Q. How have the last couple of months been?
A. They have been great, especially the last fifteen practices, it is what we really enjoy most around here. Having the players around and they are always very enthused; they like to practice. It is not really rock ‘em, sock ‘em, with only the helmets and shorts on. We get a lot of the installation in and get a lot of work. Especially for the young guys, it is invaluable for them. I know some of them got nicked a little bit with some muscle pulls. For these young guys it’s good to get all these practice reps. The same thing will happen when we get up to Albany. They will have the same kind of reps, because we rotate three deep through the practices. It has been really good. It has been great, and a lot of fun. The staff is great and the players are really into practice.
Q. Did you install all the new wrinkles you intend to add to the scheme?
A. Yes, it really has. We have exposed them to all the little wrinkles we are going to bring. Most of them probably come from our pressure package. We try to expose them to everything. We might only work on some stuff for one practice, but at least they got introduced to it so when they hear it again in the Fall they have some familiarity with it.
Q. To this point with the newcomers like Canty, Boley, are they acclimated as far along as you would have hoped at this point?
A. Yes, I think they are. When you got what amounts to fifteen practices, they have been coached up by their position guys. I think they will feel very comfortable coming in the fall. They really have a good handle on what we are doing and how it is going to be coached; from a technique standpoint and the scheme, as well. It has been great to have those guys here. They will be ready to jump right into it in the fall.
Q. How has (Osi) Umenyiora looked coming off that injury?
A. Super quick, quick as a cat. He looks like he has always looked. He is a dart. He is a great enthusiasm guy to have around the practice field, but he looks fantastic. It is funny, Jim Herrmann, who joined our staff, mentioned after one of the first OTAs, gosh, Umenyiora, he is really fast. He is probably the quickest guy in the NFL. He has looked great and I think he is feeling good, too. We are going to keep track of him and make sure he doesn’t get worn out in the preseason. We have a lot of guys coming into camp that can spell him.
Q. Are there enough plays for all the defensive linemen?
A. Yes, there is. Usually, when we have to make cuts for the final roster, you are basically carrying two deep. In a sixty, sixty-five play game, sure. All those guys will be playing at least twenty, twenty-five snaps. Your starters will be playing forty or more. Yes, there are enough snaps. It is a great problem to have. It was an issue (last year). You know how guys get nicked up during the season. You are going into some games when you are not really in a full two deep strength. They will be playing hard, too, because they won’t be playing sixty five straight snaps.
Q. Has Michael Johnson taken over for (James) Butler as far as getting everyone set?
A. Yeah, he has done a good job. I think Dave Merritt puts a lot on both of those guys. Kenny (Phillips) takes equal responsibility for that. Those guys do a good job working together. Even C.C. Brown, who is coming from the Texans, learning the communication has been a little different. He is a confident and assertive guy who has started a whole bunch in the NFL. Michael has done a good job, and Kenny, having been through the system, is much more confident and able to make the same type of communication calls. It’s not maybe as much as James, at a certain point James was the quarterback back there and got everyone lined up. It was a wonderful luxury to have. James did a great job for us in that way and his performance. I think Kenny and Michael play off each other and they take equal responsibility to get that done. Michael has done a great job this spring doing that type of stuff.
Q. Tom talked for eighteen minutes after practice today. It seemed like he laid it out for the team. It is there for you guys to take, but you have to do it though. Did you like listening to that?
A. That is the one thing, amongst many things, Tom does a great job year round of setting the tone for the team. It allows you as a coordinator and even as a position coach to really worry about the football part of it. That is what Tom takes on as part of his personal mission. He sets the tone and the environment; both in the building and the practice field. Maybe as old fashioned as some of his themes are, they are so true. They are real players and they understand that is what takes to win. They listen and they have bought into it. It has permeated down to the young players when they come in. I think they need to hear that stuff. In the OTAs and the spring, it is not quite as much as in the season when we have regular team meetings. We will open up every week on a Wednesday morning with a full team meeting. Tom always does a great job on Friday mornings, as well as on Saturday nights at the hotel. He picks his spot to really address the whole team and talk about really team related themes. He has a very solid philosophy of that, which he believes in, and he has sold our entire team/organization on that. Tom has probably addressed the team a handful of times this spring. There was no way he was going to let them go for the summer and have this lengthy break without really reminding them of what is important and what kind of mentality we need to have. I thought it was great. He did a good job. For the real players, they know exactly what he is talking about and they listen. They have already bought into it, he is just reiterating some important points to them. Great way to finish up the spring.