Talk about having a full offseason with Jerry Gray:
I can't even tell you how crucial the offseason is. Last year not having that with a new coaching staff. Funny that we are talking about my football camp and now pro football because it is all about fundamentals. What we did last year was just put our fundamentals in during camp, and you just don't get to where you need to be doing that.
So that is what this offseason has been about, getting the concepts in that we are going to run all year long and getting good at them. We don't need to trick people. We just need to play solid fundamental football and do it together.
That is going to be the biggest difference people are going to see on our defense. We have those playmakers, those athletes, but what we needed is that work together.
Talk about what where the pass rush will come from this year:
I believe we have the players to get it done in a conventional pass rush, but you will see a lot of different things. Jerry Gray is a passionate coach, and you are going to see that passion this season. We brought blitzes last year and we are going to bring blitzes this year.
There is nothing new under the sun. You aren't going to see something brand new, but you are going to see a team that knows what they are after more and knows who they are. We are going to create that pass rush a few different ways, and we have guys that can get it done, even just up front.
Talk about what you like about playing special teams:
I love special teams. It is an opportunity to go out there and be wild- to run down the field and just smack somebody. That is what I love about it, but more so that it is an unwanted job. Sign me up for that. I want it. I will do it all day long and do it better than you. That is my attitude, and that is what makes me great at it. It is just an opportunity to play football. You won't let me play defense? Well, yeah, I'll go out there and play special teams.
That is the mindset that I have. I think guys that don't take advantage of that are crazy, and I am crazy for taking advantage of it. You can look at it both ways.
Most people are talking about the offense this season and expect the defense to be the weak point of the team. What do you expect from this defense this season?
I hope the defense is the weak spot of the team. I hope the offense is scoring 50 points a game. I don't see our defense being any type of problem. We are going to be better than last year, and I think we had a good defense last year. Our goals are lofty on defense.
I don't see any reason this defense can't be really good. We have only gotten better from last year, and we have had the offseason together to work on some of the fundamental stuff- improvement is all I have seen.
How much are ya'll looking at the front end of this schedule?
It is always a week by week thing. Right now it is all about the Patriots. We want them the first game. That is a great time to get them. The schedule is tough, so what? It is always tough. Most NFL games are decided by 3 or 4 points. That's just the way it is. Every week you just have to find a way to win.
Our schedule looks tough right now, but you never know how things are going to shake out. Nobody thought we were going to be 9-7 last year. The expectations are high for us. It doesn't matter who we are going to play. Every week is going to be tough. You go up and play an 0-7 team and they whoop your butt. You just have to show up every week.
Who did you model your game after growing up?
I was a Barry Sanders fan growing up. That is why I scored so many touchdowns in high school. Once I got to college, I wasn't really modeling it after any professional guy, but I would always watch guys like Brian Urlacher and Derrick Brooks. Guys that are always making plays. I was more so just trying to figure it out on my own, but those are the guys that I looked up to it.
So you were a running back in high school?
Oh yeah. I was a running back in high school and my first year at Penn State.
Who was your favorite team growing up?
I was a Steelers fan growing up. It is tough to admit that now, but when you are a kid you don't know any better.
Again, a huge thanks to Tim Shaw for taking the time to do this, and thanks to Don Povia of Farkas Eye Black for setting it all up.