June, 5, 2013
Coach Payton said that the tempo has been good and everyone is just progressing. What have you seen so far in Minicamp?
“I think the tempo has been great. You can only go so hard because it’s OTAs and minicamp so we don’t have pads on but guys are energetic out there, flying around, and making plays.”
What excites you about the talent on this defense along with the change to the 3-4 aligment?
“We have always been talented. That always excites me, knowing the true potential that we have and me just playing a different position. It’s a challenge for me. I look forward to it. It’s exciting, I’m doing something different, but essentially I’m doing what I’ve always done, which is primarily rush the passer. It just puts me in different situations to make more plays and I’m excited about it.”
I know you said you’re responsible for rushing the passer but you are also responsible for potentially dropping back. When was the last time you remember dropping back and actually covering somebody?
“Just watch the games from last year. I dropped back a bunch of times when I had to cover tight ends and a couple of receivers. It’s not something that I’m not familiar with, but i just haven’t done it on a consistent basis. I did it earlier, when I first got here with the New Orleans Saints about nine years ago with (Jim) Haslett. He kind of went away from it and then it came back. It’s just something that I kind of need to get used to doing. I don’t think it will be that difficult. I’ve played this base before.”
What have you seen from Victor Butler and how is he progressing?
“I think he is progressing well. He is one of the few guys that knows the defense inside and out. He is very helpful to teaching me and the other guys this new system and, obviously, he is a terrific player. He is out there making plays as well.”
I know that you have been here and seen all the highs and lows. Some people are comparing what’s going on now to what you were dealing with in 2006. Kind of a rebirth with Sean (Payton) being back and kind of what happened last year. Do you see those parallels or no?
“I don’t think a natural disaster happened (in this instance). Football has a lot of highs and lows. Last year was one of those low moments and we are moving on from that. This is a new and exciting year with a lot of new players in the locker room and a lot of new coaches. The team is progressing forward and I think we have a lot of good things to come.”
What do you like best or what is the most fun part of the new position for you?
“When you stand up and how you can see the plays as they develop a little bit faster. It’s just something different. I have always been a right end defensive end my whole entire career. I get to play on the left side, play on the right side, and play in the middle a little bit. It makes it a bit more fun and more active.”
Your offensive teammates, how dangerous can they be once again this year with (Darren) Sproles again being healthy, some new speed with Kenny Stills, and some younger guys as well?
“We are always a threat. Our coaching staff, (along with) Drew (Brees), and the players we have are constantly getting better and just seeing them this past OTA and minicamp, they are getting a lot better than what they were last year. I don’t know if that is because Sean (Payton) is here or not, but I just think that the talent and the way that the offense is going is getting better.”
Is it a fun challenge to play against that type of offense with that speed in a practice?
“Absolutely, because we know that if we can stop our offense, we can stop anybody.”
In this defense, it looks like you guys are able to have a little more freedom to kind of roam around. Compared to last year, is that accurate?
“No, I wouldn’t say that. We still have places that we need to be. Last year was just a totally different type of defense. I feel like we have a little bit more flexibility with the play calling and stuff that we want to do as opposed to last year, but ultimately we still have responsibilities, we still have to end up at the same spot to be in sync with the rest of the guys.”
Can standing up reinvigorate a player?
“I don’t think so. I’m still rushing the passer and doing the same things I’ve always done. I wouldn’t say it reinvigorates a player. It just puts me in better situations then I was in last year.”
Would it actually be more arm twisting to make you a 3-4 end since you have been a pass rusher your whole life?
“I felt like I’ve been a 3-4 end for the past three years with the way we played the defense and the situations I was placed in. It would not have been an arm twist because I thought it was something I had been doing for years anyway.”
What is it like being in a room with Joe Vitt everyday?
“It’s great. I love Joe Vitt. He is a very fiery guy. You know what to expect from him, but at the same time you don’t know what to expect from him. He is going to challenge everyone in that room and keeps us motivated and working hard. I’ve always had a great relationship with him but never actually got to sit in his room and I’m enjoying it.”
Did you call anybody else in the league that made a transition like this such as Dwight Freeney for example?
“No, I didn’t call anybody, but I did watch a lot of film to see the transitions of some guys with their body types and the way they did it. Then I spoke to Rob (Ryan) and Sean (Payton). It’s something they are excited about and I was excited about doing too.”
Did you ever play linebacker in high school or college?
“You guys are the ones with all the research. At Ohio State I was playing the same position essentially. I think the last two years when I was at Ohio State, I played the same position. The first couple of years here we did a lot of dropping and a lot of moving around when I was here, then I just played right end, then last year I dropped a little bit and did a bunch of different stuff, and then this year (I’m at this new position in the 3-4). I have been in a lot of different systems throughout my career and had a lot of different defensive coaches, different styles, and different ways of going about things. I’m pretty adaptable to different things and adjusting to different things, so I didn’t think it would be that much of a challenge.”
You said you played in a lot of different schemes in your career, where does this one rank in terms of learning, digesting, and mastering?
“It’s kind of similar to Gregg’s’ (Williams) system a little bit. Gregg’s (Williams) system was kind of a hybrid of a 3-4 4-3 system and this is a true 3-4. It’s similar in a lot of different ways to that system.”
Is it difficult to process?
“No, not at all. We have installed almost 80 percent of the defense in a couple of weeks and we haven’t had that many mental errors, so I’m assuming that it has been easy for guys to pick up.”
When Gregg (Williams) would do the 3-4, you would stay on the line. So you’re actually playing a different position then you played in that 3-4?
“Yes. It’s a combination.”
Did he ever line you up on the edge?
What is the different about having your hand down rushing and is it easier to get more leverage and power?
“Typically when you have your hand down, you’re closer to the tackle and most of the time the guys that we have, hands down, are up on the tackle now. When you (play) outside (linebacker), you have a little bit more room and a little bit more angle to rush the passer. Typically, you’re going up against tight ends, backs, and sometimes tackles. You could be going up against anybody so you have a lot more opportunity and it makes it a lot easier.”
It’s a different technique I assume?
“It’s a different technique and that’s probably the hardest part, just learning the techniques. But after the technique is over, the actual task is something that comes naturally.”