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TE coach Mike Pope, 08.14.09

Q: Travis Beckum?

A: No, it was a little bit of a shot. It’s not tittlely-winks, you know. We hit each other out there. But he did now and he’s got a little bit of a different look on his face. There’s a lot more to smile about for him. He was a little insecure because he was doing some things he’d never done before. He’s playing against two Pro Bowl guys over there, those outside guys are outstanding players, Tuck and Osi. They don’t make it easy for us. I was here when we were blocking them all and trying to block Banks and Taylor. It’s not bad when you have that type of quality to work against. You get better or die.

Q: Does he remind you of anyone?

A: We haven’t had anyone like this since I’ve been here. We haven’t really had that type of player. There have been a number of them in the league. Dallas Clarke, those type of players, who have primarily been that player. Todd Heap, that are bigger, faster guys. Receiver more than necessarily blocker, but we haven’t really had that type of player here and we drafted him for a reason. Last year when the winds blow in December and into January, you can’t throw the ball thirty, forty yards down the field. The wind is going to blow it out of bounds so we wanted to give Eli a target. We have Bradshaw and our other backs catch the ball well so we wanted a player that is in the tight end category, but not necessarily a guy who plays right beside the tackle, that could go out in space. Now we can use Kevin Boss on one side at six-foot-eight and a guy with quick, quick feet on the other side, who has almost wide receiver type skills, but a bigger body. That would help us when we can’t throw the ball way down the field on those blustery days late in the season, because that’s a factor. When you can’t throw the ball way down the field, you need some competent underneath players to get the ball to so you keep your passing game alive. We hope that he’s going to grow into that. He’s got to get on the team first, but if he does get on the team, that would be sort of the role that he would be primarily playing.

Q: After those windy games, did you say "we could have benefited from…?"

A: Well, it’s a great help to the quarterback because he doesn’t have to throw the ball as far. He can be more accurate. Your consistency is much better and your percentage of completions is much higher when you don’t have to throw the ball quite as far. That won’t take the ‘down the field’ game out, but just to have another weapon underneath is very difficult for a linebacker to cover. He’s quicker than most linebackers by far. He’s got wide receiver type skills.

Q: How much did that playoff game influence you?

A: I don’t think we went into the draft necessarily looking for a guy to do that. It’s just that the colleges, the way they’re going, forced us to do this.  Because nine out of ten of the colleges had no backs in the backfield or one back and they’re all spread out everywhere, the quarterback is back in the shotgun. What they supply you to play with, you don’t have any choice but to use them. You have to learn to utilize them. That’s what he did and, I guess, eight out of ten of the tight ends that were in the draft that had the highest grades, were those players. They played in the two-point stance, they played extended out from the receiver. You can bring some of them in and make blockers out of them, but some of them are never going to be very good at all. You just have to pick whatever cards you’re dealt and play with them. They are much more skillful, they were a bunch of four-fives, four-fours, four-fives, four-six, four-six, four-five players at the combine that were classified as tight ends because they’re body frame, size, and their weight says they can’t be wide receivers and they’re not quit that quick. But where do you play them? You make the linebackers have to cover them. That’s the best matchup. Hopefully this kid we drafted here is going to grow in and be a bit of a threat there