T Jack Conklin (12.2.20)

T Jack Conklin:

On if he is fired up to play against his former team and what makes Titans RB Derrick Henry so special:

“Yes, definitely anytime you can go back to a place you spent four years of your life and play against a bunch of your friends and old teammates, it is exciting to go back, see all those guys and have such a good matchup going here with two 8-3 teams. With Derrick, everybody knows who Derrick is. Anytime you have a 6-3, 250-pound guy who runs a 4.4, that is going to be a very special back and a hard guy to stop.”

On if he gets a sense that Browns teammates are also fired up for his return to Nissan Stadium, given G Wyatt Teller’s comment that this is his ‘revenge game’:

“Wyatt gets a little excited (laughter). It is fun every week. Every week, somebody has some attachment to another team. For me, it is fun. Like I said, I spent the last four years there, had a great time and have a lot of friends with a lot of great memories, and it is fun to go back, and like I said, to have a great matchup and have a matchup that means something for both teams going down the stretch is going to be a lot of fun.”

On if he sees similarities in play calling from Head Coach Stefanski and Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith:

“Yeah, I definitely can see a lot. Arthur – we run the same offense obviously – he does a great job of creating matchups and getting the offense in a good position. Arthur is a great guy and can’t say enough good stuff about him. He is doing a great job down there, and he is going to have a lot of success in this league throughout years to come.”

On pointers to the Browns defense on how to slow down Henry:

“You have to gang tackle him. It is a handful. It is going to be a battle all Sunday. We have a lot of good guys and running backs on our side, too. They have a lot of practice taking down. Obviously, Derrick he is great, he is going to be a handful and he is a great player, but our defense is up for the task and they are going to do a great job.”

On comparing RB Nick Chubb’s style to Henry’s:
“It is hard to compare them. They are two very different backs. Derrick, he is special because he is just so big. He is 6-3, 250, and he runs a 4.4. That is just a giant. That is a different one. In his own respect, Nick too. He is just a different body build. Another extremely, extremely special back. They are both guys who are very good at reading the holes and setting up blocks. I think the biggest thing if you put both of them together, they both are great at breaking tackles. You see that in the yards after contact. Both of them really excel at that.”

On what he likes about his Browns teammates and why the Browns OL has been able to perform so well with only five games together as a unit: 

“I think it is just buying in. We have a bunch of guys that are excited to learn. With (offensive line coach) (Bill) Callahan coming in and Coach Stefanski coming in, we have a bunch of smart guys that really wanted to work and buy in. I think we have a bunch of personalities that all get along together, and we are able to talk about the hard stuff. If somebody messes up, there is no hard feelings when somebody calls them out and helps them get better. Each week, I think if we just strive to get a little better and we take pride in what we are doing out there, the whole O line takes pride in that and we have guys that can come off the bench and do a great job too to fill in that we do not really miss a beat. You do not get that very often in the NFL. Hopefully, we keep this going. I am excited to see what we can keep on doing.”

On if the Titans knew they could be as good as they were last season and their potential after starting 6-5 and how it compares to the current state of the Browns:

“We knew what we could be definitely at that time. I read something that Coach Stefanski said earlier, ‘It all comes down to playing your best ball in December.’ You are going to have a lot of stuff that you mess up on or you may not play your best games early on the season, but really when it comes down to December is really when the great teams start to prove themselves. When you can take advantage of small things in the games to give yourselves the lead and the wins is really what makes a difference here when it comes down to December. I think a lot of comes down to the run game, and I think that really plays into what we do so well, as well as Tennessee. When you get into December – we have had it all November –the weather, you are not going to be able to do a lot of passing sometimes. It is going to be cold. It is going to be rain. The teams that really can rely on the run game, it will set the standard and tire other teams out, are going to be the ones really that are victorious in December and January.”

On if he could tell the 2019 season opener was significant for Titans Head Coach Mike Vrabel since it was homecoming to Northeast Ohio and Vrabel’s intensity:

“I think that sort of goes with it. Vrabs is a fiery guy. It was the first game of the year last year, and he was all fired up. It is hard to tell which game he is more fired up about throughout the year because every week he is raring to go and he is just out of control. You would think he had drank coffee all day. You never see him slow down. That is what makes him such a great coach is just his competitiveness and just the amount of energy he puts into every day.”

On how the Titans OL looks this season without him and Titans T Taylor Lewan and if DE Myles Garrett can look to exploit that: 

“(Titans RB) Derrick (Henry) is still the leading rusher in the NFL so they are still doing well without me and Taylor. It is actually a pretty cool story that their starting left tackle from last week – I do not know if you saw – (Titans OL) David Quessenberry, he actually had cancer in 2013, beat it and came back, and this was his first start since beating cancer. He is an awesome guy, an awesome worker and a great teammate. It was awesome to see him out there starting and having that first start since beating cancer. Throughout this season, it has sort of been up and downs every week between COVID and injuries. You have people thrown in all over the place. That has sort of been the landscape of this year is yeah, you have to exploit teams when they are down guys and you have to take advantage of things, but you also are getting a lot more guys with experience and guys that are getting more game time. I think it has been something that is bringing a lot more depth throughout the NFL, and it is definitely something that is going to play a key role down the stretch here and just having guys staying smart, trying not to get COVID when they can, try and stay healthy and be at full strength. We want our team to be at full strength throughout the rest of the year.”

On T Jedrick Wills Jr. and Wills’ transition from RT to LT: 

“It is definitely a hard transition moving from right to left or left to right or vice versa. It has been impressive to see Jed just keep on working. There have been tough days going all the way back to camp. There is a lot of learning and a lot of learning curve. It has been impressive just to see how he goes about work every day. Every day, he is trying to get a little bit better, and you can really see it paying off. Each game, he is adding something to his game and he is getting more confident. I think really the biggest thing for a rookie year is really gaining that confidence. You just see him and you have seen him growing all year. I am excited to see the player he is becoming and how much more he can do. He has the right attitude and the right work ethic to be a great player in this league for a long time.”

On how well he has gotten to know RB Nick Chubb, especially given Chubb’s quiet demeanor and Chubb saying he is an ‘amazing person’: 

“It is hard to be as good of a person as Nick. It is just every day I just try to mess with him a little bit, try to get a few more few more words out of him and get a smile out of him. He is just a fun guy to mess with a little bit just because he is so positive and he is quiet, like you said. I am just happy to be on his team, be a part of what a special player he is and be able to help him and really learn more about him as a person too every day.”

On if he has any tricks to get Chubb to open up: 

“I try to talk to him about Batman – that usually gets him going. He likes his superheroes so I try to try to bring some of that stuff up, and that usually gets a smile or some sort of grunt or something (laughter).”

On if he has talked to Chubb about barely missing out on the rushing title last year: 

“No, we have not really talked about it. Like you said, it is hard to get too much out of him. He is a competitive guy. He is a guy that wants to be the best. He is one of the hardest workers I have ever seen, and just how powerful he is and everything. He takes everything in stride. He is not a vain guy in the way about how he goes to work. He wants to be the best, but he is not going to go talk about it and talk about his stats or anything like that. He is the exact teammate you would want on any team and the type of person you would want to be around every day.”

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