DT Dalvin Tomlinson (6.11.24)

Let’s start with the guy that just talked. What did you kind of learn about playing with Jeremiah (Owusu-Koramoah) behind you last year?

“Put it in one word. Guy’s explosive. He’s definitely a playmaker. And I felt like he started coming to last year, and I feel like he’s gonna keep growing a lot more this year. Just seeing him on the field the way, like, he’s just been taking over a little bit this year. Looks like the development over the offseason and just all the experience he got last year, he’s gonna be one hell of a player.”


I know you’re obviously engaged, you’re doing all sorts of stuff on the line, but were there ever any moments where you saw him make a play and you couldn’t believe he did that?

“There was a couple times I thought I was gonna make the play, and he’d just come out of nowhere and shoot through the gap, and then, like I was saying, you know, TFLs and stuff, making like, y’all are celebrating it. Yes, a couple times. There’s just times he just comes out of nowhere. Like, you don’t even know he’s over there at one point, and then he just pops up and a big play is made.”


It seemed like watching you last season. I know I talked to you about midway through the year that in this defense, maybe it takes DTs a little bit to find their groove, find the rhythm. I know Mo (Maurice) Hurst has talked about that, too. How did you feel like the second half of the year went for you? Did it feel like, okay, we’re clicking as a line better as the year went on then?

“Oh, yeah, for sure. I felt like we started firing on all cylinders and up front, just disruptive, disrupting everything across the board, week in, week out. And, yeah, it definitely took a while because that was a brand new defense for me. And, yeah, with other help with other guys, it started to click.”


With you individually, I mean, do you think you can take kind of your stat performance, or whatever to the next level this year now? Just having that knowledge that, okay, it’s your two in this defense?

“Oh, yeah. It’s always a game plan, especially year two on the defense. And you’ll want to improve on what you did the year before. And, yeah, just already knowing the whole defense and how Coach (Jim) Schwartz thinks and everything and what we all expect up front, it’s, yeah, we see the sky as the limit, and we just have to improve on what we started.”


What’s it been like getting to work out here with Michael Hall today and kind of get to see him? I don’t know how much you were around before this at the practices were in, but getting to see him and what he brings to the table.

“Oh, yeah, he’s super athletic guy. You know, super explosive, super quick. And he’s going to bring a whole different dynamic up front for us. Yeah, I want Mike to go out there and ball out week one.”


What about Jacques (Cesaire) working with him and what kind of energy does he bring?

“Oh, man, the energy, it’s unmatched. Like Coach Schwartz says that he starts on eleven and goes to a thirteen and yeah, it’s beneficial for all of us because the techniques he’s coaching us up front in the pass rush and the run games, all small detail things we take time to work on is going to help us take it to the next level up front.”


You played with Jordan (Hicks) in Minnesota, right. So, I guess bringing him in here sort of to fill, I guess that role that Anthony (Walker Jr.) left, what does he bring?

“Oh, man, that’s my guy. When we signed him, I was super happy that, you know, he’s a great leader. He plays his role to an amazing, extraordinary standard and he’s going to hold everybody else to that standard as well. And yeah, it just, he comes in, he’s going to make some plays and also he’s going to help everybody else make plays and help everybody in the right position.”


Thinking about that Houston game, Dalvin, I mean, the defense really struggled getting to the quarterback. You guys didn’t get a sack. Like how much does that leave a bad taste in your guys’ mouths and hungrier as a group? Just kind of talk about that.

“It always makes you hungry, you know, you didn’t finish the year like you wanted to and yeah, it makes us way more hungry because I feel like everybody’s been focusing, making sure like we can elevate every phase of our game up front, especially pass rushes as well.”


Z (Za’Darius Smith) coming back, you guys obviously have that relationship. How important is that to bring him back?

“Super important. Especially like what we started last year up front, Z, Ogbo (Okoronkwo), Myles (Garrett), me, Mo and all of us returning and stuff, it’s gonna, it’s just like we picked up where we left off and all of us, we know how each other rushes now, and you just build off of each other and build their chemistry that much more.”


Do you think is there any danger to complacency? I mean, you guys are all pretty much the same group coming back, and you had a good year. Is there kind of a need to fight against complacency do you think it kind of comes naturally since you guys are so veteran at this point?

“Not at all. Because last year doesn’t count. It doesn’t matter. The stats we made last year, the record we had, we’re 0-0. We have to start over and everybody’s starting at the same level playing field. So last year complacency is just like it didn’t happen when we stepped on this field this year.”


I know your guys’ room was really tight last year, so now everybody’s kind of back here from minicamp. Did you just sort of hit the ground running with everybody?

“Oh yeah, for sure. Everybody’s just out here laughing and everything, picking up plays quick. Just like for the guys who weren’t here, just pretty much remembered everything for the most part. And yeah, we just came out here and actually got some good work in today and looking forward tomorrow too.”


Jim was talking about how much more you can do. He compared it to a pitcher throwing last year, just working on the fastball. But like this year you start dropping into the change-up. How much more because of the continuity you have. Do you feel like this defense is capable of doing schematically on the field because of that carryover from one year ago?

“I would say a lot more simply because last year was a new defense for a lot of us. Like me, I never played in defense like this until last year. So, a lot of us took eight to 10 weeks to actually get accustomed to the defense. And now since we’re already accustomed to it, most of us return. It’s just like we’re picking up and running and we just adding more stuff to it.”


Does it make the meetings easier as well? Because you have been here in the defense, as you’re like talking about just different elements that you guys are working on since you have, I guess, a base now?

“Oh yeah, for sure. Especially like when before, when we see ourselves on the film now, like from the stuff we did last year, that’s the expectation. Like it can’t below that standard. So, we can start there and build on that. It just makes it, like you said, since most of us are returning and make it way more easy.”


The red zone defense, Jim was talking about how it’s kind of one of the areas of focus, just like how you guys led the league in so many areas, but that was kind of a deficit for you guys. What have you seen, as you guys have looked at film or just kind of talked about red zone defense, that’s like, specifically a focus?

“I know for up front is we want to be a little bit more disruptive up front in the backfield in the red zone, because when we make those big players in the backfield in the red zone, it may keep three points or six points off the board. So that’s the biggest emphasis up front is just, we got to be more disruptive on that side of the ball in the red zone.”


Are you playing more of a nose tackle this year?

“I’ve been playing everything so far.”


Coach Schwartz or somebody has mentioned that they were going to use you at more nose. Is it perceptible to the average person? Any change in the tackle positions?

“I just feel like whatever Schwartz want us there, we’re going to go out there and go with it. You know, just go ball out with it.”


So, the nose would line right over center?

“Depends on the defense. It may be over the center, over the guard, or you just might be, you know, a little bit everywhere.”


Is it not a big deal?

“Not necessarily. Not in our defense, it isn’t.”


Jim said last week that instead of a bunch of fastballs, they’re gonna be change-ups. He used a baseball analogy. So, what exactly does that mean?

“Just like I said before, a lot of us are returning, and it took us a, took a lot of people a while to pick up the defense last year because it was the first-time learning defense. Since most of the people knows the defense now, we gotta just add a lot of more different things. He probably withheld last year for us.”


But the line is pretty much intact from last year. How much would that be a benefit?

“That’d be a huge benefit because a lot of us upfront didn’t even play this defense before in our whole career just for us to return and we know the expectation we have to set. We can just add that much more to the playbook.”


What about Quinton Jefferson, a guy that maybe has gone under the radar from a free agent signing, signed late in the process. What’s he been like in the room so far?

“Been amazing. He was out there doing some good work today, some good techniques, and, yeah, you know, we all learn from each other. So, the small things is, it makes the biggest difference for us up front. And Quinton, he brings a lot to the room, just from his experience.”


Have you gotten a look at Mike Hall yet? And how does he look so far? 

“Oh, yeah, he’s looking pretty good. He’s ready and, you know, as a young guy, picking up the playbook quick and everything, that makes a huge difference. And, yeah, he comes to work every single day, and I appreciate it.”


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