Recently, I was given the opportunity to interview two members of the New Orleans Saints defense who are entering their second year with the team: DE Martez Wilson and CB Johnny Patrick. (For those alert readers noticing something different here, I was unable to get the Nate Bussey interview scheduled before camp started - d'oh!)
Coincidentally, these players are sitting with a CSC scribe for their second round of interviews (Dave interviewed both 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 part of the second installment, with Johnny Patrick, is right here, right now, and it features mostly Saints-related football questions. The more personal and/or non-Saints related section of the interview will appear later today.
Before you make the jump for the goods, please join me in thanking Johnny for taking the time to speak with me...With Tracy Porter gone, it looks like you're going to be asked to do much more in 2012. What have the coaches said to you about it, and what should we look for from you?
They just asked me to be ready to play a better role than I did last year. But with Tracy Porter here last year, and Leigh Torrence here also, I still had a chance to get on the field and play nickel, so I'm looking forward to the opportunity. I'm motivated, and I'm hungry for it.
Are you practicing/preparing differently than you were in 2011?
Most definitely. I'm more focused, I have a good understanding because of the OTAs that we had this year that I didn't have last year. I'm having a chance to play with the guys more because last year at the beginning of the season I tore my MCL, so now I'm getting a chance to play with the 1s, and that's good work for me.
Ken Fla-jole, Flay-joll, Fla-hole (I can hardly say it, much less spell it) has come on board as the new secondary coach - what does he do well? What's his coaching style?
Flaj (flayj), we call him Coach Flaj. He's a good coach, he teaches us technique, basically, and the fundamentals of the game, just going back from base one, where we had to start from because we got a lot of new guys. The players are new for them, and right now we're trying to learn this and learn that, and really, they're all aggressive coaches. Right now we're just trying to get a feel for each other.
The Saints are facing much adversity this year (Bounty investigation, player/coach suspensions) - have you ever faced anything like this as an individual or member of a team, and if so, how did you handle it?
Oh yeah, most definitely. Going back to last year, I tore my MCL. I went through all my high school and college careers, I've never been hurt, and I didn't know how to deal with that situation. And I'm coming into a league where nothing is guaranteed, so I'm having to go out there against guys who are just as good as me, and then I'm facing an MCL tear. So I had to take a step back and work at that, and now I'm in a situation where they're asking me to start. Right now, I'm feeling like everything's in my head.
What's the biggest difference between Year One as a rookie and Year Two as a returning veteran?
My focus and my leadership are way better than they were at this point last year. I'm talking more, thinking more, feeling more confident in myself. I'm excited, man. I just feel I have a lot to prove this year, because we're trying to replace Tracy Porter, and we're talking about a guy who won a Super Bowl for the New Orleans Saints. I'm coming into a situation where I feel like I have to be that guy that everybody else can count on. The nickel position is not an easy position to play. Not even corner, like being out on an island. It's the easiest position to learn, but the hardest position to play. So I feel like I'm in the situation where I have to play hard and fight hard to get where I want to be.
What would the "returning veteran" you say to yourself as a rookie heading into your first training camp?
Just be more confident in yourself. I just needed to have more confidence in what I could do, because I'm out there for a reason. I think that's the only thing I lacked last year, because I was so afraid of making a mistake, I was so afraid of doing something wrong, so I wasn't playing as fast as I could. I think I had a pretty good minicamp, and everything went well for me.
What's your sideline/locker room demeanor? Fiery talker? Quiet supporter? Confident leader? Wallflower? Sneaky prankster? Big joker?
I'm very laid back. I don't talk much on the sideline, but when something happens, I'm excited. I'm excited for my guys. I encourage them if something happens bad, though. I'm a very positive person on that, and I don't think on anything negative on the sideline.
What do you like most about training camp?
It's good just being around the guys, getting to know the guys a lot, and seeing how they are, and spending time with the coaches so you can get a feel for them. I mean, it's football, and playing football is what we do. I've been playing football since I was six years old, so I love it, and love the playing situation.
What's the most difficult part of it?
It's the time. The time from being there early in the morning, until late at night every day, physically and mentally draining your body. You have to be very tough in both of those, and in the tough situations, you have to really love the game to do that.
How different are the defenses of Steve Spagnuolo and Gregg Williams? How will it manifest on the field?
I feel like they're both aggressive coaches. They're going to draw up the schemes, and help us a lot. We played a little more man with Williams last year, and we'll play a little more zone this year with Spags. There's going to be some different things you're going to see though, but right now we're still learning Spags and how he wants us to play. But it's going to be fun to watch, I can guarantee that.
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Thus ends Johnny Patrick's Second Year Study Interview: Part One. Dish a bit on this in the comment section, and then come back after lunch for Part Two.