LB Alec Ogletree -- July 24, 2019
Q: Are you excited?
A: Very excited. Itís always good to get back first day. Itís good to see everybody. Weíve been away for a while, and just get back into the flow of things.
Q: How does your approach differ from last year?
A: Itís a new year, new season. Weíve got a lot of new faces in. We want to go out there and make a good impression this year and do better than we did last year. Just looking to get ready to get to work this season. Hopefully itíll be a good one.
Q: Do you believe this defense will be better?
A: I do believe this defense is going to be better, and we will be better. Our job is to go out there, make plays as a defense and get our offense the ball back as soon as possible. Thereís no reason for us not to be in the top 10 defenses, or top 5. We want to be a great defense. Weíve got the right pieces here, weíve just got to go out here and put in the work, and do things better than we did last year.
Q: Even with losing some good players like Olivier Vernon and Landon Collins, do you still think this can be a top 5 defense?
A: Absolutely. Those guys are great players. They did a lot of great things for the organization. But the team is never the same each year. Us losing those guys, the guys that played with them, we hated to lose them. But at the same time, new guys have to step up. Thatís a role for guys like a Zo (Lorenzo Carter), X (Oshane Ximines) and all those guys like that to come in and play well for us. We expect them to do that, and we have to hold them to that standard.
Q: Do you think there are guys here that can become playmakers, even if they havenít shown that in the past?
A: Definitely. Itís all about how you go out here and work, being in the right position, being able to be accountable, and being at your best when your best is required. When itís time for you to make that play, we expect you to be there to make the play, be in the right position and do your job.
Q: Do you like the addition of Jabrill Peppers?
A: I do. We kind of have somewhat of a similar background in playing for Gregg Williams. I know heís a smart guy and he brings a lot of attitude to the game. Heís going to bring a unique talent to this defense. Heís somebody that weíre going to get behind and look for him to make a lot of plays for us this year.
Q: A lot of people look at the youth on defense as a negative thing, but you seem upbeat about the defense. Why is all of the youth a positive thing?
A: It keeps guys like me fresh. It keeps us on our toes. We have to be able to teach those guys the right way to do things, and also make sure weíre on top of our game. Everybody has talent in this league. Granted, some have more experience than us. But I donít think thatís an excuse as to why you canít be a great defense. I was on one of the youngest teams in the league for a long time, and I thought we had a pretty good defense. Itís all about how you go out here and work. When the ball kicks off on Sunday, youíre out there doing your job, doing it at 100 percent and doing the right thing.
Q: What are the attributes of a top 10 defense that you see in this defense?
A: I think some of the key pieces that we brought in, like Antoine (Bethea), myself, Dalvin (Tomlinson), all those guys like that had experience. With Markus (Golden) and all those guys. For us, itís about going out there, get to the ball each and every play, and playing for one another. Limit our mistakes. Things are going to happen on the field, but we canít have guys just doing their own things and not playing for the man next to him. I think if we do that, like I said, thereís no reason why we canít be a top 10 defense. Weíve just got to go out here, put in the work and make sure we carry what weíve been doing this whole offseason into the season. Weíll see how it goes from there.
Q: You mentioned Zo (Carter), obviously you two go back. What did you see from him last year, and then compare that to the spring and why do you think heís ready to make a leap this year?
A: Heís just more comfortable, being in the league and being in this defense. Your rookie year, everything is flying all around you. You donít really know much of whatís going on. Youíre just trying to make sure you donít mess up and not really play. But this year, he understands what Coach (Shurmur) is asking for him to do and what we expect from him. Heís taken all of the right steps to be a great pass rusher for us, and also play the run game for us, too. Itís all about everybody collectively doing what they need to do to make this defense special.
Q: Letís stay on Georgia for a second. What did you know about DeAndre (Baker) before he got here? And you know what an NFL no. 1 CB looks like. Can he develop into that as a rookie?
A: He has a good opportunity to. He went to Georgia, a top school, so he has that going for him already. He was lockdown there, and we expect him to come in and do the same thing here for us. He has a great person to look up to in Janoris (Jenkins), who I think is a top corner in this league as well. Learning from him and some of the things he sees and how he goes about his work. I think if DeAndre comes in and just learns from him, and takes what he learns from the film room and practices and applies it to the game, thereís no reason why he canít be a top cornerback in this league this year.
Q: Outside of the building, there are a lot of expectations that are not high for this team, especially for the defense. Youíre on social media. Do you sense some of that, and what is your reaction to that?
A: Everybody has their own opinion of what weíre going to do this year and what our defense is going to be. But we have our own goals. We have our own expectations. Like I said, thereís no reason why we canít be a top 10 defense. Itís just about us going out there and doing the right things, putting in the work thatís going to cause us to be a top 10 defense. Thatís what we expect. This organization has a great tradition of having a great defense, and we want to be part of that as well. Itís up to us and what we do. If we do it the right way, and everybody plays for one another and competes every day, then I think we have a great opportunity to be a top 10 defense. Thatís our goal for sure.
Q: With the team overall, how do you get back to that winning attitude and that morale in the locker room?
A: Itís just everybody gelling together. The defense holding up their end, and the offense holding up their end. Those guys have put in a lot of work this offseason as well. We expect them to do well, they expect the same from us, and also with our special teams, too. It takes everybody. You canít just have one side of the ball playing well and the other side not holding up their end. It doesnít really work too well. As a whole, we have high expectations for ourselves. A lot of people are already writing us off, but I know the guys in the locker room are going to go out here and give it their all each and every day. When it comes to game time, we have to go out there and do what we know how to do and win a lot of games this year. Just shock a lot of people.
Q: You probably had the expectation to be a top 10 defense last year. What went wrong in hindsight?
A: Who knows? The things that happened last year was what happened last year. I can only control what happens this year. Last year, a lot of things didnít work out in our way, with injuries or guys not being able to play, this, that, and the other. This year, Iím excited about this defense and what we have ahead of us. Iím putting it on myself to make sure I go out there and try to help our defense become that top 10 defense. Thatís a big goal for us this year.