Paul Brown Stadium
July 25, 2014
* *"Leading into the second day, I was very pleased with our first day of football on the field yesterday. From our arrival on Wednesday with everyone, going through everything test-wise with the physical part, and yesterday I think the mental part of picking up where we left off was good, and we continue to move forward. I was really pleased with our tempo and our execution yesterday. We have to continue building upon that every day as we go through the rest of camp and on to preseason games and then the regular season."
It's pretty unusual for an offense on day one to have no false starts or pre-snap issues. The offense was very crisp. Is that the kind of thing you're talking about?
* *"To take care of things that way was good. We had a good focus with paying attention to things."
Are you happy with the way that guys came through the conditioning tests?
* *"Yeah, I mean our guys run. That's what we do. We run all the time. We work hard. They left here in a good spot. It's a shorter period than it's been in years past. They came back in good order."
That's kind of been a characteristic of this team where you don't really have to worry about guys staying up on that with their free time…
* *"We've been blessed with that. The maturity of our guys, and the fact that many of them were participating as young players … they're used to it. They know how important it is. You see a move from a player after he finishes his rookie year as he comes into his second year. We've stacked a lot of years of that in a row, and I think that will continue with the class from a year ago now that they're in their second year. That first year all they did was try everything they can to be drafted, and once they get drafted they take a little bit of a sigh of relief, and they get to their team and by November they realize 'Boy this is a long year.' During the offseason they really have an opportunity to train their mind and their body for the grind that's going to come when the season comes back around."
Giovani Bernard talked a little bit about that and how he feels more comfortable in his second year. Is that what you're talking about?
* *"Yes. You know what's going on and what's expected of you. They know the physical nature of what training camp is like, what the offseason is like, preseason games and how they unfold and how you evolve into the regular season. When you take some of the anxiety of those things away, you're able to focus better."
Even a guy like Gio talked about still having a chip on his shoulder even though his position is pretty stable. Do you like having guys that are proven but still want to prove themselves?
* *"Well, we all have a lot to prove. That's good. It fits right in with the rest of the group."
Once again the roster depth of all the position groups is pretty impressive to watch …
* *"Knock on wood, we've got to keep them all healthy and out there. That's important as we move forward. We just have to keep grinding at it and get everybody to the September opener as good as we can be."
Do you have any reaction to Ray Rice being suspended?
* *"It's unfortunate because he's a very fine football player. These things have happened over the last few years, and I hope the rest of the guys take note of it. We're always telling our players, 'You've got to make sure of your actions all of the time because they come with the consequences that occur.' It's an unfortunate thing. I guess it was somewhat expected that something was going to come down, but I didn't know the length."
There's been some criticism that it wasn't long enough…
* *"I don't know the circumstances totally. Hopefully the league office did their due diligence. I think each case has to be handled individually. It's hard to react from outside."
What's the competition level like now between a lot of the guys that have been on the practice squad and are trying to make the team?
* *"Well it ought to be exciting. This is an exciting time. This is what the preseason is all about. They're going to spend the next 13 days making sure they know what to do to possibly be a part of the plan versus the Chiefs. That they can go out there and play productive football and play winning football for us and earn more opportunity to continue until the next test comes. That's important and that's what this is all about. It's the physical preparation, the mental preparation, it's going to get more physical here as we add pads into the mix—shoulder pads and then full pads on Sunday—and the evolution of things will continue. That's what counts.
"Then we're going to go play against an opponents and that's when it's really going to count. It's an exciting time. It's exciting for me to see those kind of players—guys that have come back from injury—and how they continue to compete. We've obviously added players through the draft the past couple of years. Some have gotten to play more than others, but now is their chance to go out and show that they can do this."
Margus Hunt, with the little amount of football he's played, could have exponential growth …
"It's been that thus far, and he's one of the guys that I would write down on that list to see him out there and playing – really playing. Now that he knows what to do, to play carefree and pin his ears back and go. That he can play faster."
What's your take on LaKendrick Ross?
"I've been pleased with LaKendrick. I've been very pleased. His workout for me on Monday, to how he responded to the conditioning test, to his first day on the field yesterday. We're not breaking old habits with him. This is all new and fresh. That's the good thing. It's a little bit like Margus was a year ago. These are new habits, and we've got to just train him and take our time and do it the right way. He's very natural. He's an athletic person. He's stronger than anybody we have in this building. So he's encouraging. He may have a future. He's going to get a chance to prove it."
He made Jason Campbell seem pretty small (on a hit during practice) …
"He's got to learn again. He's got to learn everything. We're learning a lot. One thing he needs to learn is don't get near our quarterbacks. But it's a process. He's certainly willing and it's a good opportunity. We end up first on those lists for guys like that for some reason."
He's got to be one of the biggest guys in franchise history…
"He's one of the biggest people I've ever seen."
Is it a question of patience with a guy like him who hasn't played much?
"Well, it's got to be a learning curve of football. He's not played a lot of football. And that's good and bad. But he seems willing to work, he's able to learn, and we're really going to continue with him. Remember, not only has he not played a lot of football, he's stepping on an NFL practice field for the first week, and the first time that even the guys that even the rookies who have already had nine weeks or whatever they had prior to now."
He has good foot quickness, he looks like he belongs…
"He's not out of his league, no."
There's always a lot of pressure, but do you feel it's time to win a playoff game?
"Well, we can't take any steps until we have a successful regular season. So I don't have to worry about those. There's pressure enough in the regular season for us to do well."
You were kept up to date during the process, but are you still surprised to see Clint Boling back out so soon after ACL surgery?
"No, I'm not. He's done well. He did his surgery here. He did his rehab here. It's amazing that the guys who rehab here, how well they do, and they continue to do well. (Athletic trainer) Nick (Cosgray) and the players should get the credit for how well they do under his supervision daily. Clint was one of those guys who sacrifice quite a bit to
It was Geno Atkins' goal, too?
"Geno's doing fine. He's doing great."
I can't remember an NFL player who even tore two Achilles like Leon Hall …
"Yeah, I think you're right. I don't know that there's been history of that. I've had it explained to me many times medically, what it is, where the tears were and so forth. That's been helpful to him, at least as far as coming back and the rehab part of it. He again has been very, very diligent and worked very, very hard. His goal was to make it back to practice Day 1. He didn't like that I put him on the (Active/PUP) list on Monday when everybody reported, but it's because I wanted everybody to take the conditioning test together. I didn't want to do two separate tests. That was the final thing. It preserves our opportunity to continue with the guy until we've seen him do everything. In his case, Nick (Cosgray) had seen him do everything he needed to see."
Chandler Burden is a local kid (Cincinnati's LaSalle High School). How is he doing on the offensive line?
"He's going to get an opportunity in an area we need to continue to cultivate and develop young depth. He's had some experience being on a couple of teams prior to this where I could even actually see him playing in games, and he's done some good things on tape. He's got to take advantage of the opportunities when they arise. He'll for sure get that opportunity this preseason to prove that he can stay."
You were talking about making that jump from year one to year two. How challenging is that for a guy like Rex Burkhead, who didn't get that year of actually being a running back?
"Without taking the contact hits of being tackled, he probably got more carries than anybody in the building last year, working against the defense every day. He's had to catch the ball; he's had to run the ball against our defense day in and day out. Other than being taken to the ground time and time again, he's gotten that and he's done well, He, Shawn Williams, Cobi Hamilton, this group of guys that you're rooting to go show what they can do. Tanner Hawkinson. Because they didn't get a chance to play as much last year. We feel really good about where they are right now for them to go out in the preseason and shine. That's the fun part of this."
For the guys on PUP, is it equal, your confidence or their confidence?
"I think my weight is more important than theirs. Theirs is always a little ahead of where we are with it. I'm trying to look out for their best interests throughout. I don't want to return them all the way back to practice before we feel like they're ready to do that totally. Some of them will say right now, 'Coach, I can go, I'll be all right.' But we have this opportunity to do this. Let's extend it. Sooner or later you get tired of throwing tires, pushing wheelbarrows and sleds and things like that. You want to do football, and that's part of the thing, too. You don't like playing with the ropes all day; you'd rather be back into football. It seems much easier than being on the (rehab) field with those guys. It's like they're training for survival or something."
To have a guy like Gio who is at an impact position still trying to have proving-himself mentality, how valuable is that as a head coach?
"We need to have that throughout the team and I hope we do. Andrew Whitworth still feels like he needs to prove himself. There's no doubt Andre Smith continues to want prove to himself based on what he's done out there. And I think we have that throughout. So that's a good thing. We've got to have the depth and the competitiveness. Nobody's job other than one or two are not spoken for right now, but the other ones are up in the air."
With some rookies you've observed it's not too big for them. From what you've seen of Darqueze Dennard, is that a good description?
"Yeah. I've been very pleased with him. He basically participated in the first nickel group all spring. Just like Russ Bodine was with the first offense all spring. Jeremy Hill has impressed me that way. I think we're blessed with those guys. I expect them to continue on that progression. It's deep back there in the secondary, though. Darqueze is going to have a hard time getting to see the light of day, which is a good thing. I think he'll be able to handle that, because I think he'll be a really huge contributor on special teams. And that's going to be an important part of how we shape this football team."