Head coach Kyle Shanahan just told us that you’re going to have both WR Deebo and TE George Kittle back this week. Just what does that do for maybe your confidence and just overall the team’s energy and things like that?
“Yeah, I mean, they’re two great playmakers on this football team and even getting on the practice field this week you’re quickly reminded about their speed. They’re so fast at every practice rep and every game rep, and we’re going to love to have their speed, physicality and mindset back on the field this week. I’m pumped for those guys that they’re finally healthy.”
Did going through this last week, just kind of the ramp up to a game, did it give you any things to kind of tinker with this week, as far as how you budget your time during the week, what you spend certain days on, or was that routine pretty much already in place for you?
“Yeah, I mean, my routine has stayed the same really since my kind of first couple of years in the league, as far as when I do third downs, base downs to what I study on certain nights. So, my routine is pretty consistent, but the time management part of it you know about how much you need, how much time you need, to really get your confidence going to create that confidence in your preparation and things like that. So, yeah, it was a really comfortable week and always just trying to over prepare as much as I can.”
As a backup I’m sure practice reps, particularly during the season, are hard to come by, but how helpful is it, how much more in a rhythm are you right now, now that you’ve had really two full weeks of practice?
“Yeah, I would totally agree with that. Getting all the reps, it just creates confidence, you know what to expect, you know what you’re going against. You feel different things out, you really just feel what it’s going to feel like in the game. And you’re seeing defenses, you’re seeing the looks and so all of those reps and preparation lead up to Sunday and that’s things you don’t get as a backup. So, it definitely helps and it creates confidence as you go into Sunday”
At various times over the past year Kyle and LB Fred Warner this week termed TE Ross Dwelley, one of your guys’ better football players which I’m sure would surprise fans who may not see him as such. I think I understand what they’re getting at when they say that. What does that mean to you and do you share that sentiment?
“Yeah, I totally agree. When you talk about a football player it’s all encompassing, you know, everything that you do. The way that you’re a teammate, the way that you handle your business, just the way that you play the game, how you take advantage of every opportunity you get when that time comes and you do it to the best of your ability, and then you maximize your ability. And that’s what Ross does a great job of. Every time that you think he’s not going to do something crazy special he does it and that’s something special about him. And that’s what makes him one of the best just overall football players on our team.”
Now that you have those extra playmakers out there, how does that change how you approach the preparation or the game this week?
“Oh, I think it, I mean, it adds some excitement, you can get the ball into those guys’ hands. I haven’t played with George in a while and so he’s always messing with me about it. ‘I can’t wait to play with you again.’ I love that. And George and Deebo, those guys bring energy, they bring great energy. They’re leaders of this football team and that helps the entire offense. It helps the team and they’ve done great in practice. Like I said, very fast, very physical, great mindsets. And so, we’re pumped to have those guys out there and it’s been a great week.”
I haven’t annoyed you with questions about listening to crowd noise on Apple music in a couple of years, but it seems like you might’ve actually been ahead of the curve a little bit because now that’s what all the stadiums are doing. What was your impression of that, just your first couple of times out there, and maybe the way that you go about things in the huddle and things like that?
“That’s funny. That’s good. But yeah, I mean, it’s, I feel like as football players, you want to play with fans, that’s a natural thing you want to perform in front of fans. Last year Levi’s stadium, it was rocking. It was a place where the fans and the players could connect and things like that. And just based off of the place that we made, you know, it was a really fun atmosphere. And the fact that we don’t have that it’s, it was tough. It was tough to get used to. But, once you’re out there playing the game, you hear the automated crowd noise or whatever it is, you just go play the game. At that point, you’re focused on your job. You’re focused on what you have to do to execute. The first game was a little different just getting a feel for it. But, the further it went the more real it felt and you could feel it from the start. And for the games, it’s right back to just football now playing, executing and competing for wins.”
Nick beat me to the reference to the Apple music thing. But speaking of that, how much more comfortable do you feel in your preparation when it comes to your knowledge of the offense and making those play calls, just given now that you’re in your fourth season in the system?
“Oh, super confident. You know, that’s what you prepare for. You prepare all week, you know your calls, you know all the adjustments you have to make. And that’s one thing I’m a believer in, you’re always playing the game in your head before it starts. And so, you’ve got your practice and then you’ve got your walkthroughs and then your practice, and then just playing the game in your mind, hearing the calls, walking through the plays again. I guess you could say I’m a believer in visualization and so that’s one thing that I always try to do, and it helps me stay smooth on my progressions.”
What have you seen from the Eagles defensive line? And I also want to know what were a couple areas that the coaches told you you could improve off of last week’s performance?
“Yeah, I mean, the Eagles defense, they’re very aggressive. You can tell from the start they’ve got a really good D-Line that I think we’re all aware of. [Philadelphia Eagles DE Brandon] Graham and [Philadelphia Eagles DT Fletcher] Cox up front, they’re two very experienced, talented, aggressive football players and [Philadelphia Eagles CB Darius] Slay the corner and their other secondary guys, just aggressive defense. And I like that. I mean, I feel like if I was a D-Coordinator, I would teach a pretty aggressive style as well. So, I think they do some good stuff on defense and we’re excited to go against them on Sunday night. Improvement from the game, I think just our different ball handling. There’s some just ball-fakes and small details and carrying out your fakes, some small details. And then, it’s something that I think I did a pretty good job of, but you can always get better at is just natural pocket movement. You’re dropping back, keeping your eyes downfield. You can’t, I mean, you obviously can’t look at the D-Linemen, so just feel a natural pass rush, the soft spot in the pocket. That’s one thing that I’m always focused on and with their D-Line I think it will be critical this week.”