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What We Learned from Tuesday's Media Availability

Alex Smith, Eric Berry, Justin Houston and Marcus Peters spoke with the media following practice on Tuesday




Q: How does it feel to have everybody here?

SMITH: "Obviously, other than staring at some different faces across the way, much the same. It's good to have these guys back though. Obviously they are a huge part of not just our defense, but our team and the locker room. Good to have them back, other than that though, it's just ball, coming out here playing."

Q: Once this week is over, what are you up to between now and the start of camp?

SMITH: "A combination of family time and training, getting ready. Just a balance between those two."

Q: You are close with Eric Berry. What did you say when you saw him?

SMITH: "I just re-introduced myself (laughing), didn't know if he'd forgotten us here, it had been a little while. All three of those guys, just re-introduced myself, showed them where everything was."

Q: How long did Eric play along with it?

SMITH: "No, those guys are good. Its funny, things have changed and offseasons have changed a lot since I first came into the league, drastically. Everybody has their own way to get ready and I respect that. Especially guys on that side of the ball. We don't have pads on right now, obviously that tweaks the dynamic of this offseason and the reps. These guys, I like to bust them a little bit, but I get it."

Q: With those guys back, was it a little bit more competitive out there?

SMITH: "Yeah, all three of those guys, a little more chirping, that is for sure. I heard a little more talk on that side of the ball. I don't want to name names, but there was definitely more talking. All three of these are guys that are all-pros, you have three all-pros on the defensive side of the ball. They don't give up much and when they do, they learn quick. "

Q: There might have been some chirping on the defensive side, but were you chirping a little too when that interception was dropped?

SMITH: "Yeah, a little bit. I gave them a hard time about that. That's fun. That's the fun part about being out here. Those are the things I think, when this is all said and done, you're going to miss. The camaraderie, those kinds of relationships."

Q: Is there a different feel in the mandatory camp as opposed to OTAs?

SMITH: "Yeah, I think only different in the sense that we are not as limited, we can get more reps in. Today was a much longer day as far as reps go. Just trying to take advantage of that. OTAs, you are limited. Even though this is officially veteran minicamp, the structure of the practice is similar, we just have more time out here."

Q: At the end of minicamp, when you look back, how do you gauge how successful the work you put in has been?

SMITH: "I don't even look at it like that. This is almost just an extension of OTAs. It's got a different name and it is mandatory now, but the structure is exactly the same. I don't even look at it as a week-by-week thing, really it is day-by-day. You want to go out and have a good day, that's it."

Q: Between now and the end of camp, what can you do to work on continuing to build your relationship with the wide receivers?

SMITH: "To be honest, I think all of us need to continue to stay in shape. Certain guys are going to go their own paths. It is individual time and I do think it is important to take advantage of that. When we report back at the end of July we are here for the long haul. I think a lot gets made of these little minicamps teams do, here and there, get together, and that is great for those guys. I don't know how much work you are really getting on-air. We've had a lot of that, we just put in 10 weeks on that. I don't know how much more good that is going to do. For us, I think, everybody's responsibility is to come back ready to roll, both physically and mentally. Part of that, I think, is getting away."

Q: In what ways do you feel like you have to get familiar with the new faces as you get ready for training camp?

SMITH: "I don't think it is any different, whether they are new faces or old faces, if we've been together, you are really just taking advantage of every rep. You can't go through every single scenario and look at every possibility, you just have to rep it. You have to take advantage of the reps and those are limited at this point, so you take them as they come and you work through them. You try, when you make mistakes, to move on and get things corrected, but that is it. That mindset wouldn't change regardless." 




Q:How did Alex (Smith) greet you when you came back?

BERRY: "He greeted me, he had a little smirk, we were on the way out to practice, same old, same old."

Q: What went into the decision to workout at home?

BERRY: "Just being away from the game a little bit and focusing more on training smarter.  A lot of times you try and go too hard sometimes, not saying that's the case here. There were certain things that I just wanted to get away from the game and reflect on what I needed to work on, be around my family.  I was actually at home for the most part, but just be around my family."

Q: What do you get out of that?

BERRY: "Just a recharge. Seeing my parents, seeing my brothers, seeing my family, it's always good to be around them, good vibes and stuff like that. I know I won't be around them much in the season, so might as well get that good quality time while I can." 

Q:Was your offseason similar to what it was this time last year?

BERRY: "It was a little bit different because I knew I was coming to minicamp and I know I'm going to training camp this year, so I didn't stretch it out as much. I knew how to section everything up and package it up in a certain way, but as far as the intensity and drive, I wouldn't say it was different, it was just more targeted."

Q: Did you see that social media saw you buy food for a homeless man and pray with him, can you describe what that situation was?

BERRY: "I've been doing that since I was in college, that's nothing new.  It's just something that I learned from my parents. They always talk about how blessed you are and to always take other people into consideration and that's just it, not always thinking about yourself and to put somebody else before you.  That's just something I've always done."

Q: Did you go there that night, to specifically do that?

BERRY: "I actually had another event in Knoxville, just asked them if they were hungry, if they wanted something to eat. I asked them what they wanted, got it and brought it back.  One of the guys asked for me to pray for him, so I just prayed for him."

Q: How many times have you done this?

BERRY: "I don't know, I just do it. Actually Dan Sorensen, we come with quotes every week or so and he said "don't hesitate to do a good deed," so if you feel like doing a good deed, don't second guess it and just do it. Sometimes I just feel like doing a good deed and I just do it, I don't think about it twice and that's it."

Q:  If you had your way, would you rather do it without the media attention?

BERRY: "Yeah, I don't do it for the attention, I don't do anything for the attention.  I do it to better myself and just give back, that's what you should do it for.  If somebody looks at it and thinks 'hey maybe I should help feed a homeless person today,' then cool, but I don't do it for the attention, I do it because I feel like that's what you're supposed to do when you have the chance."

Q:Given what you've gone through the last few seasons, can you talk about the importance of having time off and recharging?

BERRY: "I think everybody needs time off. Sometimes you get caught up in the grind and you never really get a chance to step away from whatever it is, it doesn't have to just be sports.  If you go ahead and take a step back and look at the game from a different point of view you can kind of see where you need to correct it and see where you need to fix things and see what you can change.  That was the biggest thing, I didn't have this offseason to focus on battling cancer or seeing if I could play the game or nothing like that.  I know what I can do, I trust my skills, I trust my teammates. It's about putting that time and effort toward my craft."

Q: Did you talk with Coach Reid or John Dorsey beforehand to let them know you wouldn't be at camp?

BERRY: "We talked about it."

Q:  Alex (Smith) said when you guys came back it was more spirited, more chirping. Do you buy that?

BERRY:"Yeah, that's just what we do. We're on the same team, but it's like having a house full of brothers, you all are going to fight inside the house, you'll wrestle, you'll argue, you'll talk smack, but as soon as somebody else from another neighborhood or someone up the street try to try you, we're all together.  We make each other stronger while we're in the building."

Q: How did it feel to be back with your teammates?

BERRY: "It's always good, it's always good."


Q:How does it feel to be back?

HOUSTON:"Feels good. It's good to see everybody. How are you all doing?"* *

Q:What did you do during your time away during voluntary OTAs?

HOUSTON:"I was in Atlanta just working out. Nothing new, nothing special. Just the same old – working out, resting, enjoying the family."

Q:Same thing you did last offseason?

HOUSTON:"No, last offseason I was hurt. That's not the same."

Q:What did you do the offseason before the season you had 22 sacks?

HOUSTON:"Same thing. Yeah."

Q:When you're on your own and you can customize your workout, how much does that help you? Does that give you confidence?

HOUSTON:"It gives me a lot of confidence. I'm a one-on-one guy. Even when I'm back home and I train, the group I train with, if it's a group, is no more than three people. Because if I'm messing up, I'm doing something wrong, I like to be corrected. I want to be perfect in everything I do."

Q:Alex said that with you, Marcus Peters and Eric Berry back at practice today he noticed a little more chirping on the field. Does that sound about right to you?

HOUSTON:"That sounds about right. That's having fun, we're enjoying ourselves. That's part of the game."

Q:Health-wise, how do you feel right now compared to this time last year?

HOUSTON:"I feel great now. Last year I couldn't even run at this time. So this is a night and day difference. I feel great just to be able to get up and go without even thinking about it."

Q:Does your knee ever swell up or give you issues?


Q:With team expectations as high as they are this year, how do you handle those and how do you talk about those with your teammates in the locker room?

HOUSTON:"Just embrace the process. One step at a time, one day at a time. At the end of the day you focus on getting better, you pick out something you can get better at, just focus on that."

Q:Now that you're going into a season healthy again, what are your expectations for yourself?

HOUSTON:"Just to continue to get better. Like I said before, the day I feel like I can't get better is the day I'm going to retire. I know there is plenty I can get better at, be more consistent every game, every play. Just continue to get better in all phases."

Q:You dropped what looked like it should have been a pretty easy interception today. Did you have some fun talking back-and-forth with Alex about that?

HOUSTON:"No, I was more pissed at myself. It was so easy. I just immediately went to the game because if that happened in a game, I don't know what I would do. I would get a flag for acting a fool because you can't drop something that easy. You've got to make a play like that."

Q:Derrick Johnson is back out there on the field with you after he said he didn't know if he'd be ready to go. How good is it to see him?

HOUSTON:"It felt good to see him out there. I feel like he could have been out there with us through the whole practice – he was just out there for individual. I couldn't tell a difference. He looked great. He looked fast. Felt good to see him out there."

Q:When you spend time away from football during the voluntary offseason program, do you have a conversation with anyone inside the organization about not being here ahead of time?

HOUSTON:"It's not mandatory. So that's optional. Coach (Reid) always leaves it up to us as the players."

Q:So you're able to jump right back in?

HOUSTON:"Throw us back in, right back in. Yeah."

Q:Now that you are healthy, is it difficult to be patient in terms of waiting to get back to live hitting?

HOUSTON:"No, you've got to be patient. You've got to embrace the process. You want to get better, you want to be ready when that time comes. So you've got to prepare yourself. It takes time to prepare yourself, so each day you've got to take it one step at a time."




Q: During the voluntary part of the offseason program, where were you at and what were you doing?

PETERS: "I was back at the house working out."

Q: Can you elaborate a little about where you were working out, who you were working out with?

PETERS: "I was back at Empire Gym in San Francisco and back at my high school in Oakland, doing the same thing I've been doing since I got kicked out."

Q: Alex mentioned that with you, Eric Berry and Justin Houston back on the field today, that there was a little bit more chirping coming from the defensive side of the ball. Does that sound right to you?

PETERS: "That's football baby. We're getting back into the swing of it, we're here for a couple days before we've got to be back at camp. We've got a mentality – we're trying to win the Super Bowl – it's going to be high."

Q: Do you get the feeling that your teammates were excited to have you back in the building and on the field today?

PETERS: "Yeah man, all of them. Seeing all my teammates, man, we're brothers. We're interested in one thing – our ultimate goal is to win the Super Bowl. Other than that, back here for a couple days then we all go our separate ways for a couple weeks and then we're back to camp and working."

Q: You've said before that you play the game to earn respect. Do you feel like you're a step closer to getting that?

PETERS: "Super Bowl. Super Bowl. That's the ultimate respect you get in this game – win a championship. That's a team goal. All the individual goals, they're good. The reason I'm doing my job is for my team so we can win more games. Other than that, just here to win Super Bowls."

Q: We understand that the offseason program is voluntary. Did you feel compelled to tell the coaches, tell Andy Reid or John Dorsey?

PETERS: "You want to talk to everybody. That's the main thing, you've got to let people know what's going on. Like I said, I was back at home doing what I needed to do, make sure I can come here [do my job]."

Q: We asked Eric Berry the same thing. He mentioned that it was good for him to be away, recharge and be with his family. Football can drain you. Was that important for you too?

PETERS: "I keep my family first anyway. So anytime I get to go home and be around my family, I go do it. I take the time out. That's my vacation. Once we're here for work, I'm here for work. My family understands that. So all the time that I get with my family, I go spend it and have fun."

Q: Once this week is over, what are you going to be up to?

PETERS: "Oakland, California."

Q: Basically what you've been doing the last few weeks?

PETERS: "Yep."

Q: You work out with any other players out there?

PETERS: "Oakland, California. That's who I work out with. It doesn't matter who's available, we're out there getting it. Everybody's got something to do. If you're out there from my high school, other high schools around Oakland, even the Pop Warner teams, just working out."

Q: You mentioned Super Bowl is the goal. Do you feel like you have all the pieces here to accomplish everything this team wants to do?

PETERS: "Yep."

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