Re: thoughts on rookies after minicamp
A: He definitely has a natural pass rush. He has some shake to him and he did a really nice job. He is going to be a very good outside linebacker as well because he is such a big thick kid. He is smart; he can pick the stuff up. He will do a real good job up over the tight end as far as playing run defense. The two corners, Stoney and De’Andre, they almost look like clones in uniform – same kind of body types, 5-11ish, 195. They are good size corners. You get a lot of guys that are a little bit smaller body. They are good size corners. And they are learning. And as you know we have some good wide receivers in camp so they got the ball thrown over their head a couple of times. But you risk that when you play as much press coverage as we do. But they will be fine.
Q: Did you look at the corners having balls thrown over them and say that it is just because of what you were doing in rookie camp or was that something that you don’t want to see too much of?
A: We are a press team as you know. There are some restrictions during these non-padded mini camps, especially when you go competitively like one on ones and as you are obligated to play off coverage. But our norm is up on the line of scrimmage even when we are playing a back end technique, a deep throat or whatever, because we just like to get on receivers. But, no, I think they will be fine. They just have to improve their technique and again they are going against other good receivers now. When the veterans come in they will be at least as good as they saw in the mini camps. So again, you don’t want to see the ball thrown over your head too often. And then just the free agents – just kind of start with the front and going backwards – those guys that just make a splash just from you observing them when you are trying to coach during practice. The kid from Penn State, Maurice Evans, did a nice job. He has got some quickness and explosion. You can’t help but notice it if you are coming in after practice and watch practice film he ran a very small little stunt game just periodically throughout the practice. And he looks different than the average guy. He has got some quickness and explosion to him. I thought the other linebacker did a nice job – Kelvin Smith from Syracuse. He is swimming like all of them were mentally. As simple as you try to make it they are still overwhelmed. They are just trying to get lined up. You have enough offensive variation for them to have their plates full mentally. But he is very ambitious and he is completely into it. He plays his tail off and he hustles. So he is a guy that we are going to keep through the spring and see if he can contribute through the fall camp. And the back end – the one corner – Bruce Johnson from Miami – especially the very last practice – he finished very well. He had a couple of pass breakups. He is a little smaller body than the two other guys but he is really quick. He has excellent quickness. That is what you are looking for in a corner guy. He can cover a guy man to man and ….break on the ball. And the one safety – Sha’reff Rashad from Central Florida – again, a very bright eyed kid who could pick the stuff up. I thought Dave Merritt did a great job as far as getting our safeties squared away and making the calls, because they are making all of the coverage calls. And even though we only played really two basic coverages throughout the camp you are adjusting to coverages off the formations. And most guys did a really good job. But Sha’reff wasn’t overwhelmed by any of it mentally and he is an athlete and looks like he will be more than ambitious in run support and he is a good cover guy, can play the deep ball and that kind of stuff. He had a nice camp. So those are just some guys who, like I said, while you are busy coaching the practice and you go back and watch the practice film, you just hear coaches making comments. And those guys kind of made a little bit of a splash I thought. They did a nice job.
Q: You have 10 corners and five safeties, right?
A: That sounds right.
Q: Is there any thought of any of those corners………
A: One guy I thought about was Vince Anderson from Webber Int’l because he is so big, he is so tall. And unless you have really, really great cover skills – because we have some depth at corner, it is going to be challenging for him through the preseason to make the final roster. But he looks like a safety. He has the body type of safety and I think he has played some of that. And we already had just some very idle conversation – Pete, Dave and I about him taking some snaps at safety. You get in the preseason, a couple of guys get nicked up and you are going into a preseason game and you might be short some bodies at some positions. He seemed like at least a guy from a body-type that he could because he is a nice big tall kid.
Q: In previous camps you had a definite place you had to be and now because you are the coordinator you have to stretch yourself. Do you find yourself trying to figure out where you need to be?
A: The biggest thing that I have to make myself do is take my eyes off the linebackers because I am just so used to taking them in every snap. I found myself coaching them all of the time. And for as simple as our installation was this mini camp, Herm could handle that, no problem. But I’m sure I was stepping all over his toes, just out of habit alone just seeing those guys and wanting to coach them every single down. But that is one thing that I have to force myself to do is take a bigger picture and take in some of the other guys. I tried to do that the second day but it was funny that you said that because at the first practice we went through the first group period – I was just looking at three linebackers and coaching them up every play like I had been doing for the last four years. But that is something that I have to do a better job of – just taking a bigger picture and catching the back end guys.
Q: Get out and go to the next group.
A: Yeah, yeah, open up your vision a little bit.
Q: Could you have asked for a better group to work with in your first go around here as defensive coordinator?
A: Are you talking players?
A: Yeah, and our staff as well. No, in your wildest imagination falling into a better situation because as you were saying, we have good players. There is no tip toeing around that, we have quality players. We have had them. And Jerry and Marc Ross and Dave Gettleman continue to bring them in and we have good players. Probably more comforting is that we have a fantastic coaching staff, a returning staff and add Jim Herrmann to the mix; I couldn’t have fallen into a better situation.
Q: Is that additional pressure on you, like "I don’t want to screw this up" kind of pressure?
A: No, and I really don’t think like that. That is a fair question. I’m licking my chops; I can’t wait to get going in the fall. We have 10-15 really important practices coming up this spring with the OTAs and the mini camp. And those are very important. Anything we do is important. We don’t ever just do things to put time in. So that will all be important because we will have some new wrinkles. Each year you study other teams in the league and you modify some of the things you are doing. So we will add some new installation and the players will be fired up about that because it is new. And those practices are important. And we are developing players for the spring as well. But I don’t view it that way as far as additional pressure to screw it up. I just know that we are in a very good situation with good players and a fantastic, experienced coaching staff. And so I’m just licking my chops and can’t wait to get going. We are going to be good.