Opening Comments: ML:
I think, first thing, we got great work out of the weekend. It was good to see guys have to play football where things were moving fast. It wasn't scripted, and it was all impromptu. We saw some guys separate themselves positively, and a little negatively at times, and I think the more we do that, the easier it is to make good decisions come another three weeks from now. That was a good, positive step in our evaluation process.
As guys are on the mend a little bit, we continue to get healthier. We probably won't be at full speed this Thursday, but we expect to be a little closer prior to the Saints, then by Atlanta hopefully running on all cylinders with everybody back and in their spots. Things are improving, and we just have to keep pushing and going.
Q: It didn't take Nate Lawrie long to get a some passes, and the addition of Curtis Brown:ML:
We need to make sure we can keep fresh guys, and these players now have an opportunity. If they don't make the roster, they have a chance at the practice squad. Curtis [Brown] is in shape. He's been in offseason camp with the Raiders, so it worked out pretty well.
Q: Reggie McNeal seemed to back after his errors:ML:
It's good to make a correction and go, but I don't think I want to give the Reggie McNeal report everyday, so I let's move forward.
Q: Do you care to mention anyone who has made positive improvements?ML:
Leon Hall and Chinedum [Ndukwe]. I think those two guys in defensive backfield. I think Kenny Irons, other than the obvious negative we talked about (a fumble in the scrimmage), we like the things he continues to do. Domata [Peko] is doing a fine job. I think it was good for Stacy [Andrews] and [Andrew] Whitworth to work together over there and get going. I think Eddie Hartwell did some good things, and it was good action for Ahmad [Brooks]. The more we can get him in, the better we're going to be. So it was a productive weekend for us, and we got what we wanted to get out of it.
Q: What is it you like about Scott Kooistra? You guys re-signed him to a three-year deal, and you talk so much about Stacy and Whit, but that says a lot that you went back and signed him:ML:
Scott is a guy that has backed up the guard and tackle spots, and he had an excellent scrimmage on Friday night, the best football he's been playing. We're feeling better and better about him. Scott has played some games for us in the previous years, and when he goes in there, he does pretty well. He's a big, tough guy. He's strong. He comes with the right attitude, extremely hard worker. He's great for his teammates, and he's really on the level now where he's coming into his own, and that's what we want.
Q: It looks like he's got a bit of a mean streak when he playsML:
He's a quiet, mean guy. He's extremely strong.
Q: Ghiaciuc seems to be a little different from Richie (Braham):ML:
Ghiaciuc is probably a little bit better player than Richie was coming out. Ghiaciuc is a little better athlete; just as big, but a better athlete who can bend his knees and do things right. Richie obviously had the great experience, you can do a lot and play a long time on experience.
Q: Do you notice communication differences between Ghiaciuc and Richie?ML:
That would be confidential.
Q: Do you look forward to seeing Skyler (Green) returning punts?ML:
I am looking forward to seeing Skyler get an opportunity. That was one of the attractions he had for us when we brought him here off of Dallas' practice squad. With the guys who should be vying for those (kick return) positions, it seems as though we've have a hard time keeping them on their feet. So Skyler will be first man up and get a good opportunity to show us why it's that way.
Q: How important is Landon Johnson at the linebacker position?ML:
Landon has done very well and has continued to grow. He had a great offseason. It was his first time not dealing with any kind of rehab, and we've seen the product of that out on the field. He makes very few errors, he's able to help others people acknowledge things right away, and he's making good football plays. He plays physical in there now. He's about a 20-pound heavier guy than he was when he started out with us, which is a good thing.
Q: Is he Landon still light on his feet after gaining weight?ML:
Yes. He can still run and bend his knees.
Q: Do you notice Landon's physical change?ML:
I noticed it all offseason. When you'd see him down there standing, you would wonder, 'Who is that guy?'
Q: Was size the main thing Landon was missing?ML:
Well, I wouldn't use the word 'lacking,' but when you have problems with your shoulders dislocating, it's difficult to get them much stronger. All you try to do is keep them in place. In his rookie year, his shoulder popped out and they said, 'Landon you need to have surgery immediately.' And he said, 'I don't want to have surgery,' and he played an entire NFL season like that. So this is a tough guy who has played with a lot of pain, and this is the first time he's gone into the offseason with his elbows not bothering him. His shoulders aren't bothering him, and he's been able to really concentrate on lifting weights and staying strong.
Q: You've mentioned Leon (Hall) and Chinedum (Ndukwe). What about Marvin (White)? Do they represent the secondary of the future?ML:
I think they do. I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to figure that out. (Laughs). There's no question that they have bright futures.
Q: How's Marvin White progressing?ML:
I don't think he's had as many chances. I think he's had a little bit more to learn. Some guys come in who have been playing in certain schemes which are more similar He had to learn a little bit more than some of the guys.
Q: Can you talk a little about the secondary as a whole and the progress they've made?ML:
We are pleased. We've been hounding them technique-wise because when you have problems in the secondary, it's usually technique related. We want to make sure that every day when they put that tape on, they're getting things done technique-wise. We weren't satisfied with things Saturday, but we were happier with things today from eye-level. Those are the things that are important as you get closer to games.
Q: What do you hope to see out of your quarterbacks on Thursday night at Detroit?ML:
I think we have this conversation before every preseason game. You want to see the command in the huddle, the tempo of play, and obviously taking care of the football. That's why I stayed on the field alone on Friday and Saturday. I wanted to listen and see both sides, to see who is doing the communicating and see who is being a leader both offensively and defensively. That's where your football team starts. With the leaders and communicators.
Q: Who are they?ML:
Q: How long will your starters play?ML:
They will play as much as we see fit. We won't wear them out this first game but we do want them to play together, I think that's important. We are a little thinner in some positions than others. Some guys will play less or more based on that. It will be fun. We're going up against a good football team in the Lions, a team which has a lot to prove. They're excited about where they are and their upcoming season. It's a good opener for us. They're a very exciting team, they have been explosive on offense, sound on defense, and aggressive up front. They have a good front seven on defense and that's going to be a challenge for us.
Q: Are you looking forward to seeing Leon (Hall) go up against Calvin Johnson?ML:
I don't know if that's going to happen. You'd have to ask coach (Lions coach Rod) Marinelli if Calvin's even going to play. We'll have some fun.
Q: What did Jon Kitna mean to you and the team when he was in Cincinnati?ML:
He was without question the leader of this football team. Both on the field and behind the scenes. He was an extension of myself and the other coaches. We wouldn't have all these people (fans) out here if it weren't for Jon Kitna and his leadership. He was able to take a step back and still stay in a position of leadership as a player and still allow Carson to grow for those two years. Jon is a great team person. He's a fine player and a competitor. He's gone a long way in the NFL and he keeps giving his team a chance to win, which is what he did for us. When I said he would be the starting quarterback I said, 'Jon, this is your team, take care of it.' And he did that, and we had some success.
Q: Is there anything you're curious to see Thursday night vs. the Lions?ML:
I'm curious to see the young linemen. I'm curious to see the tight ends and what they do blocking-wise. I'm curious to see how we play defensively. Do we run and attack the football? Do we eliminate mental error? Do we get in and out of the huddle and play aggressively? In the kicking game, we want the young guys to take over. We've spent a lot of time on that, and it's important to us. I think each and every one of these guys understand that when they come in here. I want to feel like we had some productive snaps at the end of the day. We have some jobs at stake, and they will be based on the guys who we can count on on fourth down.
Q: Will any of the four inactive/injured receivers play Thursday night?ML:
I would have felt a little better if they would have been out there today. Antonio (Chatman), Tab (Perry) and Bennie (Brazell) are pretty close to being back. Because of this week, chances are we will err on the side of caution with all of our players who are close to coming back. We might suit them up to get their adrenaline come but not play them, just so they get the feel of what it's like when the lights come on, but then shoot for New Orleans.
Q: That's a lot of snaps for Skyler (Green):ML:
In the regular season games, they play all the snaps, right? That's what's funny about the preseason. Everyone is worried about how many snaps someone gets, but in the regular season you'd have to pull them off the field. If a guy's going to be on this team, Skyler, Reggie (McNeal), or whoever it may be, they'll get an opportunity to show what they've got. Just like they had to do on Saturday. We had a great chance to see how they were going to hold up and if we could count on them when it comes to crunch time.
Q: Could Skyler return kicks too?ML:
Yes, he'll be one of the guys.