This year is a lot different for me. It's been a big jump from last year to this year in the way I've prepared, the type of player I feel like I am. I feel like I got a lot better. I'm nowhere near where I want to be yet, but I got a lot better from last year. I'm just hoping to continue to get better and try to build upon what I've done so far.
I think I'm just grasping things a little more now. Things are a little simpler. I like it more than I did last year. I like the philosophy of the defense, and I'm just enjoying everything better. I have a good understanding of what we're doing; not only what we're doing but how you can make plays in the defense.
I'm hoping that I can make plays in this defense. But I just have to play within the defense and do what I can. When the opportunity arises to make plays, I have to make those plays. I'm just going to continue to do that, grasp the defense and try to make the best out of this opportunity.
My mindset is definitely to be the starter at outside linebacker on opening day. If I wasn't the starter then that would tell you a little bit about my preparation as far as my camp. My goal is to be a starter. My goal is to be a good player on this defense and help us win games.
I know we have the Jets game coming up in a few days, but to be honest I haven't really thought about that game too much. I'm more worried about the next practice and the task at hand. I haven't gotten too deeply into the game, but I'm sure when it gets even closer it'll get more and more exciting. The opportunity to play in a new stadium against the Jets – who everybody loves right now – will be cool.
I think the biggest improvement for me from last year is running to the ball and finishing plays out. That's definitely something I picked up much better from last year. I really try to run to every ball, not only for myself but just to show that it is important.
As far as what I'm still working on, obviously that's everything, but I'd say reading keys I could definitely still fine-tune a little bit. Not that I'm doing bad by any means, but you can always do better at it. Fortunately for me I have guys like (Michael) Boley and KB – Keith Bulluck. They're guys that have been around for so long. They've helped me figure out what I'm looking at. That makes it a lot easier for me.
It's very cool to be playing with those guys. KB is a good dude. I was just talking to him about how to fit up a play. He told me that you don't always have to do it the same way. If you switch it up it'll throw the offensive guy off guard. It's cool to get advice from someone who's been doing it for so long and who understands how to fit on plays; not just from a coaching standpoint but from a guy who's actually played.
Since I'm one of the younger guys on the team I just try to assimilate and act like one of the guys. I haven't played nearly as many games as most of the guys on the defense; I haven't even started a game. My teammates know that so I'm sure they're waiting to see if I can hold my own. Hopefully I won't disappoint. It's a big jump, but I'm excited for it. I'd rather be in this situation.
We have a lot of optimism this year and I think we should. Without shooting anyone in the foot, we have a lot of players on this defense, a lot of talent, a lot of guys that care about football and know how to play football. We have a mindset that guys want to be good, not only individually but as a team. I think that if everyone buys into that, which I believe we are, I think we can be pretty good. But we have to prove it before we start talking about it.
During camp I'm rooming with Bryan Kehl. We don't really do much, just talk about plays and watch TV. There's really not much time to do much else.
Bryan Kehl: Clint's your typical NFL linebacker. Clint's been awesome to live with. He has a TV so it's nice that I can watch TV with him. We watched the first week of Hard Knocks. He's been really cool. I sit and joke with him. He's been a top-rate roommate.
LBs coach Jim Hermann: Clint, a year ago, played for the first time back off the ball and looking into the backfield to get keys and reads. It was foreign to him. I feel like so far this camp that has improved every day. Our biggest thing when he and I sat down was, ‘Here's where you need to improve' and he has done a good job with that. He has done some good things back there.
‘My Goal Is To Be a Starter'
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