Getting To Know Rookie Defensive End Mario Edwards, Jr.

By Adam Klionsky

A few months into your rookie season now, how has the transition to the NFL been for you?

"It's been good. I had to really just pick up the pace. Your game in college is like a practice here, so just picking up the speed and tempo of it."

Have any veteran players taken you under their wing to help you get acclimated to the league?

"Justin Tuck and Khalil Mack have been really helpful, just helping me as far as what to expect and how to play certain blocks and things like that, and recently, just what to look for in film."

You were a part of a lot of good teams at Florida State, helping the Seminoles win the BCS National Championship in 2013. Looking back on that championship run and your entire collegiate career, what was that experience like?

"It was definitely fun. In the beginning, Jameis [Winston]'s dad called my dad and basically said wherever I went, he was coming. My dad and Jameis pretty much said the same thing, that by our second year we will be playing for a championship or we'll win one, and they were pretty much right."

Can you talk about your relationship with your father, Mario Edwards Sr., a former NFL player in his own right and someone with whom you have spent a lot of time training?

"He's like my best friend, man. If I need any advice from a coaching standpoint, he's there. If I need him as a father, he's there as well. We talk every day. He coached at my high school and he coached at my college, so now to be 2,000-and-something miles away, we still keep in contact every day and talk to each other."

Since college, how have you grown as a person off the field and as a player on the field?

"I think the biggest thing I've done that has helped me produce is controlling what I can control as far as my weight and things, keeping it down where it's supposed to be. That's pretty much helped me perform. Off the field, I've been the same guy. I don't really go out and do much. I'm pretty much a homebody, so nothing really changed off the field."

The Seminoles used you in a variety of ways, playing defensive end, tackle, some linebacker and even fullback in goal-line packages. Do you think versatility is one of your strengths?

"I think I can do it all. Even here [with the Raiders], they move me up and down the line, so it's cool to be able to go in and rush the passer and play the line from different places."

If you could play a different position, which would you choose?

"A fun position that I have always dreamed of, I would be running back or receiver. I played receiver until my junior year in high school and I played running back into I got to high school."

Did you know football was always the sport for you?

"I ran track, too. I think my last time running track was my junior year. I ran the 100 [meters]. I think my fastest time was 11.23 [seconds], something like that. Looking back, if I could have stayed with baseball, I think that would have been good, too." 

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