Recently, I was given the opportunity to interview three members of the New Orleans Saints defense who are entering their second year with the team: DE Martez Wilson, CB Johnny Patrick, and LB Nate Bussey.
Coincidentally, these players are sitting with a CSC scribe for their second round of interviews (Dave interviewed each of them right after the 2011 Draft, too), so I am calling this series of interviews my Second Year Study. Time will tell if we are fortunate enough to be around with these guys for a Third Year Review: Super Bowl Champs Edition series of interviews. (fingers crossed!!)
The first installment, with Martez Wilson, is right here, right now.
Before you make the jump for the goods, please join me in thanking Martez for taking the time to speak with me...Hans: This year, you are making the switch from LB to DE - how's that going? Have you played any DE before?
Martez: It's going great, I like the transition. Playing end is more natural for me. I started out playing that in high school, and I actually made the transition to linebacker when I got to college. I played middle and outside linebacker in college, and now I'm moving back to defensive end. Playing linebacker actually helped because in college we dropped into coverage a lot, and you've got to know the pass routes, you've got to know the receivers when they line up outside of you, when they interchange between two and three, so playing linebacker has helped me do that and the transition is going smoothly.
Hans: Now that you have to listen to Bill Johnson (as opposed to Joe Vitt) as your position coach, do you need a "Cajun" translation app on your phone to understand him?
Martez: Ha ha. That's funny, but an app would be nice. People would like an app for that.
Hans: What do you think about Football Outsiders ranking you the No. 2 Top Prospect "under-the-radar" player to make a difference in 2012 and beyond?
Martez: I think that's a blessing because I'm getting respect and recognition, and that feels great coming into my second year. I'm getting the chance to shine at the highest level, and I'm ready. I'm prepared for this challenge that's ahead of me. I'm ready to take what's mine. I've been working hard for a very long time, and I think I deserve what's coming to me.
Hans: The Saints are facing much adversity this year (bounty investigation, player and coach suspensions) - have you ever faced adversity like that as an individual or member of a team, and if so, how did you handle it?
Martez: No, not really. This is the first time I've faced anything like this. But as a player, you just come in and do what's asked of you. I'll just try to do my job.
Hans: What's the biggest difference between Year One as a rookie and Year Two as a returning veteran?
Martez: The biggest difference is, Year One, you're coming in trying to learn your routine: how to eat well, when to get massages, when to go to the chiropractor, how to watch film, what kinds of things you should watch for in film, what to do on each day of the week to get ready. You really learn how to become a pro in your rookie year. You watch the veterans and try to learn from them. You see them doing things you can picture yourself doing. Everything is a learning experience.
Year Two, you have more confidence. You have game experience now, you know what to expect, and you know what the coaches are looking for. And you know what it takes to be successful in the league. Year Two is all about confidence, and proving yourself after everything you've learned in Year One, pulling it all together and getting better from that.
Hans: What would the "returning veteran" you say to yourself as a rookie heading into your first training camp?
Martez: Pay attention to coaching details in film and effort, and the small details on the field. Because it's the small details on the field that a lot of people don't know about that can help you get to the quarterback, or help you make a tackle. Something like a small shift in your stance, or your alignment makes that difference. Pay attention to those small details in your work on the field.
Hans: What's your sideline/locker room demeanor? Fiery talker? Quiet supporter? Confident leader? Wallflower? Big joker?
Martez: I'm definitely hype, man. I'm always there with a lot of energy. I don't talk a lot on the field, but I talk when I have to. For the most part I just block in, I get that real aggressive dog look. When I'm around the team, I'm a leader. I talk when I need to talk, I talk to the players I need to talk to, and I talk to the coaches. As far as my game goes, I'm always hyped and I'm jacked. I'm always in it, and it's just in me.
Hans: What do you like most about training camp?
Martez: It's just a good learning experience. You're competing against other great athletes, all for the same job. You're all competing and you all love what you do. You've got to come with your game face on, and you've got to come to work hard. That's what I like. I like that challenge. I‘m able to compete with other great athletes around me and to learn from them as well. I think that's the biggest advantage of training camp. It's a real learning process, and a time to get your confidence back up right before the season.
Hans: What's the most difficult part of it?
Martez: The heat. In New Orleans, the heat, oh my god. And the humidity can be real, real bad, sometimes, and to me that's the hardest part.
Hans: Did you learn anything from the older guys about how to deal with it?
Martez: Yeah, sure. You've just got to learn to stay hydrated and eat right, and get your rest, too.
Hans: How different are the defenses of Steve Spagnuolo and Gregg Williams?
Martez: Last year, we were more of a blitzing team, and in man-to-man a lot. We were going to load the box up on you, send a lot of people at you, and basically try to confuse you. This year we've got more of four line, five man blitzes, we drop the ends, we're in zone - it goes back and forth. We also blitz, as well, though. That's pretty much the difference.
Hans: When did you first realize that you had a legitimate shot at being a professional football player?
Martez: It was after my freshman year in high school, when I started playing defensive end. My freshman year, I was playing freshman football and frosh-soph ball (football with freshmen and sophomores). There was this one team, they kept running the ball on the same side and would gain 10 yards every play. So I told my coach, "Put me in. Coach, I can make that tackle!" When I got out there, I made the play three times in a row. I stopped it, and they had to punt the ball. And ever since then Coach said, "You're a defensive end." I just continued to get better, and make the team, working with it, and then staying in more at defensive end, even though I played offense and liked catching touchdowns and all that.
Hans: Did it change you much, when you found a position that you played really well and thought you could be a pro at it?
Martez: It definitely changed me growing up, and then especially in my junior year of high school. That's the year I really got high recognition, that's when it really clicked all year, and I realized I could be really good at this. Then I started looking at other veterans in the league, who I thought were good, and whose names were big around the league, and who a lot of people looked up to, as well. So I put all that together and just stayed focused.
Hans: Did you do anything big with money from your first NFL check or after you signed your first contract?
Martez: I helped my parents out a lot, and helped my family out a lot. I bought myself a car, and got a good bachelor pad, you could say. I did all the things I needed to do, but I didn't go crazy. I saved some as well. I went to places I've never been before. I think I did all the regular things that people would do their first time out in the league with money.
Hans: What NFL player did you most admire/follow as a child?
Martez: When I was really young, I liked Jerry Rice a lot, and Reggie White, definitely Ray Lewis. I liked more players than teams when I was little, and I had quite a few. I was a big TO fan, and I liked Randy Moss. I could keep going, but there are a lot of them.
Hans: Did you play any other sports growing up?
Martez: I ran track in high school. I ran the 100, 200 meters, and 4x100, 4x200.
Hans: If you weren't playing football what do you think you'd be doing?
Martez: I'd definitely be in real estate or in business, because I have a lot of entrepreneurial skills. I'd definitely want to be the boss in my own business.
Hans: Do you have any hobbies? How do you like to spend your free time?
Martez: Yeah, I play video games: Playstation, Xbox, Wii. I work out a lot, party sometimes, go out to eat, and play cards. I'm adventurous and I like to have fun. I definitely like to be around people. I'm a social guy.
Hans: What non-sports figure do you most admire? Why?
Martez: My father. He's a very hard worker. He raised me very well. He showed me what hard work is. He showed me that whatever you believe in, you can be, basically. He tried to make sure I didn't make the mistakes that he made growing up, and he did that.
Hans: Have you ever read Canal Street Chronicles before?
Hans: Is there anything you'd like to say to all the Saints fans?
Martez: Every time you see #95 get a sack, I need to hear the Who Dat Chant, that Who Dat Anthem from the beginning of the game. We need to hear that more often throughout the game. We feed off the fans' energy, and if we just heard that more often throughout the game, whenever we make a big play, that'd be nice.
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So, that's it for the first part of the Second Year Study trilogy. Watch out for the next two chapters later this week.
Thanks again to Martez Wilson for sharing his thoughts with us.