Ed Thompson: How have you felt about your progression throughout your
career thus far?
Robert Royal: Obviously there's always improvement out there, but so
far I think it's been going well. The first two years coming in it wasn't going
so well. I was put on injured reserve my rookie year, and then coming back off
of that injury I did well. And once I finally started with the Redskins,
that second season, I wound up getting put on injured reserve again at the
conclusion of six games. Those two years were pretty much some bad years for me.
Then I was able to come back and had a little success on the field, I wound up
catching four touchdowns the following year. After that, I did well with the
Buffalo Bills, where I am currently, and it's been amazing so far.
ET: How hard was it to leave the Redskins after spending four years there
to start with a new team?
RR: It's always hard, the hardest part about it is you build
relationships with all of the guys on the team and when you leave those guys
they've become a part of your family. We spend a lot of time together as
professional athletes, a lot of people don't see the time we spend together off
of the field. A lot of times when you start to feel at home in that particular
place, you get accustomed to that living and being around all of those guys,
then you have to up and leave. I think that's the most difficult part of the
ET: What was it like going through free agency? Was it a nervous time or
an exciting time?
RR: It was pretty nervous. It was a little like when you're getting
recruited for college and you're not sure what's going to happen, how it's going
to play out, and where you're going to end up. The good part about it is I had
the opportunity to go out there and land with a team that really appreciate
everything I bring to the football field and off the football field. Once that
process was all over with, I was just happy to be a Buffalo Bill and I just
continue to try to build the team into the right condition to go to the playoffs
and win the championship.
ET: You really seemed to hit your stride during the last six games of the
2006 season, were you getting in the groove with the offense better or was the
offense just clicking better all around?
RR: I think our offense as a whole was just clicking. Obviously with
the new coaching staff and plays, they're still trying to figure out certain
players and we're still trying to figure them out. Then we had some breakdowns
up front in the beginning where I had to stand in and pass block a little bit
more, which I'm comfortable with. Then as the season went on we made some
adjustments so we could get more people out on a route, including myself, and
that allowed me to go out there and have that success.
ET: You had a 33-yard touchdown catch against Miami back in December, the
longest reception so far in your pro career. What do you remember about that
|The Jets' Jonathan Vilma and Kerry Rhodes team up to tackle Robert Royal in 2006.|
David Duprey, AP
RR: That was probably one of the hardest catches I've made in the NFL,
as easy as it looked. Obviously the conditions in Buffalo sometimes get bad and
when that ball came up in the air, it was drizzling and it was one of those
passes where I was wide open and the ball looked like it was in the air for an
hour and a half. I was able to keep my eye on it and stay focused, catch the
ball and get in the end zone.
ET: What do you appreciate most about J.P. Losman as a quarterback?
RR: Just his attitude and his heart and determination to come out
there week in and week out. It's pretty hard for a guy to come out there,
especially for the circumstances he's been in, just getting thrown up in there
pretty fresh, that's hard for a quarterback to do. Also just learning these
different systems. He's in the system for the second year and our
offensive coordinator, Steve Fairchild, and quarterbacks coach, Turk Schonert,
have done a terrific job of teaching J.P. the Xs and Os. The one thing I've
learned about J.P. is he's a competitor. It doesn't matter what happens, if he
goes out there and throws five interceptions, that sixth play he goes out there
he's going to go out there and try to put us in a winning position. That's the
one thing I love about him and you have to have that as a quarterback. You have
to have that confidence in yourself and believe in yourself for an offense to
work. So far things keep looking promising and we're going to stand behind him
and push him.
ET: You guys have a very young team and you're learning to work together,
what's going to be your biggest challenge this season?
RR: I think just building off that momentum we had at the end of the
season last year. We've been in a system together now for two years and I think
that's going to help us and just guys being comfortable with their teammates
around them, knowing what they can get away with. That's the biggest thing about
it when you're playing with a guy, you know what that guy next to you is
comfortable doing and that allows you to play more freely and execute your
assignment a lot better. I think just because we're young, we're on the rise,
some of the guys got a chance to get a taste of the action and I think that was
wonderful. When we go out there this year that should help us a lot.
ET: You had a big change on offense with the loss of running back Willis McGahee and you have a new rookie, Marshawn Lynch in the mix for the
position. What can you tell us about him so far?
RR: I can tell you one thing, I'm excited watching Marshawn Lynch out
there. This guy he's unbelievable. The one thing I love about him so much is
he's humble. He's willing to learn and that's one of the keys you have to have
to be successful in the NFL. He's willing to listen, he understands the game of
football very well, anything on the football field that they've asked him to do
so far he's done pretty well -- from catching the ball, to picking up blitzes,
to actually running the ball.
ET: When you find yourselves in a high-pressure situation, who's the guy
in the huddle who grabs the other guys by the back of the neck and says "we
can do this!"
RR: I don't like to pat myself on the back, but I'd have to say I'm
that guy. I'm pretty fired up all the time. My teammates just look at me in the
huddle and when I'm jumping around, having fun, everybody else tries to do the
same thing. I continue to do that just because that's how much I love the game.
I love to compete, being out there having fun and I want those guys to do the