I had the opportunity to speak with Dolphins cornerback Eric Green in a manner any cornerback would welcome -- one on one -- during a break in last weekend's mandatory minicamp.
I came away impressed that this guy has a solid head on his shoulders and isn't much for sugarcoating truth. He has struggled at times this offseason, particularly on deep sideline passes, but he has nonetheless been the guy running with the first-team most of the offseason.
Here's our cornerback to dorky reporter man to man:
Q. How do you think you're doing so far?
A. "It's been a little shaky. Up and down. But for the most part I think I'm doing pretty well. I have to be a little more consistent from one practice to the next. But as far as scheme and learning the system, I have that down pretty pat."
Q. What happened in Arizona?
A. "The past is behind me but the thing that happened there is I had an injury, against the Dolphins actually, in Week 2. And I tried to play through it but I was playing at 70 percent -- 65 to 70 percent -- and I hurt myself more than helped myself going through that. It got to the point where it was so bad I had to sit out and a young guy came in. He had a lot of talent and, being a great athlete, he made plays. And once that happened, I don't care who you are, you can't bring the old guy back in. And he helped us make it to the Super Bowl."
Q. Did you hurt your reputation by playing injured?
A. "I know I did. I know I hurt myself. In this league it's too hard to not play at 100 percent when you're at corner. You got guys who can run and are blazers out there and can make plays and corner is tough enough a position to play as it is. Doing it at 70 percent is almost impossible to do."
Q. How much of your struggles on the field were due to your injury?
A. "Besides one game, 100 percent of it. And that was the Jets. That was more of a mental breakdown. We came out from the west coast and stayed out in D.C. when we were playing the Jets and Redskins. And I think everybody, not only myself, we all got out of our daily routine as far as film study, taking care of your body, doing that. It was just way out of routine for everybody and it was more of a team mental breakdown, so that's what happened."
Q. So what do you take away from the Arizona experience?
A. "To be part of an organization out in Arizona, it was great, they helped me and my family tremendously. But to put in so much work and be thrown aside ... especially in the playoffs where I didn't dress for one playoff game ... I was really upset about that. It hurt and I kind of lost respect for certain people. That's behind me but I have something to prove because we made it to the playoffs and Super Bowl -- an NFL player's dream -- and I wasn't part of it. On paper I was part of it, but in my heart, deep down inside I felt I wasn't part of it. I really feel like I have something to prove because a lot of people, even here, question, 'What happened to Eric Green? What happened to the Eric that played in the '07 season and then what happened in '08?' To not make excuses, I have to go back out and show people what I can do. Point blank."
Q. So do you feel comfortable here?
A. "Trust me, even if I wanted to relax here, I doubt I could, otherwise I'd probably be out of here if I did. There's nothing [sewn] up. Everybody's saying the young guys are coming in and starting or that I'm starting ahead of the young guys. Trust me, there are no starting positions just yet. Until that first game against Atlanta, that will tell who the starter is."
Q. But you're starting now ...
A. "I'm a veteran guy who has experience in this league and does know what to expect in this league. I think that's why I'm lined up as a starter right now. But I still have to come out here and compete and make plays and if I don't do that, I won't be."
Q. What do you think of your new team?
A. "I look at the roster, I look at practice, I look at the way guys work and coaches coach and, I'm not saying this because I'm part of this team, but we have if not more, just as much talent as we had with the Cardinals."
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