Hakeem – missing the spring – giving other guys an opportunity to get some playing time, get to learn the offense. And hopefully prepare us better for the start of the season.
Q: Is there a little concern……..?
A: No, I don’t think so. We will have time. Hakeem has always been a fast healer. So hopefully he gets healed up quickly and can get back for training camp – for a good bit of that where we can get our timing down. He is a guy who knows the offense. He knows what he is doing. It won’t take long for us to get back on the same page.
Q: Have you seen anything from Ramses Barden to make you think that he could be a factor?
A: I hope so. Ramses is a smart guy. He knows the offense. He knows what to do. Last year I think he was coming off the injury. He never really got exactly where he wanted to be. He looks like he is running well; coming out of his breaks well. So hopefully he can step up and play a role for us this year.
Q: How is Hixon looking?
A: Domenik is looking good. He is running well. He is running by people. He knows the offense. He is a smart player. It is good to have those guys. He can move around to different spots. You depend on him to do the right thing.
Q: After winning two, how do you regroup everybody psychologically and say, "Okay, we can do this again"?
A: I think the focus is really just on getting better; working on getting better – improving our game. That has been my focus coming into the offseason – just continue to work hard in the weight room; do those things when we are on the practice field. Look at your mechanics; look at different things that you can improve on from last year. And that is really the focus of the team, "How can we improve; how can we get better." …… put exactly on our …. , "We have to repeat." That comes from a lot of things happening. And things going your way and playing well. But I think the focus is just worry about, as a team, improving and finding ways to play better football than we did last year.
Q: You and Hakeem have connected on 183 balls in the last two years – more than any other of your wide receivers. What is it about him that is so special with the connection between the two of you?
A: Hakeem is a smart guy. He works hard. He comes in understanding each week what technique he is going to have to do to get open. He is a playmaker. He has strong hands, he catches the ball well. And so obviously having him in the lineup, he draws some attention – he gets some double coverage. That opens up things for other people – and Victor Cruz. And I think with Victor and Hakeem out there, a lot of times they will kind of draw the double coverage. And that is why you need that third receiver, that tight end who is going to be singled up to get open and have a great matchup for them.
Q: Did you get to talk to him? Tom said he talked to him on Sunday. Have you talked to him yet?
A: I talked to him Thursday a little bit. And he just said, "Hey, I’m a fast healer. I’ll be back quickly."
Q: It seems every year there is a question with the receiving corps for three or four years now. Does it get tiresome for a lack of anything else … just run the same four or five guys out there every year?
A: It is just part of the NFL. You are going to have different guys in and out. And it is hard to continue to keep guys. We have had success. he receivers have done well. They work hard. Coaches do a good job of coaching them up and getting them doing the right things. So I think it keeps guys competing and working hard. And we do have a number of guys who have been in this offense for multiple years who do have a good feel. You are always going to have some new guys in that you are trying to train and try to get them caught up to speed. And hopefully they can continue to learn and get better and help out in some way.
Q: But it is a bigger blow because Mario left as well. So now there are two spots …….
A: Right. Obviously right now during the OTA’s we have Victor, but we have Domenik Hixon who has been here. He started for us and played in games. We have Ramses Barden who has started in games for us. So we have guys who understand the system to be able to go out there and be sharp and do things well with the first team. And then we have young guys and you are trying to train them and get them caught up. It is good that they can watch some of these veterans and how to run routes, how to get open and what you need to do.