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July 31, 2008

Q&A with Julius Peppers

SPARTANBURG -- Defensive end Julius Peppers gave his first interview of the 2008 season Thursday afternoon. He talked about switching positions from left end to right end, how motivated he is for the upcoming season, his expiring contract and the effect of an illness that forced him to miss several days of last season's training camp. -- David Scott

Here's a complete transcript of the interview with Peppers, who had a disappointing '07 with only 2.5 sacks:

Q. With your position change, does it feel like you're getting a new beginning?

It is a new beginning, it's a new season. I'm excited about it and about getting started.

Q. What do you like about the right end spot?

I'm comfortable over there on the right side. I've played it in college and in high school (the times i did play defense in high school). The left-handed stance is my natural stance; the left hand is my strong hand. So I have a lot more moves and power available to that side.

Q. How much difference might it have made if you had made the switch a few years ago?

I can't say there would have been a difference because it didn't happen. I'm on that side now. We'll see now if I'm better on the left or the right.

Q. Can you talk about your off-season and the training you did?

I just worked out. I put a lot of time and effort into getting in shape and being ready to come to camp and get myself ready for the season.

Q. Looking back on last season, what did you decide about the way things went?

Looking back, it's not a secret it was a disappointing year, not only stats wise, but even to my personal standards. I did some self-evaluating and I think I made the necessary adjustments as far as conditioning and getting ready to come back this year.

Q. Are you any more motivated this season?

It's not that I'm any more motivated this year than I've been in any other year. The motivation is there to bounce back. So I don't want to say it's higher than it's been before.

Q. Do you feel physically better this year?

I feel better this year. I feel a little stronger, a little more powerful and fast and quicker, because I've really focused on being better in all areas. Not in one particular thing. I just want to be better everywhere, overall.

Q. Do you set personal goals?

Yes. I  don't know if I really want to say what they are, but I do have them. I have team goals also. On the team side, it's the same thing every year: Winning the Super Bowl, getting to the playoffs, winning the division, those type of things.

Q. You're in the final year of your contract. Is there an update on negotiations?

There has been discussion between my side and the Panthers. What we have discussed, we both came to the agreement we were going to keep that private. But as far as anything else, I'm pleased with what has been said.

Q. Do you want to stay with the Panthers long term?

What I've learned over these last six years that I've been here is that year to year it's unpredictable what happens with players and contracts. Right now I'm worried about playing football. I'm not looking forward to (the 2009) season or after that. I've got to get focused on making it happen right now.

Q. Will be there be negotiations during the season?

I think discussions are ongoing. I really don't get involved with what's going on with the phone calls.

Q. With Mike Rucker and Dan Morgan retiring, do you see yourself as a leader on the defense?

Yeah, I am. Mike's presence on the field and in the locker room will be missed. I think I've been part of this defense the longest, so I have a responsibility to lead in the right directon.

Q. Is there anything to read into your saying you don't know what the future holds, about your desire to stay a Panther?

It's nothing to clarify. Like I said, right now I'm focused on playing football this season. I have a contract to play football right now. After this season, that's a different story. But my focus, as a player, I can only control what I can control.  It might come to where I can't control what happens with the contract.

Q. When you missed time with the illness during last season's camp, did anything linger into the season?

It didn't have lingering effect. I was sick here for maybe two weeks. I will say that I lost weight and a little bit of strength, probably a little bit of explosiveness. But throughout the season, I wasn't sick at all.

Q. Did you lack energy last year?

I don't think so.

Posted by Observer Sports on July 31, 2008 at 06:15 PM | Permalink


We are never going to know exactly what the deal was. I am as big a fan of Peppers as anyone and am hoping that the move produces the kind of results we all are hoping for. The difference between another year like last and a 12-15 sack year could mean an aweful lot of money. Plus, I still don't like the new site.

Posted by: Carpants | Jul 31, 2008 6:57:38 PM

Im a fan of Pepp. and am not upset or giving the guy a hard time about his performance last season,disappointed,yes, but Im not going to write him off and call him a bum etc, because every player has slumps in their career.

However I am worried that maybe he doesnt want to be with the Panthers or play for this team,espically with how much upside and I enjoy watching him play.I wait for the day I can take my son to B.O.A and out side the gate is a statue of Peppers after his carerr has ended.For some reason Im starting to get the feeling that the above statement is just a pipe dream and will never happen with the way the NFL salary and Free Agency is these days, much less if the man doesnt want to be here,no matter how much some of his true fans and supporters want him in a Panthers jersey.If the man doesnt want to be here then he wont and it has me worried.


Posted by: Ghost of Sparta | Jul 31, 2008 7:33:31 PM

I think you are reading too much into that. He doesn't want to say anything before the contract is done, I can respect that. I bet that his agent told him not to say things like that or his agent might lose some leverage making a deal. I am sure that he will remain a Panther for his entire career.

Posted by: ibkozi | Jul 31, 2008 8:24:26 PM

I hate the new look of the site, it just isn't as easy to find what your looking for and can you guys please get the pictures up faster? the practice was at 3:10 and it takes you guys all day to get them posted for fans like me who don't get to go to TC every year like you guys. Please switch the site back to the way it used to be PLEASE!

Posted by: Evan | Jul 31, 2008 9:57:53 PM

Peppers made a comment a few months back that if he could live anywhere in the country he would live in Houston.

Posted by: Jim | Jul 31, 2008 10:34:01 PM

I think he's playing the right card with the contract negotiations. He's doing the wise thing by not even mentioning it - if he says he wants to stay and the media runs with it the panthers can use it as leverage, if he wants to leave it can hurt in the locker room. Bottom line is by staying out of it and not even mentioning it he keeps it off his and everyone else's plate so they can concentrate on winning.

Also - I believe he had mono last year? If anyones had mono before they know that it lingers, even when you're not feeling it. It can take up to a year to get back from it. I think this year will be a different animal. I'm glad to see that he's not blaming his problems on anyone but himself bc it will only make him better, but still.

Posted by: Ben | Jul 31, 2008 10:57:18 PM

I hope I AM reading to much into it,but its not based off of this q&a alone.

Posted by: Ghost of Sparta | Aug 1, 2008 12:37:24 AM

This was a great interview. Thanks for being assertive and getting to the point Mr. Scott.

Posted by: SYRPIS | Aug 1, 2008 2:18:48 AM

I just watched the Julius Peppers interview on Panthers.com. Pat you-stink-as* was in the backround wearing an "LT" cap. Message to him---"lay off the drugs dude! You are at the wrong interview! Lawrence Talylor retired years ago!"

On a related note, he looke like a character from "Invasion of the Body Snatchers."

Posted by: SYRPIS | Aug 1, 2008 2:37:59 AM

Hate the new look.

Posted by: NEPANFAN1 | Aug 1, 2008 4:24:03 AM

Hate the new look.

Posted by: NEPANFAN1 | Aug 1, 2008 4:24:06 AM

good interview, I hope he is ready to bounce back, and I think with the position swap and it being a contract season, he will have a great season, hopefully similar to Moose's contract season.

Posted by: matt | Aug 1, 2008 7:45:44 AM

i hope he gets 25 sacks this year and i hope the panthers dump him and bring in new talent that wants to be here.i dont trust his desire anymore.we could sign 2 pro bowlers for what hes going to demand.plus hes not getting any younger.

Posted by: ray | Aug 1, 2008 12:56:03 PM

Yes, Ben, he had the two-week mono. Because that exists.

And ray, that's a lot of the point. No one questions Peppers' ability to be a good player. The question is his desire to work hard enough and do enough of the little things to be that good (or even great) player week in and week out.

Posted by: Michael Procton | Aug 4, 2008 12:23:13 PM

So far in 2008 Peppers has not been much better than last year, despite team mates professing that he is stronger and faster than he has been in years. I never thought he would like to be anywhere but Carolina. He needs to play with some emotion, passion and start kicking some *** like he did a couple of years ago when he would run from one side of the field to the other to make a spectacular tackle. All I see him do lately is come up to the play after it is over and rarely is on the ground. where is the intensity. He was always my favorite pro player, now I have some doubts. If he had Smith's desire, no one would touch him defensively in the NFL.

Posted by: Bruce | Sep 16, 2008 3:31:57 PM

I think Peppers has been playing in the wrong position his entire pro and college careers. I think he would be one of the best Tight Ends to ever play the game if they only put him there.

Posted by: ndashade | Oct 6, 2008 9:37:47 PM

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