Q: What is the best position battle going on in camp right now?ML: "The battle is in the secondary, at both safety and corner. We've got some battles at wide receiver, and I think we will continue to see some at defensive line, linebacker. Hopefully at some point here, offensive tackle. Place kicker and long snapper as well."
Q: Basically at every position:ML: "I think that's what you want. That way the football team is moving ahead because what you did last year doesn't really matter. It's what you're doing daily."
Q: What about at the nickel back position?ML: "I thought Adam (Jones) went out and did a good job on Sunday evening. He played some snaps until his ankle got a little sore. Morgan Trent played that position for us last year, but we will be constituted differently this year. We'll see when we unfold how things will go.
"I thought Brandon Ghee did a good job while he was in there, and David Jones was our third corner a couple of years ago. We've got some guys who have done it. I don't know if it's going to play out the same way, but we're certainly not going to tell any of our opponents who our third corner is going to be."
Q: Roddrick Muckelroy left practice early:ML: "The heat got to him a little bit today. He said he had a hard time cooling off all night last night, so we took him in to let him cool down a bit."
Q: What is the latest on Brian Leonard?ML: "Brian's got an injured foot and it'll be a couple of weeks before he's back healthy, but when it heals he'll be back out here and ready to go."
Q: So you won't lose him for the year?ML: "He's got an injured foot, and when he's back out here healthy he'll be ready to go. I can't look into the future and go beyond that right now. There's nothing that says he's out for the year, or else he'd be on IR today, so we'll go from there."
Q: What players have stood out here at camp?ML: "I don't know. We've had a week and a half, and we've got a lot of work to do as a football team, and we need to keep getting better."
Q: Besides the location and fans, does anything change when you go back to Cincinnati?ML: "Just the location changes. We'll still be in the same regimen. I don't know that we have a two-a-day practice once we go back. We try, after one week, to get back to our regular season schedule so any of the new players that have a chance to be with us get an idea of how that would unfold and evolve during a regular season week. We can go inside and do some things and know that we're not being watched, so that's helpful to me.
"We can get our guys accustomed back to the everyday surroundings, the meeting and video room situations, and can control things a little bit more in our environment. But it's good to get away, give our fields an opportunity to rest, and they've done a great job down here (Georgetown) this year."
Q: Talk a little bit about Dermontti Dawson:ML: "These two guys (Dawson and Rod Woodson) that we've had here approached me and want to be coaches. This is not just 'come to training camp and hang out.' These guys are serious about it. They were great pros because of how they studied and learned. They made people around them better. That's what Dermontti has been able to come in here and do.
"He expressed an interest to me about a year ago, that where he was in his life right now and where his family and children were, they had grown up enough to where he felt like he could now get into what he wanted to get into. He wanted to see if coaching would be it. He spent last summer in Pittsburgh working in personnel, but he didn't necessarily think that was his niche. He felt more compelled to try coaching, and I'm glad it's been able to work out.
"He's been great for our offensive line group, how he carries himself and his way to relate the game as he saw things unfold. He's done an outstanding job learning how we were teaching things, and being able to communicate it through his eyes and going out there and fitting right in. He's been a great benefit to us."
Q: How have the guys responded to him?ML: "I think players always respond to guys that have been former pros with much respect."
Q: Hall of Fame candidate?ML: "There's no doubt in my mind that he'll eventually make his way into the Hall of Fame. As modern day centers have gone, he's the very best. There was no equal to Dermontti when he was playing."
Q: What are your thoughts on Jordan Shipley so far?ML: "Jordan is really learning what the NFL is all about. Obviously he played at a very high level at the University of Texas, but this is light years ahead. He's getting good opportunities and he's a smart guy, so every chance he gets, he can learn from it and get better with it and grow. We're pleased with his progress. I think he will continue to progress over the next four weeks. He's benefiting from these games, and he's one of the reasons why I wanted to play five (preseason games). When we hit our season, he's going to be a part of what we do offensively, and we want to see him keep growing."
Q: Can he learn from Quan Cosby, who also was at Texas, and in that same situation last year?ML: "Yeah, I think he can learn a great deal from Quan. I think what they both show is the game is not too big for them. They played on a big stage, and that's what has been so impressive about Quan. Jordan has those same attributes."
Q: Brandon Ghee and (Maurice) Purify have been out the last couple of practices:ML: "They don't have anything that is too severe, I don't know if they'll be back out there tonight, but hopefully by tomorrow. They should be able to play on Sunday if they come around. I think Maurice was out there a little more than he should have been and has some flare up of muscle tendonitis. Both guys have the chance to be fine as we get down the line this week."
Q: Any doubt in your mind that Cedric Benson can duplicate the season he had last year?ML: "I think Ced can do better than he did last year. Ced has a better feel for our running game, a better feel for his tracks and what he's being asked to do. He will be a better player this year than he was last year. As I hear him, play in and play out back there, I know that he's getting it."
Q: In terms of general philosophy, what are you looking for going into the second preseason game?ML: "I'm looking for guys who didn't get much of a chance to play last week to get more chances this week. As we go through the week, I'll decide how long some of the guys will play and who we'll limit. We'll take some guys a little longer than we did last week, and we'll have some guys in there who didn't play last week. Unfortunately, some of the guys won't get as many snaps. We'll move some guys ahead of other players, because you have to keep moving ahead. If anything good comes out of this thing, some guys will earn more opportunities based on how they played Sunday. They'll get a chance to move up the ranks and play against a little better competition. One of the most important things about the preseason is to not get all excited about playing well against guys that are going to be on the street in a couple weeks."
Q: After watching the tape, can you assess how J.T. O'Sullivan and Jordan Palmer did?ML: "I don't think either of them played as well as we need them to play. 'Nuff said."
Q: Matt Jones didn't seem too impressed with what he did:ML: "Matt will be one of those guys who will have a chance to earn some more. He's not where he needs to be, but he did make a couple football plays. We need to push him up there more and get him out there against guys who are going to play on Sundays."
Q: Does this passing attack have the potential to be the most explosive and productive since you've been here?ML: "Potential isn't worth nothing. It doesn't buy a thing. We have a lot of work to do. I don't talk about potential, so I'm going to let that go."
Q: But you're feeling good about who you've got?ML: "I'm not feeling good about anything right now. As I looked up at the scoreboard at halftime, I think we had 67 yards. That won't get you anything. We had zero points and no first downs on third down. That's not good enough for anything."
Q: Do you think heat is taking a toll on the passing game? How do you think they looked today?ML: "We're in practice, and the other team is going to let them catch the ball, hopefully, so that we don't have collisions. I think we had a good practice this morning."
Q: You all have done a good job of keeping guys fresh in the heat. Do you have any kind of a heat plan?ML: "You guys ask that every year when we come down here. The temperatures don't change. It wasn't hot when we first got here, but it got hot after we were here. It got humid, but that's what it does. Today the heat index was about 105 degrees when we got finished, so that's what it's going to be and that's how it always is when we come down here.
"It's good work and that's why we come here. You have to get used to playing and thinking in those types of situations. It's easy to play football at 65 degrees, but you have to be able to think and react in that type of condition. Guys have to keep hydrating themselves. If they get overheated, we have to cool them off, but that's part of it."
Q: You say you will be a run-first offense, but how will you deal with the egos of No. 85 (Chad Ochocinco) and No. 81 (Terrell Owens)?ML: "I've always said we're going to be physical on offense and be productive. We're going to run the football and make people defend us. I don't know that 85 and 81 have egos when it comes to that. The only ego that needs to matter is how we win."
Q: How anxious are you guys to ramp things up Sunday?ML: "We're playing at home, number one. Sunday night was our third time in full pads, but I feel good about that. Our goal is to get to September 12th (season opener) as healthy as possible.
"We got good work in last Sunday. We got a lot of work on special teams. We got our number one pick in there running around for the first time in live football. That was good. We got good work for Adam Jones. I thought it was good for Terrell Owens to get out there for the first time in our offense and work. Defensively, I thought they did a pretty good job. I didn't like what we did on third down as much. We gave up some plays on third down that ended up giving up some field position, so we had quite a field position struggle in the first half. We didn't punt the game very well in the beginning, but then Kevin (Huber) came out of it.
"Now, we have to take another step forward. We're playing at home and that's important to me. It's important to get out to a fast start and to have some fun. We need to learn how to make first downs and score some points on offense. We'll do a better job of that this week."
Q: Can you give us an update on Antonio Bryant?ML: "He's doing well. I wish I could tell you tomorrow's going to be the day, but we're not there yet. He's had to work, but it's a tough thing. He's working through a lot of pain. He's doing the work, and we're doing some other treatments that we wish had been done in the leg before. It's a process, but hopefully it comes out in the positive for the kid."
Q: How's Andre Smith?ML: "Andre's doing … OK. That's not a 'well.' That's not a jumping jack or a backflip. He's doing OK."
Q: When do you think you might have him back?ML: "Whenever he gets to where I want him. That's when we'll have him."
Q: Smith has mentioned the last two preseason games. Do you think that's viable?ML: "Andre's not determining that."
Q: Is the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list still a viable option?ML: "The PUP list is a viable option if he doesn't get where I want him to get in the timeframe I want him to get there."
Q: What are you doing to get him where you want him to be?ML: "He's being monitored hourly."
Q: Are you disappointed that he hasn't been able to compete at the right tackle spot?ML: "I wish he had been here to compete. I know he would help the offense had he been here, but I'm not going to let the offense get held back waiting on Andre to figure it out. Andre's going to learn how to be a pro and do things the way they are asked all the time. Hopefully, he'll learn that in a timely fashion, because I'm not going to go through this year in and year out."