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Coach Munchak's Aug. 27 Practice Report

Posted Aug 27, 2013



HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(on making cuts today)

I imagine we’ll meet here after practice and get that finalized.

(on holding starters out of the game Thursday night to avoid injuries)

You know, there’ll be some guys not playing because unfortunately we have a lot of guys with nicks that aren’t going to play already. Akeem (Ayers), Zach (Brown), and Shonn (Greene) and guys like that. So, we already had quite a few missing. For the most part, I think guys are going to play. You know when you cut the roster to 75 and you have about a dozen hurt or 10 guys or so, there’s only 60 guys to play in the game or so. We’re all going to play if we’re healthy, and the young guys will probably get a lot more reps than the others.

(on whether the playing surface at the Metrodome affects how much the starters will play on Thursday)

It does. It definitely does. It’s something you consider at this time because we played on it at Cincinnati, but haven’t really practiced on it. It’s more of the guys who have injuries that you’re a little more concerned with that. You have to be smart. But, again, they’re not going to be playing that much, so it shouldn’t matter a whole lot. To me, your body gets in a routine. These guys are getting into a routine of playing every week now these last three weeks. We play football. We got warmed up, got the adrenaline going. To me, it’s really you do the same thing in this game. You get a great warm-up. You get the mindset that you’re playing. You go out there and play whatever it is, 10 plays, 15 plays. You play at a high level and then you come out. Then they have plenty of time to get ready for the next one. So, that’s what a lot of the guys will be doing and then the guys that are hurt obviously won’t play. The rest of them will at least get in the game, and we’ll just kind of take it from there.

(on Kenny Britt’s status)

No, Kenny (Britt) is more of a probably because his knee’s been swelling. Like the question I was asked about, he’s a guy that would probably benefit by not necessarily playing on astroturf with a knee that swells up.

(on whether Kenny Britt’s knee has been swelling more lately)

No. He could play. There’s no problem. He’d be able to play this game if it was a regular season game, no problem. If we’re already going to limit them with reps and he’s coming off a short week and it’s on a tougher surface, that’s always a reason to let it rest. Otherwise, there’s no doubt that he’d be able to play. We’re not concerned for that. He’d be able to play without any restriction.

(on whether Damian Williams could be a full-time returner)

Well, that just gives you flexibility that if something ever did happen or you had to find spots, he’s a guy that gives you that versatility that he could go catch some balls if you had to go that direction. That’s the kind of talks you have all the ‘what-ifs.’ What if you do this? What if you do that? Then who will do that? So, that’s one of those things where you get into all those kind of scenarios. Ideally, it’d be D-Rey (Darius Reynaud) doing that stuff.

(on whether Chris Johnson believes in the offensive system more this year)

Yeah. I think there’s no doubt he’s more comfortable. I think the first year I was here we had the lockout, and he held out. He had never experienced that. That made that year kind of strange, the whole year. We never really got that back it seemed like. Then the system was changed. It was a different play-caller, a different way we were doing things. Last year, I thought he had a period where he ran the ball as good as anyone for a 6-7 week period. But, then we weren’t consistent enough from the start to finish. I think he just feels good about everything. I think he’s had a good camp. I think he’s excited about the guys around him with the offensive line, the way Dowell (Loggains) is calling the game. I think everyone sees positives there that they’re all part of it. With the receivers here, there will be times where we run the ball a lot, but there will be times we pass a lot. I think they’re seeing that. I think when you can do that and you can find a happy medium then you can kind of make everyone happy. I think he’s happy right now knowing that this is trending in a good direction for him as far as the opportunities he’s going to have with this offense.

(on whether Chris Johnson looks like he’s running more decisively this year)

I think the holes have been better, so I think it allows the confidence to grow and the decisiveness to be what it has been. So, that has shown I think. The first three weeks has been a cleaner look for him. He’s getting a lot more reps. He’s got a quite a few reps even though the first game he only got two. The last couple weeks he’s gotten his fair share of reps, so he’s very comfortable with what we’re trying to do.

(on the possibility of only keeping two quarterbacks)

I mean, that’s something each year that’s part of the discussion. I mean a lot of teams are only carrying two. We discussed that the last couple of years, but we’ve kept three. Again, that’s one of those things that’s always on the table. As you’re putting together your final roster, that’s definitely a spot that you’re always looking at.

(on the arguments for and against keeping two quarterbacks)

Well, I think it’s what you have at other spots. Ideally, you’re going to play two guys. We love Rusty (Smith). We love him being here and all that. But, it comes down to…injuries sometimes affect that when you have to carry extra guys, maybe an extra linebacker. We have injuries at linebacker, so that could force your hand to say ‘Well, where do we get that extra spot from?’ We’re not going too lean somewhere else. I think that’s kind of the game you play. Everyone plays it. So, that’s where you look at are we better? Is the team better? What’s going to help us win against Pittsburgh and Houston? What’s the best 53-man roster, game day 46 to help us win those first two games.

 

(on what happens if Jake Locker gets hurt)

You got to have an answer. You got to be thinking about a plan for your three if something does happen with who you’d move up and what you do if a guy did get hurt. So, again, you’re going to have to have a guy on practice squad or active. Obviously, you’re going to have to have a quarterback in the house who feels comfortable and knows your system. That’s going to be important. We’re healthy right now, just like at other positions you’re healthy. When you start having questions on a Sunday if a guy can stay healthy, then you do need the extra guy. So, we should be OK.

(on whether Rusty Smith is practice squad eligible)

Yes he is.

(on crunching numbers at the receiver position)

I think on offense it probably is. I think we kept five the last couple of years. We all know there’s a good argument for six at this point. I think that’s definitely a position. You know, with linemen you’re thinking nine and you’re looking at that. Sometimes we’ve carried 10, and sometimes we’ve carried eight. When I coached the O-line, we carried eight a few years. Running backs you can’t go any leaner. Tight ends you can’t go any leaner. So, that’s really the only spot you can play around a little bit. That’s going to be a tough spot because some guys have played pretty well.

(on whether decisions have been made regarding the starting center and corner)

No. We’re going to today finalize the kind of thinking there, especially at the center spot what our plan is for the offensive line for this game now that we’ve had a couple practices. Same thing at corner. Again, it’s harder this game because you’re not going to play certain guys a lot. We’re going to look and see how we’re going to handle the corner spot. Last week we alternated. I’m sure we’ll probably do something similar on that regard on defense. I would think in the next couple days we’ll have that finalized.

(on shuffling the offensive line)

Those two guys (Fernando Velasco and Chris Spencer) and (Brian) Schwenke. Schwenke needs to continue to get reps. He’ll play most of the game, probably three quarters of the game with the other two guys playing quite a bit at guard again. I’d imagine that’s the way we’d go similar to what we did last week. Then we’ll let this thing play out and see the best combinations. Again, we’re comfortable. Obviously, Fernando has been here awhile. We know what Fernando can do at center just like I think we know what (Alterraun) Verner could do at corner. There’s only so much Verner can show us. He’s been a starter here. We know what he can do. In this preseason game, there’s not much he’s going to do that’s going to change your thinking. I think it’s more of the younger guys you want to see them play and see how they respond to another NFL game. That’s what we’ll be doing. That’s kind of how we’re looking at it in different ways and then figure out the best way to do this thing.

(on whether the fourth preseason game is more important for the younger guys)

I think it is. I think it’s for those last few spots and maybe to lock down things that’s were thinking. You still want to see guys go out there and play well. Just like I said, it’s hard for someone in this game when Minnesota is doing the same thing probably to make a lot of big decisions. It’s more just about seeing consistency and being happy with what you think is going to be best for this team come next week.

(on concern over injuries at the linebacker position)

I think (Colin) McCarthy playing this game is a big deal. I think it is for everybody, for us, for him, especially with (Zaviar) Gooden being hurt and knowing that he’s not going to be able to play for a couple more weeks. That slows you down there. We’re counting on Colin. We have been. We’re expecting him to play well tomorrow and be a big part of our defense this year. This game is probably as big as anything on defense that he gets a chance to play and get comfortable again and get all the aggravation behind him. Let’s move forward with him helping us win football games.

(on how much injuries to Akeem Ayers and Zach Brown hurt)

I think it hurts. I think it has hurt. Just like we’ve talked about on other positions on offense, a lot of the offensive line wasn’t here practicing. That does hurt you. These guys are young. Zach (Brown) is in his second year, his first year coming into the league as a starter. Akeem (Ayers) is not playing. You think they’re going to be back and we think they will be, but it is concerning. That’s why it is important for Colin (McCarthy) to come in and play well and have his confidence so we can go into Minnesota with another healthy linebacker rather than someone else that’s questionable.

(on whether Colin McCarthy is on the bubble)

He’s not on the bubble. I just think it’s more he needs to play football.  I think he’s just frustrated. We all would be. I have been when I didn’t play because of injury. Last year was a long year with him. Then he came in and had nice OTAs and looked good and all of a sudden he had something else that sets him back. He wants to start. He wants to play. He doesn’t want to just be part of the team. He wants to be contributing in a big way, and he hasn’t been able to do that. We still think he’s going to be a big part of what we do this year, but he just needs to have an opportunity to play and get his confidence back and get through this one without any problems.

(on whether Moise Fokou is better as a middle or outside linebacker)

When I say inside, I mean the “Mike” or the “Will,” off the ball kind of linebacker. He’s not necessarily a “Sam,” our “Sam” that we’d put on the line. He’s more of an insider linebacker. He could play either or, so we have some flexibility there also. If (Colin) McCarthy’s healthy, you could look at what does he play, “Mike?” There’s things you can do that give you some versatility once Colin is back in the mix and healthy which we feel he is. He just hasn’t had a chance to play yet. This is his opportunity. I think he’s excited about it, and we’re excited for him.

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