Posted: 2:30 p.m.
Q: How much does it help the psyche of this team knowing what Cedric Benson has proven himself and will be part of the backfield this year?ML: "Cedric had a really good finish to our season a year ago. He came to us in midseason, having to learn everything from scratch, and he was still able to be productive. He embraced the learning part, and everybody was impressed with that. His teammates were impressed with him throughout (the end of last year), and they saw, as time went on, how effective he became."
Q: What are some of the things you like about Kyle Cook, given his inexperience in actual game situations?ML: "Kyle has been with us for awhile, so we understand and have watched him play and practice. He's a big, strong guy, he's smart and understands the game, and he's able to make the calls and get people put in the right situations all of the time. He's also athletic enough to block guys. Can he block the big guys on the nose that we play in this division? That's why we need a special guy. He's been stout at doing that in practice, so now it's just a matter of making the transition to playing real football. He was at a point last year where we were going through this stage of possible transition, and he broke his foot in warmups (at Dallas). So it was kind of an opportunity which was lost, and he gets a chance now to prove that he can do the job and handle it time and time again. I think the coaches, players and everyone who has been around Kyle all have a lot of confidence in him. because they have seen him work."
Q: You mentioned Kyle Cook, and then if you have Andre Smith in there, is the biggest thing just bringing them together?ML: "It's not bringing the guys together, it's just that everybody has to see things on the same page, how it's been outlined on the game plan. As for Kyle, he has to be clear, he has to make a declaration, and he has to make some decisions and go with it. So you want a guy who feels good and confident about that, and who the rest of the guys are confident with, and that's what Kyle has been."
Q: What can Rey Maualuga bring to this team, and what expectations can you put on him considering a lot of people were calling him the "steal of the draft?"ML: "He's a very good football player, and he's able to understand and learn football as it comes. So he gives himself every opportunity to prove he can be a starting football player in the NFL from day one. He's in a battle for (playing) time. We're going to carve out spots for him to play, but he will make an impact."
Q: Rey is known as a banger, but he has shown some shades of athleticism during his time here. Why do you think he can play the outside as well as the inside?ML: "He's just playing linebacker; it doesn't matter. It's just about what you are asked to do, based on skills, opportunity and responsibility."
Q: Will Carson be participating in both practices during two-a-days, as opposed to how you used him in minicamp, when he would sit out the second practice of the day? ML: "You want to make sure you keep everybody in rhythm if at all possible. "Yes, at minicamp, he sat out some, and we got some other guys some work. Sometimes, some of the decisions we make are not necessarily as much for Carson as they are for the other guys, just to see how the football team operates, and that's a good thing. But we will limit him again because we don't want to overwork any of our quarterbacks, and he likes to take so many repetitions. We just want to be careful with it throughout, just like we would with whoever it is."
Q: How are you feeling about Anthony Collins?ML: "We've really not had significant work, but Anthony proved to us last year that he could come in and play good football in the NFL. So we had a lot of confidence in Anthony, and that's not going to waver what we're doing thus far. It's a matter of him settling in, and if indeed he ends up being the best player, then he'll be the best player."
Q: How happy are you with the tempo and retention level on offense?ML: "I've been happy with the tempo of things offensively, and we have to keep it up. We'll continue to go faster and faster, and that's my thing all the time, to keep the tempo of offense up and keep the pressure on the defense. As we go forward, we'll get on the 25-second clock, but we'll pay more attention to the personnel stuff earlier in camp."
Q: How is Jeremi Johnson doing?ML: "Jeremi's done well in two practices. He's like a lot of other guys, he's in a battle to try and make the football team, and he's embracing his chance."
Q: We've heard a lot of the guys talk about the optimism they feel as camp breaks out. As a coach, is that something that you pay much attention to?ML: "That's probably the same question that you asked last year (laughs). So I think year after year, it's going to be the same. I don't think that changes any time you kick off an NFL season."
Q: Has the presence of the HBO film crew affected you or the performance of your players? Have you noticed that boom mic (above your head)?ML: "No, I haven't noticed it at all."
Q: Can you give us an update on Andre's Smith's contract status?ML: "No, I have no updates on Andre's status. I believe Andre is doing well (personally), but I have no updates on his contract."
Q: Is there a timetable how his holdout may affect his chances to contribute this season?ML: "He's not a holdout, he's an unsigned player. He can't be here, he is restricted by NFL law being here, so he's really not a holdout. So until he comes to a contract agreement with his people and our people, he won't be here. When he gets here, we'll work with him and give him every opportunity to contribute to this football team as quickly as possible. And based on his abilities, I believe he'll be able to do that."