Nose Tackle Barry Cofield
On defensive end Jason Hatcher's influence on the defense:
"Yeah, you know, Hatch was one of the best acquisitions we've made since I've been here. He has a real unique skillset and I think that's what our defense this year makes it, you know, better than the years past. It's really going to utilize everybody's strengths. Everybody's skillsets will be optimized, so a guy like Hatch is going to be rushing, getting up the field. A guy like a Chris Baker is going to play with power and everything is going to be suited to that, to that guy's particular needs."
On how he feels, when he was cleared and if he is practicing without limitation:
"Yeah, I'm fine. I'm 100 percent. Realistically, I probably could have did some team stuff in OTAs but it just wasn't pressing. So I spent the whole month off, training as if I was 100 percent and I am."
On if he is glad he took care of injury in the offseason instead of worrying about it now:
"Oh, yeah. I'm glad we did it right when we did it. You know, you try to be a tough guy. You want to play through everything. I probably could have played through it, but, you know, now I'm extremely happy and I'm extremely excited."
On this year's training camp compared to last year's training camp:
"Yeah, it's definitely about football right now. It's definitely about football and that's it. We're not in the headlines. I don't see us on the SportsCenter ticker at the bottom every day. It's a good feeling to just be focused on football, focused on getting better and only fielding questions about players and their activities on the field. And that's a good thing. But, with success comes scrutiny. So we had a successful year the year before. There was expectations. So, we want to play to a level where there are expectations and we do cause a buzz, so right now we're enjoying the being under the radar, being the underdog, but hopefully by the end of the year we are the opening story on SportsCenter."
On the amount of contact this year compared to previous camps:
"We're maybe a little bit more physical this year. We're going to be in full pads more often. It's just a mindset thing, a mind-state of the coach, what he prefers. So, maybe just putting on the pads everyday will instill a little bit more physicality into the practices. I feel like there's a lot of competition. You know, even with the returners that we have, we still feel like there's a lot of competition. Haz [Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett] preached that to us from Day 1. You know, unlike a lot of years, he doesn't know who's going to make the team. He definitely doesn't know who's going to start, so that breeds competition and that breeds intensity in practice. So, I think guys are flying around and playing very physical."
On how Gruden, a former offensive coordinator, handles the defense:
"Honestly, I think he's letting us play defense. You know, he's not being biased. Most offensive coaches are biased, but I don't think he's being biased, he's letting Haslett handle the deal. We brought in some great coaches and we've got some great defensive minds, so I don't think he needs to micromanage everything. I think the great head coaches let their assistants, let their coordinators and let their players police themselves. That's what I've seen so far so I'm excited about it."
On offensive coaches can be biased:
"I mean if its third-and-two in the drill and the guy gets tagged at the line of scrimmage, it's going to be a first down. The ball is going to keep moving and in the move-the-ball drill, the ball is going to end up in the red zone somehow, someway. If there's an interception of the first play, he's [Gruden] liable to say 'line up again, let's start again. Good job defense.' But today we got a pick and the twos came up after D-Hall [cornerback DeAngelo Hall] got his pick and that was a good sight. I think everyone loves Jay right now. When the bullets start flying and you take that loss, that's when everybody's true character comes out. It's all good feelings right now so hopefully we can keep those feelings."
On Gruden not micromanaging Haslett:
"You'd have to ask Haslett about the past, but as far as now, I definitely see Jay giving him the reins. Coach Gruden is good at that. He's like one of the guys. He's got extremely high expectations. When it's not right, you know you'll get in that meeting room and he's going to show everybody that it's not right. But until then, he's going to let you do you, be professional and let you have personal accountability so I think that's what everybody wants from players all through coaches. He's a great offensive mind. He's obviously going to be slanted that way as far as his time. We have Coach Haslett and [Defensive Line] Coach [Jacob] Burney has been around forever. [Defensive Backs] Coach Raheem [Morris] has been a head coach. We have so many great coaches on the defensive side of the ball that I don't think we need the head coach [on defense] at all."
On if the team uses the results of last season as motivation:
"Absolutely, absolutely. We reference last year all the time. Believe it or not, we did some positive things last year, even defensively. You know, we had some good snaps, especially towards the end of the season. You know, we actually played some really good football at times. We reference that for encouragement, and we also learn from the bad plays – every bad snap, all the bad stats, all the rankings. You definitely use that to fuel your fire. As much as you want to look forward, you want to use last year. Not live off last year, not rely on last year, just use it to be a plus going forward and I think we're doing a great job of that."
On cornerback DeAngelo Hall wanting to be considered one of the best cornerbacks in the league and how he ranks himself as a nose tackle:
"I'm not interested in ranking myself. I just want to help the team win and I want to be the starting nose tackle for the Super Bowl champions. That's my main goal. I come to work every day and work hard. I love that my coaches support me. I'd be happy if Perry Riley and Keenan Robinson went to the Pro Bowl instead of myself and they just buy my something – just a gift to give me a little recognition. I'd take that. Realistically, it's not about rankings. I agree that D-Hall is one of the best cornerbacks if not the best, and if everybody has that attitude – whether you say it or not – good things happen."
On the challenge of improving the defense primarily through the front seven instead of the secondary:
"I'm definitely excited about the challenge. Some of it could be circumstance. You have the ability to acquire who you can acquire. When you get a chance to take a Jason Hatcher from the Cowboys, you take him 10 times out of 10. Trent [Murphy] has been a good pick up too. If you don't play well up front, you can't be good on defense. That's just tried and true. It's been like that since the first days. We definitely take that responsibility –
pass rushers are what has been talked about, but realistically if you don't stop to the run, you'll never rush the passer because teams will run the ball down your throat. So we have to focus on that first, being physical, stopping the run and then we'll have fun on the third-and-long."
On if he feels the new talent will help the secondary:
"Absolutely. We all work together. The negative passing stats, a lot of times, too much blame is put on the secondary. We all work together. They give us an extra second of great coverage, we make a sack. We rush the quarterback's decision making process, we tip a ball, even if you hit him afterwards, he remembers those hits. So we all work together. There's no finger pointing in our group and we all want to play better than last year. We've definitely got the talent up front. If we don't play better this year, I'll be shocked and disappointed."
On how Hatcher will affect Cofield's responsibilities:
"Ah man, you want me to open the playbook up and give you a PowerPoint here? I don't think Coach would appreciate that [laughter]. You know what, the whole defense is tailored to guys' strengths. I can personally say that if Hatch is up the field rushing like his hair is on fire, I'm going to try to cover him on a run play. I'm going to try to cover him on a QB scramble. So without giving away too much, I'm going to let him do what he does and I'm going to try to make him right, make the defense work, and like I said, I might not get a sack but if I get a ring, that's worth it."