Opening comments: ML:
"It's great to be with the opening of training camp. This first week will go by pretty quick (with the Scrimmage and Mock Game this weekend), and then we'll have a little longer week, with the first preseason game in Green Bay being on a Monday night. I think this first week will almost fly by, at least for the players, which I think is a good thing when you talk about training camp."
Q: Can you update us on Antwan Odom?ML:
"They took him in and did some scans and so forth on his foot. I don't have anything else until we get some things confirmed."
Q: Have you heard anything more on (Keith) Rivers?ML:
"It's going back and forth a little bit. It's a shame because Keith would benefit. It's something I hope that will be very quickly finished."
Q: Do you know where he is? Is he in the area?ML:
"I do know where he is. He would be able to get here very quickly."
Q: What do you look for on the first practice on the field, what did you like about it?ML:
"You look for errors during the pre-snap period that are going to be a problem, and I think we had one. That's a good thing with the number of snaps we had today, almost 60 snaps of team type of competitive football. Those are the things you're looking for, which is probably what you get during an NFL game. One personal foul either way, that's a good start, balls stay off the ground. And we'll be able to get back into sync very quickly."
Q: Do you see Willie Anderson's swallowing his pride and becoming second-team guy as helping the team?ML:
"Well, I don't know because you're painting Willie into a different position than maybe we are. So I think you are kind of putting the cart before the horse. I think we have tough battles ahead of us to see where we are, and I do understand what he is saying. He is thankful to be able to come he and show what he's got, and in some places you don't get that opportunity.
He has earned that right and that opportunity, and if healthy, Willie could play fine and has been a fine football player and will to continue to play very highly if he is healthy and up to it. Last year Willie thought he was (healthy) and it didn't work out that way. You just want to make sure that we cover ourselves and go forward."
Q: What's Chad Johnson's status, and when do you expect to see him in practice?ML:
"He's got to pass a physical progression of things that we ask all the players to do. So when he is able to do that, he will have the opportunity to practice. Right now while he is on that physically unable to perform list, he will continue to work with our trainers and conditioning coaches until he can prove that he is in condition to play."
Q: He told ESPN that most of the summer issues were over. Do you think this is a distraction?ML:
"It is no distraction for our team. He is like anybody else that isn't up for it physically."
Q: Is there a timetable?ML:
"There is no timetable. When he can prove he is ready to play and practice football, then he will have an opportunity to play."
Q: Are you comfortable where he is?ML:
"Yeah, I am very comfortable with where he is. Well, no I am not. I wish he was 100 percent healthy, but he is not."
Q: So based on the procedure he had done, do you feel that he will be able to recover well?ML:
"He'll be better than he was a year ago. Actually, the last two seasons this has bothered him, so he'll be better then he has been the last two seasons. But he has to do the things that you're asked to do. The follow-ups under our supervision and care must be done, or we are not sure what you have been doing. We have to make sure that you're right before we put you out there."
Q: Looks like he is on the active PUP list ...with?ML:
"He is on that list with DeDe Dorsey."
Q: What about Jeremi?ML:
"Jeremi is on a different list called the non-football."
Q: Is Jeremi still battling weight problems?ML:
"He is not where he needs to be to practice football right now. So he is battling a lot of things."
Q: Do you feel all the Chad issues from the offseason?ML:
"I think I have answered all those questions about three weeks ago, so we are good."
Q: It seems as his body language was positive and he was in a cheerful manner...ML:
"Again, when Chad gets back to practicing, I'll spend more time talking about him then, OK?"
Q: Can we go back to Jeremi and his issues, is he battling for his position at this point?ML:
"Yes, he is battling for his job and a spot on this team. Because guys are asked to report at a certain level. You know we have to move on and move forward, and hopefully he can catch up."
Q: Speak to Chris Perry. What did he look like out there?ML:
"He looked like he did when we were doing minicamp, because today was about the same kind of practice we've had the entire spring. Chris' big challenge will be, "Can you do it throughout the course of this week, and come into the preseason and show what you can do, because he's also competing for a job on this team, and he's got to play catch up."
Q: To clear up with Kenny Irons, is it a given that he'll be back and put on IR?ML:
"It's not a given, because teams have until 4:00 today to claim him."
Q: Does the 80 roster number figure into your changing camp, shortening it a little this year?ML:
I think based on our preseason schedule it kind of got shortened, but then I think we're going to go to one-a-day practices a lot quicker than I have because of that. The 80 number is a big part of what we do and how we work forward.
Q: Can you talk about the recommitment to your running game and how important that is to your offense?ML:
"I think it's important, as I said through the end of last season, in order for us to go back to being a productive football team and being able to close out football games. That's blocking the right people, that's carrying the football correctly, that's taking care of the football and not putting ourselves in situations where we're having to move the football almost totally through the air. There will be times, obviously, when we can throw it and make great strides down the field. We can be an impressive football team, and we want to rear back and throw it, but if you get one bad thing happening in that, it can get you out of sync."
Q: Talking about improving your offense, Ben Utecht is an impressive figure out there, isn't he?ML:
"Ben will help us in a lot of ways, and obviously that's the reason we wanted to acquire him in the offseason, because he gives us some flexibility. He's a good blocking player at the tight end position as well as a receiver, and hopefully we can do some things to create a little bit of a matchup issue."
Q: How do you feel about the defensive progression as you open camp?ML:
"I think it's been great. I think they've answered the bell, and I think Mike (Zimmer) has been very demanding, and the rest of the defensive coaches have taken his lead and his spirit about it. I know I like where they are right now. We've got to continue going because we haven't done the aspect of football that makes a big difference, and that's playing blocks and tackling when that ball is carried live, which will come in a few weeks."
Q: If Willie Anderson is 100 percent and you just can't keep him on the sidelines, is there an odd man out on that offensive line?ML:
"Unless they're going to let us play with seven guys out there or something ... we may have to come up with a new formation. (Laughs.) We'll cross that bridge when we come to it."
Q: You've said depth charts are more for us [the media] than you, and you don't like depth charts whatsoever. But when you have to do them, is there any motivation factor involved? ML:
Q: With (Keith) Rivers not here, how does it help Brandon Johnson and Jim Maxwell?ML:
"Obviously, when someone is not in a spot, it gives the guys there behind it an opportunity to show their wares a little bit more. These are two veteran players who have done some good things on NFL fields, but they just haven't found their spot where they can be that full-time player, and I think through the opportunity like this, we're gaining confidence. We had Jimmy Maxwell through the end of last year, and he did some good things for us on special teams and in practice on defense. He didn't get many, if any at all, defensive snaps.
Brandon we just got this offseason, and he's been impressive. I've been very impressed with him, his work ethic, how he approaches the game, his study habits. He's been good and that's why he's starting for us in the nickel. It gives us an opportunity to have a longer look at them and hopefully Keith will be here soon, and we'll go from there. I think both guys have a great opportunity here to make us a better football team and a better defensive team."
Q: Can you talk about Mario Urrutia, what you like about him, and what your expectations for him are?ML:
"He's got a lot ahead of him and he's got to make sure that he can learn to play with his pads down and the speed to compete at this level."
Q: You talked about depth charts being overrated and with all the situational substitution that goes on in football, isn't it more about the number of snaps you're going to help your football team with?ML:
"I would say yes. Obviously you need to have seven offensive linemen you feel good about. We're also going to have two or three tight ends, you're going to have a couple of different backs, you're going to have a fullback position if we end up using it that way, and you're going to have three, maybe four, wide receivers. Defensively, you're going to have your extra corners, maybe an extra safety, a guy that can move up and play up front, and then anybody that can enhance your pass rush. You're looking for a group of 15 or 16 guys no matter what side of the football you are, so your starting group is about 30 players."
Q: Marvin, did you see David Jones get a nice deflection today? Do you see him maturing?ML:
"I think David has a lot of ability, and he's done a nice job. Right now, if we were playing a game tomorrow, he'd roll right out there in most situations if we have an extra defensive back in the game. He's done everything he can do to earn that. He's a smart guy. But we're going to do that physical part of football in the next few weeks, once we go to Green Bay, and see how things work out."
Q: Are you optimistic Jeremi (Johnson) can get back in shape and get on this team?ML:
"Unfortunately, I've been sitting here talking about this for too long. I don't like spending a lot of time talking about guys who aren't practicing, so I kind of stated my case there."
Q: You've seen pretty good middle linebacker play throughout your career. What do you expect out of Dhani Jones?ML:
"He's an excellent guy in the passing lanes and the passing zones, whether it be zone or man, and he's making a lot of plays and preventing the football from going in some of the areas the offense is trying to get it in. Number one, that will be a great asset to us. Secondly, he's a guy that's got a great command of what's going on. He's seeing the game as the coaches are seeing the game, which makes a big difference when you're out there in the huddle on game days."