Offensive tackle Andrew Thomas, outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter and wide receiver Golden Tate spoke to reporters Wednesday on a video chat press conference. Here is what each one had to say.
Offensive tackle Andrew Thomas
Q: What is it about the pro game thus far that kind of has surprised you a little bit? Is it the speed, is it the intensity? What do you think is the biggest shocker to you?
A: I would say how developed everyone is at their positions. In college, if you are faster and stronger and you know your assignment, you usually do well. At this level, there is so much technique that you have to learn. There are so many things before the snap, before the ball even hikes. I think that's the biggest adjustment.
Q: You have been cross training at right tackle and left tackle. How has that gone for you, knowing you can't settle into one position and you have to alternate between left hand and right hand, left foot and right foot and so forth?
A: That's how Coach Judge teaches it. He wants us to be able to help the team in any way we can. If I can play right, I will play right, if I have to play left, even if I have to move inside, I'm just doing my best to help the team.
Q: How helpful was Nate Solder to you in the spring? What was your reaction when he opted out?
A: During the springtime, I got to talk to him a little bit. I'm kind of sad I didn't get to meet him in person. Obviously, he made the best decision for his family. I wish him the best and I'm praying for him.
Q: Do you think that put some added pressure on you? The veteran guy that was supposed to be here is gone and you are kind of next up.
A: Not necessarily, I'm just working every day to get better. There are a lot of older guys like Cam Fleming, Kevin Zeitler, guys that I am leaning on. I'm just trying to get better at my position.
Q: You have had a couple practices in pads now. How would you assess how it's gone so far? Particularly last night, we saw some good and some bad from you. How would you assess last night's practice?
A: A lot of work to do. There was some good, some bad, like you said. The biggest thing for me is just working the new technique Coach Colombo is teaching. Making sure I'm reading my keys right. Like I said, just try to get better each and every day.
Q: Do you think it was important to show people, that first one where you got knocked down a little bit, that you can bounce back from that? That you can come back from a play like that?
A: That's just the mentality. It was a great rep by Lorenzo. Honestly, it's the next play mentality. I have to come back and do my best to win the next rep.
Q: Coach Colombo talked last week about the relationship you guys are building. I'm curious from your perspective, how much have you guys been able to bond when you were not in person. When he is able to go out there and show you exactly what he wants versus maybe telling you, does that have an impact and help you accelerate getting to where he wants you to go?
A: It plays a big role. He can actually, like you said, show us exactly what he wants. What's the steps, what's the hand placement, and it relays the message a little bit better for us than just having somebody saying what they want. As far as building a relationship, we are starting to grow closer, during this time. Over zoom, it was a little bit harder to build a relationship, it's starting to get better now.
Q: Coach Colombo talked to us the other day and he said there are few deficiencies in your game at this point. What are the things that those deficiencies might be and what are you focused on at this point?
A: For me, the biggest thing right now, especially in pass pro, is my hands. In college, I had a bad habit of having my hands outside my frame. I'm working on keeping my hands inside and getting a good strike. In the run, game just keep a good base. Sometimes I get a little too excited trying to get to the block. Just make sure I keep a good base each time.
Q: Veterans like to test the first-round picks on and off the field. Did you see guys Lorenzo and Markus Golden gearing up for you to make the team better by giving you their absolute best effort as a first-round pick? Off the field, too, I heard they tested out your singing voice. Tell us what that was like?
A: On the field, I don't think they necessarily gear up. I think every time the ball snaps they are going hard, that's the mentality they have. That's the same mentality we have on the offensive side of the ball. Just try to be as physical as we can each time. Yeah, we had a little rookie deal and I had to sing a little bit. I think I held my own.
Q: What did you sing?
A: I sang "Ain't no sunshine when she's gone." That's what I sang.
Outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter
Q: When you made a self-assessment on your game this offseason and said, 'Ok, I need to go work on that this offseason and get better at that and be able to come back here and do X'? What was X?
A: I think it's always just refining your game, trying to become a more powerful player for me. Just making sure I do everything and put myself in the position to be successful with whatever the coaches ask me to do. It was really just refining my game, like I said, working hands, working power, and working the angles really because a lot of times, it comes down to what types of angles you have. That's one thing I saw a lot last year and then the coaches pointed it out to me when we got into the lab this year.
Q: How much was that rep against Andrew Thomas sort of validation? That's exactly what you're talking about with angles and the power, I assume?
A: Yeah, that was one thing that we said when we got the pads on. It's time to… We actually get to play football now. It's no more running around in helmets, running around in shorts and t-shirts. It's just big on asserting what we've been working on, like I said, those power angles.
Q: That pass rush room got a lot more crowded this year. They bring in (Kyler) Fackrell, they brought back Markus Golden, drafted Oshane (Ximines) last year. Entering the third year for you, does this feel kind of like a make or break season for you? Do you put a little bit more added pressure on yourself going into this year?
A: I wouldn't say that. I think it's great that we have a lot of talent and that we're a little deeper in that room. Like you said, we have MG, we have X-Man, we have Fack, and even with Cam Brown, we have a lot of guys in the room that have a lot of different skill sets. It comes down to us making sure that we maximize our abilities and trusting the coaches in making sure they put us in the right positions.
Q: You went up against Andrew Thomas yesterday. What have been kind of your first impressions of him as a tackle so far?
A: I knew from day one when he stepped on campus at Athens that he was going to be a top first round pick. It's nothing new. It's the same thing he did as a freshman in college. He's learned, grown and matured. As a rookie, he came in that far advanced too. I know I have to bring it to Andrew because like I said, he's ready. I have to make sure he's ready for game one.
Q: Following up on that, so there was no Bulldog on Bulldog, take it a little easy on the rookie on the first time out?
A: Oh no, of course not. I think it's been a big emphasis that the way we practice and the physicality we play with in practice is going to be big because there are no preseason games. Whatever we do now, whatever foundations we set, is what's going to show up on game day.
Q: With your fit in the new defense that Patrick Graham's trying to install here, where do you see your game complementing the other guys that are going to be out there with you?
A: It's just doing our job. It's a lot of do your job. Right now, the focus is on fundamentals and making sure that you do your job to the best of your ability. I think if we do that and I do my job setting edges, letting the linebackers do their job filling gaps, and just play together as a team, we're going to have a great chance to be successful.
Q: You said 'do your job.' Do you think there were times last year that maybe you tried to get out of your job to try to get more production, doing things above maybe what you were kind of in position to do?
A: Like I said, this year there's a lot of emphasis on doing your job and making sure that you don't try to go outside your responsibilities and give up different things by trying to make a play. That if we do our job and just stay locked in on the moment, locked in on the play, then it's going to come to you. It's either going to come to you or you're going to force it to someone else. That's just the big thing, staying patient. Being a lot more patient this year than just trying to go do things outside of your responsibilities.
Q: I wanted to go back to what you said about trying to make sure that Andrew is ready for Week One. Is that something you guys are very conscious of? Obviously, you're working on your own skills and your own moves and everything in these drills, but is part of it also just show him such a wide variety of looks that he'll get from opponents that he's ready for everything?
A: Yeah, I think a lot of focus is on ourselves as players getting ready because none of us have had a chance to put on pads for the last seven months, some longer. It's just focusing on yourself. Like I said, we have a lot of different dynamics in our outside linebacker room. A lot of different rush types, a lot of different types of players. It's not my job to make sure I give him the look that somebody else is going to give him. I'm working on myself. But I know he's going to get it changed up from me to X, from MG, he's going to get different looks from different pass rushers.
Q: Did you add anything to your arsenal? Any specific moves or did you refine anything this offseason?
A: Like I said, just working angles, making sure I stay on the right angles, making sure I just do different things. It's been a lot of working hands, refining skills, taking things from different players, watching film. But I won't say it's been a complete overhaul.
Q: When you get a new coach in, usually the new coach has some different techniques, different philosophies. I'm wondering what Coach (Bret) Bielema has taught you that maybe you didn't do prior?
A: Like I said, our defense is a little different. We play with more patience and it's just a lot of emphasis on doing your job and being very fundamentally sound. That's a lot of what we've been working on, not even specifically just pass rush or specifically run. It's more the coaches are looking at our feet, making sure we're putting our feet in the right places, having our eyes in the right places. The rest they trust that we have the ability to make plays. But once we get the fundamentals down and make sure we get our eyes on our keys and know what we're looking at and we're looking for, everything else will follow.
Q: The drill you guys did, the one on one drill at the goal line, kind of turned some heads last night. I think you had a wreck in that. What do you think of that drill?
A: It's good. It just feels good to get back playing football. It's been too long. A lot of guys were getting a little antsy. But now we're out there with the pads on. It's time for real football and we get to see what each other has.
Q: Being at your first two camps, I don't remember seeing a drill like that. When was the last time you've had a drill like that where you guys lined up and kind of smashed into a guy from a short distance?
A: It's been a minute. But that's the physicality, that's the difference we're having to bring this year and the difference we're trying to bring. We're trying to be physical, we're trying to embrace the culture and do what the coaches ask and trust it.
Wide Receiver Golden Tate
Q: For the most part, you have the three core guys coming back at receiver: yourself, Sterling and Darius. You have a bunch of young guys, what have you seen from the young guys so far in camp?
A: I've been impressed with the ability these young guys have been able to learn the material but also apply it on the field. These young guys haven't gotten OTA's and the offseason work, we've only had zoom. For those guys to be able to digest all that stuff and actually go out and perform on the field, I've been impressed. In my opinion, this is a really good class of young receivers coming in that I'm excited about to help grow. To help them help the team and we are going to take it from there. We are taking it day by day, working on our tools to get better.
Q: You were in Detroit in 2018 when a former Patriots assistant came in and took over as head coach. Does this camp and this atmosphere feel similar at all to what you experienced then?
A: There's some similarities for sure, a lot different as well. I haven't really thought about it too much, it's camp. This is a different camp because of the COVID situation. Everything is a little bit different, the location where we are having meetings, the standard that has been set with the masks and lanyards and stuff like that. I haven't thought about it too much.
Q: As a veteran guy who has been around the league and played for different coaches, how does a coach who is quote, unquote, intense get players to buy in. What do you think is the key to get everyone on the same page?
A: As a veteran guy, my job is to keep the team close, help guys develop and echo what the head coach, GM, and my coach want to be put out there. So far, I've really enjoyed what Joe has brought to the table. One of the things I love most about him, him and Jason Garrett are very detailed. Coach Garrett uses all his time. He wants to be abundantly clear with everything. We teach the game in very much detail so once we get in the game it should come easy and we should know exactly what's expected out of us.
Q: At the top of this receiving corps, you have you, Shep, Slayton. Three guys who are really good receivers. There is a perception around the league that you guys are missing that number one receiver. Does this remind you at all of you, Doug Baldwin, and Kearse in Seattle or your Detroit receiving corps. How did defenses play a corps like that versus when you had Calvin Johnson with you?
A: I haven't heard anything like that being said. I'm not sure any of our guys even listen to it. We show up with one purpose every day and that's to get better to help our team win. Honestly, we don't have time to listen to the outside stuff. Everything is so intense right now with trying to learn the playbook, learn the standard of play. We're all excited about each other. I try not to compare to other organizations or other players. We are excited about the opportunity to get back on the field and play in September. We are taking every step we possibly can to help our team win.
Q: You had 13.7 yards per catch last year, your highest since 2013, at age 31. Anything to why you were able to make so many big plays there?
A: I would say having opportunities and having a solid offense. When you have a couple stars on your team like Sterling and Saquon, it definitely opens it up for you. There's no rhyme or reason to it besides showing up every day trying to work hard and more importantly trying to win. That's always going to be my goal when I step on the field. The personal stats don't really matter too much to me, I just want to win. That's what we are trying to do.
Q: I know you spent some time working out with Daniel Jones at points this offseason. Then and now at the start of training camp, what have you seen from the young quarterback and his determination to want to get better and to take that next leap in year two?
A: For one, the guy is ripped now. The guy is solid, a very solid guy, I love seeing that. He put on some muscle. DJ is who he was last year. Same person but he understands the game a little bit more. He is consistent in who he is. He shows up every day, he's looking for ways to get better. After every play, we are talking about what we can do better, trying to get on the same page. We didn't have that time in April for OTA's for that team building. We've had to do that offsite or once we got to camp. We're taking it day by day. DJ has always impressed me from the moment he showed up in the building last year when we drafted him. He's always conducted himself in a very great way. He's who you want on your side. He's hungry to be great and that's what you want out of the leader of the offense.
Q: Can he golf?
A: Yeah, he can swing it. He's not ready for me yet, but he can swing it. He hits it a mile.
Q: When you look around, there is a lot of the same faces on offense. The offense as a whole last year, for a lot of different reasons, wasn't consistently good or great. What gives you confidence that the offense is going to be better? What's different when you look around?
A: Every one of the guys is showing up every day trying to get better. We're hungry to win. We're taking it day by day. The attention to detail that we are going over as we install. Jason Garrett shows up every day and he is abundantly clear in what he expects from us. Our standard is very high that we are chasing every single day. The detail, no matter if it's a walk thru or in the meeting room, whatever it is. We are paying attention to detail. Speaking as a receiver, no matter where it is, we are in the correct stance. No matter where it is, a walk thru or full speed, we are getting our steps down correctly in our routes. Things like that I think are going to make a huge difference come September when we start playing. The attention to detail is what's going to really help us out this year.
Q: You are a guy that knows there is more to life than just football. I was wondering how much thought you gave to the opt out this year given all that's going on in the world?
A: I definitely thought about it, not that I thought one way or another. It definitely crossed my mind and I talked to my wife and my family about it. We felt like we wanted to play and we felt confident we could play the game safely as long as the NFL protected us and we went through the proper measurements to make sure we were safe. I'm happy to be playing football and excited to be playing football.
Q: Were you leaning that direction at any point?
A: No, it crossed my mind. I read up on it a lot. I felt like being pretty healthy and I didn't feel like any of my family or close ones were high risk or had any preexisting problems. For me, I wanted to play.