Have you watched a lot of tape on how Cincinnati ran their offense last year?
Yes I have. They ran a lot of two tight end sets and there are some opportunities for me to step in and contribute. I’ve also gotten to learn from a Pro Bowl tight end (Jermaine Gresham). He just told me don’t be afraid to ask him about anything. That’s the problem a lot of rookies have is that they’re afraid to ask the veterans for help.
What is it like to play alongside a Pro Bowl Tight End in Jermaine Gresham?
He studies his opponents and his playbook very seriously. He’s a great person to learn from. He told me he didn’t study those things as hard his rookie year, and doesn’t want to see me make the same mistake. He wishes he’d done that more his rookie year, and I’m learning from that and am not going to make the same mistakes he did. That’s what he wants.
Who has helped your transition to the NFL the most since coming to the Bengals?
During my transition, spiritually, my girlfriend’s dad, Mr. Hubbard has really helped me. God really helped me get here. Another person that helped me get here is my friend Ben Watson (current Browns TE).
What was it like seeing your teammate Adam Jones speak at the NFL rookie symposium?
I don’t care what anybody says about him. He just wants to help coach me up and succeed in the NFL. He wants what’s best for me. I look up to him and have for a long time now, so I was on cloud 9 hearing him speak to us. He wants what’s best for all of the rookies and is using his life experiences to help us see that.
What was your biggest takeaway from the symposium?
No days off. That’s how the great ones work. If they get a Tuesday off, they’re in the facilities getting treatment. They’re in the film room. They’re doing extra on and off-the-field work. When practice is over, they don’t just go sit around and play video games. They keep working. That’s what the great ones do.
What NFL player, past or present, do you model your game after?
Shannon Sharpe. He was a great player and a great tight end. He was my same weight and build I am now. I took a mental picture of how he played and looked to model my game after his.
Also, Ben Watson. I love how he plays, and how he carries himself on and off the field. He’s a great role model and has been a mentor to me.
And Vernon Davis. I remember watching his whole combine and how he’s played in the NFL and really wanted to model myself after him.
How did you meet Browns Tight End Ben Watson?
We both went to Georgia and we both met at a charity event while I was playing there and I wanted to meet him, so I went up and introduced myself and we talked and exchanged phone numbers and we’ve been in contact ever since.
What is your favorite football memory?
Watching the Buccaneers win the Super Bowl. I grew up in Tampa and seeing them win it was great. A lot of people said they couldn’t win it. Tony Dungy had been their coach, but he’d left. Just seeing them win it was really a great experience.
In college playing in the SEC, the best conference in college football, what school were you most excited to play?
Oh, that’d have to be Florida. I grew up in Florida and went to high school there. People always asked me, ‘Orson, how could you leave the state of Florida and go to Georgia?’ I told them that I was comfortable with the situation at Georgia.
When we got to that game, from there, it was do whatever it takes to get that win. It meant so much to me and I was so overwhelmed when we finally beat them, that my coaches had to carry me off the field.
What are your goals for your rookie season?
I’m just working hard to make the 53-man roster. That, and contributing in anyway I can are my goals.
What are the teams’ expectations and goals heading into the 2012 season?
Everyone on the team is just working to get better than they were last year. They’re working hard in the OTAs, the minicamps, the weight room, and the film room. That’s our goal; to keep getting better and improving from where we were last year.
About a week ago, you tweeted out your jersey number and how hard you’ve worked to reach this moment. How does it feel to finally be living your NFL Dreams?
Ah man. When I saw that jersey, it was a dream come true. I saw it, and I almost cried. I wore that jersey for a long time and just reflected on my whole life, from little league, to high school, to college. Wearing that makes you put in even more work to stay in that uniform.
Thank you for taking the time to do this interview and sharing with us and our readers these great stories. Good luck with the upcoming season and your future as a Cincinnati Bengal.
Thank you for having me.