The other day it was about 92, yesterday 50, today it’s 70. Nice. Just good to be outside. Good to be outside, working together. Progress may come slow but it will come. Anybody have a question?
Q: Is any part of you surprised that Eli is out there participating like he is?
A: No. He’s so far ahead. When we started out I didn’t think I would have him for anything. We’re about two or three days into phase two and he’s running around. I’m trying to slow him down but he feels good. I’m not surprised at all.
Q: As you install a new offense, how much of a benefit is it to have him out there?
A: Huge. He can get the reps during the spring here and he will have the offense down by the time we break. Then come back and he’ll be comfortable with it. We’ll see it, we’ll communicate it by virtue of signals or whatever. So this is really good. The other quarterbacks as well. Ryan (Nassib) is getting a lot of work as you can see. That is a good thing.
Q: Does he not have any limitations?
A: On paper. We’re just watching it. He may have a day when he’s a little bit sore and we’ll back off the snaps. Today coming after the first one, he didn’t have any issues at all. We just let him do what he can do.
Q: You mentioned progress. Based on what you’ve seen so far, is there anything that’s delighted you as far as the progress that’s been made?
A: We sailed through phase two pretty well, just working on opposite fields, but as far as understanding what was wanted and communicating on offense, I felt that was good. That still’s good, we demonstrated that. It’s now the execution. It comes a little bit slower obviously when you put somebody over there on defense. Both sides of the ball are making a lot of adjustments and it’s a good thing and we’re obviously into special teams as well.
Q: What have you seen from, you mentioned Ryan Nassib and the other quarterbacks, what have you seen from Nassib this offseason?
A: He’s worked hard. He’s worked very hard. He studied hard and he can direct traffic out here. We just need to get the execution where we need it to be.
Q: Chris Snee said he would have no limitations here. How does he look?
A: He looks good. He looks very good.
Q: Are the (Beckham and Andre Williams) at the NFLPA rookie premiere?
Q: All of the new faces and the new offense, have you had to go through things a little differently this offseason than you normally would?
A: I don’t know about differently. Once it comes, finally the players arrived, we took advantage of every moment we possibly could in the amount of time we were given. The players have been great about that. The players have been great about that. For the most part, it’s been good. I would say no, no real… you adjust because you have to adjust. The numbers in one place are not as good as they are in another and you have limitations as to the amount of time you will be on the field so we have to worry about that as well.
Q: Weston Richburg is starting out at guard?
A: He’s playing center and guard. We have so many guys, they’re all moving around.
Q: How much is it a relief, the fact that there aren’t a lot of contract squabbles and holdouts and those types of things hanging over you and you have pretty much your entire team intact and here ready to go?
A: Well it’s obviously a lot smoother when you have everybody here, so we’re pleased with that.
Q: The uncertainty of Will Hill’s situation, is that difficult…?
A: It is and it will be. There’s no doubt about that part about it. In the spring we try to get as many reps for as many people as we can. Right now we’re three-deep back there so it’s fine.
Q: When do you expect to find out about Will’s status?
A: I don’t know.
Q: At three deep you’re talking about…?
Q: What did you expect Stevie Brown to do coming off the ACL? Has he exceeded…?
A: Stevie’s had a good winter. He’s been in here rehabbing the whole time. He’s gone through both the first and second phases very well. He’s running very well so we’re very happy with that. He does have some… we’re watching him, let’s put it that way. He is what we call limited but he has been able to demonstrate that he has prepared himself well.
Q: Where does everything stand with Will Beatty and Manningham and their health?
A: Supposedly they’ll be ready for the fall.
Q: Your plan is to keep them both out this spring?
A: The doctors, that’s what they want.
Q: How about David Wilson? How far along do you think he’s coming?
A: He is in an area where he’s not supposed to have any contact. He’s out there running and feels good. You’d never know that he’s having issues.
Q: With Stevie, last year you had Terrell Thomas on a kind of pitch count. Do you think you can take that approach with Stevie throughout camp?
A: In this kind of thing we have it already organized by virtue of how we play the three units. He takes basically one-third.
Q: Was there any reason to address last season with Eli as far as studying, turnovers, that kind of thing?
A: He always does. He studies everything. He studies all of the interceptions, everything that has to do with it, a game changer, he does that. All of that was discussed before he left. That will be right where it sits.
Q: Where’s John Jerry?
A: John Jerry’s here. He’s had a knee, he comes out here and the knee swells. We’ll hold him inside. He had a little procedure (debridement of the knee), a scope, so he might not work this spring but he’s here.
Q: Is the tempo of the offense a little faster?
A: The no-huddle part is faster but that’s the way it’s always been. I hope it gets better, to be honest with you, and faster.
A: Today is seven weeks (since the procedure), I felt good. Practiced the last two days doing everything so I’m excited to be back out there learning the offense and getting going.
Q: When did you know that you were full-go, that you could do everything?
A: The last few weeks I have been doing most things from a practice standpoint. Running, doing roll outs, still being smart with some things, not trying to overdo it, not trying to have consecutive days where you’re doing a lot of pounding, a lot of jumping and landing on it. I’m doing the other football activities; I feel I can do them all full.
Q: Did you plan on taking some days off here because you said you don’t want to pound on it too much?
A: I don’t plan on taking days off. This week, three practices in a row. Most weeks you’ll have two and then a day off and then two more. We’re seeing how it responded and today, no swelling after practice, no discomfort, no issues. Just keep going about our business, keep getting better out there on the field and take it one day a time and see how it feels.
Q: Did you surprise yourself at all? I know you haven’t had a surgery like this before?
A: No, I think this was kind of my goal, to be back for OTAs. I had the surgery, it would be about seven weeks from the day until the first OTA so I was hoping… they said it was a six-week, after the surgery it was going to be six weeks. They didn’t really tell me if it was six weeks until I could start doing things or six weeks until I’m full speed. They said six weeks, so I kind of had it in my head that I should be ready. I knew early on after three weeks that I was feeling pretty good and could do a few things and was hoping that it could continue to heal quickly so I could be back for OTAs.
Q: Did your urgency have anything to do with the new offense, the new system? Do you think if this were last year, the year before, you would have sat?
A: I always want to be out there. I think this year, yeah, having a new offense made me want to be out with the team, out running plays. Just the little things, calling the play in the huddle, hearing the play call and being able to visualize it quickly. If you miss part of it, you have to figure out what it is just by knowledge of the offense. All of those things are important. It’s one thing to watch it from the sideline and think you know it spot-on, but sometimes you’ve got to be right there at the line of scrimmage and have to make important calls and changes and checks and reads. I thin it’s very important for me to be out there and I wanted to be out there as soon as possible to get going for this offense.
Q: Now that you’re on the field with the offense, what are your early thoughts about it?
A: It’s been a learning experience, learning a new offense. Some different timed stuff, different protections. I like everything, everything makes sense. I feel good about how these last couple days have gone. It’s not perfect, there are things that need to be improved. I thought the last two days there have been some good plays. There have been some things where I felt in good rhythm with the offense and what we’re trying to do. We’re at the very early stages. I like where we’re heading and the options that this offense gives the quarterback and the whole team to be successful.
Q: How would you compare how your ankle feels today with how it felt maybe during those Duke workouts or when you were in the process of deciding that surgery was the best option?
A: It feels a lot better. That’s why we did the surgery, because there was some discomfort. In running and doing drills I would notice it at times where, at this point, I don’t notice it. I’m out there worried about football and not thinking one bit about my ankle. I know it definitely was the right decision to get this done and to knock it out where I won’t have any more issues that I’ll have to deal with later on in the season, something flaring back up. I’m excited that I got it done and also excited, that was my biggest concern about doing it when we did it, I thought I might miss some time in OTAs and I didn’t want to. The fact that I healed up quickly, got back for these OTAs, makes me feel confident that we made the right decision.
Q: Did you have to have conversations with people to get yourself on the field? I’m sure there was some resistance by people who wanted you rested.
A: We just took it, we never had an exact timetable for when I would return. I wanted to make it back for OTAs but the trainers never said, ‘No, you’re not going to be back for OTAs.’ We took it week by week and kept doing more and more as I was able to do certain things and not have pain or discomfort so at about three weeks, I was out here doing some drops, did maybe 15 or 20 drops and felt good. Was able to run around and kept kind of taking the steps to hopefully get back to this point.
Q: Jerry Reese said at one point that he thought you would be out for the spring, you would likely be out for the OTAs and mini camp. Was that something the team told you, ‘Hey, it’s only mini camp, maybe we should take it slow?’
A: I knew we were going to be able to be smart with it and not rush back just to get back for OTAs and mini camp if I wasn’t ready or where I’d have setbacks. That was kind of the whole goal, not to have any setbacks. We haven’t, everything has gone smoothly. We’ll continue to monitor it and be smart. I still have work to do and rehab to do to get things stronger but I’m excited to be back out there with the team.
Q: How are you feeling?
A: Good. I really don’t have any information other than the last interview. I’m still feeling good and practicing with the team. I have a better grasp of the playbook, that comes with time. I’m still learning and I’m taking a lot of mental reps right now because I can’t do contact.
Q: Just to be clear, you haven’t had your next MRI yet?
A: Yes. Like I said in my other interview in the beginning of May that I was waiting for June 4 so June 4 will be my next appointment. Can somebody take a picture and tweet it so I can put it on my Instagram or something? I like all the mics.
Q: How does it feel going out there and running around? Is there anything you can’t do?
A: No. Like I said, I never had any pain, no pain at all. We’re just being careful because I’ve came so far, I feel the same since before the surgery, but we’ve come so far and the coaches don’t want me to risk it by bumping into somebody, running into something and falling down when I’m this close to my next appointment.
Q: You said that previously that the only thing holding you back is pictures. June 4 you’re going to get some more pictures. Are you going to be nervous? Because, you feel great, but unless the pictures… the pictures have to prove it, don’t they?
A: Yeah. It’s out of your hands at that point. I’m just praying before I go in and after this…
Q: You feel like you should be fine based on how you feel physically?
A: I feel great, yeah.
Q: But, as you know, they’re going to be looking for every detail.
A: Yeah, it’s taken seriously and it should be. I’m just looking forward to getting out on the field so hopefully they get the pictures they’re looking for.
Q: And if they don’t, would that just mean more time, you have to spend more time?
A: Yeah. I’ll probably start kicking field goals.
Q: Is this injury something that you can rehab or is it just rest?
A: Just rest. Yeah. Like I said, I have no pain and there’s nothing I can do to make it better. But I want to express that I’ve never had any pain. I went home to my family and they were like they were shocked to see me. On Memorial Day weekend like, ‘Oh my God, is your neck… how is your neck?’ I never had any pain. I’ve been walking on my own, talking on my own, doing everything normal, running, exercising like regular. I want to express to everybody that I have never had any pain at all, zero percent. I’ve been healthy and doing well.
Q: You are jumping around here like the Energizer bunny every time you touch the ball, I see you fielding punts and everything else. I wonder how hard is that for you to even be out on this field knowing that you’re still in limbo, still waiting for that good MRI to come back and things happen during OTAs, even when you’re not playing. Guys fall the wrong way, guys trip the wrong way. How do you deal with that?
A: Just staying positive and going out there and still participating. I don’t even think about it when I’m out there. I’m just doing everything normal. If you focus on that, it’s the wrong thing to focus on. I’m trying to focus more on building chemistry with my team and learning this playbook so we can have a better season than we did last year.
Q: With the neck issue, in terms of your rehab and your training and stuff like that, did you have to change anything? Is there anything you can’t do in the gym or the weight room at all?
A: Yeah. They didn’t want me squatting heavy weights on my neck. But there are ways around that and ways that I can still squat and I have been doing that.
Q: So when you say you felt no pain and yet the doctors came to you and said, ‘You have to have this surgery,’ you must have been shocked.
A: Yeah, it was weird. But they said I had to do it to keep playing so I was with it.
Q: Was there any worry at all that it might be over? There was some talk of the possibility that you might not be able to play again.
A: It was hard to worry because I felt nothing. I thought it would be something that would just pass over but then they said I had to have the surgery, it was best to have the surgery. I understood that and I did my research and weighed the pros and cons and felt that it was the best decision.
Q: How are you feeling?
A: I feel great. I feel great. I’ve been running. I feel good. Nothing’s been bothering me so that’s a good thing.
Q: Are you 100 percent at this point?
A: Yeah, I’m definitely at full-go. I’m out there practicing with the team and nothing’s affecting me so I’m good.
Q: You talked about losing the weight, what’s that meant to you so far? Do you feel lighter, do you feel quicker?
A: I feel lighter. Nothing really, I just feel lighter and I’m out there moving again. That’s basically it.
Q: We know that these OTAs are like practice lite, there’s not a whole lot of contact or anything going on.
A: Yeah, sucks.
Q: So how will you really know how you’re feeling until you actually get into it and scrap with people?
A: Really OTAs are at your own pace. That’s how I think of it. I’m going hard out there so if they can’t keep up with me then it’s their fault. … I’m fully healthy and I’m ready to go. I just can’t wait to get the pads on.
Q: Does it matter to you what side you play on?
A: Not at all.
Q: Would you prefer one or the other?
A: No, I’m playing both sides this year. It doesn’t matter which side I’m on, I’m still going to make progress on my side.
Q: When you hear that somebody like Sean Lee blows out a knee in an OTA, is that cause for concern as to your own health?
A: No. I don’t think you should worry about that. Things happen in football. As long as you’re going full speed, you should be all right. That’s the game of football. When you start worrying about things like that, that’s when you start getting hurt or you start hurting something or somebody gets hurt or you might hurt somebody else. You should just go out there and go full speed and do what you can do.
Q: How close are you to feeling like you did when you were at your highest level?
A: I’m already feeling like it. My weight, like I said, my weight’s good. I’m out there running and nothing’s bothering me, so I’m in pretty good shape.
Q: What are you down to?
Q: What’s different for you guys as a defense this year? When you look at the guys out there…?
A: Just the faces. Different guys out there. We brought people in that are going to help us win and get back to the playoffs. I think they did a good job drafting players this year and making trades. They brought guys in that are going to help us win. Just the faces are different. Nothing’s changed.
Q: How much pressure do you feel now that Tuck’s not here anymore? Or Osi, any of those guys.
A: I don’t feel pressure.
Q: Is it on your shoulders now?
A: Not really. I don’t feel pressure at all. You’ve still got Kiwi here, you’ve got me, a couple guys, Jenks, Mike, we have to be leaders of that defense. The rest of the guys are going to follow us. There’s no pressure on me. I’m ready to get out there and do what I do best and that’s sack the quarterback and stop the run. There’s no pressure on me. I’m going to go out there and play like I know how to play the game of football.
Q: What are your early impressions of the secondary?
A: We’ve got a great secondary. They just need to cover and I know they’re going to cover. We’ll get to the quarterback as fast as possible. We’re very anxious to see the pre-season come around and see what we’ve got.
Q: A lot gets made of a player’s contract year in the NFL. Going into yours, do you have any different feelings?
A: Not at all. Like I said, my main goal is to come out here and play football and show everybody that I’ve still got it.
Q: How much do you want to put last year behind you?
A: It’s behind me. It’s a whole new year. I barely played last year. I wasn’t at 100 percent. It is what it is. That was last year. This is a new season, new faces. I’m ready to get out there and show everybody.
Q: You’ve been in this situation coming off injuries. How surprised are you to see Eli out there this week? He was supposed to still be rehabbing his ankle?
A: Dealing with an injury is hard. I’m pretty sure Eli wouldn’t go out there unless he’s ready. I’m pretty sure he’s ready. He’s out there throwing the ball so that’s a good thing.
Q: I know when you talked before the offseason conditioning began that you expected to be at OTAs. Did you expect to do as much as you’ve been doing?
A: Yeah. I just think the rehab process and everything went pretty good. I came out here, limited in mind but sometimes you just keep going. It hasn’t really bothered me so I’ll just keep going.
Q: You said limited in mind, are you limited in body at all?
A: No, not at all. It’s just more so of watching.
Q: How good can that three-safety look be this year with Perry’s defense and all three of you out there?
A: It’s something that’s building, something that we’re all working and talking with these first couple days.
Q: You saw what Terrell Thomas went through obviously two years ago. How do you review some of what he went through with the repeat injuries?
A: There are certain things whenever I talk to T2, he’ll say there were certain things that he wishes he did more and he’ll tell me why, so I keep that in mind. I continue to get the massages, continue to do a lot of different balance work and all that type of stuff.
Q: What about in terms of pace? How progressive will you go?
A: That’s one of those things that I think is just your body. Your body I think tells you that. So far mine’s responding well with me doing what I can.
Q: Can you walk us back through your injury? What emotions you were feeling and how it happened?
A: It was the third preseason game. Just a routine play really. I was returning an interception and just kind of hit the turf wrong and.. my knee.
Q: Did you know right away?
A: No, I didn’t know right away. It was one of those things where if you play long enough and you get hit, you’ll feel awkward for a second. It was one of those things where I thought I would just be able to walk off and then I noticed it was kind of burning a little bit longer than normal. The doctor came out there and he kind of looked at me and told me, ‘Your ACL is probably torn.’
Q: On the field?
Q: What were your emotions at the time?
A: I just kind of looked at him and said, ‘Don’t tell me that.’ It was one of those things where I may have been down for about two days but you can’t get better being down on yourself so I flipped it into getting back into rehab mode and getting back for this year.
Q: It looks early on like you’re kind of penciled in as the starting safety opposite Antrel. Is that what you expected?
A: I didn’t really expect anything. I knew that’s where I wanted to be. I knew that I was going to work and wherever I fell on the depth chart is where I fell. Just keep going from there. Right now they have me next to ‘Trel so I’m staying next to ‘Trel.
Q: You were out, coming back Will had a pretty good year last year.
A: I know what I can do, it’s just continuing to prove it. That’s all it is. So I can’t say I’m surprised.
Q: Do you feel like you’re ahead of your own schedule? They say an ACL is usually 10, 12 months. You’re out there and running and looking good. Are you ahead of schedule?
A: I wouldn’t say that. I don’t want to jump out and say that right away. I just know I feel good right now. For what we’re doing right now, I feel like I can do what I need to do but I know I still need to do better.