HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK
And just as we left last five weeks ago as far as the health of our…that’s probably always the biggest concern for the coach of a team. When you finish up and everyone was OK, is everyone ready to roll when we get back? We have a couple guys that we’ll probably put on PUP or maybe three.
Delanie as you guys know missed three or four practices in the middle of his knee being real sore. Finished with practicing in the mini-camp…actually looked good when he left here. Again, we knew he had some soreness and thought the time off would help him. It did, but he still didn’t feel quite good enough, so he went ahead and he got scoped a few weeks ago and again he’ll just come into camp. He’ll definitely at some point play in preseason and do all that work well...just want to avoid him having to worry about doing something later. I went through the same thing as a player when I made those kind of decisions before camp, after camp, should you do it, can you make it through the season without getting your knee cleaned out. I think he reached a point where he didn’t want to deal with it and take that risk. So, he should be in great shape, but he’ll have to start obviously without practicing for a few, a couple weeks possibly.
Walter, again you know the back has been bothering him throughout training camp. We kept thinking he’d get back by the end of the OTAs. I should say he didn’t. You know he tried some procedures. A lot of times with the back unfortunately I’ve had that also and unfortunately you’ve turned your time to rest and not quite sure if it’s going to bounce back cause you’re…difficult periods of time of doing no activity, which he did. And at about a week or so after he was done it just wasn’t getting any better to the satisfaction of…to play football. So, we went ahead and he had his back…tweaked on his back. Again, which will limit him obviously through training camp probably a little longer than Delanie. But again, those are things you just don’t know how quickly, if it’s four weeks, if it’s five weeks, if it’s six weeks, just depends how his rehab goes once he gets back.
So, those two will be out and, again, Johnson is still struggling, not quite ready with his foot. So, again, we’ve got a decision. Actually today we were hoping that he’d be further along than he is. He’s not, so he’ll start on the PUP also. So, those three are the three guys that won’t practice.
The rest of the rostered guys, let’s start with the offensive line. The guys that were of concern that didn’t practice are all OK. That’s our good news. It’s what we thought, what we’d hoped it would be. (Michael) Roos is doing fine, feels good. He’ll be practicing on Thursday, tomorrow I should say. (David) Stewart, same thing. He’ll move on now into team activities, which he did not do last time. As you guys know, him and (Andy) Levitre will both now participate in practice that way. We’ll be smart like we do other players of working him, how many reps he gets, that type of thing as we work our way through training camp. But the good news is they both feel good, no setbacks, and they’re ready to start competing against the defensive line. So, those guys are up and going that way. So, offensive line wise we’re in good shape there.
And (Roberto) Wallace, he’ll have the ankle. He’s ready at receiver. He should be ready to practice also starting tomorrow. I don’t know if we have anyone else of concern.
Markelle is ready to start doing individual drills. He’s a guy that, he’s at the point now where he just needs to start doing football activity, you know to get over the hump, that last 10, 5, or whatever percentage is…kind of scary, but to get over that last hump for him he’ll start practicing as far as individual like the other guys are doing. They kind of work, help, see how he responds, and work into that. I mean, I think he’s as close as he can be without playing football. So, we just need to see where he’s at. So, he should be active and available starting tomorrow.
(on the timing of Kevin Walter’s injury)
It’s unfortunate for him. I know that. I know how competitive he is. So, I know it’s really something hard to take for any athlete especially when you come to a new football team. But, I think we know enough about him. He’s a special kind of guy I think as far as his work ethic, the type of guy he is, the type of system he’s played in. He’s not a rookie, he’s not a young guy that we don’t know a lot about, so we feel confident in his abilities. So, at least that’s a positive as far as I’m concerned for him is that as much as he wants to be out there now he can kind of really let the receivers play out and let those guys compete, see where we’re at. Again, we know that we have him in the wings at some point to be ready to go. He’s not a guy that’s going to need 2-3 weeks to get ready to play. He’s a guy that understands the game that could step right in and probably play, especially in the role he was going to play anyway. As you know, he’d be a role player for us. So I think it still allows him to do that. Obviously, we’d rather him be out there starting tomorrow and so would he. But, I think because of his experience and his work ethic and the type of player he is, he should handle this well.
(on the nature of Walter’s corrective procedure)
On his back. I mean, he just had it done last week so I haven’t a chance to really…disk in his back, so that was bothering him. So, he had something out in California.
(on how training camp is set up)
Well, you pretty much do it because of the repetition that players need. It’s kind of broken down into almost eight days for us. That’s kind of when you look at the OTAs, it was kind of like the eight OTAs, then we had a competitive day, then we kind of didn’t have a tenth day. So, it’s kind of revved up, we’ve tweaked it as far as what I thought, we think, more needs are. If we can move some things up quicker, maybe we need more work on certain things. So, we’ll start getting right into the flow of the play calling quicker. But generally, you’re thinking, again, because camp will start tomorrow, it’s the first time we can practice. We can’t have pads on until Saturday. So, then even when you do that you want to kind of back track a little bit to make sure you get certain plays, especially the run game with certain plays that you installed two days ago. So, you have to juggle that, but for the most part over the next eight days you don’t play a game for two weeks. So, you get a chance to kind of get everything you want in. But then usually when we go to the stadium next Saturday for our mock game kind of thing where we get a chance to have the guys in the press box and do like a game-like simulation, we have everything in by that time. So, now everything is in, all the situations are in, everything has been covered again. Maybe in a different way, I mean what you do is install it differently. The first time you do more thoroughly as far as in the book, making every point, looking at the pictures in the book, and watching some stuff. Not only watching more tape, you have a lot of tape to watch of us versus our defense. Really, we’re playing our defense for the next two weeks. What our defense does, what our offense does on either side of the ball is what you’re competing against. So schematically, you’re preparing for that over the next two weeks as you reinstall like you’re saying. But now we know where the problems were, if it was a route, we’ve fixed some things, we kind of see some tendencies as we watch ourselves of what guys are struggling with so we can specialize more where we spend our time so we can cut back on mistakes, or lack of understanding, or maybe coaching better. So, it’s the same material, just coached differently and trying to get the way so the players hear it again and again and again to where their confidence grows.
(on whether tempers have flared leading up to training camp)
Yeah, I think they have been. We’ve done a great job. I thought even when you don’t have pads on, where we had quite a few guys squirmishes. But guys, we learned how to practice to where they had broken up quickly. It didn’t escalate into something stupid like you’ll see at times, as far as guys taking it too far to prove something. I think you’re going to always have it, which we did after OTAs. You want that.
(on whether this type of physicality and competitiveness is a positive)
You want edge. You want guys not wanting to get beat on a play, get off a block, or do things like that. I think I already saw it developing, there’s no doubt. When you put pads on, you’ll always have it, just like the first time we practice. You’re going to have a couple things always come up. I think generally you’re going to have it, just going to have to break things up and not let it get out of hand. That’s fine. When you talk about not wanting fighting, that’s what you’re saying. You don’t want a fight. You don’t want a benches clearing fight. I mean that’s the kind of thing you just can’t have because then something silly happens. But you want it to some degree, guys pushing that hard, working that hard, to where there is some frustration, there is some talking, there is some of those things. I think that’s all part of the game, and I think that’ll come out. When you start hitting, and you start getting tired, those things come out. But you have to realize that’s going to happen in the game also. So, you don’t want bad habits to where you think you can push and shove in a game and you get a flag. So, it’s that fine line, but I think you’ll probably see quite a bit of that.
(on building chemistry among the offensive linemen)
I think it’s just working together now. They’ve been communicating, even when they’re practicing, you know walkthroughs, in the meeting rooms. I think now it’s about them doing it physically, with their hand on the ground, getting used to the flow of everything. You can’t teach (Michael) Roos or (Andy) Levitre working together. You can’t quite until you actually do it and you pass off a foot line stunt or when you see it and see it at the same time. So, it’s just, they just need reps. They just need to get out there now and compete against our defense at a high level so we can get a lot of work in that way so we’re used to each other. Same thing with the center because when you’re playing different guys that’s obviously a key position where each communicate with the quarterback and you get used to how he snaps the ball, a lot of little things to do that we weren’t able to do during OTAs because of the injuries. So, that’s an area where we’re really going to have to concentrate on, mixing the right guys in there, and getting caught up.
(on whether Delanie Walker’s injury hurts the offense’s chemistry)
I suppose it does. I mean, there’s no doubt, I mean it does. You’d rather have the guys you’re going to have in September practicing in August and July. But, again, they’ve worked all through OTAs together for the most part, so they’ve got a feel for him a little bit. So, yeah, those are things that are frustrating. You can’t control those things right now. Everyone has the same problem, and you fight on. But, you’d rather have your guys…just a matter of when he’s back and fits. But, again, when you’re talking about veteran guys, even with the offensive line, (Andy) Levitre’s going to take him five minutes or five plays to adjust versus a rookie may take a couple days or it may take a week. I’ll have to figure something out depending on who the rookie is, who the players are. So, I think some things you can catch up real fast. Like you mentioned, (Kevin) Walter, I mean he’s a guy that can, okay he sees that, okay he can make that adjustment, you can just tell him verbally he’s got it. He doesn’t have to see it, walk you through it, cause he’s been in the league. So a guy like Delanie (Walker), that’s what you’re hoping the same thing there. He still has to get practice, but, again, I think we’ll have a little comfort knowing that obviously he’s played a lot of football.
(on whether things are different as a third-year coach)
As far as camp goes, I think it’s like anything; it’s comfort. You’re more comfortable with what you’re doing. You know, we’re doing something I’ve had a chance now to prepare for what I like and what I don’t like and what’s best for our team. I think I know our team. The more you’re around guys the better you get to know what they can and can’t do as far as athletes and as far as how they work, and things like that. So, I think for camp, it’s a lot of that. It gives me confidence with when I put a schedule together of what I think we need. Hey, I saw this last year, maybe the year before this, and you start tinkering more and seeing maybe I’ll try this this year where as we had nothing to compare it to other than being a line coach and comparing to what I liked and didn’t like with other coaches I was around. So, I think those things, just the internal things I can look at and how I want to compete. I think it’s more for me now the excitement. Coaches are the same way. We just can’t wait to get rolling. I’m looking forward to coaching with them, doing more with the offensive line this year. Our system is in place now where things work well. I think we’re comfortable with each other as far as a staff, a coaching staff, as a support staff, all on the same page. So, it allows me to do more things. So, I feel good about what we’re doing. I think the offseason…I’m really not concerned. There’s really no big concerns that we’re concerned about right now. Health is going to be the one that’s always there because that changes on a daily basis, but I just feel like we’re ready to go.
(on spending the first two weeks of training camp in the hotel)
I think it’s those two weeks, I would say to me, it’s the most important two weeks of training camp, and I think it has to be the whole package. I think a player has to know that the priorities have just changed, you know, we’re starting camp on the 24th, on a Wednesday and I’m leaving home. My priorities are now switching around a little bit to what they were in the last six months. Football is kind of jumping in there a little bit higher in the list. I think when you go home your routine doesn’t change a whole lot and mentally you’re not quite all in. You know, I think the expectations, like I tell my wife, she knows that now there’s no more ‘honey DOs.’ I can’t come home at 10 o’clock to do this or that around the house because I’m in lockdown, or you know, I’m at the hotel. I think it’s important to realize, you know what, I’m taking my bag and you’re not putting much in it, you’re not going very far, but I got two weeks to mentally get ready for what’s going to happen this season. I think that’s just part of the equation, staying in the hotel. And you get things from it, obviously the camaraderie. The players are around each other a lot more than when they’re not running home. You know they can just head over there, lay down, sleep and have a place to go throughout the day when they have a couple hours. So, I thought for that reason it was very necessary. Even though you reach a point where once you get into the routine, then you want to kind of get them used to again, OK now get used to your routine during the season. Here’s what it’s going to be like, OK now you’re going to practice and you’re going to go home, so now start getting used that. So, I think that you get the best of both worlds.
(on curfews during training camp)
Yes, there’s curfew. Yeah, curfew every night. 11o’clock. So everyone that’s at the hotel is on curfew, and we stay there as coaches. I mean we’re at the hotel also for those two weeks, for the first 15 days for the same reasons. Again, coaches, players alike, you’ll find something you can squeeze in to do that’s not football that you shouldn’t be doing I think if you are running home too much. So, I think it works well and, again, I think it gets the focus on what’s important with your job.
(on the differences between training camp when you played versus now as a coach)
I think it was that you could put an itinerary on one page, that every day was exactly the same. We’re going to get up at seven o’clock, and they’re going to blow a horn. You’re going to be in a dorm that has no air conditioning. You better go buy a fan. There’s no cable, no TV. Don’t worry about that stuff. It got to where after the second year you could bring a cable and you could watch some TV. You’re in a dorm, horn blows, you’re on the field at 8:30. You don’t have to ask what you’re wearing; you’re wearing full pads. You go lift after practice, you have no choice. You get about a two-hour nap and you come back at 3 o’clock every day and do the same thing again. You put the full pads on, you go out there and practice, and that’s six days a week. It’s the same exact routine and then on Sunday you get the morning off to go to church and you practice in the afternoon. So, you get 13 practices a week in full pads. And, if you’re a rookie the first couple years, you get to come a week early and do an extra week of it. So, it’s how it was when I came to league. So, that’s all I knew. And I thought, well, that’s how…I think that’s how it is. If that’s all it is, you’ll find a way to survive it. But it’s a lot different that way. There wasn’t all these rules. I think that a lot of the rules are very good, too. I think that some of the hitting we did was senseless. It probably cost me two, three years maybe of playing time. Some of my best hits were in training camp. I wish I saved some of those because there were a lot of fights, a lot more was allowed to happen. There wasn’t a concern for a lot of those things people didn’t hear about. It wasn’t obviously as much with the way things have changed, you could be fighting every day and it was what it was. You had to toughen up, a lot more hazing going on. You know, you’re a rookie, you’re practicing and hiding. You didn’t know what was going to happen next. So, it’s different. It was just a different time. I tell these guys some of those stories sometimes. You remember just like our parents tell us, you can never appreciate what you have and how much harder it was for us. But, again, I think a lot of the changes that happened were necessary, and are good for the game because we didn’t have an offseason the way we have now. We didn’t have nine weeks. So, my rookie year I had a minicamp. I didn’t know half the guys on the team when I came to training camp. So, it was different. But, you went away for longer, and you went away. I mean, you got in your car and drove eight hours. I didn’t know, I didn’t know you could ever get out of Texas. You got west Texas, it was three hours past Austin. There’s nothing. I mean, you’re in west Texas. It’s like, where is Saint Angelo, where is Saint Angelo, when do we get there? We get there, and we have the same 30 people watching practice every day. Thirty retired people in the chairs watching practice, and it was fun. It was a great town, they embraced the team. Because again, we were there for so long. So, that was just so different from now. It’s just. Now you stay in town, everything is so different.
I think you’re going to see him start probably, I mean, all four games, I think yes. As much as how much you play, I think that will all depend on what we think is needed. I think we’ll try to play probably as much as we can, but be smart. I mean, not just for Jake (Locker), but the offensive line needs to play, which is good because then we have the offensive line who needs to play with the quarterback, and that’s how you want it; Jake getting used to the receivers, and so on. So, I think that we’ll try to play him as much as we think necessary. I think he still can get a lot of things accomplished in preseason games. It’s not anything like obviously a regular season game, but we need the live work that way. So, we’ll call for it and decide on a weekly basis how much that’s going to be and the flow of the game will determine it. But, we know we need work.
(on the importance of having a strong preseason)
We need to get better, and the only way to get better is by playing and practicing and doing the things we need to do. We can’t wait and say ‘save it for Pittsburgh.’ We need to find out about ourselves, we got a lot of competition going on, we have a lot of decisions to make in a lot of areas, and that is a good thing. It’s going to be hard to come up with 53 guys, and we got a lot of guys that can make this football team. So, sometimes it works out because of other things that happen, but that’s the exciting part. I feel like we really got a really good football team here. It’s up to us to get it to come together over the next six weeks and put together a great product in September.
(on Jake Locker’s performance and success of the team this season)
I think that’s what most quarterbacks have to deal with for the most part, that it starts with them. I mean, he’s the face of the team. Usually the quarterback is going be your leader and he is ours. I think for him, everything is the opportunity. Everything [that’s] happened is about as good as it could happen for Jake (Locker) and everyone else on the team, for me as a head coach. I mean, for me, we went out and we we identified our problems on January 1st of this year and we made the changes we felt necessary on the staff. We made change with the personnel. We went out in the draft and did exactly what we thought we needed to do. So, we’ve done what we think is necessary to do. Now hopefully we’re right. We have to go prove that we’re right on what we did and all those things that we did are obviously going to benefit Jake. If it’s going benefit the quarterback then CJ’s all happy when you hear we got three new offensive linemen. So, that’s going to benefit him. You got Delanie Walker that’s going to benefit the running game and the fact of his versatility so I think we went out and got guys on both sides of the ball that’s going to help us be better coaches. You go back, your coaching, and all of a sudden Jake’s throwing well. We have the best quarterback coach in football. So, that’s what we’re hoping happens. I think we put them in position which is our job to where there’s no reason we shouldn’t play better, all of us. You know, not just the quarterback. I mean, it starts there on offense obviously that position, but up front, if we’re going to win it’s going to be because our offensive line is a lot better than it was last year. And we’re physical, and we’re relentless, and we’re going to move people around on both sides of the ball, and if we do that, which we’re very capable of doing with the guys that we have, then we’re going to win a lot of football games. If we don’t do that then it doesn’t matter. You can overcome things, which we will but our mindset has to be that we take over games when they’re on the line. We’re not going to hope that we can make a play, hope that defense can get a stop. We’ll have some of those games, but we need to take over games better than we have. So, that’s the challenge for all of us and the players know that. They’re excited about that, and that’s the plan. That’s how we think you win and we know we need good play by a lot of players, and quarterbacks included.
(on Jake Locker and his understanding of the offense)
That’s the part I feel good about. I think he has a good understanding of what’s being asked of him. Is he still going to make bad decisions? You know he will; a missed throw here or a bad read. I mentioned practice, I think our defense has really been beneficial to Jake so far because of all the different looks he’s seen different in the past, which is going to help him be a better quarterback. Kind of excited about that for him, as far as how he’s practicing and how he’s responding. He’ll make mistakes but now I think it’s more of he knows exactly why he made the mistake. It’s not, ‘well, I need to go talk to that guy because he must’ve read it differently.’ It’s either right or it’s not. It’s either a bad throw or it’s not. It’s not because it looks like a bad throw. You’re watching it, but you’re the receiver, the tight end is supposed to do this or someone’s in his arm, his arm’s going up so that’s why the ball’s off target. I think now it’s more understood how things are going to be done. There’s less gray area in a lot of phases of our offense and now it’s about go play fast. And you hear people and that’s how you play fast by not having to think so much then you don’t have to wonder. Pre-snap you should already know what to do with the ball. You know, a lot of times last year we weren’t at that point. I used to know pre-snap exactly what the defense is doing, exactly what I need to do, guys moving that way, linebackers stacked here, I don’t have to wait for the ball to be snapped to see it happen. I already know what I’m doing and that should be most of the game if you’re smart on both sides of the ball. I think that we didn’t have that at certain spots because a receiver wasn’t quite sure, ‘should I run it this way,’ so the indecision slowed us down. So I think we took a lot of that out of the offense.
(on undrafted rookies like
Take it one day at a time, you know, don’t get caught up in the numbers. Don’t go looking at the roster, ‘man, I’m the sixth tight end.’ You know, because that means absolutely nothing right now. Your turn will come, so, I think that’s where it starts. You take it day by day. You do your job. You read the sign that says, ‘Be a pro.” You do your job. That’s the bottom line. It’s just day after day, chisel away at it, your opportunities are going to come. So, when it does, you’re prepared to accept the challenge. He’s done a nice job, for example, in OTAs with the reps he’s got. With Delanie missing some practice, he got more reps. I think he flashed some good things. Now let’s put pads on and find out if those good things are still there, for him and other players. So, I think he’s done what he can do to this point, now that challenge rises up for him, too. Can he take it to the next level? Can these guys think when they’re sweating and tired and their hands are on the ground and they’ve been getting hit all day or they’re tired. I mean, how are they going to respond in practice, let alone a game? So, I think you start finding out about guys that way, the guys we don’t know as well. The young guys just have to hang in there and not let his attitude go sideways, not let him talk himself out of an opportunity of a lifetime if it comes up. That’s that kind of thing where he hangs in there mentally and weathers the storm and does the best he can do.
(on the importance of getting
All the above, I agree with you, he needs to be here. Yeah that’s the subject I hope that we wouldn’t have to talk about. As a coach you want to have everybody here. Hopefully that’s going to happen here soon, I mean, that’s all I can hope for. Definitely want him here, need him here. He’s a big part of, we feel, the offensive line so that’s important to us. We’re just going to have to see how that plays out and hope that’s something that we see him real soon.
(on Warmack at right guard)
I think we feel comfortable that from what he did in the summer or the spring, there’s no reason that he wouldn’t be the best right guard we have on our football team. He still has a lot of work ahead of him, we all know that, but it all depends. If for some reason he misses an extreme amount of time, that changes the equation. So we’ll wait and see. I assume that that’s not going to be the discussion that we have to have. But we’ll see.
I’m sure we’ll start off like we finished rolling guys, and then I think you’ll see. Now you’re at the next level, now we’re at training camp, so you’re probably going to see decisions being made a little quicker than they are at OTAs. We want to start seeing certain guys working with other people. So, they may start that way. Like I said, we’re not going to be big on, ‘Who’s out there the first day means, oh jeez, what does that mean?’ That means nothing. It means that’s how we finished at OTAs so we’ll start that way. Now let’s see who’s working well together in what packages and especially on defense, there’s so many packages. With Gregg Williams and Jerry Gray talking we’re doing a little more packaging so we can more specialize what guys do well, especially the linebacker position. So it’ll play out. I mean, the best guys are going to play without a doubt. They all know that. I think we have good competition for that reason. If (Colin) McCarthy’s there one day and (Moise) Fokou the next day and all that’s not going to mean anything until we get to the games. So it’s just a matter of seeing how everything goes.
(on McCarthy’s health)
He’s healthy, he looks good. There’s no concerns there as far as us having to limit him in any way. So, I mean, I think we’re just going to bring out a good group of young linebackers, that we hope we have, that we think we have.
(on Willard saving a family on the roadside as he reported to camp)
Yeah, just heard about it, I’m proud of him. I’m looking forward to talking to him and hearing his own words. We’re proud that he got involved. He saw something and reacted in a positive way and brought good to a tough situation and I’m looking forward to hearing his version of it. He’ll have to stand up in front of the team and explain it when we get started so we can get started on an obviously very positive note. So, looking forward to talking to him and just proud of him and the organization is that he got involved in something that could’ve been bad.
Yeah, I mean, you mentioned Pollard, I mean he’s smart. He’s not going to try and knock out one of his own guys. He’s not going to try to do more than is necessary. I think he gets that. That’s what’s about being part of a team and understanding how to practice together. I think we get that. Will there be some hard hits, definitely, but we need to have some hard hits. I mean, our backs and receivers need to get hit. I mean, we need to see then hold on to the ball. So, legal hits obviously, which that’s all they would be. So I think it’s just that it’s all about the intent. It’s a clean, it’s intent. You’re going to have a thud. We’re not tackling to the ground out here, that won’t happen until we play the game. He plays smart, he’ll be physical, he’s going to show up and the good thing about him is even if he’s not going to show up, the other players wonder if he’s going to show up, and that’s half the battle. They’re wondering “where is he?” You know, all of sudden that affects a run that affects a catch, that type of thing, even though he’s out there in shorts. So, that’s hopefully the good. That’s the identity hopefully our defense will have. That’s how we’re playing as a team.
You said he did race? I haven’t heard. You know, that’s tough. When’s he plan on doing that? I didn’t know he ran. Recently? I have to go with our guy. I’m a CJ-backer. I’m all behind him, especially July through January, But at least, obviously he didn’t get hurt, so that’s a good thing.
(on HGH testing)Once they usually come to what’s going to change then I think we’ll get more in the conversation on exactly what they’re going to do. I know I was playing and we went through the steroids in the 80’s and how they’ve handled it and I think they’ve come up with a way to test and it’s an accurate system. I think it’s great. I think any time they can improve the game or take away competitive edge that maybe someone’s getting that’s not right, I think the league needs to step in. That’s what they’ve done over the past. And also about safety. Back when I was playing guys were taking steroids and didn’t understand they saw the obvious effects of them. They didn’t understand what it was doing to them long term. So I think they’re educated that way. I think anytime we, the league, can do that, in a productive way, a way where you know it’s a good system, then I’m sure they won’t do anything until they feel they have reached that point. They’ve been talking about this for a long time and it sounds like they’re getting closer to doing something that’ll help the game get better.