First day. It was good. I thought we had some energy early in practice, which you expect. I think they got a little tired as practice went through, because we ran a lot of plays today, but that’s part of it. I was pleased with the effort and the intensity.
(On players performing well early in practice)
They’re pros, you expect them to make some plays. We had some other things, I think we balanced it. We put the ball on the ground a few times, we had a couple of things that were not so good. We’ve got a lot of things that we get a chance to work on.
The first day, it’s hard to tell anything. It’s good to have him back out there. We’ll see how he progresses. The big thing is how he responds after practice, but our trainer, Todd (Toriscelli) is watching him. Going in, we had a plan for him, and we’ll see how it progresses.
(On seniority as a factor for filling positions)
Sometimes maybe, but not always. I can say, honestly, that there are times when I think about that, and there’s other times that I don’t, so I don’t think there’s a pattern to that.
Obviously, we want to get him prepared to play tackle. Now, with Andy (Levitre) going down, we want to get him some situations at guard, too. In long-term thinking, when you talk about game day, depending on seven active, which is what we’ve normally done, those guys have got to be able to do both. This is a great opportunity to get him work, if he’s not a starter.
(On the importance of having Taylor Lewan at practice)
I compliment Vin (Marino) and Ruston (Webster) for getting that done. Whenever you have a player you’re expecting to produce for you and this organization, it’s good to get him in camp on time.
There was no intent to do that. If that’s the way it came out today, that’s just the way those reps showed. We’re letting both of those guys in. The next practice, maybe it’ll flip and go the other way. I know it’s the same way with the quarterbacks doing that too, with Tyler (Wilson) and with Zach (Mettenberger).
(On balancing offensive and defensive plays during camp)
That’s tough. Obviously, my roots are in offense, so it would be easy for me to say I like it when we have the big plays, offensively, but then I think defensively. I try not to get too caught up in that. I think one of the things that you look at is mistakes. If we’re not making a lot of mistakes, then you’re looking at the intensity and the effort.
(On changing positions throughout camp)
Sometimes it will change period by period, so I don’t necessarily give them a couple of days. We’ll rotate them through, whether it’s periods, or even days, but it won’t be more than one day.
We want to get Dexter some reps, because we feel like he can help us there, and I think also if we can get him in multiple spots, that’s what we’re trying to do. I think he could tell, he made good cuts, good vision. The big thing next for him is going to be when we get into a game, can he shake those tackles and can he get those positive yards? I’ve seen him do it on tape, so we feel like he can do it.
Completion percentage is important, but when you talk about moving the chains, getting first downs, putting us in positions where we can sustain drives, that’s what it gives you towards great value. I’ll tell you, one of the underappreciated things is two-minute drives, because if you’re efficient with that, a lot of times the back is going to make big chunks for you. In two-minute drives, if the down-the-field throwers aren’t there, they’re playing off coverage. If you can do that, it takes discipline, but we’re working on it. We’re making progress with that.
I think those guys both earned opportunities based off what they did in the spring. They both had great springs, as far as catching the football. I think it gives us a good mix at that position.
He’s one of our leaders on special teams. He’s very good, and I think when you look at the running back position, those guys have to contribute on some teams. He brings that to the table, and that’s one of the reasons why he’s so valuable. What he does for us as a running back, playing some fullback, playing some tailback, it’s always great to have versatile guys. There’s very good evidence of him being a good special teams player, and that’s the important piece of it.
(On footing during the first practice)
I think probably the first day, everybody’s a little geeked up. It’s going to happen. Just when you’re out here, and guys are going and competing. I don’t think it’s the footing, I just think it’s part of football. We try to emphasize to stay up, but that is going to happen.
(On determining the depth chart)
I was going through that and trying to do it, and I kept coming up with this depth chart that had a bunch of slashes and a bunch of different names on the first line, and I said that it’s just not worth doing that and we’ll let it settle out. I told the players, I said, “Don’t pay attention to the depth chart. You’re going to control that. Everybody has an opportunity here, and we’re going to play our best guys.” They’re going to know where to line up, coaches are going to tell them, and so far we haven’t had any issues with that.
(On writing the defensive script)
We do that all in advance. We talk about what’s going in, and it’s just like offensively. You have the freedom to script based on your installation. I don’t try to micromanage Ray (Horton). I think he does a great job.
(On working with coaches from previous teams)
We’ve had a lot of practices already, so at this point it’s really not an issue, even with a lot of the coaches that I’ve never worked with. I haven’t even thought about that, to be honest with you.
(On first team offense versus first team defense)
It won’t be that way all the time. I think there will be times when we flip it, especially some of the competitive stuff we do when everybody’s on the side of the field. For right now, yeah, it is. I think that’s important.
(On practicing in pads on Monday)
Monday’s the first time we’re going in pads, Monday morning.
We got in some intensive work on that in OTAs, so I think he has a good basis for that. We’re going to make sure that we put him in some at tackle, too. He’s one of those guys that we talk about that has to have duplicate-role capabilities. We’ll get him some reps there. Hopefully he’ll progress from where he was in the spring at guard.
(On watching the kickers)
No, I didn’t. I think that’s going to happen more when we’re in situations like when we get into the two-minute situation and we need a field goal and we get down there and we have to kick a field goal. That’s what I think, when you’re under pressure, when everybody’s watching. Even some of those, I’m sure we’ll have a period in camp somewhere where we just kick field goals, where everybody’s watching. You can’t ever recreate what a game is like. If all the players are standing there, especially when you’ve got some guys like Bernard (Pollard) yelling at them, it can at least simulate that a little bit.
I think when you have a guy that’s a leader, they’re putting a lot of hard work in the spring, I like to see him have success, so that’s good, I think, if it helps create that attitude on that side of the ball.
(On the defense creating pressure)
This was the first play that we had done that particular component in practice, and we really put a lot of time into it, offensively. As you get a feel with those things, we don’t have a plan with what the defense is doing, so it’s not like when you’re preparing for a game and you see certain patterns and you know to look for those things. Those are going to happen.
(On throwing balls downfield)
You’ll see some of it. I still think there was value in our first seven-on-seven period today, especially the first six or the first eight plays, it was very efficient. It was a good mix of short to intermediate, as well as throws down the field. You’ve got to work on the move the chains component of it, too. Throwing check downs in those periods is not always bad. If all you’re doing is throwing it down the field, you lose sight of those kind of things.