Clint Sintim is just glad he's not a rookie anymore. No more running for doughnuts, no more carrying equipment, and much more responsibility.
Heading into next week's minicamp, the 6-2, 256-pound, second-year strongside linebacker said he feels the arrow is definitely pointing up after a rookie season that saw him mostly relegated to special teams.
"I've got a lot of expectations on me now," said Sintim after today's 12th and final OTA. "People expect me to be a player."
Especially defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. Sintim had known Fewell from the draft process, anyway. But when Fewell took over the defensive coordinator's job, Sintim made it a point to pay a visit to his new boss and get the lay of the land.
"I was here already (working out) when Perry came up here," Sintim said. "I knocked on his door and sat down with him. I asked him what he was trying to do and what I wanted to do. We had a good talk, and ever since it's been about what I need to do to make this thing work."
"This thing" is a defense that has Sintim and other members of the defense excited. Sintim described it as a "run-and-hit" system.
"That's one of the first things (Fewell) said, that he wanted to have a run-and-hit defense," Sintim said. "As long as we're all running, we've got a chance.
"It's completely different from last year. This year, we're doing a whole lot of different things. This gives a chance for the linebackers to run and hit and just play like linebackers. I'm excited."
He should be. Sintim finished last season with just 11 tackles, including a sack, one for loss and a quarterback hit. He played up on the line a lot in the nickel defense, but now he expects to spend the vast majority of his time as a linebacker.
As such, he should get more than the occasional opportunity to blitz under the emotional Fewell's aggressive system. But he still has to progress a bit as he battles Chase Blackburn, rookie Adrian Tracy, and perhaps Zak DeOssie for playing time. There's a good chance Sintim could emerge as the strongside starter, since other potentials like Gerris Wilkinson and Bryan Kehl will be focusing on the middle spot.
"It's been good and bad," Sintim said. "The last few days have been more good than bad. I'm not dwelling too much on the bad practices. Just trying to to make the same mistakes again."
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