Opening comments: ML: "This was practice number seven this morning, and it seems like the second week of camp, but it's been good. The weather has been cooperating. It's been hot and humid, which helps get us acclimated and ready for the season. We've been able to give a little rest and time off their legs to some of our players who needed it. We can lean on some of the young guys a little bit more to get some reps in.
"That group of picks from last year and this year are getting a good workout here, and the veteran players are doing a good job of maintaining and getting better, improving on some of the little things that can be applied down the line this season. Guys are playing in some different spots and new positions, so if called upon later in the season, they will have that chance.
"It was good to get Leon (Hall) and (Evan) Mathis back out and going today. We ought to have some other guys returning that we rested this morning and yesterday."
Q: Was Cedric (Benson) one of those guys you were resting?ML: "Yes."
Q: Do you anticipate (Andrew) Whitworth returning tonight?ML: "Yes."
Q: Who among the young players seem to be struggling the most, and what are they struggling with?ML: "You know I never have a negative press conference, so I'm not going to start today."
Q: What are you looking for from Dermontti Dawson as an intern coach?ML: "Dermontti and Rod (Woodson) both have an opportunity to really impart their professionalism and wisdom, and their ability to prepare to play the game, on the young guys. And I think they're doing a good job of that. It's good to have Dermontti working with Kyle Cook, who's a young guy who had his first real year of professional football last year, as well as with the old veteran guys like Bobbie (Williams). It's a plus to have him working with and making an impression on younger guys that we have drafted this year and last year, like Otis (Hudson) and Andre Smith. He has a lot of energy and knowledge about how to play the game. Now he's formulating in his own mind how he fits in here. He's learning how we do it, how Paul (Alexander) does it and teaches it. Now he can get going and answer questions. The worst thing is to not be able to answer a question."
Q: Jerome Simpson has had a nice camp so far. Do you think he's turning the corner?ML: "He has had a couple of good practices, and we have to keep going with it. I'm really encouraged about everything he's doing. Now, we get a chance to play against people in different colored helmets, and that will be helpful."
Q: Are you pleased with the tempo and overall effort during practice?ML: "Yes, I am. I think our tempo has been pretty good. Obviously there are a couple plays that wane in there, and I have to remind them about it. We seem to have a little dip every once in a while, but that is to be expected. Then we just have to pick it back up and get going. The tempo in and out of the huddle and substitutions, that is all part of it."
Q: What is your opinion of the kicking competition so far?ML: "Dave Rayner had a good day today and kicked well."
Q: How have the rookies caught on so far?ML: "In football, as it goes today, they get a lot of chances prior to being here. I think for the most part, they're catching on pretty well. What they're doing and what they will be asked to do as we get into playing other opponents will not be the same in terms of schematics that we're doing with the first units. So far, so good. We have been pleased with them.
"Carlos Dunlap missed the last practice with a concussion, and hopefully we'll get him back here quickly. He had been very encouraging. It seemed that he had turned the corner in some of the things we had asked him to do. Geno (Atkins) has been good. Roddrick Muckelroy has done well. The offensive linemen I mentioned keep getting better. (Jordan) Shipley has done well. Brandon Ghee has been making some plays. To play cornerback in the National Football League, you have to be able to play the ball in the air, and we see a lot of progress (from Ghee)."
Q: Have any of the undrafted guys impressed you? Johnny Sears had a nice interception today: ML: "Johnny's got a lot of physical ability, and he's done a lot of good things. He's just got to keep going, and he's got a stiff competition there at that (cornerback) position. He and (LB) Vincent Rey impressed me. I think (HB) Cordera Eason has done a good job. We keep finding little nuggets of guys that have a chance to possibly make the last part of the roster, and that's good, much like some of the guys we had last year. That impresses me about those guys."
Q: Seven practices in, how far is Jermaine (Gresham) getting behind?ML: "He's behind as far as a guy who misses seven practices gets. (Laughs). Somebody had to ask that one, right?"
Q: How do you like having the early preseason game?ML: "Really, the game doesn't matter (in regard to the camp schedule), because we can begin (camp) earlier. So that doesn't affect you. But I think having the fifth game is a good thing for us."
Q: I know it's six days away, but do you envision the first team in just that first series, or playing a bit more?ML: "Don't we have one of these (news conferences) later in the week? If we talk about it now, what do we have to talk about then? (Laughs). We'll save that one."
Q: How has Terrell Owens' leadership affected the team?ML: "I think he's done a good job in that group, the receiver group. I think he'll be a leader. When you add good players, they push other good players, because other good players don't like to get outdone and unseated, so that competition is always great."