Initial comments ...
"I've been excited about our start to training camp. It's been a productive six days. We've had good work and have people working themselves into getting ready to play for the season. Some of the question marks we have about people are getting answered. That's what's exciting. Our new guys, even though we've had them since April, to see them out there in football gear and playing close to real football is really good. I'm talking about Cordy Glenn, Preston Brown, etc. Our young guys who didn't get to play a year ago have come back and done well. I've been excited about Joe Mixon, who is coming into his second year, and what he is doing. All in all, it's been a good, a productive start. We have to keep on working as we move toward September."
Has the competition level been what you had hoped for on the offensive line as you try to sort out who's who and where?
"The fact that they are trying and learning somewhat new techniques is part of it right now. The opportunity is a week from now for them each to go out, show where they are, and show their progress in where they are in the competition."
How soon do you hope to have the offensive line set?
"We will settle it when we settle it."
You guys haven't had a first-round draft pick really play a lot of games as a rookie. Would you say your expectations for Billy Price are any different than other recent guys?
"I agree. There's no question our expectations for Billy come in a different fashion. There's no doubt about that. I don't know the last person we basically created a space for, like in this case. I do think there are guys competing around Billy and with Billy, even at the center position, such as T.J. Johnson or Trey Hopkins. The opportunity is still going to be there for them too. Billy still has to go out there and earn the job. We are giving him the first crack at it."
Does it also make a difference because Russell Bodine, the starting center the last few years, was so durable?
"That has been part of it. There's no question about it. Russell basically played four years and started every football game from the time he was a rookie. He wasn't a first-round draft pick, but he came into a slot that we slated him for."
Billy Price has had some hiccups with snaps. Is that to be expected for a young guy?
"He's adjusting, since he didn't have the 1000 or so snaps that we had in the spring, in May and June. He missed probably half of those snaps with not being able to participate against the defense. He had all of those things when there was no defense across from him. And some of (the problem) is not Billy (laughs)."
With the players having learned the new offense and philosophy throughout the offseason, have you liked what you've seen from how it's been implemented during the first six days, whether that be from a tempo standpoint or just how the players feel about it?
"I thought we did start at a great tempo. On Monday, I had to get back after them, as far as our dispatch and getting from place to place. And that's on the entire team. But I think with both groups, the understanding and expectations of how to go about it were both good. Basically, it's the insertion of everything and how we went about it, because when you come back to training camp some of it is a review (of what was learned during the offseason program). You kind of insert at a greater pace (during training camp). Now, we're spending basically four and a half hours a day in meetings, so there's a lot more time spent as far as the insertion of football and review of football with video, etc. We've got more time now than what we were able to do with the offseason programs."
Some of the guys talk about defensive coordinator Teryl Austin focusing on turnovers. How do you work on creating more turnovers in training camp or practice?
"That's not revolutionary. We work on turnovers all the time. It's about taking advantage of them. A great tackling team generally creates more turnovers. A team that plays ahead creates more turnovers, and so does getting around the quarterback and striping the football. That's one area we have probably emphasized more (this year) than prior (years). If we are going to have good rushers, they have to take advantage when they get around the quarterback, to go at the ball. That, we can't practice. That has to become second nature once we get to playing football against opponents."
With new systems on both sides of the ball, do you have any interest or desire to be more involved in play-calling or decision-making than you would have in previous years?
"I am involved. I don't need to be more involved. I have been involved throughout."
With TE Tyler Eifert coming back to practice the other day, is it important for him to play in the preseason, or is it all risk no reward to have him in there?
"It's important, but we are trying to get Tyler back into playing football. That's part of playing in the preseason. You (the media) will have your pens and pencils ready to go. I'm not going to miss that opportunity to see you all there standing there watching (laughs)."
How good was it to see Eifert make some plays and score in red zone the other day?
"It's good to see him out there and dressed like everybody else."
Have you liked the receiver competition? How have you seen those young guys pushing the vets?
"A.J. (Green) was once a young guy and he's been through this. And there's Tyler Boyd, and the things he accomplished in his first season and going in to his second, and also having some ups and downs with overcoming injury and coming back .If I'm a young player — Cody Core, who was in the same class as Boyd, or Josh Malone or John (Ross) from last year — they were able to observe that. Same for whole group, with Alex (Erickson) and (Auden) Tate. These guys have the opportunity to literally come in and compete for an opportunity to play. They all feel like, 'I can be the number one receiver on an NFL team.' That's a good thing. We are blessed with that. We have to keep going and make sure we get the details of our work as well."