Safety Xavier McKinney
Q: Now that the 'C' is official, what does that mean to you?
A: It means a lot. It's obviously an honor to be voted by my teammates, the guys that I go to work for every day, the guys that I grind with every day. It's always meant a lot to me to become a captain. It says a lot about what my teammates think about me as a person and as a player. It's honoring, I'm happy, but I've got to keep going and keep getting better each day.
Q: Is it just a reminder about how close you guys are to the regular season when you walk into your meeting room that there are just really three of you guys? I know it's a tough day with cuts and everything, but you look around and it's a big difference to what it's been the whole summer.
A: Yeah, it definitely is. It's obviously a tough day for everybody. To have this day, it's rough on the players, it's rough on the coaches, because you build those relationships with people, you build those connections with guys. You've got to keep going, keep pushing forward. A lot of these guys will be back anyways. For us, we've just got to keep improving and whoever comes in, we've got to make sure that they're hopping on the same train as us and keep pushing forward and keep getting better.
Q: Is that a role for a captain? Is that also what you're preparing for knowing that there may be some new faces that walk in the team meeting room and you kind of help with that adjustment.
A: To me, my role as a captain – it doesn't matter who is in the building and who is not, you've got to lead either way. You've always got to set the example, you've got to be able to keep pushing forward. You've got to be able to bring along the ones that maybe weren't here the whole time, but when they come in, you've got to be able to catch them up to speed and make sure they're on track for what we are trying to do. That's always been what I thought a leader was.
Q: How strange is it when you look around the safeties room this afternoon and there's only three of you guys? Kind of think there is another shoe to drop here, I guess.
A: It's different because the room was a lot smaller. But that's a part of the game, it's a part of the NFL and I think everybody knows that. It's a business at the end of the day. We've just got to keep moving forward. I think that's what we have done, and I think that's what we did today, because at the end of the day, we've still got to go out there and practice. We've still got to go out there and make sure that we go through all our corrections. We've got to make sure that we go out there and execute. When the guys come back in, we've just got to make sure that they're still on the right track.
Q: What did you notice about how (Safety) Dane Belton stayed connected and whether that's on film or asking questions of you? What are some of the examples of how he's stayed connected while he's been out?
A: Yeah, I said this a little while back – I put him under my wing, I treated him like a little brother when he came in just making sure that he was getting ahead of the game before we even started everything. We trained out in Tampa, me, him and (Cornerback Aaron Robinson) A-Rob. We trained and we watched film together. He's done a great job of just coming in and preparing, asking questions. We've all been able to work off each other. It's been fun having him. I think he's a very smart player, a really good person, and he's just continuing to improve and help us out in the DB room.
Q: Have you been able to relate to him? You obviously went through a pretty similar situation your rookie year.
A: Yeah, we've had talks about it before. I told him it's a tough situation but at the end of the day, God has a plan for everybody. You've just got to keep pushing, keep moving forward. Injuries are a part of the game, and we know that. I know that – I've been through it. He knows that and like I said, he's done a great job of just coming in every day and having a great attitude about it.
Q: Did you do a double take when you saw him in No. 24?
A: I did, I did. That was the first time I saw him today, in the 24. It threw me off, but that's a great number. It looks good on him so I'm not too mad at it.
Q: Seeing him out there today it looks like that he might not have to wait as long as you did to get back out there. What does his presence mean to that group when you got a taste of it early in camp? Just on the field, what does he bring to the table?
A: He definitely helps us tremendously, just adding into that versatility that we have as a safety group. He fits right into that. He fits really well into that. We know that, he knows that. We've just got to keep doing a good job of communicating with each other, being able to work off each other and play off each other and I think we've got a special group within us three. Obviously, we are going to have some guys coming in but mostly, I think this is going to be a really special group.
Q: How does last year compare to this year, technique-wise, and how has the defense prepared you to be ready for the season?
A: I think it's, for me, it's the same technique. I have a certain style of play that I like to play with. I try to not let – obviously, I can be coached and there are a lot of things I can fix and I take that coaching. I have conversations with that with (Defensive Backs Coach Jerome Henderson) Rome and (Assistant Defensive Backs Coach) Mike (Treier), they help me out really well. For me, I just try to keep my same technique, what I'm comfortable with, but I can also switch it up if I need to.