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Cardinals Mike Iupati hired chef, reports to camp in improved shape

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Arizona Cardinals starting left guard Mike Iupati hired a chef in the offseason, not to eat more, but to eat better.

He dropped about 15 pounds after it appears the coaching staff recommended he lose some weight considering he reached up to 347 pounds last year.

Iupati said, “I got a chef,” but defined his diet as “clean.”

He eats what the chef prepares, no matter what it is.

“I try everything,” Iupati said during the first day of training camp Saturday. “I know it’s good.”

He has noticed a difference.

“I move well, my joints don’t hurt,” Iupati said.

Bruce Arians also noticed a difference in the Cardinals offensive lineman.

“I really like the way Mike Iupati looks at 327 instead of 347,” Arians said.

What will a lighter Iupati mean?

“Yeah, I think it will help his stamina. He’s a great athlete for a big man so he should be even more athletic,” Arians said.

Losing the weight will take pressure off his knees and help his lateral movement in the run game especially when he’s pulling to the outside. In fairness, he did play through some injuries during certain points of the season last year.

His play dipped last year according to Pro Football Focus. His overall rating (74.7) was 31st at his position. He’s known for being a road grader in the run game, where he was 20th overall (79.2), but in pass protection he finished 57th with a (56.6) grade.

Iupati, 30, signed a five-year, $40 million contract with the Cardinals on March 13, 2015. His cap numbers for the next three seasons are $9.7 million.

The Cardinals drafted three guards over the last two years including Evan Boehm, who is expected to start at right guard this year. They also added Cole Toner in the fifth round, and Dorian Johnson in the third round this year as possible future replacements.

Clearly when Iupati is healthy and motivated, he’s one of the better guards in the league. In terms of his contract, this will be an important season for him.

Follow Mike Jurecki on Twitter

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