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Rams S T.J. McDonald Discusses Rams and Raiders


Q: You guys have beaten Seattle, Denver and San Francisco. What does that say about the kind of team you can be when you're firing on all cylinders?

McDonald:"I think that it just says that we're fully capable of beating anybody on any Sunday. It's just that it comes down to finishing and putting a full game together."

Q: Does that make it more frustrating that you have the record you guys have?

McDonald: "Yeah, it definitely makes it more frustrating just when you look at some of the games that we have lost. You look at last week, it just comes down to a game of inches and like you said, it gets frustrating when you don't pull out those games when you put in so much work throughout the whole game to get to the point when you have an opportunity to win the game. It does get frustrating but you can't [dwell] on it for too long. You just have to be able to move forward and keep working to progress and hopefully get better results next week."

Q: What did you see when you looked at the Raiders on film?

McDonald: "I feel like they're an underrated team. Their record doesn't necessarily speak for what they've put on tape. Of course I've watched their film. They've got a good defense. Offensively, they have a quarterback who can move around pretty well in the pocket and has a good arm. Their tight end, who has a lot of targets, they are throwing the ball to. A running back that has gotten hot in the last couple of weeks in [Latavius] Murray, who is rushing for a lot of yards and whatnot. They have some weapons and I don't think that their record necessarily speaks for the type of team they are."

Q: Where do you think your safeties rank as far as the rest of the league goes?

McDonald: "I think that you have to put us up there with the top. I think that right now, how we're playing and what we've been doing – tackling well, doing things as far as showing different coverages and whatnot, confusing different offenses and being able to come down and make plays. It all comes down to making plays, and I feel like we've made plays. I think that we just have to keep putting those games together."

Q: Did you know pretty early on that you were going to follow in your dad's footsteps and play football?

McDonald: "This is a game that I was born into. The first thing that I've known and one of the only thing that I know, I love this game. I was born into it. It was something that I definitely just been working my whole life towards and it's something that I just never stopped."

Q: What do you think of the way Charles Woodson has been playing?

McDonald: "It's incredible. He was one of my favorite defensive backs growing up. And to see him still playing at the level he is playing at is great. To be able to change teams, after being in one defense for so long, being a staple on that defense, to be able to change teams. He definitely brings an attitude to a new defense and to be able to play at a high level, that speaks about a lot of credit to his work ethic and the things that he does to be able to keep playing for so long at that level."

Q: Did you ever get the chance to meet Woodson?

McDonald:"I have not met him. Hopefully, I'll get a chance to meet him after the game, after we play them. But no, I have not met him."

Q: Did your paths ever cross with Central Valley, with Derek Carr?

McDonald:"Oh yeah, I know Derek. In the offseason, during my first – while I'm training for the combine and what-not, I went back to Fresno. I was able to go to some of the seven-on-seven sessions that he had with his team. My dad was actually the secondary coach for Fresno State while he was playing quarterback, so I was able to travel with them to the bowl game and what not. So yeah, I know Derek pretty well."

Q: Does it surprise you what he's doing?

McDonald:"I think I've always thought he was a good quarterback. I've always thought one thing about him that's always stood out is his leadership ability and the intangibles at quarterback. He's a guy that guys just seem to gravitate towards and always has a positive attitude. That's one thing I knew that he was going to be able to bring to the NFL, and then also his ability and the throws that he's got. He's got a good bloodline, throws the ball really well, can move around pretty well. So I knew he was a good player."

Q: You mentioned your dad. Is your dad pretty critical of your play? Do you check in every week and kind of go over what happened in the games?

McDonald:"Most definitely. Sometimes he doesn't get the chance to watch a lot of the games live just because he's got his things going on out there in New York with the Jets. For me, after Tuesday or Wednesday once he gets to wind down from their game, he gets a chance to watch my film and we go through the good plays, we go through the bad plays – mostly the bad plays. Just to be able to have that in my corner is a blessing."

Q: Do you think you guys are similar players, or are there things that you do better than he did or vice versa?

McDonald:"I think that we are similar players. I think that we both definitely have a physical mindset, which I think that he instilled in me from a young age. So I think that we are similar players. I think I can run a little better. I think that we always have the conversation, people always ask who hits harder or what-not, but I always tell him if I was to do with some of the things that he did back in the day, I might be broke. (laughing)"

Q: You were at USC the same time as Brice Butler, right?

McDonald:"I know Brice pretty well, too. We had a couple years – three years, I believe – together at USC."

Q: Who won those match-ups in practice?

McDonald:"I think that we went back and forth. I wasn't necessarily covering him one on one, but I can tell you one thing: He knew better than to come across that middle."

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