With just a few days left before the team's 2011 kick off, we had the opportunity to sit down with Eagles rookie safety Jaiquawn Jarrett Thursday afternoon. We've been covering the Temple Owls here on the site the past couple seasons, so we thought it would be good to check in with Jaiquawn as he prepares for his first game in the NFL.
Inside the Novacare Complex, Jarrett's locker is flanked on either side by those of fellow safeties Colt Anderson and Kurt Coleman. Anderson was listening and watching for the better part of the interview. You'll see why that's important later on.
Nick: First off, there's the obvious question. You're now just three days from your first game in the NFL. How's it feel?
Jaiquawn Jarrett: You know, It's exciting. But, it's still a long process just to get ready. Right now I'm just focusing on the game plan, learning the game plan. And then I'm doing my best in practice to go out there and execute that plan, so I can be ready when the time comes to get in there, whenever that may be.
Nick: We'll sort of start back in March and move our way forward. Prior to the 2011 Draft, how aware were you that the Eagles may have been interested?
Jaiquawn: Really, I wasn't too aware that the Eagles were interested in me, but I'm definitely glad and excited that they did select me. I'm excited that I'm able to play college ball and my professional ball here in Philadelphia. It's a good thing. I'm glad it worked out.
Nick: Once you were drafted, head coach Andy Reid called you the most intimidating hitter in the draft and then went on to compare you to Brian Dawkins. What does it mean to you to compared to a player like Dawk?
Jaiquawn: Brian Dawkins, man, Brian Dawkins is one of the best players to ever play this game. He is going to go down in history as a Hall of Fame safety. There's no doubt. Really, I'm just learning right now. You know, I've got a lot to learn. But I can definitely learn a lot from him. And I can obviously learn from the safeties I'm surrounded by in this locker room.
Nick: After the draft, what did you do to stay in shape and improve during the lock out when you weren't allowed access to the team or its facilities?
Jaiquawn: I worked out at Temple. I worked out at Temple numerous times with the strength coach, coach P [Frank Piraino], and my old strength coach, coach [Tony] Decker. So, I was always lifting and running.
Nick: Once you were allowed back, did the veterans hit you with any of the traditional rookie "chores?"
Jaiquawn: Oh no. You know, there's really no rookie chores here. None of that stuff, believe it or not. [Pauses — Smiles] But we do, uh, we do provide away game meals. But that's not really a big issue.
Nick: Well, you know it has been on other teams.
Jaiquawn: [Laughs] Yeah, yeah. I know. I've heard about that.
Nick: As a second round draft pick, there was some early talk that you and Nate Allen could make up a very young starting safety tandem. Now, those spots are filled by teammates Jarrad Page and Kurt Coleman. Do you feel the lockout and not being able to attend mini-camps or OTAs in any way hindered your progression, and that if you had a normal training camp things might have turned out differently?
Jaiquawn: I'm not too sure. You know, I really don't know about that. If there wasn't a lockout…I probably would have learned a lot more. But, I mean, I'm learning now. And I'm going to continue to learn. And I'm going to go out there to compete. And I think if I can go out out there and try my best to become a good team player, that I'll pick it up.
Nick: It's your coach Juan Castillo's first season in the league as a defensive coordinator. What is your impression of Juan in that role having gone through an entire training camp?
Jaiquawn: Juan Castillo is a great man. He's a great man. He's exciting. He's always got a lot of enthusiasm. He's always got a lot of energy. He's just great that way. Definitely keeps us going.
Nick: Other than the coaching staff, from whom, thus far, have you learned the most?
Jaiquawn: Colt! [Laughs] Colt Anderson's helped a lot. We roomed together a lot. Roomed together at the hotel, in training camp. So definitely Colt. Kurt [Coleman]. Kurt helps a lot. Just about the whole safety core. [Smiles] We're all pretty tight around here."
Nick: As a part of the secondary who gets to see these guys in action quite a bit, what's been like to watch the Eagles "big three" corners on a daily basis?
Jaiquawn: You know, each of them has their own different traits. Each one has their own way of doing things. But, they're all talented. They're all great corners. And every day, every single day, they're out there making plays, whether it's practice, or preseason, or whatever. Everyday they're making plays. For me, it's just exciting to watch how Pro Bowl, Hall of Fame corners go about their business everyday. It's great to watch, great to learn from."
Nick: Prior to joing the Eagles, I'm sure you, like the rest of us, consumed quite a bit of the media coverage surrounding quarterback Michael Vick. What's it been like to meet him and interact with him everyday as a real person, and not just "that guy" who did "that thing?"
Jaiquawn: Mike is a real down to earth person. Honestly, being around Mike Vick is just like being around anybody else. He's down to earth, you know? He's really easy to get along with. He's just a good guy. Simple as that.
Nick: Switching over to college, you said you worked out at Temple over the summer. How much have you gotten to know coach Steve Addazio and what is your impression of what he can do for that program going forward?"
Jaiquawn: [Smiles] Ohhh, Steve Addazio. Coach Addazio has a lot of, a whole lot of intensity, man. [Laughs]. He's a real good man. And he's been letting the seniors who have graduated come back to work with the team, work out with the team, run with the team. I'm excited for them. I heard about their big win over Villanova. I'm looking for big, big things out of them this upcoming season."
Nick: And how about your old head coach, Al Golden? Have you had any contact with coach Golden, especially since all that came out about the University of Miami's football program?
Jaiquawn: Nah, you know, I really haven't had the chance to speak to coach Golden. I know he's got a lot on his plate right now. But, I'm pulling for him. I know he's gonna turn that program around."
Nick: Alright, two easy ones and then we'll let you go. We've been covering your career at Temple the past couple years so we have to ask, not counting the cafeteria or the SAC, what's your favorite spot to eat on Temple's campus? We'll give them some free advertising."
Jaiquawn: "Well, I always liked to go to City View! But I was definitely always eatin' Rita's, as well, though."
Nick: Finally, we hear it's pretty common for guys to listen to music before taking the field. Marshawn Lynch refers to it as "getting that last little bit of juice."
Nick: What will you be listening to Sunday morning?
Jaiquawn: Sunday morning…well, I always listen to Fabolous.
Nick: Yeah? Any specific song? We'll put it on the website.
Jaiquawn: [Laughs] "Gangsta Don't Play" [Continued laughter].
Thanks to Jaiquawn Jarrett for taking the time to talk to us, and for making it through what Colt Anderson called "the longest interview I've ever heard." And now, Fabolous...
Photos with thanks to the Philadelphia Eagles, Associated Press, Express Times and GCobb.com