Chris Davis: There has really been a new level of competition on and off the field this year. In the weight room especially. Guys are constantly pushing each other. In the past guys would be second or third team guys, and would just accept that role. Now we've got guys who are third team guys working as hard as they can to get on the first or second team. That has really helped us improve.
There are also a lot of guys who the coaches have to run out of the film room. They aren't just watching film to watch it, they are trying to see that one extra thing that will help them break up a pass or break an extra tackle. We've also got more guys who are willing to do that one extra rep.
It hasn't been that way in the past -- now we know where we want to be and there is a sense of urgency for the older players.
What is different about you as a player compared to last season?
I've worked all off season on getting better with covering receivers. I'm more confident in my ability to to read receivers and quarterbacks. I'm also in better shape than I've been in the past. Last year I would get tired at times, but this year I feel like I'm getting a second wind when that time comes.
We've heard a lot about the summer conditioning. How much of a role has that played for you and the team?
It's played a really big role. All summer we were focusing on endurance. Last season we could hang with teams for a half or so, but in the fourth quarter we were just exhausted. In this league one or two big plays can decide a game. In camp we haven't had guys huffing and puffing as much as last year. I think that this year we're going to be able to finish stronger. We did a lot of running, 400s, 200s, and 800s. We had an end of summer running test, and for the first time everyone made it -- that's never happened here before.
The freshman class has reportedly been pretty strong so far, what are your impressions of the new guys?
They have all looked really good. Leon Wright is going to be a good player for us. He returns punts with me. He's great at that. It's like he already has his first move made as soon as he catches the ball. He's got great agility and speed. He's had some mental mistakes here and there, but once he learns the system he's going to be a great player.
Catron Gainey has also been impressive. He really likes to get in there and hit. He's got a lot to learn, but he's been really good so far.
Some of the freshmen offensive linemen are just huge. I've come off the side on a blitz a few times and run into a few of them. They are just really big and strong kids. They can definitely play at this level.