Transcripts from Hondo's EXCLUSIVE interviews from the Lions OTA's!
H: How are you feeling physically, have you recovered from the hip injury?
JS: There are still some things that I need to get better strength-wise with my hip, but overall, recoveryâ€™s coming along good.
H: You definitely seem to be more comfortable in the schemes in the blocking, am I reading that right?
JS: You know, everything takes time.Â Iâ€™ve noticed that Iâ€™m more comfortable with the calls, more comfortable with the schematics of our offense.
H: How excited are you to be a part of this team; I mean, if you look at it, where does the defense line up to stop you?
JS: Pretty much, I donâ€™t think they can, but the exciting thing about it is that we have so much depth and great talent, we know we can get a lot of things done come the season.
H: Weâ€™re really excited to have you in Detroit, talk about being a part of this team.
EM: Iâ€™m excited too, I got a new home, a new place to hang my helmet â€“ Iâ€™m excited about the guys on the team, Foster, Dominic, all the Iâ€™ve gotten to become close to; I think itâ€™s gelling well.
H: Now youâ€™re not only a player, but an owner; talk about being involved in the arena football league.
EM: You know, it was something that I thought I would become a silent partner in, but the more it evolved, the more I got involved, and now I almost own half of the team; Iâ€™m going down to Albany more often than not.
H: You are a champion, youâ€™ve been on champion teams.Â Will you talk about your impressions of Detroit now?
EM: Being on a champion team, hopefully by now we all know the plays are the same.Â We run the same plays, and the talent level is almost the same too, itâ€™s the intangibles that make the championship team.Â And I think thatâ€™s where weâ€™re going, with the chemistry, the accountability that each player has for each other, I think that thatâ€™s huge, so Iâ€™m excited for where this teamâ€™s going.
H: Youâ€™re a high character guy; not only did Detroit get a good football player, they got a good person.Â Talk about what character means to you.
EM: I donâ€™t know, Iâ€™m glad that people think that way about me, and itâ€™s just being accountable for my actions.Â Coach said today, a lot of us are going to go on vacations, weâ€™re going to go our separate ways today, and come training camp, take care of your name.Â And that meant a lot to me.Â And it should to a lot of people.Â When you talk about character, who do you represent?Â Itâ€™s me, my family, my mother, my father, so thatâ€™s all I think about.
H: Alright Gerald, youâ€™ve gotta show off your Boise State shirt.
G: Theyâ€™re my boys, I got to.Â Gotta show my boys, where I came from.Â Glad to be here, but you canâ€™t forget where you came from.
H: When I talked to you the day after you got drafted on the phone, you were nervous, and that first rookie mini-camp, I saw a guy this last week at OTAâ€™s now whoâ€™s getting comfortable and knows why heâ€™s here.Â Youâ€™ve matured awful fast over these last few weeks, havenâ€™t you?
G: Yeah, my goal was just to get the defense down and get a good understanding of my responsibilities as a safety, and over time with those OTAs Iâ€™ve been getting more comfortable; Iâ€™m not making too many rookie mistakes.Â Of course thatâ€™s gonna happen, Iâ€™ve been learning from all the mistakes I have been making and Iâ€™m just learning from the veterans, the coaches, and Iâ€™m feeling more comfortable back there.
H: For you, personally, talk about, youâ€™re in the NFL now; this is your home, this is what you do now.Â Talk about that pinching yourself moment that says, â€œI made it.â€
G: Itâ€™s just a dream come true.Â Every time I wake up, Iâ€™m just grateful because itâ€™s something I always wanted to do since I was a kid.Â And for me to work so hard, for so long, from now on itâ€™s just wake up every day and realize Iâ€™m an NFL player â€“ itâ€™s unbelievable.
H: I noticed you today at practice â€“ you had your helmet off, looking at all those kids, and I thought, heâ€™s thinking, wow, how far Iâ€™ve come â€“ you appreciate that youâ€™re in the NFL now, donâ€™t you?
G: Absolutely.Â Just looking at the kids, I can see my little brother in one of the kids.Â Heâ€™s a sophomore in high school, and that wasnâ€™t me not too long ago where I was thinking, I was one of those kids looking at the pros practice; up close and personal, and I was enjoying every minute of it.
H: Daniel, I gotta tell you.Â Last year, you showed up to your press conference after they picked you â€“ youâ€™re nervous, excited â€“ but watching you over these OTAs, youâ€™ve matured, youâ€™ve stepped up into your role and Iâ€™m expecting a big season out of you.
D: Yeah, Iâ€™m looking forward to having a better season than I had last year.Â Iâ€™ve got a year of experience up under my belt, coming from last year I know what to expect; last year I didnâ€™t kind of know what to expect so I just jumped into it, but now everythingâ€™s falling into place and Iâ€™m more comfortable right now.
H: You seem like youâ€™re not thinking.Â Last year, there were times when I felt like you were thinking, and one of the things that is your strength is your ability to have instincts.Â Do you see those maybe coming through now that youâ€™re comfortable?
D: Right now Iâ€™m just reacting instead of thinking.Â I know what Iâ€™m doing and things are much more clear and much more detailed on defense on this side of the ball, so my alignment and my technique is a whole lot better from last year, so right now that creates a little less thinking, so I just have to react right now.
H: One of the things I like about you is you appreciate this opportunity Godâ€™s given you to be an NFL football player.Â Would you talk about that?
D: Coming from inner-city Chattanooga, I grew up in a house of 14 to 15, itâ€™s a blessing to get to this point right now, and still have the opportunity to keep on playing and play as long as I can.
H: Dante, youâ€™ve been around here a long time now, youâ€™re the emotional leader of this team, you have to be thrilled to see the changes this team has undergone.
D: Definitely, man, and itâ€™s a good thing.Â You can see the team chemistry is a lot better than what it was five or six years ago, coaching is different, not to say any coach was a bad coach or not, but weâ€™re just putting in a whole lot of work.
H: Is it true that boss really gives you hints with the women?
D: No, cut. (Laughs)
H: My friend, youâ€™re a lot more confident than you were that first rookie mini-camp.
J: Yeah, I am, a lot more; everythingâ€™s kinda starting to sink in, slowing it down for me a little bit on the field â€“ Iâ€™m a lot more comfortable with what Iâ€™m doing so I can play faster.
H: It was hard those first few practices, there was so much going on, it was almost like your head was spinning.Â Do you feel like, â€œOkay, Iâ€™m getting it.â€?
J: Yeah, I do.Â I worked with Coach Snow and Coach Clem and some of the linebackers after practice, and do key drills and watch film, and do board work so Iâ€™ve been doing that since OTAs started and everything has started to slow down.
H: Are you gonna go home, or are you gonna stay here and work?
J: Iâ€™m staying here and working.
H: Good for you.
R: Tell us about the pin on your shoulder.
R: Highest score in bowling.Â Did you break triple figures?
R: How many games?
J: Just one.
R: Right-handed or left-handed?
H: This team has undergone a metamorphosis â€“
J: Iâ€™m not done talking about this [bowling pin].Â (Laughs)
H: Itâ€™s been pretty incredible to see where theyâ€™ve gone.
J: You know, this is, yeah, weâ€™ve done everything we needed to do in the offseason, now we have to be able to translate it when it comes to games and I think, I usually donâ€™t put a lot of importance in the preseason, but I think this year the preseason is gonna be a big deal for us, because the only thing we have to get over now is the mental hurdle of things that have gone on here in the past, get over that hurdle, and once we get over that, weâ€™re gonna be fine.Â When adversity comes, we have to be able to handle that.
R: What is a hurdle, and how would you define a hurdle?
J: The hurdle is the first time things kind of go south on you, thatâ€™s when everything goes wrong.Â Instead of just giving into it, they resolve, and the leaders being able to step up and the guys really follow the leaders, and instead of sitting in the background and hiding and trying to cover their own butts.
R: Drew, now that the OTAâ€™s over, the next thing to come is training camp.Â How do you feel, how are things going?
H: Well, I think Iâ€™m starting to get an idea of whatâ€™s going on, what itâ€™s like to be a professional football player, and Iâ€™ve got a little time now to take a step back and really digest things and whatâ€™s going on on offense and even what itâ€™s like to be an NFL player, and the lifestyle youâ€™re living and coming here and getting work done and watching film and beginning to get a better understanding of whatâ€™s going on that way and then just working on mechanics that I know I need to get better at.
R: I want to ask you about the mechanics â€“ I know youâ€™re retooling, I retooled my golf swing a couple years ago and Iâ€™m still working on it.Â I just donâ€™t have it tooled.Â How do you feel?
D: Itâ€™s going well.Â In this time period, Iâ€™ve been able to correct some things and it started to get easier and easier, itâ€™s one of those things that you have to get repetitions at, and continue to work on it, kind of focus on and once you correct one thing and feel comfortable with it, itâ€™s a matter of moving onto the next and trying to have it be a process and once it all kind of comes together it starts to make sense.
R: So whatâ€™s Drew Stanton going to do here in the next week or two between OTA and Training Camp?
D: Now I think itâ€™s getting my life settled outside of football but also coming here, like I said, and since everythingâ€™s starting to slow down, youâ€™re not getting new plays every single day; Iâ€™m watching film, understanding everything, the little nuances that go with this offense and make it special, so thatâ€™s what Iâ€™m gonna do and also like I said, the mechanical â€“ getting in here and throwing it, and doing those things and trying to get an understanding of what itâ€™s gonna take to be successful.
R: Last question â€“ do you feel like youâ€™re a part of the team right now, this has been a pretty intense OTA, it seems like the team really seems to stick together â€“ how do you feel as a Lion?
D: Great.Â Iâ€™m excited.Â Iâ€™ve learned a lot in a short period of time â€“ not just the Xâ€™s and Oâ€™s, but also what it takes to be an NFL player and trying to learn from John and Dan, both of those guys, and get a better understanding and feel of what this locker room atmosphere is like.Â Itâ€™s exciting, itâ€™s something thatâ€™s kind of new and unique.
R: Have you given Hoyer any advice?
D: Iâ€™ve talked to him a little bit, and thatâ€™s the beauty of it and Iâ€™m gonna be close and go up to Michigan State a little bit and check up on him and try and give him some advice.Â Thereâ€™s little things you can do; Iâ€™ve been in that position before and he knows my doorâ€™s always open and Iâ€™m rooting for him and Iâ€™m excited about the position he has right now.Â Â
H: Now that your first off-season is done with the Lions, talk about that.
T: It went great.Â Chemistry is awesome and it was a great start right before training camp.
H: Personally, what did you come out of this off-season activities with?Â What surprised you with the Lions?
T: Theyâ€™re competitive and extremely talented.Â The Lionsâ€™ record doesnâ€™t speak for how talented this team is, and itâ€™s very exciting and very motivational to see the possibility of what we can be, what we can do, and Iâ€™m fired up about it.
H: Tell me about Drew, he went to Michigan State and you guyâ€™s gotta hold down the fort now.
T: Iâ€™m just glad Drewâ€™s here because thereâ€™s power in numbers.
H: First of all, Jeff, youâ€™ve got a couple of Spartans in your backfield now â€“ youâ€™ve got Drew Stanton and T.J. Duckett, is it weird being a Wolverine?
J: Itâ€™s not bad.Â T.J. walks in here and I never heard what kind of guy he was, and heâ€™s a great guy, and at this point in our career, none of that stuff really matters, you know, of course, when the Michigan-Michigan State game comes around we start getting on each other, but right now, Iâ€™m just happy theyâ€™re teammates of mine, you know, weâ€™re right in the battle together now.
We apologize to the great Lions fans that canâ€™t watch this as a video which would be much better for the fans.Â The new recent stupid NFL rules prohibitÂ that.Â Â Thanks Goodell BUT MOST OF ALL, THANK THE TEAMS.Â GOODELL WORKS FOR THEM AND THEY ARE ALLOWING HIM TO DO THIS!