On first impression of DE Ziggy (Ansah) in uniform: "He's really not in uniform, he's in shorts and going through a rookie orientation. He looks athletic obviously. We knew that. This is not the first practice we've had with Ziggy Ansah. We had the whole week of practice and the whole game day at the Senior Bowl so, it wasn't our first look at him. We knew what to expect from him athletically. But just watching the guys go about it and you can tell that everything's new to him, but he picks things up quickly."
On what the goal of rookie mini-camp is: "We just need to get these guys a base of knowledge so that they can compete when they come back for offseason program and OTAs. They need to know enough stuff of scheme. We're not trying to kill them with scheme, we're not trying to kill them physically, we're trying to get their feet underneath of them. It's their first taste of pro football. Let them sort of run with that and get three good days in. They're in the weight room now. We've had some meetings, and the days haven't been terribly long. It just helps them get their feet underneath of them. Each day will probably be a little bit more on the field, but there are a lot of different guys here. We've got draft picks, we have signed free agents, we have unsigned free agents, there's a couple guys that were on our practice squad last year that are out here. A lot of guys in a lot of different circumstance, but they are all working toward the same goal and it's improving as football players."
On if G Larry Warford looks as big as he's supposed to look: "That's another guy that we had the whole week so we had a pretty good idea what size shorts he wore and everything else. It's not new to us. Our equipment guys worked with him at the Senior Bowl, our trainers worked with him, our coaches did also. More than anything it just gives you an idea of what kind of shape they're in. All those guys have worked hard, everybody does. But they all come in good shape and Larry's no exception to that."
On the most difficult position for a rookie to come in and play: "I don't think there's any position that's easy for someone to come in. I think that they all have their different complexities or their different difficulties I guess. If you're a punter or placekicker there's a tremendous amount of pressure that goes into that. It's a lot of technique, it's not a physical position. There are some positions that are harder to learn, there are other positions that are less complicated to learn, but they are just as physical so quarterback is obviously probably the most challenging position. Offensive line, linebacker, safeties, those are all positions where you have to know pretty much everything and one mistake can be critical for either the offense of the defense."
On where defensive end is on that list and what Ansah has to master in the next few months: "Our scheme's not complicated for defensive linemen, not just defensive ends. You know, there is some scheme stuff but we haven't inundated those guys with stuff like that. We've sort of let them play, let their athletic ability take care. That's more of a technique position, it's more of an effort position and a toughness position. You know, those are the things that will be his challenge. Pass rush technique, run block technique, things like that. Again, there is not a whole lot of complexity to the scheme there, but it's a very physical position and that's going to be the challenge. I mean, now's not the time. That will all come out in training camp and things like that when you really put the pads on and you can really challenge players."
On what CB Darius Slay is missing by not being able to practice this weekend: "Hardly anything, I mean, other than getting a good look at him. He's one of the few guys we didn't coach in the Senior Bowl, but if he's going to miss a couple weeks, it's probably better for it to be right now than OTAs or mini-camp or training camp or during the season. So, we took that approach to his knee knowing that if something had to get done, let's go sooner rather than later with it. He'll be in all the meetings. He's lifting right now, he's doing upper body stuff. He's walking around, he's doing a little bit of rehab. But he can gain just as much of a basic knowledge of our defensive scheme and the techniques that we require and everything else by going through the process, not necessarily getting the physical reps."
On if they originally thought Slay would be able to participate this weekend: "Yeah, I mean, the goal wasn't this weekend. We were well aware of where he was and again, if something needed to get done, hey let's error on the side of getting it done quickly. If you miss a couple weeks in camp, that's a lot to miss. You miss a couple weeks now, I mean, other than three practices we have right now, next week, the week after, it's not as much and it's a lot of ground you can catch up. Two weeks in training camp or three weeks or four weeks, whatever, that's a long time. Two weeks during the season, I mean, that's two games. So, we were well aware of where he was. We were very comfortable with that and we'll just get him back as quick as we can."
On if he will be back by mini-camp: "The goal is to get him back as soon as we can. But that's going to depend on him and how he feels. I mean, that's the only thing that we ever judge guys on. We don't try to put any other timetables on him. I would put it this way, I don't get real complicated with stuff like that. But I would be surprised if he's not back sooner rather than later."
On if it made sense for Slay to not have surgery until he was on a team: "I don't really think that that was a consideration with it. You know, the issue that he had was something that you can work through. Sometimes it's asymptomatic, sometimes it will flare up and it will bother you. At times it wasn't bothering him, but again, you have a good day and you have a bad day and it's sort of like, ‘Hey, let's take care of it right now.' But, no, that didn't have anything to do with the timing. But we were all on the same page with him, his agent, our front office, our trainers. Everybody was on the same page with him."
On DE Devin Taylor's length at defensive end: "He's not the tallest guy we have. (Joseph) Fauria's taller than he is. We can feed the low post down here with those two guys. They have some great length to them. You know, long arms help in the position. You know, fending off blocks, just having range to be able to tackle guys and also knocking down passes and a lot of times if you're blocked, you can shoot an arm out and affect the quarterback. He's learning all that stuff, but he's not learning how to be 6-7. He's been that way for a while. So, we saw some good things from him. Again, it's just a start."
On QB Alex Carder: "Yeah, he was out there. I didn't miss him. He's been very productive at Western Michigan. Came in, and like you'd expect from a quarterback, he took command of the huddle, went out just like the other guys in there. He had good plays, he had bad plays. But there is something about the confidence that a quarterback brings to the table. You just know it's not too big for him. I would say that about Alex."
On how important it is to get production out of Taylor: "I mean, it would be production out of all those guys. We drafted him for a reason and, you know, we liked his skill set. We liked the way he played and we think that he could be productive for us. How much that is ‘when' is all going to depend on him through training camp, through preseason games and as the season develops. But we certainly have high expectations for all our draft picks."
On what about Warford's game transfers to the NFL: "He's got really good balance for a big man. He's a bottom-heavy guy and it keeps his balance right in there. It makes it hard for people to knock him off balance and it's hard to run around him. He's just got natural balance and natural power. Most big men have that, but he's sort of a low center of gravity guy. He's 6-3, that's certainly not short, but it's hard to get him off balance. I think that serves him the best."
On how important it was to have all the draft picks signed: "You know, this time of year, it's good for us. They can take that off their plate and they can just concentrate on their jobs and everything else. At this point, we always had 100-percent participation in all these things. Everybody was protected from that from a contract standpoint. So, I don't think it really changes anything other than just taking one potential distraction away from them. It's more closing in on training camp, or it used to be closing in on training camp. It's a good system now. It lets the guys concentrate on football."
On where to start with K Håvard Rugland: "Putting a helmet on. Didn't really get that whole thing. I actually asked him out there, ‘Is this the first time you've had a helmet on,' and he said, ‘Yeah.' So, you've got to start there. You know, he's kicked the ball his whole life but it's different. There's a snapper, there's a holder, there are 10 other guys on the field. It's not an individual sport. As much as the technique and everything else is individual, you're relying on a lot of different guys. So, this was his first taste of that. We didn't really do any kicking today, but as we go that will be. But he's never put a pair of football pants on. When we make thigh pads and knee pads mandatory, he's not going to know which one's which and where they go without some direction."
On T LaAdrian Waddle: "Well, we had him in pre-draft. He was a guy that we wanted to do a little bit more work on, get a physical on. He played a lot of football at Texas Tech. I think he had 40 starts. It doesn't take, you know, Ron Wolf, to see that he's big. That's a big man, he's played a lot of football. He's a pretty good athlete. He was a guy who was sort of on our radar when it came around for that seventh round pick. We were weighing him and a couple other guys. Ended up not drafting him, but we were able to get him as a free agent. He was a priority for us after the draft. Coach Washburn did a good job of making him feel comfortable, making him feel that this is a good opportunity for him."
On TE Joseph Fauria: "Yeah, he's another guy that as soon as the draft was over, we worked hard on. He was very productive catching the ball at UCLA. He's 6-7 and he's a big target. He's got a lot of things he needs to work on. He needs to work on his blocking and things like that, but he also has a frame that makes it tough. There were a couple times out there today in our half line stuff and our seven-on-seven stuff where a safety was all over him with great coverage, but he was able to make the catch just because he's so long. Mike Williams did the same thing. I mean, those are two good-looking tight ends, 6-5 and 6-7."
On if TE Michael Williams could have been considered an additional offensive lineman at Alabama: "I wouldn't discount his role that way. I mean, he's not the fastest tight end, he's not the smallest, but he's a 275-pound, 6-5 guy. He's a very good blocker. He has a really good command of the whole offense. That was a guy that we had at the Senior Bowl and he made a great catch on a seven route in the corner against a really good safety. He did a nice job of boxing him out and put a nice catch on the ball. So, you know, he's not a one-trick pony when he goes in the game. He's a guy that can contribute in the run game. He can also contribute in the pass game."
On comparing Williams to former Lions TE Will Heller: "Will Heller played a long time in the NFL. There are some similarities as far as size, as far as football intelligence, but let's not put him in any category other than a rookie right now. He's out here like these other guys just trying to learn and trying to find his way. But he played at a very high level in college on a really good team, a team that was a national champion a few times when he was there with four years of production. So, we certainly respect that about him."
On how valuable mini-camp is to non-rookies: "Any opportunity you have to improve as a football player is valuable, but also a chance to get out and impress your coaches. You know, we've been doing some on-the-field type activities, but they've all been technique-oriented. This gives them a chance to see where that works, how it's going to be with a few wide receivers, few corners, an offensive lineman, a linebacker and all those guys. I think another thing is it's one of the few times they go to being put in the leadership position. They can lead the way, they can break the huddle down, they can show the younger guys how we do things. I think it's very valuable to have those guys here to do stuff like that. You know, just working their way around the building and this is how we do things. Like I said, there are a lot of different guys here from a lot of different backgrounds and things like that. They're all working toward the same thing and that's improving as football players. They're all trying to earn a spot on the team."
On if any of the non-rookies have impressed him with their improvement: "All of them. All those guys have been out there. They've all improved as football players. I mean, literally every single one of them. There's a reason we kept those guys around and kept them on our practice and, you know, wanted to bring them back this year. You know, they've all made strides as players. Their command of the offensive and defensive scheme, you know, a lot of those guys were with us in training camp. They've been through stuff like this before. So, it's been a positive for us to have those guys out here."