Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale
Opening Statement: Welcome back. It's my first time seeing everybody since we started back up. I hope everybody had a good time – a good break. I know myself, I had a great time with the family and played a lot of golf. My wife was trying to teach me how to play pickleball. That's a new, exciting sport. I found out that I don't have breaks anymore. If you want to go run for a ball, watch out if you're standing in the way but it was a really enjoyable time. I'm really looking forward to – It's always great when the players come back, and I think that the culture that (Head Coach Brian Daboll) Dabs is continuing to build and the things that we did defensively during the OTAs and minicamp, we went to the Comedy Cellar and everybody was together and we picked up right where we left off. That's also exciting to see. With that, I'll open it up to questions.
Q: What is it about this group that gives you optimism that they can be better than last year?
A: I just think it's a lot of different things. It's the second year in the system, you know the players that are coming back. You know them better than you did at this time last year. Guys themselves are just working really hard and trying to improve every day. Rather that's (DT Dexter Lawrence) Dex or the last guy that we just brought in, whoever that is. I just think that the organizational alignment that we have with (Senior Vice President and General Manger) Joe (Schoen) and Dabs and the whole staff, the that you're looking for the traits, the characteristics and all that. We're all in align and it's an exciting time right now like it is for the 31 other teams, I'm sure.
Q: What did you miss without a healthy Azeez Ojulari last season? What has he given you so far in camp?
A: He really truly played in five or six games? I don't really remember the exact number because last year is last year. I think he averaged a sack a game so that's the layup. Thanks, I appreciate it (laughs). He's a pure pash rusher. He's fun to watch.
Q: When does the light come on for rookies? Does it differ by position?
A: No, I think it's various times that the light comes on. You can pick out whatever play you want to pick out. Like in Baltimore, we had (Ravens LB) Tyus Bowser. It was really the third year that he stepped up. You really said "okay, that's who we drafted." I'm just using that as an example, that's the first one that comes to my mind. It's per individual, per player. It's not by position.
Q: You just mentioned that the second year in the system should be better. What exactly does that mean? Do you know them better or do they know you better?
A: I think it's what you said initially. We know them better and they know us better and it's a 50/50 thing. You can visualize what guys can do. We did that last year and it was fine, it worked out well for us but we also know there's a lot of improving that we need to do because if you're not changing in this league, you won't be in this league very long. You'll like irrelevancy even less. Thank you, I learned that word this summer.
Q: Can you talk about the young inside linebackers? Both Darrian Beavers and Micah McFadden had some adversity last year. What have you seen from those two?
A: I think that they're both improving every day and they're working hard. It's great competition in that room. Obviously, with the addition of (LB Bobby Okereke) Bobby O, it's really helped that room. Dyontae Johnson, (the) undrafted free agent that we have out of Toledo. You know, we've only had one day in pad when you're talking about evaluating players and everything else, so it's going to be a process and I'll be able to answer those questions better after we get some preseason games and do things like that, but we're excited.
Q: Do you think your run defense will be better?
A: I think that it will, and I think it will because of the additions that we've made. Whether it be (Rakeem Nuñez-Roches) Nacho or A'Shawn (Robinson) or the seventh-round pick, Jordon Riley. I don't know if you've seen or stood next to him yet. It's like going to California and standing next to a redwood (tree). I mean, he's a big man and he's got to learn how to play at this level and be consistent with it, but I'm excited about that.
Q: How impressed are you with Tre Hawkins III camp so far?
A: Oh, he's had a great camp. He's had a great camp. It's amazing to me as you go back and you think about the different guys and where they come from. It doesn't matter where you come from once you get here because the resources and people that they have to work with at this level and the guys that are productive, you can see the confidence just build in them. I really think he's done a nice job but he's got a lot of things to work on, just like we all do.
Q: How do you think Deonte Banks has been so far in camp?
A: I think he's been great. It's one of those things – corners are on the island. You know what I mean? When you see, he's on the island and this is the NFL. It's 50/50 on the edge. He still has that mentality that if he gets knocked down nine times, he gets up 10 and doesn't flinch. (He) listens, learns (and) Rome's doing a great job with him, (Defensive Backs Coach) Jerome Henderson and I think both of those young corners have come in here and competed and they're exciting to watch.
Q: Adoree' Jackson has played some snaps in the slot. Is that something you would actually consider?
A: We're doing all kinds of different combinations and a lot of it is, like you just said, we wanted to get Tre with the one's to see how he handled that, and he's handled that well. There's a lot of competition out there, at all the spots.
Q: Do you have a preference of which linebacker spot Bobby Okereke plays?
A: I think that's what's great about Bobby, he can play either and we'll just take the best player available (at the other spot). We talk about competition – I told the whole defense the other day, 'don't limit it to think that it's just competition that's in that room. It's competition that's in that room plus 31 other teams.' Because look at what we did with the roster after training camp last year. There were a lot of changes being made all the time. I can't say enough about Joe and his group and Dabs of what they continue to do with the roster week by week to be competitive. That's a hard thing to do in this league.
Q: Is your roster deeper this year?
A: I hope so. We're going to find out. Like I said, it's just our first day in pads so I'll be able to answer that question for you as we go. Just by the eye test, we're deeper upfront with the (defensive) tackle position.
Q: How much does it help your defense that the offense brought in skill players that will challenge any defense that you play this year?
A: I think competition just breeds success. We couldn't cover (Darren) Waller when he was an undrafted free agent in Baltimore. Those kind of things – it's fun to see. And just like (Jason Pinnock) JP made the great pick the other day. That builds confidence in a team and it's exciting to see.
Q: Do you have any memories of a young Darren Waller going against your defense in practice?
A: Yeah, it came back the other day in practice (laughs). It's like he's eating peanuts off the top of people's heads picking those balls up.
Q: Is Jason Pinnock making a legitimate case to be your Week 1 starter?
A: Yeah, but I still think there's competition everywhere and we'll see. I think it's the same thing that we started off with. It's the second year. He was one of the examples, now that you said that, he was one of the examples when I told you that I told the defense about competition in this league. Every day you drive in the parking lot, you're looking to be replaced, that's coaches and players. And I said "JP, where were you at for training camp last year?" You know, for the (New York) Jets. There you have it. That's the point I was trying to make and that's usually for the younger guys, the vets know all that.
Q: What's tougher to defend from the defensive point of view? Speed or size? And you can't say both.
A: I can't say both? You ask me a question and tell me what I can't say (laughs). There's always a good place for a little guy and that's behind the big guys and that's up front. But I love speed as well – I'm saying both! Don't tell me I can't say both (laughs). I'm saying both. It's tough! It's tough in this league. It's fun but that's why we're here.
Offensive Coordinator Mike Kafka
Good morning. You guys might ask some questions about Northwestern. I'll start by, first and foremost, I'm here focused on training camp and the upcoming season. I've got nothing but love and respect for Coach (Pat) Fitz(gerald) and I had a great experience at Northwestern. I really did. Many, many lifelong friends to this day. I met my wife there. I started a family there. So, I had a great experience at Northwestern. Thank you.
Q. You have been showing some creative different looks with guys, moving guys around. Are you gravitating to more of a positionless offense to complement (defensive coordinator) Wink's (Martindale) positionless defense?
A: I think the best way to put it is we're just trying to identify roles for our guys. So, whether that's putting them inside, outside, in different spots. That's part of the reason why I love our staff; they're creative, and they work together on that kind of stuff. So, it's been good to kind of experiment with it, and then find out which roles those guys fit into best.
Q. So, you're trying to build up, I guess, or play more matchup football, right?
A: Yeah, we're just being creative. In this part of training camp, you're going to put guys in different spots and see how they respond and continue to load them up on the installs and work through those details.
Q. How much has play calling changed from when you played to where you are now as the O.C.?
A: I've been in a few different offenses. I don't know if you know much about my story, but I bounced around the league for several years, multiple teams. So, I've seen a few different offenses and each one of them are different. The concepts might be similar, the verbiage and all that stuff might be different. West Coast, numbers, I mean, there's all kinds of different systems out there now. I think when you look around the NFL over the last call it 10 years, you're seeing kind of a transition to more spread out, more up-tempo, you're seeing guys that are athletic in different spots, whether it's in the backfield or on the perimeter. You're seeing these coaches and players adapt to things you're seeing in high school and in college, and that stuff is trickling up into the National Football League. So, it's great, it's fun. I think you're seeing a lot of creative ideas around the league. It's cool to watch.
Q. We heard when (wide receiver Jalin) Hyatt was drafted, 'Speed, speed,' and the whole thing with the route tree and all that stuff. What have you seen from him so far? Clearly, his speed seems to show up almost every day in training camp.
A: He's doing a nice job. He's doing a nice job in the in the classroom, studying, prepping, making sure he's prepared for practice. On the field, he's working, and working through all the fundamentals and techniques that we want him to work through. Obviously, he's made a couple plays, and he's got to just take it day by day. I think that's where, not only just him, but the entire offense can take that approach.
Q. His speed, you gauge it and clock it and everything, but is it blatant, you see it?
A: Yeah, that was definitely one of the strengths of his coming out of college, something that we targeted.
Q. (Wide receiver) Isaiah Hodgins kind of proved to be a quick study last year. You're smiling, so I like that you agree. Where have you seen him improve during this camp and really grow into what you want him to be?
A: Yeah, Isaiah's a true professional. He comes to work every day, has his routine, goes through the process of being a pro, brings young guys along with him as well. So, he's always trying to coach them up and give them his experiences. Being in this offense for several years now, you can see his comfortability in it and his understanding of it. So, he's continuing to grow. Just like everybody, I think he's just working on those fundamentals that we talk about, and he's not going to shy away from the work, which is awesome as a coach.
Q. You nearly became an NFL coach this past offseason. Would you have interest in being a college head coach if that opportunity arose or are you focused just on NFL?
A: I'm just focused on training camp, really, today.
Q. What would you say if Northwestern did come to you, because obviously that's going to hang out there for a little while here?
A: I'd say that I'm just focused on today.
Q. What can you tell us about the offensive line? I know you just had the one padded practice, but you have different guys competing for left guard, you have some competition at center there. What have you seen from that group, and has anybody kind of really jumped out at you as far as a combination goes?
A: Yeah, the combination, the depth chart and all that stuff, I'm sure everyone's looking at that. We have a plan, so we're working through all those spots, not just at the O-line, receiver, I mean, there's a lot of groups that we're working through and how to put people in different spots. That's just part of the constant evaluation process for us.
Q. Do you want to try to avoid having a rotation if you can? Would you rather just have five guys straight through, or is a rotation acceptable?
A: I don't know if you want to box yourself in at this point in training camp or a week in. I think we just want to go through our evaluation process and let it declare itself.
Q. When you came to camp, the big question mark was would (running back) Saquon (Barkley) be here? Did you have Plan A and Plan B, or how did you approach that?
A: I think those are all things that we talked about and prepped for, because you're building the practice plans and the practice scripts and all that. So, yeah, those are things we talked about, but that never really came to fruition.
Q. What is the balance between the competition with Wink every day and obviously the teamwork with him? Because he wants the upper hand, you want the upper hand.
A: It's a competitive camp. That's how it should be, but me and Wink have a great dialogue about the practice plan and certain things that he wants to see, certain things that I want to see. So, we have a good working relationship and make sure that whatever we're doing, we're putting the players in the best position for (limiting) injuries and so that we can get evaluations as well. So, that's how we've been handling it.
Q. What makes his style of defense so difficult to go against?
A. Yeah, it's multiple. I think we mentioned earlier how they have a positionless defense. It's real and they can mix and match a lot of different players. Again, this defense is a competitive group. They've got a lot of speed. They've got smart players. So, they can be flexible and move guys inside, outside, and bring pressure from multiple sides. I mean, you guys know that now. Wink and the coaching staff do a nice job over there.
Q. How beneficial is it for (center) John Michael (Schmitz Jr.) to have to face that defense every day, and how have you seen him handle the mental aspect of it?
A: Yeah, we had a little bit of that last year, where you're seeing a lot of those pressure looks probably way more than you probably see throughout the remainder of the season. So, you kind of bank all that, all those looks, and you're able to kind of pull from that throughout the season, 'Oh, hey, remember this look from training camp?' You see those looks, there's a lot going on, so, you're able to process it quicker and quicker and quicker at full speed. Those guys are able to see it; you're not just looking at a card or in a walkthrough setting. You're seeing it full speed, and you're watching the guys react and problem solve.
Q. Saquon said this spring that he would like to be used more as a receiver. He said that kind of was the plan last year, but it changed. Ideally, would you like to throw him the ball more? Would that open things up more in your offense?
A: I think it's too early to tell right now. I think we're going through that; we're practicing all kinds of things with people at every position. So, we're just going to go through that process, and when the season comes, it comes. Right now, we're just focused on today and putting our guys in a good spot to have a good practice today.
Q. This is your second year with (quarterback) Daniel (Jones). Where have you seen him improve from where he was a year ago?
A: Year two is always just a little bit easier for everybody, especially when you start brand new with a whole staff and you're getting to understand everybody, and you're looking to build trust and build relationships. Year one was kind of that first part of the process. Working into year two, there's a lot more comfort, there's a lot more familiarity. I think everyone has an understanding of the strengths and the weaknesses of not only the scheme, but the players and how we're coaching it and how we're teaching it, how we're running it. So, year two is always easier. I mean, even for myself, same thing, just another year under my belt being with DJ (quarterback Daniel Jones) and being with the offensive line, the group and the offense and the whole staff. So, everything is just a little bit more smooth, but we've still got to put in the work, and we've still got to go through the process.
Q. Is there anything you've specifically seen him improve on that he wasn't able to do physically or mentally last year?
A: Yeah, I would just probably speak on just his comfort in the offense. I think he's able to problem solve faster, I'm able to problem solve faster with him and we can work together and speak that same language just a little bit quicker.
Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
Q: Do you guys feel like you are, as a special teams coordinator, are represented in these meetings that happen when they talk about rule changes and things of that nature?
A: I mean we have our opinions and that is what it is. You know what I mean? It's like, they see it one way, we see it one way and at the end of the day they are going to make a decision and whatever is best for the game, whatever they feel like is best for the game, they are going to go with it. It is what it is.
Q: Do you plan to experiment more in this preseason, just to figure out how you want to approach kickoffs and the different strategies?
A: It's something that we are always looking at and something we are always thinking about and talking about because at any point in time you have got to be prepared for, you have got to expect the unexpected. You know there are going to be certain teams that are going to do certain things during the course of the preseason just to try some things out. It's always like that whenever you have a new rule change.
Q: How has it been working with (assistant special teams coach) Mike (Adams)?
A: It's been great. We have a history together, I coached him in Carolina. He was awesome as a player. He's great to have in the room, great leader, brings a wealth of experience and knowledge. He's been really good so far and again, it's new to him, it's a new area for him as far as coaching is concerned but he's doing a great job of picking it up and learning at the same time.
Q: When one of your coaches leaves like that though, do you have a short list available or is that something the GM has to do or how does that work out?
A: I think that's something that we all are thinking about all the time because you got to be one step ahead of it. A guy like (Vegas Vipers Head Coach) Anthony Blevins is always going to be someone people want. He's a veteran coach that has been around, he's had a lot of success in the league. He's coached a bunch of Pro Bowl players. He's interviewed for coordinator jobs the last two or three years, so you knew at some point in time it was going to happen.
Q: How much do you think he, with the work he (Vegas Vipers Head Coach Anthony Blevins) did here, deserved that opportunity?
A: Blev has been doing this for a long time and it's all about opportunity. I told him, I said when I talked to (Executive Vice President of Football Operations for the XFL) Marc (Ross), I sold him like a used Ford. He did a great job while he was here. He did a great job in Arizona. I always respected his work when we were in the same division in '15 and that's when I first met him. He's done a heck of a job and I look forward to seeing him have success in the XFL.
Q: What did (punter) Jamie (Gillan) do enough of to have this organization bring him back?
A: You just look at the upside with Jamie. He has a powerful leg. He's young. He's very, very, as far as his work ethic and how he goes about his business, he's super mature and he wants to get better. We just have to do a better job of helping him as far as coverage and those things. He's done a really good job for us and he's getting better. Every week he's getting better.
Q: It's the whole thing is you don't quit at talent.
A: No, he's (punter Jamie Gillan) super, super talented.
Q: Are you confident that he will smooth out those rough edges?
A: Yeah, I mean that's time on task. He's (punter Jamie Gillan) going to get better over time like any other player, regardless of the position. The longer he does it the better he will get at it. He's doing the right thing, so we are just trying to bring him along and just get better every day.
Q: Did you see any areas of improvement as last year progressed that stood out to you?
A: Absolutely. In the plus area, he had better control down the stretch, and he really did a good job in the back end of the season. Our gunners obviously helped him but he did a good job in the plus area, just making sure we get those balls, those balls that were touchbacks early in the season became balls downed at the eight, the nine and I think that helped us a lot.
Q: How much nuance is there in special teams to where the layperson or the fan may not be able to notice because I feel like people talk as if it just doesn't matter?
A: There is hidden yardage all over the place when it comes to special teams. It's having a really good return game, being able to cover kicks, being able to back your opponent up inside the 10, inside the 20. Being able to push the ball out past the 30 and being able to make field goals and affect kicks through rushing and all those different things that come along with it. That part of the game, I think people don't really understand to the degree that how important it is to be able to play field position. Especially in the northeast when it gets cold later in the year, we have got to run the football. It makes a big difference, it really does.
Q: What do you think of (running back) Eric Gray's abilities as a returner? I see him back there with kick and punt.
A: Eric does a great job, he's talented. He did it in college and he's a work in progress just like all the rest of them that are back there but he's doing a good job, he's working hard. He's a rookie that has a lot to learn and we are bringing him along like all the rest of them.
Q: I feel like we are in this same spot every but where do you stand on your returners, like who do you want to see get out there and get an opportunity in the preseason?
A: All those guys that are back there, all those guys. You always want to see what you got. You never know until you know. We have got to put them out there and give them all opportunities and see what they got.
Q: How do you balance, like let's say (running back) Eric (Gray), he's young and explosive, but you have veterans who you know are going to catch the ball but might not have that same burst, how do you balance that?
A: Well, the most important thing is the ball, you know what I mean? That's the most important thing. But again, that's always something that we are constantly working on, and he's done a better job of fielding the ball, catching the ball since he's been here.
Wide Receiver Jalin Hyatt
Q. You've had some really nice, crisp routes out here on some of these deep balls. What do you think you've shown people in this camp about your route running, which is something people questioned?
A: The only thing I want to show is to (quarterback) Daniel Jones and (quarterback) Tyrod (Taylor), the quarterbacks for us. I just want to get comfortable with them, making sure they understand my speed and I understand how they throw the ball. So, I think that's the biggest thing I'm trying to get out of this camp.
Q. What have you shown those guys in terms of them trusting you?
A: Just getting open consistently, making plays when they do throw the ball to me. That's one thing I just want to show. I just want to consistently get open and show them that even under pressure, we still get things done.
Q. You're obviously making more plays, you're getting more opportunities. Here we see you with more 1s. How much more comfortable do you feel, and does it feel different than a couple of weeks ago even?
A: Yeah, it definitely feels different. Just getting a little more time with DJ now, and just getting comfortable out there with the starters. I think for me, just day by day. That's one thing I want to do, just get better every day. Whatever my opportunities are, whatever the reps are, I'm just going to take advantage of it.
Q. What was that process like with Daniel and kind of getting comfortable with him? Walk us through the work that you put in with him.
A: I think it started in the offseason. When we got done with OTAs, we all got together, made sure we had a trip, and just getting comfortable with each other. Outside of football, even with football, just understanding him, what he likes, what reads he likes, whatever the defense is, whatever coverage is in. So, I think that's the biggest thing I want to get out of this camp. Making sure that he can trust in me and just make plays for him.
Q. What do you think your speed can mean for this offense?
A: What we want to do, we want to make it easier for (running back) Saquon (Barkley). We don't want them loading the box where now they have to respect us. I think that's what we want to get out of this, just make it easier for our running backs. That's why I'm here.
Q. 24 miles per hour? Is that legit?
A: I've been hearing all that. Like I said, we're trying to just stick to what we're doing in camp. I'm just trying to be as fast as I can be. As far as numbers and stuff, we're not really worried about it.
Q. Have you seen any proof of that? Did they show you the numbers?
A: They didn't show me anything. They didn't show me anything. But like I said, we're just trying to get better every day.
Q. How much is there to your game beyond just being fast and running straight?
A: I think for me, it's just what can you do with contested catches, can you make 50/50 balls, and when you are getting covered, and you're not in the spot that you want to be in, can you make a play? That's really what I want to show Daniel and Coach (Brian) Daboll, really everybody on our team. I just want to show the respect for them.
Q. What can you do? Do you feel like you've shown that you can make those plays so far in camp?
A: I think I can do everything. I want to be a complete receiver. I think that's the biggest thing for me, and that's going to be day by day. Just getting more comfortable as far as in the league and how defenders are and how they cover; everything is more in tight space, so just getting open quicker. But that's what I want to show, that I'm a complete receiver.
Q. What kind of expectations did you have coming in here and have you exceeded those?
A: Yeah, I always set high goals for myself. A high goal is I want to be Offensive Rookie of the Year. I think that's the biggest thing I want to do. But we're going to get there. It's going to be day by day, we're going to stack days, and even if it's a good day or a bad day, we're going to learn from it and get better.
Q. You look like you've been successful fighting off jams and whatnot. What do you attribute that to? Is that something you saw a lot in college or is that just something technique wise that you picked up here?
A: Even though I didn't see a lot of press in actual games in college, I always still worked on it. I always wanted to be an outside receiver even though Tennessee had me in the slot most of the time. So, coming up here and being an outside receiver makes it easier for me because I actually like them closer because you can get off the line quicker. I can use my quickness and lateral speed and just get open when I need to.
Q. Has it all slowed down for you now?
A: Yeah, it's getting there. It's getting there.
Q. How much further do you have to go?
A: I think for me, this is all training camp. When we actually get to preseason and actually get in some games, I think that's when everything will slow down for me. Everything's new still for me, and I'm just trying to take it day by day.
Q. Obviously, I think guys came in here thinking you were fast. How much do you think you've opened their eyes to your speed or maybe surprised them to some degree?
A: When you watch myself on film, sometimes it doesn't look that fast because I'm more of a strider, how I use my long speed. But when you actually get out there and actually have got to guard up and cover, it's a whole different speed. So, I think a lot of people don't realize that until they're actually in front and they see it and they're backpedaling. But for me, like I said, I'm just trying to get better every day. Just getting comfortable with DJ.
Q. I just know there are some guys in your room that have said they think they can run with you or run faster than you. Do you think you changed their mind just a little bit?
A: We're all competitors in that room. I'm not surprised they would say anything like that, but like I said, we might get a race in at the end of the season, see who's really the fastest. We'll see.
Q. A lot of rookies come in and wonder, 'Can I compete at this level?' Did you have any doubt, or have you surprised yourself?
A: Oh, no, I definitely belong here. I definitely belong here. I think for me, just coming in the draft process, they took a chance on me. The Giants took a chance on me in the third round. I think for me, I just want to make the most of it. I want to show them why they drafted me. I want to show why (General Manager) Joe (Schoen) decided to get me and trade up for me. So, I take that as big respect and that's what I want to give to them.
Cornerback Adoree Jackson
Q. How do you feel about having your reps scaled back?
A: I appreciate it. I think that's what comes along when you're going into year seven. I remember when I was coming in as a rookie seeing the older guys get a couple of plays off here and there. The Lord let me be able to play this long to see that come to fruition for myself so it's cool to be able to see that. Just do what I've got to do to get my conditioning and get the reps that I need to do and just help coach. Pretty much, I'm just proud to see those guys thriving and achieve so far.
Q. What do you think of what you've seen from (cornerback) Tre Hawkins III so far?
A: Comfortable, poised. Doing what he does and what got him here. So, just playing his game and not being scared of the competition or shying away from it.
Q. Part of him getting reps is you playing in the slot. What did you think of that?
A: I don't mind. It's all about helping the team at the end of the day. Seeing where you can be put and placed and just do different things. As a guy who's been doing well, he's getting the opportunity to get reps at corner, I don't mind that at all. It just lets me hone in on my craft and just make sure I'm doing what I can do in my reps when I go in at the slot, I'm just trying to make myself more valuable and versatile.
Q. How much of a different position is that since you don't have the boundary to work with? Is it something that a veteran can handle rather than a young guy?
A: Like you said, knowing the game and understanding it and being able to – (Defensive Backs Coach Jerome Henderson) Rome when we meet, talking about formations, splits, the personnel, who is what, (and) who is where. So, always having that to play when I'm out there on the field. Then, just being able to talk to the guys (and) having (Buccaneers safety) Logan Ryan before and playing in the nickel position and learning things from him was pretty cool to have. I think that helps me a lot to just keep being able to play the game the way I want to play it.
Q. How much have you played in the nickel position?
A: I did it before in college, I did it in high school, (and) I did it a little bit in the league, when I was in Tennessee. I wouldn't say I played there a lot but at the end of the day, I feel like just playing football if you know the scheme and what the defense is, if you know what your leverage is and know what you need to do, you just play to the strengths of the call and you figure out where to go from there.
Q. I know it's early, but if that was your permanent position, how would you feel about that?
A: If it's to help the team, if it's for the betterment of the team, I'm for that.
Q. You got a good taste of this defense last year. What does year two with (defensive coordinator) Wink (Martindale) look like?
A: I think it's fun. You're more comfortable, like you're saying, you get another year into the system and the scheme. You're able to have fun, you're with some familiar faces, the guys that you've seen before. You're able to communicate a little bit better, you can be more personable, you know each other. You built respect over the year so now you're out there (and) he knows what he's looking for and you know what you're looking for and then y'all can be together (inaudible). I think having another year in whatever it is – offense, defense, special teams or something where we're all together, it's always helpful.
Q. Does he expect more now?
A: I don't think it's his expectations. I think for us – he probably has an expectation for us, we always have an expectation higher. I don't think anyone should have an expectation better than yours. I think us as a team and us as a unit, we always want to achieve and do more. Whatever we did last year, (was) last year, obviously you want to top that but if you get the ball rolling right now at camp you can build on that.
Q. (Wide receiver) Jalin Hyatt had a few big catches today. What does his speed do for a secondary? Is that in the back of your mind at all?
A: I won't say it's in the back of our mind, I think it helps us because you never know what you're going to get. I can't remember who, but somebody was asking what receiver was the toughest to guard that we had at practice, and I told them, 'I like them all' because you get every look. You got the short, shifty, quick. You've got Jalin, nice stride (and) speed with (Darius Slayton) Slay. You got (David) Sills, who can do a little bit of everything. Isaiah (Hodgins) as well and then you've got Collin (Johnson), the big physical and then you've got Darren Waller that you've got to go against or (Lawrence) Cager. So, you get a little bit of everything. I think being able to have the group that we have – everyone has speed, and this is a passing league so you get to get different looks because you never know what's going to happen through the season.
Q. What is your impression of Jalin and what did you know about him before versus what you have seen out of camp so far?
A: My favorite impression of him is always, when he was doing his pro day and the coach from the Cowboys was saying how he has a specific skillset and he kept saying 'what's that? I can run routes too though.' I respected that of him. I think that's my impression of a guy who is confident in his game play and understands that people may, that's from anything, people may say you can do one thing and it's just your way of showing that you can do it all. I like him, a good head on his shoulders, great charisma. I think he's a great person.
Q. What are you in particular impressions of his route running that you are seeing out there?
A. I think he does a great job of running routes, honestly.
Q. How so? What do you mean by that?
A: Whatever they said that he couldn't do, I'm seeing him do it. Getting out of his breaks. Know how to sell, he's good in press coverage and if you're off, it's the same way. I think he does a lot of great things well and when you hear what you can't do, you work on it, and he is coming out here showing that he can be a complete receiver.
Q. What it's like trying to run with him (wide receiver Jalin Hyatt) straight up? I know you guys said you knew he was fast, and you said he's like a strider. Does it surprise you a little bit because of the way you see him running like that?
A: I don't want to say it surprises, but I feel like he's a guy once he's rolling, he's rolling if that makes sense. We've seen Darren Waller run, it's like, 'Okay, he's fast' but then when those legs start to churn it's like okay, he's going away like a (Jamaican sprinter) Usain Bolt. I'm not saying he's Usain Bolt, but I am saying how that stride is, everybody else it's like, 'tink, tink, tink' his is, 'tink…tink…tink' but he is still separating and going with speed. I don't want to say it's surprising, being a track guy, seeing the different stride lengths and different runners, but it is very impressive how fluid and smooth he is when he is running. I like that a lot about him.
View photos from Thursday's training camp practice at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.