Since being drafted no. 9 overall by the Carolina Panthers in the 2012 NFL Draft out of Boston College, few defensive players have made an impact on the NFL such as linebacker Luke Kuechly has.
Last year, just his second in the league, Kuechly was rewarded for his outstanding efforts by being named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year after registering 156 tackles with two sacks and four interceptions.
Heading into his third season in the NFL this year, Kuechly was bestowed with another honor, and that was being apart of the EA Sports Madden NFL franchise in anticipation of the release of Madden NFL 15.
On Friday, EA Sports released the first trailer for the game that specifically features Kuechly which you can view below.
Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year about his involvement with one of the most popular franchises in the gaming world, as well as the Panthers’ upcoming season.
Jack Jorgensen: Luke, first of all thanks for taking the time with us to talk about this exciting opportunity you just had to work with the Madden franchise. Next, what was it like to be involved in something such as this for the first time in your career?
Luke Kuechly: It was really neat. This was the first thing that I’ve ever done of this magnitude, like a commercial or a trailer. It’s interesting working with the different types of segments they have to bring the whole thing together eventually; it’s a whole day’s work. There’s the multiple takes and the different views they shoot from. It was neat watching how they morphed it all into one commercial.
JJ: Were you a fan of Madden growing up like a lot of other young men are, especially young football players growing up?
LK: Absolutely. When I was growing up, Madden was one of the things that my buddies and I always chose to do, and at that time, Michael Vick was just coming up with the Atlanta Falcons so everyone wanted to be him and it was interesting trying to figure out how to stop him.
JJ: Now you were also apart of the Madden cover vote, although you were knocked out in the second round by 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick. Were you surprised you made it past the first round? Or, did you think you should’ve actually made it further?
LK: It was overall a good experience. I was worried a bit in the first round being matched up with (Broncos’ WR Demaryius) Thomas, who’s a tremendous player, but I snuck around that well getting out with the 51%-49% win. I was excited I made it out of the first round.
JJ: Now on to the upcoming season, you guys are having to deal with some major losses on the offensive side of the ball with wideouts Steve Smith and Brandon Lafell gone. Do you feel that there’s even more added pressure on you and the rest of the defense to maybe step your production up that much more this season because of that?
LK: Not really. We’re just going to concentrate on being a good defense. We’re looking to do our job on that side of the ball, and yeah we lost some guys in the receiving corps, but we brought in some good talent like Jason Avant and Jerricho Cothchery, guys who will be able to help out a lot.
JJ: Now what about you personally? Anything in your game that you want to improve going forward? For example, you had four interceptions from your position last season, so we know that you have no issues with pass coverage, but with only two sacks, would you like to work on your pass rush a little more?
LK: Exactly, one of my goals this year is improving my pass rushing. I’m exciting to work on my blitzing lines and stuff like that to get my numbers up in that area.
JJ: Is there any player, either past or present, that you want to maybe model yourself after to improve that area of your game.
LK: Definitely Brian Urlacher, he was great at the pass rush. Then you have a guy like Navorro Bowman or even my teammate, Thomas Davis.