JagNation Press Pass: Byron Leftwich


(on the start of training camp) "I have been very anxious to get back. I think I have a new appreciation for football because when you are sitting on the sideline and the planes fly over and you are not allowed to go out there and play, it's a different feeling. It's a feeling as a football player that you don't like. From here on out, I'm going to have a smile on my face, be as happy as I can and have as much fun as I can especially when I'm out there on the football field. When I'm not out there then that is when I'm not happy. As long as I'm out there then I am going to have as much fun as I can."

(on the talk of possibly signing Daunte Culpepper) "Only in Jacksonville we can talk about another quarterback on someone else's team and it becomes a huge story. Let's let everything play out before we get talking about anybody on any team. It's just amazing that it can happen. It's real funny to me. It's been talked about a lot and I don't know if it's going to happen or not. I'm just here ready to play football."

(on his message to fans who are lukewarm about buying season tickets for the upcoming season) "I understand their frustration especially coming off a 12-4 season and it looked like we were just going up. We finished off 8-8. I understand their frustration because I'm a fan. We still have a good football team. I seriously doubt that the injury bug will bite us the way it did last year. People are always talking about me getting hurt. We had a lot of key guys go down and the history of the league shows that if you lose that many key guys, good teams normally finish 8-8. We are going to try and go out there and stay healthy. When they see us out there, we are going to work our tails off. The one thing I know about the guys in that lockerroom, we have a lot of guys who are willing and capable to do anything to win. As a fan, you have to respect that. Here's a team that is going to work their tail off, work out as hard as they can and do what they can to the best of their ability to win football games. I believe if we stay healthy then we will win football games."

(on the influence of Quarterbacks Coach Mike Shula on his footwork) "He is talking to me from the second I get out there to the second I leave. I can tell that it's helping me because I can see myself improve from the first minicamp to right now. I can see things that are becoming second nature to me because he's always on me about my footwork. That is what you want as a player. I told him to just coach me and I promise I am going to listen to everything you say. I am going to work hard at doing it. To have a guy that will do that even when you're tired and you don't want to hear it, he's still coaching. You appreciate that as a player. It shows that he wants you to be at your best when you're out there."

(on the adjustments to his footwork) "I am not getting too much faster. The Lord blessed me with 4.83 (40-yard time) speed. That is the fastest I ever ran. I just think when your feet are in the right place, it makes you a more accurate quarterback. He (Shula) can sit there and break down film where my feet are in the right place and the ball is perfect. He can show me times when my feet are not in the right place and where the ball ends up. You can see what he is saying is right. I have to work my tail off to make sure I do it consistent and right all the time. With Coach Shula and Coach (Dirk) Koetter, I have two guys that have so much confidence in me and I can't let those guys down. That is the feeling I have. I am going to work my tail off and do what I can."

(on the team doing the 'Oklahoma drill' on Monday) "I would like to go against somebody. Vic Ketchman and I would be a pretty good one. I used to like it, but the more training camps you go through…let's just practice. You just want to get it going. It really doesn't prove anything. It's great for the fans. I wouldn't want to be a part of it."

(on what is most noticeable about the offense compared to last year) "I think the spacing. When you watch practice, guys are in different places. You never see guys real close to each other. When you have spacing that way it makes the defense have to cover the whole field. Coach Koetter is really into spacing. As a quarterback when you have guys on different parts of the field, it makes the defense show their cards quicker. It makes the defense determine if you are going to stop this guy or that guy. It doesn't allow one guy to cover two guys. All of the good offenses in the league have good spacing. I think that is the biggest difference. It is going to allow our guys to make plays because they will have better spacing and it makes it a lot easier on the quarterback to make the decision of where to go with the football."

(on his ankle injury from last year) "I have a perfect ankle right now. I'm really trying not to go back to the past. I knew this was going to be a question. I have a healthy ankle right now. It isn't like it's a different part. Now that I have it fixed then hopefully I won't have that problem anymore."

(on if he feels the offense will be more unpredictable this year) "I believe our philosophy has changed. Anytime you have the kind of philosophy Coach Koetter has, it allows you to be more unpredictable. It keeps teams off balance. Anytime you are in attack mode and you can try to attack on first-and-10, third-and-10, second-and-two, it keeps the defense off balance. We have to be more explosive with the playmakers we have. We have to give those guys more opportunities to make plays. If you don't, it makes it too easy for the defense. It makes it too hard for us to consistently go out there and try to win football games. Sometimes you have to just turn it loose and let it go. I believe we will do that. We have enough guys in Matt (Jones), Reggie (Williams), Ernest (Wilford) and Dennis (Northcutt). These guys can make plays. It's time for us to start allowing them to make plays. Let's see if they can make plays. I think that is the only way you can play and the only way you can win in this league, if you can go out there and be aggressive on offense and defense."

(on the wide receivers) "You have to give these guys the opportunities to make plays. If they don't have opportunities to make plays then they are not going to make them. We are asking something of them that we are not giving them the opportunity to do. I believe the way we space our offense now and the type of attack mode we are in, these guys will have opportunities to make plays. They will start getting the recognition they needed to get from the standpoint of getting the opportunities to make plays. Everybody will get to see how good these guys are."

(on some Jacksonville fans losing patience with him and if it bothers him) "I am more tired of talking about it more than anything. I think the frustration comes from me not being on the field. I can understand that because no one is more frustrated than me. I just want to get out there and show everybody that I can still play. I understand the frustration and nobody's more frustrated about it than me. I don't like being on the side injured and I don't think anyone likes to see me that way. The only thing I can say to them is that I am going to work my tail off. I think if we stay healthy we will have a real good football team."

(on NFL's personal conduct policy) "You have to understand that being the leader of a football team that you have grown men. I'm 27 years old and I can't really tell a 32-year old what to do, a 32-year old with a wife and two kids. You don't really have any control outside of football. You just hope that everybody as adults in this league understand the situation and try to do the best thing for them personally. As football players, I know we're idols, but we are not saints. We don't do everything right. Stuff happens sometimes. I know we are looked at as role models through a lot of kid's eyes. If anyone makes that mistake in any league and the kid loved that player, I think as parents you have to tell that kid that he made a mistake and understand that mistakes happen. Mistakes happen in everybody's life. All of your mistakes are not magnified like the guys in the professional leagues are. When stuff happens you just can't jump to judgment. As players, you have to apologize for it and hope it never happens again. It's not right to believe that athletes or entertainers in general are never going to do anything wrong because that is not true."

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