Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz met with the media following Monday's OTA session and discussed a number of topics, including Jahvid Best's health, Riley Reiff, Louis Delmas, Mikel Leshoure and more. Via the Lions, you can check out quotes from Schwartz's press conference below.
On what the health of Jahvid Best means to the offense: "I think we have seen that when he's been healthy his first two years. It hasn't been a matter of him developing or trying to work on different things other than being on the field. You saw it as a rookie when he was healthy and you saw it last year when he was healthy - probably culminated by that Monday night game against Chicago. Even the game he left with a concussion, the one that ended up ending his season, he had two explosive plays in that game. He's a homerun hitter; he's an explosive player, and that means a lot to our offense."
On whether he's concerned about Best's concussion being a life-long issue: "It's not just him. We've had other players that have had concussions over different periods of time. It's something that has definitely come to the forefront of our efforts for the players and the players' health. I think the most positive thing that comes out of it is not just us as a team, but I think NFL, college, high school, everybody has a much better idea of how to handle things like that now. That gives me a lot more comfort than years past. Even though there's concern, I also have a lot more comfort in the way that we are treating them now and the way that we're handling them. I think it cuts both sides of it."
On if he'll consider putting a red jersey on Best during practice: "No, I don't think that stigma is good for anybody. We do that for quarterback mainly so players in the pocket can see that flash of red and we generally don't have a lot of problems in the pocket with our quarterbacks.
"When you're a running back, the biggest thing is not only in games do we have to avoid helmet-to-helmet, but we need to be very diligent to avoid helmet-to-helmet situations in practice. That's obviously changed a lot over the years too. There will be some times that we'll be judicious in his use during training camp but when he's out there he's going to be out there like the other guys. He's a running back and contact is part of that game. There's a double-edge sword with our knowledge of being able to treat things now. There's also a double-edge sword of getting him ready for a season, physically and mentally getting him ready for the season, as opposed to having potential situations come up at a practice or even a preseason game. Even a regular season game there's a lot of situations that are different now."
On how Riley Reiff has performed in OTAs: "You know, the biggest evaluation of Riley and the OTA's has really come off the field. We're in a situation where we're not really evaluating linemen. Linebackers, linemen, defensive linemen, offensive linemen, it's very difficult to evaluate them until you're in training camp, until you're in preseason games, simply because of the tempo. We have no pads; we're down tempo on a lot of things. There are a lot of situations where we're coaching the players, saying, ‘Hey look, there's a play that you can get a guy blocked or you can get a guy covered but it ends up being a dangerous situation, you got to be able to come off of that.' We had a couple in practice; the last play in practice we had a situation where guys grabbed jerseys and they were on the ground. We want to avoid those things so it makes it difficult to evaluate offensive linemen in particular.
"He's done very good in the classroom; he's a quick study; he's also very good in the weight room and in his individual drills. When you really think about the process now for OTA's, its installation, so learning the offense or defense, whatever you have to learn, but also individual improvement.
"The evaluation is going to come further on down, but he's been very mature and impressive in the other stuff. He's really good on the field. It's just hard, you don't want to get ahead of yourself and evaluate stuff on that. You know, we've talked about a defensive lineman and when they get close to that quarterback they're going to gear it down. When it comes to preseason games, they're not going to. That's going to be the best evaluation."
On S Louis Delmas not practicing because of tweaking his ankle last week: "We're just being careful with it just like we would on anything. It's nothing. It doesn't look like it's going to be significant or long term. The short term stuff turns into that because we take an extra day.
"Hogue, we're going to have back out tomorrow. We just want the chance of infection to clear because he gets the stitches out of his arm tomorrow so it's just one of those err on the side of caution. A lot of the same way we did with Stephen Tulloch, shut him down and try to put some stuff behind him. There are a lot of things in football you need to push through. Offseason OTA's is not one of them."
On RB Mikel Leshoure not practicing today: "He was getting sore in his other ankle and that's typical of guys that are coming back from an injury. His surgically repaired Achilles has been doing great but what happens is you start compensating a little bit and all of the sudden things start flaring up and that's the situation that we had so we just decided to shut it down for a little bit. He's really not knocked off schedule as much as we just wanted to make sure that we didn't keep the situation going that wasn't going in a positive way. He's going to be fine."
On S Amari Spievey returning to practice and this being an important offseason for him: "He's in his third year. His first year he was hurting in training camp. He was moving from corner to safety, got thrown into the fire a little bit. Last year he didn't have an offseason; this year he was set back a little bit from some participation stuff. He's back and he's in a catch-up mode right now. He's a little bit rusty, but he will catch up quickly and be able to use this and these next two weeks to put himself in a good position to launch in training camp."
On next week's mandatory mini-camp: "It's really not a whole lot different. Tuesday we'll even have a short day because we are working around our charity fishing tournament. We will be on the field early in the morning, the players will lift and have some meetings. They'll be on the field for a short practice and about 20 of them will be going to the fishing tournament and a bunch of others will be staying here doing meeting and other additional stuff. Wednesday and Thursday it will look more like a training camp schedule. It won't be a training camp practice, because again we won't have pads.
"It's mandatory, but the pace will be exactly what you saw today and throughout our offseason. That won't change very much but the time commitment will change quite a bit. It will be very similar to a training camp type time commitment from meetings in the morning to practice, come back, meetings, lifting, come back from walkthrough, and take it straight up to dinner. The time commitment will be a little bit more but by the time we get to training camp at least they will have some experience going through the schedule and understand what's ahead of them with the vets and particularly the rookies. One of the most important things coming out of all of this stuff is getting them ready for training camp and knowing how we practice. That will be a big step for them. Tempo-wise, installation-wise, and anything else it's exactly the same."
On not evaluating players right now: "Players are getting evaluated. I don't want to say they're not getting evaluated or anything but there's no contact so how are you really grading a running back? You're grading him on his assignments and pass protection and how he's running his routes, his ability to catch the ball and things like that. A corner has to be able to tackle but we're not tackling now. There's some things guys are being evaluated with but the closer they get to the ball, the less realistic that evaluation is."