LB Jonathan Casillas
August 22, 2016
Q: You looked like a safety running around Saturday night. Is that a sign that youíre as healthy as youíve been in a while?
A: Yes, you can say that. I was always blessed with the ability to run. Iím just trying to show that out there as much as I can. I want to let Spags and my other teammates know that they can rely on me in passing situations and situations where Iím covering skill guys.
Q: How much were you hampered in that regard last year?
A: Last year I had a neck issue that I was dealing with during the preseason. It kind of limited the reps I got. I only played in the first preseason game. Now Iím getting full exposure to every practice rep and every rep that I can.
Q: Did that set you back at all into the season or was that just a preseason type of thing?
A: If youíre not actually getting reps, football reps, everybody always says you have to get mental reps, well, itís hard to replicate it in your head. You canít replicate an actual stance and actual contact if youíre not doing it. I think I was a little bit behind as we started the season and I had to play catch up during the season. Iím playing now just like everyone else, so Iím not missing any other steps.
Q: Do you see a difference in yourself?
A: Yes. Like you said, Iím healthy and Iím able to run around. Iím fully integrated with all the guys. Not only am I better but I feel like everyone else is getting better. Everybody thatís there is. Some guys are on the sideline and thatís just how it is. You canít play when youíre hurt, but at the same time, take your mental reps. When you do come back you might be a step behind, but you have to get acclimated as fast as you can.
Q: With the neck, do you have to take extra precautions?
A: Yes. I play linebacker, Iím hitting every play. Something I have to continue to do off the field is the isometric stuff and chiropractic treatments.
Q: Where do you think the linebackers have improved the most?
A: Good question. You talking about compared to last year?
Q: If that makes it easier.
A: In coverage. I believe zone coverage in crucial situations. I put myself in that category. In crucial situations last year, two-minute drives, I was the Mike linebacker. I was either a little too high, too slow, out of position. The Mikes we have now, Jasper Brinkley, Kelvin and even Keenan, theyíre doing a phenomenal job. Iím sticking to my outside linebacker position and I think Iím pretty good at that.
Q: Is one of the differences this year with the linebackers is that the line is keeping the offensive linemen off you guys?
A: This defensive line is a linebackerís dream. You have two of the best defensive ends in the game and the best run-stopper in the game in Hankins. Heís a better player than he was last year. Itís a dream to play behind these guys and we just have to continue to get on the same page and continue to build and put these blocks together. The Jets game is a huge test for us and itíll be good because they do a lot in the run game and a lot and they spread people out as well.
Q: On the other side of the ball, have you studied Weston Richburg at all at center and how heís evolved from a year ago?
A: Iím just going against him. I wouldnít say studied him, but yes, going against him I feel like heís done a tremendous job in leading those guys and being that captain up there besides Eli. Eli does everything but sometimes when heís not with Eli, when Nassib is in, Nassib just doesnít have as much experience as Eli numbers wise. Weston does a great job in getting guys, pointing out different fronts, pointing out linebackers, safetyís and DBís that are blitzing and involved in the front.
Q: Giant fans are a little concerned about the offensive line. What have you noticed about this offensive line this training camp?
A: Weíre still building. Weíre still building continuity. If I know anything about the offensive line, I know theyíre always the closest group. Theyíre always the most talkative, have to be on the same page. That doesnít happen overnight. Hopefully it can happen sooner rather than later. As of right now, I donít think theyíre as together as they want to be as a unit. Thatís just my opinion about it. Itís still early. Itís going to be a huge test this weekend and I feel like they have been making strides. Especially going against that D-line everyday.
Q: We talked about a three-down linebacker. Have they talked to you at all about wearing a headset? It looks like at this point youíre going to be the only guy out there all three downs.
A: No. They didnít say anything about that this year. Like I said, the middle linebackers we have are very capable. Brinkley, Shepp and then Keenan stepping in on dime, theyíre doing a good job of getting guys lined up and being in the right place at the right time.
Q: How important is it as a line to have a guy thatís on the field all three downs from a linebacker sense?
A: I would say if you want to go back in the day and say that was a key thing and you have to have a linebacker in there, maybe yes. Nowadays, you donít have a running back in all three downs, tight ends come in and out of the game. Itís good to have versatility at the linebacker position. If you donít have a three or four down linebacker, thatís fine as long as someone is there capable to do it at all times.