Outside Linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux
Q: How you feeling?
A: Pretty good. I feel good. I was sick a little bit. It's going around, so just trying to stay healthy, stay clean and stuff like that.
Q: (Defensive coordinator) Wink (Martindale) was talking about you sort of making all those sort of, for a lack of a better term, dirty plays – the silent stats. What do you think when you hear your defensive coordinator say that about you?
A: I know what you mean, like decoys. Not necessarily decoys because anybody can win, but there's always a scheme, and it's always set up. And Wink's great at, he's a mastermind at drawing up plays and things like that. So, just being able to plug and play wherever he wants me and being able to execute the defense. It's, I guess, a knack of mine.
Q: How much is that sort of the feedback that you received? Like (do the coaches say), 'Hey. Maybe the splash stats aren't there, but we like what you're doing here,'
A: What are we nine, ten weeks in? I haven't, through the totality of ten games, I haven't received any bad (feedback). There's always plays you clean up. There's always things you can grow from. But I don't think I've had a bad game. I've always been able to, whether it's a bad play, fight back and kind of make up for it on the back end or just continue to keep being better.
Q: Is it satisfying when you're out there and you make a play that you know led to someone else's sack but doesn't go on your stats sheet?
A: I would say it's more satisfying when they make the play. Because sometimes you do do things, and it's like they almost make (a play). There's always an if, but when they do make it, it's always fun to rejoice with your teammate.
Q: You have gotten a couple of those holding calls. Like you think we need to make that a statistic? Like that shouldn't be a dirty stat, no? Should that count?
A: For me, I was just thinking about it, like if I was a guy who complained about fouls and things, when I started getting them, everybody would hate me. So, for me, I'm going to keep grinding, I'm going to keep getting out (of) the mud. And when they do start getting to me finally, everybody else can take a gasp and say, 'Okay finally.'
Q: Was that always your mindset in terms of understanding the dirty work from when you were a younger player?
A: I've always played D-line. And even when I played basketball, I was always a big man. So, I never was like flashy. I never looked good doing it. But just knowing the rewards will come at the end of the season.
Q: Do you pay attention to what (defensive lineman) Aidan (Hutchinson) is doing in Detroit? You guys kind of were in the conversation together.
A: Right now, I'm really focused on our team. He's a great player. He's done a lot of great things. There's a lot of great pass rushers who have done great things, but just being able to kind of hone in on these wins and not really take them for granted. Not get too big. You see a lot; you see a little. So, focusing on the next day.
Q: How much pride have you taken on the run –the run part of the game?
A: That's something that people don't really pay attention to – people who can set up those first and second downs to get to third down. So, me being able to stop the run and step up, that's been great for me, and just making those gains to be able to be on the field for four downs. And I know the pass rush and everything else is going to come. So, I'm not really too worried about that as long as I keep playing fundamentally sound and keep growing in that aspect.
Q: There are a lot of players that get motivated by the teams that pass them over – the guys that were drafted ahead of them. But you don't pay any attention at all?
A: I don't really get motivated because I don't even think it was the team's choice to pass over me. I think it was already written. I think this is where I was supposed to be, and God had this in store. So, this is where I should be. I don't really hold anything on anybody.
Q: This is sort of one of the first big pass teams you guys have played. I think they're the only team you've played where they're currently in the top 10 in passing. As a defensive lineman, someone who I'm sure does like (and) enjoy rushing the passer, how excited does that make you when you're entering a game like this knowing that, 'Hey I'm going to get maybe more opportunities (and) maybe more reps to get (to the passer),'?
A: I think it's really good, but one thing about us is that we're not in the top run defense yet. We're getting there, and we're putting it all together, but we're not there yet. So, I'm not going to take that for granted (and) think they're going to play a passing game because we know football is always about those little inches. So, again, we're just going to really harp on stopping the run, and then once that gets stopped, we'll set it up and do everything else when third down comes.
Q: Wink seemed to indicate you knew who (musician) Frank Zappa was.
A: Of course. It's just music. It's a California thing. When you're from LA (Los Angeles) and you're from the city, I feel like there's a lot of older family – whether it's grandmothers, grandfathers – who come from that Motown era. And they just bring it, and not just Motown, but all from the '70s to the '80s and just kind of bring it. It's in your culture.
Q: He loves that you know the old-time music.
A: It's always a blessing to be able to jam out to it.
Q: So, like the 'Old Time Thursdays' or whatever he calls them? You kind of relishing 'Throwback Thursdays,'?
A: For me, it's almost throwback every day. I always get at least an hour in where it's old school. For me every day, I'm always asking, 'Is that my playlist?', knowing it's not.
Q: Most people think of you as sort of this 'new age' athlete, and the fact that you're like a throwback, how much do you think that surprises people when you say that?
A: It surprises the people who don't listen. I think for me, I take pride in everything I do, for one, but I take pride in being an old soul and trying to be that connection between my parents and grandparents' generations and giving that game to my generation.
Q: We see (defensive linemen) Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams dominating on the field. What are they like off the field? Are they similar guys? Are they helpful guys? Are they goofy guys? Are they serious?
A: I would say if you watch football and then you hang out with them, you would never expect (their personalities to be what they are). Who they are on the field and who they are in real life are two completely different (things). From Dex, he's a destroyer on the football field. But when he comes off, he's all playful. They're all great guys. I think the thing that people miss out on is that this isn't just a game. This is like an art. This is their job. This is their work. So, for me, just seeing how professional they are when it comes to the game and everything they do as far as their body (is impressive). Dex is 400 pounds. I don't know how big he is. But he's strong as anybody. And the way he just takes care of his body and continues to go week after week, it's amazing.
Q: And Leonard?
A: And Leonard – come on, now. Just how big he is and how strong he is, but then he's still flexible. He can still get around guys. He can still do it, and he can still have fun. And he's been the guy that's kind of taken the defense in. He's been that glue that's been keeping us together and keeping us going and keeping everybody together.
Q: Off the field, how many guys do you know that go fishing and catch fish with spears and their bare hands like him?
A: I mean, not me (laughs). I wouldn't go with him. One thing I don't mess with is the ocean, so I let him have that. I'll probably go with him one day. I'll be on the boat, but I'll be there.
Q: Taking pictures.
A: Yeah, I'll be behind the camera. If you don't see me in any pictures, just know I'm behind the camera (laughs).