Q: Does this field play to your advantage? Is the fast track something you’re looking forward to?
A: Of course. Anytime you get a chance to play on turf and play on a fast track and be able to run your routes and not worry about weather, slippery conditions or anything like that, it’s always a plus, especially for receivers.
Q: What does it mean to see Eli get up after the hits he took last week?
A: It says a lot about his character and about how much he loves the game and to just get up and keep plugging away no matter how hard it may be, no matter how much they’re getting to him. He just kept it up and got up every single time and just kept his head in the game. That was huge for us. He’s our leader. He’s the one that has to keep his head in the game in order for us to. It just said a lot about him and about how much he has love for us and the organization and the teammates. I respect the guy a ton for it.
Q: How does knowing Eli can do that change your confidence?
A: It changes my confidence a lot. It makes me understand that no matter what happens, no matter how many times they get to him, he’s going to get up and he’s going to keep plugging away. He’s going to move onto the next play and he’s going to act like it never happened. It definitely increases my confidence in him. My confidence is already sky high throughout this season, but going into the playoffs and into a new season has definitely increased my confidence in him by a lot.
Q: Did anyone show you a Super Bowl ring from four years ago yet?
A: Yeah. One of our trainers gave me a pound today and he had the ring on. I was like, ‘I can’t even pound you because the ring is so big.’ It will be cool to get one of my own coming up, God willing.
Q: Has it hit you how rare your story is – going from being unknown to the Super Bowl?
A: It’s starting to hit me now. Once I spoke to my friend Mike Adams, he’s out of Paterson and plays for the Cleveland Browns. I speak to him all of the time. He told me, ‘Man, I’ve played this game about 11 years now and I haven’t even made it to the postseason.’ That really says a lot about how fortunate I am, how fortunate I am just to be here. For a guy like that who has paid his dues in this league and hasn’t even made it to the postseason is definitely tough. It shows you how tough this league is and how hard it is to win each and every week. I’m just a fortunate guy. It’s really starting to sink in – how rare my story is and how far I’ve come.
Q: How much do you remember about last year’s preseason game against the Jets?
A: I still remember it like it was yesterday. I remember warming up before the game and being really, really nervous, having a lot of butterflies. I was a rookie then so I had to wait until the second half to get into the game. It was just anxiety and I’m just waiting patiently. There were a lot of thoughts running through my head. I just wanted to get out there. Once I got out there I just let myself go and let myself play the game. Playing in that game really taught me a lot about the league and taught me a lot about myself. It was an important game for me, especially my family being there. It was just one of those feelings that I’ll never forget.
Q: How much of a difference will having Hakeem Nicks in this game make?
A: I think it will make a big difference. His assets and his ability were definitely missed in that (first) game. Just having him out there, his presence alone is going to call some attention by the defense. Having all of the receivers healthy is going to cause a lot of attention either way. So we’ll see how they play us. It’s going to be an interesting ordeal to see how they come out against us and we’ll see how it goes.
Q: How are you dealing with this week?
A: I’m just taking it day by day, taking it one practice, one meeting at a time and just making sure I’m ready for whatever comes up, whatever the upcoming meeting or the upcoming arrangement is. I’m ready for it and I make sure I get as much sleep as possible, just being prepared for whatever comes my way.
Q: Could you have sold yourself on this story?
A: Not initially. Every step of the way I just tried to play my hardest and whatever opportunity came my way, I just tried to take advantage of it. I understood that opportunites were going to come few and far between and when that small window opens for me I have to jump right through it and make sure I seize that moment and that opportunity. Thank God I have.
Q: Can you talk about the conversation you had with your mom when you got kicked out of school?
A: That was an eye-opening conversation for me. She held me accountable. She held me accountable for everything that I was doing – all my faults, all my rights and wrongs. That was the moment where I realized I had to turn into a man. I was a sophomore or junior in college and that’s when I needed to really look at myself in the mirror and understand that I’m a man now. My mother can’t come and be there with me and be my voice anymore. I had to really speak up and speak for myself. That was one of the turning points in my life. I had to turn a leaf and become a man.
Q: Did you try to emulate Wes Welker?
A: Yeah, there’s a little bit of stuff that he does very well. Obviously he catches the ball very well. He’s really quick in and out of his routes and that’s something that I try to imitate while I’m out there and try to be as quick as possible. Moving laterally is something that I do well and he’s been exceptional at that for years. So I watched a little bit of film on him and I know how good he is and I try to steal a few things from his repertoire.