Secondary/Safeties Coach Dave Merritt
June 7, 2017
Q: Howís Darian Thompson?
A: He looks good. The fact that heís coming off a leg injury. The one day he complained that it was sore, two weeks ago. Since then, he looks good. Heís transitioning. I see him actually bursting and coming in and out of his transition. Heís doing a good job. There is still some ways to go and hopefully training camp we will be able to really test that foot. Right now, heís going through all the individual drills. Iím happy and excited.
Q: If heís healthy, is he the other safety with Landon?
A: Iím going to be honest with you, you can sit here right now and say yes, but I canít sit here and take away from what Andrew Adams has done. I think theyíre all competing for a starting job. That second safety has been illusive for us. To have two guys that can actually step in there and actually hold down the position. Hopefully we will find that solid piece this year but we need four good guys. If we can get four good guys, itís going to be great.
Q: Assuming he is healthy and knowing what Landon did last year, what can those two together be like?
A: I think they can be dynamic I really do. Darian is a very cerebral guy. He is very smart and he understands the calls as well as Landon. To have two smart guys back there and to be able to feed off of one another, itís going to be a good mixture between Darian, Andrew and Landon of course. Darian is a very smart guy and thatís what we knew about him coming out of college. He had the mental capacity to learn Spagsí defense and do things weíre asking him to do. Itíll be pretty exciting for sure.
Q: Landon made a big jump from year one to year two. Do you see anything that previews another jump from year two to year three?
A: I do. One of my family members was asking me this about Landon and what a terrific year he had last year. Donít get me wrong, he played out of this world, but I think there is so much room for Landon to improve mentally as well as understanding situational football and technique. Do I see him continuing to make that jump? Yes. As far as the interceptions and some of the wow plays he made last year, I hope that continues, I really do. There were a couple of times where that ball found him versus him going and finding the ball. He made the plays last year that he dropped his rookie year. Hopefully, this upcoming year he will continue to make those plays if heís in the area. The one pick that he made against Cincinnati down the middle of the field was fantastic. He was playing the half field and he came over the top of the tight end. That was an excellent play. I hope to see him continue to make plays like that.
Q: He has so much more to grow? He was in the running for DPOY last year.
A: He has room to grow. I say that in a sense because with this defense, understanding not only his position but understanding how far he could cheat, how far he could take a disguise, thatís part of the growth and some of the things that Iím talking about. He has to continue to learn this defense. We have this kid playing a lot of positions. Itís going to be something that he makes sure he puts his nose in the playbook and understands the pieces of the puzzle and understanding who is around him on the field. Thatís how he is going to continue to grow.
Q: What is his ceiling?
A: I wish I could tell you that. Right now, if I was rating him 1 to 10 as far as where he is, right now Landon is at a 7. I think he can get up to playing at an 8 Ĺ, 9 consistently. Youíre talking always in the running for DPOY and constantly making Pro Bowls, things like that. Last year was such a big jump for the kid and Iím proud of him. That was last year. Antrel Rolle after he came off his big season the next year and didnít do as well. Iím trying to make sure he doesnít get caught in any type of trap. I understand right now that he was the best coming out of high school and the best coming out of college. Now, heís here every year and there is going to be a new crop of guys coming in. The safeties around the league are humble. You have to make sure youíre humble. Keep your body in shape, keep your mind strong and understand constantly learning the game of football and studying your opponents.