Edwards: First of all, how's the foot doing?
The foot – ah, it's great. It's 100%. You know, it's unfortunate what happened how it broke in the fourth game of the season on Monday night, but it's something that Coach Fox and everyone knew what was wrong with me. It's one of the, actually probably the main reason that I slipped to the fifth round of the draft, because I was projected a lot higher, like the third round. It's good to get it fixed and it's better that it happened now instead of like the third or fourth year. Just get it out of the way now and get it fixed and I'm just looking forward to having a great year this year with a foot that's 100%.
Edwards: What exactly was wrong with the foot?
I had a stress fracture going into my senior year of college. I had an option to let it go because it was just a crack in my fifth metatarsal, which is like the last bone in your foot. They were like, well, you can just go ahead and try to play with it and we can take a chance of it being okay, or we can just put a pin in it right now and you probably wouldn't start the first game but depending on how you felt you could come back as soon as you felt like you were ready. I just felt like at that time it was something that I need to do, so I went ahead and got it fixed and believe it or not, four weeks out of surgery, I didn't start, but I played probably 30% of the snaps at Tennessee, our opening game. From that point on, I just started to play every play and it was something I did because I wanted us – you know I thought that we had a good chance to win, especially if I was in there playing.
Unfortunately, I did more damage to my foot than I ever thought possible and I ended up breaking the pin in my foot. When I showed up at the combine, I had ex-rays done on my foot and it revealed that not only had my stress fracture not healed because I had been playing on it and not giving it a chance to heal, but also that the pin was broken in my foot too. That was just a bad situation. Thankfully here with the Panthers we have a great orthopedics staff and they saw no problems with it, they took me right away and [the foot injury] was something they knew would happen. They knew I would have to have surgery on it eventually and I'm just glad I was able to make it to the fourth game and show the team and the fans what I can do and just give people a reason to be excited about me next year.
Edwards: At the mini-camp, you worked with the second team at inside linebacker, correct?
Uh… yeah. I mean, they're still trying to decide what they're going to do with me I guess. Obviously, they're going to have the best three linebackers playing. This is something they'd obviously planned on going into mini-camp. So, yeah, I was working with the second team at inside linebacker, but in a couple of our packages when we bring in four linebackers I actually start and play outside linebacker in that package and a couple other packages as well. So, that's one of the things they like about me is that I can play inside or outside linebacker, but you know whatever they decide to play me at is fine, I just want to help the team win any way I can.
Edwards: I understand that Morgan of course is going to be in the middle and then they're looking at Thomas Davis more at the strong side position (Yeah.) So that leaves the weak side position open. Are they looking at you at all at the weak side position?
I believe they are, yeah. I mean, I think another priority, along with the weak side is – you know especially with Dan Morgan's history, he's a great linebacker, but he's yet to play a full season – so they want to make sure that they have somebody (from what I was told and what they told me and from an obvious standpoint) that they want to have someone that they feel can come in the game when he goes down and not miss a beat. You know, they don't want to have that – they don't want to have that spot being a guy that really can't come in and feel in. I think with me they feel I can do that very well. So, they want to make sure that they're solid in that area just in case something happens to him because it's happened for the last four of five years that he's played. But with me, I just want to help any way I can. I would love to play that weak side spot; I think I can do it and that's my goal going into training camp, to solidify that spot and show the coaches that can play it and you know I think I can. I believe in my ability. But, like I said, wherever I play at, I'm fine. As long as I can help the team win and whatever that is – that's fine with me.
Edwards: Speaking of Dan Morgan, how is he doing?
Oh, he's great. He had… I believe it was shoulder surgery at the end of the season, but he's doing well. He looks great out there through mini-camp and in summer school. You know, he's a great guy; he's a great mentor and he's a great leader. He's a guy who's just a lot of fun to hang out with and he teaches me a lot about just playing linebacker in general and he just makes the linebacker corps just a much tighter unit. He's doing well, he looks great, and I think he's going to have a big year this year.
Edwards: From your perspective, how does he handle the injury situation mentally?
Uh…gosh, well… He does it… It's got to be frustrating, obviously for people to label you as injury prone or what not. But I think he does a good job of blocking that out. You know he's a great player, he has great ability and I can tell this year that he's in the weight room more, working on his strength a lot more, trying to build up his upper body hopefully to prevent those type of things. But, injuries you know they're not something you can always prevent. You can lift, you can work out, you can take care of your body, but sometimes in games, sometimes in practice even, things just happen. But, he's a veteran, he's going into his sixth year and I think that if there's anyone that can handle that kind of – I don't want to call it pressure – but that can handle that kind of adversity, I think that he's the guy that can do it.
to be continued...
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