clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Tampa Bay running back Derrick Ward, 09.23.09

Q. Do you miss the Giants?

A. Do I miss the Giants? No. I am in a perfect situation here in Tampa.

Q. Do you miss (anybody)?

A. I miss my teammates, man. I miss my old teammates and the coaches. When you play somewhere for five years, you are always going to have that mutual respect for them. I thank them for giving me my start in the NFL and continuing to believe in me throughout those years.

Q. When you were a Giant, which defender was the guy that you felt the most you did not want to run into?

A. It is a toss up between three, actually. Osi (Umenyiora), (Justin) Tuck, and A.P. Those three guys, they are the backbone of the defense. Without all three of them together, we had some mishaps last year. But when they are all together they are one of the most dominating defenses in the NFL. It’s a toss up between all three of those guys. They exemplify what defenses are supposed to be like.

Q. Now that you have to go up against them, how do you feel like you will attack them?

A. We aren’t going to change our game plan. Everybody knows we like to run the ball. We have actually been doing pretty well in the pass game, as well. It is all about what situations we get into during the course of the game. Whatever works during the course of the game, that is what we are going to stick with.

Q. You have watched some of the films on the Giants already. With what you have seen these first two weeks, how much does that defense look different than what Spags (Steve Spagnoulo) had last year?

A. To me, it still seems they pretty much kept a lot of the same ideas that coach Spags had on defense with the blitzing, the zone blitzing and the pass rush. They are looking very good. Osi is back, he is doing a tremendous job, it doesn’t really look like he has missed a beat. Justin is doing his usual thing, pass rushing and run stuffing. A.P. is making correct calls. I saw he made a correct call in that Cowboys game on Sunday night and put the defense in the right position to make a play on the ball. They returned it for a touchdown, so, they are looking like what I am used to seeing as a defense. They are playing pretty confident right now.

Q. Are you surprised they gave up so many rushing yards to Dallas and can you exploit that?

A. Yeah, that I am surprised. They always, Coach Coughlin is particular about the run game when it comes to the defense. That was pretty surprising, I think they gave up like two hundred and fifty yards. I don’t think out of the five years that I was there, I don’t think our defense ever gave up 250 yards rushing. That was kind of surprising to me, but you know every team is going to have a good game rushing the ball, sooner or later. I guess it was just Dallas’ turn to have that good game against the Giants defense.

Q. Do you still have much conversation with Brandon Jacobs or Ahmad Bradshaw?

A. Yeah, I just got through talking to B.J. earlier this morning. We were just going over how it is going to be kind of strange being across from each other on Sunday and playing against each other. We were teammates for four or five years, so it is going to be kind of surreal to not be playing with the Giants. I am here in Tampa, I am loving my team, I am loving the things that we’re accomplishing. We haven’t started off very well, but it is just the little things that we’ve got to get tightened up that will make us into a whole different team. To be able to play against these guys, it will be fun and exciting. Hopefully the best team wins.

Q. Do you know as much about this defense for being around here for a few years, as would maybe a defensive player?

A. I plead the fifth. That is all I can tell you about that, I plead the fifth. I played there for five years against that defense, everyday in practice, so I have seen them everyday in practice. Like I said, I plead the fifth.

Q. I know you were hoping to become a featured back in this league. Are you kind of surprised that you are back in a running back rotation again?

A. No, I am not surprised. That is how the NFL is going towards this day and age. There are not too many featured running backs in the NFL. You got your Adrian Peterson and Michael Turner. Besides that, there is really not that many featured running backs. I am fine with the rotation that we have. I am fine with the carries that I get. It only extends my career and it will also extend our season as far as having healthy running backs when it comes to Weeks13-16. When you are a featured running back and you get to Week 13, Week 14, you start to wear and tear. You can look at Clinton Portis, he started off leading rusher, MVP, last year and then he drops off at the end of each year because he doesn’t really have anybody to spell him, to rotate with him. When you have guys like myself, Cadillac, Earnest and Clifton Smith, all rotating throughout the course of the game, when the game is over we can still play. We are still fresh , we’re able to go. I just think that is going to pay dividends for us when it comes to the latter weeks of the regular season.

Q. Did you guys come up with a nickname yet?

A. I got a nickname set, but we have to win some games before I unleash it. It doesn’t make any use of having a nickname and we are 0-whatever. We have to win some games and put some more yards on the board before we can call ourselves something.

Q. If you had to describe your Giants experience in one word, what would it be and why?

A. It was life-changing. It was life-changing in the fact that I learned to become a man with the Giants. When I got into the league, I didn’t have any direction when it came to the NFL. I was content to play special teams and really not playing because of Tiki (Barber) and then the injuries that I had. Playing with the Giants it taught me how to overcome adversity and to work as hard as I can to get to the point where I want to be in my career. That is what I did the past few years in New York. I broke my leg in 2007 and that motivated me to work even harder that next spring and to go into last season in the best possible shape to be help the Giants win. We had a terrific season last year, we came up a little bit short, but the Giants prepared me to become the player that I am today. I will always be in debt to the Giants when it comes to that factor.

Q. Being brought on as a high-powered free agent, have you found yourself in more of a leadership role in the locker room?

A. Yeah, much more of a leadership role. We have a very young team. I am considered one of the old guys on this team. This is only my sixth year. I have taken on more of a leadership role, a more vocal role. I had great leaders in New York that I hone my skills after. Michael Strahan, Tiki Barber and Amani Toomer, being around those guys, they just rub off on you when it comes to leadership. When I came here to Tampa Bay, I knew that on offense they were going to need leaders like me and Byron Leftwich and Michael Clayton to help the younger guys. Our offensive line is very, very young. Our wide receivers, we have young wide receivers. We have a young defense. We have a young head coach. It is all new to everybody so to get a guy like me and to bring a guy like Byron Leftwich in, and Kellen Winslow, to be vocal with what we’re doing, it is just helping our younger guys get the bigger picture. It is not all about the perks and the fun, the outside stuff of football. It is about concentrating and being the best that you can be whenever you are in. To always give it your best.