The Dallas Cowboys newest offensive lineman, Uche Nwaneri, was kind enough to give an exclusive interview to Blogging The Boys. We had said that he was competing to be a backup, after reading that, Uche wanted to come on here to set the record straight, he's competing to start!
|Uche Nwaneri (OO-chay wah-NEHR-ee)|
Uche: How are you doing?
Q: I'm doing great! How are you doing?
Uche: I'm doing great. Happy Fourth of July!
Q: Happy Fourth of July to you. Are you back in Dallas now (Uche is a native of the Dallas area)?
Uche: No, actually, I'm in Jacksonville right now.
Q: Just out of curiosity, how long before you signed did Dallas start the process of coming after you?
Uche: Uh, we talked back and forth, my agent Jordan Woy talked back and forth with them for about a month, about a month I'd say. Actually, I went and worked out for them, met some of the staff. Then about a week and a half ago they contacted us, wanted to get something done.
Q: Sounds like they went into the OTAs with some questions and were looking for an answer, and you turned out to be one of the answers they needed.
Uche: I'm hoping that's kind of how it works out. I talked to my agent and he gave me all the information about what their plans were, that basically they wanted me to compete for the starting spot at the left guard position.
Q: Sounds like they pretty much committed to Zack Martin on the right side, so that means you're primarily going to be going up against Mackenzy Bernadeau and Ronald Leary, then.
Uche: Yeah, yeah, that's pretty accurate.
Q: Right now, I'd have to say the offensive line is probably the strongest thing the Cowboys currently have, at least from the outside looking in, so you're taking on a pretty steep challenge. I wish you well with that. How's it going with the preparation? Have they got you set up with an iPad and a playbook?
Uche: Yeah, when I was down in Dallas and signed the contract they gave me a playbook. I was able to bring that back with me to Jacksonville and I was able to start watching film of the OTAs and getting familiar with the playbook. So I'm just continuing to work out and train and get ready for training camp at the end of July.
Q: Are you one of the players that looks forward to training camp or is that one of the things you just have to get through to get to the season?
Uche: For me, training camp, in my situation, it's really taken on a fresh feeling. I've been in Jacksonville the last seven years, and it's a different kind of training camp in Jacksonville than what, soon I'll be in California with the Cowboys. You know, I'm a competitor, I'm ultra competitive, you know, being in a position where I can prove, I can convince my coaches and my teammates, that's a challenge I'm looking forward to. It's something that I'm sure will bring out the best in me, and my playing ability.
For the last two seasons I was playing with, I had a little issue with my knee, and last year, coming off knee surgery, you know, I wasn't really at full strength for the majority of the season, so that kind of limited some of the things I was able to do, things that I normally do well. So now being back to full strength, being able to train regularly with the same kind of weights that I'm used to training with and with just rehabbing the entire offseason I feel like I'm back to 100%. Now I've got everything working right and I'm looking forward to just putting the pads back on and getting on the field.
Q: That's interesting. You know, they signed running back Ryan Williams just before they signed you, and it sounds like they're looking at the two of you very similarly in that you're guys that are coming off of injury and the Cowboys apparently think you've got a lot left in the tank to give them now.
Uche: Oh, yeah, you know, I really feel, I feel great. I feel as strong as I've been in my career this year. I'm benching more than I've ever benched. I'm squatting more, I'm squatting on the level that I was squatting in college. With the squat rack, a lot of players don't squat so much in the league, but in my situation it's what I needed to get the strength back in my right leg and my right quad muscle.
I really feel the best that I've felt in three or four years coming off of the offseason. So I'm kind of looking forward to showing everyone that I really have it, that I haven't lost anything from what I had prior to my injuries. I'm looking forward to at least showing that in training camp to the coaches and the staff.
Q: I can't imagine, you know, just the level of effort that it takes to play professional football and the work that you guys put in. I want you to know that one of the reasons that I follow the game is just because you guys impress me so much. So it's really exciting to hear that you are feeling like your health is back up to where it needs to be. I hope that's gonna pay off for you.
Uche: Yeah, that's my hope as well. You know that guys and staff as well, and the media, they look at guys and say, they're on top of their game and then the next year, they're not. There's a lot of things going on behind the scenes that people, they may not fully understand, why they're not fully at the top of their game or they're not performing as well as they were. There's different variables that go into that.
For me, I just felt like getting healthy was my top priority, coming off of surgery. Now that I'm healthy, I feel like I'm getting back in my rhythm of strength and conditioning throughout the offseason and actually I think that not going through OTAs and minicamp might have helped, allowed me to get a chance to rest my body. You know, take eight, nine weeks of working out, take a week off, and get back into working out without having to take that initial wear and tear from OTAs and minicamp. So you know, I'm feeling pretty good right now. And I'm really grateful for the opportunity that the Cowboys have given me. I'm thrilled to be part of the Dallas Cowboys, a world class organization. I'm definitely coming with my best game and coming to camp and trying to put my best foot forward.
Q: Are you really looking forward to being with the Cowboys organization and being home?
Uche: Oh, yeah, definitely. You know, I'm from Dallas, obviously, I've got a lot of people that I knew in high school, plus my family still lives in the Dallas area, I've got cousins out there. It's gonna be good to kinda be home. We played there a few years back and that was great, a great experience for me. Now actually being at home playing for the hometown team, I think that's an added bonus.
Q: Well, welcome back to Dallas. I can say that, I live about a hundred miles out of Dallas, but I feel I have a claim to the Cowboys as my own team as a fan for, about, uh, two times as long as you've been alive. I hope you turn out to be one of the most brilliant acquisitions this season and you have a great time with Dallas and you have great things ahead of you. And I really appreciate you giving me a little time today.
Uche: Oh, no problem. I appreciate you giving me a call.
I want to say that Uche is a great interview (if you have ever had to try to drag answers out of someone, you will know how much a guy that can put coherent thoughts together is appreciated). I hope I got all the transcription correct, and any errors are my fault. I also learned a couple of things about what was going on, and feel more optimistic that this move by the team could pay off. I hope you got a little out of all this as well.