HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
“Congratulations to Duane Brown. He was voted the recipient of the Ed Block Courage award by his teammates. I don’t think anybody is more deserving of that this year. The award recognizes extra efforts both on and off the field and for their ability to overcome adversity and Duane is one of the unquestioned leaders of this team. He came back from a very difficult injury and he’s playing at a high level so again congratulations to Duane on that award. I’ll open it up to questions.”
What is something you saw in DE Jadeveon Clowney during his rehab from microfracture surgery that led you to believe he could get to where he is right now?
“There were a lot of things that I saw. He rehabbed the correct way. That rehab from that surgery is very difficult, it’s very intricate. For the first several weeks, you have to keep the knee elevated. There’s different stages to the rehab. I thought he, along with our training staff, adhered to those instructions and did a good job. Then when he came back, he was moving around pretty good. I know he had some other things injury-wise going on since then, but as it relates to that surgery, I think he did all the right things.”
What did you think when you saw DE Jadeveon Clowney made the Pro Bowl?
“I was happy for him. I think that’s a heck of an accomplishment for him. He played good football for us this year. He needs to continue to play good football here at the end of the regular season because we need him. I thought there were a lot of guys on our team that were deserving of the Pro Bowl, so I was happy for all the guys that made it as alternates also. Hopefully the more we win, the more we get guys in the Pro Bowl.”
The result of the Bengals game won’t affect who wins the AFC South if Tennessee beats Jacksonville earlier in the day on Saturday. Have you thought about how you might handle that?
“I think that every time you take the field, you’re out there to win. I don’t think that – obviously, the scenario that you just talked about, we don’t even think about that. We’re really just really focused on the Bengals. It’s a very short week and we’re just looking to the challenge of the Bengals. They’re a very challenging team. They do a lot of things well and it’s going to be a tough game, so I think anytime you lineup and play, you play to win.”
What did you see from QB Tom Savage in practice today and what are you hoping to see from him this week?
“I thought he had a good day. He completed the ball. Wednesdays are tough, especially on a short week. We pile a lot into Wednesdays, first, second and third down today. Tomorrow, we’ll pile a lot more. So installation was heavy today, extra meetings and things like that. I thought he handled it pretty well. It wasn’t perfect. He got a lot of reps today, which always helps I think. I think our scout teams did a good job on both sides of the ball and on special teams. It was a good, energetic practice.”
When DE Jadeveon Clowney was going through his rehab, did you have to make sure he didn’t get down on himself through the long process?
“Yeah, that’s tough. That would be something that you’d have to ask him. I think that obviously his family probably helped. I think his teammates helped him, guys that have been through those types of things. That definitely helped. We definitely encouraged him when we saw him. I’m sure Mike Vrabel had a big part in it. But I think most of the credit goes to JD that he was able to come back from that and play at a good level.”
What improvement have you seen from QB Tom Savage comparing his first game his rookie season to what he did on Sunday vs. the Jaguars?
“I mean, it’s not even close. I think he took advantage of his year last year when he was on Injured Reserve. He prepped every week like he was really a part of the game plan, like he was going to play even though he was on Injured Reserve. I think he really did a good job of that. When he was able to get back to throwing, he did a lot of those things on his own, worked on footwork. He’s a much improved player relative to that time when he played as a rookie. He’s had a lot of preseason snaps. The key is he’s got to keep improving every day, can’t take a step back. He’s got to go out here tomorrow and just take it day-by-day, snap-by-snap and try to get better.”
Secondary Coach John Butler has worked with a lot of different personnel since he’s been here. Can you talk about the job he’s done with the secondary that is ranked No.1 against the pass?
“Excellent coach. John Butler is an excellent coach. John Butler, in my opinion, is destined for great things in this profession. I think he’ll be a coordinator someday. I think he’ll be a head football coach somewhere someday. Did a great job for us at Penn State and he’s done an excellent job for us here as guys really rely on him. He’s a very energetic guy. He brings a lot of energy every day. He’s a very smart guy, very quick-minded guy. Very detail oriented and works very hard. He’s in here early, stays late. Great family guy, father and husband. He does a great job all the way around.”
Do you think QB Tom Savage is comfortable with the offense and knows how to run it properly?
“Yeah, he definitely understands our offense. I think the key is with anybody, as you go from week-to-week, is how does our offensive game plan relate to what the defense is doing and this is a very different defense than what we played in Jacksonville. This is Paul Guenther. This is a whole different deal and that’s going to be the key. It’s not necessarily the knowledge of our offense, I mean, he’s got that down. He knows our offense. It’s how do those plays apply to Cincinnati’s defense. Cincinnati is very difficult, especially in situational football, third down, short yardage, red area. They pose a lot of issues schematically and so it’s going to be a big challenge for all of us.”
How much does playing in games show that QB Tom Savage really understands your offense and how it relates to the defense compared to just talking about it in the film room?
“I think that’s a big thing. I don’t think there’s any substitute for experience, trying to give him as much as we can in practice. Obviously, he got good experience last week playing in a tough football game where we were down and we had to come back in the game so I think that experience helps him. I think he’s a confident guy. I think he has good poise. He’s the same guy every day, like I said the other day. He’s got a good personality for the spot that he’s in right now. We’re all looking forward to seeing him play and take advantage of his opportunity.”
Has QB Tom Savage been the same guy this week as the starter?
“Yeah, he’s got a good personality. You got to give credit to his family. I know his wife. I met his dad and his brother a few years ago, they were thinking about transferring to Penn State when I was the head football coach there so I met them there. Good family. I think he’s got a lot of positive traits when it comes to poise and being a consistent person.”
Sometimes when a backup quarterback takes over the starting job, they really bloom. Has QB Tom Savage bloomed in meetings or practice already this week?
“Like I said, I think he’s the same guy. He’s a very studious guy. He’s not a really loud guy. I think he’s confident in his own abilities. He’s a good communicator with his teammates. His teammates have a lot of respect for him. They’ve seen how hard he’s worked to wait to get this opportunity. He’s done a lot of different things. He’s comeback from injuries. He’s worked hard in the weight room. He’s worked hard in our offense. I don’t think he’s done anything to necessarily bloom. I think he’s just been the same guy.”
Seems like a lot of guys were back at practice. What are your thoughts on the boost you could get at outside linebacker and how is RB Lamar Miller doing?
“There’s no substitute for having as healthy of a team as you can possibly have. Not including obviously all those guys that are on IR. We’ve got a bunch of guys on IR, but I’m talking about right now with our 53 man roster. As we head into this game, it’s fairly healthy so it’s still day-to-day with some of those guys especially Lamar. I would say it’s definitely day-to-day. He’s working hard to get back. He’s a very tough guy. He’s a pro and he’ll do everything he can to be able to play on Saturday night.”
Is it an ankle that’s bothering RB Lamar Miller?
“Yeah, something like that.”
OFFENSIVE COORDINTOR GEORGE GODSEY
What have you seen from QB Tom Savage in terms of development as a player and as a person since you scouted him out of Pittsburgh?
“He’s an open book. He comes in prepared. Does a good job of listening to all the coaching points at all the positions. Has a real good rapport with the other players. I think every day for him – he’s improved and that’s kind of what our expectations of him are too.”
Can you talk about QB Tom Savage’s arm talent and coaching the amount of strength and velocity he has?
“I mean he’s a real good thrower of the football, in layman’s terms, so does a good job of really practicing with his core fundamentals, technique and then throwing with defenders in his face. We don’t really want to do that every play, but if it does present itself then you still got to be an accurate passer when there is a defender there.”
QB Tom Savage is a big guy. Without him changing his style much, is there anything that you want to see from him in terms to tempo?
“I think it really, speaking from a little bit of experience, is just that it speeds up your process of thinking. You don’t want to be back there without the ability to escape meaning physically outrun anybody and hold onto the football. It speeds up your reads. It speeds up the time table to throw the football and I think that’s what we’re wanting.”
What did you see from QB Tom Savage last year when he was on Injured Reserve and how he prepared every day?
“Well, you know, he took the step from rookie year to being a professional. I thought when you’re sitting there and you really can’t play the upcoming game because of an injury, you take two roads and one is a proactive approach and that’s the approach that he took. Took a lot of notes as if he was preparing for the game. Certainly that’s in the past, but it definitely helped him as far as his development as a professional.”
How has QB Brock Osweiler been this week and how is he today?
“Real good. We have a close room in there. Brandon (Weeden), Brock, Tom (Savage), myself, Pat (O’Hara). We have real good relationships. There’s a lot of conversation as far as what we want them to do on certain plays. They do a good job of interacting too within themselves and of helping each other out.”
QB Tom Savage has been very hard on himself since the 2014 game against the Colts when he was a rookie. How much do you think he has grown since then?
“That was a long time ago, but I think whether you’re a coach or a player or I’m sure everybody in here. They’re critical of how they do things. They want to do it as good as possible. Want to be the best out there. Tom’s got that trait. He works at it and there’s something that always drives everybody. He wants to do well out there when he’s getting his opportunity.”
T DUANE BROWN
What does it mean to you to be the 2016 Ed Block Courage Award winner?
“It means a lot. Knowing the history behind the Ed Block Award and everything that he stands for and the things he’s done in the community for children, it means a lot. I’m very thankful for my teammates voting me for this award. It’s been a long year working back from the injury that I had and I’m grateful to be at this point, so thankful for my teammates for the vote and I’m very appreciative.”
How special is it that this is voted on by your peers?
“Very special because at the end of the day, I think we all want the respect and the admiration of our peers. I think we go out there on Sunday, that’s who I do it for, I do it for my teammates. I kept that in the back of my mind throughout the whole rehab process, just getting back out there with my guys. I’m very thankful for them voting me for this award.”
What does it mean to have DE Jadeveon Clowney going to the Pro Bowl?
“Clowney’s a special person to me because I know everything he’s been through in his short career, physically, mentally and everything it took to get to this point for him. The surgery he had a couple years ago, (for) a lot of guys that’s career threatening and they’re never the same after that. For him to come back and not only be on the field and be this disruptive and be a game-wrecker the way he’s been this year, even battling through more injuries, I take my hat off to him. I go against him every day in practice so I know just how hard he works and just how great he wants to be. To get that acknowledgment from the league, I’m very happy for him.”
What has QB Tom Savage been like since he was named the starter and how do you feel he’ll do?
“I think he’ll be fine. Savage, his demeanor hasn’t changed. He’s a very even-keeled guy, very calm and poised guy, as you can see when he entered the game last week. His preparation has been pretty good so far. Obviously, Cincinnati has a great defense, a lot of different looks that they’ll show. He’s doing a good job of recognizing everything and all of us communication and getting on the same page with each other. It’s up to us up front to keep him clean and give him confidence back there.”
Have you given much thought to the implications of Saturday’s game, and does that change your approach at all?
“It doesn’t change at all. Every time we hit the field, we’re trying to win. That’s our mindset. We know what’s at hand and what’s in front of us, so we’re just going out there trying to get another win, trying to get our ninth win, defend our home field. That’s all we’re worried about.”
DE JADEVEON CLOWNEY
How does it feel to be a Pro Bowl defensive end?
“It’s great. It’s a great feeling. I put in a lot of hard work all offseason and told the guys I was going to try to make the Pro Bowl this year. They stuck behind me. We stuck together. We’ve been through a lot as a team. To be where we’re sitting right now, we’re doing good. We just have to keep playing.”
How much has the move to defensive end helped you?
“It helped me a lot, obviously. I made the Pro Bowl and we’re ranked No.1 in defense right now. We’re playing good football as a unit together. Hopefully we can continue to play like that on down the road.”
Has making the Pro Bowl been a goal for you before each season?
“It hasn’t. It hasn’t been a goal before. Just this season. After the rough two starts that I had, I was like ‘I’m going to come back and I’m going to make this Pro Bowl this year and do whatever I have to do to make it.’ I worked hard in the offseason and came in this year, had a great season and stayed healthy.”
When you were rehabbing your rookie year, could you imagine making the Pro Bowl during that tough time?
“I watched it all the time. Of course I dreamed about it and thought about it and everything. I said, ‘one day hopefully I can play in the Pro Bowl.’ And it’s in my third season.”
What was the low point for you during that time and what do you remember about it?
“Probably sitting on my couch for two months and I was just thinking to myself, am I going to be able to play another snap of football again? At that time, that’s what I was really thinking. Am I going to ever get to play again? So that was probably the lowest point.”
Was that when you were immobilized and couldn’t put weight on your foot?
“Yeah, nothing. Couldn’t walk on it at all. That’s when I was at home every day.”
Who helped get you through that difficult time? Did your mom move here?
“My mom and my dad and my girl. They all stayed with me through everything really. They’ve been there from step one, from the beginning to the end. They were my biggest support. My teammates were behind me the whole time. Guys were calling me and coming to see me. I had a lot of support and the training staff was there with me every day.”
What did you think when you heard you made the Pro Bowl?
“I was really just sitting at home watching TV when I got a phone call that was like, ‘hey, you made the Pro Bowl.’ I was like ‘wow, I appreciate it. Thank you.’”
“Yeah man, we’re trying to win a division. Hopefully I don’t get to play in the Pro Bowl, that’s what I’m hoping for. We’re trying to do much bigger things than that right now. We’ve got a lot on our plate. We got the Bengals coming up. It’s a big game this week and we’re trying to finish the season strong. Try to get 10 wins, that’s what we’re looking forward to right now.”
Is health the biggest key for you?
“Oh yeah, I think that’s with any player. The health to play this game.”
How much does your confidence after playing more help you?
“As long as I’m healthy, I think I can pretty much do whatever I want to do out there playing-wise. I just have to be healthy enough to go out there and perform at a high level. I’ve been staying healthy this season and taking care of my body a lot better than I have in the past. It’s paying off. Going out there on Sundays – it’s the easiest day of the week, Sunday. During the week is the hardest time.”
Can you talk about your confidence wavering the first couple NFL season and how you had to overcome that?
“I’d say I probably never lost the confidence to play football. I always knew I could play football. I think other people probably lost more confidence in me than I did in myself. I’d say to myself, ‘just wait until I get healthy.’ I just kept saying that to myself, ‘just wait until you get healthy and everything else is going to take care of itself.’ I always knew I could play.”
Was there a moment this season when you thought you were finally the guy you had been wanting to be or was it a gradual thing?
“It’s just kind of a gradual thing. I never said, ‘Oh, this is the guy I want to be’ or not. I just kept playing. The other guys on the team were like, ‘Hey man, you look like you’re feeling a lot better,’ and I was like, ‘I am.’ Everything started coming together. As long as I’m out there on the field on Sundays, I’m good to go.”
A lot of your teammates were congratulating you on social media last night, especially T Duane Brown. What does that mean?
“It’s a lot, man, coming from that guy. When I came in, that was the guy I went against every day and he knew what I had in training camp because that was probably the best I’ve ever been, when I first got in here in training camp. I was going against him and he said, ‘You’re going to be a good player, man. You go hard and you have a lot of things other guys don’t have.’ Coming from him, after hearing that, he saw what I went through all offseason and the injuries and the ups and the downs. He was there for me from the beginning too. He was texting me, calling me, always checking up on me, always trying to talk to me every day. That’s a great teammate to have on your team.”
Who was the first person you contacted to let them know you made the Pro Bowl and why did you contact that person first?
“My mom. Why I contacted her, I mean, she’s been there since I was in little league football. She never missed anything, always wanted to be my biggest supporter, so I called her. The first person I called.”
What was her reaction?
“She was happy. She was very excited about it. She smiled. I FaceTimed her, so I’m sitting there looking at her smiling and everything. It was a great feeling and a great moment.”
What are your thoughts on T Duane Brown winning the Ed Block Courage Award?
“He deserves it. I just told him, I said, ‘Man, I know you’re going to come back stronger than ever.’ I know how it feels to hurt your knee and come back from it. I said, ‘Man, you just have to stay strong and stay positive. You just told me the same thing.’ He said, ‘I know.’ He said, ‘I’m going to do this.’ I was like, ‘I know you’re going to do it.’ When he came back, he didn’t lose a step. After having an injury, he didn’t lose a step and he came out there looking just as good as he did before he left. I was just like, this is kind of crazy how he came back and didn’t give up anything. He’s still one of the best tackles to me in the game. I go against him and I say that to him every day: ‘Boy, you’re good.’ But he works hard, man. He does things - others guys don’t see the little things. That’s what makes him a great player.”
You said you think other people lost confidence in you. Was it hard to tune that out when you were at home recovering?
“Yeah. I listened to it. But like I said, the people that really mattered that were around me were really the only thing that mattered to me. They stayed by me and were like, ‘Don’t worry about it, just do what you have to do to get back on the field and everything else will take care of itself.’ Playing football was always easy to me, it comes to me easy. I’d never been injured until I got here so it was kind of crazy, but it happened.”
How does it feel to now be sitting amongst the best of the best in the NFL?
“It’s a great feeling, man, to be recognized as one of the best with the guys that are on that list, it’s kind of crazy because I look up to a lot of those guys on the list, and to be up there with them, I was very, very excited about it, very happy.”
When you were hurt, a lot of people said the Texans should’ve taken Raiders DE Khalil Mack instead of you. Did you pay attention to that and was that a source of motivation?
“I didn’t care. I was already picked. It didn’t really matter. I was here. I just want to keep playing for the Texans and let them know I’m trying to live up to be worthy of the number one pick and keep coming strong. I’m only getting better. I’m getting healthier as the years go on. Everyone says you wear down but I’m feeling a lot better the longer I’ve been in it. I hope it keeps going that way for me.”
Do you feel like you’re getting better as the season goes? It seems like you’re having a better game every week.
“You know, it comes with the game plan. Coach is drawing it up and I’m going out there and executing it. The front is just playing at a high level right now. All the guys across the front, we’re playing at a high level and we’re all putting pressure on the quarterback. We’re all playing good and setting the edge, and everybody’s just doing their job and really just letting the plays come to you. Don’t try to do more than you’re supposed to, don’t try to do other peoples’ job, just do your job and everything else will take care of itself out there.”
CB KAREEM JACKSON
Can you talk a bit about QB Tom Savage?
“Definitely has a strong arm. I think over the years he’s shown what he’s been able to do. Practice and camp and stuff like that, so you know, definitely have a lot of confidence in him and he’ll definitely step in and be one of the leaders on the team. We get to go play with him and be behind him every step of the way.”
You are second in pass defense. How much of the credit should go to Secondary Coach John Butler for the job that he has done?
“A lot of credit to all of the defensive coaches. Like you said, John Butler with him being the DB coach. Definitely put a lot of time in with us and makes sure that we have everything that we need in terms of scheme-wise and technique and stuff like that, so he’s definitely done a great job with us these three years with us.”
What do you see from the matchup this weekend against the Bengals offense?
“Definitely talented. Starting with the quarterback. I’m not sure, I think A.J. Green is supposed to be back this week. Like I said, they’re definitely talented and for us as a secondary we just have to be close in coverage. Go out and compete, watch film and have a good week of practice and get ready to go on Saturday.”
Can you talk about watching a guy like DE Jadeveon Clowney come back from where he’s been to where he is now?
“He’s definitely made some tremendous strides. Like you said, making the Pro Bowl this year is definitely a huge step for him. He’s had a hell of a year and I think each and every time he’s out there, he made some impact plays for us. It’s always good to have him out there. Like I said, for him to come back from injury to have the type of year he had this year, you know, definitely happy for him.”
Can you talk about DE Jadeveon Clowney’s attitude throughout the injury and rehab?
“He’s been positive the whole way. I think he’s showing what he can do for whoever doubted him, said negative things towards him. I think he’s proving everybody wrong, so that’s always great.”
How do you think DE Jadeveon Clowney dealt with the negative things being said about him outside of the locker room?
“People are going to say what they want to say. They love you one day, the next day they’ll hate you. Especially the game we play. It is what it is. There’s just some things you have to deal with. I think he handled it well. I think he did the best thing he could do to shut them up. He goes out and he’s making plays. That’s all that matters.”
Given how good the secondary has played this year, are you surprised that none of you made the Pro Bowl?
“I mean the guys that were picked to the Pro Bowl definitely had great years. Like I said, we’re the number one pass defense. For us, it’s all about just going out and winning. They pick whoever they want to pick to go to the Pro Bowl and for us - we’re going out and playing as a group and being successful. Definitely the most important thing for us.”
What do you think about T Duane Brown winning the Ed Block Courage Award?
“That was great. For him to come back off of the injury that he had, to have the type of year that he did. Not a lot of guys can do that. Duane definitely battled back from that. He had a tremendous year. Definitely one of the team leaders. One of the hearts and soul of the offense. I’m excited to see him come back the way he did.”
Considering all of the injuries you guys have had, what impact has Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel had on your unit being number one on defense?
“Romeo has a huge impact on us all. Every day he always brings a lot of enthusiasm in everything he does. He puts us in great situations to be successful. From his first day here to now, he’s always been encouraging us and like I said, he’s a great coordinator and like I said, he’s put us in some great situations.”
CB JOHNATHAN JOSEPH
How much do you feel like Secondary Coach John Butler is a very talented coach?
“He’s a very great coach. Coming in his first year in the NFL here, he definitely made a great transition coming from the college level, things like that. He’s grown a lot over the years into one of the top position coaches in this league. He’s able to work with young guys and get those guys caught up really quick, help them develop into players. He’s very knowledgeable of the game and makes the game a lot easier for the other players around. I think every year he’s just getting better and better.”
How are you and what do you think about T Duane Brown winning the Ed Block Courage Award? Also, how are you feeling?
“That’s a big honor for Duane Brown. He’s definitely earned that award coming back from the type of injury he had last year and to bounce back and play at a very high level. Me personally, I’m just trying to get better each and every day and just get back out there on the field and help my teammates. I went out today and practiced and did a lot more than I did last week, so I think I’m trending in the right direction.”
How about DE Jadeveon Clowney making the Pro Bowl?
“Very excited for him. He definitely earned it. Well-earned. Continues to work hard. The main thing for us, him going out there and producing at a high level on the field. That gets you the recognition and the honor to go to the Pro Bowl. I’m extremely excited for him, happy for him.”
QB TOM SAVAGE
How would you describe how things are different with you running the show?
“I wouldn’t say anything’s really different. I went in each week preparing to be the starter. Obviously taking a deeper look into it and just taking it day-by-day.”
How important is it now that you have a full week to get ready?
“It’s important. This is a good defense that we’re going up against. Got to make sure you get all the reps and see all the looks that we’re going to see and just go out there and execute my job.”
How meaningful is it for you to be in this spot?
“I mean, it’s a great opportunity to go out there and kind of show what I can do. Really, just like I said, I have to go out there and execute what I need to do. I’m going to have some fun doing it and just go rip it.”
When you reflect on what it took to get to this point in your career, what kind of things cross your mind?
“Yeah, it’s been a long journey, as everybody (knows). It’s not really a sob story or anything. I had a longer journey to get to the NFL – obviously, transferring twice – but I think it kind of made me the man I am today. Never take these things for granted, just go out there and have fun and enjoy each day and enjoy the locker room. That’s kind of what I’m going to do.”
How much do you feel like your background at Cardinal O’Hara High School helped you prepare for this?
“Shoot, high school. I mean, we ran wing-T so our offenses are a little bit different. Not as much MIKE points and stuff. Just that foundation that I learned in high school, they did a heck of a job just growing me to be an adult and kind of taking it for what it’s worth.”
In the past you’ve been really hard on yourself for how you played in that game as a rookie. Is that something that really bother you and has stuck with you?
“Yeah, no doubt. As a competitor you want to go out there and that’s what those guys deserved. They deserved that that year when I went in as a rookie to go in there and be prepared, and I wasn’t going to make that mistake again. Not just for myself and my personal opportunity, just for the guys because that’s what Duane (Brown) and J.J. (Watt) and all those guys, they deserve someone to go in there and execute and be prepared just the way they do and try to help them win a game.”
How much do you feel like your comfort zone is being a pocket passer?
“Yeah. I just think these coaches do a heck of a job here of just building that foundation. I’ve learned more in three years here than I have in my whole career. They do a great job of just helping me go through these reads and stay in the pocket and get the ball out of your hands quick because obviously I’m not a burner by any means, so got to get the ball out and give it to the faster guys.”
What kept you motivated last year when you were on Reserve/Injured?
“You know, someone just asked me that recently. To be honest with you, I came in every day – and not just to make a good impression on the coaches and show them that I’m here – but more importantly it’s the guys in the locker room that I really wanted to be around. That’s the one thing you ask anybody who leaves the game, that’s the one thing they miss, the locker room. That’s what I wanted to be around, was the guys, and be around a wining locker room and at the same time, get the mental reps, everything I could possibly do without taking the physical reps but just be around those guys. That’s kind of what kept me motivated, seeing those guys work.”
Do you think you grew from that a lot?
“Absolutely. At a young time in my career, I learned that this opportunity can be taken away from you pretty quick. Injuries happen, so you just really, that’s why this week I’m just going to enjoy this opportunity and go out there and have some fun with the guys and, like I said, just let it rip and see what happens.”
How much has your confidence grown and what do you think you’ve gotten better at in the last few years?
“I think just consistency. I think just getting the ball out of my hands and putting it into the athletes’ hands. I think a lot of times as a young guy you kind of hold on to the ball, and that’s not what you want to do, especially against this defense. They have a great front four and fast D-backs so you just have to go out there and get the ball out of your hands and anticipate it.”
You were really disappointed when you went on Reserve/Injured last year knowing you weren’t going to be out for the year. How did you get through that and how much did Offensive Assistant Pat O’Hara help you?
“Well, to answer your first question, just to stay motivated because I knew this opportunity was going to come back eventually and I wasn’t going to miss it. Pat, I mean, shoot, I owe him my whole career to be honest with you. He’s been there, he’s quizzed me every day, even last year. Obviously not being able to take any reps, he’s always quizzing me and asking me stuff. This year, even during stretches he comes up, reads me the call sheet and when the first team is doing the walkthrough after that, Pat and I, we do a personal little walkthrough and go over the looks and stuff just because obviously you can’t get the reps but you always have to be prepared. He’s done a heck of a job preparing me.”
Were you aware of the crowd’s excitement when you came into the game against Jacksonville and did you notice an extra pep in the step of the other guys in the huddle?
“I mean, obviously you feed off of it but I’ve also been on the tail end of that as well and been the guy who’s been benched before, and I understand that as well. Like I said, this opportunity comes and it can be taken away from you so you just always have to enjoy it. I think guys, whether it’s me, Brock (Osweiler) or Brandon (Weeden), they’re going to go out there and they’re going to play their butts off for us. I don’t think it’s fair to say that our offense picked it up a little bit when I was in there. I think they just did a good job of rallying around me and making some huge plays for me. I didn’t see much difference between me or Brock for those guys. Our team is one unit. We go out there and we just play hard for each other and that’s what we want to do.”
Was it hard to stay patient the last couple years? You said you knew the opportunity would come back but you didn’t necessarily control that.
“Yeah, I think, like you said, you kind of just control what you can control. That’s just the name of this game. There’s a lot of great players and you just have to always be prepared to go out there and play. It’s tough. As a competitor you want to be out there and you want to play, but at the same time, Coach (Bill O’Brien) is going to put the best 11 on the field, and that’s what we all trust him to do.”
How much preparation did you have going into that game?
“Obviously it’s majority film, taking a look and getting the mental reps from the first team. We do a job on scout team, obviously just getting the ball out of your hands and stuff, giving the defense the best look they can get. At the same time, we always meet as a unit at the end and the quarterbacks are always talking and picking each other’s brains. I think that’s what’s good about our room, is we are always out there just working together. When that opportunity comes, you have to take advantage of it.”
I’m assuming you’ve heard from a lot of different people this week. Is there anyone that stands out to you that have reached out this week?
“I mean, I appreciate everybody reaching out. Quite a few guys, some of the veteran players reached out, some of the guys who aren’t with us anymore reached out. Like I said, it’s an awesome opportunity. I’m really excited about it but right now I’m just taking it day-by-day and trying to stay away from the Kool-Aid a little bit and just go out there and execute my job and have some fun.”
How much has it helped you that you got more than a half under your belt last Sunday?
“It’s huge. You can’t replace game experience, so I’m excited about it. Like I said, I’m just pumped to go out there and play. It’s going to be fun.”