Linebacker Bobby Okereke
Q. How tough is it covering (running back) Saquon (Barkley) as a route runner?
A: Very tough, yeah.
Q. It seems like you do that a couple of times a day in practices.
A: Yeah, and it's honestly great practice for me because I don't think there's—I mean, I think (49ers running back) Christian McCaffrey is a great route runner, but I think Saquon might be the best.
Q. What makes him so good at that?
A: He's got speed. He's got shiftiness. His wiggle is really good. He's just a dominant player.
Q. When you guys are in one-on-ones, do you arrange that so you're always going against each other for the most part?
A: Yeah. I mean, iron sharpens iron, so I try to give him the best that I can, and I always know I'm going to get a great look from him.
Q. What have you seen from (inside linebacker) Micah (McFadden)? He's been alongside you a lot the last couple practices. What has he shown you?
A: A lot of maturity. He plays fast, he plays physical, and he's got a lot of trust in himself.
Q. How much do things change for you whether it's him or (inside linebacker Darrian) Beavers? They're different types of players, so how does that affect you?
A: I love both their play style. I think Micah is always on it. He plays fast. Beavers has a swag and a confidence about him. So, it's really just getting my mindset going from Will to Mike when I'm playing with both of them, but I feel comfortable with both.
Q. How big of a difference is that, going from Will to Mike?
A: Not too much. My whole career, I've repped both. I played the Sam my rookie year, played Mike and then switched to Will, so I've been comfortable with both.
Q. You want to go into this preseason game, assuming you're playing, and get better and see more things. When you're facing a rookie quarterback, is it less of a challenge?
A: No, I still think (Panthers quarterback) Bryce Young is a great player. Obviously, there's some stuff in the league, some mistakes he hasn't made yet that he's learned from. We'll just watch the tape and prepare for him like any opponent.
Q. As a player, how much game time do you need in the preseason?
A: Personally, I like to play. You've got to feel those first couple of tackles. You can come out here and practice as much as you want, but your heart rate being up those RPMs of those nine, 10-play series, there's nothing that's going to really replicate that. I think it's important to play in the preseason. But obviously your head coach and coaching staff and trainers just figure that all out and we just go play.
Q. When you were on the other side of facing the Giants, how much of a concern was Saquon as a pass catcher? Because it seemed like in the past, they used him just as check downs, and now they're using against you guys in slots and stuff. Was he a big concern before and now that he's being used different, can you put yourself in an opponent's shoes and think about what you might think?
A: 100 percent. Thinking back to last year when we played him, it was, 'Get on Saquon, don't give Saquon any space,' just because of how dynamic and special he is with the ball in his hand in space. He's a threat anytime he's on the field, he's one of the best football players.
Q. Do you like the wrinkle that they're showing with him more as a pass catcher?
A: Yeah, I love it. I think it just makes our offense more dynamic.
Q. How about (tight end) Darren Waller? How difficult of a matchup is he?
A: From a speed-size combination, there are not a lot of guys who can match up with him physically. He just plays hard.
Q. Did you have an outside-looking-in perception of (quarterback) Daniel Jones? Now that you are his teammate, seeing him every day, did it change at all about the style of player and if so, in what way?
A: No, I think it just reconfirmed it. Obviously, playing you guys last season, or playing us last season, I got to see firsthand how competitive he was. A couple of those runs, a lot of quarterbacks aren't really putting it on the line for the team like that physically. Just to see the way he prepares, he's the first guy in every day, just his leadership on the field, his conditioning, I think he's a great leader.
Q. You can't force takeaways, but the defense as a whole got a couple in the last game. (Safety) Dane (Belton) got one out here, Dane ripped that ball out at joint practices. Is that something that's being emphasized, or can you not emphasize it because if you emphasize that then you're going to make a mistake and allow a big play?
A: No, you can emphasize it. You want to play as disciplined to the scheme as you can, but you always preach swarming to the ball, and you preach punching out the ball, and it's the extra effort that gets takeaways. You've seen that from Dane, that two-minute series, being in conditioned shape, and that play, he's just hustling to the ball and punched the ball out. So, the more we get in conditioned, better shape, the more takeaways we'll get.
Q. Does Dane seem to have as much linebacker in him as safety?
A: I just think Dane's a complete football player. He can hit, he can run, he can tackle and he's very smart.