Twitter is a wonderful thing. Twitter has allowed us "average joe's" to interact with our legends. Buffalo Bills' Linebacker, Danny Batten was kind enough to answer a few questions regarding the upcoming NFL season. Before we get started on the questions and answers with Batten, I'll give you a little background on the former South Dakota State stud, who played defensive end for the Jackrabbits (11 games as a true freshman).
To be honest, I had never heard of him until I heard his name selected in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Being the wannabee draft guru I am, I found a highlight video you can see here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJKntBPsdo4 that completely opened my eyes to a promising player for years to come.
What I love about Batten is his high motor and relentlessness. It's almost guaranteed that you will see his jersey at the bottom of a pile on almost every play. As a 19-year-old freshman, Batten made 46 tackles, nine of them occurring behind the line of scrimmage, two of which brought down the quarterback. He bulked up in the offseason, and was highly impressive in his sophomore reason, racking up 67 tackles (12 for a loss) and was beginning to beat offensive tackles, making 4.5 sacks. Batten continued to improve in each of his four years at South Dakota State.
Batten finished his collegiate career with 276 tackles (52.5 of them for a loss) and 23 sacks.The issue regarding this outstanding FCS product is where he fits on the depth chart. Batten missed all of last season with a shoulder injury, but the Bills' coaching staff has the faith in his versatility and ability to play multiple positions to find reps for the 6'3" 250 pounder.
Will Batten Contribute This Year?
The coaching staff has worked him at outside linebacker, inside linebacker and defensive end, yet his best attribute is rushing the passer, due to his unique relentlessness.
As for the Q&A I had with Batten, who will make an impact this season, read on, and get to know a Buffalo Bills linebacker that I personally believe will become a starting player on this roster.
1. You played primarily at defensive end during your time at SDSU. How difficult has the transition to linebacker been?
The transition from college DE to NFL outsider backer was a learning curve. Rushing the passer and playing the run are relatively similar, so I adjusted the fastest to those aspects. The hardest concept to grasp was the pass coverage. I feel that i have finally grasped the concept and feel very comfortable dropping into coverage now. I worked on my drops religiously this summer, but the knowledge of the coverages has helped me 10 fold.
2. The Bills are utilizing a hybrid 3-4 and 4-3 front. Which do you feel is a better fit for your skill set and why?
I believe that I fit well in both, the 3 -4 allows me to drop more into coverage and play on my feet and use my athleticism. And the 4-3 allows me to pin my ears back and get after the passer. My roles are different in both, but I believe I fit well in both
3. You were a starter since you were a true freshman at SDSU. What is your mindset considering you are battling for reps?
I go out to practice everyday and play as hard as I can. When I'm not in, I watch the veterans Chris (Kelsay) and Shawne (Merriman) and learn from them. I take mental reps and try to get better. I understand how it feels to not play football for a year, so I cherish and maximize every opportunity I get to prove myself
4. What do consider being your greatest strength?
It's hard to sit back and compliment myself. I think my athleticism is my greatest attribute.
5. What was the funniest prank someone pulled on you as a rookie?
The veterans were pretty good about not messing with the rookies too bad. Haha I would mostly get ragged on for not matching when I came to the facilities every morning. Which was probably called for.
6.How difficult has it been trying to learn multiple positions, especially considering your injury last year?
It has been a lot smoother this year compared to OTA's/camp last year. I stayed in every meeting last year in order to avoid the growing pains of being a rookie all over again. It definitely paid off because my comfort level is night and day compared to last year.