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Bernard playing lighter

CHARLOTTE, NC - AUGUST 13: Rocky Bernard #95

CHARLOTTE, NC - AUGUST 13: Rocky Bernard #95 of the New York Giants tackles Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers during their preseason game at Bank of America Stadium on August 13, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Photo Credit: Getty/Streeter Lecka

Rocky Bernard is feeling lighter, both on the field and in his wallet.

The 10-year veteran defensive lineman was released by the Giants at the start of the preseason when the two sides could not agree to a restructured contract, but he was back a few days later. The reworking was significant, according to NFLPA records (happy Labor Day to the NFLPA by the way!).

Bernard was due to earn a base salary of $2.95 million this season as part of the four-year $16 million contract he signed two years ago. He re-signed for the veteran’s minimum of $810,000.

“I never really wanted to leave,” he said. “We were still talking to them the whole time (after he was released). It was just something they had to do to make things work out. I’m just glad I’m back.”

He looked very sharp in the preseason and he said that’s because he dropped close to 20 pounds during the offseason. He is at 300 pounds now, but was playing between 315 and 320 in his two years with the Giants.

“I played lighter,” he said of his weight earlier in his career. “When I came here to New York I’ve played a little heavier than I had the last two seasons. When you start thinking about injuries and stuff, that’s one of the main things is when you put on weight.”

Bernard will be a key player for the Giants' rotation up front, especially with Barry Cofield gone and rookie Marvin Austin on IR.

Bernard said he feels “lighter” and “more active” and doesn’t worry that the decreased mass will mean that he won’t be able to withstand the rigors of an NFL season.

“It’s always a long season,” he said. “I’m a year older. But I feel good and I’m ready for the season.”


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