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Ryans answers fans questions

DeMeco Ryans took time Thursday to respond to fans questions. Following are his comments.

Carmine Pirone: How is the offseason going for you?

DeMeco: The offseason is going good. Everyone is working hard. There's a different buzz in the air around here. Everyone's hungry to have a winning season this year.

Carmine Pirone: What did you think about the draft? A little bit different for you than it was last year, right?

DeMeco: It was much different. I wasn't as nervous watching the draft this year. It was interesting to watch. I think we picked up some pretty good players that are going to help us out next year.

David Mack: What do you see your role this year in helping the new rookies coming onto the team?

DeMeco: I think just by telling the guys the things that I experienced as a rookie. It's simple: Just continue to do what you've been doing. The things that got you drafted – that's what's going to keep you in the NFL. Hard work, being a big-time player out on the field and just letting it all loose and having fun out on the field. If you just continue to do those things, you'll be successful in the NFL.

Dan Levins: How much do you think Amobi Okoye is going to help you do your job there at linebacker?

DeMeco: I think he's going to help out a lot. A big guy in the interior that probably can take up two blockers. So that means I can run around a little more freely and don't have to worry about centers or guards coming off freely on me. Because they're going to have to be concerned about a player with his athletic ability to be able to get after the quarterback. They're really going to have to be concerned with him.

Carmine Pirone: What is it exactly that makes it so much easier for a linebacker when there is a good defensive tackle in front of you?

DeMeco: It's a lot easier because they kind of slow those offensive linemen down. If you have a slow guy that's in there that can't move well, they can block him and move up to the linebacker more quickly than they can if they have a faster guy they have to really deal with on the line of scrimmage. By that time, I'm already headed to the play.

Stacy Davis: Is there one game this season that you're looking forward to the most?

DeMeco: Probably Atlanta. Going back (home). That's the closest place to home. So I think I'll have a lot of people from Alabama that will come up to the game. So I'm really looking forward to that. So a lot of people who haven't had an opportunity to see me play, it's only two hours away from home, so they have an opportunity to drive over and see that game.

Jason Newton: I think our defense is headed for greatness. Has the team come up with any names for our defense, like the Steelers' "Steel Curtain"?

DeMeco: We haven't come up with a name ourselves, but it would be cool if the fans can come up with a name for us. We'd enjoy that if they can come up with a name.

Alex Wardlaw: Last year you won AP Defensive Rookie of the Year. In your wildest dreams did you ever think that was going to happen?

DeMeco: Nah, I didn't think that was going to happen. As a rookie, you're just trying to do those little things right. Just trying to be accountable to your teammates and go out and be a playmaker for your team. But I was just plugging away day after day and week after week. So I stayed focus on what I had to do, but I never thought I'd be defensive rookie of the year.

Steven Rutherford: Do you see yourself blitzing more this year?

DeMeco: I think our defensive coordinator, Richard Smith, he comes up with a lot of blitzes and a lot of different things. He mixes it up well. So I think we're still going to be a high-percentage blitz team, but we're going to mix it up well enough to throw off the offense a little bit.

As a linebacker, you love to blitz. You just have a free go to run through the gap and just try to knock someone out.

Kevin Manning: There are a lot of additions on the linebacker corps this offseason. What do you think of the guys (Shawn Barber, Danny Clark) that were brought in here to help you out at linebacker?

{QUOTE} DeMeco: I think those were good additions. Those guys have been in the league for a while. They're veteran guys. They bring that veteran leadership to the bunch. They are smart players. They help me out a lot with just learning little stuff from those guys, because they've been through it a lot longer than I have. Their knowledge and their time that they've been in the league, it helps the young guys out a lot.

Larry Casey: Do you think the playoffs are a realistic goal?

DeMeco: Oh definitely. We're in this business to win championships. We come in day in and day out, working hard, working our butts off, to win. That is our goal, to be a championship team. Every year that you step out on the field, you want to be the best.

Dan DeLargo: What is the hardest part about playing middle linebacker? And if you couldn't play middle linebacker, which position would you want to play?

DeMeco: For me, it's communicating and getting all the guys on the same page and having to communicate the same thing to everyone. That's probably the hardest part.

It's pretty easy for me because it's just a natural fit for me and it's a natural position. I love to play linebacker. If I wasn't playing linebacker, I have no idea…I can't throw that well, so it wouldn't be quarterback. I don't know what it would be…running back, maybe.

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