Will you play at outside linebacker this year exclusively or some combination with defensive end?
It can be anything. Basically a hybrid. I will be anywhere from zero [lined up over center] to linebacker. I can be placed anywhere. Safety, anything (laughing). I’ll just let you see it.
You spent last offseason thinking you would be returning to the defensive line, then come workouts and minicamp and suddenly, you’re playing standing up. How has an offseason knowing your role helped, especially as you continue to transition to outside linebacker?
Tremendously. That’s what I’ve been working on, being an outside linebacker. [I am] working on my drops, working on my coverage. I dropped 15 pounds. I’m faster too. Anytime you lose weight, you get faster. I think I’m in better shape for that role, for all the versatility it asks for.
What was the biggest part of that position change? You did play some outside linebacker at North Carolina, but that was in a 4-3 so the responsibilities are different.
Yeah, it was different than here — reading offensive personnel, seeing who I have. Then when the motion goes, my zone responsibilities — if there’s an exchange. It was a lot. It was different than what I did in my rookie year. Nothing physical about it was tough, just responsibility, learning who to cover, following motion, those sorts of things. But there was nothing they asked me to do that I couldn’t do. It is just learning what I need to do. I feel I understand it better this year.
Last season, head coach Rex Ryan called you out a bit, in particular about your weight room ethic. Is that something you took to heart?
Yeah, definitely. Anytime a coach says that about you, you have to step up and make it happen. That’s what I’m doing this year. I want to be known as one of those guys who takes care of his business in the weight room, on the practice field and then on gameday. That’s who I want to be, and that is something I focused on this offseason — being that type of a player and leader.
So many breakout candidates on this team...-15 takes him down to 265 or so IIRC, about prototypical size for an OLB in system.