Raiders) wanted me. Cable told me he wanted me down to at least 338.”
Sharpe is among the team’s offensive linemen who lost substantial weight this offseason. Collectively, the position group formed a sloppy sight in the spring, struggling to complete an uptempo drill sequence that Cable leads to begin each practice. If Sharpe wanted an NFL future, he needed to change his weighs.
According to the collective bargaining agreement, an NFL team in 2018 can fine a player up to $665 for each pound he’s overweight per weigh-in. Sharpe was not subject to this punishment at voluntary workouts, so his 369-pound measurement effectively served as a wakeup call. Twenty-one pounds overweight equates to $20,615 in lost wages and an undefined amount of lost confidence from coaches.
The team expects a player to approach his offseason as an opportunity to improve, applying in-season feedback to develop on his own time.
Sharpe, 22, was still growing to understand that.
“I went home after the first season,” said Sharpe, a 2017 fourth-round pick from Florida. “I had a little money in my pocket, and I was eating great. I was eating Popeyes at 9 o’clock at night, things like that. My favorite restaurant, soul food. My dad was barbecuing.”
Sharpe changed his habits.
He ate no later than 7 p.m., he said. He drank more water. He experimented with a pescatarian diet. He cut carbs. He cut added sugar. Over the course of OTAs, he reported having lost about 15 pounds. A start. Then, he purchased the treadmill, setting it up outdoors on the back porch of his father’s house in Jacksonville.
“Every day, I walked two hours,” Sharpe said. “I’d walk in the morning for an hour, go work out, and then walk for another hour. … I didn’t weigh-in (in Florida), and I didn’t think I was down. But I got back (to training camp), and I saw 338 (pounds) on the dot. It was crazy.”
Physically, the 6-foot-6-inch Sharpe was ready to compete for a job on the Raiders’ offensive line.
Mentally, the past four weeks were about continuing those strides.
Coaches hold high expectations for Sharpe. Thus far, he’s yet to fully seize them. He acknowledged that he must develop more consistency, playing with the same intensity on any given snap. Part of the issue, he said, is that he’s still gaining comfort and confidence with his own technique. That can slow him down.
Sharpe said last week that he weighs 335 pounds. He’s part of an ongoing position battle, having yet to separate himself from Ian Silberman at reserve offensive tackle. First-round pick Kolton Miller and veteran Donald Penn are tentatively expected to start at left and right tackle, respectfully.
“He’s in the mix,” coach Jon Gruden said this month. “I just have high expectations for him. I probably have way too high of expectations for Sharpe. I raised the bar 4 more inches today. Every time he gets close, I seem to raise it too far for him. I have high expectations for that young man. We’re going to keep pushing him until he gets there.”