Q: When you put LB Rey Maualuga at his position (SLB), was that decision based on the idea that could compete for a job there now, or the idea that his skills fit there on this team?ML: "As far as how you play defense in the NFL, we're an 'over' defensive football team (DTs shifted towards the tight end). The guy that has to play in that bubble (gap created by the DT shift) is our linebacker. I think Rey has demonstrated those skills. He's the guy that has an opportunity to become a part of the pressure defenses."
Q: How is DE Michael Johnson looking?ML: "Mike has done a really good job. He has exceeded my expectations. Of all the rookie players that I've been around in the NFL, he's played as fast and as physical and has made as many football plays early in camp (as any of them). I have been really pleased with Mike."
Q: Regarding the fullback position, how do Fui Vakapuna and the other guys look?ML: "Those guys have done a real good job. It'll be fun to see as we go through the preseason how it shakes down."
Q: What do you see out of DeDe Dorsey?ML: "We've got a lot of guys working at that spot. As DeDe gets his opportunities, I think he's always going to be a guy that's a shifty runner. That's going to be a competitive position. Really, it's going to come down to how we perform as we go through the preseason games. All those guys are well aware of what their opportunities to make the football team are going to be."
Q: How does Kyle Cook look at center?ML: "Kyle has handled things very well so far. We're just five days into this, but for the football that we've had thus far, I think he's done a good job."
Q: What happened with Daniel Coats?ML: "He twisted an ankle."
Q: As you look ahead to Friday, what would you like to take away from the intrasquad scrimmage?ML: "It's a good opportunity for the offensive groups and defensive groups to play together. It's really the only one or two times that we'll have live football here until we play somebody else. It's a great chance for young guys to compete and play. It makes a big difference when you add tackling to the mix because they rarely tackle their teammates. They aren't used to taking the ball carrier to the ground, so it takes a little bit of time to get used to."
Q: Some of the guys are talking about how "hungry" they are after last year. Do you get that same feeling?ML: "Throughout the entire offseason and training camp, I think there has been a sense of excitement. We open up our season at home, and that's big. How the season ended up last year didn't sit well with the leaders of this football team. When grind the way you grind and you don't get anything for it, you don't like Mondays. You keep that in the back of your mind. We were able to pull out of it a little bit and have some fun at the end of the year, but that doesn't account for anything right now. We've got to start from scratch and do it over. We've got to start being productive and make football plays and good decisions right from the start. We can't put ourselves in error."
Q: Is (WR) Andre Caldwell where you would like him to be at this point?ML: "He finished the season as our best player out there last year on offense. Andre has done nothing but go forward since then. He got an opportunity to play, and he really got confident. He's one of these young guys that had an injury (foot), but really stepped up later and got going. He missed a little time in the middle of the year, but as he came back, he really earned his opportunities. He's confident in what he's doing, and we'll have a couple of different combinations of plays where we get in three-wide receiver sets. It'll be fun. We're better now than we were a year ago, and I'm pleased with that."
Q: How vital would it be to get back to that level of forcing turnovers the way you did a couple of years ago?ML: "It's big. The more we can put the ball in the possession of our offense — and, literally, that's what defense is all about — the better. Your best defense is on the bench drinking Gatorade. If you can get the ball back and put it in the hands of our offense — if you stop the opponent in three snaps and out — that's how you play defense."