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Ron Dayne's advice for Packers' Eddie Lacy: Heavy or light, find weight that's right

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Before Eddie Lacy’s weight became the subject of much consternation among the Wisconsin sporting public, there was another big running back whose bruising style and tip-the-scales size was the talk of the state.

Ron Dayne.

Dayne won the Heisman Trophy in 1999 and left the University of Wisconsin as college football’s all-time leading rusher, doing so at a playing weight between 265 and 270 pounds.

Dayne’s NFL career was ultimately disappointing – the 11th overall pick in the 2000 draft, he played in 96 games over seven seasons with three teams and finished with 3,722 yards and 28 touchdowns – and Lacy has already had two more 1,000-yard seasons than Dayne had in his career (zero).

Nevertheless, Dayne had some simple advice for the Green Bay Packers running back on Tuesday: Find the weight you’re most comfortable at – however light or heavy that might be – and you’ll be fine.

Dayne believes that losing weight as the New York Giants asked him to as a rookie ultimately hurt his career.

“My best weight that I played at at Wisconsin was 265, 270. And then once I got to the league, I dropped 20 pounds, 25 pounds and I was playing at 250, 245,” Dayne said Tuesday evening in an interview with Steve “The Homer” True and Gabe Neitzel on ESPN Wisconsin. “I think I would have been better at [270] because I was comfortable at that weight.

“I was big. I was eating cheesesteaks and pizza turnovers … that was my food. When I got smaller, I wasn’t used to being a smaller back. I used to hit a D-lineman and wouldn’t feel it. Now, I’m 248, 245, and I’m running into cornerbacks and feeling it. But when I was 265, that wasn’t nothing. I wasn’t even getting bruised.

“Once you’re used to playing at your weight and your style, [it’s hard] to change to play in the NFL.”

Taking part in the Packers’ first open-to-the-public practice during organized team activities Tuesday, Lacy did appear lighter, especially across his midsection, but the difference wasn’t astonishing. A source told ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky that Lacy’s weight is “in the 240s,” meaning Lacy’s weight likely was north of 260 pounds last season, after which coach Mike McCarthy announced that he “cannot play at the weight he was at” in 2015.

Lacy wouldn’t say how much he weighed Tuesday, while McCarthy said the player still has “a lot of work to do.” But Dayne cautioned that Lacy has to be at a weight where he’s still as powerful and difficult to tackle as he was his first two years.

“I don’t think it helped me, getting lighter,” Dayne said.

The 38-year-old Dayne, who retired from the NFL after the 2007 season and now works in the UW athletic department, said he watched Lacy last season and could tell that he was heavier – and that the added weight was adversely affecting him. Lacy had back-to-back 1,100-yard seasons his first two years before rushing for just 758 yards last season.

Lacy weighed in at 231 pounds at the 2013 NFL combine.

“He’s not comfortable being [that big of] a back. Coming out of college, he was what, 230? 225? And then you get to 260, 270, and all of a sudden your body’s not used to that unless you’re used to carrying that all the time,” Dayne explained. “Looking at him and his first couple years he played, he was about at his playing weight coming out of college.

“I was used to carrying that weight. So when you’re not used to carrying an extra 20, 25 pounds, hey, that changes your whole game. You can’t make cuts like you used to do, you can’t do stuff you used to do because it changes your whole game. If I couldn’t make you miss [in college], I’d run you over. But at 245, I was feeling everything on hits.”

Dayne said Tuesday that he ran a 4.5-second 40-yard dash at Wisconsin while weighing 274 pounds. When he shed some weight in advance of the 2000 NFL combine, he weighed in at 253 pounds in Indianapolis and ran a 4.45.

“I think if I’d have gone to Pittsburgh, it’d been easier. Jerome Bettis, ‘The Bus,’ was just leaving when I was coming in. So I think I’d have been just perfect with the Pittsburgh Steelers,” Dayne said. “But that’s another story. Because they liked the big backs, and I think we kind of ran the same way.”