Good afternoon. We are almost at the one-week point of camp. I think yesterday, particularly, was one of those tough days at training camp. It was a little smoother this morning, much sharper work. We have another one this evening, and we are moving along at a pretty good pace. Things are progressing.
Q: What do you think of the new/old Chad Johnson?ML:
I will let you guys continue to figure that one out. He is practicing hard; he is stronger and very fast right now. He is doing a much better job of running the football after he receives it, and he's been working very well.
Q: Can you update the status of Bobby Blizzard?ML:
Bobby has a disc injury to his back. It was a pre-existing injury, and he took a little blow from one of the offensive players yesterday, which kind of helped him go down. He's doing fine. He's here at camp, and he will be receiving some treatments. I don't know when he will be returning to the field. Obviously, any time you have some kind of back or spinal type injury, you want to be as careful as possible. You want to cover all places and cases. Our medical staff and the people here at the university, you want to commend them for how quickly and professionally they got the guys off the field and on to the hospital. Our players were able to continue practice and not let that affect them.
Q: Can you talk about Daniel Coats, and what you see in him?ML:
Through the minicamps and offseason, Daniel really fit well. What you didn't know was how he was going to do physically, once he put pads on. But he has come out here and been a very physical blocker, which you can see on his college tape. Since he played in an offense where they throw the football like they did at BYU, he already knows the finer points on the passing game. He understands the ins and outs of cuts and so forth. He has good hands. He has continued to perform at the expected level, and I think he is going to compete really hard for a job on this team.
Q: He seems to be a real mature guy, wise beyond his years:ML:
He carries himself very maturely; I think our rookie class is like that. Daniel is very similar to our draft picks, and I think he understand he has a great opportunity, and he is taking full advantage of it.
Q: Do you think Coats fell under a lot of people's radar?ML:
He went undrafted with 32 teams. It's the eighth round of the draft, right?
Q: Are you disappointed with how you finished last year, and what expectations do you have for this year?ML:
Expectations haven't changed. We were disappointed with the outcome of our season in '05 and '06. Now we have the opportunity to start a new camp and a new season. We quickly laid down the ground work for a better season in 07. Coaches, players, everyone was disappointed. We got off to strong enough start and were able to control on our destiny down the stretch, but we were not able to do it (make the playoffs). I think we are all disappointed. We are a much better football team than that. It's part of history, you learn from it and move forward.
Q: Are there any different approaches from last to this year?ML:
Like I said, we are all disappointed. We put our nose back down and get back to work.
Q: What do you see in Ahmad Brooks?ML:
He is a guy that now understand how he is supposed to line up, and where everybody is supposed to be around him. Last year he was trying to get himself lined up, for the most part. Now he is able to put other people in position, and that is a good thing. He is able to get us correct if there are adjustments that need to be made. I hear him making those adjustments from the sideline. I think those are things that a year ago, he would have to get on the second time around. Right now, he's making those adjustments.
Physically, they don't put guys together like him -- 270 pounds to be that fast. He loves football. I see a difference in him and his preparation for special teams. Today with kickoffs, it's just totally different from a year ago. Here he is starting as a linebacker on the football team, but he is working on the kickoff team as though he is still trying to earn a job, doing it like he did last year. Last year we were telling him to go and use that speed, and now he has it and is playing with it all the time. Physically when we played live the other day, you could feel his presence. You just have to keep going.
Q: How is Brooks handling his responsibilities in the huddle?ML:
It has improved. We didn't put that on him last year, and this year he's doing great with it.
Q: Can you comment on the transition at left guard and center?ML:
I think as far as the knowledge, it's very similar from one player to the next. We've brought in a player (Stacy Andrews) who has a great aptitude and has really studied hard for three years, and now he has a chance to show what he's learned. I don't think we're missing anything there. Our offseason prior to coming to training camp was structured so Eric could blossom and have opportunities, and he took control of that.
Q: What are your thoughts on Domata Peko's progression?ML:
Domata has picked up where he left off last year, and I think now he has a better understanding of being more physical at all times, and then let the athleticism take over. He's making the transition from a college lineman to an NFL lineman. When we get going and get playing, Domata's going to be fine.
Q: Glenn Holt has gone from a tryout player to making the roster last year:ML:
He worked his tail off last year and continued to grow and get better. He flashed during rookie camp and obviously, we signed him out of that to a contract, and then he was able to make it to the roster from the practice squad. He continued to grow. In the off-season, he worked extremely hard again, and now that we're here, he's competing for a job again. The difference between this year and last year is that we know how well he played on special teams. I think you come in with a little bit of a qualifier, and that's a good thing. You want to have that in your pocket when you come through that door. That gives you a little bit of a leg up on things.
Q: Do you see a difference in Madieu (Williams) this year?ML:
Last year he was dealing with the rehab and family matters, and now he's a different guy. He doesn't have all those pressures on him. You can see his smile again. You see it in his play. I think having the whole year to train has been good, and I see a different rapport between he and Dexter than we were experiencing last year, and that's a good thing.
Q: How would you characterize the year Madieu had last year?ML:
Not as good as he could be. He's a better player than that. I think he was a little disappointed. I think he felt like he could have been put in situations to make more plays, and maybe we should have put him in situations to make more plays. He and I were both disappointed. He's a guy that can make a lot of good football plays, and we're going to do everything we can to give him those opportunities.
Q: Do you think Bobbie Williams goes unappreciated?ML:
Bobbie's out there every single day. He's a very hard worker and a vocal leader out there as far as getting guys getting ready to go. Some of the other guys are a little more quiet. Bobbie is a very physical guy. We see good things from him every day, and he gets better all the time.