Colts Q&A With Tyjuan Hagler

After becoming a standout performer on special teams and making a strong showing at linebacker during the preseason, Tyjuan Hagler got his first NFL start in Week 2 against the Tennessee Titans. He talked to Scout.com's Ed Thompson about the experience in this exclusive interview.

Ed Thompson:  Getting your first NFL start in the game against Tennessee had to be an exciting time for you. But after spending last year learning the weakside position, you spent most of the offseason learning the strongside linebacker position. How tough was it for you to switch back to weakside since the roles are so different in this defense?

Tyjuan Hagler: Actually it felt like I was coming back home, it's the position I feel most comfortable at. So I had no complaints about playing on the weak side.During the last week of training camp they moved me back over to weakside, backing up Freddy (Keiaho), so I had a few weeks of practice back there to get used to playing there again.

ET: What's the linebacker depth chart look like right now at weakside and strongside? Is Clint Session on the weakside behind you?

TH:  Yeah, Clint Session's behind me. And then Rocky (Boiman) and Ramon (Guzman) are over at strongside behind Rob (Morris).

ET:  When you look at your talent as a linebacker, why is weakside the best fit for you?

TH: I can use my speed more at WILL (weakside) than I can at SAM (strongside). At SAM you have to be more patient and you're taking on a majority of the blocks. You really don't make as many plays as the weakside, because at weakside your more free to roam and that gets you in on more plays. It's a play-making position in the defense, that's what I love about it.

ET:  When you were watching film preparing for Vince Young and the Titans' running backs, what did you see as your primary role against that particular offense from the weakside linebacker position? 

TH:  My primary thing was to keep ball vision. And we had to keep leverage on Vince Young, we couldn't let him out-leverage us because that's when he takes off and makes plays. So you want to keep everything in front of you, keep your ball vision, and execute the great defensive scheme we had going into the game that the coaches had supplied us with.


Hagler tackles Dallas RB Marion Barber
Ronald Martinez/Getty

ET:  After watching film of your performance and hearing the comments of your coaches, rate your performance in your first NFL start.

TH:  I think it went pretty good. I felt fundamentally sound, I knew exactly what I was doing out there. I didn't make as many tackles as I did during the preseason games, but it was just that type of offense. Every run that started coming to you got cut back. But it felt good being out there and I'm looking forward to getting more playing time.

ET:  You guys did  a tremendous job against running back Chris Brown, who had run up 175 yards rushing against a strong Jaguars defense. What was it about your game plan that allowed you to keep him under control?

TH: We basically had an eight-man front the majority of the game, and everyone had their gaps. We were told to stay in our gaps and keep ball vision. All those reverses and fake reverses and everything, the coaches said not to worry about them and that we'd adjust to that when the time comes. If everyone stayed in their gap, you could make the play when the ball comes to you.

ET:   With both you and Rocky Boiman getting a start in the same game, how big of a role did middle linebacker Gary Brackett play in helping you guys out? Or did you feel pretty self-sufficient out there?

TH: We felt very comfortable out there, but Gary is a great leader out there. He talks a lot out there and keeps everyone on the same page. He gets everyone talking, and that's when you know that everyone knows what they're doing. The communication out there is great, and that's something he does best that helps all of us.

ET:  All indications are that Freddy Keiaho will be starting this weekend, but I'm sure you've been preparing as though you may need to step in.

TH: Exactly. You never know when your number's going to be called.

ET:  Are you still having fun on special teams?

TH:  I'm still having a lot of fun. I'll be back out there this week, back to my old job, so I'll be back out there hitting people -- that's what we like to do out there.

ET:  Anything you'd like to say to the Colts fans?

TH: Just tell them that they saw a glimpse of me last week, but they'll see much more of me throughout the year.

Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features are published across the Scout.com network and are syndicated through FOXSports.com's NFL team pages. He's also a guest expert on the Indianapolis Colts on radio shows around the country. You can contact him by email through this link.


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