Minicamp First-Day Interviews

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Brent Ratliff scrambling for the Utes

Transcripts of interviews with various players in the New York Jets locker room during the first day of the team's rookie minicamp Saturday:      

OL JACOB BENDER, sixth-round draft choice

On his first Jets practice ...

It was good. I was excited. It was a pretty good one.

On whether he was intimidated by the NFL ...

If I felt intimidated, I wouldn't be here today. Football players are not supposed to be intimidated by anything. Respectful, yes, but not intimidated.

On Nicholls State's offense ...

We ran a triple option. We rarely passed and we averaged like 300 yards a game rushing, which was pretty cool.

On blocking for the running game ...

I like coming off of the ball and smashing heads.

On the camaraderie between him and the rest of the rookies ...

We are starting to warm up to each other.

WR JESSE PELLOT-ROSA, tryout

On where he would have pursued basketball if he did not get a call from the Jets ...

Overseas, probably in India.

Why play for the Jets instead of playing basketball ...

I love to play football just like I love to play basketball. They are equal to me. I love to play both. It's been like this since I was a kid. You go out on the playground and love to play. It didn't really matter whether it was basketball or football. I would play either one.

On why he didn't play both in college ...

We didn't have a football team.

On if he would go back to basketball if the Jets did not work out ...

I think so, but like I said, all I can do is work hard up here and try my best to make the team here. I will worry about the rest later, I can't worry about it. All I can worry about is today, focus on today.

On if everything is coming back to him ...

I am still struggling a little bit on where to line up and the different play calls. In basketball, you have: one, four, half. In football you have I-right, 23s, 24s, 9, 8, 6, 7 stop. It is a big adjustment for me. I have to keep reading my playbook and just keep studying. I'll get there.

On his vertical leap ...

34 [inches].

On his speed ...

Like 4.7 [in the 40].

On how the Jets knew to call him ...

One of the [scouts], I guess his friend told him about me. His friend coaches at a high school in Richmond [Va.].

LB TOMMY ROWLANDS, tryout

On where they have him lined up ...

Outside linebacker.

On what he is concerned about ...

The biggest thing I'm concerned about is trying to learn how to run plays and be a part of the team and do my part during the play. I think it all comes at you pretty fast and the information is overwhelming. I'm just trying to take it one step at a time and pick up as much as I can as I go along.

On when the Jets contacted him ...

Three days ago.

On what he thought when they called him ...

I was shocked. I thought it was a prank call, but when I returned the call, there was a voicemail that said 'New York Jets.' I figured if someone is pranking me, they're going to great lengths to make it work and I knew it was a legitimate phonecall.

On wrestling ...

I'm training for the Olympics right now. I'm No. 1 on the Olympic ladder, so on June 10 I'll compete in the final qualification process to go to the world championships. My mind was on a totally different thing three days ago and in two days it will be right back on the horse with the sport I have been doing since I was 6 years old. It has been a dream of mine to go to the Olympics.

On what would happen if he was invited back to the Jets ...

My attitude right now is to take advantage of the opportunity and do the best I can and if they want me to be a part of the team I will cross that bridge when I get there.

On why he agreed to come this weekend ...

I love watching football and I have always been curious as to how I would do once I became a bigger person. I was curious and a lot of my friends who know a little about football thought I should give it a try. I guess curiosity and the fact that it is the NFL. Anybody who's in America knows this is the grandest stage in sports inside the United States, so I wanted to see how I would stack up.

On Cole Konrad being here as well ...

We're pretty friendly with each other. When we get on the mat, we don't make any bones about it, we are there to beat each other up. We're friendly off the mat and wrestling is a small community, so if you're not friendly with the people who are in your sport, you're not going to have a good time.

LB DAVID HARRIS, second-round draft choice

On his approach to minicamp ...

I'm just trying to compete, trying to learn stuff for myself out there, trying to get to know everybody and have fun doing it. Just trying to work hard.

On using minicamp as a learning experience ...

The coaches, they do a great job of teaching us what we need to do on the field, they know what they're talking about. And as players, we try to go in and do what they tell us to.

On building relationships with his fellow rookies ...

We're all trying to build relationships with each other because for the next couple of days this is our family. We are one team. We just want to get better and help the team.

On the beginning of his Jets career ...

I feel like I'm a Jet. Just getting used to everything. It's a big step coming from college. You just make strides and get used to it.

On what is different about the NFL ...

Just the speed of everything. Learning an NFL system, an NFL defense. It's just a great experience.

On the first day of practice ...

You just try to go in and work hard every play, try not to make any mistakes on the first day. You try to go out and compete.

S LEONARD PETERS, undrafted free agent

On if he knew how interested the Jets were in him ...

I think every NFL team does its homework and they all seemed interested. During the draft it is all a chess match between each team so you never know where you're going to go. I'm just glad I have an opportunity to come here.

On the Jets being far from home ...

Yes, but it's OK. I grew up dancing [National Polynesian dancing] since I was in fourth grade all the way through high school, so I have traveled all over the world, Taiwan, Japan, so it's OK. I got to see a little bit from the airport to the hotel of the great atmosphere around here and I am grateful to be here.

On his background helping him take on this challenge ...

It doesn't matter what background I have, I'm just glad I have this opportunity. Who knew that a person from the Samoan Islands would come here and get a chance to play or at least try out to play NFL football.

On his hair resembling Troy Polamalu's ...

With a Polynesian background it has always been a warrior-like thing to grow your hair. I don't know about comparing me to Troy Polamalu because he is one of the greatest players, but I'm glad to just try to make the team.

On his college position coach saying he was a country boy going to New York ...

My defensive backs coach, Rich Miano, played here years ago, as a free agent also. All I can do is try my hardest to fit in on a team, no matter what it is.

On Miano giving him advice about the Jets ...

He played here years ago and he said it doesn't matter where you go and play, just focus on the task at hand.

On football being popular in Hawaii ...

I went to a high school in Hawaii that's called Kahuku and I think we are tied or leading for the most players to come out of one high school. It is a good thing for our state and our community.

On Polamalu being an inspiration to him ...

He is a good friend of mine. I got to meet him when they came to Hawai'i for the Pro Bowl — our high school football team actually helps out with the security, so we get to meet them and get to know them and stuff like that. I actually walked around with him and his wife for two days straight and got to know him and pick his mind about things. He is a great guy and an inspiration.

On any advice Polamalu gave him ...

He said to keep your feet on the ground, stay level-headed, focus on the littlest things and try your best.

On the scars he has on his hands from fire-knife dancing ...

The fire knife dancing championship of the world is actually taking place in Hawai'i this week. It's at the Polynesian Culture Center. It doesn't matter how many times you spin the knife, the best dancers in the world get bruises and scratches from it. It is the nature of the business, just like football.

On if he would be dancing at the championship now if he weren't with the Jets …

No, just helping out.

On how long it takes to learn how to dance ...

A while, and the best dancers still perfect their profession just like football players. To be the greatest you can be, you have to practice your technique and stuff like that.

On the dance he did with teammates before Hawai'i games ...

Every team has something to bring the team together. Because we are from Hawai'i and are called the Warriors, we tried to think of something from a Polynesian background that we could do. So we asked some New Zealand Maori people if we could dance the Haka and they said OK. And we asked some mainland players who were on the team and talked to them about it before we even danced or practiced it, and they said they were OK with it. I think it just draws us closer as a state and as a football team.

On players here asking him about the dance …

A lot of teams have seen us do it, but I am in the WAC and a lot of the players here are not in the WAC, so I don't think they know about it.

WR CHANSI STUCKEY, seventh-round draft choice

On making an impact ...

The Jets already have a lot of great receivers. They have a lot of guys who run a lot of different plays. Coach just wants me to learn the playbook and see where I fit in on offense.

On his strengths ...

I think my elusiveness and my ability to separate are my big things. And catching balls is one of my attributes, but as a receiver you have to keep working on your craft — work on your route running, work on catching the ball. You can never be too perfect.

On whether he has something to prove ...

No, I'm just the type of person who has a lot of hunger. I want to be the best, whether I was drafted in the first round or not drafted at all, work hard and earn my keep.

On what the last 24 hours have been like ...

It has been busy. I am here with a lot of new guys, not knowing what to expect, but we have a great group of guys here with Coach Mangini. From [Mike] Tannenbaum on down, I think this is a great organization and a great opportunity.

On having a chance to match-up against Darrelle Revis ...

We went against each other a little in 7-on-7. He is a really good player. He's big, he's physical, he's fast, and I think if he keeps working, he will be one of the great players in the NFL.

On talking with Justin Miller ...

I talked to him the day I got drafted and I talked to him yesterday. He gave me a heads-up on what to expect and what kind of things we were going to be doing to get ready for practice: "It's long and hard, but just be ready."

On how close he is with Miller ...

We were roommates my freshman year. We came in together and took a couple of trips to Tennessee and Clemson together. We remained in touch throughout.

On Miller's advice about the Jets ...

Work hard, know your playbook and know what's going on because Coach Mangini asks everybody everything. Know the players on the team. Do what is expected.

On getting here and overcoming his injury ...

It's life. God puts you through different things just to make you stronger. Everything happens for a reason. I'm not going to look back and regret anything.

On breaking his foot last year and how long it was expected to take to rehab it ...

Anywhere between three and five months, that was the diagnosis in the beginning.

On how he got his foot back to playing condition ...

I had to work pretty hard. I was in the training room two and three times a day trying to get it back to where it was and I got back to where I could play and contributed to a lot of good things. It was just a matter of working really hard in the training room.

OL COLE KONRAD, tryout

On being among all these football players ...

It has been a good experience. I don't have that big of a football background. I am learning tons here everyday. Everyone has been extremely helpful. The other linemen are helping me understand the plays, and the coaches have been great. I am just making the most of the opportunity.

On Stephen Neal …

He is similar in the sense that he had mainly a wrestling background. He had the opportunity to come to an NFL camp and he did well with it. I'm trying to do the same. I'm trying to work hard and learn as much as I can while I'm here.

On Tommy Rowlands ...

As big rivals as we are on the mat, we get along really well off the mat.

On the last time he played football ...

1999.

On what he remembers from playing ...

Not too much.

On being surprised the Jets contacted him ...

It caught me off guard.

On why he thinks the Jets asked him to come ...

I think they want to bring me in to see what speed and agility I have and see what kind of potential I have. And my work ethic-to see if there is something that can develop there.

On if he is comfortable ...

It's hard to feel natural from the standpoint that I have never done this before. I think it's the same for everyone when they're learning something new — it's a slow process. I keep learning every minute I'm here.

CB DARRELLE REVIS, first-round draft choice

On his first practice ...

It was OK. We had fun out there. I tried to make the best out there and learn the system.

On if he was surprised the Jets traded up for him ...

Yes, I was surprised. I just talked to [owner Woody Johnson] at lunch today. We were both excited about it and I just said thank you.

On the biggest adjustment coming to the NFL ...

Learning the playbook. It is a lot, and tough. It is big and you have to get in there and learn it if you want to get playing time.

On being excited to get things going ...

I was excited to come out here and meet some of these guys who will probably be my future teammates. It was great.

On what the last couple of weeks have been like ...

Spinning, my head has been spinning everywhere. Just getting drafted and getting a lot of phonecalls for endorsements and other things. My head has just been spinning everywhere. Today I am excited to be here and to begin learning the system.

On what he expects from this minicamp ...

Learning the system and playing NFL football. Just trying to get used to the game. It's fast out there. Everyone is good so you can't slack, and you have to play hard and work hard.

On being ready for the media crush ...

It's OK. It's not a big deal to me. I am going to answer your questions. That is the way I think of it.

On wearing Jets green ...

I love wearing green. Green and white, that's it for me.

On wearing No. 24 ...

Kerry Rhodes has 25. So I took 24 because of Ty Law. He's from my hometown. I know him, so I got his number.

On making a big impact this off-season ...

I just want to come in here and learn the system, compete the best that I can.

On Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt preparing him for the NFL ...

Coach Wannstedt coached for 30 years in college and the NFL. He runs a businesslike NFL system at Pitt. He, being our coach, prepped me a lot for having an NFL career.

On if he studied tapes of Ty Law ...

No. Me and Ty's relationship is basically talking on the phone; getting techniques from him so I can better my game and be a better player.

On being compared to Patrick Surtain ...

That's something, when Coach Wannstedt came in, we talked about a lot, [Surtain] and Sam Madison. I got a lot of techniques talking to Coach Wannstedt about him and Madison.

On camaraderie between the rookies ...

We're all rookies here. We're here for the same reason, to earn a spot on this team. We are friends here. It has been great and the competition has been good.

On if there is pressure on him because the Jets traded up to select him ...

I just thanked Mr. Johnson for doing it. Obviously, they did it for a reason and I am happy and I know Mr. Johnson is happy.

On if he is going to field punts this weekend ...

I don't know. It's up to the coaches.

On meeting special-teams coach Mike Westhoff ...

He is a great coach. For his age, he has high energy. A lot of rookies here love him and appreciate him. He has been in this business for a long time and we are going to listen to him.

On what type of coverage he is comfortable with ...

Coach Mangini, Coach MacIntyre and Coach Sutton will put me in the best position to play football.

On knowing the Jets were going to trade up and select him ...

I didn't know until they called me. I didn't know where I was going. There was a lot of talk of me going to the Steelers, but I didn't know anything.

On possibly playing against Randy Moss, now with New England, on opening day ...

That's up to Coach Mangini and Coach Sutton. I don't know. I grew up watching Randy Moss. He's a great player. It's going to be a little crazy playing against a guy like that. I just see it as football. We are a team. There is no one-on-one between me and Randy Moss. It is 11 as one.

On the criticism of his lack of deep speed ...

That is just something that is out there. I can't control that. I just go out and play football.

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