Below is a transcript of Jim Caldwell's Monday session with the media. (Quotes provided by the Lions.)
Opening Statement: "Obviously this week is a week in which we try and emulate as much as we possibly can for the most part what it would be like during a game week. Today is like a Wednesday practice for us. So we try to go through our installs, give them a feel of what meetings are like, how our walk-through sessions go, things of that nature, just to try to give them a real good sense of things. It’s probably more important to the younger guys. The older guys have been through it a number of times, but the younger guys, this is their first opportunity to kind of see how it works from that standpoint. So they’re kind of able to take a look at things, make a determination on how they like to study during the course of the week, taking care of their bodies prior to practice, but then also a post-recovery plan as well. That’s where a lot of the older guys really come into play in terms of giving them some valuable information that I think they need. There’s a reason why Rashean Mathis has been in the league for a number of years. He has a good plan, he does things well. I was telling the guys the other day that we have so many veterans that have been here six-plus years that it may seem like it’s typical, but it’s atypical. The length of time in this league is really short for the most part due to injuries and the competitiveness of it and the whole bit. So it’s the top of the food chain, so you typically find that guys who have been around here that long you have to use that knowledge. So we try to impress that upon our young guys. I’ll open it up for any questions you might have."
On managing injuries in the preseason in reference to Packers WR Jordy Nelson: "You know, when you’re in coaching long enough you’re going to have them. This is a game that’s a contact game, a contact sport, and sometimes they happen without contact. You can’t treat them like pheasants on the glass, either. You’ve got to be able to get out there, go through your paces, and try to be as prudent as you possibly can. That’s tough. Every year, there’s going to be some significant injuries along the way."
On his opinion of having four preseason games: "You know, I have a habit, and I think you guys have been around me long enough, I find very little reason to worry about things I can’t control. There’s no sense in even talking about them. We have to do our job. We know what the parameters are, what the set of circumstances are, we’ve got to deal with those. There’s a time and a place, league meetings, things of that nature, where these things are discussed. Right now, it’s trying to get your team ready. So I spend very little time going over those possibilities, theories, etc."
On how the balance of power in the NFC North is affected by the injuries in Minnesota, Chicago and Green Bay: "You know, it hasn’t started yet. We haven’t played a game yet. But much like our team when we lost (Stephen Tulloch), much like a number of other teams that I’ve been a part of, when we’ve lost somebody that’s a really significant contributor, there’s always been a next man to step up in that place and get a job done. So anybody that’s got on an NFL uniform can play. So I would anticipate that they’ll have guys in place to step up and make a significant contribution."
On the adjustments made in RB Joique Bell’s rehab this offseason: "Yeah, I haven’t done anything to be honest with you. That’s up to our medical staff. They have a return to play protocol that they use. They follow it, they adjust it according to the information they get back from the individual, and when we get them and are able to work with them, there’s still a part of that that’s a ramping up sort of activity that goes on. Going from individual drills to maybe a seven-on-seven or team drills, so he’s still in that process. We don’t do anything particularly special in how they’re handled. That’s up to the people that have spent a whole lot of time studying their craft."
On if there is concern with Bell not being physically ready to play when the season begins: "I can just tell you that there are no guarantees. You just don’t know in this league. He’s young, he’s strong, he’s one of those guys that has always been a workhorse, and we fully expect him to come back and be what he was last year for us, and that was a bell cow. He was a tough, hard-nosed guy that set a great tone for us, so we’re anticipating that exact same sort of effort. He feels he’s close, so I feel good about that."
On why the nickel position is important: "Well, primarily because of the fact that when you look at the number, the shear numbers, the number of times you’re in base personal, meaning three linebackers and four down linemen, is really a lot different than what one might think. I think about 60 percent of the game now, you’re in nickel defenses for the most part, so that guy is on the field a lot for you and makes a significant, you know, difference, so we have some guys that we have a bit of youth and experience at that spot, but guys that certainly trigger quickly to support the run. They do a good job, I think, just in terms of getting themselves in position to defend the pass as well and they’re growing in that. Now, we don’t have any completely finished products because I think it’s all a work in progress, but, you know right now, we do have a, you know, a pretty good nucleus of guys working that spot."
On DT Tyrunn Walker: "You know, he, before he arrived, we kind of had an opportunity to kind of look at him and see what he’s able to do, his body of work on film. You notice, number one, he’s extremely versatile, he was lined up at several different spots, that he understood the defensive scheme in which he was in and then he was also productive, ran to the ball with some energy and enthusiasm, but also took care of his gap responsibilities and made plays. So we are seeing the exact same thing from him. Early on in the spring, you couldn’t tell, you know, a little bit he was kind of getting into the flow of things, but since we had the pads on and we started working, you know, he’s certainly showed us what he’s capable of doing."
On Walker’s bull rush: "Yeah, but I think, you know, he’s got a repertoire. You know, Kris (Kocurek) and those guys do a great job with getting those guys ready and, you know, in this league, if you do the same thing all the time, it won’t be very long before those big offensive lineman lock you down, you know, big strong guys get their hands on you, it’s over. You better have a counter move and I think he does have one. That one, you notice because of the fact that, you know, he jacked up 75 (Redskins G Brandon Scherff) in the game and knocked him all the way back into the quarterback. That jumps out at you, but that’s not the only thing that he does. You know what I mean? Not only that, you know, I think, you know, he’s one of those guys who will catch you by surprise once in awhile, so you know, I think Jacksonville is taking a look at that film. I don’t think he’ll catch any of those guys by surprise. If he’s back there in the backfield, it’s because he worked for it."
On game planning more this week than the previous preseason games: "We gameplan more, but it’s not exactly like a game week preparation because we still are worried more about us, you know, and we will try to put ourselves in a position where we can evaluate during this game as well. So, evaluation is the most important thing for us, but yet, we do give guys a little bit more playing time. We do look at the opposition a little bit more thouroughly, but to tell you this is exactly like game week, I bet that wouldn’t be true, but it’s close."
On Cris Carter’s comments at the NFL Rookie Symposium: "You know, I can tell you this, the league does a tremendous job with that setting in those symposiums. They do a tremendous job overall and this is just kind of one small blip and everybody will look at this as if it was kind of the major theme and I’m going to tell you also, I know Cris Carter and Cris Carter is a really strong, standup guy that has a lot of passion, emotion for this game. So I know he came out and apologized and those kinds of things, but as I said, he’s a man’s man and he’s always been a guy that loves this sport, loves this game, loves this league. Hall of Famer, but yeah, so overall, I mean, you look at what they do, the goal and aim of that particular setting, those guys come back with knowledge and with information that I think certainly does indeed help them, just in terms of their transition from college into the National Football League."
On G Rob Sims’ retirement: "I thoroughly enjoyed him. I think everybody on our staff did as well. For us to walk into a situation where we had a veteran like Rob who was a guy that wasn’t so much set in his ways that he wouldn’t listen to new ideas and new things. Often times, you may find that, he was that kind of person who’s open. Not only that, he was a leader. He did a great job of setting examples for the younger guys within that room and he was one of the guys that also had a significant – he and Natalie (Sims) had a significant impact on the community as well. I understand he’s probably going to still be around, which is a good thing I think for the Detroit Metropolitan area, but tremendous, tremendous person. Outstanding player that contributed to every team that he was a part of."
On WR Lance Moore and his extra time off for the birth of his child: "Well, number one, let’s be honest, there are not many times, and those of you that are fathers and uncles and cousins and those kinds of things, those moments don’t come back to you. It’s important for them to take part in their lives. I’m big on fatherhood in particular, that guys being part of their children’s lives. How can we say that a football game is more important than the birth of a child? Which it’s not. So we gave him time to certainly be there with his fiancé and his new baby, his daughter, and we do that with typically every guy. We give them also, we have a no cell phone rule for everyone except for the individuals that’s an expectant father. They can keep their phones with them when it gets down the stretch, so if they call in the meeting or whenever the guys can get up and go and certainly take part in that. It’s not just lip service for us, the guys talk about it, but we believe in it and we try and make certain that everything in terms of our values is in line with that."
On if any expectant fathers got a call in a meeting last year: "We may have had someone prior to the meeting, but not within the meeting setting within itself."