Two of four OTA practices for this week are in the books, with a minicamp looming next week. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, we still have some things to talk about regarding Wednesday’s practice. Derrick Johnson and Mike DeVito were both made available to the media after practice, and both had some very interesting things to say about their teammates and dieting.
Q: How are OTAs going?
JOHNSON: “It’s going great. Just the same as off-season training. OTAs are the same every year with a new vision. Every team is different. Every year is different. It’s a special excitement every time, personally, I step out on the field. I’m excited for this year.”
Q: How do these voluntary sessions get you ready for next week and then training camp?
JOHNSON: “Well, the voluntary workouts get you ready for training camp and we will get four weeks or so off after this session is over. We’ll go back and workout and be ready for training camp physical condition-wise. Mentally, this is the time to get everything down so that when we get to training camp, we can move faster mentally on the field so we can show up pretty quick.”
Q: When does the ‘defensive swagger’ begin?
JOHNSON: “It’s the potential of the defense that the swagger has just because adding an extra rusher, another athlete to the bunch, but training camp tells a lot. Right now it’s kind of hard to tell what we have because we are just running around in our shorts and helmet. You separate the men from the boys when you put on the pads. You’ll see early, in training camp what we have.”
Q: With Bob Sutton as the defensive coordinator, how comfortable do you feel going into season?
JOHNSON: “I feel very confident, a lot more confident than last year. Last year, we were just putting this crazy system in. I call it crazy because it’s very exotic with blitzes coming from everywhere. I have a lot of responsibility in this defense. It’s fun and at the same time this year is different because I know it. It’s the first part of our install of plays. I’m not even writing anything down just because I know it already. It helps me to move out here fast on the field during this time. Of course, as we get later in to our installs and put plays I’ll have to do more notes, but at this time there are not very many notes for me because it’s the same defense as last year. It’s early right now.”
Q: How do you marry the two concepts of having the same goal and new vision?
JOHNSON: “It’s the nature of the beast, the business. Even though we’ve got the same nucleus of players, this year’s a different team so the vision is different. Our focus is more about that family atmosphere. Just different words are thrown around differently from last year to this year, but the same goals. We’re trying to win it all. The chemistry is a lot better than it was last year obviously because the coaching staff has come back. I can’t wait and the reason is for coach. He’s going to have us ready.”
Q: How much does the offense help out the defense this year now that they are more advanced?
JOHNSON: “Right now, defensively we are pounded about getting more interceptions and more turnovers. Alex Smith isn’t having it right now. It’s one of those things where he’s making us be better. You have to get closer to the ball if you’re going to get one of Alex Smith’s balls. It’s one of those things where the whole team is looking better. There’s not a lot of mistakes going on out there. We have a good group of veterans on this team that hopefully can carry us all the way.”
Q: How was today different in terms of getting your hands on more balls?
JOHNSON: “You know, they come in bunches they say. We definitely don’t want to get discouraged when we don’t have a lot of picks or don’t knock the ball down. Today, we had a lot of PBUs. Myself, I had a couple of PBUs. We just have to get on the Jugs (machine) a little bit more so I can catch the ball.”
Q: What’s it been like playing next to Joe Mays?
JOHNSON: “Joe brings that physicality to the game that I love, especially for our mike backers. He’s a guy that’s been in the league and very proven. People know Joe Mays around the league that he’ll probably knock your head off. So, to have him next to me, he’s a smart guy too. We talk a lot. Our chemistry is great and I can’t wait to put the pads on and make a couple assist tackles with him. It’ll be good.”
Q: What is this different team vision you talk about?
JOHNSON: “When I say the vision, it means different words are getting thrown differently this year. Family has been the biggest word that I’ve heard this year.”
Q: What was last year’s word?
JOHNSON: “I can’t even remember. It’s one of those things where I got hit in the head too many times so I can’t remember what happened last year, but this year it’s a family word that’s getting thrown around. That camaraderie and that chemistry that we need and is making us like a family and looking out for our brothers—that’s the vision for this year.”