Home Press Conference: Washington Redskins safety Ryan Clark

Press Conference: Washington Redskins safety Ryan Clark


redskins-helmetOn how having more padded practices can help the defense:

“It’s always good to get out there in pads. I mean, you play football in pads. I talked about it yesterday. Everybody thought it was a big deal that I had on pants, and I was like, ‘Well, we don’t play in shorts.’ So I think it’s good that we get in pads. Physicality wins football games. We have to get used to being physical. We have to get used to hitting. The guys up front, whether it’s blocking or fitting in blocks, in the secondary, fitting up running backs, fitting up receivers, so it’s good that we get opportunities to be in pads. These kids – because I can call them kids now – they’re spoiled. They were in college systems where you practice one time a day. I remember being in the NFL where we practiced in pads two times a day. And, you know, if you look at the game and the deterioration of tackling now, that may be part of it. Obviously I’m part of the executive board of the NFLPA, so we collectively bargained for that and it’s good because it keeps guys healthy. But as many times as you can get in pads, as many times Coach [Jay] Gruden can give us those opportunities to see things from that perspective, that can really help this team.”


On how the defense can get better at tackling when not in pads:

“The biggest thing is running to the football. The guys on the other side, they get paid a lot of money, most of them get paid a lot more than we get paid and the reason is they’re put there to score points and they’re special talents. So you’re going to miss tackles. If I miss a tackle, if Brandon [Meriweather] is running to the ball, Rak [Brian Orakpo] is running to the ball, then they have opportunities to make those tackles behind me. When you are playing against these guys, when you’re playing the LeSean McCoys and the Darren Sproles, you have to gang tackle those guys. You have to get a lot of people around that ball. So when we run to the ball extremely hard no matter if we have pads or not, also putting yourself in position to make tackles – having yourself in the right body position where you can wrap a guy up or when you can tag a guy off. All those things help and you have to get it through reps, so any time you’re out there on the grass, you want to be working your craft.”


On how much he references his defense in Pittsburgh when talking to other players:

“It’s definitely a fine line to walk but it makes it easier because we play the same defense. I don’t have to talk about things in terms of the players I would play with or the things that we accomplished as much as I can just talk about, ‘Look, when you play this defense, this is how you want things to go,’ or ‘When you’re fitting in this defense, this how you want it to go.’ And honestly, I do talk about Troy [Polamalu] from time to time because he was a special football player and try to impart some of those things to Brandon [Meriweather] on what he can do now on being the strong safety of this team. I mention it. I brag on it from time to time. We were watching TV the other day and they had Seattle’s stats from last year and I referenced the defense that won the 2008-2009 Super Bowl that was much better than they were – we just didn’t talk as much – and so I just reference that in a joking way. But seriously, like just explaining to them Seattle is good because they have good players, but if you put their film on, they run to the ball. They tackle well, and those are all the things that make you good. When we were good back in the day, we had one star – the guy with the hair. Everybody else just played hard and they made themselves good.”


On the strength of defense:

“You know, that’s what we’re working on now. If you look at what we were doing last year, we had no strengths. You know that’s why you go out and get Jason Hatcher. That’s why you have a faster Keenan Robinson now that gets the opportunity to replace London Fletcher. We had no strength. Right now we’re building our identity. That’s what this camp is about. That’s why it’s so important for me to be out there every day, for Brandon to be out there, for DeAngelo [Hall]. We can’t take days off. You can’t say you need a break, because right now we have to build that chemistry, build that camaraderie until we know what kind of defense we are. We want to be predicated on physicality. You want to stop the run first, then you play the pass from there. You play the quarterback after you stop the run, so for us, we know it starts up front. I think we have the guys to do it, we have the horses. It’s about everybody understanding we all can’t be stars. Everybody is not going to make every play. Sometimes it’s about doing your job and allowing the next man to make a play and I think that’s what we’re building out here on the field.”


On working with the younger players:

“You know what, I don’t get frustrated with people because I remember so many times you go through things and you forget the mistakes you made, you forget the immaturity that you showed. I remember that. You know, we have good guys, not only good talents. Bacarri [Rambo], Phil [Phillip Thomas], T-Rob [Trenton Robinson], Akeem [Davis]. All those players, they’re good people. They’re nice kids, they want to learn, they work hard. So as long as you do that, that doesn’t frustrate me if something goes wrong on the football field. None of us are perfect. None of us have made every play every time we’re out there on the field. For me, it’s just about seeing them do the things they can control. You can control how hard you practice, you can control how much you study, and you can control how much you respect the people who are ahead of you, whether it be the coaches, whether it be the older guys. And our room does an amazing job of that. I get talked to a lot about leadership. I’m just old. I’m not like, ‘Hey, you have got to do it this way,’ or ‘You’ve got to do it that way.’ I think that falls on guys after you’ve played for such a long time, but for me, we’re all the same group. We’re all brothers. We’re all trying to figure out how we can win games. As long as everyone puts their hand in the pile to do that, there’s never any frustration.”


On the secondary’s role in blitzing:

“I think being sound definitely allows Coach Haz [Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett] to do some more things, and kind of play around with the chalk a little bit, and move different guys, get different guys blitzing. All we hear every meeting though, when we’re watching the blitz tape is Jason Hatcher saying we don’t have to blitz. He just keeps saying that. ‘Just rush four. We don’t have to blitz.’ You know, you pay a guy $30 mil [million], that’s what you want to hear. We want to know that we can just sit back there and cover. If I wanted to rush the passer, I’d gain a hundred more pounds. For me, it’s good to hear guys feel like they can create a rush, whether it be with [Ryan] Kerrigan, Rak, Hatch, those guys getting at the people up front. And if we have to blitz on the back end, I feel like my addition, and one of my main jobs, is us being sound, not necessarily us making more plays, but us not giving up as many plays. If you make people drive the ball on you 10 and 12 plays, offenses gets impatient. They want that immediate gratification. Not many teams are going to pound it three yards, four yards, five yards. So if we can do that and stop teams from getting big plays, I think we will be fine.”


On if he has starting thinking about a nickname for the secondary:

“No, we have no nicknames. All of that stuff is cute but I don’t care about that, you know what I mean? I’m just on TV because people think I’m actually decent at it. I’m not into giving names and making predictions, although I did make a 16-0 predication that people took pretty seriously when I was on NFL Live during the offseason. But for us, man, we just want to win. If by the end of the season you could say the secondary for the Washington Redskins were winners, I think we’ll take that. That would be the most important thing.”


On if he has talked to safety Brandon Meriweather about his style of play and protecting his health:

No, I haven’t. I don’t know if you have ever watched any film of me, you know what I mean? It would be like the pot calling the kettle black. You’re supposed to play this game with reckless abandon. I think when you don’t play it full speed, when you don’t play it as physical as you could possibly play it, you leave yourself at a disadvantage. You put yourself in harm’s way. What I will tell him is ‘Keep your money.’ You want to keep your money. You want to not hurt other guys. We never want to go out there and injure people, but I’ve been a part of some of the biggest collisions in the last 10 years of football at some of the biggest times. I’ve been laid out on the field with other guys. I want him to stay healthy and I changed my game in that sense in order to not hurt the team. You don’t want to give up 15 yards when you stop the team. We’ve talked about it in the sense of him keeping his money and a sense of him staying on the field but some of us understand the risk we take when we play this game. I was asked, would I change the way I played or would I decide not to play it because of what I know now? And I wouldn’t. It’s a dream and this is what we decide to do and if you love it, you do it. The stuff you deal with in the end, you deal with and that’s the way God planned it. God gave us these talents and he put us in this position and who I am to question where God has put me? So I tell Brandon to keep playing, we are going to try and save him some money. I’m going to try to talk him out of as many fines as I can this year but I don’t want him to change his game. I want him to lower his strike zone the best he can because that’s the rule but other than that, man, just keep playing football.”



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