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Falcons DT Ra'Shede Hageman is in great shape

The team's hopeful future star looks to have improved his conditioning since his rookie season.

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Ra'Shede Hageman has always had elite athleticism. After being drafted, he himself admitted that he needed to work on his effort. He got off to a shaky start after showing poor conditioning on HBO's Hard Knocks and getting memorably scorned by the colorful Bryan Cox. Hageman later told ESPN's Vaughn McClure he could drop a few pounds.

Hageman might have been upset with defensive line coach Bryan Cox riding him about it at the time, but he has since come to the realization that he needed to lose weight.

Hageman showed some real flashed in his rookie year, but had only limited playing time and struggled to play consistently.

If his shape is any indication, Hageman looks to have dedicated himself to the game in the offseason. He has been hittin' the gym, bro.

The Falcoholic received an exclusive quote from credentialed media reporter Jeanna Thomas of the Falcoholic, who saw Hageman at the start of offseason workouts.

I was genuinely surprised by how much he's slimmed down through the abdomen, but he's still massive. He looks like he's been working really hard this offseason. If I had to guess, I'd say he's about 295 now, doubt he's lost much weight, but he looks to be in better shape overall.

While some remain skeptical, this is a great sign from Hageman. For starters, the dropped weight should help him flash his explosiveness more often. The Falcons will hopefully make the game a little easier for him and give him the main responsibility of rushing the passer.

Most important, a player with questions about his work ethic came to the very start of the season in great shape. The mere fact he did not balloon up to his prior 320 pounds during the offseason is a good sign. The improvement suggests Hageman may be more prepared to take a leap this season.