Training Camp — August 2, 2013
Q: How did you feel out there?
A: I thought it was a real good practice. We started off a little bit slow, but Coach got on us a little bit. We picked up the juices, kicked it in a second gear and started executing pretty well those last three team periods.
Q: Was that during that little, big kind of offensive huddle earlier on?
A: Coming off a long day of rest that usually happens. It’s the coaches and the vets and us as a whole unit making sure we address it and we did that. We made some adjustments so it was good.
Q: That throw to T.J. (Graham) in the back of the end zone was a touch pass, right?
A: T.J. (Graham) did a good job of selling it. That’s the thing about tempo. You get the defense thinking and they overacted to the run and we were able to sneak it in behind him. That was one that I think kind of propelled us into getting our rhythm going there and scoring some more touchdowns as practice went on.
Q: On the touchdown to
A: Yeah. They kicked the coverage over so I went one on one back side and then got into a little bit of a scramble mode. It was nice to finish a two-minute drive, not only with that play but then the plays with the twos there at the end. That was big for us. We have been making some two-minute adjustments and trying to get better at that, so it was a good day.
Q: You had two chest bumps with the offensive coordinator (Nathaniel Hackett) in six plays there.
A: I want some pictures to see how high he got. That’s one thing that he brings. He brings some energy. We are out there having fun. Touchdowns are fun, so we’ll keep doing it.
Q: Coach Hackett is only 33, so you are pretty close in age. How unique is it to have a coach that is almost one of your contemporaries?
A: It is a lot different. But I respect his knowledge of his game. I think that’s one thing that Nate (Hackett) has that allows him to be so good at a young age. He grew up in it with his dad. He has been here before. He coached at the NFL level for a lot of years. And really whenever you’re a quality control (coach) and you’re a position coach you really see the nuts and bolts of how an offense is put together. And you say, okay I’m not going to do that. I’m going to do that. And here’s how the players react to it. I get to see the players’ reactions as well where an OC or a head coach doesn’t always see that. So I think Nate was always putting those feathers in his hat. And when you sit-down with the guy, he is just very knowledgeable. I’ve been around a lot of good coaches. I’ve been around some good offenses and he still amazes me every day with the stuff he has. It’s fun to play for him. I look forward to the year, playing for him this year and hopefully we put up some points and have some more fun.
Q: How do you think EJ (Manuel) has handled himself so far?
A: Great. I think he has done an amazing job. He works hard. He studies.
Q: He doesn’t really look like a clueless rookie.
A: No, he really doesn’t have that look in his eye at all. The thing that I like about him is that he doesn’t have pride as far as if he doesn’t know something, he asks the questions. A lot of times people don’t do that. Players don’t do that because they want to look smarter than what they are. He’s not afraid to put himself out there and be vulnerable and that’s how you learn fast and get better every day. So I commend him for that.
Q: How do you feel about your growth so far?
A: I felt like every practice has gotten better for me. I feel more comfortable with the play calls, the footwork. There’s always going to be a little bit of rust when you come into training camp but today was by far not only my best day but I think as an offense those last three or four team periods, we looked as smooth as we have so far.
Q: How much does that attitude with EJ help the competition?
A: It helps everybody. It helps our team, it helps me, it helps him, and it helps the coaching staff. So, I didn’t first see that being a problem and it never has been in any other competition I’ve been in. We’ll work friendly together but also compete and see who gets the job.
Q: Are you guys finally getting a little accustomed to all the stuff the defense is throwing at you?
A: I think that’s part of it. We definitely had a lot less communication today, needed a lot less communication today when they start bringing all the little guys and (Mike) Pettine starts giving all those different looks, which was nice. Guys knew how we were handling every blitz and part of that came with Nate changing some stuff up on offense. But also I think that guys need to realize that that may be our style of offense. When you go back and look at Syracuse, and you watch them over the last two or three years, their second half was twice as much scoring and yardage as their first half. That may be how this thing goes. We want to start fast. We want to get that first, first down and get the flow going. But we are going to wear people down with that tempo and with our aggression. There are probably a few other games and scenarios where that will happen.
Q: So it’s almost like we may take a couple of negative plays in the first halves of games, but as the games wear on, we’re probably going to get the best of you.
A: Well, I just don’t think you want that to affect you or kill morale knowing that we’re wearing them down and we can see them getting tired and we know that as an offense. When those guys start huffing and puffing and they need to chase the ball, we feel that and we start picking it up, picking it up, picking it up. That’s when the runs start really busting and that what really opens the offense up.
Q: What do you think of
A: I like Stephon (Gilmore) a lot. The thing that I think he brings is his physical toughness. On the line, he’s going to switch it up. He’s going to back off you, he’s going to read the QB’s eyes and footwork. But he’s also going to get in there and get his hands on somebody when he needs to. I played with Sheldon Brown who is a mentor of his. And I know he idolizes his game. And Sheldon was an unbelievable player when I was with him on the Eagles. I feel like that Gilmore really takes some of his techniques and brings them to his game. It’s exciting to watch him play and he’s obviously very talented as well so he can mix both of those. He’ll be a great player.
Q: What did you see on that play when you made the pass to Stevie (Johnson) to beat Stephon?
A: Stephon made an unbelievable adjustment. He played him on the top shoulder, which you want. That back shoulder fade is becoming more prevalent in the NFL. Stevie (Johnson) did a good job widening it for me and that kind of tells me here’s where I’m expecting it. And it was good chemistry. And it’s good to see from an offensive standpoint that we’re starting to feel those types of things.
Q: How tough was it to see Stevie go down like that?
A: Of course, yeah. I saw it as soon as it happened. My eyes were on him because the ball was pre-snap, I thought it was going there. Not even sure, haven’t been in the training room to see what’s going on. But I want as much work with Stevie as I can possibly get.