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Lions training camp: Thursday's quotes from Jim Caldwell, Joe Lombardi

A recap of Thursday's comments from Jim Caldwell and Joe Lombardi.

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Below is a look at what Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi had to say on Thursday. (Quotes provided by the Lions.)


Opening statement: "We had one of our tough practices, because of the heat. We need as much as we can possibly get.  Last night was a fairly long session (and) we had a little bit of a shorter session today.  I think the guys are a little bit better, they're working at it and we just tried to give them a lot of different team situations today, more so than anything else.  We got a lot of the young guys some work, as well."

On FBs Montell Owens, Chad Abram and Jed Collins: "Those three guys and obviously Abram as well, are doing a good job.  We're an offense that utilizes the fullback on and off through the ball game, so it's an important spot for us.  Fortunately, those three guys have the experience and background, and have done quite a bit.  Montell is a very, very multi-faceted guy.  He does a little bit more than a fullback for us, and that's even excluding the special teams work.  Jed's been around the block, he's been in this offense for a while, he has a good feel for it and does a nice job adjusting to some of the difficult parts of it."

On where WR Calvin Johnson was today: "He had an excused absence today."

On if the team has made decisions on which players will play Saturday: "If I told you we didn't, I wouldn't be telling you the truth.  We've talked about some situations, and we are considering some.  The positions, I'm not going to name - I know the follow up question.  But nevertheless, we're looking at it and we'll wait until we get a little closer to game time and see how it shakes out.  Every day is a little bit different, you know we had a couple of guys get a little banged up.  So we'll go in and reassess ourselves and see where we are."

On what he's looking for in this exhibition: "Well, first and foremost, I think it's important that we have a good rhythm on both sides of the ball.  Really the basics (and) the fundamentals (is what we're focused on).  We're looking at alignment, assignment, obviously the technique of the fundamentals are the things that are extremely important to us in the rhythm of the game.   We don't want a lot of penalties and those kinds of things.  Ultimately, we want to win and that's the key.  A lot of people look at the preseason and treat things differently.  But (the way) we look at it, as long as they keep the score, we're concerned about winning.  We're anticipating going out there and trying to do our absolute best to get that done."

On CB Drayton Florence: "Obviously, he's a guy that has experience and background, so he just gives us another veteran player that can come in and bolster our roster and make it even a little more competitive.  It's a competitive situation now, but even more so. "

On the offensive line's importance to the offense: "Well, it makes a tremendous difference when you've got a group of guys that have worked well together.  It's a cohesive bunch and as you know, your lines are the heartbeats of your team.  Your offensive and defensive lines set the tone at the line of scrimmage. It's extremely important, obviously, in terms of your wins and losses.  So to have an offensive line that has some bulk and has some intelligence, and has a real strong desire to excel and makes a willing bunch, it's a fun group to be around."

On what he's looking for on game day from the defense: "Really the big thing that we are trying to do is see if they can get lined up properly, execute their techniques properly, make certain that if they're on defense how well they can tackle, how well they run to the ball, those kinds of things, see how they match up with the speed with a different team other than our own and just to see how they handle themselves.  You get an opportunity to really kind of size them up and see where they fit."

On CB Nevin Lawson:  "He's young, energetic, and capable.  He looks like he's got a lot of upside."

On the importance of these games in deciding roster spots and depth: "You know, every one of them is extremely important.  Jobs are coveted. They're very difficult to get and to maintain, as well, so it's highly competitive.   So every single snap that a guy takes on the field out there in the preseason, is extremely important and everything is factored into that decision."

On Offensive Coordinator Joe Lombardi: "Well, I think for everyone, we've been working since the spring on giving them some freedom, even in the periods that we have.   We try and simulate game situations even when they're on the sideline sending in the players, making certain that we get the personnel things correct, quarterbacks in and out and giving them that opportunity to hear his voice consistently, you know. All those kind of things that we've been working on, and Joe's been around football for a long time. He's called plays before and he's doing a great job."

On K Giorgio Tavecchio:  "Giorgio's a competitor.  He's one of those guys that you can see the players rally around. He's got a great personality, and also he's really battling for that spot.  He's been effective in terms of his kicking at this point in time and I think it's a real good contest right now and he's right in the thick of it."


On his opinion of the offense: "It's not exactly where you want it to be, but I'm encouraged by our progress. It's still early and as a coach you always see the problems. It's just little details that the guys are trying to learn and are learning. You look at the learning curve, you look at when our first game is and I feel good where we're at."

On the competition between FB Jed Collins and FB Montell Owens: "Obviously, Jed is more of a traditional fullback, bigger fullback.  Montell gives you a lot of flexibility. He can do some of the fullback role that Jed does, but you can hand the ball off to him. You're not going to hand the ball off to him rather than, Joique (Bell) or Reggie (Bush), but you can hand the ball off to him. He can be effective as a runner and also as third-down nickel protections. He can be in there and protect the quarterback and get out on check downs. You're right, they are different players, but they both have value."

On what he wants the trademark of this offense to be: "Moving the ball and scoring the points, protecting the football. I think it is flexibility. If we have to get in 22 personnel and pound the ball to win the game in four-minute offense, we want to be able to do that. We also have the weapons to spread them out and throw the ball around a little bit. It's flexibility I think, doing whatever it takes to win the game."

On the offensive line: "Very encouraged with those guys. They have a great attitude. Dominic (Raiola) is a great leader with that group. I think they are very well-coached. Obviously, Jeremiah (Washburn) has been here for a few years, so that continuity has been good for us. I think more than anything, what you want from an offensive line is just an attitude of toughness and accountability and those guys bring it. So I'm very encouraged with their performance."

On his experienced offense learning a new system and what he is trying to accomplish: "They've had a lot of success here. We've certainly kept some continuity with some of the terminology and some of the principals they've run here in the past. So you just try to mix a little bit of the old in with a little bit of the new. Make sure that you're allowing these players that have a lot of ability to go out and execute."

On if he has a concern about showing too much of the offense during Saturday's preseason game against the Cleveland Browns: "I think that concern about showing too much of your offense is a little over-blown. Certainly there will be some things that maybe we haven't worked on quite enough that you don't want to call. Or there might be one or two things that you want to save for the regular season. But for the most part we're going to go out and institute the offense we've been practicing here."

On if the offense will follow a specific game plan on Saturday: "It's obviously going to be a lot less game plan specific and probably not as specific when it comes to the personnel. Who's coming in and when we'd get to a game it'd be like, ‘Alright, Calvin's (Johnson) on that route, Golden's (Tate) on that route, Reggie's (Bush) on that route.' It's going to be less specific, but it'll give you a flavor at least."

On the progress of WR Corey Fuller and WR Kris Durham: "I'm really encouraged by both of them. Corey has shown a lot of ability to stretch the field, get downfield and make big plays. He's got a skill set that is very enticing for speed and he's tall and runs good routes. I'm really impressed with him. Kris has proven it in this league. He's had production, is sure-handed and runs really good routes. Kind of two different players, but I like them both."

On if he believes it's fair to put the main focus on QB Matthew Stafford, given the skill players he has around him: "I think that's the quarterback position. All of the pressure is always going to be on him. Like all competitive people, and he's a highly-competitive guy, they put more pressure on themselves than anyone else does. It's fair."

On T Cornelius Lucas: "He impresses me when he walks in the building. He's got these long arms, which really helps him (in) pass protection. I think he's coming along in his run blocking. He's a guy that we're excited about."

On TE Eric Ebron's progression: "He's doing good. He's got a lot of natural ability and natural instincts. We were throwing a lot of stuff at him and every week you can kind of see his comfort level increase. When that happens, you see his performance get better. He's going to be a concern for defenses. We're not putting too much pressure on him. We don't expect him to come out and be (New Orleans Saints TE) Jimmy Graham. Jimmy Graham just finished his fourth year. His first year, I don't think he had 1,000 yards. We just have to understand that he's a part of a big puzzle. He's not carrying this offense. He's going to be a big part of helping us be successful."

On if younger players benefit from having specific game plans: "We come out here and you look at the quarterback's playbook, it's about this thick. Every day we're putting in another portion of it, so there's a lot of stuff swimming in these guys' heads. Then when you get down to a week of preparation, it's a much smaller amount of offense and you're grooving it in all week through your walk-throughs in practice. These guys know here's these 15 I have to know and have mastered, versus 50 that they may be thinking about right now."

On if WR Kevin Ogletree has established himself as the third receiver: "I hate saying one, two, three. Obviously, I don't hate saying Calvin (Johnson) is number one, but he's a special player. I think every player has a skill set and when you call a play or you're designing a play for a game plan, what skill set or what tool do I need for this play? I think Kevin shows that he's got a skill set that can work very well in a large portion of our offense. But there will be times where there's going to be another guy we'd rather stick there. I think he's established himself as a guy that certainly has a great chance to be a productive member of our offense."

On what Ogletree's skill set is: "I think he's a good route runner. If you come up on the line of scrimmage and try to press him one-on-one, he can get a release and get open. That's an important thing to have. We like that from him."

On the Microsoft Surface technology NFL teams will be using this season: "It'll be interesting. I've seen it, but I haven't quite used it in action yet. I think it'll be good. It'll be easier to flip through and get the pictures. It looks like they'll be clear and in color, I believe. That'll be fun on game day. We'll get to practice and see how it works during the preseason, but I think it'll be good."

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