Throughout the coming weeks, each assistant coach will answer a trio of rapid-fire questions regarding his position group in light of the two recent minicamps and the additions through the draft. Here’s linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr.:
What’d you see from Aaron Curry during the two minicamps?
I thought Aaron Curry was very good in all different parts of his game. He’s been very focused and he’s improving a lot. From minicamp No. 1 to minicamp No. 2, he grew so much. He’s a fast player who’s understanding how to play fast. He’s extremely powerful and he’s understanding how to use his power. He’s a weapon and he’s understanding how to be a weapon. The more he plays and the more he realizes all the tools that he has, he’s going to be really special.
What kinds of things are you noticing from Lofa Tatupu?
Lofa has been very special. There’s no question he’s the leader of the defense and a leader on this team. And there’s no question of his football IQ — he’s extremely instinctive and very competitive and he always rises up to this high standard he’s set for himself. He will never go below it for anything. He’s not very happy about that he’s been injured the last couple of years, and he’s out to prove his durability and that he’s the same player as he was before his injuries.
There seems to be a corps of strong back-ups at the linebacker position. Which guys stand out to you the most?
Will Herring is extremely good. He could start on any other team in the NFL, it just so happens that he’s on a very competitive squad. He’s very versatile, which makes his value very high because he can play all three linebacking positions, on third downs and on special teams. Anthony Heygood is young, fast, very athletic and who’s emulating everything that Curry does. Sometimes when you see Heygood play, you think it’s Curry. They’re very similar — they’re very fast, very powerful and very athletic. He’s going to surprise a lot of people. He’s going to step in and play a lot of football this year and be a force on our special teams. David Hawthorne stepped in last year when Lofa was hurt. He’s extremely explosive, a big-play guy and a very good tackler. He’s the type of guy that you can’t hold back. You need him on the field. I don’t even consider him a backup. He’s a starter until someone unseats him.