Wheatley Determined Not To Give Up Big Plays
Q: For those who haven't seen you play can you define your style of play and how you view it?
TW: My style of play I guess is very consistent. I don't give up a lot of big plays. I try to make as many big plays as possible. I really don't pattern my game off of anybody, but I do try to learn from pretty much every corner in the league. All the corners in the league are obviously there for a reason. I definitely try to learn from everybody. My style of play is a little bit of everything. Little bit of physical, little bit of speed and a little bit of smarts. A little bit of everything.
Q: What were your expectations coming into the draft? Did you expect to be a first day pick?
TW: I really didn't think about it too much. I really wanted to go into it and enjoy the moment with my family and my friends. It was a situation that a lot of people don't get the opportunity to enjoy, so I didn't want to worry about it too much. Whatever happened, happened. The way the draft works, it's such a circus on draft day. Everybody has their pre-draft board and mock drafts and all that, but at the end of the day when it comes time for the draft everything kind of changes and today was no different. I just wanted someone to give me a chance, and the Patriots gave me that and that to me is awesome.
Q: What were you doing when you got the call?
TW: When I got called, I was actually just walking out of my bedroom. I went to go change. My parents had the air conditioning on and it was a little bit cold. I went to go grab a coat and that's when the phone rang. I put the phone down and it showed up as an unknown call, so I thought, 'Yeah that probably could be important," so I picked it up and low and behold it was the Patriots. I ran down stairs to tell everyone to keep quiet so I could hear. Then I had to run outside to talk on the phone because they were all yelling and screaming at that point. It was just very exciting.
Q: How did you develop your speed? It seems like that would be a big part of your game?
TW: I was always a track guy when I was a kid. I always wanted to play football as a kid but my parents felt like I was a little bit too small for that. You know how moms are. Moms don't want their little babies to get hurt. I'm the oldest, so they didn't want the oldest to get hurt. So [I] ran track and that's something that I would do, but I always tried to work on speed. Speed kills, and, especially at this position, it's very difficult to make plays if you don't have speed. If you take a false step or anything, your speed has to be able to catch you up and take care of that mistake. I do all sorts of stuff with it, pulling tires, running extra hills, doing extra leg work. I try to get my legs as strong as humanly possible. I do a lot of speed training. I do a whole bunch of track workouts just to keep the speed up.
Q: You've had your share of wrist injuries. Do you feel that you are past that? Are you hindered in any way or do you think you'll be okay heading into training camp?
TW: It's not an issue at all. I played with it for a whole year. It's not a big deal. There's really nothing more to say than that. I played the whole year with it and I've proven that I can play with it. It's completely healthy, so I'm going to go out there in training camp and see what I can do.
Q: You made a name for yourself in the return game. How much do you think your contribution on special teams made you an attractive pick for the Patriots?
TW: I think it helped a lot. When you come in as a rookie, number one, you have to be able to play both positions. They don't want somebody that plays just one. So when you have multiple things that you can do, that definitely adds to your draft value. So I think that helps a lot, but it also shows my toughness, too. When you look at the number of plays I play on defense, I rarely come out, and then I'm still on every special teams outside of field goal. That does say a lot about you as a football player, not necessarily just an athlete. Obviously you're an athlete, but you have to be a real tough guy to do that, because you're playing an extra 20-30 snaps every game than everybody else. You have to be in extra shape and everything, so I think that definitely helped me a lot in this draft, especially with the Patriots.
Q: You had a lot of tackles the last couple of years. Do you like a physical style of play? Do you like mixing it up in the run game?
TW: It's fun. It's fun. I love it. It's fun. Especially, I guess, because everybody perceives me as a little guy. It's always nice to come in and give it to the running back every once in a while and kind of show him that I'm a little dude but I'm not going to back down from you. So I like to mix it up from time to time. Why not? It's football. It's a contact sport. I definitely love it.