DT Cullen Jenkins
August 6, 2015
Q: Can you talk about the development of Hank [Johnathan Hankins] and what you saw in him last year and how he’s looked so far in camp?
A: The jump he made from his rookie year to last year was pretty impressive. The strides he made— I felt like he could’ve been a Pro Bowler last year. He definitely played well enough. He’s just continued to improve, and I think that now he’s more comfortable out there. Going into last year, he was still trying to feel his way at first and work on stuff, but I feel like now he knows how to play and knows how to play well at a high level. He expects it from himself and I think that he’ll have another great year this year.
Q: What’s this first week been like without having JPP [Jason Pierre-Paul] there and maybe figuring out how to replace him? How much of a void does he leave?
A: Well, JPP is a very explosive player, and he’s the type of player that— especially when you get to pass-rush situations— he can make stuff happen at the snap of a finger. It has to be a group adjustment. Everybody has to improve, everybody has to do their best to hold it down until he gets back.
Q: You have a lot of young defensive tackles. What have you seen from some of those guys so far, and what do you try to stress to them as a veteran?
A: Just continue to improve. You have to continue to improve, stay hungry, and want to improve. And the group has done that so far— everybody. Kuhn [Markus Kuhn] has made huge strides, and he’s gotten a heck of a lot better. He’s playing really stout inside— he’s strong to begin with, and he’s been playing really well. His movement has been a lot better. Jay [Bromley] has been working hard to improve and get better inside, and that’s something that we have to keep doing. We can’t get satisfied. We can’t feel like we’ve gotten better or we’re doing better— we have to keep improving, no matter what.
Q: One of the big factors coming into this year was that you guys wanted to improve your rush defense. In a training camp that is so light on hitting— I mean you had a couple of padded practices and you’ll have Cincinnati— but how hard is it to do that as a defense?
A: It’s tougher, but you have to focus more on technique than anything. That has to be the foundation of it. You can’t get relaxed because you don’t have many opportunities anymore. I think going to Cincinnati is going to be huge for us because not only is it going to give us more opportunities, but it’s going to give us opportunities against another team— another look. They’re going to want to prove themselves against us, and at the same time, we’re going to want to prove ourselves and get better against them. So I think the intensity level will be a lot higher and imitate more of a game-like atmosphere.
Q: Jon Beason was saying yesterday that he almost misses the old days where there was more hitting, the way training camp used to be. You were in those training camps— do you miss it?
A: A little bit. You come out now and you know that your opportunities are very limited. Especially if you have a bad play or a bad rep— you really don’t get too many chances to repeat that or to do it again or go over it. You really have to be on yourself to perfect everything the first time you do it, and there’s not much room for mistakes.
Q: Is it somewhat of a tradeoff though that it’s easier on your body now? Overall with the new CBA [collective bargaining agreement], do you like it better now or do you like it the way it was?
A: It’s hard to say. It would be nice to have a little mix in-between it, but you definitely take care of your body more now. Back in the day, it used to get pretty brutal, so you’re not complaining about what it is but at the same time you just want to make sure that you’re ready going into the season.