Meet the new guard: Eric Heitmann

"The thing about being a backup is you always have to be ready to go in and play. You're always one play away from taking over a position at any given time. So, knowing that role, I've always been ready to step in and play every game. So, I'm just looking at this as opportunity to show what I can do out there on the field. It's definitely a big game for me."

Q: What kind of anticipation do you have about getting your first start in the NFL?

Heitmann: I'm excited for the opportunity to come in there and play. I've gotten a lot of experience throughout the preseason. I got to start three games at right guard, and I really feel comfortable in there with the offense right now, with the veteran O-linemen that they have me playing with.

Q: How do you feel about switching over to left guard to replace Dave Fiore?

Heitmann: That's a position that I've played a lot in college. I mean, I started my entire senior season at Stanford at left guard. So the change really isn't that drastic.

Q: Does it make it more exciting that your first NFL start is in a game like this against a rival such as the Rams?

Heitmann: It's definitely a big game for me, and it's an exciting opportunity for me to get to be able to play against the Rams. I mean, it's a division game. This game is huge for us. They've beaten us six times in a row. So, we're definitely looking for a win.

Q: How is your back doing?

Heitmann: My upper back is fine. I think everybody has been a little bit worried about that. Maybe there's some correlation between that and a previous injury. I actually missed two periods of practice two weeks ago when the injury happened. So I really haven't even been out hardly at all for this injury. I don't really even see it being an issue.

Q: How ready to you feel for this opportunity? Are you prepared as you want to be?

Heitmann: I'm sure by the end of the week I'll be better and feel comfortable with the game plan and feel like I'm prepared enough to go into this game.

Q: Has Fiore said anything to you?

Heitmann: Yeah. Dave's always been there to help me throughout the season, even in the preseason and the first few games, Dave's always been there to help me out and correct me, and kind of been a mentor for me, actually. I've had a chance to talk to him. I look to him for advice a lot, even now. So, he's doing a lot to help me out.

Q: Is there any nervousness inside you that this starting opportunity is coming too soon in your NFL career?

Heitmann: The thing about being a backup is you always have to be ready to go in and play. You're always one play away from taking over a position at any given time. So, knowing that role, I've always been ready to step in and play every game. So, I'm just looking at this as opportunity to show what I can do out there on the field.

Q: You played extensively against the Redskins two weeks ago before the bye week. What's the biggest difference you notice between that game and the preseason?

Heitmann: You know, out there on the field in the regular season it's just a little bit faster than it was in the preseason. I mean, in the preseason, they're always switching in and out on the defensive line a lot more, trying to give a lot of guys different looks. I was just going against just really high-quality defensive linemen. It's just a touch faster and a little bit more physical, I would say.

Q: Does it help you to step into an offensive line that has so much continuity and veteran experience around you?

Heitmann: It does. Playing on opposite sides of me is Jeremy Newberry and Derrick Deese, two guys that have been around for a long time and have had a tremendous amount of success. They've done a ton to help me out while I'm in there in the game, just helping me with my calls and my techniques. It just really, really helps out having those guys playing next to me.

Q: Does that make you feel like you have a standard to uphold right away?

Heitmann: Yeah, exactly. Obviously, I want to play to their level, so we can continue to have continuity across offensive line. It really makes me want to play as hard as I can so we can have success up front and for the offense.


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