Run-blocking work ahead for Thomas
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
Courtesy of the Jaguars' public relations department, I've been able to read through a transcript of Tra Thomas' introductory news conference in Jacksonville.
He conceded that run-blocking is not his forte, which is what makes him seem a bit of an odd match to me based on the Jaguars' offensive personality. But there aren't many quality offensive tackles on the market, and the Jaguars didn't seem to want to have to take one with the eighth overall pick in the draft.
The team and Thomas clearly think he can improve and be effective in a 12th NFL season.
"I felt like last year was probably one of my better years being an Eagle," he said. "I faced some of the top defensive ends last year with their sack numbers, and I shut down a lot of those guys; I only gave up two sacks during the regular season. I felt like I played pretty decent. Run-blocking has always been a challenge for me. That's something that I'm definitely going to have to work on. I think that's something that Andy [Heck] can really help me with. I'm just excited to get going here and earn everything that I can and just go out here and become a dominating force here in Jacksonville."
Thomas hit on several other key issues, which I've pulled out for you here:
How many teams were interested in you?
Really not that many were biting at me. Once I came here and visited with Gene [Smith] and the offensive line coach, Andy, I knew that this was going to be a perfect fit for me.
You were there with the same people for a long time, how difficult is the move going to be?
You see right now I have my playbook right here. After I signed my contract that was the first thing I went and asked the coaches for, so I can forget 11 years of terminology and start remembering how they're teaching it. At the end of the day it's still football, it's all the same stuff, it's just the way they call it and the way they make the calls. I wanted to get into this playbook as soon as possible, so that starts today when I leave here.
How many years do you have left in the tank?
I have several years left in the tank. I take good care of myself; I'm always in the weight room training. Actually I'm going to find a house to stay in so I can get here and start with the offseason program as soon as possible.
On your listed interests including French lessons, Broadway shows, opera, chess and Scattergories.
Me and my wife decided to do some French lessons for a quick minute. But I was a bad student so I pretty much dropped out of that. But I do do the chess; I do a lot of Broadway shows. Being in Philly we did go to New York quite a few times and caught a couple plays. I like to do different stuff outside of this.
Not a lot of players would put those things in their bio.
Well, I'm not a big hunter, I don't like fishing because it can be a little boring sometimes unless you're doing deep sea. I try to do a little golf sometimes, I try to do a little MMA training sometimes, if you want something a little bit more physical, something to do in the offseason as a little side-conditioning thing. Just stuff sitting around the house, good family stuff to do.
Character has been an emphasis here. Can you come in and meld in with the other guys who are here?
That's why I'm trying to get here as soon as possible, so that I can come in and build a relationship with the guys and just help out any way I can. I came up in a system with Juan Castillo as my coach there in Philadelphia, and I was trained to be the first one on the field and the last one off the field. So I came up in an environment where I'm used to hard work and I just want to share that with these guys. I don't know what the situation is here since this is my first day here, but that's why I want to get here as soon as possible, so I can get involved in the system, get around the guys, and then everything else will take care of itself.
What kind of a leadership role did you play in Philadelphia?
I was just always around the guys. I had a great relationship with our offensive line; we usually went out to eat at least once a week. I broke the team down before we went into the locker room after warm-ups. I stayed there during the offseason. I'm the type of guy that when I'm with a team I'm all-in, so I lived in the city. I participated in all the offseason workouts. I was always the first one there. Every day I showed up at the facility at least at 6:30 in the morning and got my workout in and cardio. Some of my workout sessions, from the offensive line coach knowing how I was doing my workouts during the season, he had some of the younger guys come in and do the same stuff that I was doing. Lead by example. I'm not the type of person that's going to jump in somebody's face and yell and holler. We're all professionals. But I can definitely show you the way.