You made the Falcons team a year ago as an undrafted free agent. What was that experience like?
"The odds of making an NFL roster are definitely against you when you're a free agent rookie. It's a cliche, but I really tried to take it one play at a time, one day at a time, and one practice at a time during training camp. I think that mentality helps you out a lot. The more training camp went along, the more I got to play and the more confidence I got. As I got more comfortable on the field, I started to make more plays and I started to open some eyes. The problem now is that you can't relax, you've got to continue to work hard because if you don't, there's always someone else out there who wants your job."
The Falcons have a couple of veteran tight ends in Tony Gonzalez and Reggie Kelly who have combined to play nearly three decades in the NFL. What have you learned from them?
"Having Tony and Reggie teach me about the game has been an amazing experience. Tony is the greatest tight end to play the game, so to learn from the best is a privilege. He has taught me how to run routes and how to get open. Off the field, he's taught me about being a professional in this league; how to prepare, studying film, taking care of your body, eating right and getting as much sleep as possible. I've tried to soak up as much knowledge as I can from those two guys."
What makes Matt Ryan such a special quarterback?
"His poise, his leadership and his decision-making ability. He's got a great arm, but that's just half of it. He's a very good leader and he leads by example. He's very accurate with his throws. I don't think people realize how small of a window these guys have to throw the ball into. He does it as well as any quarterback in the league."
There are a couple of Charleston guys on the Falcons roster -- fullback Ovie Mughelli and receiver Roddy White. What are those guys like?
"They are two of the best at their positions in the league right now. They are both Pro Bowl players, and you can see why because of the way they prepare each week to play. Roddy is a talker (laughing). He's never shy about saying what's on his mind and he's a great teammate. Roddy has a real passion for the game. Ovie is probably the best blocking fullback in the league. You watch what he does on film and it's amazing. I would hate to have to line up against him."
Dunta Robinson, John Abraham and Cliff Matthews all went to South Carolina. It could not have been a pleasant day for you after Clemson got beaten by the Gamecocks this year.
"It was a lonely locker room (laughing). We've got those three guys and then one of our equipment managers went to South Carolina so I heard it from all four of those guys all weekend. I'm the only Clemson guy on the team, so I hear about it non-stop. I still haven't heard the end of it. We had some bets and let's just say I lost 'em."
But Clemson did win an ACC title the following week.
"I couldn't have been more proud of those guys. The offense has been unbelievable all season. Dwayne Allen has had a great season for them, and I'm really proud of how far he's come as a player. They hit a couple of bumps in the road late in the year, but they regrouped after the South Carolina loss and played one of their best games of the season against Virginia Tech."