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July 10, 2012

Q&A: Haslam prepares for NFL season

The 2012 season will bring a change of scenery for former Scarlet Knight Kevin Haslam. After two seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Haslam will be traveling across the country and suiting up for the Oakland Raiders.

ScarletNation.com caught up with Haslam on Tuesday as he worked out at Super Gym in Jackson, New Jersey. Most of the questions were posted by users on the message board.

Question: How is your knee? (injured during preseason scrimmage in 2011)
Answer: The knee is good. Very good. It is actually better than the other one. I thought I would lose a step or be a little awkward at first, but after the first day of practice, it loosened right up and now it feels great.

Question: Now you are here in Super Gym in Jackson. What does a typical offseason workout look like?
Answer: I wake up at 7AM for cardio, come home, eat, eat again, and then come back here and work out again. Depending on what day it is, I will do some sprints outside. Sometimes I go to Rutgers. Sometimes I go to a high school for the sprints. But that is it - I just eat and work out 2 to 3 times a day. It is pretty much the same routine every day.

Question: During the offseason, do you get a chance to step away from football for a bit?
Answer: This past weekend, I went to Boston for a bit. I went to a wedding another time. But I really just work out and get ready for the season. Being off from football for so long (due to injury), I didn't want to take this offseason off and take trips. I had time for that last year. Now it is time to work.

There is constant pressure all the time. You are fighting for your position every day. There is always people coming in and trying to take your spot. You can't relax. You go on Twitter or Facebook and every single athlete is posting "working out" or "getting better." When you read that, it makes you know you can't relax. It is more about working and being better than the next person.

Question: Who was your toughest opponent in college?
Answer: Jason Pierre-Paul. That was his first year in the Big East when he came from junior college. He was a natural, all-around player. Huge, fast, strong. He was a prototype d-end.

Question: Who was the toughest player you went against in practice at Rutgers?
Answer: Jamaal Westerman. I hated going against Westerman actually. Westie was a great pass rusher. He is playing linebacker now, but at d-end in college, he was tough to block. He gave me the most problems in practice.

Question: What is it like with this growing group of Rutgers players in the NFL? Do you all keep in touch?
Answer: Everyone texts nowadays. We all send messages here and there. We group-chat every so often. Guys communicate through Twitter. In the offseason, everyone is at Rutgers working out, and we go out to eat after. Everyone still keeps in contact. We're all still close.

Question: With the new coaching regime at Rutgers, how is the atmosphere in terms of welcoming back former players?
Answer: It is welcoming, very welcoming. Coach Flood was my coach. Whether you are in the NFL or not, you are welcome to come back. At Rutgers, the door is always open to former players. With the new strength staff, everyone feels welcome when they come back, and they go there to get better.

Question: The Rutgers offensive line has been up and down over the past few years and seems to be on the way back up. When you look back and reflect on the dip, what do you think?
Answer: I don't know. I know I read [online] that some thought that perhaps there was an issue when Coach Flood was the offensive line coach and offensive coordinator at the same time, but I don't think that was the reason at all. Sometimes things click, and sometimes they don't. Sometimes guys need more time to develop. Sometimes they don't click as a group. It takes time for an offensive line to gel, so you can't just throw guys out there and expect them to play the way other people played. In our group, we played together for two years. The first year we played together, we were good. The second year, things went a little wrong. I think we gave up like 40 sacks that second year. It doesn't matter if the talent is high or the talent is low. I just think it is more of a team effort, in that five man perspective. Whatever happened with the o-line, I am sure they are getting out of it.

Question: You have always been very complimentary of Coach Flood. How do you feel about him taking over as the head coach of the Scarlet Knights?
Answer: Love it. I love Coach Flood as the head coach of Rutgers. He deserves it 1,000%. He was a great coach for me. Honestly, I would not be in the NFL if it weren't for him. I changed my play a million times from my freshman year to my redshirt senior year. Even when he changed me around to every single position and I hated it, and he told me that it would be beneficial for me in the end, it turned out that it was [beneficial]. Being able to play every position in college prepared me to play every position in the NFL. He prepared me for everything that I needed.

Question: One coach who the fans have been asking about is new strength and conditioning coach, Jeremy Cole. Was he on-staff when you were there?
Answer: First I have to say that JB (Jay Butler) was a great strength coach. I wish him the best of luck in Tampa. Coach Cole was there with me when I was at Rutgers. I can't remember if it was 2 or 3 years. He is a great strength coach. He is all energy. He broke us down before we went out to games, before we went out to practice. The way he trains, it is so intense that you just have to feed off of it. I know all the guys are excited about him being the new strength coach. The guys are working out hard. I have watched a couple of his workouts, and he is the perfect guy for the job.

Question: What is Cole's training philosophy?
Answer: He is all about power lifting. Bench, squat, power clean. He is all about pushing as heavy a weight as possible. He is a strong guy. I'm not sure how tall he is, but he is strong for his size. He wants to make sure that everybody is strong. He believes in hard lifting. He stresses footwork too, but he wants guys to be as strong as they can be. The stronger you are, the harder you will play out in the field.


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