This time last year, defensive end Robert Quinn was watching his University of North Carolina teammates battling on the field on television. Today, the rookie is making a name for himself on the St. Louis Rams special teams squad.
Quinn missed his entire junior season after he was ruled ineligible by the NCAA for lying to investigators about receiving travel accommodations and jewelry. But despite his absence from the football field, the Rams still believed Quinn was a playmaker and drafted him 14th overall in the 2011 draft. Quinn had his break out game this past Sunday in the Rams 31-21 win over the New Orleans Saints, the team’s first win of the season.
Quinn got his second sack of the season and blocked a punt, which set up a score two plays later. Quinn was awarded the NFC special teams player of the week.
In a Q&A interview Quinn talked about being honored, the Rams first win, and transitioning from college football to the NFL.
You all had a huge win against the New Orleans Saints last Sunday. What was the game plan? And what was the team’s mine set?
Our mind set the whole week wast to just believe within ourselves. That one thing that coach would always tell us. We’re not playing our best football. And we know that we’re a much better team than what we’ve been showing in the first six games of the season. One thing that coach really installed in us was just believe. And our game plan was just like every week. We really didn’t change much. It was the executing that was the main thing. That’s all in the previous six weeks was the thing that kind of hurt us – was the executing. And last week we put it all together and this week we’re going to do the same.
Would you say the St. Louis Cardinals set the tone for the game with them being present with the World Series trophy?
I guess it could be a motivator. Having our home team just wining the World Series and then come out and support us was definitely a good thing. And I think its a good thing for us, a good thing for the fans, and a good thing just for the city. For them to come out and supporting us gave us another motivational factor of trying to get this season turned around.
You had a big game individually. You blocked a punt which help set up a touchdown and you also sacked Drew Brees. You were awarded the NFC special teams player of the week. How did it feel to get that honor?
Its definitely an honor. Awards in the NFL are definitely tough to come by. I’m definitely honor that I was chosen for it. Hopefully it won’t be my last one. But like I said, it was definitely an honor to get that award.
Before you were drafted you were out of football for a year and on top of that you missed mini camps and offseason workouts due to the lockout. How hard was it to get back into the flow of things football-wise?
You really got to keep your goals and priorities in line in what you want to do….I got goals and things I want to accomplish. That’s one of the big things that kept me driving and working hard every day to try to accomplish my goals.
Your teammate, defensive end Chris Long, is one of the top pass rushers in the league right now and he’s leading the team with six sacks. What have you learn from him so far to help add to your skills?
One of things he taught me – from the off the field stuff – don’t let the criticism really get to you. And on the field: you got to really pay attention to the little keys that help you get a jump on the ball. Those are some of the small things he would always tell me about.
Now that the team has its first win and got the taste of winning, will that help motivate the team going forward?
In the other games we would go in motivated but we just didn’t put it together. But I definitely think it open our team’s eyes on what type of team we’re really are and can be. I guess that can be a motivator factor. Its time to perform that way each and every week to showcase the talent on the team that we do have and can display.
…….It was definitely a challenge for me. But like I said you got to keep your goals and priorities in line to handle that situation and get back on the field. The sport of football don’t really change from college to the NFL. Just the speed and tempo change and the D linemen I here help that help teach me how to adjust and make the transition from college to the NFL level. So I’m definitely blessed to have a core group of veteran D linemen to help make my transition a lot easier for me.
Were you surprised to be drafted in the first round even after missing an entire year of football?
I wouldn’t say it me being surprised. It was more of me being truly bless. To overcome a lot and still be taken in the first round at such a young age, its been a blessing. That’s how I look at it.
I’m pretty sure you want to be starting soon. What do you think its going to take for you to get to that point?
To be honest I don’t know. Right now I’m just trying to play my part and do my job, whatever they ask of me. If its to rush the passer on third down I’ll do that. If they needed me to start right away then I guess they would put me in there. Like I said we got a group of veterans now. And with me being such a young guy they don’t have to keep me out there. I guess its more of me learning the game a lot better before they throw me in the fire. I’m definitely blessed in the position that I’m at and hopefully we can get things moving forward.