VanBergen Looking to Apply More Heat

Defensive end Ryan VanBergen talks about the defensive line unit, and replacing Brandon Graham at defensive end.

Question: Do you feel like the defense made any sort of statement on opening day after people said there was still a lot of question marks about it?

Ryan VanBergen: "I think we did a pretty good. I wouldn't say that we had a performance that was perfect. I think that we have some areas that we need to improve in. We have a long season and we'll be able to progress and I think getting some of those young guys in there early will really help us out. I think we played well, but we can continue to get better."

Question: Can you talk about the rotation up front; we always hear about where you guys want to play more. I think there was one point where all three starters were on the sideline and Renaldo (Sagessee), Adam Patterson and Jibreel Black; can you just talk about using a lot of guys and how that helps the starters?


Ryan VanBergen: "Oh yeah, Coach Tall does a good job of trying to rotate guys in and out and it was awesome to have those guys in there because it gave us a blow and even thought he offense was out there for so long, we were still able to stay fresh and maintain our stamina throughout the game. Having that depth really allows the defense to get after the quarterback and to get into the backfield, because you cannot penetrate on every play if you've been out there for nine or ten plays in a row. So having that depth really allows us to have an expectation by position and keep getting penetration and stuff."

Question: Speaking of getting after the quarterback, did you enjoy somebody else having to chase Denard (Robinson) around?


Ryan VanBergen: "Absolutely. Absolutely, I told Denard Friday at the hotel that I was so excited to see someone else have to chase him and someone else to try and contain him in the pocket. He did an awesome job and it was a lot of fun and it is going to be a lot of fun all season watching him do what he does."

Question: Even with the three-man front, how do you feel you guys got pressure; evaluate I guess.


Ryan VanBergen: "I don't think we recorded a sack. I don't know, did they call Craig's (Roh) a sack maybe? We did a good job of putting pressure on the quarterback and forcing some bad throws, but we didn't record a sack and that is something that we're very hungry about and going to keep getting better at. In a three man rush against a six man protection, they kept the back in a lot of times that is two on one and the fact that we were getting there is encouraging, but it is definitely something that we have to keep working at until we can put some numbers up in the sack column."

Question: How encouraged were you by the guys playing in the secondary. It seemed like a question mark with young guys going in the game.


Ryan VanBergen: "I thought they played really well. I remember being a young guy and I remember looking at Brandon Graham for leadership and stuff. In the secondary, we do not really have that veteran guy that is a big time leader. Unfortunately, we lost him in camp. I think those guys played really well. No one had the deal in the headlight look. Everybody seemed to keep their composure. There was a couple of big plays that we gave up that bobbled pass and stuff, but they bounced back, rebounded really well and I think they are going to continue to be really good throughout the season. The experience that they will get will really improve their play."

Question: At what point in Denard's development over the last year did you start to realize, this is a kid that could come and actually lead this offense?


Ryan VanBergen: "I probably thought that in spring ball, probably first or second week, after he had made some big time completions on us. There was a practice where I think he maybe scrambled once and he was making some great throws in the cover-2, cover-3 and he is just reading the defenses really well and his arm, he is accurate. You guys saw on Saturday that he can be as accurate as anybody else. That's really the thing that he struggled with last year and the fact that he can have such a high completion percentage, allows to open up the run for him. I think the dual threat that he poses is something that defenses are going to have a hard time with throughout the season."

Question: It really looked like you and Mike (Martin) were getting off blocks and making tackles down the field. Talk about that and conditioning wise where you're at.


Ryan VanBergen: "Conditioning wise, Mike Barwis has done a fantastic job with me and Mike. It is kind of frustrating because if you watch the film, they ran almost all their plays to the boundary and I'm the field end, so I was running a lot of plays down from the back. Personally, I gained about 20 to 25 pounds since last year as a three technique, now I'm an end. Conditioning wise, everybody on the defensive line is leaps ahead of where they were last year, which is a mouthful to say because we were in great shape last year. Chasing the ball, tackling them 20 yards down the field, lining up the next play and ready to do it again. It was an amazing feeling and really appreciative of the whole strength staff for putting us in that position."

Question: Obi Ezeh had a disappointing season last year for himself, what have you seen from him in trying to redeem himself here in his final year?


Ryan VanBergen: "One thing about Obi is that he is just really resilient. He is going to come back just as hard if not harder than the next play if he messes up and his leadership never faded, even though at times he might have slipped up a little bit on the field. I think he has come back with a very good attitude, very motivated. Him and Jonas (Mouton) both are very motivated and it rubs off on the defense. The things that they do out on the field that you guys cannot see are things that are really helpful and they are really doing a good job of keeping the defensive line and the secondary and all the young guys connected."

Question: You made the switch from the three technique to end, did they change that for you?


Ryan VanBergen: "My role hasn't changed that much. It is a little bit nicer that I don't have to worry about a double team every play. I think that Brandon really helped me before he left in making the transition because he transitioned from nose to end. So he just kind of told me some things that I could expect and it was very helpful and it just seems to slow down a little bit when you're two feet away from your guy rather than a couple of inches. It is very fun and I'm excited about continuing to play it."


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