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Lewis News Conference Transcript 8/23

Initial comments…

*            *"As we progress through the preseason and get closer to the regular season, it's a good week to have a little bit of length and have an opportunity to go back again and coach and get prepared for Sept. 10, which is important. So, we'll do that this week and obviously go over to Washington to play the game on Sunday."

Is there an added value to this game, since you are able to treat it as a regular week?

*            *"Not really. I think it's for the players, the young players, that may be here. And for a couple of the new guys that weren't with us on the football team last year, the Kevin Minters and so forth. It gives them an opportunity to get a little bit of a feel for what the week will be like."

Are the Washington Redskins a good opponent to get ready for?

*            *"Well, we aren't really getting ready for the Washington Redskins. We're getting ready to play the Ravens and the Texans. But it is a team that we have some familiarity with, playing them midseason last year. That makes it an easier thing, rather than playing someone completely new."

There has been very little testing of your cornerbacks in the first two preseason games. Do you expect that to be different in this contest?

*            *"Washington has thrown the ball in their first two preseason games more than they've run it. They have some new guys, so that'll make a little bit of a difference in terms of what they're trying to get up and running. I don't know if (Washington TE) Jordan Reed came off of the (Physically Unable to Perform) list this week, so whether he plays in the game or not, we know he's a fine player. Their tight ends are very skilled, they have good receiving backs and their perimeter guys are good players, like we saw last year in the regular season."

For some of your veteran players that haven't played yet this preseason, how important is it for them to get some work, versus being completely cleared and being extra cautious?

*            *"It's more of the doctor's call than it is my call. It's not an emotional thing one way or the other. The doctors are going to tell me what they feel is best, and we will move with that accordingly."

What have the doctors told you about John Ross?

*            *"John Ross has done well. They don't tell me much (laughs). Last week they told me he was good to go (for practice), so we went with that."

How tough is the juggling act between getting your starters some preseason reps and using those reps to evaluate young talent?

*            *"It's not a juggling act. It's the main focus, or at least part of that focus. That's one of the things that matters most, is trying to give guys an opportunity to show whether they belong and the opportunity to stay here. That's really the focus of that. In order for me to further evaluate, I have to push them up the pole a little bit."

When you are trying to get to your 46-man active roster, how much of a factor does special teams play in those decisions?

"It's very important what a guy can add to the team on Sundays. If he has an opportunity to be on the 46 because he has value on special teams, that's very important."

Is that special for young guys who you haven't really seen on special teams?

*            *"Most of them didn't have much of a chance to play special teams in college, or at least not since early in their careers. What they do here and how they can handle what's thrown at them is very important. We try and get them in those situations as much as we can."

Is it important to you that you see veterans like Giovani Bernard and George Iloka play in the preseason?

*            *"Again, it doesn't matter what it feels like to me. I can't weigh in one way or the other. It would be nice for all 90, back when we had 90 guys, to play all the time. But obviously that isn't going to happen. It's important for guys to have an opportunity to play, but if they don't, they don't. After three or four plays, it isn't going to matter anyway."

Three or four plays Sunday or three or four plays Sept. 10?

*            *"Sept. 10."

Jeremy Hill said the team came out looking lethargic against Kansas City. How important is it for you guys to come out and look sharp against Washington?

*            *"They've done a good job of things. We haven't converted some third downs. We had a dropped ball, but maybe the ball wasn't where it was supposed to be location-wise. But believe me, other than one three-and-out series, we've been able to move the ball with those guys (first-team offense), which is important. The lethargic part is just how we get to the ball, what we're doing, if we're shifting or motioning it, and all of those kind of things. That, we control as coaches. We have to continue to do that. There are certain things that we don't want to show or do, because it really doesn't matter what we do. If we score 50 or zero, it won't matter come two weeks from now."

Are you looking for an improvement from the offense in the red zone?

*            *"You want to see touchdowns as much as you can, but I am evaluating field goal kickers too. So, I'm not disappointed with where we are."

Have the young players been giving you what you were looking for so far?

*            *"I've been pleased with — however you slice it — the 12-14 guys that are new. Plus, a couple guys from a year ago that are expanding, so that's good. And guys who got an opportunity to play more last year, whether it was their second year or first year, now have come into this season more mature and more prepared to seize the moment. You see that in the way they carry themselves, and particularly when the lights have been on."

What did you like about Trey Hopkins when you guys picked him up as a college free agent a few years ago?

*            *"He's someone that I didn't really know too much about. But, since he's been here with us, he's demonstrated that he's smart, physical, and has the length of an offensive lineman that can end up being successful in this league. He worked very hard coming back from his ankle injury that he got as a rookie, and through his rehab he really fought his way back for the opportunity to be here last season. We're pleased with him that way. Sometimes there are some down moments with that, but I don't know if he ever had one. He worked very hard each and every day and fought his way back for an opportunity to get back out onto the field."

When a process takes that long, with Hopkins now entering his fourth year, what makes it so that a player can get to this point? Is it talent or attitude?

*            *"I think it has to be a combination of both. It has to be attitude, it has to be physical traits. It has to be mental aptitude. All of those things play a part in that. Obviously there have been some guys come and go, and Trey is still standing"

With Hopkins and a guy like KeiVarae Russell, the staff here seems to show patience with developmental guys, where others teams might not. Is that a tough thing sometimes?

*            *"It depends on the situations and numbers. My job is to develop football players. If we can hang on to a guy long enough, and he shows enough to me early on that he's worth hanging on to in a lot of ways, those are good things. Then we can keep coaching him and bring the rest out of him."

Is the kicker battle deadlocked right now?

*            *"I can't tell you (laughs). "

Do you want that to be an easy decision, or do you want it to be tough?

*            *"I just know we have to make a decision. It doesn't matter what kind of decision it is, I just know it is likely that we won't keep two. I'll give you that hint (laughs)."

Do you want to have one guy do all the kicking in the preseason finale?

*            *"I haven't even thought about that. We don't have to have that option this year."

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