LB Jihad Ward
June 8, 2022
Q. Was it good to win the first day against the offense yesterday?
JIHAD WARD: It’s all good. But we're just trying to get them better. That's all. I like just being out there with my teammates. It feels good to be out there.
Q. Seems like you fit in pretty quickly here.
JIHAD WARD: Yeah, I would say that. It’s good, whatever scheme-wise and all that stuff, I'm versatile, so everything is good. You know how this stuff goes.
Q. Personality-wise, too?
JIHAD WARD: Personality-wise? I’m just out here living life, chilling, freedom. I do what I do on the field and off the field and make sure all the guys are straight. It's my job to do that, make sure the culture -- we need more culture in here. I will say that in my opinion. It's coming along very well. We are close, and we are coming together as one.
Q. What do you specifically mean by that, that you need more culture?
JIHAD WARD: Everybody just dial in, everybody just on the field and off the field. When you're in a grind like this, you really don't have time with your family. All I can say is when you come here ready to work, it's time to go. It's like a Navy Seal type stuff, so you've got to just come together in order to win games. I can't come to Kayvon (Thibodeaux) and not know anything about him. You've got to know my background, know his background. It's deeper than that. Everybody has just got to come together as one. I'm more of a person, you ride for me, I ride for you. If you’re not riding for me, then I can't be around you.
Q. When you come to a new situation, you're not a rookie but this is a new situation, you can, I guess, choose to just wait and see or you can be the personality that you think you are. Everyone here says you've been that personality right away. Is that easy to do in a new situation?
JIHAD WARD: No, because I'm being me. The whole time, I'm just being me the whole time. I’m not changing who I am. That's about it right there. I can't pretend to be a leader, I cannot pretend to be anything that these guys, Dabs, want me to be. I'm being myself. God has gifted me with that, so I'm being me the whole time.
Q. Do you think being you, there are leadership traits in there?
JIHAD WARD: Yeah, I’m not trying to pretend to be anybody else. Just being myself, feeling free. That's all that it really is, to be honest with you.
Q. How does this defense compare to the defense that you came from, to that quality of defense?
JIHAD WARD: Yeah, with different personnel, everything is real simple. Everything is really slow for me, as I go through 3-4, 4-3s, whatever personnel is out there on the field that we game plan, everything is real small. That's the part where you've got to study and know what you're doing, that's all. It's not really hard.
Q. How attractive was it for you to reunite with Wink (Martindale)?
JIHAD WARD: Yeah, Uncle Wink? Wink is Muslim, just to let y'all know. Muhammad Wink. It's a good thing. We had good times back in the day. I'm glad to reunite with him. Let's get stuff rolling, man. Let's get this stuff going. It's a good feeling.
Q. You've been on the field against your own team in practice with Wink's defense when he starts installing some blitzes and some things that the offense isn't expecting to see. Did you notice a little bit of that yesterday, that your offensive guys were kind of looking around wondering where you guys were coming from?
JIHAD WARD: Yeah. I mean, that's the whole thing about it, pressure breaks pipes. It doesn’t matter what we're going to go, we're going to come at you. That's the type of defense that we're running, and it's been really successful. Just try to bring it up here, that's what Wink is trying to do. Shout-out to Wink.
Q. We haven't seen Kayvon on the field since very early in the spring. What have you seen from him behind the scenes that tells you that he's progressing and getting ready for the season?
JIHAD WARD: No, he's ready. I'm on him. Make sure he's studied the playbook and stuff like that, because I don't want him to play slow. I don't want any of my guys to play slow. That goes for all positions. But him, he'll be ready. He'll definitely be ready, and I can't wait.
Q. Do you take that as a personal charge, as a personal responsibility to get him ready?
JIHAD WARD: Yeah, shoot, we drafted him, right? We drafted him, and he's a special guy for the defense. My job is to get him right and all of our jobs basically -- he's dialed in. He's ready. Once he comes with this situation, I don't know his injury, so whatever situation he's got going on, he'll be ready in training camp and be ready to go. I just don't want him to be learning while he's playing. I want him to go.
Q. How much is he ready to be all over the field? I know that’s how Wink uses guys and you've been used that way in all different spots. Is that something that he needs to prepare for, also?
JIHAD WARD: Yeah, that's for everybody to be honest with you, not just him, me. Everybody has just got to know -- I think it's easier that way to be honest with you. Handle your position first, then when stuff goes left, then you can worry about everybody else's position. There’s going to be times where there are going to be injuries. There's going to be times where somebody is not going to know what to do in two-minute. I know Dabs does hurry-ups, quick, some Buffalo stuff in the past, and we do hurry-ups, and that's the part where you've just got to -- basically like emergency stuff is going on.
Q. You strike me as a guy who hates to lose. This organization has struggled in recent years. How determined are you, how little patience do you have for rebuilding?
JIHAD WARD: I came from last year in Jacksonville, so I'm pretty well experienced about that one. I don't want to talk about Jacksonville –
Q. I didn't ask you about it.
JIHAD WARD: It's all good, but yeah, just building it up. We've just got to do it now. That's all I've got to say on that one. You can't really know -- I don't know when it's going to happen, but I've got faith. Trying to get this stuff out of the way now. We've got to do this stuff now, offense, defense, whatever we got any problems, in life, whatever stuff you got going on on the field, be honest, let it out. That's why coaches tell you, if you’ve got any questions, please speak, because on game day nobody really cares. That's why you got all these cameras, right? It's all what they see on the field.
Q. Do you like that you had a lower key practice today, taking the helmets, walk through, or do you think you need more work than that?
JIHAD WARD: I mean it doesn’t matter if it’s short or long, whatever weakness we got going on that we need to work on, that's what we really care about. There's going to be times where Dabs is going to be like, we need to go work on this or the defense or offense, special teams, field goal, whatever we need to work on. He’ll ask us if we need more, it doesn’t matter, do what your heart tells you. Whatever you feel like that needs to be tightened up, we'll do it, but I'm not going to leave from this field and not work on stuff that we needed to work on.