Q: At this point in your career, what do you hope to accomplish in the summer training camp?
A: Well, I only think you could get better. That’s the goal every year. You’re trying to find things you need to work on, come in and try to come together as a team, make sure you’re better than the year before in a lot of areas. So that’s what we’re working on. We have some new faces, some new guys, we have some veterans. So it’s all about building together and how we’re going to be able to execute as an offense, as a team and find ways to win games.
Q: How do you displace complacency knowing that you guys won this year and you want to go back to back? How do you get rid of the complacency of it all?
A: Well I think it’s the desire to get better as a team. We know we’ve got to improve. We were 9-7 last year in the regular season. That’s not good enough. We were a better team than that. Obviously we showed that throughout the playoffs. We’ve got to have that urgency, that consistency, throughout the whole season and play our best football for the 16 regular season games. That’s what we’re going to work on and just keep grinding, staying hungry to get better and to make sure we can have another successful year this year.
Q: You mentioned having some new faces, but you have a lot of returning guys; like 21 or 22 starters who played significant time last year. What kind of comfort zone does that give you and this team?
A: Well that’s always great. It’s always great to have veteran guys who know the system, who know how to work, know what camp’s like and our preparation and our style of football, how we like to prepare for each season. It’s always very important to have great leaders amongst the team that can teach the young guys and the new guys coming in what it’s going to be like when we start practice tomorrow. It’s always a positive and to have veteran guys coming back to a team is always a good thing.
Q: Last year going into camp, your own individual goal was to cut down on your interception rate. When you’re coming off a year like last year, do you have one thing in mind that you want to improve on this camp?
A: Yeah, still cut down on the turnovers. Continue to concentrate every practice, every play, making good decisions. Make sure that, whatever happens, the ball’s in our hands on the next play. That’s always going to be something you work on. And just keep reminding yourself, and keep having that mindset, ‘We’ve got to take care of the football.’ We have to make good decisions on every play. Whether that’s throwing a check down or throwing it to the open receiver or just throwing it away, it’s always about making the right decisions. So continue to work on that and all the fundamentals, all the mechanics, continue to learn within the offense, learn about defenses and get all of our guys caught up to speed on what we need to do to get better.
Q: You hear guys say that when you’re the defending champions, people are aiming at you every week. They want to beat you. The last time you were in this situation, you seemed to handle it well right from the start. What do you think is the key to that? What do you tell guys about that?
A: Well I think it’s having something to prove. Not being satisfied with how last year ended up. But instead, saying we can be better, we can be that good. This past year we showed our potential those last six games of the season, the two regular season and the four playoff games, that we can play with anybody and we can compete and we can play great football. It’s a matter of getting to that point. Finding that style of football. That the way to be successful and then holding on to it for the season. Obviously you always want to be playing your best football at the end of the year. That’s always the goal. But we’ve got to find a way to be playing better football throughout the whole season.
Q: From a team concept, is it better having the training camp here in Albany away from families and the distractions as opposed to back at the training facility?
A: Well I think both of them have their advantages and disadvantages. I enjoy coming to Albany. I think it’s fun to have roommates and staying in dorms. I went to summer camp when I was 10 years old and I kind of feel like I get to go to summer camp at 31. So that’s fun for me and I think that it’s a great team bonding experience. It will be fun with the Olympics going on this year. When the competitions are going on at night, you get to get a bunch of guys in the same room and cheer for the US. So those types of things are fun when you have dorms rather than being in a hotel. Obviously being at your own facility you have your own meeting rooms, it’s a little bit more convenient. You don’t have to get in your car a bunch and drive back to different spots. But, either one works. Obviously we’re comfortable here. We know the routine and what we’ve got to do to get our work in.
Q: You mentioned this feeling of something to prove. Do you guys feel like you play better when you have a chip on your shoulder?
A: I hope we get to the point that no matter what the circumstances are, that we can go out there and play great football. Whether we don’t have something to prove or not up against the wall like it seems over the past couple of years. And when it’s kind of a do or die situation, we seem to step up and play our best. It’s just a matter of working extremely hard and getting to the point to where we treat every game, every situation the same.
Q: Did you get a chance to sit down with Hakeem yet here and do you have any idea when he will get back on the field?
A: No, I’ve talked to Hakeem over the past few weeks and kept up but obviously the trainers and coaches and Hakeem will figure that out. So I know that he’ll be working hard and get back out on the field as soon as possible.