Green Bay Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk has emerged as one of the top players at his position since being drafted fifth overall out of Ohio State.
The Packers rewarded the 6-foot-1, 247-pounder with a five-year, $33.75 million contract this offseason that included an $8 million signing bonus.
The former Lombardi Award winner has recorded 510 career tackles with nine sacks and eight interceptions.
Scout recently caught up with Hawk for the following interview:
How tough is it to repeat as Super Bowl champions?
Hawk: “We feel like we have a great group of guys. We welcome the challenge. We know how tough it is to win one Super Bowl, let alone stack many of them. Someone wins the Super Bowl every year, one of those 32 teams. So, why not us? We have just as good a shot as anyone else. Winning one Super Bowl gives you even more motivation to win it again.”
Set any individual goals?
Hawk: “As an inside ‘backer, I don’t usually set individual tackle goals. Individually, I want to have an impact every game. I want to make impact plays and help my team win and hopefully go back to another Super Bowl and win it.”
What does Nick Barnett leaving mean?
Hawk: “Nick was a mainstay in our defense for a long time. Midway through last year, my responsibilities changed as the signal caller as the guy getting guys lined up and making the checks. I welcome that challenge. It’s no different for me.”
What sets you apart?
Hawk: "I can have an impact in all aspects of the game. Football is evolving now. There are not only bigger, faster, strong running backs and offensive linemen you have to beat to stop the running game, but you also have to run with receivers and make plays downfield, break up passes and intercept passes. I feel like I can do a little bit of everything.”
How did playing at Ohio State prepare you for the NFL?
Hawk: “Playing at Ohio State definitely prepared me very well for the pro game because I was playing against pro-caliber athletes every day at practice and every game. After every NFL game, there are multiple Ohio State guys I find myself talking to.”
What do you do to maintain your edge?
Hawk: “I don’t ever take extended time off once the season is over. I try to heal up from any injuries through regenerative workouts. I don’t let little things keep me out of games. Nutrition is one of the keys. You have to eat well and hydrate. That’s so important and you can’t ignore that.”
What’s it like playing in Green Bay?
Hawk: “The fans here are awesome. The fans remind me of the fans when I was at Ohio State. They’re really respectful. We’ve had a couple rough seasons. The fans were with us then just like they were with us this year with the Super Bowl. I respect them. They’re not fair-weather fans. They’re with us through thick and thin.
“I would like to let the fans know there’s no need to panic and no need to worry. It was a unique offseason. Physically and mentally, we’re always going to be ready. So, stay behind us and support us like you always have and things will work out.”
What's the Gatorade’s Beat the Heat program about?
Hawk: “Beat the Heat is something that Gatorade has been doing for six years. They’re trying to educate parents, coaches and athletes about the importance of hydration. It’s not only for professional athletes. It’s for anybody who has an active lifestyle.
"It’s important for everybody. You have to stay hydrated if you want to compete at your maximum level. You need to be aware of it and start during and after, hydrating so you can replace your fluids and electrolytes with Gatorade so you can compete at your peak.”
Aaron Wilson is Scout.com's NFL insider. Find him on Twitter at twitter.com/ravensinsider.