Defensive Lineman Leonard Williams
Q: They found you a new practice jersey pretty quick.
A: Yeah, they ripped it the first day. But we got a new one out there today.
Q: Who was the culprit?
A: I'm not sure. It's just – the competition's the culprit (laughs).
Q: Did you take that kind of as a compliment though that they had to hold your jersey to hold you and stop you?
A: I mean it was kind of funny, like me and the D-line laughed about it. Some of my old college friends and the fans got a good laugh out of it and stuff like that. You know, I was joking around to the offensive line like, 'Yeah, you guys have got to do all this to stop me.' But you know, it's friendly competition and that type of stuff happens when you're going full speed.
Q: It looked like there were a couple snaps where you got a chance to go against the tackles today, and you were going against (Offensive Tackle Evan) Neal at one point. Just curious, what do you make of those challenges when you get to see them?
A: Yeah, we had a play where our outside linebacker had to cover somebody in the flat, and I had to pop to out so I could contain from a 3-technique. I like being out there on the edge and space sometimes, but I primarily like rushing from a 3-technique. But I still like to switch it up from time-to-time and going against different guys. Evan Neal, he is going to be a great player – it's fun going against him.
Q: Is there any instance, especially with a young guy like Evan Neal, where you pull him to the side and teach him or give him little tips that he can use to go against opponents? Or do you keep all that to yourself?
A: I haven't really had a chance to talk to him so much yet. That's probably some of the offensive line's – I'm sure (Tackle) Andrew Thomas and some of those guys are taking care of him right now. I'm still trying to look out for some of my rookies, but I obviously want him to be good. So, I'm going to give him my best when I have a chance to go against him, and that's the only way he's going to get prepared for when it's time to go against another person. Like I said, he's big, he's strong and he's catching up on the game pretty quickly.
Q: Speaking of your rookies, what have you seen from (Linebacker) Kayvon (Thibodeaux)?
A: Kayvon – in OTAs he didn't practice too much, but we're glad to have him back out here now. We're waiting to put the pads on to see where everybody's at going full speed and full physicalness. So far he's – we're all, not just him – trying to learn the playbook and the speed of the game right now.
Q: How much have you noticed the uptick in motion that the offense is showing you? (Head Coach) Brian (Daboll) says that he wants to create conflict. What have you noticed are the differences and does it create conflict?
A: Yeah, I think it does. The offense is showing a lot of diversity, and it definitely confuses defenses. I think when you have enough weapons on offense, you allow your offense to have that type of diversity. I think it's good for the offense.
Q: Can you tell already that all of this pre-snap stuff is making you think more, maybe?
A: I'm a defensive lineman, so I get my checks most of the time from the linebackers and stuff like that. But I can just hear the safeties and linebackers and the second level communication, and it's constantly changing. I can tell motions and stuff like that are happening while my hands are in the dirt because I hear those guys communicating in the backend. It's causing a little bit of confusion, and it's good for us as well – as a defense – to learn our communication and the things that we have to check as well. Like I said, the offense is doing a good job as well of creating that diversity.
Q: As a defense, during the season, you're going against teams last year that used pre-snap motion collectively. Sometimes it's done for eye candy, but then other times it's more dangerous when it's actually with a purpose. Are you able to get a sense – you can tell the difference?
A: Yeah, even that eye candy stuff a lot of times they do it just to see if we're in man or zone and stuff like that, which is still helpful for the offense. Even further than that, they're doing it just to create different matchups, create different types of weapons and stuff like that. Sometimes you get a really speedy slot-type of guy lined up on a linebacker, which is a mismatch, and stuff like that. They're doing a good job of that right now.
Q: Is the defense still in a feeling out stage trying to learn everything, or how far along are you?
A: We pretty much almost installed everything during OTAs. We're still learning and we're still restarting obviously, and we didn't put everything in yet. I feel like near the end of OTAs, guys were picking it up pretty quickly. It feels like we got it down pretty good. The communication was good. Now we're starting from the beginning again, and it feels even easier learning it this time around.
Q: Do you feel like you're going to be any good?
A: Yeah, I mean I feel like (Defensive Coordinator) Wink (Martindale) is a great coach. I feel like this defense is doing a good job of coming together and being a unified defense. I think that's the most important thing with a defense that has so many moving parts. The communication and unity as a defense is really major.