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Lions rookie minicamp: Jim Caldwell's comments from Day 3

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A look at what Jim Caldwell had to say on the third and final day of the Detroit Lions' rookie minicamp.

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Below is a recap of Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell's comments from the third and final day of the team's rookie minicamp. (Quotes provided by the Lions.)

Opening statement: "We really had three real productive days. The group did extremely well. Often times it's pretty difficult to put together a functioning group where you get the kind of looks that you're looking for and kind of work you're looking for. It's really sporadic most of the time. In this particular case, the guys did a very, very nice job all the way across the board, tryout guys and then also some of the free agents as well. You know, the things you look for is how easily they grasp material, how hard they work at it. Their work ethic was strong, they did a tremendous job in that area and their arch of improvement was steady. It was a steady climb the entire three days and that was impressive. It was really an impressive group, to be honest with you. I wouldn't be surprised, obviously we can't keep them all, but wouldn't be surprised if a number of those guys don't have an opportunity somewhere along the line with some team. But it was good. I think everybody learned, everybody got better and I think we'll be better served for it here down the stretch."

On if the team has signed any of the tryout players: "We talk about it after this is over with and we sit down and make some decisions to see how it will all shake out."

On what undrafted free agents stood out in practice: "They all did well. I mean, you can use that as a blanket statement. I think sometimes you start talking about one, you need to talk about several. There are several of them that did a tremendous job, so I'd hate to point somebody out and miss someone along the way."

On DT Gabe Wright saying he wanted to be the hardest worker at practice this weekend: "Those are great goals. I think he's got the right attitude, I think he's got the right kind of focus. I think he demonstrated his will to be that individual and it's measured over time, not just in a three-day period. He's got all the intangibles you're looking for."

On Wright chasing down a receiver in practice: "That's kind of part of what we do from a defensive standpoint that's stressed. Our guys up front run to the ball. We try to encourage that strongly. Kris (Kocurek) and Matt (Raich) do a great job with that."

On S Isaiah Johnson: "I think with him, he's got range and ability and is smart. I think he's got a pretty good upside."

On RB Zach Zenner: "Highly-productive guy out of college, obviously, with 2,000 yards in three-consecutive seasons. He's a very, very talented guy from that standpoint. He learns well, he's not one-dimensional, he can catch the ball as well. He's got size, you know, 218 pounds. I think he may be 224 right now, but played at about 218, so he's got a lot of positive traits."

On which players surprised him in mini-camp: "Like I said, I think that's getting into focusing in on one guy when there's - No one, really. I think one of the things that you have to come to grips with, this is professional football and there's not going to be a whole lot of surprises in that regard, but there will be guys that function well. There were a lot of them that functioned well."

On college running backs balancing having too many carries in college to still be productive in the NFL: "It's all different. I mean, every guy is a little bit different. I think you can make assumptions about how a guy's going to fare in this league and you really don't know until they get out there. These guys are young. They can still carry the mail even though they've had a significant number of runs and those kinds of things, but sometimes that experience is good. It's what makes them certainly competitive in this league."

On the line of running backs that have emerged as undrafted rookie free agents: "Yeah, I mean, that's the unique thing about that position. They come from all levels of football as well. Obviously, I'm not comparing anybody that we have out there to Walter Payton, but played at Jackson State and certainly came in the league and did extremely well. So, there are a lot of guys from all levels that do well. It's hard to pinpoint which ones are going to be those individuals. You look for the qualities, you look for the traits and then you go at it and give them an opportunity to get out there and show what they can do."

On how much character resonates with him when considering undrafted rookie free agents: "I think it's a positive trait, there's no question about that. I think it's something that all the guys should really aspire to do is be involved in the community. They have an unusual opportunity to not only be a spokesman for the teams in which they play for, but to have a positive impact on the community. There's so many young people out there who really just look up to them, they're dying for an opportunity to get a chance to meet them and follow in their footsteps. But I know there's been a long issue and a lot of talk about character, etc.

There's a guy with the New York Times, just came out with a new book. He's a reporter, came out with a brand new book about character in our country. He also spoke at the league meetings and one of the things he was talking about was character. So, I know it's a hot topic right now, but the thing about it, everybody kind of thinks that if you have character it means you're perfect. That's far from it. There's only one perfect being that's ever walked this Earth. It's a growth process. It's trustworthiness, it's dependability, it's accountability, it's responsibility, you know, all of those things kind of wrapped. It's integrity. Those things, you develop into that kind of person, so these guys aren't finished products by any stretch of the imagination. You may find a guy that has character, but has a slip, has an issue or problem that popped up. But I think we have to kind of weigh that out among age group, all those kinds of things. It's different when a 60 year-old has a problem as opposed to a 21 year-old, right? I think a lot of these guys have real strong makings for really, really good character that'll last beyond their years."

On dealing with players that do have character issues: "We look at everybody, every single case differently because sometimes there are things that we know that you don't know maybe about a situation that may cause us to sort of mitigate maybe that particular infraction, whatever it may be. So, we have to look at them all differently. There's some, obviously, that we look at that may not be guys that we'd be interested in. It doesn't mean that someone else in the league's not going to be interested in him, but we take every case separately and take a real good look at them."

On understanding how appreciative the players are to have participated in this weekend: "Yeah, with so many guys with such limited time I had an opportunity to shake the great majority of their hands at some point in time, either walking off the field today or whenever. I talked to a few here and there. They all are extremely appreciative. I mean, it's kind of a unique opportunity. It's really one of things that Bill (Keenist) kind of talked to me about last year that we do, we take a photo of the entire group after our first practice session for a keepsake for them. In some cases, some of those guys may not ever put on another set of pads or a helmet and spikes again, you know? They'll be in some other walk of life. I'd be interested to follow some of these guys to see what happens to them 10 years down the road. There are some great people within the group, but I think they all are very, very appreciative of the opportunity. They're all longing for a chance to play in this league, but you know, obviously there are only a few jobs open in this league."

On CB Quandre Diggs' intensity and how it plays out on the field: "What you see with him is what you get. Pretty intense guy. Always seems like he's got something to prove. Tough, hard-nosed, and yeah, I think that does indeed resonate with his personality and everything that he does. He's attentive, just one of those guys that's going to give you everything he's got."

On if the rookie players joining the team next week energizes the rest of the team: "I think it does. You know, it appears that way because the first time they'll have an opportunity to be in the same room with them will be tomorrow morning. It's always a little bit more buzz in the air and I think it does add something to your team. They get a kick out of it. I think they can see themselves maybe a year or two years or three years or four years removed. They're reminded of how excited they were for the opportunity, but then also a bit apprehensive. When you sit in the room, now there's 90 guys in this room and a lot of guys that have been in this league quite some time. You get a different sort of range of emotions, but all in all they welcome them as teammates. You know, I think one of the great things about this group is that our guys will share information with young guys because they know that's what will make us better. But they'll also give them some direction. We kind of try to do a little bit of mentoring along the way as well."

On if he considers the undrafted rookie free agent players to be underdogs: "Well, I talked to them a little about that. In some ways, yes because obviously they may end up lining up maybe fourth on the depth chart or something of that nature. So, there's a bit of a battle. It's an experience in front of them, but I don't think any of them are afraid of that challenge. They do understand the odds, but also there are some unique things about it too. I talked to them last night about it, the fact that I think free agents I guess in the last, I don't know how many years, but free agents in the last few years have fared better than sixth- and seventh-round draft picks. You know, the number of free agents that actually are playing I think, is it 40-percent? I mean, there's a unique opportunity there. I remember one year I believe at Indy, one year two of our captains were free agents - Jeff Saturday and we had one other young guy. But nevertheless, there's so many examples. Arian Foster, did he get drafted? I don't think so. Free agent, made it in the Pro Bowl, so they do understand and believe they have an opportunity. Then also, I reminded them last night of the fact, or this morning, I can't remember they're running together, the guy who intercepted the ball (Patriots CB Malcolm Butler) in the Super Bowl, right? (He was) signed on a tryout, right? Exact same type of thing we just went through with a number of these guys and made it. Perhaps made one of the biggest plays in the history of the Super Bowl."

On why undrafted rookie free agents have just as much if not more success than late-round picks at making a career in the NFL: "You know, I would say one of the things is the fact that you may find that in the sixth and seventh round when guys are being drafted that sometimes they're drafted and there may be a pretty decent number of guys in front of them. Or for whatever reason they're drafted, it may be a log jam. But the free agents can typically pick where they want to go. So, what they do is they pick the spots where they have the best opportunity to make a team. I think that has something to do with it. But the other thing is, I do believe this - Malcolm Gladwell wrote this book, ‘David and Goliath,' and the advantage of disadvantage. I think some of these guys come in and they really do sense that they are at a disadvantage and they give you everything they have. They feel like they're under the gun sometimes and thus you bring the best out in them. I think some of them end up doing that as well coming forth. I think it ties into that same theory.

I don't know how many years ago this was, it was one of those years in the past, maybe 10-15 years ago. I was doing a speech and I came across some information that looked at the percentage of immigrants that come into our country that become millionaires as opposed to the percentage of people that are in this country because they come to this country and they say, ‘Man, you know what? I've got a great opportunity. I can do things in this country I couldn't do in my country.' But yet, we have some people that live in our country that look at life in sort of a defeated sort of way in terms of their approach. I think the same thing kind of happens with free agents. They come in, they say, ‘Man, I'm glad to be here. I'm going to do everything I can do to stay here.' Where you may have some other guys that are just here and not really understanding that there's someone else coming to take your position, but I think they do. But it is the other thing too. There's an old Japanese proverb, and I think this is what happens with some of these free agents, that says, ‘Once you win the battle, tighten your helmet.' I think that's what they do more often than not. They keep tightening up that helmet because no matter what they've done or do, it's not quite good enough in their eyes, so they keep fighting and battling, trying to scratch and dig. I think it pays off for some of them."

On using some former undrafted rookie free agents on the roster as examples for the current players: "Absolutely, and we did point that out. We actually put up on the board for them all of our guys that were free agents that have made it, all of the guys on other teams that had significant contribution that were free agents. We went through the gamut, kind of gave them stats and figures just to show them, ‘Hey, you do have an opportunity. You better make the best of it.'"

On what QB Anthony Boone can do this offseason to be involved in the offense heading into preseason: "Every case it different, every guy is different. They don't just fall in the same category because maybe they're holding the same slot, they both have different strengths and they both come from different backgrounds. So, he's just got to do what he does and we'll see what happens, how it shakes out."`