Miami Dolphins Transcripts – March 26 – DE Shaq Lawson, G Ereck Flowers, LB Kyle Van Noy, DE Emmanuel Ogbah, RB Jordan Howard, CB Byron Jones, LB Elandon Roberts and C Ted Karras

Thursday, March 26, 2020

DE Shaq Lawson

(You’ve been in this division for a while. Obviously QB Tom Brady is gone. There’s been some movement. How do you view the Miami Dolphins’ chances of winning the division and/or getting a playoff berth this season?) – “We’re just going to take it a day at a time. The coaches brought the right guys in there. We’re going to try to build something special over there, but our main goal is just to come down there, just take it one day at a time and build a team and see where that starts first.”

(I talked to a couple guys down in Buffalo about you and they said two things. They said you were loud and highly competitive. How quickly are guys in Miami going to see that side of you?) – “They’re going to see that fast – Day 1 when I come in the building. I’ve always been a loud guy. I’ve always got at myself. I’m very competitive. I always want to win. It could be even an argument or just a little chat in the locker room, but I’m just very competitive. I’m a guy that’s going to bring energy and the spirit in the locker room every day. I’m just going to have – I never feel like I ever have a bad day in the locker room.”

(I had a chance to see you and DT Christian Wilkins catch up on the field in Buffalo before the game last year and obviously you guys must be friends. I have a very important question. Who is the better college player? You vs. Christian Wilkins.) – “He basically did it all as a college player. I didn’t play on the offensive side of the ball, so he’s got an advantage on that side of the ball, but we both had excellent careers at Clemson. We both were All-Americans at Clemson. We both were up for the same awards. We both did great things so you couldn’t say which one is better; but I know he’s – the only difference from me, he played on the offensive side of the ball and scored touchdowns and I haven’t scored yet, so that’s the only difference between us.”

(I think you’re the eighth player we’ve talked to today. You’re the first one that’s outside. Is this a case of cabin fever? Tell us where you are and what your surroundings are.) – “I’m outside in front of my yard, enjoying the sun. We haven’t been getting (any) sun out here lately and just been locked down in the house, trying to stay safe and things like that. I’m just outside enjoying the sun.”

(You played a lot of 4-3 end down in Buffalo. Is that were you feel most comfortable and where you can contribute the best?) – “I can play anywhere on the field. I’ll play in any scheme. I played in a 3-4 coming out in the league, so I’ve seen it all. Wherever a coach needs me to play at, (I am) willing to play. I’ll be in any position to help this team.”

(You know who you guys have gotten as far as pass rushers. Do you have any idea how this pass rush is going to look when it takes the field?) – “No, not yet. We’ve got guys. They came from programs that had successful numbers last year. Kyle (Van Noy) had a great year. (Emmanuel) Ogbah – I don’t know how to pronounce his name, but I know that’s my teammate – had a great year. So putting us all three on the field, we can be something special; but that’ll take time. We’ve all got to be on the same page because we’ve got to think about it. We’ve never rushed with each other and things like that, so it’s going to take time; but we’ve got three great guys to go rush the passer. It could be special.”

(How would you describe where you feel like you are in your career?) – “I’m at a point of my career where I’m just only getting better – making strides each year. Each year I’ve gotten better, improved. (I am) getting more comfortable in the game. I feel like these next coming years, I’ve got a lot of juice. I’ve got a lot to bring to the table, and I showed glimpses of it last year with only just playing on the amount of snaps I was playing. I’m just ready to go get it and just (try) to be a double-digit sack guy.”

(How did you end up in Miami? What was the process like? What other teams were in on you and why were the Dolphins your final choice?) – “The process – I didn’t know how the free agency thing worked because this is my first rodeo, but I found out Miami had interest in me from the time everything opened up. I just had a great relationship with (Defensive Line Coach) Marion Hobby down there. He coached me for three years of college football and he developed me into the football player I am, so that made my decision easy to go down there because I know I have guys I’m familiar with. I’ve got Christian Wilkins down there. I’ve got Cordrea Tankersley. Tankersley was my roommate at Hargrave (Military Academy). We went to military school together, so I’ve just kind of got a relationship thing down there.”

(I wanted to know what your perception was of the 2019 Dolphins and how did that change as the year went on?) – “Oh, man. Those guys – the two times we played those guys – those guys played us hard. We got everything they’ve got. That was a young team, bringing in new guys. Down the last final stretch of the season, those guys were playing great ball and it was exciting to watch. (It was) a very young team, but (they were) going down there and doing a lot of special things.”

(How are you going to help contribute towards the Dolphins’ success?) – “I’m going to bring and edge and a fire to the defense. (I’m a) guy that’s going to bring the juice, a guy that’s going to set the edge (and a) guy’s that just going to be a hard-worker every day and hopefully bring something special to this team and to the city of Miami, and just be ready to play for you guys and for my teammates and all of the fans down there.”

(You mentioned, “set the edge.” For a few years down here in Miami, we’ve been repeating that question over and over again like why isn’t the edge being set? How can it be set better? Who can set it better? Can you kind of take me inside the game a little bit and help me understand what the key is to successfully do your job of setting the edge?) – “I just take pride in that. You always don’t want to get out of your gap and ever since I’ve been in the league, I’ve just taken pride in not letting nobody outrun (or) get past me in my gap, set the edge, creating a new line of scrimmage. If you create a new line of scrimmage and you get everybody going forward, TFLs (tackles for loss) and things like that happen. I feel like that was a part of my success last year, just setting the edge and setting a new line of scrimmage and big plays just coming to me on the back side of help from my teammates, getting those guys in plays, too. It’s a big part. You’ve got to think about it – it starts with the running game. In the NFL, if you get your run game going – if your run game is going in the NFL, it might be a long day of stopping the offense.”

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G Ereck Flowers

(Tell me what it means to you for you to be coming back to your hometown to play NFL football?) – “It means a lot. I grew up always wanting to play down here. Being able to play all three levels in Miami is a really special opportunity. I’m really excited and ready to get this thing started.”

(I know that there is a lot that has been written about how earlier in your career you were playing tackle and it didn’t go as well, then you got moved to guard. What about that switch helped you take off to where you were able to get a big contract?) – “I think the switch plays into a lot of my natural strengths. It really helped to have (Bill) Callahan make that switch. To make the switch with the best offensive line coach in the league, I think I was very fortunate in the situation and the timing and placement and all of that together. I’m just looking forward to taking those next steps and getting better.”

(Do you expect to play guard here in Miami, and if so, is left guard the position for you?) – “They haven’t gone into details. This whole thing – wherever they need me to play, I’ll play.”

(How have you been spending your time recently? There been kind of the lockdown, or stay at home, or whatever you want to call it. We know a lot of gyms are closed. How are you staying in shape? How are you occupying your time?) – “I actually have a Peloton and treadmill in my garage. I have equipment for drills. I have bungies, I’ve got dumbbells. I have pretty much everything. I have most of the things except for a squat rack. I’ve been occupying my time pretty well. Right now, I’m doing the best that I can do. Everything is closed. You can’t go anywhere. I can’t wait for this thing to be over, really. It’s been kind of boring”

(Are you in South Florida? Is that where you are hunkered down? And two, the coronavirus is pretty bad here. Do you know anyone who was affected by it?) – “I actually don’t. I’ve really been in the house every day. I really don’t want it. I’ve really been staying in the house as much as I can and washing my hands. I’ve been down here my whole life. Even when I was in New York, I’ve always been down here back home in the offseason. I’ve just been where I’ve always been, down here.”

(I know there has been talk about the offseason being shortened or canceled. I’m wondering how particularly with the guys in the trenches, a shortened or canceled offseason would impact the 2020 season?) – “I think the offseason is very important for people coming into the league, people going to new teams and people working with new coaches. I think that’s the most important part of the offseason. I think that’s the most important part of the offseason. I think that’s when this serves a huge purpose. It’s unfortunate really because if it’s canceled, you’re going into camp not really getting a chance to really go over your playbook. I don’t know how they’re going to handle that. Usually it’s a trial run before you get to the real deal. You get to know your calls, get to know who you’re playing with, what they like, what they like to do, techniques and using certain blocks. The o-line is different from a lot of positions because there are different variations of what you have to do and different places. That’s just in my experience. I think it’s not really ideal when you’re just getting to a place. If you’ve been to a place, maybe it will give you more time off for your body, maybe more time for recovery if you have injuries or surgery and all of that. There are different sides to it.”

(Speaking of offensive line, that’s been a position this organization has been trying to upgrade for a few years. In your experience, what are the two or three keys to successful offensive line play?) – “Preparation. And that’s from the coaches to the players, in both aspects – being on the same page and preparation. I would say putting the work in, really. Most of the o-line play is muscle memory. There are a whole bunch of things that come into it. I really learned this past year playing next to a Pro Bowl guard, seeing what he does and what he does for his preparation. This past year was my first time – this past year, I was on the line with such good players. You kind of see what makes them so good and what makes the room pretty good. There are a lot of things that go into that. I’d say preparation is the number one thing. Then it’s going out doing what you practiced, really. It’s one thing to practice and then go out there and actually do what you practiced.”

(Can you tell us a little bit about how you came to choose the Dolphins and how they chose you?) – “For me, I loved Washington. I loved being there. I loved my teammates. Their family bonded with my family, and I still talk to them to this day; but it was like playing for Miami was a chance for me to come home. It’s where I’m from, where I grew up and where I’ve been my whole life, and (to do it) at the pro level. For me, it was really kind of a tough choice; but I feel like it was the right choice as far as it’s what I’ve always dreamed of being able to do and where I always wanted to play. I’m just happy I get a chance to go out there and experience it.”

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LB Kyle Van Noy

(What was it about Head Coach Brian Flores and the Dolphins that caused you to want to come here in free agency?) – “That’s an easy question to answer. Just, I respect him as a coach, what he brings to the table, what he’s all about on the field and off. As you guys have grown to know him a little bit better, I feel like you guys are getting a sense of how he is as a person and as a coach, and you probably kind of wish you could play for him if you played football. Just the type of attitude he has, the grit he has, the competitiveness he has. I mean, who doesn’t want to play for a coach like that? He’s ready to go all the time, and he brings that same energy each and every day. That’s what you want as a coach; and as a player, that’s who I want to play for.”

(You won a division title every year you were with the Patriots. The Dolphins haven’t won a division since 2008. Why do you think that’s going to change?) – “I’m not really focused on the past or thinking about the Patriots. I’m really just thinking about the Dolphins, and our goals are how they are each year. First, we want to just play the best team football as possible, and that starts with showing up on time, doing the little things over and over and focused on the first opponent. We can’t worry about championships, can’t worry about who’s doing what. What we can worry about is what the Dolphins are doing, and what we’re worried about as a team is getting everybody on the same page inside and out, top-down, and that starts with the owner and the owner is doing a great job with that. ‘Flo’ (Head Coach Brian Flores) is doing a great job with that, (General Manager Chris) Grier is doing a great job with that and the players are all following suit. So we’re excited for everyone being on the same page, tackling that one task at a time, and that’s going to be our first game and hopefully – if that’s the Patriots, it’s the Patriots, if it’s the Bills, it’s the Bills, or if it’s a different opponent, we’re going to be ready for them.”

(A related question – how much does QB Tom Brady’s relocation change the balance of power in the division? To what extent do you think the Patriots will still be the Patriots?) – “I think they’ll always be the Patriots with the kind of players they have up there. Obviously losing a quarterback is tough, but they still have a really good set of football players up there that love football, that are going to be hungry to prove to a lot of people that they’re still in it, and that’s what they do up there.”

(With your relationship with Head Coach Brian Flores and your intimate knowledge of the defense, what role do you see yourself playing on defense? Are you going to kind of be like a coach on the field, per se? And I wanted to ask you how far do you think this defense is away from stopping the likes of Ravens QB Lamar Jackson and Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, some of the high-scoring quarterbacks in this league, who have gone on to play deep in the AFC playoffs?) – “Good question. I think really what we’re focused on right now is just getting everybody together. I’m excited to meet everybody, get into OTAs, if those happen; but if not, then I’m excited to jump into training camp and get to work. For me personally, I hope – I’m going to go off what the plan is for me. I feel (and) envision that I’ll be playing everywhere like I have been. I’ve said it before – I don’t really consider myself having a position. I don’t really like that. I don’t like being called a d-end or a linebacker or anything. I’m just a football player. You roll the ball out onto the field, I’m there. I’m showing up. That’s my job and I’m going to be about it all the time.”

(I just am curious because I know you and Head Coach Brian Flores were so close and you kind of stayed in touch. What was his reaction to you deciding on coming to Miami? What has he told you about what he’s trying to do here and how you can contribute to that?) – “I think what he told me is – obviously I’m going to keep that confidential. (laughter) I can’t give you the secrets, but I think he’s pretty excited. I’m pretty excited, and we’re going to do everything for the team. I’m definitely going to do that. I’ve done that since I’ve been in the NFL. That’s not going to change who I am. I’m just going to try to hopefully take a more leadership role because I’m going to be one of the more older players on this team, and I just hope I can help out the young guys – not just as football players, but as people, too. I just want them to – I hope I can show them the right way, how to be a professional because that’s what it’s all about.”

(How has the coronavirus affected you? Do you have any friends, family that have been affected by it, and how are you going to be able to keep yourself football ready for what seems to be a long slog here?) – “To my knowledge, no one in my family or anybody I’m close with I know of has gotten it. I’ve heard potential people have been around people that have gotten it, but nobody’s had symptoms of it. I still say my prayers to all of those that have been affected. I’ve seen all sorts of crazy things, and I feel bad for those that are being affected. We’re working – my wife and I are working on – as fast as possible to get in contact with people down in Miami to hopefully – our foundation, the Van Noy Valor Foundation – go down and help as much as we can because it’s a sad thing that we’re dealing with and I know we’ll push through. We’re going to come together. Staying in shape-wise, I actually still can get a workout in. There’s a ranch about 45 minutes away from me. No one’s there. Just I have access to it, and it’s pretty cool. So it’s just me and myself getting after it. There’s a hill I can run, and there’s some weights I can lift. There’s no one else around. It’s just me, myself and I. (laughter) But it’s good. I’m staying in shape, so I’m really happy about that. I’ve had offseasons where I’ve gotten too heavy for my own (good) and it’s not fun to lose a bunch of weight, so I’m definitely staying in shape.”

(I’m going to put you on the spot here. Your best Head Coach Brian Flores story that comes to mind?) – “Oh. (laughter) There’s a lot. I’ll share a good one. It was in New England. It was during practice, and he was the d-coordinator at the time, so it was in 2018, and it was one of those days where it was just a grind. Everyone was cranky. It was probably in December, so in December everyone starts to get cranky in New England because it gets cold (laughter) – something you guys don’t know about; but things weren’t happening at practice. He brought me and ‘High’ (Dont’a Hightower) over and kind of just said, ‘look. We’re just – we’re not just trying to be out here. We’ve got things to do.’ And I know it’s simple. That’s something simple to say, but it didn’t hit us until we got to the meeting because when we were watching the plays, he was like, ‘look at right here, we’re just not out here. We’re trying to get things done.’ Then in that game, that week – we fast forward it. It came to a time and a place where the play that he wasn’t happy about in that practice popped up in the game, and me and ‘High’ started laughing at each other because me and him both made a play on it, and we go to the sideline and we started laughing at him like, ‘look, we’re not out here…’ (laughter) We kind of did his little comment back to him, and he started laughing. That’s just a small story, but it’s a big story because he takes something that’s so small and is able to put it into football and relate it, and he’s really good with his players.”

(I don’t think I’ve ever interviewed someone wearing headphones before. What do you think of this technology and this way of doing part of the job?) – “I think it’s the way of the future, to be honest. I have my headphones on because I actually play video games. I’m on my desktop, so this is my gaming station. I didn’t want to switch up, take my headsets out. Then I would have to reconfigure all my stuff I took hours to do, so they’re staying on so you’ve just got to enjoy my headphones. (laughter) They’re pretty sweet. Shout out to Razer. They hooked it up.”

(Were you surprised that QB Tom Brady ultimately left New England?) – “No. Given the fact of 20 years, given the fact that he didn’t get a contract done beforehand. I just felt like there were too many other teams – it would be hard to pass up an opportunity he would get in free agency where you can make some money, and I feel like he got what he deserves. Things didn’t work out, and I hope the best for him. I think he’s going to be good in Tampa. I’m just glad he’s in the NFC, that’s for sure.”

(How can your strengths help the Dolphins this season?) – “I like that question. I feel like my versatility will be able to be a matchup problem for any coach because you never know where I’m going to line up and match up against; and then I feel like I can be a leader to this team. I just want to win at the end of the day. It’s funny, I tell all of my friends this: there’s nothing better than winning a 1 o’clock game and being at home at night watching the Sunday night game. Like, ‘man, I’m feeling good right now, we won,’ and gearing up for another week. That’s my whole mentality each week, is to get – whether it’s that Sunday night win or a 1 o’clock win – just that feeling when you get home that you put all you could in that week to have that feeling of, ‘oh man, we won at 1 o’clock. Let’s get it again another week.’

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DE Emmanuel Ogbah

(I wanted to ask you about how difficult it must have been for you to be a spectator during the Super Bowl because of your injury. I can’t imagine how hard that must have been.) – “Yeah, it was definitely tough watching them play, but I’m glad. I’m happy for my brothers. They went out there, did their thing. I still get a ring, so I’m excited about that; but it was actually a cool experience the whole Super Bowl. It was dope. I’m just glad I was a part of it, too.”

(How did the Dolphins happen for you? How did this come together and did it happen pretty quick?) – “Once free agency started, the Dolphins were on me hard. Other teams wanted me, too, and I just felt at home with the Dolphins because I’m always in South Florida because I train out here during the offseason, so I just felt wanted by the Dolphins and I’m excited to play for (Head) Coach (Brian) Flores. I can’t wait.”

(You played in a couple of different defenses in your career, but what do you feel like is your best fit on the defense? Do you like playing five-technique, do you like to stand up? Where do you feel like you make your biggest impact?) – “Personally, I think my biggest (impact) as an edge rusher, but I’m versatile enough to do a lot of things. That’s why Miami brought me in. I can rush inside. I can rush outside and just do my part to help the team win games. That’s why I’m here.”

(I wanted to ask you about the coronavirus. A two-part question here. No. 1, were you worried about it initially? No. 2, when you heard that some NBA players got it, did it make you feel a little bit more vulnerable?) – “I wasn’t worried about it when it first came out, but listening to the stories and talking to people about it, it just makes sense why people should stay indoors and try to avoid it because it’s definitely scary. Even though I’m a healthy guy – I don’t have a lot of respiratory problems. It’s just hard looking at that. People need to stay inside for their health and their well-being for the rest of their families; but it’s definitely hard seeing NBA players suffer from it, so that means anybody can get it. It definitely just made me extra cautious now.”

(We’re all finding different ways to do things right now. What do you think about using Zoom for interview sessions?) – “(laughter) There’s definitely a first for everything, but it’s cool. It’s a good way to interact with you guys if we can’t be there in person. It’s cool to meet you guys through, I guess Zoom, because this is my first time using Zoom ever.”

(You talked about being excited to play for Head Coach Brian Flores. What about him leads to that excitement? What is it that really attracted you to him and the Dolphins?) – “First of all, he’s definitely a defensive coach. (laughter) He inspires his players and he came from the Patriots, so he knows how to win. I’m just excited to come out here and do my part, help the team win, and I’m excited to get coached up by one of the best.”

(A two-part question. One, you’re in South Florida currently? And two, how are you going about staying in shape when everything is locked down?) – “Yes, I’m currently in South Florida, and I’m doing my best. I try to stay indoors as much as possible. If I have to go out, I’ll go out, grab some groceries if I’ve got to cook or something. But I’m doing my best – doing pushups, sit-ups, the regular stuff at home. The best I can do is try to avoid social gatherings.”

(I know your season got cut short by the pectoral injury. Where are you in your recovery at this point health-wise?) – “I got cleared about four or five weeks ago to do on-field activities now. That’s what I’m just trying to do right now. I can’t really technically do it, but I’m just trying to get on a bike and do some cardio work and just get my legs back on. I’m just trying to stay safe, trying to avoid this corona(virus) stuff going on. Like I said, I’m just getting ready.”

(I wanted to ask about one aspect of your game. You’ve had a lot of success batting down passes over the years. What do you attribute that to? What are you looking for when a play starts that might give you the opportunity to swat a pass down?) – “For me, it’s more so just instincts. You’ve just got to feel when the QB is about to throw the ball and immediately put your arm up. I also have some pretty long arms, so that definitely helps, too; but I feel like (it is) more of a feel thing to me.”

(How do you plan on learning this defense knowing that you may not have a lot of time to practice it or meet with the player and meet with the coaches, and what are some things you’re watching? What are you watching on Netflix, Hulu, playing a lot of video games – how else are you keeping busy?) – “I haven’t really gotten the playbook or whatnot, yet, and I’m just waiting on that; so as soon as I get that, I’m going to get started learning the basics. In my off time, when I have nothing to do, I just get on the game – play some Call of Duty on Xbox, play some Madden. Sometimes I watch Netflix, too, just to bide time.”

(I know you’re from Nigeria. I wanted to ask you about your Nigerian roots, and how often do you hear from people back about what you’re doing in the game and maybe how you’re being a role model for them?) – “It’s definitely tough because they can’t really watch me play. I guess they can watch online, but I know my dad is constantly posting stuff on Facebook about me, just interacting with my family back home. It’s cool. I was supposed to go down there this offseason, but the whole corona(virus pandemic) stopped me from going down there. My dad posts a lot of stuff. I call them, they call me, we talk. They say I’m inspiring a lot of people. I’ve just got to keep going, keep doing the best I can, keep doing what I do just to help bring light to where they’re at.”

(What are you most looking forward to this upcoming season?) – “Just doing my part to help the team win. I’m here to rush the passer. I’m here to make this team better. We’ve got a bunch of guys that were brought in this free agency, and we’re just ready to work. We’re just trying to put our head down and just keep working.”

(I was just wondering if you’ve spoken to DE Shaq Lawson and if you know Shaq at all since you guys were in the same draft.) – “Yeah, I spoke to him a little bit after I signed. I said, ‘hope you’re ready to work,’ because we just kind of clicked. He said, ‘yeah, I hope you’re ready to work.’ We’re just ready to get after it, to be honest.”

(Tell me about taekwondo. I read that you’re taking that up. Is that correct?) – “(laughter) No, I don’t think that’s me; but I do hand work with gloves and hand speed and all that; but no, I don’t really do taekwondo.”

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RB Jordan Howard

(Why the Miami Dolphins? Why the decision for the Dolphins?) – “I just thought it was a good opportunity for me. I feel like this is an up-and-coming team. I’ve heard from people about the exciting things they are doing. I know a lot of people were trying to say they were trying to not be competitive last year but they beat a few good teams last year late in the season. I definitely feel like this is a team that’s on the rise.”

(I know you didn’t play in that game, but when Philadelphia played down here against Miami last year, what did you learn about the Dolphins in that game, and was it different from what you thought previously?) – “I learned that a lot of people were saying they weren’t trying most of the games and thought it was going to be an easy win for teams when they play the Dolphins but they showed that they had a lot of fight, because they could’ve given up at some point in that game and let the Eagles back into that game, but they just kept fighting and fighting and they pulled it out. I definitely feel like the heat down here will help us against teams.”

(When you were in negotiations with the Dolphins, did they give any assurances as to what your role would be? Do you see yourself or have they told you that you would be the featured back?) – “No, we didn’t talk about my role or anything like that. I’m just going to come in and be the best teammate that I can and be whatever they need me to be.”

(I’m just curious how you and other athletes are doing with coronavirus and things that are going on. How are you guys staying in shape and prepare for training camp and things like that when you can’t even go out and travel? I know a lot of the players travel to different parts of the country for training.) – “It’s definitely been difficult. A lot of the places people are training have been shut down. A lot of gyms have been shut down. For me, I’ve just been doing a lot of running. I haven’t really been in the weight room, so I’ve just been running outside mostly.”

(How would you describe your running style?) – “I’d describe my running style as rugged, pretty physical. I like to make the defenders feel me. I’d rather hit them than them hit me. I definitely try to make them quit, that way by the fourth quarter, they don’t really want to tackle.”

(How’s your health at this point? I know you suffered a shoulder injury last year, are you back to 100 percent?) – “Yeah, I’m back to 100 percent now. It took a while, but I’m finally back to being 100 percent and can’t wait to get back to playing football.”

(How much experience do you have being on Zoom meetings, particularly being that you are the leader of the meeting, and what do you think of it?) – “I like Zoom. I did it a few times earlier. When I was finishing my degree last year, I had to do a few Zoom meetings. So, I’m kind of familiar with it.”

(You weren’t able obviously to take visits during free agency. How much harder did that make your decision when this was all going down?) – “I don’t really feel like it was a hard decision because I’m just here to play football. I don’t really care how the facilities look or anything like that. That didn’t really have an impact on my decision.”

(When I watch you play, what I see is toughness and determination. I’m kind of wondering if you can take me inside to where you get that from – that mindset, your history. Where does those elements come from?) – “The more I played, I felt like that was the best style for me. That’s what works best for me. I’m not a make-you-miss guy. I can make people miss sometimes, but that not really my game. I stick to what I know. I’ve always just loved watching Marshawn Lynch run. The way he ran, the way he fought for every yard, he made it a struggle for the defenders to bring him down.”

(I was looking at some of your numbers. You were top five in rushing touchdowns and rushing yards since you’ve been in the league. What do you think about the value of opportunity and do you think that this provide an opportunity for you to be the guy that you’ve shown throughout your career?) – “I’m not sure about the opportunity. I’m just trying to come in here and do whatever role. I’m never scared of competition. Competition makes everyone better, so I embrace completion.”

(Where are you riding all of this coronavirus out? Are you at home? Where is home? Are you in isolation? It’s got to be tough. I know it is for us, to be stuck in the house all day.) – “Yeah, I’m in Aventura in isolation. At least I’m in good weather right now.”

(What do you think about free agency as an opportunity for teams to get better? The Dolphins obviously signed a bunch of guys including you. What do you think about that?) – “I definitely feel like free agency along with the draft is a good opportunity for teams to improve, to find players they feel will fit their system, especially with new coaches. They don’t always get to pick as soon as they get there. I feel like this is a chance for (Head) Coach (Brian) Flores to mold the team into his image.” 

(I know there has been talk about maybe a shortened offseason, maybe it’s OTAs or minicamp. How do you think that will impact players having a season if you didn’t have those spring and summer workouts?) – “I don’t think it would impact the current players. I think it will impact more the rookies. They have a bigger learning curve for them because they won’t get that physical time. They won’t be able to go through those reps and things like that to build a routine. I feel like that’s who it would impact the most.”

(How have you been able to maintain your conditioning during the coronavirus?) – “I’ve just been doing a lot of cardio and a lot of running. I haven’t been doing too many weights, but I’ve definitely been getting a lot of running in.”

(I’m wondering how bizarre this offseason has been for you. I know you’ve covered the coronavirus thing; but just all things considered, how bizarre has this whole offseason been for you?) – “It’s been pretty chill for the most part until the coronavirus started hitting. Other than that, it’s been pretty chill, pretty simple, pretty much the same. The coronavirus has made things pretty weird.”

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CB Byron Jones

(Two quick questions – what was it that brought you at the end of the day here to Miami and how excited are you to work with a guy like CB Xavien Howard?) – “What really brought me to Miami was the idea of joining a young team and being a leader on that team and kind of being a catalyst for cultural change and helping this team win. They’ve got a bunch of ballers on that roster and really with the prospect of drafting a lot of dope players, and we’ve also brought in a bunch of different free agents across the league. I wanted to be a part of the building of something special and more than anything, just being that guy – a guy that people look up to in the locker room to lead them in the right direction, really. I’m looking forward to playing with all my teammates, but especially to play across from another guy who’s a top-tier corner. I think that’s going to be a cool little duo for us.”

(I know Head Coach Brian Flores likes to play a lot of man-to-man defense. How does that fit with what you want to do?) – “Yeah, I love – that’s one of the things that really made me fall in love with the game all over again; one, changing from safety to corner, but then just having someone in front of me every play. I love that. I love competing every single play. Even if the ball’s not thrown to my side, I’m cool with that. Being a long, strong corner – I can move pretty well, I can change directions pretty well – I think that’s going to bode well if we’re playing a lot of man.”

(I understand there were a number of teams involved in free agency. I think the Eagles were one of them. How did Miami win that race?) – “Like I said earlier, it was just the prospect of being a part of a team that’s building and going in the right direction. I like the young roster and I like the coach, so for me it was just a good fit.”

(You mentioned CB Xavien Howard earlier. What does having two Pro Bowl-type corners on one team do to a quarterback? What problems are you guys expecting to cause?) – “The most important part is just really having no weak links, and that’s what we’re trying to create in our defensive secondary and really the entire team, is to build a team where there are no weaknesses, where we can just guard up. We can create matchups that are difficult for receivers and quarterbacks. We’ve seen throughout the league, receivers are getting better and better. Quarterbacks are getting better and better. Teams don’t have just one good receiver. They have multiple. They have good tight ends, good running backs, so we just want to be able to match up to some of the best assets and just disrupt that as much as we can.”

(Obviously you’ve been graded as one of the best cover corners in the whole league for a few years now. It’s always brought up that you only have two interceptions in your career. What are some of the things that you think have contributed to that?) – “Man, I have no clue. It’s a joke, the fact that I haven’t had an interception in two years. It’s bizarre. (laughter) But it doesn’t bother me in any way. It’s just one of those things you work on in the offseason (and) during the season and when it comes, you’ve got to be ready. In 2018, I had a ball hit in the back of the head and that was kind of embarrassing. In 2019, that didn’t happen in 2019, so I am getting better. (laughter) Slowly but surely, I am getting better; but I’ve been working on ball skills all day long, and that’s just something that – surprisingly I do have good ball skills, but it just needs to show up on game days. We’re working on that.”

(You’re obviously from Connecticut, the New York area. Do you have family still there? How are they dealing with coronavirus? It’s obviously one of the biggest hotspots in the world.) – “I’m not from New York. I’m from Connecticut, and they are staying inside like everybody else. (laughter)”

(I wonder how many Zoom interview sessions you’ve done and what your reaction to this is?) – “This is my second one. I had an interview with – not really an interview, just talking to a friend. He wanted to show me the app, I guess, but it’s neat. You see, I guess I’ve got a little background here so you’re not looking in my house. It’s just a bizarre situation that we’re all in, but we’re all in it together, so hopefully we can collectively understand how important the situation is and understand to stay inside and not to spread this virus. Maybe in a couple weeks, but that’s – man, that’s life. Let’s figure it out.”

(I’m curious what you had heard about Head Coach Brian Flores before the process and then maybe what you learned about him during the last couple of weeks or months.) – “I haven’t had a chance to actually meet him in person, but talking with him on the phone after I signed – just, he’s a young coach and I love that. He’s got young energy. I hear he’s intense and he likes to create competitive scenarios, competitive situations. That’s just something that I like and I wanted to be a part of. I’ve heard a lot of good things about him throughout the league. I spoke to a couple of coaches and players throughout the whole process and they had nothing but good things to say about him. That’s exciting for me, just to be on a team that he’s leading.”

(You were the first signing by the Dolphins, I believe, in this free agency period. What did you think as they went on – they signed LB Kyle Van Noy, for instance, and then they DE Shaq Lawson, etc. What were your thoughts as the day progressed?) – “Yeah, we’ve got some ballers. No question about that. You combine the new talent with the talent that was already on the team and you combine it with the new talent we’re going to get in the draft, and we’re going to have some ballers. Now the challenge is putting it together and being consistent and winning games in this league, which is very hard to do; but no, it’s exciting to see a lot of good players come from different teams. We all come from different backgrounds. That’s the beauty of football, so there shouldn’t be any issues working together with these guys. I’ve talked to a couple of them already. We’re ready to get the thing started.”

(What changes for you with the money?) – “Personally?”

(Your role on the team, your expectations, personally, anything.) – “One thing my coach – his name is Kris Richard, and he’s really one of the big reasons why I moved to corner and why I was a Pro Bowl player – is approach things as if it’s a championship. So championship preparation in practice, in life, the way you eat. If this was a practice leading up to Super Bowl, how are you going to prepare for that practice, prepare for that game? So really, my mindset is regardless of if I’m getting paid $1 million or $13 million. It doesn’t change for me. I’m always going to practice and prepare to my best abilities. To me, that’s what’s consistent of being a part of – the good players in this league, we don’t change based on outside circumstances. There’s something internal in a player that says, ‘hey, I have certain standards I’m not going to deviate (from them) no matter what’s going on.’ Me, being an older guy now, I have to step up to a leadership position. Just not leading by example, but leading through being vocal and talking to the team and making sure the young guys are doing the right thing. That’s what I’m excited for.”

(I know that Dallas obviously drafted you and groomed you. Do you think that their situation with QB Dak Prescott and WR Amari Cooper impacted you not getting much interest from them in that perspective?) – “I don’t think so. One thing that the Dallas Cowboys do a really good job at is drafting good young players, and they have a whole bunch of good corners on that team – no question about that – and those guys will be just fine without me. But they believe strongly in the way they draft and they’ve shown over the years they draft some freaking ballers no matter (if it is the) first round, seventh round, guys in between. They draft and develop really good players, so I don’t think the Dak and Amari’s situation had any effect on me. I think it’s their confidence in the people that they have on the roster now and who they’re going to get in the draft hopefully.”

(I’m wondering how many times you’ve broad jumped since the world record.) – “(laughter) It’s funny, so never like an official – we do it during training around this time of the year. We’ll do it in April and May. It’s like a plyometric, I guess, so we’ll do like broad jumps back-to-back-to-back-to-back just to build the muscles up and just more for explosion, just for workout; but I’ve never actually gotten on a line and measured how far I jump. That was a one-time deal, man. That’s it. (laughter)”

(I know you sort of touched on this earlier, but I’m wondering when you started free agency, what were your priorities? What did you want aside from money, from a team that would sway you to sign with that team?) – “Really, it’s just the team – how the team makeup is. To me, it’s where they’re going and what direction are they going into? I had good opportunities to join different teams at different stages of their – I don’t know – their winning cycle? But I love the prospect of joining a team that’s on the come-up. That was exciting for me, and seeing the guys that the Dolphins have been able to collect over the past couple of weeks and the guys that they already have on the roster and obviously the guys that they’re going to get in the draft. To me, that’s exciting, and that was one of the big things. Football is a grind. No matter how much you’re getting paid, it is hard, so you want to be in a good locker room, a good situation with good teammates, good coaches; and you want to win games. That’s the only thing that makes this game easy – not easy, but it makes it do-able for 20-24 weeks depending on how far you go in the season. That’s what’s most important to me. It just, who you’re around, what’s the culture and where do you see the team going.”

(How do you feel about playing for Miami and what is one key attribute that you have that will help this team?) – “I am fired up to play for Miami. This is a young team that’s going in the right direction, and the thing that I can bring to this team is leadership and also good man coverage. That’s one thing I’m excited (about), is to play with this defensive style. We’re going to match up, we’re going to have some fun, put people in different spots so they can be successful and that’s what I’m looking most forward to.”

~~~~~~~~~~

LB Elandon Roberts

(I wanted to ask you about coming to the Dolphins. In the league, players make their choice based on opportunity and salary. You also have a former coach in Brian Flores, so how much was this decision based on Brian Flores and how much of it on playing opportunity and salary?) – “Through the process, it was all good. Just being a former player for him in New England and knowing what he’s about and stuff like that, it just felt comfortable to come and whatnot. Just knowing how good of a leader he is on and off the field, how much he cares about you as a player. Ultimately it went into my decision to become a Miami Dolphin and I’m 100 percent all the way in. I can’t wait to get down there and get started.”

(Describe to me what a – and I quote – ‘run through a [expletive]’s face mentality’ is.) – “It’s just in you. As a linebacker, you’ve got to – sometimes a lot of people are in your way or you’ve got to – At the end of the day for a linebacker, you have to make a tackle. So it’s a ‘do what you’ve got to do’ mentality. If you’ve got to do that, then you’ve got to do it. It’s just a mentality that I go by.”

(You were part of the Patriots’ long reign in the AFC East … is there potential now with the players that departed for an opportunity to unseat them?) – “We just have to come in every day and take it one day at a time. We can’t really look at what’s out there. All we can do is control what’s in our facility. That’s taking it one day at a time, learning our teammates, getting in and seeing what (Head Coach Brian) Flores and the staff wants out of us. That’s all that we can control.”

(I know you played with LB Kyle Van Noy and you’ve seen a lot of the pieces that were signed here on this defense. I wanted to ask you if you can still score on this defense now as it is right now?) – “Of course. I think everybody can score on defense. That’s definitely something fun to do. Creating turnovers is a part of defense. Of course I think every team in the league wants to do that. I think if we are able to get over this situation that we are going through and we all come together as the Miami Dolphins – we’re going to take it one day at a time as a team and as a defense, and try to create those habits.”

(I know you went to an HBCU. There was supposed to be a HBCU combine this weekend at the Dolphins facility but of course it was cancelled. What I want to know from you is it tougher to make it to the NFL when you come from an HBCU? If you think that is the case, why is that the case?) – ”I only went to an HBCU my freshman year. I didn’t graduate from there. I graduated and did my pro day with the University of Houston, so I really can’t answer that question. But I do think that NFL scouts around the league do a great job of finding you wherever you’re at, whether it’s HBCU, D-II, even if it’s NAIA, they do a great job of finding talent all over.”

(Were you surprised that QB Tom Brady left New England and what do you think about the new era they have in New England?) – “I just feel like Tom made the best decision that was best for Tom. I really can’t talk to deep into Tom and his decision. He’s a great guy and a great teammate.”

(What is your mindset given what we’re all going through right now. How are you able to stay in shape, and what’s you level of confidence that you’ll be able to gather with your new teammates for the offseason training?) – “Right now with what’s going on, I’ve just been staying in the house controlling what I can control. Just doing little thing within the inside of my house. Just trying to make sure I’m doing the right things to make sure this thing can get settled down and whatnot. I can’t (wait to) get out there to Miami and get with my teammates and learn each one of those and we can start taking this one day at a time.”

(How has this experience been for you? Obviously going into free agency, you would probably visit some teams before you make a decision. Was it harder going into this without being able to go and visit the teams and piggy-backing off that, how are you are keeping in shape?) – “I can only talk about my decision. For me, it was pretty comfortable because I was already comfortable with ‘Coach Flo’ (Brian Flores) out there in Miami. I didn’t think I needed to take too much of a visit. It didn’t hinder my decision because of the situation. Knowing Coach Flores, knowing what he’s about, knowing what kind of leader he is – I knew everybody in that organization. It’s going to be the same type of mentality he’s on because I know what type of leader he is, so it didn’t make it that difficult for me not taking a visit.”

(I know you don’t want to talk much about QB Tom Brady leaving, but you caught the second-to-last touchdown pass from him in New England. Can you even picture what an AFC East would look like without that guy?) – “I think the AFC East right now, for me, is taking it one day at a time with the Miami Dolphins. When we’re over this situation that we’re going through, to get there and meet my teammates, meet the staff, and even meet the people that help around the building – because that’s the people that make it easier on us – when I’m able to do that, then we’re able to just take it one day at a time and do what we need to do to control what we can control.”

(You were a captain in New England. How would you describe your leadership skills and how do your teammates think of you?) – “Me, I honestly think it’s just being yourself. Come in here every day, be the best teammate you can be, be the best person you can be in the building, and stuff like that. That’s it for me. Just always being myself and doing what the team needs me to do, and being the best teammate I can be.”

(What is your main reason for joining the Dolphins?) – “My number one reason, like I keep saying, is Coach Flores. He just made me feel so comfortable with coming down and knowing what type of leader he is and the type of staff that’s here already. That was my number one main reason and whatnot. I’m 100 percent bought in. I can’t wait to get down (there) and I love that I’m a Miami Dolphin.”

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C Ted Karras

(Why the Dolphins? How did this come together?) – “I got a couple offers and I really believe in what Coach Flores (Head Coach Brian Flores) is building and doing here, and I kind of wanted to get in and help him build it. So I’m really excited. Hopefully (I will) get down there soon. I hope everyone’s well, by the way, and I’m looking forward to meeting you all. I’m looking forward to getting down (there) and getting to work, meeting the guys and a brand new adventure.”

(What are your thoughts about this group of free agents that you are a part of? It’s a large group. The Dolphins obviously made a big investment. What kind of impact do you think you all collectively can make?) – “It’s been great. I know a lot of guys coming in. Kyle Van Noy, Elandon (Roberts) obviously from the Patriots. I played college football with Clayton Fejedelem, and then we were in rookie camp together with Kamu Grugier-Hill, so a lot of familiar faces. A lot of talent coming in. I know Shaq Lawson from Combine training. So I’m looking forward to getting to work with these guys. It’s going to be an exciting year. I’m pretty pumped up. Obviously I’m just going to focus on what I need to do to help the team win some games and that’s working hard however I can and getting to know these guys and mesh together as a team. It’s kind of like a whole other class coming in. It’s pretty exciting stuff.”

(What do you remember about Head Coach Brian Flores when he was down there with New England and do you have any good ‘Flo’ stories?) – “I don’t know if I have any good ‘Flo’ stories. I know I competed against him a lot my first couple years. I was with the sixth-man reserve scout team guys, so we competed against him a lot. We got after his defense, and he’s intense and prepares to win and knows what he’s doing and I really respect that a lot. He actually played with a couple guys from my high school at BC (Boston College), so that’s kind of how we started talking, but we developed a pretty decent relationship and I really liked what he did last year and really respect Coach Flores. I’m glad to be in his organization.”

(What has Head Coach Brian Flores told you about the culture that he’s building in Miami and do you feel like there are any similarities based on what you experienced in New England and maybe some differences?) – “I don’t know if he’s told me anything explicitly about what the culture he’s trying to build. I think just going off his personality and what I saw on film and what I’ve read and heard, it’s going to be fairly similar to what we were about in New England. I think the biggest things would just be preparing to win, being tough and trying to go out there and win as many games as we can. I think that inherently that’s what he’s about, and that’s one of the main reasons that I decided to come down and be a Miami Dolphin. I’m really looking forward to working with him again and getting some work done.”

(I’m wondering when you look at interior offensive line – in New England you guys didn’t seem to have highly drafted guys. Maybe Patriots G Joe Thuney might have been the highest pick right at the third round. What is the key to building that interior offensive line? Is it skill? Is it coaching? What is it?) – “I think a little bit has to do with skill and also hard work. I do have to give a lot of credit in my own career – I can only speak for myself – (Patriots Offensive Line Coach) Dante Scarnecchia really made me an exceptionally better football player than I was. Four years of working under him really, really benefitted me; but I think guys take it upon themselves to try and get better. We work hard every day. There’s obviously a toughness aspect and a lot of things go into it. I’m hoping that I can help bolster this interior offensive line and have some success down here as well.”

(How have you been impacted by coronavirus? Where are you right now? How much have you been able to leave the house and what do you think of what’s going on in the world?) – “It’s crazy. I hope you guys are all safe and your families are safe. I’m here in just a little town right outside of Foxborough. I’m just working out – my neighbor’s got a rack in his garage right across the street. I’m just running up and down the street. I’m doing band workouts. I’m doing anything I can to get it done. It’s pretty crazy. I hope it calms down soon so I can get down there and get to work. I’m really excited to meet the guys. That’s my favorite part about football is being on a team with 50, 60 guys so I’m really looking forward to meeting some new people and getting to work.”

(You were part of the Patriots’ long reign in this division. How much does the balance of power change with the Patriots quarterback going to Tampa Bay now? How much of an opening does it create for the other teams?) – “I think just about as much opening as any other time every year. It’s a new season. Everyone is coming in, working hard for – we’re coming together for six months and going to try to win as many games as we can out of 16, and we’ve got as good of a shot as anybody else in the division; but it’s going to take hard work and dedication. We’re going to have to come together and really buy in and work our hardest to get better every day. If we can do that, then we have just as much of a shot as the other three teams in this division.”

(I wanted to ask you – I know that there was a narrative about the Dolphins early on last season that they were tanking or whatnot, but you guys got to play them twice. What did you see in that team by the end of the season through improvement or otherwise?) – “The obvious improvement being they came up and we lost the last game; but even in both games, (they have) big tough guys on the d-line. Obviously a stout defense. (It’s a) very similar scheme to what we were doing, but it’s a tough – any time you play – I thought Coach Flores’ teams coming in, even when he was the d-coordinator here, it’s going to be a tough day for guys on the inside. A lot of hitting, a lot of guys covered up. They were a tough team and that was a tough loss for us, so I have a lot of respect for when they came up – New Year’s Eve in New England – and came up and beat us. That earned a lot of respect from me, so I’m looking forward to being a part of a team with those guys.”

(What was your reaction to QB Tom Brady leaving?) – “I’m very happy for him. Tom Brady is a personal favorite of mine. He always was amazing to me and obviously a great athlete, great person. I think he’s one of the best ever, and I learned a lot of football from him; but also about being a man, a father and a human being in this league and I’m very happy for him. He deserves everything he gets, and I wish him luck and success. I’m sure he’ll have some, so I’m looking forward to seeing what happens.”

(How many video conferences have you done, and what’s your reaction to doing it this way?) – “Well, I’m actually pretty well-versed in Zoom before this. I was actually watching a lecture on Zoom. I’m finishing up my degree from Indiana University – my Master’s of Business Administration – so I’m pretty well-versed in zoom. It’s not bad. It’s kind of like everyone’s on a football offseason now and everyone’s home. This is kind of – it wouldn’t be too much, that much different for me, except now we just can’t even leave anyway. I’m just finishing up school and I don’t mind doing it this way; but I am looking forward to meeting you guys and shaking your hands when that is socially acceptable again (laughter) and working with you guys. It’s always exciting to meet new people, and I’m looking forward to meeting you guys and working together.”

(This one comes from a fan, Gabriel Lopez. He wants to know, what’s your opinion of Brian Flores?) – “I think he’s a smart, tough coach. He prepares us to win, brings in guys he thinks share his vision and his toughness and his drive to compete and win. I’m very much looking forward to practicing and playing in his organization.”

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