Q: What was it like working out down in Arizona with Logan Ryan and how was this different from previous years?
DM: It was good, very similar, really just the same group of guys going out, getting after it, training and trying to prepare for the season. Me and Logan [Ryan] were the guys, and then D.J. Foster was down there working out with us. It's always fun when you can train with some of your teammates, and then for me, I've been able to train with my brother which is always a good time for us.
Q: When did you get back here and what is it like being back?
DM: Two days ago, I think. It's the same. It's always good being back and then finally coming here and seeing all the guys, it's like the first day back to school. You know training camp is going to be hard and tough, but you enjoy being back for at least that first day, hanging out and catching up with the guys.
Q: What's it like knowing that you won't have Tom Brady for the first four games of the season?
DM: I think it's [an] adjustment. Obviously, you can't take the field without a guy like that and think you're just going to go out there and pick up where you left off last year and fall right into stride, but I think we have a lot of good players. We have two other quarterbacks that have been very competitive. Jimmy [Garoppolo] has been here a couple of years now, so I think as a team we'll just come together, go out there and figure out a way to win. That's what it comes down to; we can't stick on that subject, just prepare and get ready to play.
Q: Have you joked with Tom Brady about the Deflategate situation?
DM: No. The first day, I don't think we talk about anything to do with football. I think it's just guys catching up, seeing how families are doing and everything like that. But I doubt there would be much joking about that.
Q: Is there more pressure on the defense to open up the season without Tom Brady leading the offense?
DM: I think from the outside, everyone will say that, but for us as a defense, even when you play with the greatest quarterback, we don't go out there saying, 'We only have to play OK because Tom [Brady] is here.' We always want to play good football, go out there and really find out who we'll be as a defense. It starts tomorrow at practice with attitude, toughness, running to the ball, condition. I think for us as a defense, we want to be a dominating defense no matter what the situation is and no matter who is out there on offense. We always kind of take the mentality and attitude that we have to go out there and play defense no matter if the offense is scoring touchdowns, if they're not scoring touchdowns. I think if we can develop as individual units, that's what makes us better as a whole.
Q: Did you run into Chandler Jones out in Arizona and what's it like not having him here?
DM: No, I didn't see my guy Chan [Chandler Jones] out there, but it's different. You guys know, he had a huge personality, very competitive, he got guys going. He really turned into a leader on this defense, so it'll be different, but it's the same thing along the lines with Tom [Brady]. We'll have to adjust and different guys will have to step up and take over roles that he did for this defense over the last couple of years. I think we got a head start on that in the spring with guys learning. We have a ton of guys here, young guys, old guys, that are excited with the opportunity to go out there and play.
Q: Do you see the responsibilities falling more on you being one of the senior guys?
DM: I don't really even look at it; I just try to be myself. I think each year the team is a little different, so how leadership roles will be consumed by other players and what we have to do, you don't know yet. I think you come in here, being a guy that's been here for a while, I just try to lead by example starting off doing the right things, encouraging guys, trying to give guys a heads up about different things just that I know from playing here, going into my seventh training camp. I think the leadership roles and guys' different roles on the defense will be defined as we go and play.
Q: Do you think it will be strange seeing Chandler Jones on the opposite sideline so early in the season?
DM: No, here I'm used to seeing guys that I'm teammates and friends with. My twin brother plays on another team, so I don't think it gets anymore awkward than that. It's just a part of the business.
Q: Is it possible to use Tom Brady's suspension as motivation for the team?
DM: You can, I don't think it matters. I think each team, you get 32 teams in here with one goal, no matter what happens to them as a team. I don't think your motivation should change if you really want to win and be the last team standing. I think that should motivate you enough, but I'm sure it'll be all over headlines and different things like that.
Q: How does speed and physicality with pads going on change starting this weekend?
DM: It becomes football. I think in the spring, and now to start out training camp, it's really just a heavy passing game and not much contact, but when you start to put on the pads, you really start to see the football team we're going to be, what different guys can do on the football field, it's just a different mentality. You might be able to out-quicken and run away from some people, but we have guys out there who are just hitters. They want to run through you and run into you. They lose some of that when we don't have pads on, so we'll gain all of that back this weekend.
Q: What can you tell about a defensive back, particularly about his coverage skills, when you don't have pads on, and what did you notice in the spring about some of the young guys coming back?
DM: I think your craft. When you play defensive back, a lot of it is not as much a contact and stuff, just different positions. But for defensive backs, working on your craft, your footwork, your hand placement, you can do all of that with no pads on, so you can see those guys work. I think that's the best thing about the spring. You see guys working on little things, you see guys working on learning the playbook and being able to be out there and play confident. I think we had a lot of young guys out there who, even some of the rookies towards the end, you could see their confidence building just from learning and studying and staying on top of different things they needed to. It's an exciting time. We have young guys mixed in with some veterans, you come back to training camp and everybody's competitive, everybody wants to earn a spot to play. It's a fun time and I think it'll be good practices.
Q: Do you feel like you're ahead of where you've been in years past on the defensive side of the ball because you have so many experienced guys?
DM: I feels like that, but I think it always feels like that until the first play when you don't communicate and Matty P [Matt Patricia] and Bill [Belichick] are ripping us, you feel like you're back at the beginning. So, I think we come in with a certain confidence that we know we have guys that have been out there, we know how they play and how they operate, so I think you come in a little ahead on that, on the fact of just knowing guys. The communication we'll have to continue to build just because it's a different season, you see different things, guys get better out there and they can do different things, so you try to adjust to that. We'll have to build the communication back up, but I think the advantage is just knowing the guys you've already been playing with and just being familiar with them.
Q: Having practiced with both Jimmy Garoppolo and Tom Brady, what does that tell you about the difference between the two and Garoppolo's preparedness to start the season?
DM: I don't know, I'm not an expert on quarterbacks, but I just think for us, we come and we practice against Tom [Brady] and he's all ready, he's the best out there. You come in and you just try to learn as much as you can defensively from going against him. The cool thing with seeing Jimmy [Garoppolo], I was a veteran when he came in as a rookie and he's just been developing. Each time he steps on the field he gets better and better. I think it's probably very exciting for him knowing the work he's put in. I think for other guys on the team, you know he's a hard worker, so I don't think there are worries or anything like that. He's a confident kid and he's been out here practicing hard. We've seen him a lot all throughout the year when he was in the "look" spot and being different quarterbacks of that nature, so it's exciting but it's tough for me to really break him down and compare them. I just think Jimmy's been the guy that has come in here and learned everything he could under Tom and just keeps getting better.
Q: When you play against a quarterback, can you tell when he has a real command of the game and presence on the field?
DM: I think some of that is overrated. What is a good presence on the field? You either play well and your offense moves the ball and you do a good job, or you don't. I think for [Jimmy Garoppolo], you just see him getting better. You just see him making great decisions, putting the ball where only the receiver can get it. Things like that, to me, stick out when you watch a young quarterback keep getting better. Looking off safeties, being able to get in the right play, you can see it. I think for me, playing safety I always talk to those guys about what they see and different things of that nature. I get to learn from them so I can take that on the defensive field and help the other guys on defense. You see him developing and getting better.
Q: Do you see Jimmy Garoppolo really commanding at the line of scrimmage?
DM: I don't know, because I don't know what they check on offense. I think sometimes people think a guy is really in control if he says a lot of stuff at the line of scrimmage, but sometimes it could be all dummy calls. Maybe that's presence, if he has the presence of mind to make dummy calls. But I just think in getting the team in the right place, when you see your offense be successful, a lot of that falls on the quarterback to be making the right decisions. He touches the ball every play, so when you see that, I think that's when you know a quarterback is making the right plays and he's getting better.
Q: As a defensive player, can you help Jimmy Garoppolo read an opposing team's defense from your perspective?
DM: I think the most we can help him is by playing good defense, trying to make it hard on him every day in practice like when we go against Tom [Brady]. Training camp is very competitive. It's really offense and defense trying to win the day each day you go out there in training camp. I think if we can go out there and play well each day, that will help them get better and when it's time to prepare for Arizona, all of that will be in the bank for him.