As David Veikune sauntered off the practice field after another arduous practice, helmet in hand, long Polynesian locks pinned up, one automatically thinks back to NFL draft day 2009. Many fans see this young linebacking prospect as the lynchpin of the Mark Sanchez trade, since it was the Hawaiian product who was eventually selected with the highest additional pick acquired by the Browns. Praise has already been heaped on this young player by his coaches during the rookie minicamps. Early training camp returns have been overwhelmingly positive as well, as fans saw this newly minted linebacker play with a reckless abandon and a physicality not seen on the unit for quite some time. The Orange and Brown Report was granted a few minutes of his time to discuss how things are progressing…
Starting with the uncertainty of what position you seem destined to play for the Cleveland Browns, could we elaborate on where the staff is looking to cement your talents?
“They have me as being versatile, so, I’ve been everything: hand on the ground, inside, outside. I think they [the coaching staff] are just trying to get a feel for what I do best. Definitely a lot of special teams as well. Every single thing I’ve already been on, so I really don’t know where they see me yet. It’s really up in the air until season time and preseason games.”
Is it difficult transitioning on a snap by snap basis from one position to another like the coaches has been asking of yourself?
“Definitely, but in Rob Ryan’s system, as long as you are physical you can play anything. That is a big part of all the positions. Outside foot back, straight up stance, hand in the dirt; it’s all very different. You just have to get good at each and every one. It’s a very hard task but it’s something you have to do.”
What is the biggest transition made so far at this level after being a defensive end in college, particularly now at inside linebacker?
“Pass coverage. It’s way different. We’ve done a lot already here in practice, but I only did a little bit at Hawaii. Really not that much at all.”
So just to reiterate, the Warrior coaching staff did not ask you to drop in zone coverage from your end position? Thus opening your hips in coverage must be a brand new experience?
“I only did a little bit, not too much at all. And yeah it’s definitely a new thing.”
Over the first few practices, the team has been popping the pads and being very physical. Is than an approach you embrace and seem to gravitate towards?
“Name a football player on defense that doesn’t love to hit. I love to hit and its good to be physical on the field.”
Contract negotiations were held up slightly, were you worried about missing any time as fully training camp opened?
“I was here the whole time, I was just waiting and ready to report. My agent got it done quickly to make sure I was able to practice.”
How have the veterans embraced yourself and the rookies, especially D’Qwell Jackon and Eric Barton at your particular position?
“They’re great leaders, including David Bowens as well. Every single one of the linebackers here have helped me a little bit on my game. They’ve all been very helpful, proven leaders, and it’s a great thing to learn from them and watch tape of them especially last year when Eric was with the Jets.”
When you look at where you have started, the multiple different positions, and where you could potentially develop as the season ends, where do you project yourself in the scheme of things?
“I don’t have a crystal ball, so I really have no idea. I’m playing everything now and we’ll see. By the end of the season, we’ll know more but I simply cannot predict that right now.”