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Coach Munchak's Thursday Training Camp Report

Posted Aug 1, 2013

HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(on Chris Johnson sitting out of practice)

Primarily we thought those guys were a little sore the last couple of days so we figured we still got a full practice tomorrow and one on Saturday and certain guys needed some rest, and he’s one of them.

(on the grind of training camp)

I mean you want guys to weather through it all, that’s part of the mental toughness part, to buffer the body and the mind. You get through these kind of days and I’ve always said those first 10-12 days are always the toughest mentally and physically to get through. We’ve had some guys that their bodies are wearing out a little bit and just needed a break. For the most part, the guys have done well, pushing through on a day that got a little hotter, which we needed. So, we got a good, solid workout.

(on whether Chris Johnson will play next Thursday in the preseason opener)

Yeah. Right now I would think we’re fine. I would think yeah with CJ, it’s just a matter of how much we decide to play.

(on how much work Chris Johnson will get this preseason)

I think it’s more of a combination for us and him like what we’re going to try to do, how many runs, how many touches we want him to have. We’ll feel with him how he’s feeling. He needs to get tackled, he needs to have feels of the game, which we can’t give him out here. I think that’s part of it, holding on to the ball, getting contact. He’ll play like the rest of them. First three games he’ll get his share. We’ll work him into playing with (Jake) Locker. We’ll be smart. Obviously, if we need to take a guy out, he’ll be one of the first guys out. To me at some point you suit him up and want to get enough work to where he breaks a sweat and gets a workout.

(on the full pads rotation)

We’re just seeing how they’re feeling. This is the first time we’ve had pants on in the afternoon. Both of our times in pants have been in the evening, so I wanted to get one warm day. We will obviously get that again on Saturday when we go to the stadium. That’s all. Just decide on different times to get used to them on the legs. Legs get tired. They’re a little more tired having something on their legs, so they need to feel what that feels like, because in September there are going to be some warm games. It’s going to be warm in Pittsburgh. It’s been warm here in September, too. We just want to get them used to them.

(on Chance Warmack transitioning)

He’s doing fine. He’s a typical rookie. To me it’s no different. He’s way ahead of some and in the same place as other rookies. There are a lot of things he hasn’t heard. He’s hearing some plays for the first time, whether it be screens, whether it be change of direction plays, plays that aren’t of our base system that he wasn’t really here for the installation for. There are plays like that where you have to coach him up a little bit more. Overall, he’s doing fine, just has to get used to this thing physically and communicating with the center and the guard, with (David) Stewart, which he hasn’t done yet until the last two or three days. So just stuff like that. That’s what this is for. He has plenty of time and the goal is just to get better every day.

(on Marc Mariani’s return)

You see an injury like that, you always see the way the players always find a way to come back from injury. You hear the story of guys making those comebacks because of their determination, will, love of the game, all that stuff. He had all that. So we thought if anyone could make it back from that type of injury, it was him. He proved that by how he worked from the day he got hurt. From the next day out he took an aggressive approach to find a way to know that wasn’t going to be the last play he played and I think he’s done a great job fighting through it. It’s a tough time for him. OTAs are one thing when you have days off. You practice one day, get a day off, practice. This is everyday. It’s a different type of routine for him to get through physically. He’s pushing through and hopefully he’s just going to continue to get better. He’s going to have to fight through some adjustments, get used to the field and he knows what that feels like. It’s remarkable what he’s done so far.

(on a maintenance day for Mariani)

We want to get him to the game. We want to give him a chance to play in the game again, do some things, get the ball back in his hands and play in that first preseason game, which I’m sure he will. We don’t want to lose him along the trail with all the work he’s done. But, he needs to work. If we told him to take tomorrow off, he’d be telling us “no way.” He knows there are certain things he’s supposed to work through. We will be working with him, just like the other players and being smart that we don’t push him too far so maybe he’s more tired than he is. He’s done a heck of a job.

(on the dog days of camp)

I think they’ve done well. They’ve handled the schedule well. These three days here, yesterday, today, tomorrow, are the tougher days. We get through this, to me, we’re over the hump for the most part. You’ve weathered the transition back into football, 12, 14 hour days mentally and physically are what we’re doing out here, and you start playing football games every week. With it being football games, you have preseason and they play 15, 20, 25 snaps depending on who they are, but also, they know practice kind of lightens up those couple of days before games. So, really we get this Saturday over at the stadium going through game-like situations. They have the day off Sunday. They regroup. We have a couple days, then against the Redskins and we’re playing. Things are moving a lot faster now. Today’s a tough day. We went through a lot of stuff today, two-minute, red zones, and getting through this day tomorrow is big, but they see light through a tunnel now.

(on the understanding of new rules and the NFL officials being here)

I think it’s good to hear their perspective on the rules. It’s one thing hearing it, being told at the owner’s meetings what the rules are and we fight over them as head coaches. Trying to go through the rules, do they make sense, how are they going to call them? I think once you get them out here, you watch the tape, the players get to see exactly what the emphasis is going to be this year. What things the league isn’t happy with that they’re really going to be looking at hard.  Then the new change, the four or five changes they have every year. Having the officials here to explain it and simple vocabulary of what they’re actually looking for and why they’ve called a call is helpful to the players. You don’t want a lot of flags we want a lot of discussion and I think that’s what you hope to get out of these next three days is these players learning why they’re going to call certain things, what they’re looking for when they’re calling a holding or PI down the field, things like that. I think that’s what players have to take advantage of and I know I do.  When officials used to come in and used to talk about what they can see and what they can’t see, why they call certain things because it’s help you out and you learn how to play the game better.

(on if he is worried about the new ducking head rule)

No I’m not really. After hearing them talk about and the fact that it’s not going to be called unless it’s very clearly in the open field and they have no doubt that it wasn’t legal. Those kind of hits, if you watch them on tape, someone’s going to get hurt, either the running back or the defensive guy trying to tackle with his head looking completely at the dirt is not safe, especially when they line each other up. So, there’s a lot of requirements for that flag to come out. Now I don’t see that as a problem, the way they’re going to call it. I think guys might get fined after the fact because they’re not seeing it, if that’s going on. But, I don’t think there’s a lot of that going on. I think a lot has been made out of that. I don’t really see that affecting the game in a negative way.

(on changing things if Chris Johnson is out and Shonn Greene is in)

Not really. I think we feel he can… that’s what we want him here for.  He feels comfortable being the lead guy. He can carry the ball 15, 20 times. He’s done that before and he’s very willing to do that again. Yeah, there’s going to be certain runs, maybe some trick plays that we won’t do with him as much as we would CJ because of their difference in speed. We can do it all. He’s a complete back and that’s why we want him here and that’s why we think he’s going to make a big difference in our offense this year. 

(on preseason injuries)

There’s not a whole lot you can do about it. You can plan the best you can and things happen. I think you just got to go out and play and not worry about it. You have to be smart. Some things you just can’t avoid, but we’re going to be smart and pull off. I think the way the schedules are, there’s not a whole lot leaner you can go, for a coach. I don’t know that any coach is over taking advantage of anybody. There are limits to how long you can be on the field, how many practices; there are limits on what you can do. Unfortunately, when you have these guys on the field making plays and doing things, things happen. Sometimes it’s the things that don’t even look like someone got hurt that are the worst injuries out here. We’re very aware of it. We’re telling the players all the time to take care of themselves when they’re not practicing. We’re keeping a close eye on players for things like that. But, you need players to come in and take care of themselves not really when they’re injured, but when they’re sore. That kind of helps get through his deal. It’s a challenge, and there’s no doubt the last thing you want to do is lose players this time of year, but it’s hard to avoid in some cases. 

(on Kenny Britt’s progression)

Kenny is running as well as he’s run. He’s confident. He likes what we’re doing. Everything is plus, plus, plus with Kenny. He’s a guy that you have to be very careful monitoring how many reps he’s getting, how much running he’s doing. But so far, so good. I think he’s excited he’s not worrying about anything anymore. He’s not worried about my left knee, my right knee, understanding the offense. Those things are out of his mind and he’s just playing now. This is when we saw him, at his best, when he came into the league with us. Hopefully it’ll make a big difference this year. 

(on rookies blending with team)

I think they realize how in OTAs some of the young guys got a lot of reps. They realize once everyone’s here it’s a little different. You’re not going to get as many opportunities as maybe you thought you would. So, there’s not much room for error. I think the studying is different. They realize this is moving fast, the game is fast and we can’t wait for them to catch up. There’s a lot of that. I think they’re learning their way that way. I think they’re learning how to practice, learning how to take care of their bodies, watching the others, what they do in their free time.  It is important that they learn how to take care of themselves when they’re not playing football or not in the building. They have to learn how to fit in, the guys getting to know each other. I think that part of the camaraderie really makes them feel like they’re fitting in better that way. Socially, mentally, and physically, you want them to feel like they’re part of this thing and that they’re all in this together. You see a lot of that. You see the veteran talking to the rookie and helping him, guys that are even competing for each other’s spots. You communicate and try to help the young guy along. That’s the good stuff about it. It’s just a process for them to get to a preseason game and see how they do.       

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