What's the battle at strong safety between Shamiel Gary and Lyndell Johnson been like so far?
Very competitive. Obviously, I think good players want competition. The good thing about that group, though, is as competitive as it is, they're still good teammates. I've been in some competitive situations where they didn't speak. But these guys are willing to help each other and learn and grow as a group, and that's why we're going to be very good.
How does the push for a more aggressive approach on defense impact the safeties?
It's imperative, today, to get closer to the guys you're defending, just to try to create some turnovers and get the ball back for your offense and create another possession to score points. Any time you can get the ball for our offense, it gives us a better chance to win. It goes with my philosophy, obviously, to get up and cause some havoc and create some situations where kids can be aggressive. I'm in love with it. I think we're well on our way.
What are your biggest goals for the group this spring?
Be more aggressive, competitive, not afraid to make a mistake and develop depth. And finally, we want to stay injury-free if we can. Just get through it healthy but improve every day.
How key is not being afraid to make a mistake for a safety? As the last line of defense, it's usually easy to see when a mistake happens.
It kind of contradicts the name. You say ‘safety,' but you want them to be aggressive as the last line of defense. We want them to play safety, but we want them to play aggressive, not cautious. (The opposing offense is) going to make a play on you, and we realize that, and we try to minimize big plays. But we want you to be aggressive on third-and-5, not be nine yards deep and off and letting them catch the ball in front of us and moving the sticks. We want to prevent some of that from happening as much as we can.