For Chester, more bulk not recipe for success

August 23, 2007|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN REPORTER

Chris Chester won't be consumed by what he eats.

Chester, who gained 60 pounds in five years at Oklahoma by eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, has been maintaining 305 pounds on his 6-foot-3 frame by downing nutrition shakes and eating small meals four to five times a day.

But Chester, who has become the starting right guard for the Ravens in his second year in the NFL, isn't obsessed with adding bulk.

"It all depends on how you gain weight," he said. "If you try to do it overnight, you're going to be out of shape, and it'll be totally unhealthy and it'll affect your play. As far as weight goes, you need to be fairly heavy and strong, but it's more about technique than anything. Just through my experience, I've seen guys that are 340 pounds, and they still get bull-rushed and pushed back. So I think technique has more credence than weight."

The weight of expectations perhaps is a heavier burden for Chester, the team's second-round draft pick last year who has overtaken incumbent Keydrick Vincent at right guard.

By acquiring running back Willis McGahee and selecting rookie offensive linemen Ben Grubbs and Marshall Yanda in April's draft, the Ravens appeared to be shedding their image as a between-the-tackles running unit. They now have an athletic group that can pull out and help McGahee find creases off the edges.

Chester's quickness and versatility have been cited as a sign of the offensive line's evolution, but coach Brian Billick cautioned against expecting too much from Chester, who came to the Sooners as a tight end and didn't become an offensive lineman until his senior year.

"We forget how little he had actually played in the interior line and both center and guard from before," Billick said. "So, yeah, he just gets better and better for us, and we feel very comfortable with him at both center and at guard."

Chester gained invaluable experience last season, starting three consecutive games at right guard and the regular-season finale at left guard. Chester said those starts have helped ease his transition into an everyday starter.

"It's about what I expected," he said. "It's obviously going to be a little more difficult because this is the highest level of competition. But I've done it before in college and here. So it's not too much of a groundbreaking move."

Although a sprained right foot suffered against the Philadelphia Eagles on Aug. 13 forced Chester to miss a full week of practice and the second preseason game against the New York Giants on Sunday, he has practiced twice this week and is likely to start against the Washington Redskins on Saturday.

Chester's return will be another opportunity for him and tackle Adam Terry to develop chemistry on the right side of the line. Terry - who, like Chester, is entering his first season as a starter in a different position - said Chester's strength is his ability to get off the line quickly.

But Terry said media reports have paid too much attention to Chester's weight with regard to lining up against heavier defensive linemen.

"Anybody that goes against [Denver Broncos 350-pound defensive tackle] Sam Adams or [Cleveland Browns 375-pound nose tackle] Ted Washington, everybody's going to say that you need to gain weight," Terry said. "Joe Blow out on the street couldn't block them. But Chris is a good player, and as you grow and learn the game, you get the tricks of the trade, you get the little things that are going to catch them off guard. Yeah, a few more pounds might help him, but a few more pounds might hurt the speed that he has, it might hurt the quickness. ... He looks good, and he's moving well."

Chester is still adjusting to hearing the word "starter" attached to his name, however.

"You always expect the best for yourself and what you do, but I'm still kind of getting over competing at the highest level," he said.

Any more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the menu?

"Not quite as much," Chester said. "The peanut butter gets old quick."

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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