Linebacker Kareem Martin
Q: What have you taken from the meetings with the officials the last couple of days?
A: I guess the biggest thing is there is going to be a lot of change. I think we will learn a lot this pre-season as far as interpretation. A lot of it is judgment calls on the officials, so we are going to play these games and watch other games to see how tight they are calling it. The only thing we can do is move forward from there and adjust how we play.
Q: Did you watch last nightís game?
A: I watched pieces of it and a saw a couple hits that were deemed penalties and some rules we talked about. It seems a little tough for the defense, but itís a game you have to adjust, we are professionals and we will adjust accordingly.
Q: Do you feel going in that you know the rule and have a clear idea of whatís legal and whatís not?
A: Not really, we had a meeting with them. They tried to give us a little clarity but thereís a lot of gray area for the most part. I feel like every official is going to have their interpretation of things on a week to week basis. We will just have to see how the officiating crew has judged it in the past and go from there.
Q: Have they taken away something thatís natural to you?
A: I think more so they are trying to protect the missile type hits. You will lower your head a little just by human nature, but I think they are just trying to get rid of guys diving and charging so hopefully it wonít be too much of a big deal
Q: Are you guys coaching or practicing tackling any different than the first 4 years of your career because of this rule?
A: Not necessarily, like I said we wonít know how they will call it until we play a few pre-season games. I think once we see how they call it and how strict it is weíll be able to go from there as far as drills.
Q: Was there a change over the course of your career on how tackling is taught?
A: Not necessarily, itís all form tackling, get your head across, drive your feet. You are always taught since little league never to duck your head. Very few guys on this level duck their head, you may do it every once and a while but for the most part you donít make it to this level just torpedoing into a guy.
Q: Itís not just helmet to helmet anymore, its helmet to torso, helmet to hips, helmet to legs?
A: Yeah, I think that will be a bit tougher especially on sideline hits, where guys have the angle a lot of times you might not go for wrap tackle you may go for a thud. You just have to be more conscious of the type of hits youíre making. They are trying to make it about player safety, so the big hit may not be the best hit to energize the team. You also donít want to run the risk of a 15 yard penalty or a possible ejection.
Q: How would you describe the tone of yesterdayís meeting with the officials?
A: It was a back and forth. They were there to answer our questions and of course naturally you get upset, especially being a defensive player but it was a good talk between us and the refs. They were telling us how they may interpret it and they are still training trying to get their eyes adjusted to it. They will be here the next few days and we will be able to see through other games. A lot of guys were just getting the questions off their chest that they had so that they donít harm their team or harm themselves with 15 yard penalties.
Q: Did they show you a video of whatís a good hit and whatís a bad hit?
A: Yes, they showed us the video. There may have been one [hit] that stuck out but for the most part those hits they were always going to be called in the past even before player safety was super big in the media. Iím hoping it wonít be as big of an adjustment and they wonít be ticky - tack with it. I guess we will see next Thursday and going forward to the regular season.
Q: Talk about Connor Barwin and what he is bringing to this team?
A: His veteran leadership, he is just a good player and Iíve learned so much from him these first few weeks in camp, as far as rushing the passer, mentality, and things to look for. Thatís the type of thing you need in a room where you have guys you want to bounce ideas off each other and learn from different guys. Just being able to pick his brain has been amazing.
Q: The referee Jerome Boger had told us yesterday there was one play he wanted to take a look at, did he reference any plays in practice that he said would have been a penalty?
A: I donít know if it was necessarily a hit. I think there was one play where it was a catch fumble and it was whether the receiver was down and if it would be incomplete or complete.
Q: He also talked about a helmet play from in line that he thought was a little bit on the boarder?
A: I think he probably looked at it after that meeting because he kind of brought it up like that but I didnít see anything on film, then again theyíre also not throwing a flag for it right now either.
Q: One thing about your defense, I notice if itís the third string guys making interceptions or defending passes, the whole defensive unit is rallying and screaming and having a party with them. Is that something that is conscious on your part as a defensive unit and is it indicative of the togetherness that you guys are showing?
A: For sure, whenever you can get your hands on balls on defense it just energizes everybody. A takeaway changes a game, if you look at statistics the team that leads the turnover battle wins the games, itís something ridiculously high. We get excited when we take the ball away no matter Ďonesí, twosí or Ďthreesí. You just know that guys are working their tails off, and are learning from their mistakes the day before, and to see them make good on the mistake they made before and be able to turn the ball over itís just energizing knowing that guys are paying attention to the film and getting better every day.
Q: Youíve been around this league for a while, is it surprising to see that kind of camaraderie this early on in training camp?
A: No at all. We all have one common goal, thatís to get better every day, to make this team, and the ultimate goal is the playoffs and the Super Bowl and things like that. We all keep each other energized because we know to be the best defense we can be we have to be as good at the top as we are at the bottom, everyone has to bring each other up and hold one another accountable to make plays.
Q: This team last year spoke very openly about winning a super bowl and having a good enough team, the coach was very confident and wasnít afraid to say that. This coach is different, the dynamic of the team seems different, do you sense a ďwe have a lot to proveĒ, feeling from this team?
A: We have a lot of talent on this team and I know by the end of camp, once everything gets cohesive, I think itís going to be a really solid team and weíre going to surprise some teams. Weíre probably on the back of the minds of a lot of teams compared to the record from last year so people are looking at us on the schedule and probably not thinking much about it. I like the guys we have in the locker room, the coaches we have, the game plan and the things Iím seeing in camp and at practice every day are really exciting me so Iím looking forward toward the challenges of the regular season.
Q: What has been your impression of Michael Thomas? Has he been as happy as he appears?
A: Yes, heís just a happy guy, heís always smiling. I donít think Iíve ever seen him be upset, even when he gets upset he laughs it off and heís just like, ďalright, Iíll get better the next timeĒ. Heís the ultimate vet and you have to have fun in this game or it will eat you up, especially in camp. Itís a grind so you have to keep yourself happy.
Q: People have already talked about Thomas establishing himself as one of the leaders on this team, what is a factor that people gravitate towards?
A: Energy, like I said heís always smiling and guys seem to gravitate around the guy with a lot of energy. When itís hot and humid itís easy to be down on yourself but when you see a guy like him just always up and energetic it builds other guys up and thatís what you want in a leader. The guys who can bring other guys up when they feel like they canít do much, he elevates a lot of other guysí games.
Q: When you look at the front seven, the one thing you notice is a lot of length, so can you talk about how that helps specifically in terms of your defensive scheme?
A: Weíre blitzing a lot, so it just makes everything easier. You donít have to necessarily be there to get there, make the tackles, and if you get jammed up on the blitz just get your hands up because tipped balls get caught. I feel like we have had a few tipped balls here in camp thanks to the length. Length is never a bad thing.