Do you still keep in contact with your former Maryland teammates?
Yeah I still keep in contact with quite a few guys from Maryland. I was with the Redskins right out of college and was able to come see some of their games last year. I also trained back at Maryland during the offseason when they were training for the Pro-day/Draft. Now a lot of my friends from Maryland are in camps with NFL teams and it is fun to keep in contact and compare situations.
How do you like playing in Cincinnati?
I love the city of Cincinnati. I grew up a few hours to the north but my parents and extended family are from Cincinnati, so I grew up on the Skyline Chili, Xavier basketball, and the Reds. We never followed much football growing up. By default however, the Bengals were my team, since my brother liked them, and they were in Cincy. I like playing for the Bengals, playing for a team during a transition period can be very rewarding if you win. I was able to experience that on both ends at Maryland.
What were your stats this year?
I got in 25 plays last year. Mostly field goals. I got in 11 plays at center against Indianapolis and a few snaps at goal line tight-end. My first play from scrimmage in the NFL was against Dwight Freeney while I was lined up at tight-end. It was a little nerve racking considering I have never lined up further out than guard.
How was the transition from college ball to the pro game?
I had a smooth transition to the NFL when I was with the Redskins since the offensive scheme, technique, and expectations were very similar to the Terps. Learning the new terminology was the biggest difference. However, when I got to the Bengals, the schemes and techniques were very different, so I had a tougher transition from the Redskins to the Bengals than I did with Maryland to the Skins. On top of that I also switched positions when I got to the Bengals and began to play center.
Technique takes time to learn, and scheme becomes clear after studying and playing through it. It is interesting to deal with new and different coaches that think, act and demand in different ways. Just like anyone who gets a new boss, it is hard to figure out exactly what they want, and how to perform to their standards. One gets spoiled when the has five years with the same coach like I did with Coach Friedgen and Coach Tom Brattan.
What do you anticipate your role being this year?
The NFL is a fickle career. Projecting yourself in a certain role on a team can be a disappointing exercise. So I will say that I see myself being a contributor to a resurgent Bengal football team
Do you prefer run blocking or pass blocking?
I have had some disagreements with other players before over this, but run blocking requires the most technique compared to pass blocking. I think people overlook the fact that because the visuals of failing on a pass block are more evident than in the run game. However, the NFL game is centered around the pass, and the longer that I am in the NFL the more I appreciate the dependence on good pass blockers that teams have, over good run blockers.
Do you stay in contact with the Maryland coaching staff?
Yes, I stay in contact with my former coaches at Maryland. Coach Brattan and I developed a good relationship over the years, and I still rely on him as someone I can talk to, either for advice or to talk through frustrations.
What is your best memory of college and what do you miss most?
My best memory and the thing I miss most about college are my teammates. When you spend so much time with a group of guys, especially in the context of a competitive sport like football, you develop a close kinship and plenty of memories to remember.