(on Brian Schwenke)
Obviously, you know we drafted Brian Schwenke. He’s a kid that started out at California. He was a guard originally. They had an injury type situation and they moved him to center. The kid took off and played this year. He’s an old school player. He’s tough. He’s smart and makes calls. He’s going to finish his blocks off. He’s a good pass protector. He’s got an unlimited amount of potential to keep going up. He played well this year. He’s a good player. He’s a tough guy, he’s strong. He’s physical. He can pull. He can snap and pull. He tried to finish guys off all the time. He’s a good player.
(on if he is better for center or guard)
I think he can play both, but I think he is better at center. That’s why I saw him the most because like I said last year as a junior he was kind of in and out as a guard/tackle type thing. Then they had an injury type situation and a guy that went down so they moved him to center and he just took off from there.
HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK
(on if they were surprised Schwenke was still on the board)
Yeah, we were. We had him in for a visit. We spent time with him at the combine and had him in. He’s a guy that Bruce Matthews and I talked about quite a bit, a guy that could come in, we felt, and thought he was the best center on the board. I just didn’t know how it would work out. We were really surprised he was there. I’m excited he was, the way it ended up happening. I’ve been here a lot of years with offensive linemen. It wasn’t that we didn’t want to draft them, but it just didn’t fall right. The guys where we thought we should take a lineman here, we’ll get the lineman in the third round. All of a sudden the lineman would be gone and it would be a run on different positions. I think this year things are falling into place for that position and you can’t turn up guys like Brian Schwenke that can come in and play for 10 years. Those guys are hard to find and this is the opportunity to take advantage of that. Like we said, he can play guard and he can play center. Like we talked about with Chance Warmack, he’s a guy that moves the pile. He’s played physical on both levels. He can get to the second level well. He’s smart, so he’s a guy that has a capability of playing early because he gets it and takes control pretty well. When he came in Bruce Matthews and I spent a lot of time watching tape and he’s sharp. To have him where he was, he fell on the board the way we have and he was just too good of a pick to pass up.
(on if he was the best center on the board)
He’s a good center but I just thought the total package goes to the word fit. He probably fit what we like to do better than any other center on the board. That’s probably the fairest way to say that. For what we want to do as an offense, he can do what his skills are at both spots. In the Senior Bowl he played a little bit of guard and center. Those guys are hard to find and this was a year that who was available that we picked was offensive linemen. We’ve got two offensive linemen so I think that’s if you want to build a good team that’s what you have to go and do.
(on creating competition for the position)
It does. I think, like when I talked with players last Monday when we met, it doesn’t matter what position you draft, it created uncomfortableness. It creates questions. It’s a new guy in your position. Whatever position gets those draft picks we think we are bringing competition obviously to the room. Sometimes it’s to fit a particular need, a more immediate need. I think this is the case where he is too good of a player not to have on your football team and will be on your team for a long time. He can come in and compete with other guys we have here. It’s good to be able to draft guys knowing that this guy is going to come in and has to start no matter what. We are not having that kind of pressure for a center. If he develops to where we think he can he’s very capable of doing those things. If he can work within the structure of
(on the possibility of Brian Schwenke starting right away)
I think he’s that kind of guy. I think he would come in that way. I think on the phone call just talking to him, he’s probably thinking he should have been drafted much higher than this too. I think he’s excited to come in and show what he can do. I think in his mind that we would want him to think that way. I hope he would. He will have the opportunity. He will get enough opportunity to show if he’s the guy by how he handles this mentally and physically once we get started. He’s the kind of player that we don’t sit here and say well we have to develop him. He will have to develop, obviously, to understand the league and what we are doing. But he’s a guy that is ready to play. It’s just a matter of how quickly he works his way in. Does he win the spot? There is a lot of work ahead of him. The thing is he has the ability to do that and that’s what we felt from watching tape and spending time with him. Now it’s just a matter of how he comes in here and develops. It’s nice to know we have a guy that has the talent set and the tools to do it. It’s just a matter of when that happens.
(on if he is satisfied with the team’s pass rush personnel)
I think we’ve been addressing all positions. We always want to improve. We have been looking for a defensive lineman. Like I said, unfortunately, and I have been on the other side of this a lot of years, the right guy is not there when you pick. You can’t control the draft. There is still other ways to get players that we feel like we missed in the draft. We’re not going to reach for something that doesn’t fit for us and is a wasted pick. I think we’re happy with what we’ve developed. Last year, I think sack totals were in the top 10. You can break that down and figure out where it came from. But the bottom line is we think
(on the importance of having a leader in the center position)
That’s big. When Bruce and I sat with him and talked to him at the combine for the first time we had a meeting, I think you saw that right away. He has that feel. That’s why it kind of excites me. That’s why we can sit here and say maybe this guy can play sooner than most centers because he has that personality and has that confidence. What happens is the guys around him feed off of that. They start having confidence off the fact that he can run the show, the fact that he can make the calls. That’s important especially for a young player when they come in. When he steps on the field, he’s not going to act like a rookie. He’ll be a rookie off the field in the media rooms and things like that. He’ll know enough to where I think he is confident to that’s where he will stand out. That’s why we feel he has that opportunity to compete. Where will that go? Who knows? We feel he has because of his personality. Like Bruce said, he brings a different element to the room. You are changing that culture a little bit too. I think that’ll add a different type of chemistry to the room, which we probably need.
(on if Fernando Velasco is considered a better center or guard)
I know he is feeling comfortable at center now since he played so much of it last year. He got his first taste of being in the league for 16 games last year. It was very helpful to him to find out what that’s all about after so many years of playing a game here or a game there. I would say either one. I think he’s comfortable at both now just because he’s had so many reps there. He’s going to start off as being our center and we’ll go from there. We have three or four guys now that can play all three spots. Like I said, that’s a great thing. Some say you have too many. Well you know what that can change fast unfortunately with the way guys get nicked up and stuff. This allows us with a young offense and a young quarterback to have centers that he can get very confident with, which will be a big part of our success right now.
(on the status of
He’s limited. His injury is more of his knees. Just being careful there and not bringing him into the running program. I think as far as his triceps and all of that from last year with the injury he had in training camp, he’s doing great there. His strength is back. Everything is positive that way. It’s just a matter of he won’t be…He’s not ready to step on the field. He’s just starting to rehab with that part, so he’s limited.
(on if Eugene Amano had a knee procedure)
No. He hasn’t been on the field yet. He’s just been doing the meetings, the lifting. Again, like we did last year we did with him, with Leroy (Harris) and with (Steve) Hutchinson. We are going to work the older guys at a slower pace for these type of reasons. He’s been around for his ninth or 10th year now. Just easing him in as we normally would.
(on if Eugene Amano’s triceps are okay)
That part is fine. Just sore. We are working him in slowly. He just hasn’t done much that way. Again, it’s nothing he has done recently. It’s more of the fact that his history of just playing and having issues in the past, that we put those guys on a different program to ease them through the offseason. With it only being April, there is no hurry. We are not going to be doing football things until next month.
(on if bringing in new guys lights fire under everybody)
Hopefully, it will bring a lot of energy. No matter what position we draft, it’s about getting this team better. They know that their room got bigger this weekend. The natural question is what does it mean for me? It means do everything you need do to be the best player you can be. When you get your opportunity on the field, you are going to have the opportunity to compete and make the team if you are one of the best players. I think it is competition. There is nothing bad about that. Everyone that has been around this league knows it’s all about changing the roster. This roster is going to change quite a bit since the season ended and for all the right reasons. I think they will really like the guys that we’ve got once they get to know them. I think it will be a great fit that way. Like any group, they’ll just start competing and let it all shake out.
OFFENSIVE LINE COACH BRUCE MATTHEWS
(on how skeptical you were of this pick and how he won you over)
Really it started for me at the Senior Bowl because that is pretty much the official kick off of the scouting as far as I’m concerned. You actually lay eyes on these guys. You might try to look at some tape on them but you can’t remember it. But you go to the Senior Bowl and those guys make an impression and obviously Brian Schwenke with the California locks out the back of his helmet. He’s a very stoutly built guy. Naturally Pac 10 guy, Pac 12 I guess now watched him and just eyeballing him at the Senior Bowl he stood out to me. Then like Coach Munchak said, coming back and studying tape I agree he was the top center as far as we were concerned. I’m very pleased that he was still available and excited that we were able to get him where he is right now.
(on playing with meanness and if the team needs that up front)
No question. The offensive line is five working as one. Really when each individual part of that unit is built up, I think it pulls along the other guys in it. It forces guys out of their comfort zone to do things that maybe isn’t their strength. He’s one of those type guys. Like Coach Munchak said, with Chance Warmack he is going to bring a physical aspect to the offensive line. It’s going to carry over and it gets contagious and that’s what you really hope for, especially with having a lot of options with veteran guys that we signed as free agents and the young talent coming in.
(on the thought of having two rookie offensive linemen)
I guess you follow the reason that if they are the starters then they are capable of doing everything that we are asking them to do. Like Coach Munchak said, it’s options. There’s some talent in the room, now it’s about who performs, who steps up, who works best together. Again, it’s exciting to have some options.
(on having a healthy competition at the offensive line)As a player, you hate the discomfort. You realize, it’s only when I am forced out of my comfort zone that I grow as a player. Whether it’s a coach getting on me or some defensive player kicking my butt. Otherwise, you continue the way you’ve always been. Our hope is and I think the message is sent that the best five is going to play. So if that means two rookies then that’s great. Those guys are developing and doing well. At the end of the day, whoever we feel we have the best opportunity to win with. Doesn’t matter what pick they were or how much money they make. That’s the cool thing about football and the offensive line. It’s who is getting the job done. It’s very simplistic. Nothing has changed for those guys, it’s just there are more guys looking for a piece of the pie.