The speed of the game is amazing. Just how fast guys get from point A to point B is impressive. Also, the knowledge of the people that are out there playing. People can tell what you're going to do by your eyes, your hand placement, how you sit in your stance. Those are definitely the two biggest things that have stood out to me so far. As you learn more about the game and learn more about how to watch film, you get better at things like that.
I've been getting better at working with my hands and my feet. This is a league of grown men. Things you got away with in college, you sure don't get away with anymore. I just have to learn how to be more of a professional and take the approach that you're in the NFL now, and it's your job now. You have to stay late to do extra lifting and to watch more film. It's your job now, so every week you go out there, you have to be ready. You're not in high school or college anymore, so there's much more of a job atmosphere around here now.
I don't see any possible better scenario for me than to be playing behind Michael Strahan. It couldn't possibly be better. It's a great opportunity for me when I'm not playing to be able to watch one of the best to ever perform at this position. Watching him is so enlightening – the way he approaches the game and the things that he's taught me as far as watching film and how to attack offensive linemen and learning their weaknesses, things like that. It's really great. I love it.
We'll be in watching film and he'll point out certain things the other offensive linemen do on runs, or different things they do on pass. You can see a player do the same things over and over again, and almost every time, it's a pass or a run. That's a big help heading into a game. Anything you can pick up about what offenses are going do just by their stances and hand placement is a tremendous help.
I'm a competitor and you always want to be out there as much as possible. But talking to Osi (Umenyiora) he said that I've played a lot more as a rookie than he did. In the whole scheme of things, obviously I'm not playing as much as I would like to, per se. But in the whole scheme of things, I also have to realize that I have a great defensive end in front of me and a very good one on the other side as well. It's a good opportunity for me to learn. I know that when my time comes, I have to be ready for it.
Every week I've been improving. That's been my goal. A lot of people have told me that it's not where you start, but where you end up. I'm not really worried about grading how well I've done. I just have to make sure that I'm improving every week out there.
I know I have to contribute on special teams as well. I think I'm doing pretty well with that, all in all. Any way you can get on the field and help out your teammates, you have to do it. They have me on kickoff, kickoff return, punt return and field goal block. I just go out there and hustle and try to make a play. I did a lot of that earlier in college, but as my role on defense grew bigger, they took me off a lot of that stuff. But it comes with the territory. If you're a football player, you know how to play special teams.
Our whole defensive line is a very tight-knit bunch. Everyone talks and hangs out and gets along with everyone else. It also helps that I have Ryan Grant here, he's one of my old teammates from Notre Dame. That's a great bonus from me.
He's from around this area so he knows the area well. It's a great atmosphere for me. I live in Hackensack. I really like this area. There's always something to do. There are a lot of people. It's a very interesting, diverse area to be in. It's not like the peace and quiet of home (Kellyton, Ala.) by any stretch, but I really enjoy living in this area.
I have such a strong desire to get better and a deep hatred for losing. That comes from growing up with my family and growing up playing sports. I was always taught to strive to be the best I can be.
Finally, I have to mention my alma mater, Notre Dame. They're having a great season and I wish them a lot of luck.
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