HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK
Good workout I thought for us. I think when you go outside at night and it’s so much cooler than it is during the day and you have the crowd out here, I think it energized the guys quite a bit. I think they can relax and not go too hard, but I think it ended up being a pretty good workout for our second time out here. Those guys would love to practice at night every night if we could.
(on why Munchak waited a day before having the crowd out to practice)
Similar to what we did last year, just to kind of get these guys a practice under their belt before we came out, nothing more than that. I felt Sunday night is always a great night for a lot people to be at. It’s a little cooler than being out at 2:30 in the afternoon on a Saturday. I think they enjoyed it. I think it was something where everyone was able to stay and watch the whole practice without worrying about the heat. I thought we were ready to come out here and be under the lights, and it worked out well.
(on how much further ahead the team is today than at this time a year ago)
That’s what’s exciting about it. We talked a little about it yesterday. We’re able to do so much more on the scripting. Today we did a blitz period. Last year, we couldn’t do that at this time. The quarterbacks are making a lot of adjustments, that’s obviously hard for a fan to see from the sidelines—checking protections, checking out of a run, just a lot of things. We weren’t even able to go out there in empty formations. The defense is making all kinds of adjustments, checking out of blitzes and into blitzes, changing coverage. Just a lot of football jargon, but for us, it shows us how much further ahead we are. Hopefully that will help us go on to the season.
(on what he hopes to see out of
Just what he’s been doing—step up and make plays, be a leader. I think we showed the confidence we had in him. He’s a guy that is here every day during the offseason. He’s the first guy out in practice, helps on special teams even though he’s not on them. He leads that way which is fun. I think he loves the game, and we’re looking forward to a big year. He’s a guy that’s been to the Pro Bowl a couple of times, he’s had success in his career with some picks, and that’s what we’re expecting this year. I think he’s enjoying the role. We’re just getting started, but it will be fun for that group to come together this year.
That’s something you don’t give a raw thought to. He’s worked hard in the offseason, he looks bigger to me. He looks more physical to me than he did last year at this time. Him and Akeem (Ayers) as two young linebackers… he definitely is loaded with confidence. I think that he realizes that this is his team to lead. He’s a guy that, as we saw last year, makes big plays, knows how to hit the back, where to hit him, no matter who the back is, puts him on the ground, knocks the ball out. He’s that kind of guy, so I think the way he works out, that’s not something we’re worried about. We obviously need him the whole year, and hope that he can do it.
(on if he thinks that defensive coordinator Jerry Gray might try to change second-year linebacker Colin McCarthy’s hit first, think second mentality)
Your second year, you’ll have to learn—especially if you’re playing against…in the passing game, your drops, things like that. We all do, we have a lot to work on, a lot of things we can get better at than we did last year. You can see his confidence, and the fact that he’s a guy we feel can stay on the field the whole game. That’s something he showed he could do last year. He’s relishes the challenge, and that’s what I think is fun about it. You wouldn’t think he’s in his second year, and last year when we started playing, you didn’t really think he was a rookie. Excited to see what he can do this year.
It is. I’m excited for him too because last year again not having an offseason for him and we put him in there at receiver. I think he had a very good OTA and a very good offseason those nine weeks. Like you said this will be a chance for him to get more reps, which he has already, and hoping that we get Kendall (Wright) in here soon anyway. We got a lot of young players there that are going to get a chance to get reps, and see if we can get one to develop and maybe surprise us when we go into the preseason games.
(on his expectations of Marc Mariani’s productivity levels)
I hope so. The quarterbacks have confidence in him, I know that. I think he’s developed a confidence in himself that he knows how to make those adjustments. He’s not limited to maybe a couple of routes or couple of plays, maybe as we had last year with him. The confidence now is that he can do a lot more, and we’ll have to see what happens, especially during the preseason.
(on whether there is an update on Kendall Wright)
No, I don’t know anything that anyone else does, unfortunately. Again, I was hoping obviously that it’d be done by now. But we can’t worry about him until he gets here. Hopefully it’ll be soon.
(on when Wright’s absence in practice will impinge on his learning)
Well, the good thing for us is that he spent the eight or nine weeks with us and has a really good feel for what we’re doing. And the fact that a lot of the adjustments that we make, and he’s used to reading coverages, he’s done a lot in college which a lot of the receivers you couldn’t say that about. So, it’d be more of a scare if it wasn’t. You want him here. There’s no doubt. If he’s going to help us early, you don’t want to miss any time. We’ll see, but he’s a guy that has a great head start on most young receivers just because of the system he was in, the fact that he played four years in college, and he got better every year. He’s not a guy that played two years and came out and is still figuring the game out. He was part of a pretty good offense at Baylor and has a lot of confidence. I think we all saw that when he was here in OTAs. I think that gives him a chance, even though he’s missed a few days that he should be fine.
(on when Kendall Wright is required to be at practice to play in the first game)
The night before? I don’t know. There may be rules involved in that. You just don’t rush him if it goes that long and we’re hoping it doesn’t. We’re hoping he’s with us when we go to Atlanta next week. We’ll just hope for the best and practice with the guys that are here.
(on what he is looking for in
His confidence, that’s where you see his progress from last year to this year. Even during the season this year, he’s confident. He’s made some catches out here that a confident man makes, not a guy that is shying away from them. He made some great grabs here. He’s that guy we all thought he was. He’s developed nicely there. The run-game, I think he’s working hard on his technique there. He’s gotten stronger. He’s just getting better every year. That’s what you want with players, to get better every year. He’s shown us last year that he can be a big weapon. We just have to get to where that happens every Sunday. That takes a joint effort by us and him to make sure every game that he’s a factor because he’s a tough person for the defense to deal with.
(on how his assessment of the linebackers changed from a year ago)
I think the big thing is that we know them well. For young men, they’re very confident. You watch
I knew that would be the case. He comes in here and is one of the strongest guys on the football team and it shows when he plays. He just has to do it from when it starts to finish, and he knows that. He’s looking physical and strong right now as we start. He realizes he’s in fight and is enjoying that. He’s one of the guys that we need to lead us and step up if we’re going to have a good year
(on the players’ levels of excitement for the start of full-pads practice)
We have to have a talk tomorrow because everyone seems to think when pads go on, fights start and that becomes, ‘let me show you how tough I am.’ I’m not sure if they can go any faster, as far as speed and quicks and they’re definitely learning how to practice with each other. Where we’re not near the quarterback and we’re pulling off, and we’re practicing smart. We’re staying off the ground. When we put the pads on, we’re adding an element, no doubt, especially the first couple of days until they get sore. So I’m sure the energy level tomorrow will be big the next two practices. So we just have to practice smart. The speed should be the same. Obviously a little more hitting. Still smart around the pocket. Not finishing guys off on the ground, we’ll have plenty of time to that when preseason starts.