S Antione Bethea -- July 27, 2019
Q: Happy birthday!
A: Thank you, thank you. I appreciate it.
Q: What have the first few days been like for you?
A: Been pretty good. Everybody’s getting back out here, knock some of the dust off from being away for a little bit, but good to be back out here with the guys and get things rolling.
Q: What are your expectations?
A: For the defense? I think we could be one of the tops in the league. Obviously, the guys that have been here have been in their second year under the defense. Myself, along with some other guys, being the first year coming in, plugging in, and making it happen.
Q: You have kind of a front row seat to watch what’s going on with that front—that young defensive line. What have you seen, or what do you like about how that unit has come together?
A: I think they’re gelling together really well. Obviously, we have to wait until we get the pads on and get in front of some other teams, but so far, so good. They’ve taken everything in really well, and we’ll have to wait and see.
Q: How has communication overall on the defense been, considering all the new guys and the young guys who are learning, making mistakes, correcting mistakes and all that stuff?
A: I think the communication has been great. For the first two days, all the camps I’ve been in, I can say that’s been good. Obviously, you’re going to make some mistakes as far as technique-wise, but as far as communication, I think we’ve been doing a good job so far.
Q: Do your teammates know it’s your birthday today?
A: I don’t think they—no, they didn’t know until—obviously social media or whatever the case may be.
Q: Any kidding?
A: No, no kidding. I get enough of that when it’s not my birthday (laughter).
Q: I’m sure they respect how long you’ve been in the league, but the young guys probably show respect in different ways? How?
A: They show respect. A little jab here and there, but it comes with it.
Q: As one of the veteran voices on the team, I know it’s happening on the offense, but how do you prevent guys from finding excuses—depending on injuries, or a guy appealing a suspension—how do you make guys focus and not make excuses, like “We’ve had this tough start to camp?”
A: The way the league goes, it’s next man up, whatever the situation is. Obviously, you don’t want those things to happen. As far as injury-wise, we play a physical game, so that’s going to happen. So, for the young guys, it’s next man up. You’ve got to look at the positive side, it’s an opportunity for somebody to come up and get seen. So, as a team, we have to come together, ride it together, and we’re in it together.
Q: You weren’t here last year obviously, but finishing was a big problem for this team last year, and it seems to be a point of emphasis so far this year. How do you teach a young team how to do that? What’s the key to doing that?
A: Some of that is experience, but us older guys and leaders, we got to lead. One of the things, when I was a young guy, the coach used to always tell us was follow the older guys. So, being an older guy, I got to do all the right things so the young guys can see me do it, and they can follow in the same footsteps.
Q: Has there been any specific emphasis, though, on completing things, and going through to the end?
A: Yes, for sure. It started in the spring. Like you said, one of the main points of emphasis that coach had, and we’re going to carry that throughout training camp, and throughout the season.
Q: How much is there an uptick now that the pads go on today? Does the mental switch kind of quicken ahead when things get “real,” so to speak?
A: That’s natural, but as a vet, my advice is try to keep the practice the same way. At the end of the day, you’ve got your pads on, you’re going to bang a little bit more, and it’s going to be a little bit more physical, but at the end of the day, we’re still teammates, we still got to take care of one another. We’ve had enough injuries as it is, without pads, but you just got to be smart. At the end of the day, we got the pads on, it’s human nature for us to get a little more physical when the pads come on.