Throughout the Browns' training camp in Berea, Bernie's Insiders will focus on players' thoughts as they get ready for the 2005 National Football League season. Today, we talk with quarterback offensive linemen Mike Pucillo (signed after the start of training camp) and Javiar Collins, defensive backs Michael Grant and Sean Jones and linebacker Brant Boyer.
Q – You've been here 4-5 days now. Getting comfortable?
A – Trying to learn everything and show some versatility. Try to play some guard, some center, show them what I can do.
Q – They seem to have you anchored at right guard.
A – They've moved me around. They're moving people around to see what kind of versatility everyone has. I've been getting a little bit of center and right guard.
Q – Where do you think your best position is?
A – Not sure. I feel comfortable at right guard. And once I get the hang of center, I'll feel fine at center, too.
Q – This is pretty much a run-oriented offense here. Does this suit your talents and what you can bring to the team?
A – I definitely think so. All offensive linemen love a running offense. Any time you can pound it on the ground and control the game, that's what offensive linemen love. It definitely suits me or any offensive lineman.
Q – Aren't you originally from this area?
A – I was born here. Moved when I was about 5. I don't really know a whole lot about this area.
Q – Where were you born?
A – Parma.
Q – Where did you move?
A – I live in Tampa now. Raised and schooled.
Q – So how does it feel to be coming back home?
A – It's nice, I still have a lot of relatives around here, so it's nice to be able to come up here where you know some people and have some family around.
Q – You seem to be catching the coaches' attention. What are you hearing from them?
A – As a team, we all have to work individually to get better. Then from that, we can work to get better as a team. As individuals, the onus is on us to get better with your individual technique and attention to detail.
Q – In what way is this camp different from the others you've been through?
A – Camp is camp. Same schedule every day. This climate is different in the personality of the coaching staff and the philosophy of the team is different. But in terms of work, work is work.
Q – Is it getting boring out there because you guys aren't doing as much hitting as in the past?
A – It shouldn't be getting boring. If it gets boring, it means you're not paying attention hard enough.
Q – But they're doing many different things in this camp. There's a lot of situational stuff being worked on.
A – We're keying on different situations that might arise in a game. We're paying a lot attention to those. That's a positive.
Q – How would you assess your performance thus far?
A – There's always room for improvement every day.
Q – There's a lot of open competition in the secondary. How are you approaching camp and dealing with that competition in mind?
A – Coming off an NFL (Europe) season, my mind is already in a game mode. I'm just approaching it as like a continuance of what went on in NFLE.
Q – Who did you play with over there?
A – The Frankfurt (Germany) Galaxy.
Q – How would you categorize your season?
A – I definitely got better. I learned more about more about professional football, learned how to be a professional and learned how to apply myself to this game in a better way.
Q – In what specific ways?
A – I learned how to understand defensive schemes, how to understand what the offense is trying to do down and distance wise, and understand how to approach practice. They taught us all different types of things and I'm seeing it applied out here.
Q – In what ways has it helped you here?
A – In NFLE, we had to learn a whole defensive scheme in a matter of weeks. I've had to come back and do it all over again here now. I learned how to pick up a scheme quickly, so I pretty much have the entire defense down already.
Q – Are you concentrating at any one position?
A – I can go anywhere. They have me playing a little corner, a little safety. I even played some dime last week. Versatility means longevity in this league.
Q – You must be feeling pretty good after what happened to you last season (injured knee in minicamp and missed entire rookie season). You're that much further along. You're penciled in as a starter. Do you use this as incentive to take you to the level you need to be at?
A – This is very early in my career. I'm not going to go out there and do everything in that first game. It's a process and I'm just trying to get better every day. I'm just trying to compete and get the starting job and be consistent about it.
Q – Do you see things differently now as opposed to a year ago?
A – Yeah, I do. I just learned from the nuances of the NFL, how things go, the small stuff. I learned that kind of stuff last year. This year, I'm just concentrating on playing football instead of trying to buy a house or get a lot of small stuff out of the way.
Q – What's your comfort level?
A – I'm feeling comfortable. I'm just trying to get to the (exhibition) game Saturday (against the New York Giants) and go from there. It's going to be a long season. That's one thing I really couldn't experience last year. The NFL season, playing for 20 weeks straight. Once I get there, I'll be fine.
Q – You're around 205-210 pounds?
A – I'm about 212 now.
Q – Is that fighting weight for you to handle those big tight ends?
A – That's a good weight for me. Last year, I got to around 220 because I was lifting weights and not doing too much running. I'm down to like 212 now, so I can come up for the run or check the tight end.
Q – What's the one thing you're really looking forward to as we get closer to the season?
A – Making my first big play and getting into the end zone on defense. Like a turnover, a fumble recovery or interception, I'm looking forward to that and just keep on making plays.
Q – Kind of a retribution year for you after what happened last year (he missed the entire season with a foot injury).
A – It is. My foot's coming along. It's still not 100%. It's been a while since I've been in pads. It's good to be back out there and hitting people again. I feel good, but just a little rusty. That'll come back soon.
Q – Have you ever played the 3-4 defense before?
A – Never. In Jacksonville, in some sub situations, we switched in and out of it a little bit. This is totally new to me and I like it.
Q – What about it do you like?
A – It gives you a lot more opportunities to make some plays. It confuses the offense so much, they never know where the blitzer is coming from. You have to be more physical in this defense than you do in a 4-3, but it's something we're all getting used to.
Q – How much has that year of inactivity hurt you, as well as helped you?
A – Honestly, I don't think it's hurt me a bit other than just being a little rusty. My technique was a little off those first 3-4 days of hitting. Once I get my technique back, my mind's refreshed, my body feels good and my toe's starting to feel better, so I think that year of inactivity did me really well.
Q – Hitting someone other than your teammates has got to make you feel pretty good.
A – It does. I haven't gone full speed against anybody. It'll be good this Saturday to see where I am and knock some more of that rust off.