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McLaurin speaks on past, present and future goals

By The Sports Pulse Staff

Photo by Michael Smith/The Sports Pulse

Q+A with Washington Redskins wide receiver Terry McLaurin

On how he is managing the virtual offseason:

“Well this has been very different. This being my first full offseason, you kind of go in there with a mindset knowing what to expect, but then it doesn’t necessarily go that way. Nobody could have planned for this to happen. It’s actually kind of ironic, I’ve been working out since the Wednesday after the Super Bowl and at the time I felt like it was a little early to be starting to work out from what I was hearing from other people, but it actually worked out in my favor because before everything got shut down I had two full months where I was working out, running routes, trying to improve the things that I set out to improve on in the offseason. It’s been different, it’s been an adjustment, but I feel like in the pros you have to be able to prepare for everything, that’s why you’re a pro. I feel like our team has been working really hard individually and trying to come together in Zoom calls and just try to be as prepared as possible. Me personally, I just want to make sure that I continue to run routes, lifting some, but mainly just making sure I’m running a lot because getting back to Ashburn when we come back for camp that’s what I’m going to be asked to do, run a lot of routes and get right into it. We don’t have any time to waste.”

On what motivated him to start working out right after the Super Bowl:

“I took the first month off, I didn’t really do anything in the month of January, it had been a long year basically from the Rose Bowl to that last game where we played against Dallas. But I just felt like it was time for me to just take the month off, get my body right and just get back to it. I felt like I still had a lot of things that I was continuing to try and improve on. I felt like I didn’t have any time to waste. Really what was a contributing factor as well was just thinking of playing football for a full year and then getting right into training for my rookie year. I knew my body could handle it, but at the same time I just wanted to get some time off and then jump right into it.”

On what he wants to improve on this year:

“Just continuing to attack the ball. I kind of expected press coverage to be tough in the NFL, but those are really what win games I feel like, when you have a receiver that can win those one-on-one battles, so continue to try to dominate catching the ball, contested catches. And just continue to make sure my feet are clean, continue to make good habits the way I run routes, the way I come out of my routes, the body language I’m giving to the quarterback. And then just the mental side of the game with just studying myself, seeing what tells I’m possibly giving because now teams have a full year of film on myself so some of the things that I may have possibly been doing in the past may not work as easily. I just try to continue to focus on what I can control and not get complacent. While I’m happy with what I did last year, it’s done and over with and I’m excited to get started for 2020.”

On QB Dwayne Haskins Jr.:

“[QB] Dwayne’s [Haskins Jr.] looked great. I’ve been here working out with him in Virginia the last month or so and he looks really cut up, he’s slimmed down. He’s having fun again. I feel like a lot was thrown at him his first year and I’m not making any excuses for him at all, but I feel like just his focus is great right now. Physically, mentally, his personal life, he’s cleaning some things up as well. He’s ready to prove himself right really and just be the leader and the quarterback that this franchise needs and deserves, and he knows it’s going to come with work and dedication, but he’s taking the right steps. He’s just not worried about throwing with no opposition right now – that’s not really too hard – but he can’t wait to get back when we get with our teammates and seeing some other teams this season and being able to showcase what he’s been working on this whole offseason. He looks really good and I’m happy for how far he’s come.”

On how his life has changed since breakout his rookie season:

“That’s a really good question because the attention is different for me. When you play at Ohio State you get that type of attention, but I was kind of the guy who just did the dirty work, stayed behind the scenes and made plays when they presented themselves. Now, I’m kind of in a role where last year I was expected to do a lot and I welcomed that, I really felt like I was prepared for that, but the media requests and the attention is just a little different. I’m trying to come out of my – I wouldn’t say it’s a shell because I say I’m an extrovert – but just getting used to kind of being possibly a voice for your team and being one of the leading young players is very intriguing for myself. I just try to take it in stride, be humble, not be complacent with what I’ve done because there are so many things I feel like I can still do to get better and help our team, so with a new staff my mentality coming into camp is to prove it like I tried to do for Coach [Jay] Gruden and our staff last year coming in with a day one mentality trying to learn as much as I can and just being a guy who can take that next step and somebody that can continue to be depended on this upcoming season.”

On working out with teammates WR Kelvin Harmon and WR Steven Sims Jr.:

“I don’t really try to get into being the alpha per se, but I know I try to set a good pace to our workouts and things like that, try to go first when we’re running routes, try to run the routes right, try to set the right example for the guys that we’re throwing with and just try to make it look good. Trying to make [QB] Dwayne [Haskins Jr.] feel as comfortable as possible is my main objective. Just making sure I’m coming out there with a focused mindset with what I’m trying to do to get better. I feel like when you go out to workout you should have a plan for what you want to get done, what you want to accomplish and you shouldn’t just be out there just doing things, so I try to visualize coverages, I try to visualize plays. We have guys that are out there that are kind of shadowing, giving us looks. Just trying to take the next step in really honing my game, but [WR] Steven [Sims Jr.] and [WR] Kelvin [Harmon] look great. I can clearly see the improvement that they’ve made in their games and I’m just excited to be a part of that group. Whether people see me as the alpha or not, I just want to be a guy who is a guy who can dominate and help this team.”

On where the receivers may line up in the offense:

“[Wide Receivers Coach Jim Hostler] and [Offensive Coordinator Scott Turner] have expressed where they’ve possibly seen me playing the X, but they don’t want me to get so bogged down in just,  I’m going to play the X and I won’t play the Z or even the slot. I’ve been trying to learn it all conceptually and I feel like that gives our team versatility, I feel like it gives me versatility and it’s something that I feel I can handle mentally just learning conceptually this new offense. It’s not too hard, they break it down pretty easy for us. The next step is just getting out there and doing it. I feel like I learn well taking notes and doing the Zoom meetings, but getting out there and physically getting the reps, the good reps and the bad reps is what’s really going to make me fully comfortable in this offense. I’m excited to play wherever they put me, to be honest. X is kind of like your boundary receiver, your one-on-one guy. Your Z is kind of like your flanker who moves with the formation and your S is like your typical slot, he can move anywhere as well. In this offense, which is nice, I can be the ‘X,’ but really I’m the Z in a certain formation, so that versatility is really important for what I think Coach Turner and our offense is trying to get done this year.”

On how learning this offense is different:

“The details of each system is obviously different, the way they may call a route, the depths, the way they teach it is possibly different, but I just try to focus on the details. I feel like if you can have a big picture awareness you can learn almost any offense. If you focus on just one position when a coach tells you that you’re going to play this position and that’s all you focus on, well if you get in a two-minute situation you could end up on the opposite side of the field where you’re playing the X like I said earlier, but you’re really the Z in the formation. That’s why it just helps to learn conceptually, that’s what I’ve found that’s worked best for me over the years and I just want to continue to learn as much as I can.”

On organizing workouts with teammates:

“In Ohio State, it was a lot easier because we were still all on campus for the most part. In college, you maybe get three or four off-weekends typically in a whole year, so you’re pretty much around each other to throw. Now when you’re in the NFL and the season is over with, you have really no ‘obligations’ until you get organized practices started. [QB] Dwayne [Haskins Jr.] tried to get in contact with us pretty early, we had plans of possibly going to South Florida, rent out an Air BnB and just be all together and run routes. Obviously, coronavirus hit and those plans went left, but I’ve been in Indy for a while and I was training early in Florida, but I wanted to come back to Ashburn and get connected with Dwayne and the other receivers. He’s been hitting us up really all offseason and it’s just everybody’s schedules and with the virus and things like that we wanted to make sure first of all that we were all going to be safe and healthy, and then we could find a time that would work, so it’s been great so far.”

On WR Kelvin Harmon and WR Steven Sims Jr.:

“[WR] Kelvin [Harmon] is moving really well. He has a great burst in the way he’s running his routes. His feet are clean, he’s always had really good hands. When we’re connecting on deep balls, usually everybody kind of expects me being the fast guy I’m going to hit on them all and things like that, but Kelvin’s timing has been great and he and [QB] Dwayne [Haskins Jr.] are really building that chemistry. With [WR] Steven Sims [Jr.], I feel like he’s probably made one of the biggest jumps to me personally because of how clean his feet are. He’s always been fast, he’s always been quick, but sometimes he possibly would slip, so whatever he’s been working on – I know he’s been working with D-Rob, the receivers coach – but you could really tell his feet are so clean and the way he’s running his route his stems looks the same. I’m really excited to see him flourish in an offense that can showcase his versatility inside or out. ”

On if he has changed anything about his process in the last year:

“I try to come in with a mentality of ‘I can’t afford to lose,’ in a sense that when you’re seen as a number one receiver or a guy that’s heavily depended on, you can’t afford to lose too many reps. Obviously, the other guy on the opposite side is really good, so you really got to train your mind, train your body to win all the time in everything you do. I feel like I try to train that way, I try to run routes that way, I try to visualize that way and in the mental side of the game just studying yourself and your opponent. And just being open to criticism as well. I feel like [WR] Steven [Sims Jr.], [QB] Dwayne [Haskins Jr.], [WR] Kelvin [Harmon] and any of the other receivers that we’ve thrown with have given me possible tips and I’m open to all that. I feel like that’s the only way you can grow and get better, so coming into this year I’m still trying to take that same approach, but I just continue on to be that guy that on third down there’s no confusion who the ball is coming to and make the defense still try to stop it. That just comes with work, that comes with timing and I feel like we can possibly develop that.”

On Offensive Coordinator Coach Turner:

“I’ve had two separate private conversations with [Offensive Coordinator Scott Turner], one when they first got hired and another about a month ago when we kind of broke down how things were going. He checked up on how I’m liking the offense, do I have any questions, so it’s been a real team effort. If we have questions, I feel like we can come to our coaches and ask because it’s just so different for everybody. I feel like the biggest thing that stands out about this offense and what Coach Turner wants to do is they just want to push the ball down the field and have some explosive plays, spread teams out. Obviously, we have some great backs at our disposal, so I know they’ll be incorporated in, but a lot of our concepts and a lot of this offense is downfield throws and that’s what I feel like can really help with a quarterback that throws the ball like [QB] Dwayne [Haskins Jr.] and the receivers that we have, not just including me, [WR] Steven [Sims Jr.] and [WR] Kelvin [Harmon], but with the other receivers that we have I feel like this could be a very receiver-friendly offense. We just got to make sure that we’re keyed into what we need to be doing on every play.”

On what he makes of the protests:

“Obviously, with everything going on in this country, the spotlight that this is taking during the coronavirus, not all eyes are on it. I feel like it’s just terrible that something like that had to happen for people to put more focus on it now. This has been going on for years. I felt like until the people who aren’t affected are as passionate and care about those who are, then there can’t be change. Just the fact that we have black athletes and actors and actresses and I feel like they’re celebrated across the country for the most part, but do people really appreciate their black women and black men at the end of the day? First and foremost, I’m a black man and at the end of the day this football thing will be over, and I’ll have to raise my family and raise my kids in a world that I hope is inclusive that’s built on equality. But racism still exists and we can’t hid from that, but the way we can move forward is we’re having those conversations. People who know what it’s like to be in those situations are educating those who do not. And those who do not know what it’s like to be Black or be in those situations are empathetic enough to understand that they may not know what’s going on, but they’re willing to help and be part of the solution and not the problem. And that’s what we need more of as a country. I don’t want to be somebody who’s sitting down here just talking like I have all the answers because I don’t, but I do know what it’s like to be a Black man and the importance that it has to me and where I come from, and I just want to live in a place where everybody can be comfortable being who they are and don’t have to look over their shoulder about any type of injustice. That’s kind of how I feel and going forward I want to be a part of any solution that I can.”

On returning to football after an eventful offseason:

“Football is what I love to do. I can’t think of a better blessing in my life to be playing the game that I love. When you get through the course of such a long NFL season and you get to the end, it’s like man, I’m ready for that break. That burning desire is still inside of you to continue to get better and continue to improve. Now with us having a new staff, we’re just all looking forward to being on the field again. I feel like sports is something that this country needs as well. The comradery of it, the togetherness that it brings. Hopefully as long as everything is safe and the health professionals we trust immensely, and we’re very thankful for them by the way, the way they protected us and kept us on the need to know with this virus. I’m just excited to get back playing football with my teammates and my coaches.”

On how he feels going into the 2020 season:

“I do feel really great actually. I’m between about 208 and 212 [pounds] around there, I try to stay at 208. I mean I feel great, the way I’m running my routes, the way I’m catching the ball, I feel like the chemistry that me and [QB] Dwayne [Haskins Jr.] have right now is really great. People automatically assume because we played in college that it was automatically going to click, but we’re learning a new offense and we’re going to adjust it to the NFL. We didn’t use that as an excuse, we just tried to continue to work, continue to learn and grow. I feel like we’re just pushing each other as well as our other rookie classmates, and we’re just going to try to put our best foot forward, and just work hard and not say too much, but just work and let our play do the talking. I’m really excited to get back to football because now, I won’t have to hear about the rookie year anymore, we kind of just move forward, and look forward to hopefully a very successful 2020.”

On if he is his biggest critic:

“I’m definitely my biggest critic for sure. I’d like to think so. One thing I learned in college from [Ohio State Wide Receivers] Coach [Brian] Hartline, which was very beneficial because he played at this level, is, you know when you’re practicing and you’re playing, you know what’s a good route, you know what’s a good rep, you know your to do list is checked off on every single rep. I try to do that in practice and running routes in games. Just trying to continue to push myself to newer heights, newer limits. I don’t try to put numbers on it like hey, I plan on having done this many yards, this many catches. Just being a guy who’s productive. Whatever that means for our team, that’s what it means. I also want to be a guy who can be a dominant receiver in this league. I don’t shy away from that, that’s a type of expectation I have with myself. That’s the type of preparation I’m preparing for. Lord stays the same, I stay healthy. The only solidified goal I have for myself this year is just trying to play every game, being out there for my team, and trying to make the plays when they depend on me. I’m really looking forward to taking that next step, and seeing what it’s like being a guy that’s probably more focused on my defenses, how I have to adjust my game and continue to be successful.”

On having another veteran receiver on the roster:

“I trust anybody who our front office and our coaching staff believe that can help our team win. That’s what I’m about first and foremost. I’m coming from a college where, your not necessarily going to be a thousand yard receiver and have 80 catches and things like that. You have to learn to make the most of your opportunities and when you get them, and then be a part of like a team atmosphere. The offense and the team’s success is more important than your own individual success. If the coaches and our front office feel like they can bring in somebody that can help our team, I’m all for it, it doesn’t change my mentality at all. I’m still expecting myself to come in here and be a receiver that’s very productive and accountable, and somebody that we can trust to make a big play. I’m excited, I feel like we have a very young nucleus of receivers, even with the rookies coming in, and it’s kind of cool to see that this new staff isn’t allowing us to try to take shape and take mold for this offense.

On veterans he has worked out with this offseason:

When I was in Florida at Marino’s training facility, I worked with a few. [RB] LeSean McCoy, [New York Jets RB] Frank Gore was really big for me, just to see a guy like that who is obviously older in the late part of his career, walking hall of famer, it’s kind of like being around [RB Adrian Peterson], to be honest. Being around a guy like Frank Gore, the way he practices, the way he attacks the work outs, he doesn’t take any reps off. It really, I’m a guy like that, but it even pushed me even more, to see a guy like that who’s on the tail end of his career but just being so productive and working so hard. That’s kind of a goal of mine coming in the offseason as well, being around some NFL guys, some NFL vets, whoever I can be around to kind of be a sponge and soak up whatever knowledge they have. It was cool being around guys like him and I feel like I learned a lot. He actually even invited me to come back out in the summer, I don’t know if I’ll make it back down there, but just to earn his respect in such a short amount of time, that’s the stuff that I take pride in.”

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Del Rio speaks about Young, the new look defense and return of the ice cream man uniforms?

Washington Redskins Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio Q+A

By The Sports Pulse

On what he’s seen out of DE Chase Young in the virtual meetings: 

“Well, it’s obviously a difficult time to kind of approach this. You’re excited to get your hands on your rookie class and really for us, as a first-time staff, get in and get working with all of our players. So we’ve not been able to do that in person, but we’ve done a great job, I think, of going through the meetings and going through the install and Chase has been doing what he’s supposed to be doing. He’s been paying attention; he’s been learning the system. For me, I just can’t wait to get going with him, but he’s doing all that he can right now as a member of our defensive line, a member of our Washington Redskins team. I think the sky’s the limit for him in terms of what he’ll be able to bring to us. We obviously have big designs, we think he’s a really good player, and we’re looking forward to getting him involved.”

On if Young can fit the mold of being a premier pass rusher:

“No, we haven’t seen him yet but I’ve watched enough tape. He’s going to be a real good player for us. And yeah, I’ve been very fortunate. My first year as a defensive coordinator at Carolina [Panthers], we had [Former DE] Julius Peppers. Obviously I go to Denver [Broncos] and we have [OLB] Von Miller. And then I’m in Oakland [Raiders] and we have [OLB] Khalil Mack. So when you have special players like that, very impactful players. In particular, if they’re about doing it the right way and everything that we’ve gathered in terms of trying to make the decision to take him where we did indicates that he’s a guy that loves football, that’s going to be a great teammate for us.”

On how the game planning aspect can change if Young becomes an elite player:

“Well I think the biggest thing is that he’s still just one player. But he’s one player that offenses have to deal with. It has an opportunity to create not only disruption and a problem in terms of how the offense feels with him, but also creates opportunities for others. It can in effect kind of raise the level of play throughout the defense. Obviously rush and coverage has to go together, and so you’ll hear me talk about that throughout the year. It’s not about just rush, it’s about rush and coverage and them going hand-in-hand. You’re going to need coverage to hold up so that when our defensive line does win, they can get there. You can have the best rush in the world but if you don’t have some coverage and make the quarterback hold it, it’s not going to be positive for you. They go hand-in-hand, but I do believe he can be impactful for us.”

On DE Ryan Anderson:

“We’re excited about him getting more opportunities. Looking at the film, he did some nice things. So yeah, we’re looking forward to getting Ryan involved. I agree with coach, we kind of look at it the same way. We think we have some depth in that group, and we’re going to try and get everyone involved. Obviously there will be some fierce competition for playing time and roles once we get started in camp.”

On LB Reuben Foster:

“I think he’s done a good job of trying to be involved in the meetings and we’ve approached it as though he’ll be there. Then we’ll see whether we get the clearance or not for him to actually go. In terms of the mental approach and in terms of his participation in the meetings, being up to date with the install, getting the coaching and all of that, he’s been on point with that. The part we can’t impact right now, is where he’s at with his rehab and whether he gets the clearance to go. But he’s working hard, doing all the things that he can with us in the virtual meetings and absorbing all of the information about what we’re going to expect out of him as a linebacker.”

On what he has stressed to the team in virtual meetings about improving communication:

“I mean a lot of little things. Part of it is really understanding the principles of the defense so that you can react as the offense deploys. The communication is huge. I think the understanding of what we’re going to do is huge. Then you have time when you’re merging and your alignment as the offense deploys, you’re able to recognize and get clues and share information pre-snap in terms of how you want to adjust and things. I think all of those factors are the things that we work on, that allow us to then be a defensive that does combine rush and coverage and is effective in getting quarterbacks off the field in 3rd down, and getting them into 3rd and long and then getting them off the field. That’s exactly what we’re talking about, being on the same page, making sure communication is sharp.”

On how he views the linebacking room and the traits he looks for in a linebacker:

“I think what we have isan interesting mix. I am excited to get them on the field and let them compete. We have a blend. We have some older guys. Obviously adding TD [LB] Thomas Davis and you mash that up with a guy like [LB] Cole [Holcomb] who played last year, was thrust into the lineup and got some valuable experience and showed some real speed and linebacking ability. Obviously, we added KPL [LB Kevin Pierre-Louis] as a free agent and he is flying under the radar, no one really talks about him. We are excited about letting him go and seeing what he can do. We know he is a dominant special teams player. When he was able to play, he played very well last year in Chicago. We are excited to see them all compete. Obviously, having [LB Jon] Bostic back and [LB] Shaun Dion Hamilton and those guys competing in the middle. There is a lot of competition throughout the roster. [LB] Khaleke [Hudson] we added in the draft. We have a group that is going to be very competitive fighting for playing time and fighting for roles. We will let that play out. I like the way they have been working with Linebackers Coach Steve Russ. He has done a great job in the meetings. Guys are very attentive and are working hard in understanding exactly how they are going to do things. They are going to be a key part of us when we talk about tying rushing coverage, the ability to fit the run, the linebackers are essential to that. We are going to count on them playing well for us.”

On the changes in the secondary and what his philosophy is going to be with the back end of the defense:

“First of all, I think [Vice President of Player Personnel] Kyle [Smith] and Coach Rivera have done a great job of giving us a chance. We looked at a lot of needs when we got here and talked about the wish list of approaching and filling holes on defense, giving us a chance to be competitive. I think we have done a really good job and they have done a really good job of giving us some pieces to compete with that will help us be successful in the fall. A large part of that happened on the defensive side and in the back seven. I talked about some of the linebackers just now in the back end. We were able to add corners in [Ronald] Darby and [Kendall] Fuller. Jimmy Moreland coming back and [Fabian] Moreau coming back. We have some guys that will be competing there as well. It will be a very competitive situation with guys in a competitive role. We added a safety in Sean Davis and we added to a group of safeties that were pretty productive players. Obviously you have Landon [Collins], [Deshazor] Everett and [Troy] Apke. We feel like we have a good group that is going to be very competitive. Right now, we are just trying to make sure we get everyone on the same page so we can play fast.”

On the best way to use CB Kendall Fuller:

“I think really, it just depends on how it fits and how it works when we get out there on the field. We have designs, obviously, to be flexible on how we approach it whether it is man-zones or what type of zones, true zones, we will determine that with the guys when we start playing and we start competing. Obviously, right now we are building the library and having guys understand our system. When we get a chance to actually work with them and compete against the offense to go through training camp and what not, then we will be able to see how far we can take it. For a guy like Fuller, he is obviously very versatile. He has played inside, outside, he has played all over the field. He was a versatile and valuable get for us and we are excited to have him.”

On how he has addressed the struggles with communication last year:

“We talked about that and there are a few things I would like to say, one being we want to spend a lot less time looking back and a lot more time looking forward. A big part of playing good defense is the ability to communicate and the ability to gather information pre snap and make any adjustments that you need to. That is all part of playing fast and being sound and solid. We are working hard at that. That was one of the issues that is apparent when you look at tape. I also believe this – in 2020, everyone here on defense, all the players and all the coaches, we all put our signature on what you see and how we perform. We are all responsible. I don’t think you could put it on any one person, I think it is a collective effort and I do believe it is very, very important and we will be stressing that from day one.”

On being able to coach with his son Luke:

“We are on opposite sides of the ball for sure. It is awesome that he is getting this opportunity. Obviously, he is excited for it. He has been around football his entire life. He loves ball and he has competed at the highest levels in college. It is awesome to have your son get a shot at something that he is passionate about. I am looking forward to that part. He is on the offensive side, so we are going to be doing some competing.”

On if there is one quality or trait that stands out to him that a defense must have:

“I think you have to be tough. The toughness part is not just physical. A large part of that is mental and that is where we are going to see a lot of growth. Defenses that play fast and are able to bounce back when they are discouraged or if they don’t get discouraged or a big play that you recognize. These are talented people in the NFL. They are going to make some plays from time to time. You have to be able to keep going and go to the next play. We will work hard at that in terms of mentally being tough and physically being able to tackle people. Typically, for me, when you look at defenses around the league when you are giving up explosive plays and getting hit with big chunk plays and giving up a lot of those, then you are typically not going to have a good unit. How do you minimize that? It really comes down to leverage and tackling. Those are some fundamentals that I believe in that we will be getting into. Then in terms of approach and scheme, there are a lot of different ways to do it. Where I have tried to do it wherever I have gone is take a look at what they have been exposed to and what experiences does the staff have. Then, we come up with what we are. It has been no different putting this defense together. I have done it everywhere I have been. You kind of grow that way and it is not like I come in throw a playbook down and say let’s go. It is a lot more involved and collaborative.”

On the transition to the 4-3 defense:

“Yeah it will be good. First of all, you have to understand we’re talking about how we deploy in base defense and we’re talking about base defense in today’s NFL, which is about a third of the game. Really you’re in sub packages, some form of sub packages where you’re playing against three wide [receivers] or more and you’re playing against that roughly 65-70 percent of that time. So we’re talking about a small percentage of the plays, but our overall approach is going to be more where they’ve been doing a lot of two-gapping and a lot of playing both sides of a blocker – we’re going to ask our guys to be more penetrating and disruptive. Our linebackers and secondary will understand how to fit off of that, so they’re going to have a lot more freedom in terms of being able to generate the beginning of a pass rush while we’re playing the run. It is kind of an aggressive approach to playing the run on the way to the quarterback and I think our guys are going to really like it.”

On Coach Rivera wanting a former head coach on his staff and if he has talked with Coach Rivera extensively about the defense and their shared vision:

“First of all, the head coach is involved in a lot of work. I think for him to surround himself with really capable people and guys that have been there, I did the same. I think it is wise to do so. I think it gives you an opportunity to delegate more and then he has asked for shared conversations for us to be able to bounce ideas and so I am doing that and I will continue to do that. Wherever I can help him and in any way that I can help him, I will do so. I think it is going to be a great working relationship. I have a lot of respect for Ron. We really have come along similar paths. We come off the West Coast, he was at Cal and I was at USC and we go in and have a long career and we both have careers as head coaches and defense and all that. Our roots go way back and I look forward to helping him in any way.”

On DE Ryan Kerrigan and balancing all the talent on the defensive line:

“You’re getting right to the part that is not so comfortable. You’re fired up for having all of these guys, but then they can’t all go on the field at the same time. So that is part of it, like being able to deal with that aspect of it, having guys understand, ‘Hey, you’re not going to play all the time.’ Or, ‘You’re not the starter.’ Those are things to me, that always get settled best with competition and once guys earn what they’ve earned I think everybody in the room pretty much understands that. But, that is definitely one of the things that I’m going to have to navigate. It is kind of like a basketball team not having enough balls to go around and you have a bunch of stars. But, it is good to have good players and we have good players in our front, guys that were well thought of coming out of the Draft and they were taken high and we should expect them to be really good players for us and be a really solid foundation for us to build around and that’s how we’re going to approach it.”

On if the competition at each position is emphasized in year one with a new staff or if that is a theme that needs to be carried over to sustain a successful program:

“I think the newness gives you a chance to give everybody a fresh start for sure and so that definitely comes in to play. I think the other part is that both Ron and I have been in this league for over 30 years, playing and coaching and I think we both understand the importance of competition. I know in my time as a head coach there were several times where we had a young player come into camp who was not highly thought of who all of a sudden everyday just competed his tail off and ended up making the team and created a role for himself. So, to me when you’ve seen enough examples of that you understand that what it comes down to is competition and ultimately we’re going to put a squad together and go compete on Sunday’s. So it is all about competition and that is really what the league is all about, you have to perform, it is a performance based business, you have to perform and those who perform the best play the most.”

On the players feeling refreshed working with the new staff:

“It is not surprising. There is a freshness to it, there is a newness to it, there is an opportunity, there is excitement and to me it is just about going out and taking advantage of your opportunities. The biggest thing we want to do is make sure we give an opportunity for each guy that is invited to our camp to come in and show us what he’s got and show us how he can help us and then if somebody is capable of doing something then we have to take advantage of that as coaches and make sure we put him in the right place where they can be productive. The other part about coaching is kind of keep guys out of positions that they’re not good at. It is like accentuate the positives and try and keep your guys out of situations that they are not good in and put them in more of the situations that they are good at. It has been a basic approach, but a fruitful one over the years.”

On his Twitter account and his approach to social media:

“I have fun. I’m not on all the time. I’ll come on, I’ll get off, I’ll pop in sometimes and lay something out there. I don’t really have an approach. I’m just enjoying and I like to follow and read people and gather information and just participate. My kids try and keep me in check. Don’t get their dad in trouble, so they don’t want me to go too far. But, I just try and have fun with it and when it gets uncomfortable or when it goes places I don’t want to go, I just get off.”

On how the players have stood out to him during the virtual meetings so far:

“There are just certain things that stand out, and you’re not really looking for it. Like I popped in here right at the buzzer, right? I went right in at 10 eastern time. A guy like [DT] Jonathan Allen, he’s on there 15 minutes before every meeting. He’s always early. Everybody has their own approach, and you kind of see personalities even through virtual meetings. I think I’ve been aware of some of those things. But in terms of really making your impression, I think it’s going to really come down to getting in pads and getting out on the grass and going to work.”

On if he views the game any differently after working at ESPN:

“One thing I was able to do was study the whole league and just kind of watch ball. And then having an informed opinion about it. That was beneficial, I think. The other thing, I have a real clear understanding of the work you all do and a greater appreciation for the media side of it, bringing the news and bringing truth to the fans. Not that I won’t get irritated if, let’s say you, write an article ripping me (laughs). I’m still going to be irritated by it. The reality is that there’s a business, you’re a conduit to it, to the public. I have a greater appreciation for that and the work that goes into being good at it. I spent a lot of time making sure my opinions were legit. That I had put film study behind it. That I talked to other people in the business so that I understood what I was talking about. So I have a greater appreciation for those who do it well.”

On his take on the all white uniforms for Week 1:

“No. Again, I wouldn’t read too much into it. It just sounded good. I thought I’d say ‘yes, sounds good Week 1.’ I’ll tell you what, if Coach Rivera or Mr. Snyder, if they want to know my opinion, they already know I’m in favor of white Week 1. But other than that, I’m going to leave it up to them (laughs).”

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Don’t forget to tune in at 5 p.m. every week on Monday for Redskins Rant, and be sure to see all of our content at Keep it locked! 

Thaddeus Moss looks to carve out own NFL Path despite his father’s HOF success

Get to know Moss through Q+A

By The Sports Pulse Staff

On how he embraces the Moss name:

“Well, I mean I embrace it a lot. You know, my dad [former NFL WR Randy Moss] only has two sons, so there’s only two of us that can carry on the last name. I’ve always had a target on my back, my whole life growing up. So I’ve kind of just grown accustomed to it and you know, you kind of use it as fuel, and look forward to it.”

On how his last name could help him in the NFL:

“To answer the question no, there’s nothing additional that it can do for me. Which is exactly how I would have it anyways. I wouldn’t want my last name to do anything for me, I would rather work for everything for me, and not be given anything. Just still what he’s [Father, Randy Moss] done for me up to this point, still there in my corner, giving me advice on whatever it is. You know, he has a few things to school me up on, now that I’m in the NFL and there’s still a learning curve for me. Just being in my corner and you know, being there for support and advice.”

On why he chose Washington:

“Well Washington was the first team that contacted me. So they were the first team that contacted me and that was what I was going to stick with. Disappointed in being undrafted, absolutely. It was kind of a slap in the face to me. As soon as the draft was over, they [Washington Redskins] were the first ones to contact me.”

On his knee injury:

“Where I’m at with the rehab, so first I went and had the best doctor in sports do a surgery, so I feel really good about the surgery, I’ve felt really good about the surgery. Rehab is going great. You know, I’m ahead of schedule. I mean everything is going great with it. I will be ready to go when hopefully we start up and get going football wise, I’ll be ready to go. I went to Green Bay and had Doctor Anderson do it. As soon as I could after this draft, I didn’t really have time, so the following week after the draft I went and had Doctor Anderson do it.”

On working with T Saahdiq Charles:

“Man absolutely. It was great when I found out that Washington contacted me and they also drafted him. We’re not only teammates, but that’s one of my best friends off the field. One of my best friends off the field. So it’s a blessing to still be on the same team, still be teammates, be chasing our dreams and everything together. Have I been able to talk to him absolutely. I talk to him almost every day. On top of that, not only us being teammates and being best friends, we also play next to each other. It’s not like he’s the quarterback and I’m the receiver. With him being the left tackle, we have such a good chemistry with us being best friends and having so many reps and stuff next to each other.”

On T Saahdiq Charles:

“I mean he’s a reliable teammate, he’s a great teammate first. A dependable teammate. I could always rely on him to get the job done, always rely on him to always have the answers and give it his all. As a teammate that’s really all I could ask for is, having a teammate that knows what he’s doing, and giving it all he’s got. You know, but he’s a baller, he’s going to do great here in his first year at Washington. I’m looking forward to seeing how he plays.”

On not being drafted:

“Well, I mean, first it’s a blessing to be here. I thank God and the Redskins for this opportunity. Ultimately all I could ask for was an opportunity. It was definitely a slap in the face, I put a lot of work in. Years of football, we went undefeated, I won a National Championship. I played my best ball in our biggest game. So I definitely felt like it was a slap in the face not getting drafted, having picked kickers and punters, and special teams. Just seeing guys getting picked over me, I definitely felt a type of way about it. But, it’s no difference. I’ve always had to prove myself my whole life. Having the last name that I have I’ve always had to prove everybody wrong, or just prove myself right my whole life and this is no difference.”

On how he plans on proving teams wrong for not drafting him:

“I mean first off, I’m not going about this trying to prove teams wrong. Just proving myself right. I’m not going out there with a vengeance, trying to prove people wrong. I’m just trying to go out there and be the best football player that I can be, be the best teammate that I can be, you know, and like I said just prove myself right. Of course, I’m still a rookie. So getting in there and adjusting to the learning curve and learning the offense, and doing what it takes, doing the little things that a rookie has to do, and earning my keep on the team and just from there, just playing football, and everything will take care of itself.”

On what he has learned in virtual rookie minicamps:

“Well absolutely it’s been different. Having online meetings has been something that I think every team is having to deal with and get accustomed to. It’s just different. It’s just a whole lot different learning football. This is the first time I’ve had football meetings, not in person. So it’s definitely different. It’s a different type of learning, it’s a different type of learning and kind of a different kind of studying just with it being over Facetime, over these virtual meetings.”

On dealing with learning virtually:

“Well for me, I’ve had to change just the way I’m learning this playbook just from going from college to the NFL, it’s a whole lot more information. It’s still essentially the same information, it’s just a lot more. Just a learning curve, learning how to learn and learning how to study differently going from college to the NFL. I took about, I think around my phone right now as I’m looking I have about 25 pages right here with all notes on, you know I wasn’t a big writer in college so that’s one thing that has definitely changed since I’ve gotten to the NFL, my notetaking. I write, I’m a writer, I don’t like typing. So I write on pieces of paper and just keep them all around me.”

On how the Redskins approached him after the draft:

“Well, like I said they were the first team, as soon as the draft ended they were the first team to contact my agent. They just contacted my agent, my agent contacted me, and it was like, we have three teams right here and they called first, they called second, they called third and these three teams are interested. I just went with the team that wanted me first.”

On how he will prove himself while not being able to go to camp in person:

“They’ll know it when the time comes. Whenever that day is, when we put pads on, on day one they’ll know that. I already feel like with the season that we had last year, we being LSU, and the season that I had last year, everybody has a good idea of what I can do and what I am capable of. Once I get healthy, get back out there on the football field and put them pads on, everybody will be able to see what I can do.”

On being able to establish his own legacy in the NFL:

“That’s definitely the approach that I’m taking to this. I’m not taking the approach that I’m trying to make teams feel me for going undrafted. It’s not the approach that I’m taking. That’s going to come with me just playing football, just playing football. That’s what I told my dad, after the draft we were sitting there, well actually during the draft we were sitting there, you know I kind of had a good idea of how things were going to unfold. I was still holding on hope and hoping things would turn out differently. He was kind of sitting there, not really knowing what to say to me, and I went ahead and just told him, like look, this is no different from what I’ve had to do my whole life. The last name Moss, people have always had their eyes on me and always doubted me and always wanted to see what I can do, and always had expectations. This is no different. Being an undrafted free agent, I don’t really have a lot of expectations, so going in there and playing football. You know, having to really get out the mud and work for everything. That’s what I’ve been having to do my whole life and that’s one thing that people don’t understand, and that people get misconfigured is me having the last name that I have, a lot of people think that I was handed a lot of things or that I was given a lot of things but that’s actually the opposite. People always ask me with the last name, what are some pros and cons, that’s definitely a con to it. But absolutely I’m looking forward to the opportunity to work for everything. Whatever my NFL career is, whether that be one year, two, three, four, five to ten, you’re going to have to respect it, because I worked for everything. I wasn’t given anything.”

On the other teams that were interested in him:

“Cincinnati [Bengals] and New England [Patriots].”

On conversing with RB Adrian Peterson:

“I haven’t had any conversations with anybody on the team, actually I have some former teammates that I used to play with I think three or four that’s on this team that I’ve been able to contact and just stayed in contact with. I reached out to [QB] Dwayne Haskins, just wanted to introduce myself and just say hey, but other than that, I haven’t been able to speak to anybody. But you know, with Adrian Peterson with him having played with my dad, I mean I’m not going to go up and introduce myself to him, that’s just not what type of guy I am. That’s just not me.”

On his relationship with LSU Coach John Decoster:

“Well they’re getting a young coach, they’re getting a hell of a coach first off. They’re getting a young coach, a real active coach, he can relate to his players really good, he’s a real player’s coach. He’s been around some good football minds, he’s been at LSU for the past however many years. He’s a hell of a recruiter, recruited the number one tight end in the, I think ever, coming out of high school. And he was able to recruit him and get him, the two tight ends that he’s had, one got drafted and the other broke the records, the tight end records at the school. So I think that right there speaks a lot about him as a coach. I mean I can’t say enough good things about him. I love Coach Decoster. When I got to LSU, he was the first guy that I talked to. When I actually got on campus, I sat down with him at the time, he was the GA, not knowing that he would be my position coach three years later.”

On what identity he wants to build in the league:

“Just my own identity. I’m tired of people, I mean, I don’t get tired of the questions, I’m not going to get tired of that I’m just tired of the comparisons. I think I finally have reached that point where I am tired of the comparisons. You know everybody keeps mentioning my father, mentioning his last name but, just the identity that I want to make is my own identity. I look forward to getting out there and making a name for myself. You know and, just working for everything.”

On the biggest piece of advice he’s gotten from his father:

“I mean, to be honest, he really doesn’t give advice unless I ask him. He’s not one of those parents that’s just always in my ear. You know, he knows that I know that if I need him or I need advice I’m going to go to him and ask him. The critique I get on television is not going to be worse than the critique I got from him being in the house or being in the car together. He was the defensive coordinator of my high school team my junior year of high school. So we would ride, after practices or after games, we would ride home together. You know and I would hear it from him. He could only say so much, so on TV I’m not worried about that.”