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Coach Whisenhunt's April 29 Minicamp Practice Report

Posted Apr 29, 2014

HEAD COACH KEN WHISENHUNT

(opening Statement)

Luckily it was a good day. It was good to get outside with these guys on these fields and work. I’m just happy to be at that point in the offseason program.

(on Jake Locker’s limited performance in today’s practice)

I think we knew what he was going to be able to do. Any reps that we could get him, anything that he can do out there on the field is something we want to do. We just have to make sure that we don’t try to do too much.

(on the flexibility of linebackers with the new defensive system)

A big piece of it is communication. I don’t know how much technique work you can do when we’re not in pads to work on it, but we have a lot of different guys playing different spots. We’re trying to get a feel for what some guys do better than other guys. It’s really about getting lined up, adjusting to motion, adjusting to formations, communicating. Those are the things where you really get a sense of what these guys can do.

(on the competition at cornerback)

It looks like we have some guys that can step in and compete there. We have the size, the speed, the combos – we just have to see them do it on the field. From what I’ve seen on tape from last year, I feel good about that.

(on evaluating pass rushers)

You can do that in some of the individual drill work where you’re trying to see what they can do. It’s really more about technique and putting them in situations. We’re going to try and throw as much as we can at them over the next three days and see how they handle that. You’ll get a sense of the rush, just seeing some of these guys in shorts, but it’s not the same as in the game or in pads.

(on Derrick Morgan being a hybrid player)

We would like to think that we’ll see Derrick in different spots and that’s part of what this is, working him in different spots. He’s a good football player. He’s one of the guys who stood out on the tape from watching him last year. We’re excited about the opportunity to work with him. He’s an athletic guy so we’re going to see what he can do. We are going to ask him to do some different things. Once again, he’s an athletic guy. He went to a great college. We’re really looking forward to working with him.

(on weighing impressions both on the field and on tape)

You never know from out here on the field. A lot of the times you think it’s a bad practice and it’s better when you go in and watch it. A lot of times when you think it’s great, it’s not so good. The one thing we have is that we have a chance to watch these guys doing some of the things that we’re trying to get done. So yes, it’s a great evaluation tool.

(on his first thoughts on Charlie Whitehurst and Tyler Wilson)

I knew more about what to expect out of Charlie than I did out of Tyler. It’s just the first day. There’s a lot more coming as far as what we’re doing. We kept it pretty basic today. I thought they both did well and they both made some nice throws. We had too many balls on the ground today. We had opportunities to make catches we didn’t make. Those are things you get a chance to work on.

(on his message for the first practice)

One thing I said is that you’re not going to make the team today or in this minicamp. This is really more about finding out about what you really can do. Let me stress the point that we made about competition. Competition is an important piece of this. You find out about your players and how they handle situations when they’re competitive. So the competition aspect is invaluable for us.

(on how others are picking up on his coaching style)

I think so. I’m sure it is. From the standpoint of being a player, when I had a new coach it was about finding out. It really comes down to, they’ll find out pretty quick if you can coach or not. These guys have been in football for a while. I’m comfortable with our coaches and with our staff. One of the messages to our team was that we’ve had success both defensively and offensively with these systems, so put the time in. We’re going to adjust it, tweak it, make it fit for the guys that we have and we expect to be successful.

(on his coaching style, being more of a teacher than a yeller)

Is it safe to say it’s just one practice? I don’t know. I would say that’s probably fair. I think I’ll have my moment, but that’s probably a fair thing to say.

(on his persona on the field versus off of the field)

You’d have to ask somebody else that question. I try to be consistent in my approach day-in and day-out. I think that’s an important piece of it, but it’s an emotional game. There’s a lot that goes on with this, so I can’t say that I’m always that way.

(on his expectations for the defensive line’s playing style)

I see a lot of plays happen downfield with guys hustling after the ball. Some of the more successful defensives that I’ve seen and that you go against, that’s where things happen, so that’s one of the things that we stress.

(on how the defensive line’s playing still will factor into snaps and rotations)

I think that factors into how good Steve Watterson gets them in shape.

(on any standout players in the first practice)

I’m always hesitant to single out one person, especially after one day. I thought we had a lot of guys. The thing that was impressive to me, that stood out to me today more than the physical play was the leadership of some of our veteran players. Just from hearing their conversations it’s obvious that they put the time in studying offensively and defensively, talking about the individual plays or the schemes. That communication is a big piece of what we’re trying to be as a team, so that was great to see.

(on a renewed sense of optimism amongst the team due to in-house changes)

They worked hard today. The challenge for us is to continue to sustain that. It’s easy to come out the first day, everybody’s excited, everybody’s nervous, and have intensity. It’s hard when you get to the third or the fourth day, when it’s hot, when you’re sore, that’s when it’s really a challenge. It’s hard to say anything about two hours of practice the first day. They worked hard today. Our challenge is going to be consistency in that.

(on the current status of the offensive line)

It’s an ongoing process with those guys.

(on Kamerion Wimbley’s comfort level within the new system)

I played against Kam. I’ve seen him play for a number of years. I’ve seen him do a lot of different things in this league. The one thing that’s been consistent, in my opinion, with Kam is that he’s been a pretty good player. I’ve said this before. I know last year when we played the Titans in the third game he was a guy that we were concerned with. I’m happy that he’s on this team, that I get a chance to work with him. This whole spring and summer are going to be about finding spots for these guys that fit what they do. He’s a hard worker; he’s a good pro; he’s a good teammate. I’m excited to have him here.

(on his first impressions of the team today)

It’s hard to make any kind of judgments after one day. We’re going to face tests and challenges at some point. It’s hard to think that in a three day minicamp. It’s only so much time. It’s not like training camp when you’re in that grind, when you’re going to have some adversity, when you’re going to have some injuries. It’s hard to say that right now. One practice, they worked hard. This afternoon we go back out for a walk through, which is not a high intensity thing. I think the biggest message that we’re trying to get across to these guys is how important it is to do the right thing technique-wise, fundamentally, communicate, get in the right positions. The physical part- making the tackles, making those plays, blocking those guys – that’s all going to come. We’re going to have time to see that, but we have to set a good foundation in these three days with operating our system, doing it right, not making a lot of mistakes. We had our share of mistakes today.

(on seniority factoring into depth chart decisions)

You have to start somewhere. We don’t have any kind of basis with these guys, so it really doesn’t mean anything. We’re going to rotate guys. We’re going to start them one day with one group, one spot and start another guy there the next day until we get a feel for how they’re going to stack up. They’re going to sort it out themselves with how they play.

(on injured players)

[Brian] Schwenke and [Andy], neither one practiced. They did some individual work. They’re making progress. By the time we get to OTAs they’ll be involved. You guys saw Jake [Locker] in the open period, what he can do. He’s making progress. The big thing is just to make sure we don’t try to do too much with him. Akeem [Ayers] is recovering from offseason surgery and he’s working hard. He’s been in here the last few weeks working, which he needed to do. He’s making some progress. He has to continue to with that.

(on easing newcomers, particularly Shaun Phillips, into the system)

I don’t think Shaun would let us ease him in. He’s a pretty talkative guy. Everybody is going to get their opportunities. The ones that perform well will get more opportunities. I think that’s a pretty fair way of doing it.

(on finding it difficult to not push Jake Locker)

It’s equally hard on both of us. We need to be smart. He’s done a great job working to get to this point. We don’t want to compromise that by trying to do too much. Todd Toriscelli is an outstanding trainer. We’re lucking to have him here. He’s done a great job with Jake and he’s going to be the one having the most input on this. As long as we follow that course everything will be fine.

(on the general mood surrounding this first practice)

You can see it in the coaches’ faces today. We’re all excited. It’s different because there is no comfort from the standpoint of ‘this drill or this place is where we work on the field.’ It’s all new to us. Nobody wants to make a mistake. I want the practice to go smoothly. I want everybody to do well. The first day, there are mistakes; there are things that go wrong. That’s what creates the anxiety. Once you get out here and you work with the guys and you’re actually doing work on the field, it’s great. That’s what it’s all about.

(on the philosophy behind today’s media restrictions)

I think there’s merit to allowing individuals to watch practice after the open session is over, just to give you background information. There are things that are going to happen in that period that I don’t want to be discussed. As long as those aren’t brought up then everything is good.

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