It’s a higher level of play at this level of ball. Now what we choose to do with his athletic ability as we go, as he shows his speed, his quickness, his burst, his change of direction. Can he make a guy miss in those situations? Ahmad had been there before because, I mean Ahmad breaks a lot of tackles out there. It’s a tough game out there at the next level of ball. What you did in high school, what you did in college is gone. What you do at this level is another level of learning. It’s also a level of toughness. The running back has to be able to protect his offensive line, protect his quarterback, he’s got to make plays out there as an athlete, with the ball and without the ball. How he progresses will be key. He’s got great energy, he’s got a great personality. We’re excited about those kinds of things. How much he can grow physically, we’ll know when we get on the field. He’s probably going to be taxed more mentally now than he’s ever been taxed before.
Like I said, Ahmad has been there before. There’s a code of honor and respect in what we do, in being a complete running back and that’s what he has to show, protection and things like that. If he can’t learn it, well how do we utilize his ability? While on the same token if you minimize his amount of plays, defenses get paid too. They’re not stupid. So all of a sudden they’re like, "oh he’s on the field, well it goes to him." A couple times last year we tried to do it with Da’Rel and the Forty-Niners sat there and put two guys on Da’Rel. Ok, so they figured that one out. So you try to do as best you can and say, ‘hey, is he ready to take a large part on the field at certain times?’ Only time will tell.
When we pad up and start hitting somebody and being able to play physically out there, and play under pressure. Is he going to be ready enough to play at the level of our quarterback – is what will be key. And our level at quarterback right now is pretty daggone high. And our quarterback shouldn’t have to take a step down for anybody. Anybody else who steps on that field should step up to his level, and everybody else’s level of play. So, that’s a goal that he has, and that’s a goal that we have for him, to improve our run game, to improve our pass game, and kind of go from there.
Q: Andre Brown, what’s different about his game now? It looks like he’s a lot bigger than he was before.
A: Andre’s been a fairly big, solid individual. Really the thing that has held Andre back is just learning the offense. He’s big, he’s fluid, he’s strong, we drafted him so that he could catch the ball out of the backfield. He really is gifted. Athletically, he might be as good as anybody out there. But his ability to learn in a lot of people’s offenses, because he’s had the world tour, that has been his weakness. Now, he came back last year and showed that he actually could learn some of the things that we had done, and as he progresses and gets that opportunity, he has the size to pick up 250-pound linebackers. He’s got physical toughness, he has got great hands, he has that ability but can he put it all together is what we’re interested in seeing finally, has he matured to that level of being an every down back? We took him, the Giants took him, thinking that he had that ability to be a solid every down type of back, like we had in a Derrick Ward. Derrick Ward helped us out in third down, first and second down, he was a true every down type back for us that one year. Have we progressed with him? That’s a challenge for him that we’re looking forward to do. Danny Ware gave us that opportunity last year to help us in those third down situations with Eli and run certain routes and protect him versus certain blitzers and that kind of thing and not ganged up on. He helped us in that role. We hope that Da’Rel Scott, being a speed guy, sizable guy, has matured enough now to see the complexities and again, take care of the quarterback. And I think he’s willing to take that challenge right now as well. Obviously not having Brandon Jacobs here…when you have less numbers, that gives other people a chance now, rebirth of an opportunity right now. So, it’s kind of a great feeling to have that kind that of desire, of guys wanting and that hunger. Ahmad was there when he had to be the third guy. Third guy, I don’t care who you are, doesn’t get a chance to be on the field that much. But they’re hungry enough. Ahmad grew up the right way. He grew up waiting for his time to actually come and legitimately be that guy. That’s why he’s as physically tough. He makes everybody tough out there, because hey, it starts with us, it ends with us in the backfield and we will handle everything. And that’s what we’re looking for our guys to do.
Q: Ahmad was a seventh round pick so there wasn’t the pressure of being a first round pick that the new guy has here.
A. Well, it’s all how you see it. I’ve always coached from the standpoint of I don’t care if you were in the first round or the last round…or Brady wouldn’t be where he is today. When you step on that field, you’re playing now with grown men, so if you let that play in the back of your head, that’ll bother you. You’re either ready or you’re not. You’re going to have that little bit of pressure. Well, that should be good pressure for you. Don’t see it as pressure. The only pressure I have is to take care of that quarterback, take care of my team when I’m out there running the ball …. Captain, while I’m running the ball. And when I’m not running the ball, I am helping whatever it takes to get that quarterback to be the best he can be.
Q: Any thoughts on Joe Martinek?
A: Joe? Tough kid, great kid, …. hopefully will get a chance to see this summer, he also will help us out in both roles as well.