Opening Statement: "It doesn't seem like that long ago that I was standing in front of you guys, just at the end of our minicamp, but time has flown by quickly. We're excited about being back. As you know, we started last Wednesday and had our rookies, injured vets and the quarterbacks come in. We worked three days (and) what that allowed us to do was a couple different things. One, we had the opportunity to get the rookies some pretty concentrated work - being coached in a number of different areas without having to share their reps with the veterans. (We were) trying to give them an opportunity to hear the installation of the offense, defense and kicking game one more time. They'll start again today about seven times that they've actually heard it installed, and what it does is give you a pretty good indication about retention, a pretty good indication in terms of the guys that are able to get information and then be able to transfer it out on the field. We were able to put them through their paces at a good clip.
We're very pleased with what we were able to get accomplished and also for our quarterbacks that came in. We had an opportunity to get them some good work and give them a chance to get out in front of the team. Just in terms of the installation of the offense and making certain that they have a grasp of it - going over it one more time. It's a new system so we were able to get Matthew (Stafford) and Danny (Orlovsky) in there and Kellen (Moore), as well and do a great job in terms of the preparation. (James) Franklin is obviously a rookie, so he was included but they got good concentrated work done. We think the guys that were injured, and a little banged up, we got them in and took a look at a few guys to see how they're doing. Got some reps out of them and made some improvements in those areas. (I'm) excited about today. We got the group in - obviously we get started this afternoon at 3 o'clock with a team meeting, and then we'll move forward from there.
One of the things you may have noticed is a bit different, is the fact that our training camp schedule, the times adjust somewhat. We'll have obviously a walk-through and then we'll also have an afternoon practice. In some cases, we'll have a walk-through in the afternoon, practice in the morning that happens once in a while. We like to kind of change things up because, obviously it gives them a little bit (of a) different time of operation in terms of when they're going to practice. We think we can keep things fresh that way and we also have some things we do at night. We do play some night games. Our opener is at night, preseason games are played in the evening as well. But it gives them the opportunity to practice at night as well, so their body can get adjusted to it. We're taking some of those out into the community, to get away from the facility here. Even though, it's open here there's a limited number of people that can come and watch us practice, so we are going to Wayne State, we're going to Ford Field and we'll do one night practice here. So, all of them have a little bit (of a) different theme, but we do think that our players are looking forward to interacting with the public and gives us a different venue to participate in as well. So with that being said, I'll open it up for any questions you might have."
On what kind of things he says to the team in the first meeting: "That's an opportunity for us to set the stage in terms of what we expect from them, on and off the field. You have to understand that being brand new, last spring I had an opportunity to do so during that time. A lot of it's going to be re-iterating some of the things we're looking for (like) expression of our core value, our team DNA, our four pillars that are very, very important to us just in talking about our team's image and identity - those kind of things. We talk about discipline, we talk about installation, we give them an overall view from a lot administrative stuff that we have to get done, rules in the training room, rules in the weight room, some of these things they indeed know, but you have to keep going over and over and over those things again. I think that it might have been Ross Perot talking at one point in time was talking about how everything is on the razor's edge and anything that you believe in, you've gotta keep fighting for every day. So it takes us time and time again that we have to repeat some of the things that we believe in to make certain we get these things imprinted in their mind so this gives us another opportunity to do so. The meetings are long today, but we also have NFL security, we have a number of different things that we're going to be introducing to them at that particular point in time."
On the veterans getting a couple extra days and his philosophy there: "It really was something over the years that we had done something quite a bit with rookies to give them an opportunity. It's always been our program to try and make certain that we install it at least five times. You'd like to at least try and get to seven with them so they hear it more often. So when they first came in in May, we had the opportunity to install. We did it again at the start of OTAs, we did it again at the voluntary minicamp, we did it again at the start of our minicamp. We did it again obviously when they just came in, and then we'll do it again on Sunday, so that they get the opportunity to hear it several times. The idea is to try to saturate them with information, get them out on the field and watch them operate within that realm after we've tried to implement all of the installations and see how they react to it. It's been good for us and the vets get involved, because some of them were injured, weren't able to go through (what) the league does allow you (to do). The rules say, depending upon the length of time he was injured, you can bring him in during this time of the year, make certain he's OK. Rather than waiting until today and finding out, ‘hey, he can't do it, we're going to have to give him some practice time modification,' or whatever it might be to give us a little leeway in that regard. And then quarterbacks, obviously, are allowed to come in early and we just think that's a plus all the way around, and think that it's good for everybody. The other thing it does, which is a hidden factor, which I found out through the years as an assistant coach, is that it helps you as a teacher and an instructor as well. You get sort of a dry run, you know, an opportunity to go through it one more time since you've been off in the summer a little bit, and everybody had a great break. It gives you a chance to kind of get rolling again and iron out any wrinkles or obstacles you may have been presented with."
On DT Ndamukong Suh's contract being a potential distraction: "Number one, he's in the best shape he's ever been in. He's got a great attitude and certainly once you guys will have the chance to talk to him at some point in time and he'll be able to speak for himself, but nevertheless I don't think he's going to let anything distract him. I'm not worried about it in that regard because Tom (Lewand) and obviously Martin (Mayhew) will get that taken care of. I've been through it a few times - I've been through it with Peyton (Manning) on a year, been through it most recently with (Joe) Flacco. There are a number of guys that are going through that throughout the League, and our team is no different."
On if he has any concerns about DE Ezekiel Ansah missing the offseason program: "One of the things I learned early on in coaching is I coach who shows up, and instruct our staff to do the exact same thing. I cannot worry about how quickly the Lord allows someone to heal. I have to do our business. When he gets healthy and ready to go, he will be ready. Until then, whoever is out there lined up is going to get coached and coached hard, (to be) ready to go and play for us and win games. So that's how we look at it. He's coming along, making great progress, doing everything he can to get there. I'm sure he will in a reasonable amount of time."
On the organization's decision to release CB Chris Houston: "You're going back in time. The whole gambit, we look at everything. Obviously, it depends on how he can help our team and then we look at it from a number of different areas. We made the decision that we're better off moving in another direction and he was better off moving on with his business, thus the decision was made. "
On his comfort level with the depth at cornerback: "We're young. We have a couple of guys who have been around the block, but we're young. But we also have guys who have some talent and ability, which we've certainly been pleased with. Some of the young guys that we were able to bring back last week, obviously we've been looking at those guys closely. They're doing a good job. We've got some guys that are veterans, young veterans, that have not played an ordinate amount that we've certainly anticipated that they're going to have to step up and play and play well. We're pleased where we are right now. This is the real test. This is when we're really going to find out what we have and there's a number of spots that we're going to get a look at them in a totally different sort of an arena at this stage. We'll see them under the lights in terms of preseason games. We get an opportunity to see them with pads on and to me, those are the things that really matter. "
On his expectations for the team this season: "As always, our expectations are that we're going to field a team that has the right kind of Lions DNA, and that's a smart, a fast and a physical team. We expect you to see that out on the field; a team that doesn't hurt itself from a mental standpoint, we don't beat ourselves. But you're going to see a team that is highly physical that can run and cover and certainly do a good job of putting points on the board because we are and should be an explosive team. But we also should be a really good defensive team as well. Those are the things that we expect. Our kicking game should be really good, even though we have a young guy that is battling for the place-kicking duties. But overall we have the chance to put together a really good unit here. I'm excited about it. I'm excited about this group. We have to fight and work and keep (the players) healthy, but yet, we have to find ways to get better and we have to be tough on them and I think they'll respond. I think they're a great group to be around. I love to coach them. "
On QB Matthew Stafford's progression thus far: "He is getting better. His command of the offense has been good. As a matter of fact, I sat down with him last week and I said, ‘you look like you've gotten a pretty good understanding.' To be honest with you, there is a little difference in terms of verbiage that you have to learn. It happens rapidly. Trying to transpose those things in your mind and then being able to verbalize them is not easy. Getting through the progressions, understanding where the checks are involved and then being able to change in terms of a snap count, something that he probably didn't have to think about up until this past spring, all of those things are new. I was impressed after he came back (OK) first of all, he did not miss a beat. He's a very smart guy. You can tell he's worked at it even during the summer. I understand (the team) got together and throwing, working his arm and working on his timing and technique, and in every facet, I could see improvement. Footwork, accuracy, timing, command of the offense, all of those things. So now we get a chance to see if he can put it all together, add a few more things and keep progressing and then get some real challenges from our opposition as we start preseason."