Q: How are you doing?
A: I’m doing good. How about yourselves?
Q: Good. So we saw you out there on the field yesterday, how did it feel to be back out there again?
A: It feels great, obviously. Any time you get back out with a little time off is always good, but at the same time you want to be back out there with the teammates, and getting better.
Q: Everybody knows the story about last year. You want to put last year in the past, but by the same token, it’s a great story. When did you kind of realize that you were back, doing what you wanted to be doing? When did you feel like a football player again?
A: As soon as I got signed. I’ve never felt like I wasn’t a football player, but at the same point, I wanted to be back out there with my teammates. Having to watch games was tough at home, but once I got back, I felt pretty comfortable coming right back into it.
Q: Coming back into training camp, did that comfort kind of stretch back over again?
A: Yeah. Obviously, last year, being at home last year during training camp was kind of nice with my young son. At the same point, it’s like one of the things where you want to get back in; you want to be part of it, the whole way through. That’s how I feel about it, and it’s good to start back and be with the ones, and running with the whole defense, and doing everything together from day one.
Q: You were in the middle yesterday. Is that kind of where you see yourself going for the rest of the season? Or are you fighting to get back in the middle?
A: I’m definitely fighting for it. Positions are always up for camp. That’s what camp is for. There’s a lot of competition, there are a lot of good players in the linebacker group. But yeah, definitely I want to stay in the middle and keep that first team spot. That’s what I’m out here trying to do, compete.
Q: Can you describe the difference and the mentality now that you have camp this year?
Q: Coming in as a starter this year, obviously you were on the couch last year this time. Is there a difference in your mentality, as far as getting out there for the first practices?
A: Not really. For me, I think in this league, if you don’t have that chip on your shoulder, if you’re not trying to strive to get better every day, someone is going to pass you by and take your spot. Then you’re not going to be here very long. So I’m trying to take the same mentality I had as an undrafted free agent, when I came in the first time. It’s just one of the things that, the way I prepared.
Q: Picking off Aaron Rodgers last year, it was kind of a nice welcome back for you. Did that surprise you as much as that surprised everyone else?
A: I mean, I was surprised he threw it. At the same point, it was one of the things that happened. We had a lot of pressure on him, and I was able to make a play.
Q: Some of the secondary has said in the last couple of days that they think they’re kind of overshadowed because the defensive line is so good. Even when something goes well, the credit goes there, when maybe it was a coverage sack. Does that make any sense to you?
A: I can understand that. We have a lot of big name guys on our front, but at the same point, we’re a defense. It doesn’t matter who gets the credit, when your defense, if you’re ranked where we did in the playoffs. Obviously, during the season, we didn’t have the stats we wanted. We didn’t put up the numbers we would like, but once we got in the playoffs, on our six-game run there at the end, we played better as a defense. I think it was more because we didn’t care where the credit went. There’s going to be coverage sacks, where we give the defensive line the time to get there. There’s going to be things where, such as Green Bay, where we got beat, and Osi was able to get a strip-sack before Aaron Rodgers could get the ball out. So it goes both ways, and obviously it’s nice being a linebacker playing behind that kind of defensive line. They take on run blocks well, and you don’t have to cover terribly long, because they’re going to get there.
Q: Is it strange for you coming into camp after the year you had last year? You have to prove yourself all over again to keep your starting spot?
A: I don’t think it’s strange. I think it’s football. I feel like every year I wasn’t a starter, I was trying to get the starting spot. I was competing for it, like it was always an open competition. I feel like every position is up for grabs, other than Eli’s.
Q: Injuries kind of plagued everybody last year, defense and offense. This year, you start fresh. How does it feel to get at the beginning again? With everybody healthy and everybody’s on the same page?
A: You know, there’s always guys that are hurt. You got Hakeem Nicks, who is obviously still nicked up, and Chris Canty. Clint Sintim is still trying to return from his injury. There’s still nicks and bruises and people aren’t out, but it’s good to have more players available than not. Everyone feels pretty fresh and healthy coming into camp. Obviously, after day one, you’re going to get more tired. Already feeling the fatigue, a little bit. It’s good to be going through it again with the teammates.
Q: It seems like, at least on defense, linebacker is the position that has the most competiton coming into camp. What’s that group like? You guys have a good relationship? You’re also competing to try to win a spot.
A: Yeah. Again, it’s part of football. You have to be able to have those close relationships, because what happens when you do have to play with these guys in the middle of the season, you want to be willing and ready and already know them and still trying to get to know them after camp. You can’t go into it thinking, ‘I’m not going to do this, I’m not going to do that, because they’re my competiton.’ That’s part of what being a professional is all about, helping them out. I’m a veteran player, so I gotta be able to help the young guys, even if they are trying to take my spot. Trying to give them any kind of clues I can to make them better.
Q: When you look back on your season last year, does it seem kind of crazy, everything you went through with being home for half of the year, and then you’re picking off Aaron Rodgers when you’re starting, and then you’re picking off Brady and winning a Super Bowl.
A: Obviously, it was crazy. It was a whirlwind of a year, but it’s a good story. I’m happy to be here right now. I’m looking forward to next season. It’s one of the things where we’re going in and starting fresh with everyone as a team. We know we’ve gotta get better, we gotta improve. As Eli said before, we were a 9-7 football team last year, just because we weren’t consistent. That’s one of the things we gotta work towards, and I think we’ve got the character in our room; offense, defense, special teams and coaching staff to get us on the right page, and do that, just be more consistent throughtout the season.
Q: Perry Fewell has talked about your knowledge of the defense, how you’re basically like another coach on the field for him. Do you take a lot of pride in always knowing the defense that intimately?
A: Definitely. That’s one of the things that I studied under Antonio Pierce. I was here with him for numerous years, and he was that kind of player. He was a film study guy, he knew the playbook in and out. He could play any position if he got thrown in. Maybe athletic wise, we wouldn’t be the best fit for cornerback, but we know what they’re going to do. It helps you understand it better, when you have a better grasp of the whole defense. You know where the weaknesses are, and you can help protect against them. You also know where the strengths are.
Q: Can you describe your relationship with Herzlich? Like you said with Pierce, an undrafted middle linebacker like yourself, how Herzlich might be the future of the position, years down the line. Do you have a stronger bond with him, maybe Muasau as well?
A: Yeah, definitely. They’re also playing middle linebacker, so obviously I have that kind of bond, but I always have that for undrafted free agents. I feel like I was one of them, just like Antonio was, and I’m just trying to help them learn what they need to do to stay in this league, and to get better, and have an opportunity to keep that chip on your shoulder, and prepare every day. Prepare like a starter and fight for a spot, even if they are fighting for my spot.