Interview: Washington Football RB J.D. McKissic

ASHBURN, VA -- August 29, 2020 Washington Football Team running back J.D. McKissic met with the media after Saturday's practice.

On how training camp has been so far:

“It’s been great. It’s been easy to adapt to. [Head Coach Ron] Rivera has been making practice very competitive. We’ve been studying extremely hard, learning the offense. It’s been coming to me pretty good. I can’t complain about camp. I’m enjoying it. I feel like it’s one of the best camps I’ve had.”

On how offensive coordinator Scott Turner is using him differently than in offenses he has played in:

“I would say it’s the same thing. In this system, we want to get the backs the ball. We want to hand it off and we want them to catch it. But, we’re all pretty good and we all can do the same thing. There’s nothing really different. In my whole career, I’ve done a lot of receiver, running back type things, getting hand offs and catching passes. It hasn’t been anything too different from the past.”

On why it has been one of his best camps:

“Coming from a receiver, just being able to understand protections, letting the O-Line come get to the second level, not rushing it. When I was a wide out it was always about a go-route. It was always about beating a guy off the ball, releases and winning on that route. Now it’s about patience. You’ve got guys in front of you that have to get their block done for you to be successful. I think that’s something I’ve been doing pretty well this camp, last year as well. I think that I’m going to the second level with that. That’s why I will say in protections I’ve been doing an extremely great job, I think.”

On the diversity of the running back room:

“I would say that. We’ve got some real dogs in that room, man. It’s competitive. Like you said, [RB] Antonio [Gibson] and [RB] Bryce [Love], but [RB] Peyton Barber and [RB Adrian Peterson] can do it as well. It’s just who they choose to do it. I’m enjoying the room. We’ve got a lot of great guys. We’re all competing and having fun every day.”

On Head Coach Ron Rivera emphasizing his role for situational football:

“First off, when they say situational football, I feel like I could do it every down. But I take it as a compliment. You’ve just got to be ready. When coaches need you to do what you’ve got to do, when they call your number, let’s go. On third down or whatever the situation may be, you’ve got to capitalize and make the play and help move the stick. I take it and I like it. I’ve been labeled as a situational guy and a weapon guy, but I mean, I don’t want defenses to not think I can’t take it between the A-gap, too.”

On the stress he and RB Antonio Gibson can put on defenses:

“They will have to treat us as – I don’t even know. When we’re both in the game, they’ve got to understand that these running backs, considered as running backs, they can run routes as well. They can do the same thing that some of the receivers can do in the league. They would have to play base or nickel or have to put a nickel on us and we can run it right at them. I think it can put a lot of stress on the defenses.

On who he leaned on in his transition from receiver to running back:

“I leaned on my coach, on [running backs coach Randy] Jordan. He’s been doing a phenomenal job in teaching us that. Just over the years also, being able to understand it also. It takes time, you can’t just jump into these things. Some guys do. But you can’t just jump into these things and understand what the O-Line is going to fold down into the wheel and you’ve got the next guy on the point of the defense change and you’ve been outside the ball your whole life. Going into my fifth-year, things are really slowing down for me and I think that, like I said, experience is a major thing in this game. I think right now it’s finally coming to me.”

On what he wants to show in the final days of camp:

“Consistency. I want to be that same guy I was the day before. I don’t want to come out and make 10 plays and come out and don’t do anything the next day. But like I said, I want to show durability, that I’m a guy that can play 16, 17 games all the way into the playoffs and being healthy the whole time. I had one situation where I broke my foot and that was the only time I missed. I want to show them that I’m fully healthy and that I’m ready to go. Other than that, just being consistent and making plays.”

On if he sees some of himself in Gibson:

“Yeah, but Antonio’s doing a great job. If you heard what I said, everybody doesn’t go through that. With me, it was a receiver my whole life. Antonio played some back at Memphis, so he kind of got a better idea about protections than I did coming out. I think he’s doing a great job with it, too.”

On the idea of ‘Red Wolves’ as the new team name:

“It doesn’t matter what name they give us. I was once a Red Wolf; I’ll always be a Red Wolf. But I mean, if we change the name to ‘Washington Red Wolves,’ I have no problem with that.”

On bonding with the team with less time in person:

“Yeah, that was the main thing for me not being able to be around the guys in OTAs and find out what the guys like or, do they even like you? It’s been very adaptable. We’ve got a lot of guys from Alabama on the team, a lot of down-south guys on the team. It’s been easy for me to come in and be myself and let the guys accept me for who I am and the same thing for them. I like my teammates. I like this group a lot. Out of all my five years, my fifth year in the league, I think this is one of my favorite teams already.”

On QB Alex Smith’s progress:

“He’s a vet. Just seeing him scrambling around and running and not favoring anything on his body, playing free, it’s exciting to see. I’m happy for him.”

On playing in two-back sets:

“It’s something I’ve been doing for a while now. In Detroit we did two-back sets. I would be a receiver, sometimes I would be the back, and definitely in Seattle. I like it a lot. We’ve got RPOs and we can do all types of things out of that. We can do it with the receivers, also. Versatility, man. Doing what the receivers are able to do also helps the offense just keep running fast and keep the defense on its heels.”

On signing with Washington and working with Turner:

“He’s a really great guy. As of right now, we’re just moving. We’re learning the offense and just practicing hard every day. I did sign with Washington pretty fast. My agent told me it was a good deal, a good look for me and it was a great opportunity as well with [Carolina RB Christian] McCaffrey, with me having some similar parts of my game to his. But, I’m excited about playing in his offense and I’m happy to be here.”

On what makes camp fun:

“The Bama guys on the team, they’re letting me know that they’re coming after me every day and I mean, it feels like a game. It feels like a game, getting better. Every day you want to be better than the day before. That’s what makes it great, just competing against the defense and trying to out-do those guys and listen to Coach when he breaks it down. We want Coach to come out and say we had a great practice. We want the practice to be just like a game. Everybody on the team’s got that competitive nature to them, and that’s what I think makes it so fun and competitive also.”

On what he’s seeing from TE Logan Thomas:

“I see growth. I see a guy who’s finally getting his opportunity to be that guy. I was with him in Detroit. When I first got there Week 1, I thought Logan was the guy when I first got there. Unfortunately, he wasn’t, but you could just tell he could be that No. 1 tight end on this team and could’ve been in Detroit also. He’s finally getting his targets also. He’s getting an opportunity to make mistakes and come out and correct them. The more you get a chance to do that, that’s how growth happens and that’s what I see from him.”

On the similarities between Rivera and his former head coaches:

“I see a lot of things, comparing him and [Seahawks Head Coach] Pete [Carroll], but I love [Detroit Lions Head Coach Matt Patricia] also. But, just being a player’s coach, wanting to know how the players feel as far as taking care of our bodies, those type of things. I’m enjoying being here so far and I like the way he’s doing things. You can tell he has a lot of experience and really cares for his players.”

On if he likes having a coach that can get fired up:

“Most definitely. I like the way he’s hands-on. You don’t want the players to go home and knowing that they had a terrible practice and you sugarcoated it. You want a coach that’s going to get after you and going to be out there with you and let you know right from wrong. We appreciate that. That’s how we get better.”

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