Defensive Lineman Leonard Williams
September 10, 2021
Q: What kind of challenges do the Broncos present to you guys on Sunday?
A: They have a pretty good O-line, they have a pretty good running back and (Broncos Quarterback) Teddy Bridgewater can still move around. We’ve got to make sure that we close the pocket on him, get some middle pressure, not let him step up into the gap and show his arm strength and stuff like that. I think as far as the defense goes, we just have to do a good job up front.
Q: What do you think of (Defensive Lineman) Raymond Johnson III? Saw you kind of working with him by yourself the other day.
A: I told him that he’s one of the sneak guys that’s going to step up this year that people are probably sleeping on. He was an undrafted guy, so he has that big work ethic and he’s being a sponge out there right now trying to soak up as much knowledge as possible. I think he’s doing a good job so far.
Q: Is he asking you a lot of questions or are you grabbing him and showing him?
A: A little bit of both. I grab him to the side every once in a while. Me and him are both transitioning inside and outside, so I think that’s the reason why he comes to me a lot because me and him are the only ones in the D-line room that kind of play a little bit of outside linebacker and D-line. We’re a little bit of a hybrid position and I’ve been able to teach him a little bit.
Q: You had a big sack year last year. I’m curious how you approach this year. In order for you to considerate it a success for you personally, do you need to put up big sack numbers or do you look at it as you don’t care about that so much?
A: I think I’ve just got to approach it the same way I did last year. That’s something that (Head) Coach (Joe) Judge has taught me and something that I learned throughout the season last year is just ignoring the noise. I was able to not focus on any of the outside noise and just focus on my work. A lot of the outside noise last year was negative going into the year, whereas now the noises are the opposite. I still have to ignore it the same way. If I believe if they say something bad, I have to believe it the same way opposite, and I just have to keep working on myself.
Q: Were you paying attention to it more two, three years ago?
A: I’m not sure if I was paying attention to it more compared to last year or not. I was able to just, like Coach Judge said, ignore the noise and focus on the process. Just be where my feet are and make the best of the day in practice and stuff.
Q: As you had success last year, did you find teams doubling you more?
A: Yeah, it definitely happens a lot, especially when I would play the end position. I was getting a lot of chip blocks and tight end chips and back chips and stuff like that, that I wasn’t really used to because I played the inside position the majority of my career. Last year when I played end a lot more and teams started seeing that I was playing the end position a lot more, I started getting a lot of different looks that I wasn’t used to. The coaches did a good job of showing me what I was going to possibly get in practice. Now that I have a year of it under my belt and another training camp of playing that end position a lot more, I’m feeling a lot more comfortable with it.
Q: (Linebacker) Azeez Ojulari. What have you seen positive and encouraging from him that he can make an immediate impact?
A: Honestly, just his confidence. When he first came in, I could tell he was young, he was still trying to find himself in the defense and on the team and rightfully so. As a young guy, you can’t come in and be above everybody. He knew the position that he had to take, but now he’s really stepped into himself. He’s shown a lot of promise out there on the field and I think he’s going to be a great player for this defense.
Q: Is he kind of acting like he thinks he believes basically?
A: I think he just got more comfortable with himself – not saying that he wasn’t comfortable before he got here, but just seeing his comfortability level between him and other players, and his ability to just be himself out there on the field and not be like a robot just trying to play a system. Now, he knows himself and knows how to play, and he’s doing great.
Q: For the guys on both sides of the ball, what kind of a psychological impact does (Running Back) Saquon (Barkley) being back have for you knowing what he’s done the last year to get back here?
A: He’s a captain on the team, he’s a great player on the team and guys definitely look up to him and respect him. Having him out there on the field, like you said, psychologically would be a big deal for the team. We obviously don’t want to rush his process. No one’s expecting him to be back. He’s the only one who really knows when he should be back and we‘re all going to be ready to support him when he does come.