PATRIOTS LINEBACKER DONT'A HIGHTOWER
Q: It seems like Ja'Whaun Bentley is a pretty impressive kid. What do you like about everything he does behind the scenes?
DH: He's a smart kid, eager to learn, fast learner. He's a big kid, quick on his feet. He's going to be a good ballplayer.
Q: Did you guys expect the type of performance you got out of Ja'Whaun Bentley on Thursday night?
DH: The way he plays is the way he practices so he's definitely one of the guys who literally takes the practice execution becomes game reality to that extent. Like I said, he's a young guy, he's eager to learn, very smart in the classroom, always asking questions. I mean he can cover, he can do a little bit of everything. He's still obviously got a ways to go being a rookie or whatever, but I mean every day he's wanting to get better and that's a great way to start.
Q: Do you feel like things ramped up a little bit today compared to previous days of camp?
DH: As far as?
Q: Just the intensity, the tempo, it just felt like today went up a notch.
DH: Can't say I felt that way. We had a couple different periods that we didn't have the other day, that can always get guys going. But I mean we're in pads so it's kind of expected. Those are camp days up-and-down, so it is what it is.
Q: Any extra motivation with the Eagles coming here Thursday?
DH: I'm trying to do my job either way, whether it's them or the Redskins or whoever it is. Just looking forward to being out there.
Q: How do you feel Ja'Whaun Bentley has handled his role?
DH: You just walked in about five seconds too late. He's a smart kid, like I said earlier. Eager to learn, he's really become a sponge. First dude in the classroom, last one out, always asking questions. Nice-sized kid, good on his feet. He's going to be a good ballplayer.
Q: Do you feel like the intensity level the last couple practices has been ratcheted up at all?
DH: Back-to-back questions. I mean, it's part of practice, camp days. It wasn't hot today but guys get tired, they get angry so I guess there might have been some of that, little extra shoving, but it's football, it's part of practice.
Q: How helpful is it to the defense to have more 11-on-11 play in practice?
DH: It's always good. Me personally, I like any and all team drills. You know, one-on-ones and stuff is cool but whenever we can get to actual football stuff, situational-type stuff, it's easier to coach on and easier to apply stuff like that. I know a lot of guys really look forward to a lot of the team drills.
Q: Can you give any insight on what you and Christian Sam were talking about headed off the field earlier this week?
DH: He was just asking me about my transition my first year. Asking for a little advice. That's one thing that we're good on this - not just this defense but this team - as wanting to help one another whether it's young or old. We're all able to learn from each other, from different techniques to different experiences and examples. I just kind of gave him my experience and how it was when I came in and the older guys I had with [Niko] Koutouvides, [Brandon] Spikes and [Jerod] Mayo and just how that transition from OTAs to training camp to preseason - how all that stuff kind of affects you. Sam's a good kid, he's obviously good at learning and willing to ask those extra questions so you know anything I can do for those young boys and I guess I'm the old head.
Q: That happened quick, huh? You turned into the old guy quick.
DH: A lot quicker, man. They're trying to get me a rocking chair in there, man. I'm not that old.
Q: Did you feel it was important for you to get back into game action during the preseason game?
DH: Absolutely. Just looking to get more snaps. Practice and game, it's a little different. I felt good when I was out there though. Looking forward to more practicing and getting to the game on this Thursday. But like I said, it's been a while, still got to knock a little rust off of me. You can do some of that in practice but there's nothing like a live game so definitely will take advantage of what I got left.
Q: What was it like to have not played for almost a full calendar year after your injury?
DH: It felt like I didn't play for about ten months. Little shaky getting back in to it but since OTAs - I had OTAs under my belt and obviously mini-camp. Like I said, I felt good, want to continue to build and stay where I'm at.
Q: Can you see yourself moving around in the defense from linebacker to pass-rusher?
DH: Possibly. We use our linebackers and ends multiple different ways and I've always been - it's always been the more that you can do around here, so I'm looking forward to all of that.
Q: How many meeting rooms are you in?
DH: It pays off to know the defense a little bit better than most.
Q: You said one of your goals was staying on the field. Is it going alright for you?
DH: It is. I felt good last week, feel good this week. Just going to continue to stay what I'm on as far as my rehab. Massages, acupuncture and all that good stuff. Try to keep a routine and hopefully it will hold me solid over.
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