Q: Does the change in responsibility this year for you change anything for you?
A: Most definitely, so I have to be really precise in practice and give the coaches confidence. I know they have it in me and I’ve been looking good and doing what I need to do so far. I just got to get better and better each day, use this offseason to be as effective as I can when the season starts.
Q: Where do you feel you are in terms of pass blocking?
A: Pass blocking… I didn’t have many opportunities last year to show that capability due to my reps and that’s an area that I definitely need to show the coaches that I can handle and that’s an area that a running back in the NFL definitely needs to be able to handle. I’m doing all the right things to take steps towards that and be ready for the season.
Q: How do you feel about this season in terms of you and
A: I’m not worried about the carries or the yards or stats. It doesn’t mean as much as winning games and us working together to make the running game effective so the passing game can be effective. When you balance out the two that’s when you win games and we definitely need to win games because the Super Bowl is here this year. That’s where I want to be.
Q: Are you still going to be involved in returning kicks?
A: On kickoff return I definitely want to be a part of that. That’s the part of the game that I like the most ever since I started playing football. That was age eight. I really enjoy that part of the game and any way I can help the team I’m willing to do it and I definitely want to be back there.
Q: Did Ahmad Bradshaw leave you guys anything that you can use going forward?
A: Yeah. He left a great impression on us at our position. We have big shoes to fill because he’s a tough running back and he did all of the things necessary for the Giants to win games. He had two Super Bowls while he was here. So he left a great impression on us to come behind and follow.
Q: How long is it going to take for you and the offensive line to feel comfortable with each other to be like the bell cow?
A: Not long because we have a good chemistry and those guys are going to do what they need to do. They want to win just as bad as I want to win and when you have everybody on the field giving their all and wanting to win and doing all the right things that they need to do you get great results. I don’t think it will take long for us to get accustomed to working together and knowing what they’re going to do and being able to anticipate their next move.
Q:As a guy who’s going to get a handful of carries, does it make you want to work harder?
A:Yeah. I still feel like I’ve got a lot to prove and first I just want to have a healthy season and then go out there and just be productive and help this team win games and championships and that’s what it’s all about.
Q:How big of a presence was Ahmad Bradshaw?
A:Being around Ahmad and Brandon early in my career, speaking up as a leader and now as me being more of a vocal leader is kind of like… because those guys did most of the talking leadership wise and they carried the leadership of the room and I’m the oldest guy in the room now and it’s like I’ve got to become more of a vocal leader and make sure the young boys know… Michael knows the plays and the protections and I go over with him and making sure that he knows the steps and stuff like that. I guess I’m finally mature enough where I can step into that role and be a very effective leader.
Q:Has it been a difficult adjustment?
A:I had it before in college. I always had it, but I wasn’t a vocal leader when I first came into the NFL. I just kind of sat back, took notes, listened and ended up repeating what the guys were saying to me in my younger days. Listening and just repeating. That’s it.
Q:After all you’ve gone through, did you take the chance to sit back and enjoy last year at all?
A:Not really because it ended on a disappointing note and because I got hurt and I couldn’t really… It wasn’t enjoying anything because as a competitor you still want to go out there and looking forward to making the playoffs and be coming back because I was on the IR where I could come back and play and that would have made the season if I could have come back and played in a playoff game. I really showed that I could be productive even after having the injury like that. I had my highs and my lows. There’s some stuff to look back on and I say that was good and then there was some stuff like injuries that I’m just like, ‘I’ve just got to finish the season and be healthy for a whole year.’
Q:What’s your confidence level going into the season?
A:Obviously, OTAs, you’re working and you’re fine tuning your craft right now with details, the routes and making sure your pass protection is going well and running the ball, making sure your alignment into the holes is good. I’m really anxious to get out there and get some pads on and hit somebody. There’s a lot of buildup for that, but I’m looking forward to this season. I just go out here, work hard and getting ready for the field.
Q:Are you and David Wilson similar or different?
A:We’re totally different types of backs. David is an explosive young back and I feel that we compliment each other well because I’m a big back and I run down hill and Dave can scat and take it outside. I’d much rather him have a sweep than me. I think that’s what’s going to be a good one-two punch with us complimenting each other.
Q: Does it feel a little weird being isolated from the team as you’re rehabbing?
A: No. It’s not weird. It’s a part of rehab. It’s by yourself. You’ve got to motivate yourself and at the same time we have a great group of guys and when I’m walking back over they’re always saying ‘I see you working’ and vice-versa. So it’s very encouraging just to be around these guys, to workout with them and the extra stuff I’ve got to do on my own is just a part of my comeback.
Q: Are you still wondering how your knee can hold up this year?
A: No. Not at all, to be honest with you. I’m able to do everything. It’s more just about getting comfortable and trusting myself without hesitating, without thinking, and just reacting and I’m almost there. Physically, I haven’t swelled up in the last four months and I’ve been progressing every week and each week I get better and faster and stronger, so it’s just a progression. I have to be realistic with myself knowing that I had two ACLs in one year and it’s a long journey, but I’ll be back and I’m going to shock a lot of people.
Q: Are you a cornerback or a safety?
A: I’m whatever they need me to be. I just want to play football. At this point in my career, it’s all about getting healthy and getting on the field and contributing in any way and if that’s a leadership role, that’s a safety role, nickel, corner, kickoff, whatever; I’ll do whatever I’ve got to do.
Q: Was there ever a time in the last two years where you thought you weren’t going to make it back?
A: I never thought I wouldn’t make it back. I just didn’t want to. ACL rehab is really hard. I did it once in college and when I tore it up in 2010 I kind of knew what to expect, but to double back on that with really no time to really overcome the first one was kind of hard mentally, more than anything. The physical part just comes with time. Once I was able to walk, I was able to start feeling a lot better and now it comes the progression, making yourself better and so on and so on.
Q: Because you just went through it, are you going to not retrace those same steps and try to make a new path?
A: Other than the procedure, it was the only thing I did different. I have a great nucleus of a team around me with the Giants and my doctor in Los Angeles and I did everything I was supposed to last year. My numbers tested out better than I did in college and I came back early in college and played all 13 games and had a great year. The goal was to do the same formula. Everything was working out and then it just happened. I didn’t buckle. I just fell. That’s a move I did 1,000 times, kind of like when Kobe tore his Achilles, it’s something you practice over and over. It just wasn’t meant to be. So you’ve just got to accept that and move forward.
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