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Kareem McKenzie interview

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Kareem McKenzie interview

Post  Big_Pete on Sun Aug 10, 2008 12:11 am


Saturday, August 09, 2008

Player Spotlight: RT Kareem McKenzie
By G. Bahr

Q: In the off season Coach Flaherty said last year was your best season as a Giant and attributed it to being in the offense for a while and slimming down a little. Would those be your reasons for your strong season?
A: I felt my own season was OK but to go ahead and win the Super Bowl with this team, after the ups and downs of the season, was a great experience in itself. For myself, I just try to go out there and get better so you donít have those instances where you maybe get a little lazy on a play and get called for a penalty. I think there were some contributing factors to my having a better season. I was playing a little bit lighter and was a little bit quicker on my feet. You expect that through the whole season, toward the end of the season, you tend to gain a little bit more weight and to become more fatigued. So, to come into the season a little bit lighter and to be able to play well for the whole season was an important factor for me. Making sure that I was able to last throughout six or seven months was important to me.

Q: Do some defensive ends give you more trouble than others and if so is there a characteristic that those ends share?A: More so I think itís making sure during the game that in a given situation I prepare myself as well as possible to play against the new defensive ends, whether they be the Jason Taylors or the Jevon Kearses. You have to approach each game differently and prepare yourself as well as possible. Sometimes in a given situation an end may give me trouble because Iím not as well prepared as I would like to be. Iím not mentally where I need to be and thatís one of the things that I need to work on. I need to ensure that Iím mentally where I need to be for the different situations that we may find ourselves in. I try to think outside of the box a little bit and ask myself what they might try to do against me. So itís not so much a specific player; itís more of a situational thing. I mean with any given player, whether itís on offense or a defensive end, you have to know how you fit into that scheme and what they might try to do to you or against you. The same things youíve done in the past, you need to ensure you do better the next time around.

Q: Along those same lines, you play 3-4 teams less frequently. Do you use the same approach?
A: Theyíll be a two-gap player, as you know. Normally with a two-gap play they have a two-way go and itís not a given that theyíll go inside or outside. So, itís based on what theyíre trying to do as a defense. Theyíre trying to get you off kilter a little bit, trying to ensure that youíre a little more tentative against their schemes. So you look at how they line up and try to see what theyíre trying to do as a whole defense, whether it be the linebackersí alignment or that of a defensive end. Thatís what comes with being a veteran, knowing more what the defensive line is doing. Itís also knowing what the linebackers and defensive backfield is doing so you give yourself a better chance of reading and figuring out what theyíre trying to do against you.

Q: Over the years youíve seen a lot of changes in the game. Do some stand out as particularly good or bad, especially as it concerns the offensive line?
A: Some of the changes have been for the better, for the overall competition in the NFL as a whole. The changes that have been made, I think have made it more popular. They have made it easier for the offensive line to play and to make sure that we take care of each other as a whole. And thatís the overall goal, to make sure that we have good sportsmanship and that we take care of one another. These changes promote the sport and keep it as popular as it has been for the past 25-30 years.

Q: There has been a lot of talk recently about rookie contracts, from the union president to player reps. Have you an opinion on the issue?
A: Really, I donít have a take on this. Thatís something for the NFL people to sort out. Iím not a rookie so it doesnít directly affect me. My thought is to go ahead and do as well as I can do to ensure that I stay among the players who can play the game.

As far as the rookie contracts, there are people who get paid to sort that out. It could affect me indirectly but those rookies still have to come in and play. Thatís not to say that they donít deserve those contracts but they still have to come into this league and play. One thing that I think separates the issues is that youíre paying guys a large sum of money and they havenít played a down of football yet. But still they have to come in and perform. There may be some resentment (among veterans) but not on my part. I donít worry about what someone else is being paid. All I can do is play to the best of my ability and hopefully be rewarded for my good play on the field.
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