As fans, we are at peak excitement for this football season. The sky is the limit for the possibility for all 32 NFL teams at this point. All records are clean, each franchise controls its own destiny and everyone is tied for first. Do players also share the optimism we as fans do?
The local radio station 1530 posted interviews from some of the key players about the beginning of this season and the Week 1 game at Oakland. Andrew Whitworth plays the role of veteran perfectly in this interview. There is no tone or excitement in his voice. You know that he is not going to tip his hand. There will be nothing he says that can be turned on him.
"We don't worry about narratives too much... The same people writing about how good the Patriots will be this season are the same people that were talking about their decline last season at week 3"
Whitworth added that he was excited for the opportunity to play this year, "You have to go out and kind of grow and that's what I think the season is about. Throughout the year growing through the ups and downs. And develop yourself and the best team in the end has grown into that Champon-type football team."
Jeremy Hill also answers his questions like you would expect a veteran to. In his interview, you can hear the excitement behind the words. I imagine he knows there are a lot of expectations on him and the Bengals running game for this season and he wants to strap on the pads today. "We need to go out there and set the tempo for 2015, I think it is going to be big for us," Hill said. "We've finally got the game plan so now we get to go out there and see what works and what doesn't. It's big, you gotta enjoy the whole process."
Regarding Oakland, Hill said they have a great front seven, a really athletic defensive line, a savvy secondary, and a "pretty solid defense."
I have interviewed Tyler Eifert multiple times. He is a thoughtful and intelligent person. You hear the correct things from him in his answers about the postseason and his quarterback. The coolest part is when a reporter asked if this was the finish line for him coming back from injury. He replies that the finish line was when he was cleared, now he has to prove it.
When Eifert was asked about the postseason, he said, "We have a lot to do to make it back there and we need to take it one game at a time."
When asked about Andy Dalton:
"Andy is our leader of offense and the leader of this team. He has taken on more of that role being more vocal and being more involved with the guys, not just in the locker room but off the field, so that's been really good for us."
George Iloka is one of my favorite players on the squad. I love what he brings at the safety position and after this interview, how he reacts when interrupted. Why ask a guy a question if you are not willing to listen to his answer?
When asked about starting fast with a win in Oakland, he said:
"You definitely want to get off to a good start in terms of the season, you want to win coming out the gate, 1 and 0 is a lot better than 0 and 1. You want to get that first win off your back."
At this point Ken Broo interrupts Iloka and Iloka mentions, he wasn't finished. A few seconds later, Broo continued asking his question which was about the receivers in Oakland. Iloka answers "they are NFL receivers".
"If we have a chip, it's from losing last year in the playoffs," Iloka said regarding having a chip on his shoulder going into this season. "If people want to pick us not to make the playoffs that's their job, to make predictions. It's our job to play and prove people like them wrong and prove people like our coaches and owners right."
Sunday can't get here soon enough.