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10 questions with Zgonina


Defensive tackle Jeff Zgonina roomed with general manager Rick Smith at Purdue.

Defensive tackle Jeff Zgonina has seen the league change a great deal during his 16-year career. When he started playing, players made calls from phone booths during training camp and listened to Walkmans in the locker room.
1. How did training camp go for you?

"Good, I'm glad that it's finally over. It was good. We had a good camp, better than last year. I think we are looking pretty good."

2. How is the battle at defensive tackle?

"Competition is always good. It helps everybody, not just myself but everyone else involved. It makes you push a little more and strive to be a better player."

{QUOTE}3. Has it become a battle for you to make the team every year?
"It's been like that for 16 years. I've never been guaranteed a spot. Every year, I go into training camp battling to make the team. That's just how it's been."

4. Speaking of playing for 16 years, what is the secret to lasting so long in the NFL?
"Luck. I've been pretty healthy and have taken care of myself. Once again, just being lucky."

5. Being a veteran player, do you give the younger players a lot of advice?

"Yeah, I do. When I came into the league, a couple of veterans helped me out, so I'll return the favor. If you want to listen, I'll give you help. If you don't, then I won't."

6. How much has training camp changed since you first came into the league?

"It's a lot easier, by far. It was blood baths back when I first came in the league. You hit all day every day; you had two-a-days every day. You didn't have one-a-days like we do now. It's scaled down a lot."

7. What do you do in your spare time away from football?

"I used to hunt and fish. But since I left the Midwest and went down to Miami, I kind of just stuck to fishing. Now, I spend time with my family and I raise bucking bulls for the rodeo."

8. Have you raised any bulls that have been in the Houston Rodeo?

Not the Houston Rodeo. I've had a couple on the PBR (Professional Bull Riders) Tour, the PRCA Xtreme (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Associations), the NFR (National Finals Rodeo). I had one in the NFR last year and hopefully I'll have a couple more this year, and then in a couple local rodeos around Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming.

9. How long have you been raising rodeo bulls?

"I think it's been around six years now, six or seven years. I can't remember."

10. What is it like playing for Texans general Manager Rick Smith since he was your roommate in college?

"It's great. It's always good to play for someone you know. It makes it a lot easier. He's doing a great job, and it's just an honor to play for him."

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