When his love for football was stymied during the NFL lockout, Xavier Fulton found another passion: boxing.

Fulton – a second-year offensive lineman who joined Washington’s practice squad late last season – spent his days at the Academy of Human Performance in Aurora, Ill., where he trained in the boxing ring to remain prepared for the end of the labor dispute.

The change of scenery, according to Fulton, helped strengthen his knee, which he injured at Illinois in 2006. And it refined the fundamentals he wasn’t able to work on with his teammates until last Thursday, when he reported for training camp.

Boxing “really did help me a lot in terms of football and footwork and hand work,” Fulton said.

During the lockout, a company sought out Fulton’s baritone voice – which is sure to stand out along the trenches if his 6-foot-5, 301-pound frame doesn’t – to do voiceovers, although the deal eventually fell through.

However, Fulton, who did some voiceover work in college, had no issues with voicing his opinion on the effect this year’s lockout had on the Redskins and the league.

“Just being in football shape – that’s the one thing you can’t do on your own, no matter how hard you’ve been training,” Fulton said. “You have to be out here working you’re your teammates. I feel like we really missed that. The lockout really hurt us and that’s across the league.”

Despite the missed organized team activities and condensed training camp, Fulton said he isn’t worried about the shape he’ll be in for the first preseason game against Pittsburgh. The biggest thing for him is getting the plays down before the training camp.

“They threw a lot at us, but they’re also taking the right amount of steps to thoroughly explain everything to us,” Fulton said. “I have faith that our coaches are going to get us prepared for the first preseason game.”