Offensive Lineman Nick Gates
Q: Obviously you've taken snaps at the position in practice but what was it like for you to get back out in the game at center in real-time?
A: It was definitely good to be out there with the team and actually take offensive line snaps this week. It felt good. Definitely good to be back out there with the team.
Q: Obviously (Center) Jon (Feliciano) had some neck problems yesterday, if you have to play an expanded role, how difficult is that challenge at this point and how well do you feel like you can be the guy calling the signals? Is that something you would embrace at this point?
A: What do you mean an expanded role? Just playing center?
Q: Yes, if you had to start because Jon couldn't play. How big of a challenge is that?
A: I'm fine with that, I've got about 20 starts at center so I feel comfortable getting in there and doing it. It's almost like riding a bike I feel like.
Q: It's a different offense, but you've had plenty of time to look at it, are there challenges in that way?
A: Here and there, there are little things, but I've been here with the staff and learning the offense for I think, what is it, eight months now at this point? So, if I don't know what I'm doing at this point I probably shouldn't be playing.
Q: How much would you embrace the opportunity to be a starter again?
A: It's awesome, it's what you always dream about and want to do when you're in the NFL. So, it's definitely nice to get back out there, and play for the start.
Q: What would you say the greatest challenge has been as far as coming back to play? Is it conditioning, getting your strength back, shaking off rust, getting in sync with the guys around you? What has been the toughest thing coming back and actually getting snaps?
A: I'd probably say getting in sync with the guys. I haven't gotten as many reps as Jon and stuff like that with the guys on the inside, but probably just that. Just being able to get fits on double-teams or in the run game, just how those guys play. You can watch it, but time on task is definitely going to help you out in that. I feel pretty comfortable with the guys, we do indy (individuals) and stuff like that. It's not too much, but the first couple snaps (and) first couple of series will be nice to get in there and be with those guys.
Q: This is the longest stretch you have played since you've been back, 25 snaps or something straight at one spot. How did you come out of that after those 25?
A: Yeah, that was the first time I played offensive line snaps since I got back from being hurt. It was good. Definitely the conditioning, you can run all you want, you can do half gassers after the practice and stuff but until you're in the middle of the game and you're going almost 10 to 15 play drives it's a little different. Your conditioning, got to get back up to that.
Q: The fact that in this game there was a lot of pass pro, this was a lot of hustling, you guys are behind and you're not in a position to just run the ball. Was that even more difficult, you know snap after snap after snap late in this game?
A: No, I think you probably get more tired in the run game. Just trying to enforce your will at people which makes you more tired. I always play hard, no matter if it's pass or run. I try to finish blocks and get down the field and I think that helps get my conditioning up.
Q: It would be easy to look at this game and you can see you guys are banged up, they're coming off a big win, you have to go down there. Is there a sense of nobody's giving us a chance, let's rally together?
A: We all just try to focus on each other, the team in the building, and try to stay inside the building and just try to win the week. That's what we preach here, go 1-0 every week and just try to win that week. You can't focus on the outside and what people are saying. Heck, nobody's given us a chance all year, so it is what it is.
Q: Have you been given any indication that you are going to start? You might know more than we do about Jon at this point. Have you been given any indication to be ready?
A: No, not yet but I'm going to keep preparing like I am and like I do every week. I've got to be ready no matter what – if I'm starting or not starting. Even if I'm not – Jon, I don't really know what's going on with him right now – but even if he starts and gets banged up, I've still got to be ready to go in.
Q: I know it might sound a little cliché or corny, but the fact that it's Thanksgiving and for what you've gone through the idea that you'll be out there on the field in whatever spot, do you take an extra moment on Thursday to kind of appreciate even moreso what your journey has been like?
A: Yeah, I always appreciate stepping on the field now coming back from injury because I never had an injury like that, or I've never had a big injury before in the game. Every chance I get to step on the football field in practice, games, I appreciate every single moment and try to just enjoy it. I had that first game where I kind of took it all in and I'm like, 'Oh I'm back,' but now it's on to the next thing. My leg feels good, doesn't hurt, so just onto the next game basically.
Q: You obviously didn't play in the first game, but you were there and in the meetings. Playing that Dallas defensive front, when you watch the film what kind of challenges do they present and how does that challenge you guys on Thursday, in a short week especially?
A: That front seven of theirs is really good. They've got a guy, number 11 (Cowboys Linebacker Micah Parsons), he can rush the passer and he's pretty damn good at it. All those guys are really good at it, so you've just got to be firm, make sure communication is good, and have everybody on the same page and try to get the ball out pretty quick.
Q: If Jon comes back and he says, 'I'm ready to go,' and they say Jon's starting at center, if they came to you and then said, 'Do you want to play guard,' would you jump on it?
A: Yeah, I'm all for playing whatever they need me to. I feel like that's always been my role from the get-go, I'm comfortable moving around, playing different positions. Whatever helps out the team. I still feel like I'm the undrafted guy that's got to do that, I've still got to prove myself every single play and every single week, (day) in and day out. I'm fine with whatever they decide and whatever they want me to do.