Is Training Camp more calm when there’s no quarterback competition?
“I don’t think so. I think, from an outside perspective it is, because that’s usually the easiest thing, I think always people want to hear about the quarterbacks the most and so when there’s a quarterback battle it usually dominates camp. So, you don’t have to deal with it as much you know, answering it every day. But I mean, even though there’s not a big quarterback competition, there’s always competition. Guys have got to earn their jobs and play well. So, even when you don’t think there’s competition, there always is.”
Can you talk about how well DL Arik Armstead and LB Aaron Lynch appeared to be playing off the edge today?
“I thought they did a solid job. I never know fully until I watch the tape, my eyes are a lot of places, but I definitely felt them today on a number of plays. Armstead has done a good job inside and outside. Lynch has come to camp ready to go and I think he’s been doing some good things too.”
How would you evaluate QB Brian Hoyer’s day? It looked like he was making throws that--?
“Yeah, it seems like he had a real good day. Again, you never know fully until you watch the tape, but he had a few big opportunities and for the most part the ball always went to the right spot.”
LB Reuben Foster has gotten his hands on a couple of balls already through a couple of practices. Was that at all a question mark just given his role at Alabama? Whether he could do the WILL stuff that you want him to do?
“I don’t think so. You didn’t see him do it much because he was always the MIKE, but you know, it was never a worry of ours. Both of those spots are pretty interchangeable. It’s a little bit different when you get them on the line of scrimmage which is our SAM linebacker, but Reuben is a football player. He likes to run and hit. If you heard him in the meetings he understands football very well and I think he could adjust and play just about anywhere.”
With a lot of young but talented guys on the defensive line, what does a veteran like NT Earl Mitchell bring to that position?
“Earl, just his consistency. You know, everyone has got a job to do, but Earl’s strength is he’s very good in the run game, he holds his A-gap very well and what I love about Earl is he’s a little bit of an older guy in comparison to the rest of the guys in the room. He is a Nose, but he runs to the ball as hard as anyone. He never takes a play off, he holds his gap, he does his responsibility, and he’s running all the time, chasing down balls and chasing down pursuit on the backside. It’s hard to get guys to play like that. It takes a lot of effort, especially for those big guys and when you have a big Nose like Earl at 30 years old doing it every single play it’s kind of hard for younger guys to not do it also.”
What’s your leadership style and what do you look for in your players in terms of characteristics for them to be leaders?
“You mean my style personally? I just try to be myself. I try to be prepared and I feel when you try to be a leader, you try to help people get better. I’ve always felt no matter how old you are or what type of coach you are, if you can help a player get better then they’ll listen to you. So that’s kind of been my deal my whole life and I just try to be honest with them. The guys that I like are guys that I kind of know what I’m getting. They’re not too high, they’re not too low, I know what’s going to show up every single day. When you go through adversity in this league sometimes you don’t know who your leaders are until you go through that. That’s why I always say you don’t really know who someone is until you see how they handle that. A guy who is the same in adversity as he is when everyone is praising him, usually that’s the type of guy that I’d like to follow.”
Do you have any indication on the severity of S Eric Reid’s injury?
“I don’t. I know it was an ankle-type deal, but I’m not sure of the severity, whether it was low or high. We’ll find out this afternoon and whether you guys get an answer then or tomorrow.”
He came back in. Was him leaving precautionary?
“Yeah he did, I saw him limp off once, then I think he came in to try to go and then I saw him limp off again and then [vice president of medical services & head athletic trainer Jeff Ferguson] Ferg pulled him for the rest of practice. So, the fact that he came back I’m being optimistic that it’s not too bad, but he definitely couldn’t go, it was bothering him.”
What’s your impression of the pass rushers you have, first time in pads so you really get to see them but the guys at all angles, the inside guys and even the outside guys, are you happy with what you’ve seen there?
“I am. We have some talented players. I still think we got a long way to go and we want to take them definitely to another level. You know, just being in this league for a while I know we’ve got some tall guys and long guys in there. It’s hard even when they don’t get the pass rush, just to see people. You know, I’m standing behind the quarterback and you have guys like Armstead and [DL DeForest Buckner] Buck who can play outside. They also can go inside and there’s just some length in there that’s really hard to get over. And when you have that length you can really get some push in the pocket too. We’ve got some speed off the edge, we’ve got some versatile guys, you know [DL] Solomon [Thomas] is a little bit different than some of the other guys that have been here. And that’s what we want. We want guys who are all good rushers that can get to the quarterback, but when they’re not all the same guy, there’s some different traits in each, that does cause a little bit more issues for an O-Line.”
Where are you at with your guard spot right now? Is it G Joshua Garnett definitely looking at the left side and is OL Brandon Fusco ahead on the right side right now?
“I think he’s gotten more of the reps the last three days, but I wouldn’t say he’s definitely ahead. I wouldn’t say Josh has solidified the left side either. Those are discussions that we haven’t had yet. You know, we let them go, and obviously we give the guys who are leading a little bit more reps than the others, but we kind of let it play itself out. Today was the first day in pads, so I’ll be excited to go watch them today on the tape. But, that’s something that we don’t have to judge too much early. I found out a lot that you make some decisions early and it’ll change the next week and then you’ll go back to how you originally felt a week later. So you take it all in and watch everything and don’t short change anyone and give everyone an equal opportunity and usually they make the decision easy for you because it plays out, but two guys playing good is a tough decision that’s something you always look forward to as a coach.”
The one-on-ones between wide receivers and corners, is the advantage in that situation with the wide receivers and what are you trying to see from both sides there?
“You just want to see guys on an island compete, being aggressive, see how they play in bump coverage. It should be an advantage for the receivers because sometimes it takes a while for them to get open, and they still get open, they look good in one-on-one. But, in the game the quarterback’s been sacked three times before that so they would never get the ball. There’s a fine line there that you want them to win in the timing of the play. Sometimes they take too long, and you’re definitely going to hear it from the DBs because they know they have a pass rush in the game, but it’s nice to just put people out there and see how they handle the pressure, see if they can compete and not hold. There’s a fine line to holding in this game because it’s just like in the NBA you’ve got to foul a little bit. You’ve got to figure out that medium area where you can do a little bit of both, and in one-on-one you kind of get to see the competitor in all those guys.”
Anyone in particular turn your head today?
“I was down more with the O-Line, D-Line. I came over there for just a couple routes, but usually I save that for the tape.”
General manager John Lynch said on the radio the other day, he was talking about RB Carlos Hyde, and he thought at some point during the offseason he kind of flipped the switch as far as his commitment level and he thought maybe running backs coach Robert Turner Jr. helped him do that. Did you kind of see the same thing?
“Yeah, definitely. I think it’s been easy to see. You know, not just for the coaches, I think his teammates also. He started making a move, just his work ethic and just his attention to detail, about halfway through OTAs which we were really excited about when we broke and left camp earlier on in the offseason. And then, coming back five weeks later and being able to see him, he’s even taken it to another level. I can tell he’s put in the work and has given himself a chance to have a good season.”
Obviously you’ve only been here a couple of days, but having missed that time in the meeting rooms, are you seeing that he’s retained and learning things on his own that’s he’s been able to translate onto the field?
“It’s still early to say, but I know Solomon’s been working and I know you can tell he can do it all on the board. You can’t just do that unless you’ve been studying it hard. But, studying it doesn’t do, it gives you a chance to get better on the field, but you’ve got to go through it. You can’t think when the ball is snap. We move a lot. It changes responsibilities every time a tight end crosses the center. You think in the heat of the battle, it takes reps. So, I’m glad to have him out here. He’s going to have the time to get those reps, but definitely behind the eight ball in missing that time, but I’m confident it’ll get there.”
I know you had limits on when you could talk to him and you couldn’t talk to him face-to-face back then. Did you personally, or was it mostly just defensive line coach Jeff Zgonina?
“It was mostly coach Zgonina. I forget the exact rules, they’re allowed to Facetime at a certain time at night, and it’s real confusing. But, we did as much as we could.”
I asked you about your exchanges with defense yesterday, but here again, you’re throwing the ball in their dropback drills while the offense is going on. Have you made a purposeful point to say, “I’m going to work with the defense on certain things?”
“Yes. You know, it happened kind of naturally. I just usually go over there to watch and listen and see what they’re doing. Anytime I can get a chance to get away from the offense and see how they’re being coached and go through their checks, I get to evaluate the scheme, the players and the coaches so I think it helps for me to be over there. And then, the part for me playing quarterback, that’s like my favorite part of being head coach. I just watched [defensive quality control coach] Bobby Slowik do it for a while and I thought it’d be more fun for me to do it since I know what the quarterbacks are doing at least. So, it’s fun for me to try to go to the right spots and I’ve learned some of the stuff I ask the quarterbacks to do are a little harder than I thought. I get the ball to the right spot. I don’t always throw it well though.”
A lot of interceptions I guess.
“Yeah, but the receivers aren’t running full speed though.”
We’ve seen DB Jimmie Ward running around a little bit. Do you guys have a target date for him coming back?
“Anytime it’s a hamstring, you know, we were hoping around the Denver time, but we’re not sure. Hamstrings, everybody heals different. I’ve had some guys with hamstrings, it’s less than a week and some guys it goes to eight weeks. You never know. That’s where I would hope, but I know Jimmie is doing everything he can to come back as quick as possible and when he’s ready I know he’ll be back.”
Speaking of Denver, how many days will you guys practice with them?
And that’s before?
“Before we play them? Yes. We’ll have two practices on our own, Monday and Tuesday, two versus them Wednesday and Thursday. Friday will be the day before the game where we do walk-throughs and stuff and Saturday we’ll play them.”
Will all of the practices from here on be in pads or how will they be?
“Yes, most of them. I believe, we’re going to always have shoulder pads on. If we have a walk-through we won’t, and we always have walk-thoughs in the afternoon. The day before a game I don’t plan on going pads. You know, I want to say there’s not a time in camp where we have more than four straight practices in a row. So, kind of the days off, with the travel times and the games, it kind of takes care of itself.”
“I can’t remember. I have it planned out. I don’t think blitz pickup is tomorrow. I think it’s when we get back from our day off.”
Not a lot of receivers relish going over the middle, but WR Pierre Garçon seems to kind of make his living there. Is he unique as far as that’s concerned and kind of what that takes?
“Yeah, that’s why I like Pierre. You can count on him, you know what you’re going to get. I mean, no matter what kind of mood Pierre is in or what’s going on, you know when that ball snaps and the football is in the air, Pierre is going to do whatever he can to go for it. He’s going to compete as hard as anyone. The game’s not too big for him and he’s going to fight you. I think anytime you have receivers with that type of mentality I think it really adds to the mentality of your whole offense.”