Miami Dolphins WR Leonte Carroo has less weight, better approach

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Leonte Carroo keeps an eye on the goal as San Francisco 49ers cornerback Jimmie Ward can’t make the stop. (Al Diaz/Miami Herald/TNS)

DAVIE — A noticeably skinnier Leonte Carroo basically spilled his guts on Wednesday about what it’s like to be perceived as a bust after his rookie season and all he’s doing to change the course of his career.

“Last year didn’t go as well as I wanted it to, so I really honed in on working as hard as I can to be not only a better receiver, a better student of the game,” Carroo said.  “I lost a ton of weight off the field, eating better, eating healthier. Kenny Stills got me involved in Pilates. I was doing that to loosen up my hips and be a more fluid receiver. Just doing the little things that I didn’t do before to make my Year 2 even better.”

The Dolphins moved up into the third round of the 2016 NFL draft and gave up third- and fourth-rounders in the 2017 NFL draft to acquire Carroo, who had only three catches for 29 yards.

“Last year, the coaches and my teammates had a lot of expectations for me,” Carroo said. “I did a poor job fulfilling those expectations. Last year is totally behind me. I’m a new guy this year. I’m a new person. I’m just excited for these OTA’s, these next couple of practices and then training camp. And just controlling what I can control. And that’s just getting better on the field every single day and proving to these coaches that I’m not the same Carroo from last year. I’m a different player. And I’m ready for the new year.”

Carroo appears to be in excellent shape.

He played last season at 220 pounds, 15 heavier than his peak condition at Rutgers, and had already lost 10.

“That was the goal, to lose some weight and become a faster, more quicker receiver,” Carroo said.

This summer, Carroo plans to do speed conditioning with Stills, who has become a close friend.

“That’s a plan,” Carroo said. “It’s just the weight that I was dealing with last year. When I played at Rutgers and I was my fastest and my healthiest I was about 205. And then I get here and I’m 220, it’s just a total different player. My whole thing is just keep maintaining my weight.”

Carroo is the third Dolphin to be brutally honest about a disappointing 2016 in a recent media session.

Carroo followed in the footsteps of Jordan Phillips and Jakeem Grant, who all expressed self-reflection and new mental and physical approaches to the 2017 season.

“Last year, just didn’t have as [good] of a year as I wanted to,” Carroo said. “Kind of took being drafted for granted. Kinda wasn’t doing the little things right I was doing right in college. Was more excited about the whole draft process and didn’t really focus on being an NFL player. I realize that this is my job and I’m taking NFL life more serious and becoming a better student of the game and a better player.”

Carroo was upset to be benched in favor of undrafted free agent wide receiver Rashawn Scott (University of Miami) at the end of last season and in the playoff game.

 

“I was just upset with myself because it was totally on me,” Carroo said. “I was playing bad on special teams, I was performing poorly in practice, I wasn’t doing enough. I wasn’t asking my coaches to watch extra film or anything like that. Just not really focused on being a better player last year. Take a guy who’s probably been starting since Pop Warner and he comes to an NFL team and things aren’t going his way. I kind of honed in on that instead of focusing on getting better and better every single day.”

Carroo went on and on in a remarkably refreshing manner about how he’s identified a need for change and is making the change.

“I’ve got three guys ahead of me, but my whole mindset and philosophy is different,” Carroo said. “I’m attacking practice every single day to get better because I want to prove to these coaches that I’m going to be a better special teams player and I’m going to be a better receiver. When we went on that winning streak last year, just to see how guys were doing, it just made me upset that I wasn’t doing anything to contribute as a third-round draft pick. This year I want to focus on just having that respect for my team and my coaches. Just to go out there and make plays and contribute to the winning that we’re going to have this year.”

When Stills went down with what Carroo described as a minor injury in Wednesday’s closed practice, Carroo stepped in. After feeling overwhelmed by having to learn all three receiver positions at the start of last season, Carroo believes he’s ready to step in for Stills, Parker or Landry if necessary.

“I have a better feel for the offense,” Carroo said. “Last year I was trying to learn each position – X, Y, F – but now I’m learning the whole offense as a whole, like a concept. So just to get the concepts down pat will help me to play either position. So now that I have a better feel for the offense I’m able to play any three of those spots.”

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