Archive for March 24th, 2008

Interview with Ikaika

March 24, 2008

Asked what it felt like to get a break after such a long year, Ikaika said:
“Last year was a very long year. It was so hectic. Right after the (college) season, you have to get ready for the combine. Then I had that (pectoral) injury, so it was even more of a burden – it was even longer, but I knew what I had to do to get here. It was a good year – I learned a lot – but it was a much-needed break. That two months was much needed to just to get away from it all – get mentally right and physically right. Now I’m ready to get back to work.” (DetroitLions.com)

Asked if he did anything in particular, Ikaika said:
“I went whale and dolphin watching (laughing), went fishing and, of course, I worked out because it never ends. I knew I had to stay in shape because it was a big year coming up. It was a good year to recover health-wise and mentally and I’m just glad to be back here working out again.” (DL)

Asked if he’s feeling good physically, Ikaika said:
“Yeah, I feel fantastic. I feel really good. I know I can be in better shape and it’s only going to get better from here.” (DL)

Asked what it was like to walk into the Lions’ facility and know he wasn’t a rookie anymore, Ikaika said:
“Oh man. Well, they keep on giving me grief about it that it’s three more games but I officially think I’m not a rookie. My rookie year was a lot of bumps and curves in that road but you have to run right through it. You just have to go. This year I have a better understanding of what to expect so it’s a lot easier.” (DL)

Asked what was his biggest on-field struggle last year, Ikaika said:
“I think learning the system and getting the feel of the NFL – the NFL mindset, basically. You don’t have school anymore and it’s just an all-football, all-day thing; preparing week-in and week-out and a longer season. I think the longer season does take a toll, but you get used to it. You just kind of go with the flow and everything, and it all just comes together.” (DL)

Asked if he’s looking forward to the offseason program as a more calm preparation process for training camp, Ikaika said:
“Definitely. When I was in Hawaii, I couldn’t wait to get back – get back to training and everything – so I was really excited about the upcoming season. It’s a big year for us and a lot of big things are going to happen here. I’m really excited; the coaches are excited, the players are excited and I’m excited.” (DL)

Asked if he’s talked with Coach Marinelli or Coach Cullen about anything specific he will be working on this offseason, Ikaika said:
“Well, they evaluated the year and there are a lot of things I need to work on but I feel if I keep working on those things day-in and day-out, it’s going to come together. Over time, I don’t know what’s going to happen but all I can do is work and get better at those things so I can have a better year this year.” (DL)

Asked what he thought about all of the defensive changes that were made in the offseason, Ikaika said:
“I understand (the changes) because it is the NFL and there are going to be changes every year. There’s nothing you can do but just look forward to the year that’s coming up. We’ve got a bunch of great guys coming in – they’re really good guys, good players – and you’ve got to respect that. All I can do is suit up and go to battle with what we’ve got. So I’m going to go in full steam.” (DL)

Asked if there is anything in particular he feels he needs to improve, whether it’s off the field or on the field, Ikaika said:
“Yes. I think physically I can be stronger and mentally it’s just preparation. Last year I kind of had to feel my way through everything because it was a learning year for me. Being in the system for a second year I feel so much more comfortable and I can work on my technique a lot more. Through Coach Marinelli and Coach Cullen – I feel they’re the best in the NFL – it only can go up.” (DL)

Asked about his lightheared off-the-field personality and he he feels he fits with what the NFL is, Ikaika said:
“You know, going into last year I didn’t know what to expect – but it’s football. It’s football and everybody’s good. It’s how much work you put into the offseason and during the season that is going to determine how good you do. The coaches always preach that: you’ve got to stay on top of things, you’ve got to be smart and you really do. You have to stay on top of things because you don’t know what’s going to happen. You don’t know about sudden changes that happen and your number’s going to be called. So you’ve just got to be ready. Like last year: I got a lot of playing time toward the end of the year and I think that helped me out game-experience-wise to get a feel of what to expect this year.” (DL)

Asked if he looked back at his hamstring injury last year as the thing that kept him from really taking off as a rookie, as Coach Marinelli was excited with his progress and the way he looked in practice and was ready to play him, Ikaika said:
“I feel everything happens for a reason and at that moment I didn’t know (what the reason was). (What was) going through my mind – I was so down because I was having really good practices and I felt really good about my body and where I was at and the injury happened. There was nothing I could do but try to stay focused. I knew there would be another opportunity to play if I kept working hard. It was an unfortunate thing but it just wasn’t my time and something was telling me that it wasn’t my time.” (DL)

Asked what he thought about playing both outside and inside this year, Ikaika said:
“I feel comfortable at all the positions because I played a little bit of both last year. Overall, I think that helped me out knowing our entire D-line scheme and not knowing just one specific area. It gives me a better idea of what I can do and what I can work with. I feel the more you can do, the better you are and the more valuable you are. So, heck, do you want me to play linebacker, free safety, what do you want? It was a good experience and I can feel confident going into a game that I can play inside or outside.” (DL)

Asked who he was most excited to see when he came back, Ikaika said:
“Well, it was just the whole atmosphere – everybody. Just seeing all the guys back – all the faces from last year. I haven’t seen them in two months so it was good. Just to be back with all these guys; talking with them, seeing how their vacation was, looking forward to the upcoming year – it’s really exciting.” (DL)

Asked if he felt the excitement in the building, Ikaika said:
“Oh yeah. Definitely. Everybody’s all amped up and ready for this year to start, but I know we’ve got a long way to go and it’s only going to get better.” (DL)

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