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Artis Hicks Addresses The Media

Posted by Matt Terl on March 18, 2010 – 11:31 am

Pro Bowl linebacker London Fletcher and new offensive lineman Artis Hicks addressed the media today, and — as Rick Maese of the Washington Post tweeted — what the two guys said can pretty much be summarized as “We’re excited.” Or, in marginally more paraphrased detail: “The atmosphere in the building is optimistic, the new coaching staff is impressive, the transition to the 3-4 defense won’t be nearly as tricky as some people think, and we’re all excited.” It was not a press conference that’s going to wind up in a loop on SportsCenter, that’s for sure.

Despite that, it was the first time I’ve had a chance to hear Artis Hicks speak at length, and I figured it was worth noting some of the things he said actually in his own words. Like these, for example, which will probably speak to what every Redskins fan wants to hear:

On what to expect from the offense:
“I think we’re definitely gonna run the ball and set things up off of that. If you look back over the course of Shanahan offenses over the years in Denver, everything was based off of the run. It helped the quarterback out a lot when you’ve got a great running game. We’ve got some great running backs here, and if we can just do our part up front to give those guys some lanes, man, it will be a great year for us I think.”

Meanwhile, the refrain we’ve been hearing about Hicks since he signed is that he’s versatile and can play just about any offensive line position, so that’s the angle a lot of questions took. For example:

On if being a versatile lineman has helped him throughout his career:
“I was told a long time ago, the more you can do, the longer you can play in this league. I’ve been a couple of places and I learned how to play a couple of different positions and I think it’s definitely helped me out over the years.”

On if he expects to compete for the starting right guard position:
“It’s too early to get into that. Right now, we’re just here working out and that’s all I’m thinking about: getting stronger and getting faster. Once the spring gets here and the OTA’s start and mini-camps start, that’ll take care of itself. I’m not even looking that far down the road.”

On what you learn by playing multiple O-line positions:
“The biggest thing is that you get an understanding of the offense in general, and it kinda helps you to transition from spot to spot once you have an understanding of the concept of what you’re trying to do overall as a unit. Playing a lot of different positions helps you with that a lot.”

On if he has a particular spot on the offensive line that he prefers:
“Not necessarily. With me, I think it is a matter of repetition. At either of the four spots, both guards and both tackles, it’s just a matter of me putting whatever hand on the ground for a couple of weeks and getting a good feel over there. I’ve been fortunate to be able to do that in the past and hopefully I can continue on down the road.”

And here’s that “We’re excited” thing that I mentioned earlier:

On what the attitude is in the building:
“I think, so far, there’s kind of an attitude like, ‘Hey, let’s get this thing right’. Phillip Daniels locker is right next to mine and the first thing he said to me when I introduced myself to him was, ‘It’s time to get this thing right.’ I’ve got a lot of respect for the guys in this locker room because they’ve been through some tough times and they fought through. You turn the film on and watch ’em, and see that even though they didn’t have a great season guys were still out there playing hard. When you have that attitude [and] you add a little skill to it, you’ve got all the makings for a great season.”

Then there were the questions about assembling the offensive line:

On how it is coming into an offensive unit as the new guy:
“I think when you put guys together it’s a little easier because everybody grows together. You’re not trying to slide in and get a feel for the guy next to you. In this situation, like you said, we don’t know who’s gonna be the left tackle, we don’t know who’s gonna be the right tackle, and so forth. So guys are having to grow and build together, and that makes for a stronger unit down the line.”

On if the lack of certainty as to who will start along the offensive line makes his transition easier or harder:
“It makes me feel like I fit in a little bit better. The guys in this locker room have been great. They’ve welcomed me here. Some of the veteran guys, older guys that have been here for awhile, the first day I arrived guys were coming up and introducing themselves. It’s a good locker room. There’s good chemistry, I can tell that already, so I’m looking forward to it.”

On his familiarity with the zone blocking scheme:
“Some of the stuff I am very familiar with and some of the stuff is a little new to me. It’s moreso the language and learning new calls, because some of the terms we use meant different things to me in the past. It’s just a matter of me kinda erasing those old terms and what they were associated with out of my mind and re-establishing what they mean now. That’s the tough part mentally.”

And one insight into Coach Mike Shanahan:

“I thought he was going to be kind of a quiet guy, a little bit of a tough guy. And not saying that he isn’t those things, but when I sat down with him one-on-one he was very relaxed, very laid back, had a great sense of humor and a great personality. That kind of shocked me a little bit.”

Like I said, nothing that’s going to wind up getting national spin, but a lot of things that seem perfectly reassuring to Redskins fans during the offseason.

Also, check out Larry Weisman’s more specific summary of some of Fletcher’s points.

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