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Sun., Aug. 30, 2015 1:00 AM to 10:59 PM EDT
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Tue., Sep. 01, 2015 12:00 AM to 11:55 AM EDT
Matthew Slater Press Conference Transcript
MS: Definitely. I think this is an exciting game for us as a team. Obviously to have this opportunity, no matter who we were playing against, we’d be excited about [it]. We know we’re playing against a great football team with some great players, some Hall of Fame caliber players and some great coaches. It’s going to be a very competitive, tough football game. We’re excited about the challenge. We’ve been working hard this week and we’ll continue to prepare hard these next few days. Hopefully things go well for us on Sunday.
Q: What kind of week has it been for you and the special teams unit after what happened last week?
MS: We’ve put that behind us. Once we got in here and watched the tape, we understand we didn’t perform the way we wanted to. We are fortunate enough to have an opportunity to go out and get that fixed. There’s no time to hang our head now going against arguably the best returner in the league after the year he had this year and a good special teams unit all around. We’ve been working hard to correct the issues that we had and hopefully we’ve got them fixed and we can go out and perform well on Sunday.
Q: What makes Jacoby Jones such a challenge?
MS: Obviously his speed, he’s got tremendous speed. Jacoby’s actually a taller, bigger guy for a returner. He breaks a lot of tackles. He has a great feel for their scheme and what they’re trying to do. He runs hard, there’s no hesitation, when he sees something he goes. He’s very aggressive. He takes chances but they pay off. He does a lot of things well. He handles things well; handles situations great. We’ll have our hands full trying to cover him.
Q: How can you simulate his presence at practice?
MS: The guys have been working hard all week to kind of give us a look at him. But I think a guy like that, he’s so unique that it’s hard to really know what it’s going to be like until we get in the game. We’ve watched a ton of film on him and the guys on the scout team have done a good job of giving us a good look. Like I said, Jacoby, his skill set is really unique. I don’t really think there’s a returner in the league with his physical presence because he’s such a big guy and the speed that he has. It’s tough to simulate but hopefully we’re getting a good look at it in practice and we’ll be ready on Sunday.
Q: Rob Ninkovich recovered the onside kick. Does he get them all in practice too? It seems like whenever there is a loose ball, he catches it. Are you amazed by that?
MS: It sure does seem that way, doesn’t it? Whenever there’s a ball out or a big play needed, he’s on the spot. In that situation, with the onside kick, that ball could be kicked anywhere. It could be kicked right, left or down the middle, so all those guys have to be aware. Obviously Rob always does a tremendous job. Whatever situation he’s on the field in, he seems to be Johnny-on-the-Spot, so he did a good job being aware and getting on that ball. That was a big play for us.
Q: Although he is not a captain, how much leadership does Rob Ninkovich provide in the locker room?
MS: Tremendous amount. Rob has a lot of experience with this football team. He’s played in big games, he’s helped us win big games. He’s one of those guys that you can rely on day in and day out. You know he’s going to come give great effort in practice, he’s going to be accountable to his teammates and he’s going to do his job come Sunday. You really can’t ask much more from a guy as a teammate. Having a guy like that on our team is a big plus for us.
Q: Do you ever get the sense that other teams are jealous of your success as a franchise?
MS: I’d imagine that could be a possibility. I’ve been fortunate to spend my whole career here so I don’t know what it’s like looking from the outside in. As a fan of sports, I guess sometimes the team that has a lot of success, you kind of want to see the underdog win, so to speak. So that could be a possibility. I don’t get the feel when we’re playing against teams – teams don’t fear us, teams don’t play scared against us, they want to beat us. I don’t know if there’s any jealousy or anything like that going on.
Q: You played one year with Mike Vrabel. Are there any similarities between him and Rob Ninkovich?
MS: It’s really tough to make that comparison. Mike was such a great player and he was a rare guy. If there’s one thing that I will say is the same about those guys, it’s the way they respect the game of football. They play it, obviously Mr. Vrabel played the game the way you want it to be played and Rob does the same thing. That’s really the only comparison I’ll get into, is the way they respect the game, you can appreciate that from both those guys.
Q: Did he make you call him Mr. Vrabel?
MS: That’s not what he made me call him, but I have a tremendous amount of respect for him as a football player. I had a blast playing with him the one year that I did.
Q: The beard doesn’t remind you of him? Different beards?
MS: The beards are a little different. Rob’s beard is a little thicker; a little thicker beard on Rob.