Considering how long you have been in the league, what do you think about the effects of COVID-19 on the season? What else have you seen in your career that were strange, like the 1987 strike?
"Well, starting with this, this is really, it's unbelievable. It's just so different than anything that I've ever been through and all the precautions that have to be taken to try to play a season. We've divided up the locker room. We have different time schedules so that we can keep people apart as much as we can until we can get to the football field. So, that is all strange. Zoom meetings. That's another thing that's pretty strange. Just like this interview, we're doing it via video rather than being in person and talking. All of those things are different and it's not the norm for football. Now, the other thing that we talk about is what have I been through before. I think '82 was the first strike that I was involved in. That strike, we were preparing every week like we were getting ready to play and then usually on a Thursday or a Friday, they would tell us that we're not playing this week. So, we had game planned and we'd have everything ready. (Bill) Belichick and I would go play racquetball in the racquetball court to pass the time away after we got the game plan and stuff together, and then we didn't play. Then it went through and finally they settled it and we started playing. So, that was good. In '87, now we got the replacement guys. I think the biggest thing there is, I know for myself, these games are replacement player games, they're not going to count, OK. But they did count. We were coming off a good year – a Super Bowl as a matter of fact, and now, all of a sudden, the guys that we had on the replacement team were basically guys that we kind of pulled off the street from the semi-pro league and things like that who had never played together and all of those kinds of things. We ended up losing those games, and then when they settled it, they told us those games were counting, so we didn't even make the playoffs that year. That was a strange time as well in my experience in the game."
When you look at your pass rush, what do you think the potential is for that group in terms of who can get after the quarterback?
"We have good ability of guys who rush the passer. We can put good speed on the field. We can put guys who have had success on the field to rush the passer. I think that the coverage will help this year as well because like (Bradley) Roby, he's more familiar with the system and he's taken a leadership role on that back end. Justin (Reid) is also more experienced and he feels like he's taken the leadership role with the safety position. I think the coverage will be better and that's going to help the rush because it kind of goes hand in hand. If you've got good coverage then the rush has the chance to get there, and likewise, when you're rushing good, that helps the cover guys. I think that our guys that are rushing will be very representative of what you see in the NFL from week to week."
What are your thoughts on DE J.J. Watt and your thoughts on his ability to play at a high level for this long?
"OK, yeah, J.J., you know J.J. probably as well as I know J.J. His attitude about the game, his attitude about preparation for the game and what he does on the field. Now, because he has been playing a long time, some of that wear and tear begins to impact your body a little bit. So, we are managing J.J. this year. We're not putting him out there all the time, particularly in practice, and try to manage him in practice so that he can be ready for the games and then he will be able to play and produce at a high level in the games. I think that he will do that when we get to the games. He is strong, he is good looking and when he puts that uniform on, he's an imposing figure."
Can you talk about how you see Defensive Coordinator / Defensive Line Coach Anthony Weaver transitioning and developing as defensive coordinator and his relationship with you and how that is working out?
"Oh, that's good. I mean, Anthony is a smart young man. He really is. He's organized. He's thoughtful. That's the thing that I kind of look at. I know that he's a good football coach because I've seen him coach his position. They do very well. He relates to the players and they relate to him. So now, it's to the point about game planning, putting in a system and then getting the players to buy into that system so that it can be a productive group. I see that occurring and taking place and I feel good about what he brings to the table. So, so we'll find out. That's the thing about football, you get a chance to find out how things work. I think with what I've seen so far, I think that he'll do a very good job."
Have you given it much thought to how long you want to continue your career?
"I've always told myself that as long as I enjoy it and I still feel good, physically, then they might have to kick me out. That's my mindset. I still enjoy the game, I enjoy the players, I enjoy the coaches. As long as it feels good to me, I'll continue to do it. I don't think that I'm at a position where I want to put a timetable on it. Basically, I've been going it's year to year. At the end of this season, I'll see how I feel and what it looks like, then make a decision and go from there."
What are your early impressions of the rookies on the defensive side; CB John Reid, DE Jonathan Greenard and DT Ross Blacklock?
"I think those guys have good ability. You can see it on the practice field, but you know my deal about rookies. They're rookies. They're going to make mistakes and they still have a lot to learn. I think they're being hurt by not one, having that offseason program, the OTAs and things like that, not having preseason games so they can get a game feel. The first game feel that they might get will be in Kansas City. That will be a huge game. That's a big game. So, to have to feel your way through the game probably is not the best thing for a player. That's why the veteran players who have experience, I think they're going to operate better. But these young players we do have, I like all of them. I see the talent that they do have and I think they're going to be very good players for us."
Did you have to think hard about whether to opt out of this season due to your age? Also, what is your role with the team this year and is it any different than in 2017?
"It's very similar to 2017. I help Coach (Bill) O'Brien any way that he needs me to help. Primarily, it's been working with the defense. We have some young coaches on the defensive side. Anthony (Weaver), I can help him because of my experience. So, that's what I'm doing and whatever Bill (O'Brien) needs me to do. Whatever way that I can help with the defense, I'm available to do that. The COVID, it has impacted everybody and all of us, but I'm a football coach. I'm in the game of football. So, when they say let's play, even though I'm high-risk, I see what we're trying to do to protect the players and the coaches with social distancing. I mean, they've got hand sanitizers all throughout the building. They clean it constantly. I feel like they're trying to be proactive and protecting us that way. I feel like I want to give it a shot and see what happens and hopefully, knock wood, that it's not a bad outcome. Hey, I'm in football just like you're in football. You've been in it a long time. That's what I know and I'm going to go with it."