Did S Jimmie Ward’s workout yesterday clarify where he is with his injury and how soon he can get back?
“I know he had a promising workout. I’m still not sure of his availability.”
Can you give us an update on NT Earl Mitchell and LB Aaron Lynch?
“I don’t know. I know Earl went down there in the turbo drill. Hopefully it was a savvy vet move, got a little tired. But, we’ll see.”
What are your impressions of the first preseason game?
“I thought we did a lot of good things. There’s obviously a lot of things we can improve on. I thought the defense played fast. They swarmed to the ball. A lot of the fundamentals that we’ve been preaching showed up on tape.”
LB Reuben Foster and DL Solomon Thomas got a lot of playing time.
“They did. Their play count was around 25 each, somewhere in that number. They both, for a first preseason game, showed up pretty good. They made some splash plays again, but they have a lot to improve on also.”
You said last time we talked to you that Reuben and LB Ray-Ray Armstrong would be rotating. It was Reuben back out there with the ones today. Is he getting a firmer grasp of that starting job?
“They’re both doing a really good job with what we’re asking them to do. Reuben’s obviously made a couple more plays. Ray has made some plays, but Ray, he’s not out of it by any means. We’re still far from putting a stamp on any evaluation on anyone on the defense.”
“For sure. I mean, he missed OTAs and to get a rookie live reps like that, they’re priceless.”
How has DB Lorenzo Jerome progressed through all the extra reps he’s getting?
“He’s good. Again, he’s instinctive like we talked about. He’s been doing a good job progressing as a rook.”
“The safeties rule is no seams, no post, redline to redline if you’ve got it. Quarterback did a good job looking him off. Rookie took the first look. You know, we’ve got to do a good job. Corners have got to stay on top. That’s together as a group, between the corners and the safeties. They handle all those go balls.”
Where do you see DB Adrian Colbert as being a better fit in your system?
“He showed up good as a corner. Then we kind of got beat up in the secondary at safety. So, we threw him back there at free safety because he’s got such great speed, and he’s a really, really aggressive football player, can tackle. So, we tried him at free and I feel like he’s got a good chance to be pretty good at both. But, free safety is one that we’re pretty excited about looking ahead.”
You haven’t seen the film, but he showed up around the ball today.
“Yeah, he’s got a chance as a free safety to be pretty good.”
“I do. Sometimes we get caught up in looking at the final result. Everything happens so fast, but when you look at the progression of what happened to Rashard during that game, the first play of the game, he’s gung-ho, he’s ready to roll, he’s up there in press on [Kansas City Chiefs WR] Tyreke Hill who’s the fastest receiver in the league, All-Pro. He’s excited, he gets beat. But, what I was most excited about, because corners get beat in this league, it happens, every single corner is going to get beat. But, not every corner can respond the way he did. If you look at the very next series, the very first play of that series he’s up there again in press. He’s ready to roll. He’s ready to get hands on, play physical. He was actually in a very good position, which is why he earned that offensive pass interference penalty. The one that was called on the next play. Had they not pushed off, that would’ve either been incomplete or intercepted in my mind. Moving forward, he has a back shoulder throw on him. The very next play he shows up in run support. Then the very next play after that, performing the exact same technique that he had on the third down play where he missed the tackle. It was the exact same technique. Very similar football plays, executed his technique little bit better and got himself an interception. For a young guy, 22-years-old, to have all that happen to him and to show the resolve, the fight, and the dog that we’ve talked about with him, for me that stamped everything that Rashard’s going to be for us. He’s going to be a very good corner.”
On one of the final plays of practice, the starting defense gave up a long pass from QB C.J. Beathard to RB Joe Williams down the sideline. What did you see during that play? What was the breakdown?
“Towards the end of practice? Got tired. Can’t get tired. That was a double move by Joe. You know, they were going turbo and it’s towards the end of practice, and wind caught the better of the defense on that one.”
You guys have the Broncos come here for a couple practices this week. How much does it help your evaluations to see your guys against something more unfamiliar?
“Me personally, I think it’s great. As long as the players do it the right way. It’s a great chance for us to get great work. The intensity level will pick up. You are seeing new techniques. You are seeing new players. You are communicating with different indicators that you get from the offense. So, I think it’s an awesome, awesome thing to do, so long as the players do it the right way and they take the work, they respect each other’s job. To me, that’s priceless work.”
When you say doing it the right way, I’m assuming you mean avoiding scuffles and things like that?
“Avoiding the scuffles. Understand that everyone’s trying to do a job. It’s not personal, but at the same time we’re all trying to win. But, you can do so with respect to your opponent.”
The Broncos have some pretty good defensive players as well. Do you take it as an opportunity for you and your players to talk about technique, to see some of the other things that they are doing?
“No. Everything we do is about us. Yes, they do have a great defense, but for us to be a great defense we need to focus on us and how good we can possibly get, based on the techniques that we’re being asked to do.”
Much has been made during DL Tank Carradine’s career that he’s kind of played out of position and been shuffled around. Does he seem comfortable where he’s playing right now? What have your impressions been?
“Very pleased with Tank. I think he’s in a really good spot mentally. Definitely feel like we have him in the spot he needs to be. He’s a very dominant edge setter in the run game. And, he actually has tremendous power as a pocket push pass rusher. You look at him and he’s not a big human being like [DL] Arik [Armstead] or [DL] DeForest [Buckner], but at the same time he’s every bit as strong. Very, very happy with Tank and the role we have him in.”
The players talked with former 49ers Steve Young and Jerry Rice. Were you there and did you hear what the message was, and if so what were your takeaways?
“We were in the team meeting. But, I’ll stick with what happened in the team meeting. I’ll stick with that one, if that’s okay.”
I noticed Lorenzo Jerome was playing with the starters and S Jaquiski Tartt was playing strong safety with the second team. Was that a function of Jerome playing well in the preseason game or S Chanceller James getting hurt? What led to that decision?
“Jerome is playing very well. But, at the same time, Tartt coming back from such a long layoff, giving him a chance to ease into it. Wouldn’t read anything into it.”