DL Leonard Williams
August 26, 2020
Q: You guys suffered some tough injury news today with McKinney and the broken foot. How did Joe tell that to the team? What’s the reaction? Losing a rookie like that who was going to be a big part of your defense.
A: I definitely think he was big part of the defense. We kind of all saw him dealing with the injury. It’s going to be hard for him for sure. We didn’t talk about it too much. We wanted to be focused on what we had to get done today. It’s news that just happened today.
Q: Does Joe bring that up to the team in a quick huddle or anything like that?
A: I’m sure he might. I don’t think he has gotten into it with the whole team yet. A lot of other stuff has been going on today, so we really didn’t have an open discussion about what’s going on with him.
Q: Have there been any team discussions about what’s going on in the outside world with Jacob Blake and some of the other situations that are going on in the world. Has that crept into the team meetings and the locker room?
A: Even before this most recent one that you just brought up. Even since the George Floyd incident when all the rioting and stuff like that was going on, us as a team wanted to focus on coming together and being more involved in our communities. Seeing how we can help in a situation like this with our platforms that we have been given. We obviously have influence on the world. Being on a team where people come from so many different backgrounds, we kind of show that people can come together and focus towards a goal. Focus towards something positive no matter where you came from or what background you come from. Something we did as a team was, we split up into different groups and focused on all the different boroughs in New York. Something in my group that we have been focusing on is police reform and trying to build relationships between officers and the community and stuff like that. It’s definitely a work in progress and it’s been even harder because of the coronavirus. We can’t really be in person with anybody right now. It’s mostly Zoom calls. I think this is a big issue going on right now and it’s been a big issue for the last 400 years. I think it’s definitely time for some change.
Q: We were talking to Kyler previously about the pass rush and I guess the challenges of not being able to finish the pass rush the way you would like to at full speed because you don’t want to hit the quarterback. I’m wondering how have you been adjusting to that in terms of timing your pass rush and getting into the backfield without compromising anyone’s safety?
A: I’ve pretty much been doing that since college started. You’re not able to touch the quarterback ever since I’ve been playing football basically. There’s definitely drills where the outside linebackers and D-line can get together and work 2 on 1 pass rush games with the offensive line with a simulated quarterback that’s someone who is not the actual quarterback wearing a red jersey. I think I have pretty much got adjusted to it by now because I have been doing it for so long.
Q: The Lions cancelled practice yesterday to address the Jacob Blake shooting. The Milwaukee Bucks boycotted today’s game. Has there been any discussion on doing something like that? I know you mentioned working in the community. Has there been any kind of discussion among the players or the team on doing something to that effect?
A: We’ve had a big discussion as a team. Not about that specifically but something that we’ve all thought about as team is that we wouldn’t want to take away opportunities from guys trying to make the team. There is already less opportunity for them without preseason right now. It would be kind of hard for them to not be seen if we’re taking away even more without them having preseason. It’s kind of a hard dilemma with that going on. We definitely saw what happened with Detroit and we were inspired by it. We want to do something about it and something similar to it. I think that’s the reason why I also wanted to share what we have been doing as a team in our community. Hopefully the 31 other teams in the country would want to focus on their communities that they are playing in as well. Just bring more awareness and bring more effort into our communities and the police.
Q: Do you have any reaction to the Milwaukee Bucks actually boycotting the playoff game today?
A: I can’t say I agree or disagree. Like I said, this is a big issue going on in the world right now. I think it’s above sports, I think it’s above any other small individual thing going on right now. This is something that’s affecting the entire country. If that’s something that they came together as a team and collectively decided on, then power to them that they were able to do something as a team and come together on something.
Q: We talked to Coach Spencer the other day and he was talking about you. He said that what he is trying to do with you is help you refine your craft and really go from being a tremendous athlete to being a football player. Do you know what he means by that and what you guys are trying to accomplish?
A: Something that we talk about is not the end result basically. Which is for me being as he called it a tremendous athlete, in his words. I was able to get away with just being better than my opponent all my life, in high school and college. Whereas now instead of just trying to be physically better or faster than my opponent, now just bringing it down to the basics. Playing technique every play and letting my technique take me to the play instead of thinking about the TFL (tackle for loss), thinking about the sack and thinking about the end result of the big play. Just play my technique every down and the big play will come.
Q: Is that even more of a focus for you now than it’s been for the past few seasons.
A: I think technique is always a focus. Coach Spencer has definitely been harping on it with me and it’s a good thing. I think we have a good working relationship when it comes to that. I’ve defintely been taking it as coaching and trying to apply it. We’re both taking steps forward on it and it’s been working.