We have a very special episode of the Pride of Detroit Podcast today. In addition to previewing Monday night's game between the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears, Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew stopped by for an interview with Jerry Mallory. Pettigrew was involved with the GMC Monday Night Football Tour, which made a stop at Partridge Creek Mall over the weekend. You can check out the rest of the schedule for the tour here, and also make sure to check out the video recap of the first month of the tour.
The Monday Night Football preview edition of the POD Podcast is below. The Pettigrew interview begins at the 12:20 mark, and you can find a transcript of the interview after the jump.
Pride of Detroit: The first question we want to ask you is about last week's comeback victory against the Dallas Cowboys. Here you are down 24 points. Second week in a row you come back from a huge deficit on the road. How did everything go? What are your thoughts on that game as a whole?
Brandon Pettigrew: We were down early and clearly not where we wanted to be. We put ourselves in a bad position. Luckily our defense made two game-changing plays and basically brought us back in the game. At halftime coach was like, "We did this to ourselves." We just kind of have to get together. Nobody wild out or anything. Everybody just kind of got it together. We put some drives together and came out with the win.
POD: You're about a year and a half/two years coming off an ACL injury and surgery. How do you feel? I know modern medicine has made the recovery process a lot better. What percentage are you healthy and how does that knee feel overall?
BP: I'm a hundred percent. There's still effects that you get, but it's just minor stuff that you have to deal with because it's such a crucial knee injury. But I'm a hundred percent. (Terrell Owens) had the same injury. I'm not sure what he did, but he's getting back pretty quick. Speaking for myself, I'm fine.
POD: So far this season the Lions run game has not been that good, but they have been able to use you on a couple of plays -- screen passes, intermediate passes -- and when you catch the ball you have been very good at running with the ball after the catch. Despite being a bigger tight end, you've had a lot of success getting those extra yards. What do you attribute to being effective not just catching the ball, but what do you after you grab it?
BP: When I get the ball, it's just one of those things. You're fighting for all you get. I think I got tackled by a corner one time in college and my coach got on me, and ever since then I've just kind of had that (attitude) to not let one person tackle me. I think that really drives it.
POD: The dropped balls were an issue last year. It seemed like at the beginning of this year it was an issue, but the last few games it's been remedied. Was that something you specifically tried to work on, and if so, how were you able to overcome that one flaw in your game?
BP: That's old news. That could happen to anybody. Everybody looks at that -- I dropped eight or whatever it was last year -- but I caught 70-plus. It could happen to anybody. It just comes from being undisciplined and not looking the ball in and just basically assuming a routine catch. That's really how it was.
POD: What's it like playing with two other good tight ends? You've got Tony Scheffler, who can catch a lot of balls. A lot of people may not realize it, though, but Will Heller is very solid, too, specifically blocking. How have you benefited in practice and on the field with two other good tight ends playing alongside you?
BP: It works well with us because we can package certain things. These guys are good, too. I look at both of these guys at practice and I take things from both of their games. Scheffler is a great route runner and Will Heller all-around is a great tight end. We work well together.
POD: You're very good at blocking. We mostly know you for catching the ball, but you're a good blocking tight end also. Was that something that you had to work on in college at Oklahoma State? Was it something you always did? More than likely I'm thinking in high school that wasn't a big assignment, but you're doing it well now.
BP: It was definitely something that I had to work at. When I got to college it was a lot different. I really had to work on hip roll and I'm a tall guy so leverage is key for a tall football player. It's definitely one of those things I had to work on in college. I take pride in my blocking. When somebody has the ball, I want to do whatever I can to take care of what I'm supposed to do. And vice versa, when I've got the ball, I want people blocking for me.
POD: Let's rewind the clock about three years ago. It's the 2009 NFL Draft. Your name is called by the Detroit Lions at 20. You had a visit with Mayhew and Lewand and the guys. Many of us did not expect the Lions to take a tight end, though, with the 20th pick. Were you surprised that when your name was called, you were playing for the Detroit Lions, because we know there were a lot of other teams rumored to pick you both before and after the 20th pick?
BP: I was (surprised). I didn't really know where I was going to go. Some teams had me up pretty high. It was just really a blessing to be going in the first round. To me it didn't really matter where I was going. I was fulfilling my dream and I'm living my dream right now -- I'm in the NFL. The Lions had some unfortunate things -- they were 0-16 -- but that didn't matter. To me I take that as a challenge, and right now we're coming out of that slump.
POD: Looking at the critical stats for tight ends -- catches, yards and touchdowns -- last year you ranked seventh or better in all of those major categories. You were third amongst tight ends in catches. Do you feel like you could've or should've made the Pro Bowl, and what do you think your chances are this year?
BP: When you look at all of that stuff -- could've been, should've been or whatever -- I could've caught those passes and that could've made a difference. To make it to the Pro Bowl you've gotta do that extra stuff, too, to separate yourself and be that elite player. This year I'm going to work a little bit harder and definitely try to make it to the Pro Bowl.
POD: I know you've had some goods feuds -- some good battles -- against some of your opposing NFL players on other teams, whether it be a linebacker, cornerback or safety. Could you name anyone specifically that you've had some good feuds/battles on the field with?
BP: I had some battles with a couple of guys. I've had some with Ray Edwards and Jared Allen and those guys. Clay Matthews and, I can't remember his name, the guy from the Eagles. I've been here three years and I've definitely had to grind it out with some guys.
POD: You've been here for a while. The transition from 2-14 to 6-10, now you're 4-0 ... what has been this transformation? The spirit in the locker room? Your overall attitude of how things have changed here in Detroit?
BP: It's a great vibe in the locker room and in our facility. Everybody knew what our potential was, and it was just a matter of laying it down and doing our thing and producing and making plays. Everybody's on the same page now and everybody's vibing. We work well together. We've got a young team and everybody has the right mindset and knows which way we want to go.
POD: Heading into Monday Night Football, this is a big thing. There's a lot going on in Detroit right now. You've got the Tigers that are on a run. You guys are doing great. This is really a football city. We love our Lions here. What are you looking forward to the most? Monday Night Football is coming up. This is going to be huge for the city of Detroit. We haven't had a Monday Night Football game of our own -- it's been 10 years. What are you looking forward to? What's your overall feeling and vibe of how things are going here in the city of Detroit.
BP: I'm definitely happy for the Tigers. I haven't watched as much baseball as I should have, but definitely congratulations to the Tigers. But I'm really just trying to stay focused on the game. It's a big one for us. We're on a big stage and I want to put on a show for the fans. Not just I, I mean the Lions when I say that. We want to put on a show and get this win for the city.
Thanks to Brandon Pettigrew for taking the time to stop by the podcast and thanks to the folks at GMC for setting up the interview.