Dec 22, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) throws the ball during the third quarter as Houston Texans inside linebacker Joe Mays (53) applies pressure at Reliant Stadium. The Broncos defeated the Texans 37-13. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Q: How are these OTAs different than the other OTAs you’ve been through?
MAYS: “I think we get a lot more reps in these OTAs. Coach Reid likes to get in and get out fast, get a lot of plays in. I think that’s the only difference there’s been, but the intensity’s been great out here, the guys have been great coming out working hard and we’re definitely getting better.”
Q: How do you compare this roster from what you’ve seen and talent compared to others teams you’ve played on?
MAYS: “Talented. I mean, all across the board. You have a defense that was top five last year and very talented guys from front to back. On offense, we have a quarterback that’s definitely destined to do great things for us. He knows how to win. He knows what it takes. It also starts with our head coach. He knows what it takes to get to the big game and he knows what it takes to win each and every day that we play. We listen to him, follow his direction, come out, play hard and play fast to try and get the job done.”
Q: This is your seventh OTA, can you see progress from the beginning until now?
MAYS: “Man, I’m not a rookie anymore. The game slowed down a little bit for me. I am able to read and react a lot faster. Coming in as a rookie, you kind of slow it down a little bit. ‘Okay what’s my job? Where’s my help?’ But now I am able to just go out there, run around, have fun and react to plays a lot faster.”
Q: What do you try to do with the young guys receiving such a volume of information? How do you help them and share some of your knowledge and experience?
MAYS: “We always talk. Just make sure as soon as you get the play, you know what you’re doing and then just try to categorize every single play that we have, try to break it into different segments. Am I blitzing? Am I dropping? I just try to do the small things like that and it’ll definitely help you during game time and make you a better player.”
Q: As a rookie, did you have a ‘big brother’ that took you under their wing?
MAYS: “A lot of them. I definitely had Brian Dawkins. He took me under his wings, showed me a couple of things. I had some guys in my linebacker crew. Omar Gaither, Stewart Bradley, Akeem Jordan, who was here last year. They showed me the way. They helped out and I think they made me a better player by helping me out early on in my career.”
Q: Being an established defense, what would you say the personality is?
MAYS: “Hungry. Definitely attack-style defense. The guys come out and are always going after the ball, always going after the quarterback. Whoever has the ball, you’re going to have eleven guys to the ball. That’s something I found out once I came here. Always get to the ball. We want everyone on the ball so we can try to create more turnovers, have more takeaways and get the offense back on the field.”
Q: What have been your impressions of Bob Sutton so far?
MAYS: “He’s been awesome. He just tries to break down everything so that we know what we are doing out there on the field and tries to make it as easy as possible. So far, so good. We have to wait until they start yelling, but we’ll see about that. So far, he’s been great. The whole coaching staff has been great and have been breaking things down for us to go out there and play fast.”
Q: What’s it like to play out there with Derrick Johnson?
MAYS: “It’s great. It’s great. That’s a guy that goes out there and sees the game faster than most guys. He’s able to tell you what he is looking at. He’s going to make me a better player. I try to do something to help him, but overall, him and (Dontari) Poe, and EB (Eric Berry) are going to make me a better player out here. I just try to learn a little bit with all of those guys and try to gel as fast as we can.”
Q: What do you see out of the pass rushers, specifically out of Dee Ford?
MAYS: “That guys is explosive. He’s quick off the ball. He kind of reminds me of Von Miller with the way that he gets off the ball and gets around the offensive linemen. He’s a freak. He knows how to work angles and uses his hands real well. He can bend and do all types of stuff you don’t see in the everyday pass rushers. Definitely ‘as-advertised’.”
Q: How tough was last year for you?
MAYS: “It was tough. Guys don’t get a chance to go through that often. To go 2-14, it was definitely rough. I’ll say this, every single person showed up game day and played. They showed up in practice and they worked hard. It didn’t feel like a losing atmosphere even though we lost as many games as we did, but it was definitely tough to swallow.”
Q: Did you feel like there was no way of stopping it from happening?
MAYS: “Each and every week we were saying that we were going to stop it. Somehow and some way, we would end up in a situation that we couldn’t get ourselves out of. It was tough. It was a learning experience and hopefully it is going to make me a better player this year along with the guys that I am playing around.”
Q: Are some of these drills a little more enjoyable with no stress, just learn the game and play the game?
MAYS: “Yeah, that definitely makes it more enjoyable. I think our coaching style makes it enjoyable too. We try to make it as competitive as we can so that each and every guy is going to show up to practice each and every day to work as hard as they can and that kind of makes it fun too. There’s nothing like coming out and being competitive and trying to make more plays than your partners right next to you. It’s been great. I’ve had a ball so far and just am trying to take this from the practice field to the playing field.”