On T Jeff Backus getting his cast off: "When his thumb's better. When his thumb's better I'll have his cast off. Until then we'll protect him. Simple as that. It's sort of life in the NFL for those guys. I mean, you know, those guys have their hands taped so many times it's almost like there's a cast on there, thumbs in particular for offensive and defensive linemen. You know, he's not restricted. If he was restricted, if it was affecting him as a player, his ability to play, we wouldn't have him out here at practice. But he's comfortable and we're comfortable and away we go."
On replacement referees: "Well I don't know what their background is, but they're not the regular referees. We always have a visit from the referees around this time and since we don't have an agreement with the referees, these guys came out and operated no differently than we're used to as far as the logistics of working it during practice."
On whether notables like Commissioner Goodell and John Madden being at practice impacts work ethic: "I mean, honestly, not really. It's obviously an honor to have guys like that interested in us and out at practice, but it shouldn't change the way we practice, it shouldn't change the way we go about our work. Whether there are a couple thousand people here watching or it's a day that it's closed to the public or visitors or anything else. I mean that's just part of the NFL. We play all of our games on TV and in front of sold out crowds. These guys are used to playing in front of people like that. But it is an honor to have people like Hall of Fame coach John Madden out here, also the Commissioner of the NFL, and I think it definitely comes along with this job and comes along with where our team is right now."
On talking to the Commissioner personally: "Oh, I will. You know, I generally don't talk to anybody during practice except players and coaches. I mean, I'm a little bit of a jerk that way when it comes to the practice field. You're not gonna see me schmoozin' with the media or people like that in between. I actually had a visitor from the NFLPA and I was talking a little bit about the new CBA and stuff like that and I had to hustle my butt over to the field goal. And, that's just me. I mean no slight on anybody that comes out to practice or anything else. I think I want our players focused on the field and on the next play and if the head coach isn't setting that standard, then you have a harder time, you know, holding the players to that."
On his impressions after the first week of camp: "It's the middle of camp. I mean we really don't have any, you know, progress gauges or anything else at this time. We're going out and we're working.We have installation and we're putting our stuff in and we have a set schedule but we had a full offseason. We got probably about 90% of it in then. We're getting a lot of reps, we're getting long practices, we've been very fortunate to have some weather that we can work in, including today. It's probably pushing about 90degrees, very humid, guys are in shoulder pads. I mean it's a really good work day and that's all we're really concerning with other than taking snapshots at different times. I mean, you know, we'll be ready in our first preseason game; we'll be ready when the season opens. There's a process that goes along with it and right now we're just practicing."
On the offense's retention: "Yeah, you know, a lot of times I give a quick quiz and say what's three times three. Some of them take a little bit longer than others but they all get nine. And it's like how do you know? You learned that stuff when you were in third grade, you learned the times tables. But you just remember it, you know, and that's the way our offense is. I mean, nothing's changed. You know, three times three is still nine and we put it all in last year in the spring and particularly some guys that have been here for going on their fourth year. We're not changing a whole lot so they need to remember that stuff. We shouldn't have to start from square one all the time. There's going to be times when we have to catch guys up, and you know, there are rookies and newly signed players, stuff like that. But they should remember what went on in the spring and we should be able to go out and on the first day of practice we did red zone, we did third down, we did all those things that in the past were sort of taboo to do even in the first week of training camp. It's different now. You don't have as much time."
On whether he has an update on RB Jahvid Best: "No, I don't have any. The only thing I'd say is we're measuring Jahvid in weeks not days. You know, he's not a day-to-day; a lot of these guys are day-to-day. We're measuring his progress in weeks and he's doing very well. He's working very, very hard. He's in supreme condition and I know this: when he's cleared, he's gonna be tough to handle because he'll be ready."
On the team's young linebackers: "Yeah, that's a good group. Whitehead has done some really good things and Hogue's a second year player and he's still young, but you know, our patience for those guys is still not as much as the rookies, but the thing about Whitehead and Travis Lewis are those guys pick things up extremely fast and it's tough to play linebacker in the NFL regardless of what scheme you're in. You have to know the running game inside out, you have to know blitz game inside out, you have to know pass game inside out, everything is part of your to-do list. Those guys have stepped in and done very, very well. Both of them have shown really good physical skills. You know, they've done a nice job."
On speaking with the Commissioner regarding concussion clarification for Best: "Well, I'll say this. I'm not going to give you an agenda if I meet with the offensive coordinator of what we're talking about or the special teams coach or the commissioner of the NFL. That's just me. But I think we all feel very comfortable with the parameters of the concussion protocols now. I said the days of getting knocked out and getting some smelling salts and going back in the same day- those are done. You know, return to parity is extremely important and I think we all know what those ground rules are, and they're a little bit different than other injuries. It's life in the NFL, its life in college, its life in high school now. It's filtering down to everybody and I think that's a good thing. Our players' health is important to us and when they're cleared and ready to go on the field they'll be back."
On DE Lawrence Jackson taking advantage of the time to get extra work done: "Yeah, you know, Lawrence is a little bit interesting because they traded for him two years ago so he missed just about all of training camp with us. He came in right at the end and was injured so it took him a little while to get up and by the end of that year he was up to speed and was doing some really good things for us. Then we had the lockout and didn't have an offseason program and came back and had an accelerated camp last year. This is really the first year that he's been with us through the whole offseason and through training camp. Reps are extremely important; our scheme is a little bit different than 25 other schemes in the NFL in a lot of ways and there's a lot of repetition that goes on with that. He's made plays for us but we've certainly taken advantage, not just in training camp, but taken advantage of the entire offseason."
On Leshoure missing practice and the impact on his development: "Yeah, every day's important. I mean, otherwise the other guys wouldn't be out here practicing. But when you have a situation where you have a player that can't...you know we talked about Jeff. Jeff couldn't go out and be able to accomplish his job. You know, Mikel's not at that point yet and regardless of how much it's affecting him or anything else, it doesn't matter if he can't get out on the field. We still do a lot of walkthroughs; he's very good in our meetings, gets time in our walkthroughs and stuff like that. So it's not like, you know, it's not like we sent him home. He's still physical not able to do the work on the field, he's still able to do some other physical work. And when he's able he'll be back out."
On DE Willie Young's consistency: "He's had a good, consistent first week of camp. We expect a lot from him. He's made plays for us; he's come a long way. But he's certainly not a finished product and he needs to keep the attitude that he's had and keep grinding that attitude and not feel as though we've accomplished anything the first week in camp. Again, that's not an objective."
On this being a key year for T Gosder Cherilus: "I thought Gosder was very consistent last year. I mean he started off having a little bump in the road at the end of the first game and missed most of the second game and third game, you know, went out early with an injury. But after that, I thought Goz had his best year last year: No. 1 for a player and No. 2 from a play time standpoint of being on the field. He's a tough guy; he's worked through a lot of things. He's benefited from being in the same system for going on his fourth straight year and like I said, I thought he had a very good year last year. I thought it was for sure his best year. He's a solid pro."