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McNeill changing up his offseason approach heading into Year 3

Detroit Lions fans can expect the best version they've seen yet of Alim McNeill in 2023.

The third-year defensive lineman said he took a more professional approach to this offseason, maintaining a strict diet and improving his flexibility by stretching at least three times per day.

McNeill said he's cut out red meat, watches his portions and candy is out of the diet. The diet, along with the stretching, has him feeling the best he's ever felt as the Lions begin Phase 1 of their offseason training program in Allen Park this week.

"For me it's consistency. Being able to do it every snap in the game," McNeill said. "I just want to be more consistent. I want to make those (big) plays almost every play. I'm seeing some guys around the league being able to do it and I'm just watching them like, 'I can do the same thing.' So, I just took more of a professional approach to the offseason."

McNeill started all 17 games for the Lions in 2022 and saw his snaps increase from 422 as a rookie in 2021 to 782 last season, which was 69 percent of the snaps on defense. He finished with 41 tackles, six tackles for loss, seven quarterback hits and a sack.

McNeill played at around 325 pounds last season and says he still expects to be close to that weight, but it's a leaner 325. He's faster with more muscle and less body fat.

"I feel so much better," he said. "A lot more lean and a lot more flexible. I can bend a lot better now."

The Lions are going to count on McNeill to take another big leap in production in Year 3 as one of the anchors in the middle of what they hope is a much-improved defensive front.

View photos from offseason workouts on Tuesday, April 18, 2023.

McNeill loves the additions the Lions have made to the defense in free agency so far, knowing more are coming via the NFL Draft next week. But the part he can control is being his best self and an even bigger impact player heading into his third season.

"I've added more muscle on and taken off a lot of fat," he said. "Allows me to move a lot faster and stuff. That's just me wanting to be great."

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