ML: “To conclude things today, it’s been a very good and productive five workouts. I think I got a really great feel for the guys we’ve drafted, the extra guys we signed as college free agents and a couple of the tryout guys who came in here and did a nice job for us this weekend. It’s been a good kickoff to things. We’ll be able to merge most of the draft picks in with the other players this next week, and by the start of OTAs, we’ll have all the picks involved. So that will be a good thing as well. None of the draft picks will miss any time, so that’s a good thing right from the start.”
How much of an advantage does it give you that these draft picks and college free agents can get in here before OTAs begin?
ML: “It’s a good thing for them. It’s always kind of been part of the process, it’s just that when they’d come back before, we already were beginning the process. It’s given them a little bit of a slower period of learning where they’ll have a chance to spend some more time to ask questions about some things that maybe they got an introduction to this weekend. They’ll go back through this video with the coaches and spend some time. That will ease them into it and make that transition in with the veteran players a little simpler, a little easier.”
ML: “Yeah. Armon, he and Vidal (Hazelton), who have been around here – Armon for most of last season, Vidal for about half the season. (Millde linebacker)
You always talk about players ‘looking the part.’ It seems there are some players that fit that bill, physically and with speed, particularly with groups like that wide receivers:
ML: “Yeah. The defensive linemen. The offensive linemen. The heights and statures of the receivers. The heights and statures of the guys in the secondary. I think all the guys have NFL bodies, and they’re going to be able to play NFL football. They’re going to have the size and the girth to play.”
You didn’t seem to have anyone who looked like they didn’t belong out there. Everyone out there seemed like they belonged:
ML: “It was. It’s a good group of guys. The group of college free agents that are currently signed are good, so we’ll pluck a couple more out of this group sometime later this week.”
Did Tony Pike do anything to impress you this weekend?
ML: “I thought Tony really progressed well through the weekend. I think he’s still coming back from the surgery; I think he’s still gaining strength and confidence in the arm. That’s something that I think is going to be a process. But with Tony, his ability to handle football, his ability to know where the ball should go – that stands out. He’s got a great disposition about him. From my experience around him this weekend, and even going back to when he was coming out of UC, I think he’ll be able to handle the pressures of playing quarterback in the NFL. It’s not going to get too big for him. I think he showed that this weekend handling things.”
Considering the surgery he had on his elbow only nine weeks ago, it’s pretty remarkable for him to be out here throwing all weekend, right?
ML: “Yeah. From the physicians’ standpoint, obviously they felt like he was ready to go. He wanted the opportunity to come out here. This is really the best way to do it, rather than being in a static environment. The ability to come in here and get in and out of huddles and plays, that’s the best way to evaluate. So that was good for him. He wanted to be a part of this, and I’m glad it’s worked out this way.”
What is your impression of the young wide receivers, from the draft picks to the college free agents like
ML: “I thought (Mohamed) Sanu was everything we expected him to be. He’s going to be able to come in here and play right away as a rookie. He’s going to push to start and for playing time. Marvin (Jones), to me, really had a great five practices, a great camp. His ability to be a returner as well will stand out. His height, his ability to go catch and compete for the ball. He really tracks the ball well in the air. You see his speed compared with that size – that’s big. Taveon and Kashif both did a really good job. We were fortunate enough to sign them as college free agents because of their speed. With Justin (Hilton), he’s going to be able to compete and do good things in training camp. The three college free agents, the two draft picks – all five guys – as well as the two veteran, older-young players (Binns and Hazelton) did a nice job. All seven receivers did a nice job. I’m really pleased with the group. (Tight end)
Do you feel better about the receivers than you did on Thursday?
ML: “I felt good about them on Thursday. I think you feel better about them now than you did on Thursday (laughs). You should write that (laughs).”
So adding a veteran receiver is still an option?
ML: “Well, anything is an option.”
What were your impressions through the weekend of
ML: “I thought Dre did a good job. There’s no other experience like experience. So virtually to take every snap this entire weekend was great. If the period was 10 plays, he took only two off, so he got eight out of every 10 plays. There’s no more value than that experience and the video that he is going to be able to sit down and watch with Mike (Zimmer), Mark (Carrier) and Hue (Jackson) to really take a look at himself and see the progress he’s made and the little things we’re trying to get him to change in his play and stature and stance. He will be able to take it on to the OTAs and build from that.”
Watching Orson Charles work on the field and talking to him off the field, he seems to have the polish of a veteran:
ML: “The one thing that stands out with all these guys is they are very businesslike. There’s no nonsense to them – from
What is your impression of Charles after these first five practices?
ML: “He’s going to be a very capable receiver. You’re not physically blocking people at this point, but with the strength he has in the lower body, core strength and upper body, he’s going to keep getting better. He’s kind of a puppy, but with great abilities already that he will keep getting better with.”
How much more of an advantage is it for you that you now don’t have to deal with rookies holding out into training camp?
ML: “I think that’s one of the things coming out of the new CBA is the ability and push, even from the other side of the picks, to get signed. If you are going to give someone a substantial signing bonus, that money is better in their pocket now than later.”
Can you remember a time when this many draft picks signed this early in the offseason? Over your time here, there have been several long holdouts that have hurt you:
ML: “The one we can point to is David Pollack, who we felt would come in and help right away. And obviously Andre (Smith). So '05, '09. Yeah, Chris Perry ('04), but at that point he was going to come in with another back (Rudi Johnson). There's no doubt having these guys right from the start is an advantage for us and them. It takes some of the anxiety out of the summer for them. They can be here and get comfortable with their teammates. There's not going to be that impasse that occurs between them and getting signed.”
Which tryout guys made an impression on you?
ML: “The guys that I thought did a good job were the Kansas State linebacker, (Emmanuel) Lamur and the runner from Morgan State (Jourdan Brooks). There were a couple of other guys that did well. We can't fit everybody in. We might fit a couple in now and look for a couple of other spots later and see what happens.”
Can you see taking a fourth QB into training camp?
ML: “We've always taken four quarterbacks to camp every season. I envision us to at least have four.”
You’ve now had five practices to take a look at
ML: “Very pleased.”
Was there anything that stood out?
ML: “He's done well. It will be great once we get deeper into special teams. In order for linebackers to stay around, they have to be a big-time contributor on special teams. I thought in the (three days) of special teams work we've had out here, he's done a nice job of picking up the assignments. He's in great football position. Those are things that, if you watch the tape of him you see him do it two or three times a game. Now you're seeing him do it three plays in a row. That's the key. He'll be fine.”
Is Lamur more of an outside linebacker?
ML: “Linebackers are pretty much linebackers, for the most part. If you don't run out there with the first group, you better play everything that you can play.”
One position battle that is shaping up to be interesting has to be linebacker, right? You have a lot of youth, and some guys coming back from injury:
ML: “We have some young guys and we have guys competing to play. It will be good. It's going to be a good camp with guys all the way around. Just like at cornerback, just like at safety.