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Transcript: Ja'Whaun Bentley Video Conference 6/17


June 17, 2020

Q: Where do you feel you are mentally in terms of your progression as you get ready for another season? How big of a role do you anticipate having in this defense?

JB: I would say this year, just like every year, just looking to find your role. Each guy has a role to play. I feel like we stress that a whole lot as an organization – finding your role and sticking with it. So, whatever that role may be this year, just going to look to progress, as well as find as many opportunities that the team needs to be filled.

Q: In your first few years in the league, you've played a lot of inside linebacker off the line of scrimmage. Are you trying to evolve your role to play on the line more like some of your teammates have?

JB: I would say – kind of a cliché answer – whatever the team needs, I'm looking to do. So, whether that is on the ball, off the ball, whatever I'm asked to do as far as game planning and things like that, that's exactly what I'm going to do. Yeah, I mean, that's up to the coaching staff and the organization and that week.

Q: Did Kyle Van Noy or Jamie Collins have any words of wisdom or parting words for you when they left the team?

JB: First of all, I'd like to say Kyle and Jamie are two very good players, two very good vets to have around, along with [Dont'a] Hightower. They were great guys, so throughout the season, of course we talked and we had a lot of great conversations with me about that, and we will continue those conversations. I won't really get into depth what they are about, but they were extremely beneficial and something that I will remember and build off of. 

Q: Were you at Ben Watson's Boston Pray event last weekend?

JB: I was.

Q: Why did you feel it was important for you to be there and what was it like?

JB: Obviously, through the times that we're experiencing right now dealing with trying to address police brutality as well as systemic racism that's going on, a lot of people are working hard, whether it's donating, protesting, a lot of different ways they want to make an impact. I felt like Ben's event was the perfect way to kind of rejuvenate yourself as well as continue to use your platform to make an impact to create awareness. So, a lot of times, you begin to kind of wear down with the constant talk and the constant creating awareness, and you need to kind of regroup and try to fill your tank up, so to speak, in a way to continue to create awareness. I thought that was a great opportunity to do so.

Q: What was that event like, and did it accomplish that and refill your tank?

JB: I would say only time will tell whether or not everything we're doing will have a huge effect. But me personally, seeing everybody there just allows you to see how much everybody wants to be a part of change, be a part of history and address the many moments that we've been exposed to within the past few weeks, as well as trying to address things that have been going on for hundreds of years. So, that was an opportunity for a lot of people to express themselves and also create awareness.

Q: How do you feel like you've grown over the last several years as a Patriot?

JB: I would say, obviously, knowledge – knowledge of the game and being able to kind of be on the field and direct traffic a little bit more coming from college to the pros. You surround yourself with great veterans, which we have in our organization, so it was a huge opportunity to learn from those guys and kind of implement what you've learned and add it to your game. So, I feel like year one to year two, took some good steps, but year three, you also want to take those same progressive steps and take your game to the next level.

Q: How did veterans like Van Noy, Collins and Hightower help you evolve as a player?

JB: Well, their personality and how they are on the field. It's clear that those guys are huge players that make big time plays in big time moments. We've seen it time and time again. So, being able to have those vets and kind of bounce ideas off of them, as well as pick their brains to see how they've been so great within these years, just picking their brain means a lot and it's good to have them in the locker room. 

Q: You were a captain in college, which was important to Bill Belichick when drafting you. For someone like you entering your third year, what is the process like going from a position to learning every day to one of leadership?

JB: I would say that I've always taken the approach, in order for you to be a great leader you have to first be a great follower. Being in college, you have the opportunity to learn when you get there. You don't know everything, so you have to go in there and kind of learn the ropes a little bit and take in as much advice and leadership qualities from those veterans. It's the same thing in the pros. You have to find the right guys to surround yourself with, the older guys and the veterans, and pick their brain and be a great follower, see the things that they teach and the things that they emphasize. In turn, you'll be able to build your qualities and your character traits that you want to use and add it to your repertoire of leading personality traits.

Q: How has the pandemic made that more of a challenge this year, as far as learning and going about that process?

JB: It doesn't really hurt that much, simply because we still have virtual meetings. We have cell phones and we have FaceTime and things like that. We're able to see each other, we're still able to talk and we're still able to learn. Seeing each other doesn't stop the learning process, so being able to have these phones you can just pick up and look at each other and be able to still pick each other's brains is also a huge thing for us.

Q: Given your injury history, do you feel there is something to the idea that it can take athletes more than two years to fully recover from a torn ACL?

JB: I would say – I'm not doctor or anything, so you can take what I say with a grain of salt – but as far as experiencing things like that, it's all in the rehab. Obviously, different people will give you different opinions, but based on my experience, the rehab is a big deal, having the right [inaudible] in your area is a big deal also, and also having the confidence, building the confidence to get back and to get back in shape. Even things as slight as that, being in shape plays a big part. But like I said, I'm no doctor. 

Q: Is there a way to connect with the rookie linebackers to let them know you can be a mentor for them, even though you haven't had the benefit of being in the locker room or on the field together?

JB: Yeah, for sure. I think our virtual meetings have played a big part. Obviously, things are a lot different this spring that none of us have really experienced as far as us not being in the facility and experiencing minicamp atmosphere and things like that. So, it's a huge adjustment for all of them, as well as us, but we still have opportunities to see them and kind of create those atmospheres as much as we can so they'll be able to at least get to know us as people as well as teammates, so we can continue to try to build that camaraderie and get to know them, as well. But, at the end of the day, it's a huge adjustment for all of us so we're kind of just adapting with the times.

Q: Are you at a point in your development that you can kind of share and help the young players with picking up the Patriots defense?

JB: For sure. I definitely think that being in a position where you are in, you have played for a few years and you do have knowledge, I feel like the best benefit will be to share that knowledge. It's not good to have knowledge if you don't want to share it with anybody. So, me not being too far removed from those experiences, I think I will have a lot to offer. We have rookies that aren't afraid to ask questions, so that's a big thing – not being afraid to ask questions and not being intimidated by the atmosphere. We also as older people want to create a safe space in which they feel comfortable asking those questions. We're going to need them down the line, so of course we want to create that space and allow them the opportunity to ask any questions they have and be able to help them along the way, just like I was.

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