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Q&A: Antonio Garay

Posted Oct 28, 2010

The fourth-year defensive tackle talks about his journey in the NFL, what he's gleaned from wrestling and the 2010 Chargers defense.

Antonio Garay has started at nose guard all seven games this season for the San Diego Chargers.

Garay, a fourth-year defensive tackle, has three sacks and 28 total tackles this season and has helped the defense hold opposing running backs to 85.7 yards per game, a marked improvement from last season.

Michael Luchetti; Santa Fe, N.M.

The defense is looking great as a unit this season. What is the difference this year?

Coach Rivera has done a great job with his play selection and the mentality that he set throughout our defense. One thing he stressed all year is 11 guys making one play at a time.

Jim Holt; Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

Now in your fourth year in the league, you are starting, making plays, holding the gaps and double-teams, getting push and pressuring and sacking the quarterback. Why did it take time to come together for you now, or was it a matter of being healthy, learning techniques and studying the game and opportunity?  

Easiest way for me to explain that is it’s all about opportunity and your stars aligning. I’m very fortunate that my stars are aligning and I am trying to make a positive outcome from here on out.

Carl Marino; Fontana, Calif.

Did your wrestling improve your skills as a football player? Did the work ethic taught in these sports (football/wrestling) become instrumental in your rehabilitation or was it more of your mental drive?

I think it’s a combination of all. I think my mental drive is really good. But wrestling also helped with football because the mental drive comes from being in an individual sport. It’s you versus the other guy. You can’t blame it on anyone else. When you are in the trenches, playing nose tackle which is in the middle of the defense, it’s you versus the center. The key is to play good enough where he needs help from the guards.

Arman R.; San Diego

What would you be doing if football was not an option? Other than defensive tackle, what position would you liked to have played?

The only option is football and the only position to play is nose tackle.

Gabriel Yanez; Arlington, Va.

You and Luis draw lots of double teams. How is the chemistry between you two?

Our chemistry is great. Luis is a great player. He makes my job easier. He makes a lot guys’ jobs a lot easier. When he’s a focal point, people have worry about him and not me.

Richard Madriaga; San Diego

Was it hard to adjust from a 4-3 defensive tackle to a 3-4 nose tackle, and is there much difference in technique?

There’s definitely a big difference in technique. I’ve been very fortunate that Coach Rivera was my defensive coordinator in both systems, and Coach Johnson was also my defensive line coach in both systems. It’s been an easy adjustment for me. I’m a lot bigger than people think or give me credit for. I think it’s been an easy adjustment for me.

Ruben Garcia; Fullerton, Calif.

Other than yourself, who is the hardest-hitting player on the 2010 Chargers defense?

I believe we have a lot of tough and physical guys on our defense. If I answer that question there might be a couple of guys upset at me. I am going to say just don’t get gang tackled by the whole group of guys.

Shawn Dennis; Santee Calif.

What’s your pregame ritual?

I pray in my head. I tell myself to set the “tone.” I like to word-play with my name. I think it’s important being in the middle of the defense to set the tone for the rest of the game.

Jon Dillard; Vista, Calif.

How much better can you and the rest of this defensive unit get?

We can be better. Right now we have a good defense. People are going to try and test us. They are going to find gaps and holes that they believe they can expose. We have to be prepared for that. Our defensive coaching staff does a great job knowing what we need to do and what we should do. Like I said it’s all about 11 guys doing what they are supposed to do. I think the sky is the limit for us.

Frank Kakos; Philadelphia, Pa.

How does it feel to make a sack?

It’s a great feeling. It’s exhausting because you work every muscle and fiber in your body to make a play. At the end it’s a great feeling. Then you worry about getting to the next one.

Drake Revels; Steinenbronn, Germany

Can you give me 50,000 dollars? I need a new car.

I was out of football for a year and nobody gave me $50,000 (laughter).

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