Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan met with the media for the first time during training camp on Friday. Below is a look at what he had to say. (Quotes provided by the Lions.)
On the impact of having continuity with all 11 starters returning this season: "Yeah, you know, you used the term continuity and I think that's a great way to describe our group. Not a lot of new faces. We're adding little piece, but the core players are really back, you know, some in their fourth year, most in their third year. So that gives us a little head start. You look back three, four years ago there was no way we were able to maintain the amount of things we were working on or doing at that time. It's nice."
On the offensive line competition with rookie OT Riley Reiff: "I think it's going to play itself out. We haven't even got a preseason game yet and those are going to be a big part of it. But the practices all matter. I just think all the groups that I've seen have got some really healthy competition."
On the play of QB Matthew Stafford so far in training camp: "Matthew's been great. He's been having a great camp and great offseason. You know, it's just different. It's hard to say a 24-year old kid is as mature as he is, but he's in his fourth year. He's taken such command of everything we do offensively and naturally. It just comes with the territory, but just the ownership he's taken in the offense and all the little things that we do on a daily basis really shows me he's really now a true veteran."
On the competition between QB Kellen Moore and QB R.J. Archer for the third quarterback position: "Well, it will play out. Kellen's got such a great background and has such a great command of offensive football. Already what we're doing, I really think he's been great. It's been kind of quiet because we don't do a whole lot with the threes, but he's really taken his game to another level from really our offseason program and OTAs."
On the role of TE Tony Scheffler: "Scheff's got a very distinct role for us and he accepts that and does exactly what we ask him to do. He's really kind of a multidimensional player for us. He can be a receiver, he can be a tight end, but you know, he's not going to get 50 reps a game. One game he might get 20, one game he might get double or twice as many. But he's such a valuable spot and it's really hard to find guys like that who can wear more than one hat and I don't know where'd we be without Scheff. I mean, he gives us a lot of versatility."
On the role of RB Kevin Smith: "Yeah, Kevin's been here as long as I've been here. He's been here before I got here. Kevin gives us 110-percent - the old adage - every day. He's a blue-collar, go to work every day (kind of guy). You can count on Kevin being out there through thick and thin and I really respect that. We relied on him as a starter; we've relied on him as a backup. Kevin will do whatever it takes to help this team win and he's a very valuable commodity."
On the continuity along the offensive line: "Well, that's really the same group. We drafted a young player, but we've got guys who have been playing together now for most of four years, with the exception of Rob. Rob's been here now going on his third. So, you know, those guys being together for that length of time, we've only seen them grow and continue to get better. They're doing an outstanding job for us."
On when he expects RB Mikel Leshoure to return: "Jim can give you an update on when. We really have no idea. We know he's working hard to get back and all we're concentrating on now is him doing what he's got to do and the guys that are out there working and filling in."
On if he's concerned about RB Jahvid Best's absence affecting the offense: "Well it's just the next guy in, you know. We're doing some things with Stefan Logan. The other guys know the offense. I really learned a long time ago when guys aren't available in training camp or whenever it is, the next guy in is getting those valuable reps. So you're preparing for any scenario. You know, we're just moving forward. Guys are stepping up and taking on roles that maybe they didn't have in the spring or last year. You get to see those guys improve and put themselves in a position to help us."
On maintaining the offense's success in the red zone: "Well, we've been either first or second in the league. I don't know if we can get a whole lot better than that. I mean, it's never good enough. We're always working on getting better on things that we're stronger in like the red zone or some other areas. But all phases of our offense are very, very critical. It's just when you get in that phase you've got to execute that particular situation, make sure that whatever you do in that situation, you're playing winning football."
On the competition for the fifth receiver spot: "Yeah, that's going to be a fun one to watch. I think we're all going to keep our eye on that. We've got a lot more depth at the receiver position and guys are going to get plenty of opportunities to go out and showcase what they can do out here and in the preseason games. So I'm really looking forward to that."
On the value of having a good quarterback in practice: "Well I look like a lot better coach when you do. Things run smooth. It's little things you don't see, subtle things you tend to take for granted like just the reminder to maybe a young player, like, ‘Hey, you're running a good route on this,' or, ‘I know you don't expect it but if I get this coverage...' You don't see that stuff. That's the thing that's so valuable when you've got an experienced quarterback that can flat out play like ours. It's invaluable."
On whether having a good quarterback helps the tempo on both sides: "Oh yeah, I think so. I mean, we've got to do our thing, but I'm sure the defense appreciates going against a guy like Matt on a daily basis because we see some pretty good quarterbacks throughout the season."
On the maturation of WR Titus Young: "Oh, he's been outstanding. I've always said that Titus has been always on an upward trend from the time he got here. He didn't have an offseason his first year, came in somewhat of a non-descript start but just got better on a weekly basis and finished really strong for us at the end of last season. He's picked up where he left off. He's really going to be a heck of a player. He is already at this point in his career. He's got a lot of room for growth but I've been very pleased with him."
On WR Nate Burleson's remarks about WR Calvin Johnson being faster this year: "It's hard to believe, but I think he's right. Calvin's an exception to the rule. If anybody could maybe take a day off here, you know, reps off here, we'd probably pick him. But he's not going to do that and the reason he's gotten better is because he works hard every day. So it's a good lesson for everybody to learn who wants to follow an athlete. I can't think of anyone better than him."
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