We caught up with tight end
Rex Ryan called you a jack-of-all-trades and someone who does the jobs nobody else wants to do.
Yeah, I heard about the comments he made.
Is that cool?
It’s really cool. I’m just trying to do whatever it takes to help the team. That’s all I care about, whatever capacity that is. If they want me to play more special teams, I’ll play more special teams. If they want me to play whatever position it is on offense. I just try to adapt and do the best I possibly can. I’m starting to really become comfortable with the offense because I wasn’t here. I had to pick it up on the fly. I have to know pretty much every spot on offense with the stuff that I’m asked to do. It’s just been a lot of studying, getting in my playbook, and it’s starting to really all make sense and click, whereas earlier in the season it was kind of like I know what I’m supposed to do, but I’m not quite sure what everybody else around me is doing. Now I know what everyone else around me is doing, and I know exactly where I fit in the puzzle. I’ve just tried to get better every day.
Has Rex complimented you during practice with the progress you’ve been making?
He’s complimented me here and there, but nothing too crazy. I’m not the kind of guy that really wants to be praised a whole lot, to be honest. It almost makes me feel awkward at times. I just go out there and try to do whatever I can to help.
You guys obviously had a big win last week against Jacksonville. Do you feel like that was one of your more productive games with this team?
Yeah, I’d say it was one of my more productive games. At the same time, though, there’s things I can definitely improve on. I still feel like I haven’t put together a complete game where I just walk out saying I played to the 100 percent best of my ability. But it’s coming, it’s starting to come along, and like I said, I’m starting to feel really comfortable and know where I kind of fit in the scheme of things.
What’s something the average person may not know about you? I read you’ve got some German heritage.
Yeah, I was going to say I speak fluent German and I lived in Germany in eighth grade.
Did you study German in school?
My parents sent me and each one of my brothers in our eighth-grade year to go live with our relatives, my dad’s cousin and the whole family.
How many brothers do you have?
I have two younger brothers. So we all lived there away from our parents, kind of just with our relatives as a regular German citizen basically going to school.
I’m sure that was a memorable and exciting year.
It really makes you mature, I’ll put it that way. Germany is a great country, but it also makes you appreciate what you have here. Growing up, you know you’re kind of in the American bubble. For me it was the Orange County bubble. It kind of helped me break out of that. I came into high school just much more mature.
How often would you say you speak German nowadays?
I speak it with my grandparents.
Do they live over there in Germany?
No, they live in Southern California as well. Then a little bit with my parents. It’s just that the laziness in us kicks in and we go back to English a lot.
But I take it you’re still fluent even if you don’t speak it for a few months?
Pretty fluent. I realize sometimes if I’m speaking it, there’s like a word that I know I used to know and I have to restructure my whole sentence to avoid the word. But whenever I go back, within two weeks I’m completely fluent again. It’s just I need to hear it more often, I guess.
What about some hobbies away from football?
I am a pretty relaxed guy. I just like to hang out with friends. I love the beach.
Is that because you’re from Cali?
Yeah, I grew up just going to the beach all the time. Anything beach-related, I’m there. In the offseasons I work out and get my workouts done and a lot of the times I’ll go right to the beach.
What do you think about this Northeast culture since you’re from the West Coast? Do you like it out here? Or is it really different?
To be honest, ever since I’ve gotten here, I’ve been so immersed in my job here, and especially coming in having to fill the gap of not knowing anything. I’ve been here more than probably the average person because I had to pick up the whole offense. So I haven’t really gotten to do a whole lot. I’ve been into the city probably eight or nine times. So I’ve gotten to see the city a little bit here and there, but there’s still so much more I want to see. But from my time out here, I’ve really enjoyed it. My free time when my girlfriend will come out, we’ll go to wherever. It’s a cool area. It’s way different, way different. I would say there’s no place like home, but at the same time, this is a pretty cool place to be.
Last Monday night you participated in a Toys “R” Us shopping spree with a few of your teammates. What was that experience like for you?
It was a really cool experience. It kind of got me fired up for Christmas. It put me in the Christmas spirit a little bit. I almost feel like us as players, we benefit from it more than the kids even, getting a chance to help these kids that are underprivileged and take them out on a shopping spree and get them all the things they could ask for on Christmas, which I know they probably wouldn’t have otherwise.
You play the Titans this week. Do you know anybody on their roster that you’re looking forward to reuniting with?
I’m trying to think off the top of my head here. There’s just guys I’ve played against but nobody that I’m like really close to. I don’t really know anybody on the Patriots either. Besides that, pretty much every team we’ve played, I have friends.
And this will be your second Monday night game with the Jets. What’s it like for you playing on that stage?
I think it’s different than a normal Sunday because it’s the big stage, it’s the bright lights. If you have any kind of a pulse, you’re getting fired up. Not that we don’t get fired up for a regular game. But you know Monday night football is one of those things where you’ve got the whole country as your audience and you can really go out there and showcase. Yeah I’m definitely fired up for it, and just knowing that every game we play now, it’s like a playoff game. It’s such an important game for us and it can really put us into the big picture here of the goal that we’re trying to obtain.
I know they’re going to be fired up because they’ve got a home game on Monday night. This is kind of like their biggest game they have left, being I think 4-9. They’re going to come out and give us everything they’ve got and I expect an incredible effort out of them. I’m pretty sure we’ll be able to respond to it, though. We’ve got to keep working and keep getting better. That’s the thing. We’re just focusing on one day at a time and just trying to improve and trying to get better as the season progresses.