ML: “I think the first order is to address is Terrell (Owens). He should arrive at some point later today, and we’ll go through some of the things we have to do administratively with him, and hopefully we’ll get him on the field this evening. So we’ll see if he gets here in time to take care of the things we need him to take care of.
“We had some guys we put on the active PUP.
“Andre (Smith) stays on the progression of the doctor, and he wasn’t cleared for contact yet, so we’re able to do this and work with him and get his conditioning the way it should be. I imagine he’ll probably be two or three weeks – we’ll see. But if not, then we have the right to put him on the (reserve) PUP and bring him in during the season. So we’ll see how that goes with the foot and the entire thing.
“Otherwise, I thought we reported in outstanding shape. I thought we had good work today on the field, a good start, a good kickoff to things. From things we installed last evening to executing them on the field, the small things, I thought did a good job today. We’ve got another practice tonight, one tomorrow, and then on into pads on Saturday morning, so I think we’re off to a good start.”
Q: Take us through the final decision and consensus to sign Terrell Owens. What was the process, and how much of a role did Carson (Palmer) play?
ML: “After we signed Antonio (Bryant), the first thing Carson said to me was, ‘Let’s sign T.O., too.’ It ended up playing out that way. We also have contact through Chad (Ochocinco), so both guys play a part in it. And we had positive meetings with Terrell when he was in Cincinnati in March. We’ve had contact with him since then a couple times, and I felt like it was still an opportunity for us to add a quality player, a guy that can help do the things that we want to get done, and really help our offensive football team, both as a threat in the running game, in the passing game, and as a guy who’s got some skins on the wall. He’s an accomplished player, and is looking goal-wise to match up with the same things we are. He’s done everything else, he’s played in one Super Bowl - he wants a chance to achieve that ring, and work for that ring, and hopefully we can all get together on this.
“But just simply, us talking about it, as my favorite wide receiver seems to want to do, that doesn’t get you there. You have to do the work and you have to make the plays, and I think that should be the statement that resonates out of this building, and it will be the next time I have a chance to talk to this football team. It doesn’t matter who we put on this football team -- if we don’t do the work and make the plays, it’s all for naught, and that’s what counts.”
Q: Is this the most competitive roster you’ve put together at most positions?
ML: “I don’t know - I keep answering that question. People say it is, I guess. I think we have some depth in some spots. We have a lot of competition, and that’s a good thing.”
Q: Catching up for T.O. – how tough a thing is that, to learn the system and learn correctly?
ML: “For an experienced player, it doesn’t take as much. He was in a similar system last year in Buffalo. We’re not the same nomenclature of the West Coast offense which he was in obviously for many years in San Francisco and then on into Philadelphia. Dallas was kind of a combination of some things, from what I understand. People come out of the same trees, so there’s often some carryover.”
Q: What does the team need to focus on the most right now, to get ready for the season?
ML: “Getting better.”
Q: The way
ML: “Yeah. He’s back to playing football. He’s been away working with the trainer, and we’re going to have to keep working with him to keep the strength around the knee. He’s going to have to continue practicing and playing lower to keep the stress off his knee and joints.”
Q: He (Bryant) seems like a pretty tough guy, nothing seems to phase him:
ML: “No, he’ll be fine.”
Q: What are your expectations for
ML: “He has had a good offseason. He missed about two weeks of work with us, but was able to finish up. His transition will be to play snap after snap football and prove that he can do that in a competitive environment all the time. Just being that disciplined player play in and play out, executing the techniques and all that we’re asking him to do.”
Q: Cedric (Benson) met with the Commissioner awhile back; what are your expectations from that?
ML: “I really don’t need to talk about that anymore. I think I’ve answered that question a lot. He met with the Commissioner and that’s a good thing for him.”
Q: Where do you think Reggie’s (Kelly) progress is right now?
ML: “We’ve been out there for one practice. We were slow working him back into the football part. The other guys had been about eight weeks ahead of him, but we wanted to give him a couple of weeks to work his way back in, and I think it is working well. We do not want to over stress any of their bodies early on.
Q: Adam Jones had little medical issues at stages during minicamp. He seemed to be going full bore out there today:
ML: “He finished with the mandatory camp, and he was fine those days. He finished the offseason fine.”
Q: Is he looking pretty good to you at this point?
ML: “He’s had one practice (laughs). We’ve had one practice, OK?”
Q: How much did Antonio Bryant’s situation factor in the Owens signing?
ML: “It didn’t factor in at all. As I said, we had an opportunity to sign another guy and we looked right away at that. As time went on, it was still available, so we did that.”
Q: Everyone seems to be asking, “How do the players co-exist? Chad, T.O., Antonio ... ” Your thoughts about that?
ML: “Well, I think they have all kind of spoken out of the same hymnal, and that they all want an opportunity to see how good they can be. That’s a good thing. Obviously, two of the three have accomplished a lot of things in terms of Pro Bowls and yardage, and Antonio’s had some big yardage years, so they’ve made that part. The opportunity to play with a quarterback that can deliver the football and an offensive football team that’s structured the way it is with a good runner is a very good opportunity for them. Guys don’t sign up for that unless they know the ramifications.”
Q: How much might winning early and often take care of any egos?
ML: “That’s probably the most relevant question anybody has asked today. Winning always takes care of all those things. It makes all the petty things go away. It makes the food look better, taste better. Winning is huge, and being successful is huge. If we put good football players after football players, we have an opportunity to do that.”
Q: Adversity will probably pop up somewhere during the season. How are you prepared to handle that, and what is your message to the team when it does arrive?
ML: “We talked about that at length last night. When we began last season, there were certain things that were important. The change this season is the expectations are higher. Also, there was a maturity of growth that occurred and a desire to be better. Last year at this point, when they sat in this room, they were a little uncertain of that. There were people questioning those things. Now, they know they can count on each other through adversity. They know one side can pull the other side up and that one player can pull another player up. They will work through adversity and handle that. They will put their arms around guys, because there are tragic things that will happen, as they do all the time. Things happen on the field all the time, and we just have to stay together, which we will.”
Q: How are you going to handle the raised expectations? How do you get them to ignore the noise and not focus so much on what they could be?
ML: “That’s the fun challenge. That’s why I’m standing here in front of you, because I get the chance to do that.”