Secondary/Cornerbacks Coach Peter Giunta
June 20, 2014
Q: Is this potentially the strongest group you’ve had?
A: We’ve got 10 quality corners right now in the program. Trumaine did a tremendous job for us starting the second half of the season. Prince had a very good year for us. Bringing in two guys that started in the Super Bowl obviously helps. Zack Bowman started on Chicago’s defense, a very good defense. There are five guys that have a lot of NFL experience on good defenses and good football teams so that is huge. And the Jayron played a number of snaps for us, so did Charles James so we have great depth and we have some good young kids, Travis Howard, we have Ross Weaver, we drafted Bennett Jackson. We have great depth at that position, the deepest I’ve ever had in my years in the league.
Q: Are DRC and Prince both capable of taking an opposing team’s top receiver?
A: Yes. They both have the skill set and both have done it in their careers, gone out and played on the best guy. They’ll battle, they’ll compete and we’ll be able to have an advantage I think playing those guy.
Q: As you looked at DRC, what makes him special? What stands out to you about his skill set?
A: He’s got that other gear. He can run as fast as he needs to run to get up on top of a receiver, catch up to a receiver. He’s got that gear that’s incredible. He’s such a smooth athlete. His length is so good and his ball skills are fantastic. He’s got that great skill set where he’s got the speed to recover if he does beat, he’s got the quickness to recover. He’s got the length to reach out and knock balls away that other corners wouldn’t be able to get to and he’s got great hands to make plays on the ball in the air. He’s got what you’re looking for in a corner.
Q: Where did Prince most improve last year?
A: Last year his durability was number one. He was able to play all 16 for us and the only time he missed was when he got dinged a little bit in the opening game against Dallas, friendly fire. He improved, he understands well, he communicates well, his instincts, his awareness are really developing. You can really see it in camp now, he’s on top of all of the stuff. Now he’s starting to gamble a bit and take some chances, which you like to see because you’re taking calculated guesses and risking, ‘Hey, I’m going to go make a play.’ That’s what you want. He’s devolved that confidence in himself and the defense, he knows what’s coming. In the two-minute drill Victor ran an in route, he read the combination and saw it and jumped inside and Eli tried to throw it and Antrel intercepted it because Prince cut the route off because he knew it was coming because he felt it. He saw with the combination and he knew it.
Q: Walter Thurman has called himself the best slot corner in the NFL. Is there a different skill set required for the slot guy, the nickel guy, than there is outside?
A: Yeah, there is because… you play the linebacker position. You’re really a linebacker in the defense so you have to be able to understand your run fits as a linebacker, the underneath drops that a linebacker would have and then you have to have the corner skill set to be able to cover an inside slot receiver, who usually the quick guys, the Welker’s, the Victor Cruz’s of the world, those are the guys you have to cover man-to-man as well as be able to take all of those drops and run fits that a linebacker has. He does a great job of studying, he has a great awareness of what people are trying to do to him. He plays with great leverage, understands his drops as an underneath defender. He’s able to get there, get breaks off the quarterback. He’s got great vision and to play inside like that you have to have great vision of everything that’s going on around you, it happens so much quicker. Corner you’re using the sideline to help you but in there you have so much space, especially covering guys. He’s done a great job. He’s got great quickness and he’s a great technical. You’ll see that when we’re able to put our hands on people in training camp.
Q: You did get a corner in the draft, what has Jackson shown you?
A: He’s good. He had played receiver quite a bit. He’s a tough kid. Unfortunately because we have so many good players he’s getting less reps but he’ll get plenty of reps in training camp. He has good quickness, good speed, he’s got good size, he’s physical. His best thing is being able to hit people and put his hands on people and we won’t be able to see that until Buffalo. Really, because we don’t want to hit anybody in… put your hands on him, be physical with the receivers. That’s one of his strengths. That will come once we’re able to put our hands on people in training camp.
Q: Do you think in that sense he can almost rise faster once training camp starts?
A: I think once training camp, he’ll start to become a better and better player because he will be able to use his skill set, being physical.
Q: You guys had a couple guys from that same Notre Dame defense come it. It seemed like they played a really physical style there. Was he asked to really engage with receivers?
A: He was a physical corner when I evaluated him.