Marvin Lewis News Conference
Paul Brown Stadium
June 10, 2014
* *"We're here now at the mandatory camp, which is not a big change for us. We've had everybody here throughout our offseason. It's kind of a continuation of where we've been. The work rules are slightly different at this point, and I think that's the only significant change. We've had a good offseason thus far with our guys, and our revisions, and our changes moving forward with the development of some young guys and the immersion of all of our draft picks into our program. It's been good and productive. We have basically five more practices left this offseason that will lay good groundwork as we enter into training camp in July. Obviously from the players' standpoint, they're obligated to be here. We're in a good position."
Is installation about the same pace as usual, or is it accelerated some?
* *"The coaches this year have just continued on with the practices and the progression. It's not any change from what we've done since we've had everybody here throughout. We're not going back and starting again, we're just continuing on and defining the things and concepts and the things that we do daily."
I know last year you were really happy with the joint practices in Atlanta. Is that something that you're looking to do again this preseason?
* *"Possibly, but we're not exactly sure right now where that stands."
Is that one of those things that's a matter of scheduling with the other teams that you play?
* *"It is, it's a matter of scheduling with the other team, also the ability to work together with the other coaching staff, and know that you have a good relationship there so that you know both sides could get productive work out of it. And there's the timing of it, the timing of the week of your preseason game. If it's a short week, it's obviously more difficult to do. It worked out great with Atlanta because it was in the first 15 days, so we were able to schedule that. We'll see what happens."
A couple years ago you guys took a chance on Brandon Joiner, and he's really been as good of a citizen as you could ask for...
* *"We didn't feel like we took a chance. All of the things in his life unfortunately came once he was signed as a college free agent, after everybody at Arkansas State, and everywhere else had felt that everything in his past was done with. Unfortunately, somebody decided that now he was an NFL player and they would bring light to his situation. That was unfortunate for that young man."
What was it that drew you to him? He said you guys were the only team that ended up calling him ...
* *"I wasn't part of that process. We signed him as an undrafted college free agent, so one of the area scouts thought something about him at that point, and recommended him that way, and so they proceeded and signed him. I know that Mike Brown has felt that the kid got a bad deal. He wanted to see it through and bring him back to see what he can do."
Locker room culture is a big theme this offseason. I'm pretty confident and I think you are too, that you don't have any major issues with the guys you have in your room...
"No we have not had any. It's not a subject I need to talk about."
What is the coach's role in the locker room?
* *"I'm not sure what the talk is around the league but I think my role is to be in the locker room when I need to be. I can't do my job sitting at my desk. I have a job because of those guys next door (players), and they're a big part of what I have. Everything I do, it starts and stops with them. The coordinators are doing their thing and the position coaches are doing their thing collectively as an offensive and defensive staff. I've got to make sure our guys are always moving in the right direction."
A lot of guys have commented that Mohamed Sanu looks faster. Do you notice any difference physically?
"Well, I think he's stayed lean this entire offseason, which is a good thing. And each and every year – it's been funny -- he and Marvin Jones have kind of been in a horse race. One edges out one for a second, and then one edges ahead. It's been a back-and-forth throughout their careers, and as rookies, we never really got them out there suited up the same week. Last year we were able to. But I think it's been a good competition throughout. They both want to play. They both want to be the starting wide receiver opposite AJ, and that's what you want to have. They're both good, talented guys. They're both big-catch guys and big physical players."
The tempo that Hue (offensive coordinator Hue Jackson) is doing, from getting out of the huddle to everything just being precise and in rhythm and quick – is it noticeable to you?
"Our offensive coaches being demanding on getting in our tempo to the line of scrimmage, our tempo at the line, and Hue is putting it on the quarterback to make sure he gets them in sync that way. And Hue's going about the play calling procedure even in practice a little differently. I think that makes it more game-like for Andy all the time, which is good habits, good practice, for all the other 10 guys in that huddle all the time. Hue's putting it on the position coaches to get the right guys in the huddle and so forth as we rotate through practice and as we rotate through the scripting that we want when we change personnel. We want to change it crisply and sharply. They're spending time on it. And hopefully it pays dividends for us down the road."
Do you feel that the conditioning of your football team at this stage of the season is about as good as you've seen?
"I think we've always been a well-conditioned team. We'll continue to be that way. Our offseason is set up that way. We don't do as much football with our guys. I'd rather have them spend time with the strength staff and so they get their running in. Our football is minimal until we get really to the phase three OTA stuff, because I think the priority still should be in them getting their body back and back to a certain level and continue the improvement of the physical part of their body during the offseason.
"We've stayed pretty true to that. We probably do more football now than we did then, before the changes in the work rules. So I still think our guys feel good about, when they talk with others, that they really do get a chance to get a foundation of their conditioning, their stretching and the things that we do, explosive exercises and so forth, with the strength staff before we get back into doing much football, on the field at least."
How is Leon Hall recovering?
"Leon has had again an amazing recovery thus far and hopefully continues with that pace. But I would tell you that if we were lining up to start training camp tomorrow, Leon would be probably lining up to start training camp as he did two years ago. So he's done incredibly again."
Is it the same situation with Geno or is it harder to tell?
"Geno's injury was a little bit beyond that time-wise, and it's a different injury. So it's a little harder to tell that right now."
When you're dealing with different body types, different demands on the body by position … how do you factor that in with decision-making of when a player is ready?
"Well, a 'when' is when a player proves, first-off to the training staff that he's ready to come to the next level, which is where the strength coaches and their conditioning part come in, and then it's to the position coaches. We don't ever skip a step in the process. That's when – it's not when the player says he's ready. It's when they show me they're ready through these steps. Until they can pass those tests along the way, they're not ready. We have to kind of stick to that, and it's worked well. As you know, during the season we follow the same protocol. I don't want to hear that you can play. It's when you go out there and show me through the steps or the progression that you can play. And every injury is not the same injury, even though they call it the same name. There are different equations of that, percentages and so forth, and the changes to the body that have already occurred and so forth. So a little bit more reason no one is 'cookie-cutter' as far as a knee injury goes."
The players seem to have good confidence in Nick Cosgray, who's working directly with a lot of them on rehab …
"Our guys ought to be confident in Nick and what he does day in and day out, because he has only one focus, and that is to get them back to play football the way you want them to play football. They should be very confident in him, because I've yet to see anybody walk out of this building and do anything anywhere else and come back at the same level as a guy that spends his rehab here. (Tight end) Alex Smith is proof of that today. As we go on through things when guys spend time here with our guy, we see he's very good at what he does. Now he'll be looking for a raise (laughs). But he's excellent at what he does and cares about them. He does everything to get them back to where they were and beyond. That's his whole focus from five in the morning all the way through the day. He does a great job at what he does.
"It's not ever easy, but the players work hard under Nick, and they come back in here the next day. Unfortunately, rehab hurts. There's part of it. There's going to be some soreness. There's going to be some tough days of rehab. There's no way to get back physically to where you were without going through that process. There's great people, I'm sure, at outside places who do this. But they don't have the same investment in the player getting back and proving that he can play again that Nick does."
Do you have any concern that Geno Atkins won't be back for Week 1?
"I don't have any concern, no. Geno's intent is, "whenever he can get back." But, again, you have to go through the process. Geno is a man of many words. That's all he talks about."
Are there new standards for judging a guy being "100 percent?"
"It's interesting. I think we have better ways to test that all the time. I think that's good. We are going to work hard to take advantage of that and use that. I think there's a pretty good gauge on things. When you are in that realm as Nick is and the other trainers are, they are used to that. They know through the measurements and the things they take all the time where a guy at least was physically. Hopefully we can match those numbers together and gauge that, and the next stage is with the strength coaches and being able to handle that kind of workload, and then into the position drills and so forth. I think if we stay to that process, we get a good opportunity to see that and then there's going to be the reaction a body has after that. Hopefully that's a minimal reaction as you ratchet it up through each stage."