“We’re still on an ‘A schedule’ which is a padded practice in the morning and then a walkthrough in the PM. Again, this afternoon we’ll be down on the lower field.”
Is there a point in camp where it starts to grind on them?
“We’re not close yet. We’re in the tunnel, and there’s no light (at the end) right now. I’m serious when I say that. We’re into our second padded practice, but there is a point probably – and it depends on the weather and it depends – but it’s all relative, right?”
Did you think overall that the competition was good today?
“Yes, I thought we had good tempo at practice. I thought it was crisp. We’ll see the film. It goes back and forth. I thought in the kicking game, as well, we did some good things. After our second padded practice, there were a few things that we can coach up and get corrected.”
The secondary looked great today. Keenan Lewis, Vaccaro, Patrick Robinson all made good plays. What did you see from them today?
“There’s some periods where all of the sudden it seems like you’re completing a lot of balls, and there’s other periods where you’re not. I thought defensively it was better today than it was yesterday in the morning. You just keep looking for signs of improvement. You want that to happen back and forth, but on both sides of the ball.”
Can you talk about Pierre Warren’s play so far?
“Yes, he had an interception. He got his hands on a ball and made a nice play. I just finished talking about this with the whole team: when you’re looking at the safety position, linebacker, tight end…all of these players that are trying to make an impression are having a chance to do that now. Certainly they’re going to have to do that when we start (playing) the preseason games. Every year there are going to be two guys that make it because of the kicking game. Either they cover kicks, they block a kick, (or) they’re smart and know where to be. He’s a player that would fall into that category. He has good ball skills and it appears to be good reactions and someone who’s beginning to pick up what we’re doing. We just keep giving him reps, giving all these guys work. He’s one of those players though where the kicking game is going to be important.”
How has Victor Butler played so far after missing all of last year?
“No different than a handful of other guys coming off an injury. How do they bounce back? I think he’s in good shape and I think he’s at 100% and is just physically getting back into football shape and carrying the pads and doing all the little things well. I am anxious to see him.”
Is Butler competing more for a spot in the rotation or more of a spot as a potential starter?
“Well it would be both. He was a starter going into the offseason a year ago. You play so many packages that you’re competing for snaps. I think that he would be a player who’s competing for snap opportunities, be it in base or being in some sub defenses.”
Corey White seems to be getting a lot of snaps at safety. Is that something to read into?
“He’s not receiving a lot of work at safety. He’s playing the inside nickel.”
It seemed like he was playing deep sometimes.
“Well it might be because of a formation we’ve been in. His primary snaps are coming at corner or in the slot. It might be a formation that made it look like, or an in-and-out coverage that all of the sudden put him high. His role is going to be as a corner, as an inside player, and someone in the kicking game.”
What is your take on the run defense? Is it a concern going into this season?
“I think a point of emphasis for our players is not only run defense or run offense. Having the ability to control the game both on defense and on offense, that’s something that we’ve talked about into this training camp. We’d like to improve defending the run and we’d certainly like to improve in our running game. When you start defensively, and you can take away that element from an offense, that’s pretty significant. We’ve played games offensively where we felt like that area has been taken away. I know it really limits you then. I think that’s an area we want to improve in, but I would say that goes offensively and defensively. There’s times in the second half where you want to have a little bit better control of the game. In order to do that, it starts with run offense and run defense.”
Based on the dominant teams in the NFC, is that something you need to counteract them?
“Well we think we’re one of those teams. We played that way in our first playoff game against Philadelphia and really approached the second playoff game much the same way. Now do we want to improve in that area? Yes. But we feel like that’s going to be important for us and we feel like we’re one of those teams.”
Did Ben Grubbs suffer any sort of injury?
“No. both Ben and Robert (Meachem) will be back here I think in the next day or so. With regards to injuries, as always, we never get into detail.”
Mickey Loomis talked about your working relationship. How crucial is that to the success of the team?
“It’s very important. We have a great relationship. He’s someone I have got a ton of respect for. We have a real good line of communication. It’s one of the steps of functionality within a (NFL football) program. Ownership, front office, coaching staff, all of that (those facets), I don’t ever take for granted. If you look around our league, that doesn’t exist with every other team. He’s a real clear-thinker. He has great ideas, and he’s very steady. I could go on and on here without just going through all of his strengths, but the relationship and the consistency to be in what is my eighth season but nine years together…that’s important. There’s some continuity there, and the same thing applies with our Owner. That all filters down, and I think the players are able to see that and benefit from that as well.”
Do you still see Lelito as a center/guard? Is he still a guy that can bounce over?
“That’s a good question. I would say he’s an interior lineman who is receiving a lot of his snaps at center because it’s really his first full season. He’s also a player that can play guard. The versatility a lineman has – a tackle that can play right and left or an interior lineman that can play guard and center. We’re only allowed to take X number of players to the game, and so generally it’s either two or three backups in the offensive line. That versatility is important.”
Music was a new thing today, wasn’t it?
“Well we’ve done it in the spring, we’ve done it in the fall, just not in training camp. I think the point is not so much in the warm-up drills, but like anything, playing during a team drill you’re still having to focus. It’s not so much crowd noise, but it’s being able to focus on the next play. One of the big points we bring up, is that we’re going to grade all of the tape, we’re going to have a chance to see the tape. We just don’t want one mistake leading to the next. You’re just looking for that mental discipline, that ability to focus when it’s noisy, loud, busy. A lot of times it feels that way when you are on the road.”
What do you learn from Joe Vitt and Rob Ryan coaching their positions?
“Joe is someone that, daily, he and I will talk about schedule, where our team’s at, you name it. He provides me with not always what I want to hear. That’s pretty valuable…(but also) what I need to hear. With regards to Rob, you get back to the passion of coaching and teaching and you need to have that. The players want it, and they want to be taught. They want you to give them means to improve, and that’s our job as teachers.”
Khiry Robinson looks leaner.
“I’m not sure if his weight’s different. He certainly is further along with what we’re doing (now). The improvement he’s made just with regards to protections…What you see as a player, once he knows what to do is all of the sudden not (be) as hesitant, much more decisive. He had a real good run cut today. He’s physical, and he’s just really continued to improve.”
With roster spots being so precious, what does it say about bringing in Erik Lorig to improve your running game?
“We saw him on tape quite a bit. We followed Tampa Bay in four or five games. The second half of the season, they did some good things in the running game so we saw him come up on film. When he was a free agent in the offseason, he was a guy we weren’t sure that we would be able to sign. He took a visit, and fortunately things worked out. He’s a bigger fullback, so he’s got some size and some mass that helps him. He also has some flexibility with where he can align because of his size. He can also run and play special teams.”