While Anthony Lanier II flashed during the 2017 season with five sacks between Weeks 11-15, the defensive lineman wants to increase his productivity in 2018.
The offseason has been a busy one for Washington Redskins defensive lineman Anthony Lanier II, who has seen changes in both his professional and personal lives.
Lanier welcomed his first child, a son named Anthony Lanier III, in March. Fatherhood has had a quick and positive impact on the third-year defensive lineman, who says his newborn is already pushing him to be better.
"When you look into your child's eyes and you can see that they're depending on you, it just makes you go harder about everything that you do," Lanier told Redskins.com. "Because not only are you taking care of yourself and your family, but this is an offspring of you who will be represented by you, so you want to do your best to take care of them."
On the field, Lanier heads into his third season with the Redskins hungry to build on last year's success.
The former college free agent earned a role in the defensive line rotation when first-round pick Jonathan Allen was placed on Injured Reserve following a Lisfranc injury. Lanier capitalized on his opportunity, racking up six passes defended, three sacks and a forced fumble in Washington's final four games of the 2017 season.
Despite his dominant end, Lanier believes he has a lot left to work on.
"I did okay, I feel like I should do better," he said. "There are a lot of things that I've got to work on that [defensive line] coach [Jim] Tomsula is helping me out with and the other guys are showing me. It's a growing method because at any point you don't want to reach your peak."
Lanier attributes his tremendous improvements on the field last season to both personal and professional growth.
"I've matured a lot as a man for one," Lanier said, "but two, learning from our great coaches. Coach Tomsula and [head] coach [Jay] Gruden and even [defensive coordinator] coach [Greg] Manusky, everybody always told me to use my attributes and the things that I've done in the past in different sports to help me be better at football. Just being able to watch different people and actually understand the game a little bit more from their teaching was very helpful."
If there is one area where Lanier is especially determined to raise his level of play moving forward, it's against the run.
"It's more of a pass rushing type of thing for me, but also trying to get down the run as much as possible," Lanier said. "Not saying that was one of my weak points, but I didn't excel at it as I should. So getting my hands to be more violent and strengthening a better base up under me, because with me being tall it's harder for me to get lower than some of the other guys. So just to be able to round myself out a little bit more."
With the impending return of a healthy Allen, Lanier believes the defensive line will take a significant step up in productivity.
The group boasts plenty of talent, particularly with Allen and Phil Taylor Sr. both set to return from injuries, and Lanier believes they will be more formidable than ever in 2018.
"It's going to be a dangerous unit because everybody has their own special thing they need to do," Lanier said. "Coach Tomsula does a very good job of showing us where we need to be at and how we are looking. We all kind of understand what our role is as a defensive line. So when you have Jonathan Allen coming in and stopping the run, and you have me coming in for the pass game, there's never a dull moment during the game because we constantly have people to switch out.
"You have people like Ziggy Hood who can come in and he's clogging up everything. And Phil Taylor will be back, I know he was clogging up everything, you've seen that in past years. Terrell McLain and Stacy McGee, just beasts."