Below is a transcript of Jim Caldwell's Saturday session with the media. (Quotes provided by the Lions.)
On the specific areas to address after watching film from last night: "Yes, there are quite a few. It’s very rarely, if ever, that you have a game where everything is done exactly the way you want it. That be it either in the run or in the pass, so we try to cover every mistake that was made, see if we can get it corrected and move on from there. Some glaring areas obviously we had just in terms of pass coverage so we certainly do focus in on those."
On the lapses in pass coverage, specifically against tight ends: "There are a number of different things. Just like I mentioned yesterday, a lot of the coverages dictate different requirements in terms of how we react. Some of them were guys just staying with their guy going across the field, some were zone drops where maybe there was supposed to be a guy on the back side but he was too deep. There’s a myriad of problems, and we’ve got to get those solved."
On RB Zach Zenner showing his ability to be a physical runner: "You know, I think he’s done a number of things well, and he improves every single week. There was never any question in our eyes whether or not he was a physical runner, just whether or not he could function. That’s why we got him in pretty early, giving him a chance to work against the number one group and see what happens. He was able to perform pretty well."
On RB Ameer Abdullah’s lack of carries being a sign of comfort with the coaching staff: "Probably more a sign that there’s only one ball and it gets spread around a little bit. You can come out of a game not exactly knowing what your intentions were in terms of being able to evaluate someone properly, so sometimes it takes a little bit more of a concerted effort to make certain. We certainly didn’t want to come out and have questions about the ball carriers."
On Zenner showing his ability to perform in the NFL: "You know, I think he’s performed well. Obviously, that’s the reason why we put him in where he put him in this particular ball game to kind of get a real good sense of him, and get a good feel for what he can do and what he’s capable of. But it still doesn’t tell the story. That’s the thing about this league, you know. It’s a humbling league and it takes more than one outing, it takes more than a couple games to see, and then sometimes you don’t know after that. You make an educated guess for the most part. But what he’s done is he’s progressively gotten better, done everything we’ve asked him to do. He’s done the job in terms of his special teams and he’s been productive."
On WR Ryan Broyles lack of opportunities this preseason: "He was injured there a little bit, obviously. But we’re looking at the entire body of work, and the guy has an opportunity to get out there and show what he can do. Sometimes it just doesn’t work that way. Nevertheless, he’s been here, too. He’s not necessarily one that we have no idea what he’s been capable of and those kinds of things."
On what Broyles has shown this preseason: "He’s a good player. The thing about it with him or whomever else out of that receiving core is that I think everyone knows it’s a very, very tight race and there’s going to be some good football players that we have to let go. We can’t keep them all. That’s just not the way it works, so we have to make a decision on what best suits us at this particular time, what we think puts us in the best position to win, make our decision and move on. Sad day, to be honest with you. This is one of those things where this is difficult. These are guys that have hopes and dreams, families involved, so it’s not just one of those things. I know you guys write about it to write, but to us it’s a lot different. It’s tough on these guys, and a difficult situation. It’s not one of these things that we’re flippant about it. We look at it closely, try to make the best decision we can and move forward."
On if any receivers stood out to him last night: "Well the ones that stand out are the ones that we’ll keep. That’s how we look at it. It’s a competition, you know. It’s not Disneyland. It’s tough. It’s difficult. I compete for my job every day and these guys are no different."
On the push from the offensive line on Zenner’s touchdown run: "Yeah, it was a very, very good effort by the guys in front of him. They did a nice job creating a seam. It was certainly a good effort from him just in terms of getting his pads down and moving the pile. It was a very good effort by (Michael) Burton, who did a nice job in terms of his block. If you want to see a very good block that didn’t end until the whistle blew, he certainly gave it his all. So there where certainly a lot of good performances on that particular play."
On how far away the team is from being ready for Week 1: "A long way. We’re a ways away, but we’ve got to get guys healthy and those kinds of things. Now, do I think our progress has been steady? Yes, it has. Do we feel comfortable? No. Comfortable and coaching that’s not synonymous in our business. You’re always a little nervous, you really are until you get a chance to get out there and get rolling and see how you really match up."
On if DE Phillip Hunt coming to the Lions off a season ending injury was due to him being a good fit: "Yeah, I think watching him play yesterday and since he’s been here obviously, he’s a guy that’s been on a mission. Very, very close to having numerous big plays for us last night, but he’s right there on the edge and he’s working at it and he’s got ability. He’s one of those guys that kind of plays a dual role. A bit of obviously, a very fine pass rusher, but then also he’s pretty good in terms of special teams. So, that’s the area that he’s trying to fight and battle and find a spot, but it’s a tough race there to."
On his evaluation of OG Laken Tomlinson: "He did all right. Yeah, he did all right. He did some good things and had some things that he didn’t do so well, but he did all right."
On the value of keeping three quarterbacks: "Every year is different. That’s the thing you just can’t do. We went for 10 years in Indy and only kept two and so that was kind of the way in which we felt we could best utilize our roster at that time. This is the same thing here. Just depends on how many we keep. Depends on what our roster looks like. There are some situations where we’ve got some guys that are some pretty talented spots. Our wide outs, we have a heavy group of guys that are very, very good. Our running backs, it’s a heavy group of guys that can play the game, there are a number of different spots. So, you have to look at that and weigh it out and balance it and kind of see how you want to shape it. Those our are ongoing discussions, which has been happening since we started in the spring and so we’ll make our final determinations here in the next couple of weeks."
On how injuries play a role in deciding to keep a third quarterbacks: "It just depends on the roster in terms of whether or not – you have to look at your needs. Whether it’s more advantageous for you to keep a guy at another spot as oppose to that particular position, so that’s what you look at."
On if he’s seen a pattern on how teams decide to keep two or more quarterbacks on the roster: "Everybody’s different and it adjusts according to exactly your team at that particular point in time and how you think it works and fits. You have to be able to adjust because it’s got to be your best roster and that can change."
On if the best 53 players necessarily make the final 53 roster spots: "It varies. I would have to say, because sometimes you’re very, very heavy at a certain spot. You can’t keep everybody that you have that’s performing well. You have to make certain it’s the best 53 for us, let’s put it that way and that’s what counts."
On if he expects the players on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform and Active/Non-Football Injury lists to play Week 1: "There’s always that possibility that they could start. There’s also a possibility that they could both be activated here shortly. It just kind of depends on their progression, but they’re moving along really well, I can tell you that.
On RB Joique Bell and his progression: "Moving along really well, I can just tell you that."
On when Bell returns how much work will he have to do to get up to game speed: "One of the things about return to play protocol is that they do a good job of giving him the kind of load that he’s going to experience when you see him come off that list, okay. He’s ready to go in terms of the amount of work. It’s not one of those things where we’re trying to make a determination on whether or not he can handle the data we collect, in terms of what our running backs go through on a daily bases. We have a good sense of that and it’s just a matter of him coming along the rest of the way. But, being honest with you, both guys look really good and both guys are in good shape right now."
On if most of the lineup is good as of right now: "As of right now."
On if they came out of last night healthy and if there were any significant injuries: "Significant injuries, no. But we had some bumps and bruises. What always happens is – that’s one of the reasons why we kind of walk them around a little bit on a day like today is because some things show up a little bit later. Some guy goes out and all of a sudden says, ‘Yeah, you know what? I’ve got a little problem here, I didn’t notice this.’ It’s a short night, in terms of we didn’t get back till early in the wee hours of the morning, so we had a couple guys come in with some issues, but we haven’t found anything significant."