SMITH: “Yeah, love the heat. It’s great work. It’s new to me being on the West Coast for a long time, but I love it. Great conditions to practice in. I think it makes the environment tough.”
Q: How much more advanced are you now then a year ago?
SMITH: “It’s tough to even compare and put into words. You’re learning to crawl last year at this time and for the guys that are back and here, obviously it’s a night and day difference. The unique thing is that there are new faces though and you have to get them caught up and get them in the mix. That’s everybody in the NFL, that’s the name of the game. There is turnover from year to year and getting everybody caught up because it takes 11 guys to execute.”
Q: What about having such a new offensive line?
SMITH: “I mean, turnover is turnover and I think anywhere you have new faces, that’s what it is. It’s different this time of year, because we’re just in helmets, so for those guys it’s a time to work assignment and technique. The physical part of the game, obviously they just don’t get to practice that right now, that’s the way it is. A different aspect of it for us on the edge at the skill positions, we can make a little more happen out here.”
SMITH: “I’m worried about playing quarterback. To be totally honest, I’ve got enough on my plate and I think that’s the same for everybody here.”
Q: Does it affect you from a team morale standpoint?
SMITH: “Like I said, I think you guys are giving a lot of thought for me as a player. I’m worried about playing quarterback. I’m worried about coming out here and executing and competing and really getting better and I think that’s everybody’s mindset out here. You have to take advantage of these days. Our offseasons have steadily been cut down over the years and the OTAs with that, so it makes them that much more meaningful each and every one and every rep. For us, I think the mindset is that, just focusing on the reps. All of that other stuff, it’s not even in our [minds].”
Q: Did you run any no huddle last OTAs?
SMITH: “I don’t think so. I don’t think we did.”
Q: Coach Reid seemed to push the pace out there today.”
SMITH: “Yeah, I mean I think it’s something we’ve had in the package for a long time. I don’t know if he was doing it from an execution or a conditioning aspect, that’s a better question for coach. It’s good work for us out here in the heat. I think conditions like this are awesome to practice in.”
SMITH: “I think Junior (Hemingway) has done an awesome job in the sense that every time he gets an opportunity out here on the practice field, he makes plays. It’s tough, last year he had to bide his time and I think the same thing in the games. When he got his opportunities to make some plays, I think he made them. He’s that type of guy. I know from me as a quarterback, he’s a guy I really trust because he knows what he’s doing. He cares about his teammates going out there, so from me I definitely like what I see.”
Q: What about
SMITH: “He’s got so many tools, starting with his speed. I think coach does a great job moving him around and mixing him up and I think it’s just scratching the surface with him. It’s just a matter of him taking all of that in and us doing it out on the field.”
SMITH: “No, he’s very consistent. He’s a pro. You don’t play at the level he does not doing the little things and he does the little things day-in and day-out. He competes every day, so he’s fun to have in the huddle, and obviously a very unique talent.”
Q: Can he handle that workload?
SMITH: “I don’t see why not. Like I said, the guy can do everything. He never comes off the field.”
Q: Coach Reid says he’s optimistic about you getting the extension done before the season. Do you share that sentiment?
SMITH: “Absolutely, I do. But like I said, it’s playing quarterback. That [other] stuff gets figured out.”
JOHNSON: “Feels good. It’s about my eighth or ninth OTA. Feels the same as before. It’s one of those things, it’s a learning deal. We have a lot of young guys putting a new system in. We’re going slow. It’s cool. We’re out here, basically in our underwear just running around. It’s not a physical-type deal.”
Q: You’re putting in a new system. That’s basically for them? It’s the same as last year?
JOHNSON: “Yes, it’s the same system. It’s still fairly new to us being we’ve just had it for one year. With this Bob Sutton scheme, you never know what he has up his sleeve. He’s bringing blitzes all the time, so it’s pretty fun.”
Q: You’ve had someone different next to you, does that matter?
JOHNSON: “No, not really. This league is about change. I’ve been here some time. Now I’m going into my 10th year. I’ve probably had 10 mike-backers next to me, so it’s one of those things where the organization always gets a reliable mike-backer and
Q: Tell us what
JOHNSON: “Dontari Poe is a lifesaver for inside linebackers like myself. He’s heck to deal with in the middle. Anytime he’s one-on-one, he wins. Plays the whole game. Nobody in the league does that at 350 pounds. My hat’s off to him. He’s a centerpiece to this defense. All my success I’ve had the last two or three years, he’s a big, big part of it.”
Q: What’s it like not having Justin Houston here today?
JOHNSON: “This is a voluntary minicamp, or voluntary OTAs, so it’s one of those things where you worry about the guys that are here. I’m a guy that’s been through this. It’s not a big deal.”
Q: Do you just know that when OTAs come around, some guys may not be here?
JOHNSON: “You’re never surprised in this league. You worry about the guys that are here and try to get better. When the season gets here, we’ll have everybody intact.”
Q: When was the last time you talked to Brandon Flowers or Justin Houston?
JOHNSON: “They’re friends of mine, so yeah, we talk.”
Q: So you knew they weren’t going to be here?
JOHNSON: “I can’t say that. I don’t know anything about that. We’re friends off the field, but when it comes to the business part, I stay out of that just because nobody gets in mine.”
Q: For a veteran like yourself, do you consider this time crucial?
JOHNSON: “Whenever you get a chance to get out of the field, for myself, it’s crucial. The older I get, coming in with the guys, being around the young guys, getting them acclimated to our system, it’s been working well for me.”
Q: How long does it take the veterans to get back in the swing of things?
JOHNSON: “Not long, especially the older guys like myself. This week, give me a couple days and I’ll be right.”
Q: Have you dropped some weight?
JOHNSON: “A little bit. Each year I try to drop two or three pounds. I’m about 235 now, so I’m getting it down. When I first got into the league, I was 250 pounds. I can’t move with that weight on anymore.”
Q: Does that make up for the ticks on the clock?
JOHNSON: “I don’t want to give away the secret. I’m still moving fast, so let’s just keep dropping weight every year.”