Q: What are your impressions so far of Jernigan in practice?
A: I think JJ’s done well. Yesterday he had a couple deep balls. Showed some good speed, some good quickness we knew he had. Obviously we’ve seen some flashes of brilliance and really good things. Now it’s just continuing to learn. Getting very familiar with the offense, consistency, and understanding all the ins and outs of it. That just comes with more repetition, more practice; these preseason games, all those things will be very helpful.
Q: Last year in his second year with you guys, Cruz worked a lot with you and you could see improvement and progression. Can you see that with Jerrel, in his second year of camp, maybe with some familiarity that’s breeding some good things?
A: Yeah I think so. I think just coming in having a feel for the offense, understanding some of the ins and outs, not having to relearn everything. Playing at a faster speed because he has an understanding of what’s going on and what all the options are, and the things he can do. Again, he’s gotten off to a good start, some good things, hopefully he can continue to do that.
Q: Eli, speaking of Victor, he’s made a couple of plays in the first couple days of practice that have been pretty good. Are you surprised he’s diving for balls and things like that?
A: No, that’s the way Victor practices, everything is full speed. Everything is full go. That’s why he’s had great success. He’s trying to get open. He’s competitive everyday at practice just trying to continue to learn and understand the in’s and out’s of getting open. Working on the outside receiver as well as the slot. I think those are the guys that have success; they treat practice like a game, so when you get into that game, with game experience, you’re prepared for it.
Q: Do you at all say "Wow" at the times, with the first pass you threw to him at camp, when his feet when out from under him, gets up, reaches back. Do you sit there and go "that’s pretty amazing."
A: I mean yeah, he makes some good plays. You look at the good part, which is the catch, and why did he slip also? There’s two different aspects of the play. Looking at his body lean, and all of those things. You try to correct that, and then congratulate him as well.
Q: Has the new offensive line configuration felt different at all, or are you just not cognizant of it while you’re back there?
A: I think those guys, rotating different guys out, and having the mindset that I don’t know who’s playing, who’s at guard, who’s at tackle, where guys are lined up. I’m just worrying about the defense and our plays, and having faith that they’ll do their job, who ever is in there.
Q: Jerry Reese was saying yesterday that he still thinks you’re an ascending player, that there’s more that you can do even better. Do you believe that?
A: Yeah. Each year you try to improve and get better. There’s definitely room for improvement. There’s no question about it. Most of the things I’m working on are: decision making, eliminating turnovers, and being more accurate. Just continuing to try and work on my skills. Making sure you don’t have any missed opportunities. That when guys are open, I’m hitting them.
Q: Eli, having gone through a title defense before, is there anything you can teach some of the other guys going through it for the first time? Or, anything you might have done different this time around?
A: No, I think every training camp you treat the same. It doesn’t matter what kind of success or troubles you had the year for. It’s about getting better and improving on the previous year. Obviously for the rookies, they’re just trying to learn the offense. They’re trying to learn the plays, learn the system, learn what their roles are going to be, so you just want to get those guys caught up to speed on everything and making sure they know as much as possible. You don’t know who is going to have to step up and get reps forth and make plays in a game.
Q: About how many quarterbacks, especially the better ones, when they look back on their careers, they say that when they turn 30, that’s when it was easier because you have been through the apprenticeship of it and now you know the mental part better. Do you feel that?
A: Yeah, it is just reps. How many games have you played, how many times have you run the same play over and over again, versus different defenses, different looks, and having a great confidence of where you’re going to go with the ball. As the ball is being snapped, as you’re getting back and you’re dropping, just seeing what’s my progression? Your feet move faster, your eyes are looking different places. You have a better understanding of what’s going on, so you can hopefully be more successful.
Q: Eli, what are your initial impressions of Rueben Randle?
A: I think Rueben has done a good job. I think he has a pretty good understanding of what is going on with the offense, after such a short time of being here. You see some skill set in his route running, some speed, a toughness also, being physical in his routes, getting open. You see the potential now just getting a great understanding of what we’re trying to do. What his responsibilities are going to be and continue to grow within the offense.
Q: Eli, looking at the secondary and the guys you have coming back from injury; Thomas, Prince, how exciting could that group of guys be?
A: I think it is great for us. For our receivers, for everybody, get to go against a talented defensive group and guys who are physical, who have a great understanding of what they’re doing on the defensive side, they’re going to challenge us every day to get better. I’m looking forward to these practices; I’m looking forward to playing at a high level and for us getting a lot of great work. Because of the rain we haven’t got a lot of one-on-one action, but hopefully we can get some one-on-one and get the guys to really work their technique. If you can get open versus these guys, you should be able to get open versus a lot of guys in the NFL.