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Transcript: Locker Room Quotes 1/15

New England Patriots defensive back Duron Harmon and special teams captain Matthew Slater address the media during their press conferences at Gillette Stadium on Monday, January 15, 2018. Plus, hear from wide receiver Phillip Dorsett, cornerback Stephon Gilmore, offensive lineman Nate Solder, and defensive lineman Deatrich Wise Jr from inside the locker room.


Q: Does it ever get old for you? Here you are in a seventh-straight AFC Championship. Do you have to pinch yourself, because most players don't get this kind of opportunity?

MS: Certainly, something I don't take for granted. You look at what this team has been able to accomplish and the opportunities that we've had in the postseason. It's very rare. We understand that, and it's certainly something that we don't take for granted. It never gets old, because this is why you play the game. It's the ultimate team sport, and the biggest focus that you have coming into the year is the success of the team. We've been really fortunate to be in these types of games, and we're excited about our opportunity.  

Q: Matthew, I know there is a ton of respect for every team in the NFL. When you see what they were able to do on the road and beat Pittsburgh at Heinz Field, how big is that?

MS: This is an elite football team, and I think when we left here in the summer after going against them in the joint practice, we saw these guys [were] going to be good. They've proven it all year long, and this will be the best football team that we've played all season long. They're just playing really, really good football, and they have really, really good players, and they're obviously very well-coached. You tip your hat to them for going on the road and winning a big game like they did, playing the way that they did with a lot of confidence [and] a lot of swagger. It's a good team.

Q: Matt, is their physicality something that stood out during the joint practices?

MS: Certainly. They have the mentality. Coach [Doug] Marrone, having a background as an offensive line coach, they have that toughness. They have those types of players who bring out toughness and edge, and it shows up on the film. You can be watching the film for a handful of plays and it shows up. That was something definitely that we saw when we left practicing with them, and it's something that they've consistently shown all year long. 

Q: How much can you take from those summer practices? Bill [Belichick] talked this morning about putting in a little bit of perspective [that] it's a long time ago. You take a few things here and there, but you don't want to rely too much on your memory of it.

MS: Yes, I mean, that was like eons ago when you think about the course of a football season, how long it is and what happens over the course of a football season. You look at those joint practices for example, Jalen Ramsey wasn't even out there. And this guy, he is elite. There are different dynamics to both teams. I don't know how much we'll look at those practices, or at that preseason game. I'm sure we'll take a look at it, but both teams are very different.

Q: Speaking of Jalen Ramsey, you guys are well known for never saying anything that another team could put up on their bulletin board. He guaranteed a victory. Any reaction to that?

MS: Yeah, that guy is really good, and he should be confident, because he is very, very good. The good Lord made that guy, and he said, 'Let there be corner.' And there he is. I'd be confident if I were him as well.

Q: This time of year it seems like you talk a lot about minimizing distractions. Maybe that's something going on at home, or politics, or media stuff, or you need to get your hair cut. How would you define a distraction? What qualifies it?

MS: My family will never be a distraction, that's for sure. I think anything that can be dealt with at a later time, that's not necessarily something to deal with this week, it's not pressing, it's not do-or-die. It's something that is going to be there that you can deal with at a later time, that's going to take away from your time and energy that needs to go into this football game, I think you can categorize that as a distraction. 

Q: Have you ever lined up and in the middle of a game thought to yourself in the back of your head? It just seems hard to believe there would be [other thoughts] going off in the heat of the moment. Thinking about one of those things, does it ever really enter your mind?

MS: Personally - I can only speak to personal experience - no, I've never had that occur. When I'm out there on the football field, all I'm thinking about is playing football at a high level. But everyone is different, and I can't speak to how other guys are mentally as they approach the game, situationally. So, I can just speak for myself.

Q: Matthew, you've got two people here with [Tom] Brady and [Bill] Belichick who are re-writing the playoff record books. What is your thought on Brady playing in his 12th AFC Title game, and Belichick re-writing the coaching postseason record books in terms of appearances in these Championship games?

MS: Both of those men, it's been well-documented their careers, and what they've been able to accomplish. But, we've all been very blessed here, and there are a lot of good football players and coaches in this league, and good teams, and we've been fortunate to have good fortune, good health at the right time, timely plays and we've been really blessed. So, I'll say that first and foremost. And then obviously, those two men have done so much to put themselves in position to have success. It doesn't just start in January for them. It's year-round. The preparation, the dedication to their craft, their love and respect for the game of football, I think is right up there with some of the all-time greats. And I think as a result of that, they've put themselves in position to be able to play and coach in these types of games. 

Q: Related to an observation from the other night, when a player goes down or is shaken up on offense or defense, when he is a principle part of special teams, do you go to Joe Judge and confer with him about what you guys are going to do so the message can be relayed to whoever that next replacement might be?

MS: Certainly. We have a lot of moving parts in the kicking game. Obviously, we had a very unfortunate situation the other night with a guy like Jon [Jonathan Jones], that's a tough role to fill. It's not just one guy. So, that communication is an on-going process throughout the course of the game. Joe is always talking to us, always letting us know what's going on, and we just have to be ready for those situations when they come up. 

Q: Matthew, I know you split time obviously between special teams and the offense as well. Can you talk about Josh McDaniels' leadership style and how it helps the team?

MS: I think Josh is such a brilliant guy. He's really smart, and he has a great ability to relate with the guys and communicate what we need to get done from day-to-day. We're fortunate to have him here. He's one of our leaders, leading our offense with his mind, with his thinking, with his ability to connect with the men in that locker room. So, I think the good coaches are able to be personable when they need to be, tough when they need to be, and I think he does that and he's been consistent for us ever since I've been here and playing for him off and on since my rookie year.

Q: Every team is confident when you get to this point, but with Jacksonville, it seems like it really is a tangible thing in terms of that a lot of people didn't expect them to be here. Is that something that jumps out at you when you watch the film, especially with their defense?

MS: When you have those type of players in that kind of a defense playing the way that they do, again, I don't know who wouldn't be confident when there is no weakness. Especially on the defensive side of the ball, why would you not go out there and play with confidence? Ultimately - we have talked about this - what goes on in an NFL locker room, guys have to be able to ignore the noise, and they have done that. They have ignored noise and they have rallied around one another. They have trusted their process. They believe in one another as they should. It shows and they play - they are elite. I don't know why they wouldn't be confident with as good as they are. I am not surprised that we are playing them. They are a very good football team. 

Q: You mentioned Josh McDaniels has been consistent for you guys. How reassuring is that? How has his consistency contributed to your success offensively?

MS: I think whenever you are trying to get something done professionally, to be able to have a consistent leadership and foundation upon which to build is important - a clear message and understanding what you are trying to get done, and we have been able to have that not only with Josh but with obviously, Coach [Bill] Belichick and the rest of our coaching staff. That consistency with the character of the coach and with the message of the coach and what he demands of you is important, because it helps set a standard, and when you have players come in, they know, 'OK, this is what is expected of me. Anything less is not going to be good enough.'

Q: It seems like so many games hinge on a half-dozen plays - the other night, a neutral zone infraction and a fourth-and-1 stop. Can you speak to kind of preparation you guys put in? It seems like you are able to exploit or capitalize on those unique half-dozen plays in a game.

MS: You talk about the playoffs, every single team that is in the playoffs has had a great season. They are very good football teams right down the line, every single one of them. The margin for error becomes slimmer and slimmer. I think you get into some of these games, and you see it is not like one team is going to really overwhelm the other. There is a lot of balance within the games, and it comes down to critical situations, a lot of times executing situational football and fundamentals that you have worked on all year long. This is really when you see the little things make a difference. You strive to be all year long that team that is going to be able to execute in those situations. We were fortunate enough to do it the other night. You saw Jacksonville do it. You saw a number of other teams do it this weekend. That is the name of the game: executing when the pressure is on and trying to make more plays than the other team.

Q: Every team has veterans and guys who have been there before. Can you point to a time when a veteran has said something to a young guy where it plays out in a big spot and makes a big difference in a postseason game?

MS: Yes. 

Q: Do you care to share a story?

MS: We will keep that in house. 

Q: But it is a tangible thing that happens with this team that you guys say things to the young players?

MS: Certainly, I think there are conversations that we can have with younger players that will be beneficial, but I will reference Coach [Bill] Belichick. As he always says, it is not about playoff experience; it is about playoff execution. 

Q: Were you surprised by the number of points that the Steelers managed to score against the Jaguars, considering how good their defense is?

MS: It is the National Football League - there are a lot of good players and a lot of good coaches. Everybody spends the entire year trying to prepare and execute, and go out there. When you go out on the football field, anything can happen. That is the nature of the game. That is why we love the game. It is unpredictable and every week is a new situation, it presents new challenges and plays out differently.  

Q: Were you watching the end of the Vikings-Saints game live?

MS: I was not. 

Q: What was your reaction to the final play of the game?

MS: That was pretty exciting for those Minnesota fans. No question, it looked like they were having a lot of fun.

Q: With so much parity in the NFL and teams in the playoffs this year that haven't been recently, does your team take pride in being a staple in seven consecutive AFC Championship games?

MS: We feel blessed to be where we are. We have been fortunate to be where we are. Certainly, we have worked hard, but a lot of teams and coaches work hard. We treat each year as its own. We are no more excited this year than we were last year, because last year has no bearing on this year. We are just focused on preparing this week and trying to go out and try to take advantage of our opportunity, understanding that we are playing against a heck of an opponent.

Q: You referenced the consistency in leadership and coaching. When Bill Belichick started here, it seems he developed a system and pipeline of future coaches and personnel people. How important is that from a player's perspective that there is somebody who has a relationship already existing and understands the philosophy of the organization?

MS: I don't think that is something that us as players give a ton of thought to. Obviously, everyone's situation is different, so I can't really speak to that question from my own personal experience. Certainly, I will say this, when you have relationships with men and women in the building and they are able to go on and advance themselves professionally, you are happy for them and happy to see it. How that pertains to you and your own situation moving forward, it is different for everyone.

Q: You had that experience in terms of continuity with Special Teams Coach Joe Judge being promoted following the retirement of Scott O'Brien.

MS: Yeah, in that regard, again, I think it goes to coaches being able to set that foundation and the expectations are what they are and they are not going to fall off regardless. That particular transition, we were very fortunate to have Scotty here and him to be able to educate Joe, bring him along and then get Joe to a place where he was ready to go and continue to try to do what we do after Scotty retired. We were fortunate in that regard. Again, we are fortunate to have that consistency within the organization.

Q: I know speed guys really stick out to you. I remember when you played Pittsburgh a couple of times, you were blown away by how fast they were. When you watch the Jaguars film and see guys running with Steelers WR Antonio Brown, even when he scores a touchdown, how much does that stick out to you?

MS: You can't say enough good things about this [Jaguars] defense. They are good at all three levels. You turn on the tape, and like I said earlier, the good Lord made corners, made defensive ends and made linebackers, and they are just out there; they are made to do this and they do it at a high level. When you turn that film on, you just kind of sit back and [say], 'Man, these guys are really good.' And then, 'Oh, you have to snap out of that. We are playing these guys.' As a fan, it is fun to watch them. They pose a big challenge for us as an opponent, and we are excited about the challenge. We will see how it goes. 


Q: What was your view of the Jaguars' performance yesterday?

DH: A hungry team. A team that went out there, probably felt disrespected all week and nobody gave them a chance. The team just played for each other. They knew they had the pieces to win and they showed it. They made plays. Probably as physical as anybody in the league. It's a really good football team that's going to come here ready to play and ready to win.

Q: You guys are known for never saying anything negative about the other team. Jalen Ramsey guaranteed a win on Sunday. How do you react to his comments?

DH: Jalen Ramsey is a good player. He talks a lot of trash - that's a part of his game. You can't take it away from him. He's confident. He should be confident in his team. He has a really good football team. The top two AFC teams are left and he's a part of one of them. His approach to the game is different than ours, but we can't knock him for it. We know they are going to come ready to play. We just have to match their type of physicality and also just their emotion and their readiness to get ready to play.

Q: The Jaguars really commit to the run in a way that a lot of teams don't anymore. What kind of adjustments do you have to make to that knowing that not a lot of teams use the fullback? 

DH: I wouldn't say it's a scheme adjustment or anything. I just think we have to come ready to play. We know what they want to do - they want to run the ball. They average 141 yards of rushing a game, which is a lot and it shows you how much they want to stick to the run, and they should stick to the run. They have really good running backs. Their top three running backs are all big, strong and physical - run really well. Their running backs are the strengths of their offense, so they rely heavy on them. We just have to come ready to set the edge, play physical in the run game, take on blockers, shed blockers, tackle and just try to play physical. This is going to be a physical game - probably the most physical game we'll play this year. But we're going to need our physicality to win this game.

Q: What are your impressions of Blake Bortles?

DH: He's a good quarterback. He does what they want him to do. He checks them, gets them in the right place, makes the right throws. Just try to do his job effectively and he did it at a high level yesterday. Made a lot of plays on third down. Made them with his arm, made them with his feet. He's obviously somebody who feels comfortable in the system. Plays well and has been making plays for them all year. We know he's going to come ready to play like he played yesterday. We just have to come ready to match it.

Q: Tom Brady will play his 12th conference championship game. As a fan of the game, what are your thoughts of that?

DH: Well that's his jersey number so that's pretty cool, too. I would say that it's a testament not only to Tom, but just this place, this organization, how each year is its own year. Literally, what we try to just focus on is one game at a time, one moment at a time, one practice at a time, one week at a time. Literally, we just try to do everything the right way. Bill Belichick does a great job of just ensuring that. Making sure that we respect our opponents, respect the game the right way and try to play the game the right way.

Q: How much respect did you gain from the joint practices and seeing some of the young Jaguars?

DH: We knew from the beginning they were a good football team. You could just tell. You could tell the mood around the team - they came up here and instantly they wanted to show that they were a good football team just like we are a good football team and they did. You saw it then and they didn't have Jalen Ramsey and Calais Campbell practicing at the time. And they also, I think, lost [Allen] Hurns during the week. We saw it. We saw it. We knew they were going to be a good football team and they just kept progressing, kept getting better and that's the reason why they're here right now.

Q: Do you have any idea how the Jaguars turned it around this year?

DH: They got a new coach. They got a new management with Tom Coughlin. So, obviously, I would say it's a change of mood. Talking to a couple guys when they came up here, they said their practices were a lot different, a lot harder. They were grinding harder. They were grinding different. A lot of things changed and obviously that change has put them in the right direction. It's got them playing great football and that's the reason why they're here right now.

Q: As a defensive player, how much momentum comes when the defense scores?

DH: It's a lot. Defense isn't supposed to score so obviously when you get a touchdown or any type of points defensively, it does something to not just your unit but the whole team. It's usually a momentum shift. It brings a lot of energy. When you score touchdowns, it takes pressure off the offense as well. They've been able to score a lot of touchdowns this year so it helps their offense out.

Q: How rare is it for a defensive group to be able to do that consistently?

DH: It's very. It has to do with just with the players they have out there - the front they have, the linebackers, the secondary. Like their whole defense is a special, special unit. They played well together all year. Like you said, scoring touchdowns, picking off balls, strip-sacking the quarterback - just creating turnovers and helping out their offense when they can. They do a good job of playing complementary football. That's something that we pride ourselves in doing and they do it at a high level. That's one of the reasons why they had so much success - just playing complementary football.

Q: How much do you look forward to talking with the young guys at this time of the year?

DH: Me personally, I still consider myself a young guy. Year five. We got a lot of veteran guys in there. Tom [Brady], who's been through this. Dev [Devin McCourty], who's been through this. [Matthew] Slater, [Brian] Hoyer. I just try to just do my part. Just try to be consistent. I don't want to go around trying to give no speech about this, that or the other. Because at the end of the day, all we need to go out there and do is play good football, be focused, focus on your job, focus on your technique, focus on your fundamentals - you're going to win games. So go around trying to give a rah-rah speech, no, that's not how you win. You win by playing good football and Coach Belichick lets us know that each and every day.

Q: It seems like the Jaguars play with a lot of attitude. Is that indicative to their style?

DH: Oh yeah. Attitude. Swag. Confidence. They're a confident group and they should be; the way they play, how hard they play. They deserve to play with that type of confidence and it shows every time they step onto the field.

Q: You said that you've played five years. It is possible to play in the NFL and not go to the AFC Championship game, but for you it seems like every year. Do you have to stop and pinch yourself and say, 'This is unbelievable?'

DH: It's definitely unbelievable, but when you're in it, you just try to grind away. I would say the most important thing for me, although I know I'm extremely blessed to be in this position, we work to get here. We put a lot of work in from April all the way until now. How we practice, how we lift, how we train, how we go into the film room to study, how we stay after, how we be here all day. We put the work in and it's no coincidence why we're here.

Q: What makes the Jaguars so difficult to defend in the red zone?

DH: I would say they're committed to running the ball. If you can run the ball in the red area, it's one of the easiest ways to score. Leonard Fournette is one heck of a back. Then you have Blake Bortles. When you're so committed to the run, play action is key there, misdirection, boots. I think just marrying those two up with how committed they are to the run game and then hitting some play action that definitely helps.

Q: Why do think that Coach Belichick has been able to be so successful?

DH: Like I said earlier, each year is its own year. Each day is its own day and he does a great job of just literally focusing on what you're supposed to focus on that week. Not looking down the road, not looking in the rearview mirror, but focusing on the task at hand. He does a great job of getting all his players to buy into that, myself included. Just focusing, focusing on the task at hand. And when you do that, you put all your energy and your effort into that, it allows you to have a good grasp on the game. It allows you to play the game the right way, respect the game and he just does a great job of it.

Q: You mentioned the play action with Leonard Fournette. Matt Patricia earlier today with us also mentioned the danger of trying to defend that. What is that? Is it execution, personnel? What makes them so dangerous when it comes to play action?

DH: I would say execution is one thing and just how often they run the ball. Think about it, when you're committed to the run as much as they are, when you lead the NFL in rushing, eventually people are going to try to get in that box [and] be heavy in the box. Kind of anticipate a lot more runs. You run the ball five times in a row and then pop a play action in there. A lot of the defense is thinking it's going to be a run because you've been successful in the run. Their coaching staff does a great job of just mixing it in. When he mixes it in, it creates big plays for them and allows their offense to keep moving down the field.

Q: How difficult is that for you as the deep safety of finding that balance? In play action, what do you have to do?

DH: Well, it starts with me doing my job. Me being the deep safety, my job is to protect the deep ball and not let anything get behind me as far as the pass. I let the defensive linemen and the linebackers do their job when it comes to us stopping the run. When the play action comes up, I have to do my job and just protect the deep part of the field. It really goes down to everybody doing their job, everybody being reliable. When everybody, every man does their job on the play we'll be fine.

Q: How much of an asset has it been to have Patrick [Chung] and Devin [McCourty], who can cover half the field deep if he needs to, but also he can move up and play closer to the line if need be. And those guys being so sure as it comes to tackling?

DH: It's huge. I mean, I'm biased, but I really believe that Devin is the best safety in the league. What he does - he can cover, cover receivers, cover tight ends, he can tackle, play the middle of the field, he's good in zone. So, he has the type of versatility to be able to lead the front and give the offense different looks. You kind of never know where he's going to be, and Patrick, those two guys are just very versatile players who can be put in different positions week-by-week, and count on them to make big plays and play that position at a high level. 

Q: With specifics to Leonard Fournette, a guy that big and that fast, how important is it to make him go horizontal as opposed to letting him square his shoulders?

DH: Oh yeah, definitely. It's going to be very important. This is not a guy that you want to just have a hole open and just let him hit it, because like you said, he's big, he's fast, he's strong. So, he's a guy where you want to make him kind of stop his feet, balance the ball. The main thing is going to be everybody getting to him and tackle him. Do a good job of group tackling, getting to the ball and try to force some turnovers.

Q: What are some of the things at this time of year maybe you would have on your "To-Do List" at a different time of the year, but you kind of push to when you're done?

DH: I don't want to sound like a bad husband, or a bad dad, but the only thing important right now is winning these games. I'm putting all my effort into it. My family, they know. I still try to be a good parent when I get home, and a good husband, but these are important times to this team and to me, because this is what we play for. We play to win, we play to win championships, so everybody's effort is going directly into this game, and that's across the board, because this is an important week for us and we want to make sure we give our best effort on Sunday.

Q: Maybe I should ask someone else this, but if someone needs a haircut, you'll wait?

DH: Oh, yeah. That's not even on my radar.

Q: Did you feel for Marcus Williams on the Saints yesterday? That last play of the Vikings game was just shocking.

DH: Yeah. It was a tough play for him. He's had a phenomenal year as a rookie safety. You're playing free safety, you catch yourself watching other safeties, and he's going to be a good, young player. He made plays on the ball, he had an interception in the game, had a PBU. So, he played well. It's unfortunate that that one play is going to define that game for him, but all I can tell him is just keep fighting. Don't let that play define your career. Always remember that play because it will always push you to keep grinding and hopefully push him to a new level. 

Q: How much attention did you pay to Jacksonville's secondary?

DH: You catch yourself when you carry over watching film, so you see Jacksonville play. That's a good group, I mean Jalen Ramsey is a good corner, [A.J.] Bouye is a good corner. They have a lot of talent on that defensive side of the ball.    



(On Chris Hogan's return from injury and the trust the team has in him)

"[Chris Hogan] Hoges is a pro. He was out for a while dealing with what he had. He's a tough guy just going out there and just playing and putting his heart on the line. I feel like everybody on this team does that. I think that's why they're successful. It's great just being in this locker room that are in all of the guys around here so it's definitely great to be a part of."

(On what stood out from watching Jacksonville play yesterday)

"They scored a lot of points. A lot of people were talking about their offense and all that. Obviously, their defense is legit. We know that - one of the best defenses in the league - but them scoring a lot of points, that's definitely great for them. They're got a lot of fight. They've got a lot of dogs on the team. This is a great matchup for us."

(On what stands out about Jacksonville's cornerbacks)

"They're physical guys. They've got a lot of length. They can run. They try to get their hands on you, disrupt everything that's going on. They've got a great pass rush. That helps the corners a lot. This is probably the best two that we've played against this whole year. I played against Jalen [Ramsey] ever since from college and A.J. [Bouye] when he was in Houston and I was in Indy. It's definitely going to be a good matchup."

(On how much he will appreciate these postseason moments)

"I mean I appreciate every moment - just being here, being in the NFL, being here in this locker room. I appreciate every moment. Like I said, you can't take anything for granted just being on this Earth."

(On how much Jacksonville's team speed on defense stands out compared to other NFL teams the Patriots have seen this year)

"They've got a lot of team speed at every position, honestly. When it comes to even the d-line, linebackers are fast, safeties and all that, I mean they fly around. We haven't seen a defense like that this year, I would say. We've just got to go out there and practice as hard as we can. We've got to put in the work in the film room and on the field. I think it's going to be a good game for us this week, good matchup for us all across the board. We've got to come with our A game."


(On what stands out about Jacksonville)

"They've got great players. They've got a lot of talent. They've got a good football team and they're coached very well. That's why they're in the position they're at now."

(On what he has seen from Blake Bortles)

"He's doing what he's got to do to win, whatever that takes. He's a good football player. They've got a lot of great talent around him. Like I said, that's why they're playing for the AFC Championship."

(On his memories of training camp with the Jaguars and how that compares to what he saw from them yesterday)

"Obviously, both teams have gotten better since then. Same thing - they're very talented, play hard and a very physical football team and they've got a lot of great talent."

(On what it says about the Jaguars that they went into Pittsburgh and played as well as they did in a hostile environment)

"They went in and played them very well. It really don't matter where you play them, you've still got to go out and execute your game plan and play hard and do whatever you can to win."



(On if he watched any of the other games this weekend)

"Well, there were some crazy end-of-game scenarios, but other than that you see the guys that won, the teams that won, they're playing hard. They're playing well, especially Jacksonville. It's going to be a tough defense to play against. They've got some exceptional players, some tough schemes. It's not going to be an easy game for us."

(On what stood out about Jacksonville's style of play)

"Well, their front stood out to me, the way they get after the quarterback, the way they stop the run. They were ball hawks the way they were going after the ball on every play, making it hard on us, for sure."

(On if playing in seven straight AFC Championships helps the team navigate through this week)

"I think it's a mistake if you take anything we've ever done in the past and translate it to what we're doing now. I think it's a different story. We're writing our own story this year, so what we're doing is preparing to see the Jacksonville team of this year and how we're going to beat them and be as ready as we can go to play our best football."

(On if seeing the wild finishes from yesterday emphasizes that you need to play all 60 minutes to win)

"Well, it did resonate and I think that's not a surprise knowing that this is playoff football. These are some of the best teams. They are the best teams and it doesn't matter what the scenario comes down to. It's going to be a full game and you've got to be prepared for that."

(On what stood out about Jacksonville from back in August during joint practices)

"The same things we see now. Those guys are competitive. They play hard. They're very talented. The way that they practiced was hard, so you know that they're going to improve and get better and that's what they've done and that's what we have to perform against."

(On if he's surprised to see Jacksonville back here in January after facing them during joint practices in August)

"Well, it's a unique scenario, but I'm not surprised because we knew that they were good then, as we know that they are good now."



(On how Jacksonville's offensive line looks as a unit)

"It looks good. They have a real good offensive line. We're looking forward to handling our business and stopping the run and stopping the pass, too."

(On what makes Leonard Fournette such a tough running back)

"Just his ability to break tackles, use his speed and his size."

(On if the defense feels some momentum after it starts to get some sacks and big plays going)

"I don't like to say we feel it. I like to say we use the momentum to build to next week, but we still have to respect our opponent and do our job."

(On how much fellow rookie Adam Butler and the rest of the defense have helped him stay focused throughout the year and avoid the wall that some rookies hit in a long season)

"Well, I'd say all of us, really, have gotten together after games, after practices, and kind of helped each other out, whether it was technique stuff, whether it was fundamental, whether it was just overall football. Adam has done a great job. Me and him have clicked tremendously, built much chemistry up and you can see it on the field when we play."

(On if the defense can pick up the tempo at times similar to how the offense will go up tempo with the no-huddle offense)

"Yes, it can. It doesn't matter what's put in front of us. We have to do what we have to do."

(On his memories of himself as a player from back in August when he was a rookie competing against Jacksonville in joint practices)

"Well, I guess I've changed tremendously since my first time playing against them. I've gained a lot of experience, gained fundamentals, gained knowledge of the game, so I believe I'm a better player going into this game than I was when I first started."

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