Offensive Lineman Nick Gates
Q: Nick congratulations on the award.
A: Appreciate it, thank you.
Q: What does it mean to be voted on by your teammates? How special does that make this award? How more meaningful does it make it?
A: It's definitely meaningful even if it wasn't voted on by teammates but even more so that my teammates voted on it. They saw me everyday last year putting in the hard work to get back to where I was and all the struggles and all the things I had to overcome. It felt pretty good to get my name called, especially with that two other guys that were in the group with me, with (wide receiver) Sterling (Shepard) and (quarterback) Daniel (Jones). I think that's a good group to get picked out of and it's an honor.
Q: You had seven surgeries overall, you dealt with infections, how did you get through this? How did you endure?
A: To be honest with you, I just took it step by step, day by day. I never tried to look too far ahead and didn't look in the past. What happened happened, and I can't control that part of it, so all I can control is my attitude and what I did every day. I just tried to put one foot in front of the other and just keep going. So, that's all I tried to tell myself.
Q: You're a guy who obviously has learned not to take anything for granted and you have a tremendous appreciation for where you guys are at. Overall, as a team right now going into this next month, for years since you've been here, it's always been about next year. I'm curious what was your sense today when you stepped inside the building that now it's about next month and what lies ahead for this team and what's out there for you guys to go get?
A: We've just got to be playing consistent football and everybody has to be on the same page. First off, we've got to start by going 1-0 against Washington and winning this game this week. That's where our focus is for the week, and we've just got to play good football. Definitely nice to play meaningful football in December. It's the first time that's happened in my career, so it's definitely nice. It makes it mean something to you.
Q: To follow up on that, this Washington front defensively they're a group that you've dug into in years past and you guys have had some success against them. What do they look like now? Are they doing anything differently and how can you continue that success even though you're a different group right now going forward?
A: Yeah, their defensive line, I think it's always been the same since I've been here, I feel like. They have four first rounders starting there and their defensive tackles, (Daron) Payne and (Jonathan) Allen, they're good defensive tackles. I'd probably say they're the two best players on their defense. That whole front, that defensive line is where they make plays on the field. I feel like they do the same thing, they're going to want to get after the passer, rush, and pin their ears back and that's what they want to do.
Q: I wanted to ask you about the offensive line chemistry. I know you guys have had guys come in and out due to injuries. Now that you're in there, what have you been able to do as far as building up the verbal and non-verbal communication? That non-verbal communication being probably the hardest to kind of build up if you will.
A: I feel like our group, we fit in really well together. I feel like we all play really well off each other. Everybody knows what they've got to do, and everybody knows their job and that makes it 10 times easier for an offensive center. It doesn't matter who's in there if everybody knows what to do and knows what their job is and stuff, it makes sure everybody's on the same page, which is nice. I know we have a rookie, but I feel like he carries himself as a veteran at right tackle, he does his job and knows how to do his job, so that definitely helps.
Q: Have you been able to try to take the vocal lead with this group or are you just kind of still feeling your way back since you're a couple of games in now?
A: No, I definitely try to take the vocal lead when it's my turn. When I'm the center, I feel like until Daniel is in the huddle, it's my huddle and I'm going to take over as that guy and once Daniel steps in, it's his. But I feel like that's any center, every center has to kind of be the leader of the group and set the tone. They've just got to make sure everybody's going in the right direction and just go play hard.
Q: How much better did you feel in that second game? Obviously the first game wasn't a start, but you played quite a bit. How much better did you feel in this game having time to prepare and do the things you needed to do to get ready for the game?
A: I try to prepare every week like I'm a starter, no matter if I am or not. You stay ready so you don't have to get ready, right? I feel like it was nice getting in there having the week to know where I'm playing and knowing what I'm going to do for that week. It was nice to be able to get my mind right for that and be able to work with my guards and be able to get fits with them during the week. So that definitely helped. I feel like I'm always ready for whatever. If I'm getting thrown in the middle of the game or not, I think we have a good group on the inside. We're older, so we all understand how to play next to other people and it's part of football and part of offensive line play, you're going to have to play next to other people sometimes.
Q: Do you feel like personally these next six weeks are a real chance for you to cement that center job going forward?
A: We'll see. I've just got to play, put some good film out there and just play the way I play. Do what I've got to do. I feel like center or wherever it's at, I'm going to play hard and try to put the best tape on the film.
Q: Did you work with (guard) Ben (Bredeson) and (tackle) Evan (Neal) on the line?
A: Evan's right tackle, so I don't play much with him but me, Ben, and (center) Jon (Feliciano), we all (have) kind of been rotating through there.
Q: The award has an interesting name, 'Ed Block Courage Award'. Not 'Player of the Year' or 'Lineman of the Year', courage award. What does that word mean to you?
A: Courage, it's just showing that you're not afraid but showing that you can always keep going no matter what the case is. If you're hurt or you're having a bad day, it doesn't matter. Just keep moving forward and keep going forward with it. Keep working no matter what because there's always a light at the end of the tunnel and you've just got to keep going.
Q: Is stepping up to (Dallas linebacker) Micah Parsons when he grabs you, is there some courage involved in that?
A: I guess so, but that's just my game. I feel like I've always been that guy and it doesn't matter who it is, if it's Micah or if it was anybody else, I think it's just what I do. I just play hard and I kind of get under people's skins and they don't like that.
Q: The whole line is not like that, right? You seem to be more of an instigator. The tackles are young and they're like technicians. It seems like that is something unique that you bring, would you agree with that?
A: Yeah, definitely, but I've always been that way. It doesn't matter if it was high school or whatever, I've always played hard, always played tough, and played through the whistle. That's just what I was taught. I never was a great technician in football, so I always had to show another way that I belonged on the field, and I feel like that's my way to be on the field is playing hard and taking that 'enforcer' role, I guess, if you want to call it that. But yeah, I don't know, I think that's part of the way football's supposed to be played. It's a tough, gritty position, especially at offensive lineman. It's fun to me when I get out there and get play like that. What other job in the world do you get to do what you get to do out there?
Q: And not get arrested?