Question: Courtney, you played in a very good college defense, and now you are coming to a pro team with one of the best defensive reputations in recent NFL history. Does that kind of heighten your expectations of the kind of guys you are going to be surrounded with?
Upshaw: “I just want to come in and produce, and I am very happy and honored to be a part of this defense, to play for this organization, coach and [general manager/executive vice president] Mr. Ozzie [Newsome], great guys. I wouldn’t want it any other way [than] to be here.”
Question: Coming to a team that was just one play away from going to the Super Bowl and being a part of it and taking it to the next level, I am sure you watched what happened with the Ravens last year and thought, maybe in the back of your mind, what it would be like to play for this team?
Upshaw: “I am ready to strap on the pads and be a part of this. We all watched the game. Coming off of a championship of my own, I am ready. I love winning games, and that’s what they do here. To be a part of this defense, and to be on the watch of Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs and guys like that, I am ready to strap on the pads.”
Question: Courtney, you mentioned Terrell Suggs; he is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. Do you see any similarities in your game? He got a lot of accolades last year for his sacks, but he is one of the best at stopping the run at his position. Do you see yourself as being a dual threat in that regard where you can do both those things?
Upshaw: “I honestly feel I can be, but Terrell Suggs is Terrell Suggs, no other. I am just trying to come in and learn from him. I am sure he can help me out, become a better football player overall. The things he does and the position I am asked to play here, I want to come in and learn from the best, and Terrell Suggs is one of the best.”
Question: Courtney, pass coverage isn’t something that you did a ton of at Alabama, but how fluid do you feel that you are in pass coverage?
Upshaw: I feel good actually. I did a lot dropping in coverage in practice more so than I did in the game, because at Alabama, coach [Nick] Saban just told me to go pass rush, and he preferred me to be a pass rusher because I was one of the better pass rushers on the team. But, I am willing to do whatever is asked of me, and I am going to come in here with that mindset, just producing at any position or to do whatever. So, that’s what it is.”
Question: Courtney, when did you become a physical player, and how much do you like that part of the game?
Upshaw: “I love that part of the game. I feel that’s the best part of the game, that physical part of it. Honestly, I’ve just been physical throughout my career playing football, even in high school. At a young age, playing DB, I was smaller back then, but just running in and throwing my shoulder into somebody, man, I just love that part of it. Yeah, I was smaller, I was skinny. But, it is something that I love to do, that contact part. I don’t shy away from it. Like I said, I’m just ready to strap on the pads.”
Question: Courtney, what were you thinking on Day One of the draft when four of your college teammates walked across that stage and you’re in the green room? How much will it motivate you going forward?
Upshaw: “First, I was very happy for my teammates. I love my teammates to death. We just developed that bond at Alabama, and that’s what made us good, especially my defensive players, we just became close friends. So definitely, I was very happy for them. I was just wishing and waiting and hoping and praying. It didn’t happen, but we prayed about it, and I’m a Baltimore Raven now. That’s in the past, that first day of the draft is in the past, and I’m here now, hoping to do great things here.”
Question: Courtney, your teammate Trent Richardson will be playing for the Browns. How tough will it be to tackle him twice a year?
Upshaw: “I’m looking forward to that. We always joked around about it, once we get in the league how we’ll be playing against each other. So, we’re just going to have fun with it. It’s going to be a little rivalry of its own. He tried to run me over a couple of times in practice, so I got a little vengeance out for it. So, it’s going to be fun.”
Jon Gallo is an award-winning journalist and editor with 19 years of experience, including stints as a staff writer at The Washington Post and sports editor at The Baltimore Examiner. He also believes the government should declare federal holidays in honor of the following: the Round of 64 of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament; the Friday of the Sweet 16; the Monday after the Super Bowl; and of course, the day after the release of the latest Madden NFL video game.