DC Wink Martindale, OC Mike Kafka, STC Thomas McGaughey, RB Saquon Barkley, S Xavier McKinney, OLB Kayvon Thibodeaux, CB Adoree’ Jackson, WR Isaiah Hodgins

Outside Linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux

Q: How much are you looking forward to trying to get a little payback for what happened earlier in the year when you guys played these guys?

A: It’s definitely a good opportunity when you get to see a team again. Seeing them a third time, it’s definitely going to be a good game.

Q: What are you expecting to see from (quarterback) Jalen Hurts?

A: He’s a great quarterback. He’s in the MVP race, and it’s the playoffs. So, I expect to see his best.

Q: He talked yesterday about every team kind of putting a bounty on him, basically about teams going after his shoulder or arm that he injured. What do you make of that?

A: He’s a great player. So, just me being an edge rusher, you see just across the league, people scheme against the great players. So, of course, teams are going to scheme against him as being one of the best quarterbacks in the league. And I would say for us, we just got to do what we can to contain him.

Q: Are you made aware of that – that he might be favoring a specific side with an injury like that like you see with his shoulder?

A: No. I haven’t really seen it. Quarterbacks, they’re not really too ambidextrous when it comes to throwing. So, I’m pretty sure he can still throw the ball.

Q: But he runs, too. That’s the thing.

A: I haven’t really looked too much into that.

Q: That first game you played against them is not really the way this defense has played all year. What did you see in that game from them and maybe what you guys didn’t do?

A: We didn’t stop the run. Stopping the run is a pillar of football. Once you kind of lose that ideology, you kind of lose the core of your team. So, we have to really hone in on that and kind of get back to who we are.

Q: What do you think about when you think about your performance in that game specifically?

A: Just trying to bring more. It’s the playoffs now. This week is all we got.

Q: While you have a different game plan, you’re scheming different against this offense, how do you replicate the way you guys executed and just the intensity you brought against Minnesota now on Saturday?

A: It starts today. It starts in practice. It starts with recovery, maintaining our bodies. It’s just about being a pro and doing that extra, whatever it is extra that you need individually, to play your best ball on Saturday.

Q: When you were along with (Vikings wide receiver Justin) Jefferson on that one play in particular, I think it was in the fourth quarter on Sunday, what are your responsibilities there? And did any part of being essentially matched up with him challenge you differently?

A: No, I consider myself one of the best coverage linebackers there is (laughs). No, he’s definitely a great player. I actually don’t remember that specific play, but I’d definitely say when you’re going against somebody that’s of that caliber, you definitely have to strap up and make sure that you hone in on your keys and what it takes to execute.

Q: Is it a blessing to be this late into the season and playing and to be fully healthy on your side of the ball?

A: Well, no one’s fully healthy. Let’s just start it out. I don’t think there’s a guy that’s in a uniform that’s fully healthy. But just to have the ability and to have the availability to play in a game and to have that will to keep going and to fight through all of those things, it’s definitely hard. But I think that’s the best part of being in this position.

Q: How much of a plus is it to have (cornerback) Adoree’ (Jackson) and (safety Xavier) McKinney knowing what they were able to bring on Sunday?

A: Yeah, those two are our leaders. They’ve been playing great ball all year, so now just being able to have them with us and put it all together, it’s going to be something to see.

Q: You’ve always talked about your mindset since you’ve gotten here and how important that is. Do you think you surprise people with how much you think the game as much as you attack the game?

A: Definitely, especially with how I come off because my personality is so big. And because I’m gregarious, it makes people uncertain about my intellect when it comes to football and the scheme of how it works. But I would say just that alongside, we talk about mindset, the ins and outs of the game and then that mindset when it comes to willpower and that next level of knowing what it takes to be great. That’s what’s been keeping me going.

Q: As a student of the game, is there a part of you that looks at the other side of the ball in terms of the Eagles and how they’ve been so successful at rushing the quarterback? Do you admire and try to pick that apart, maybe?

A: Of course. Just going back, way back in the season, we went against the Ravens and seeing how much he was able to do back then and now transitioning that to the Eagles, just seeing you got to be disciplined. Everybody wants to be Superman. Everybody wants to do everything, but you can’t do that when you’re playing with a guy who can make you pay. So, you got to stay true to your assignment.

Q: When you look at that first matchup with the Eagles, do you look at it as, ‘They really beat us.’ Or was it a game that just happened to get away from you?

A: There’s always two sides of any sport. There’s the stat line and there’s the numbers, and then there’s how the games really went. I feel like that first game for me, it was an execution game. We played hard. We did a lot of good things, but we didn’t execute to the level that they did. So, when it got to the end, they were able to pull it out. But when you talk about moving forward, I think minimizing those mistakes and minimizing places where we can beat ourselves, I think that will be one of the keys for us.

Q: At the start of the year and as the years went through, did Rookie of the Year ever enter your mind? Did you say, ‘This is a goal I want to accomplish,’?

A: Yeah, that was a goal since I got drafted.

Q: I think that something came out. The NFL put six guys out. You’re not on that list. Did you see the list? Are you aware of it?

A: No, I think I’ve just been focused on the Eagles, just having the opportunity to have another week. I couldn’t care less about accolades at this point. At this point, it’s about opportunity and getting another week.

Q: You’re the only one of those six that are still playing. Is that important to you? You want accolades, but you want these accolades, too, I guess?

A: When is the ceremony? (laughs) Whenever the ceremony is, I probably won’t watch it. But the next game, everybody that’s not playing will be watching.

Q: What goes through your mind watching (defensive lineman) Dexter (Lawrence II)?

A: For me, it’s so funny because you don’t watch somebody during the play. When you’re on the field, it’s not like you can see them. If you see me, I’m always around the quarterback, get that kind of get that back sight line. I get the offensive line view of Dex every time after the play. Dex has tackled me. Dex has done just amazing. Just to see somebody that big be that fast, that explosive, that smart. It seems like he’s right in the middle and there’s not a lot for him to do and dissect, but just his ability to beat two people. There are plays that I laugh and joke with him because he scoots by two people. I call him, ‘Scoot’ because he just gets right past them. I try, but they just kind of pick me up and move me back. I told him before, I’ve never seen (Rams defensive tackle) Aaron Donald play in person, but he’s the closest thing that I’ve seen.

Q: They caught you on film calling him the best player you’ve ever seen play.

Q: What goes into that? What went into that?

A: Like I said, every play he made, I was probably getting tossed around or something in the back. But I was seeing it. I was right next to him. I was seeing him destroy two people, and he’s been doing it the whole season.

Q: If he can do that, does it make your life easier when you’re lined up next to him and he can take that much attention?

A: We work in tandem. When he’s got two people on him, I get the one-on-one or somebody else gets the one-on-one. When I got two people on me, he gets the one-on-one. So, it’s just working as a unit.

Q: You play with a lot of confidence. Does a lot of that confidence come from the way you prepare each game?

A: That’s the only place it comes from. This sport, it’s so physical, so violent, so gruesome that there’s no such thing as false confidence. Everything comes from preparation. Everything comes from what you do during the week. And I think that’s what’s separated us so far and what has continued us afloat.

Q: Does a guy like Leo (defensive lineman Leonard Williams) stressing to you as a rookie, ‘Hey, take advantage of this situation because this doesn’t come around much,’? He’s been in the league eight years. This is his first playoff game. Does a veteran like that constantly tell a guy like yourself, ‘Take advantage of the situation because it might not happen again,’?

A: No, because I’m a guy – and I don’t say no in a sense where he’s not being a leader – but I say no in a sense that I’m a guy who he’s leading in other ways. We all know what’s at stake. We all know what it’s going to take. But it’s about, ‘How can you apply that extra? How can you get those words and wisdom and use it to your own life?’ I think that’s where he’s been kind of that light to me and realizing what has helped me play my best games and how can I continue to emulate that and elevate that.

Q: You’re an aggressive player. Obviously, you want to attack and get to the quarterback. When you play someone like Jalen, who has the ability to hurt you with his legs, do you have to be more disciplined or maybe cognizant of, ‘Don’t get too far up,’ because maybe he can kind of squirt by you?

A: Definitely. What can be your strengths can also be your weaknesses. So, you never want to get outside of your frame of the game, and you want to use those tips and tools that you get throughout the week to kind of help you prepare.

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