HEAD COACH JEFF FISHER **
What I want to do is kind of give you an idea of what the players are going to be doing here over the next 24 hours and through the next couple of weeks. We have a voluntary check-in this afternoon and this evening. We can't do anything mandatory until after 12:01 am midnight so we don't have anything planned until the morning. They're going to check in, we'll have a meal and then in the morning we're going to do some testing and, we'll be on the field tomorrow for the first time in the afternoon. If you've had a chance to look at our schedule were going to follow a one-a-day schedule for the next three or four days and then we'll pick things up probably early next week and expect to get a lot in next week. Then of course we're looking forward to the Rams coming in a week from Tuesday night and working Wednesday and Thursday with us and then we'll move right into preseason games. The schedule is a little different this year for a number of reasons. One, our roster size has been reduced ever so slightly but particularly I feel that our team is very, very well conditioned. I'm hoping that they carried over what they had going in the time they left in June. So with that being said, we're going to do everything we possibly can to practice as hard as we can with great effort and intensity while at the same time rest up to prepare for our opener. We have a couple lingering injury things that have carried over from the offseason program and through the offseason that we're going to have to monitor. Probably one of the most interesting is that of Roydell Williams. He will be day-to-day. I don't know how much he's going to do this weekend but we're going to have to evaluate him. But he is getting closer so hopefully we'll have him back on the field doing some things in the next couple weeks. Cary Williams, our seventh-round pick, injured a quad a couple weeks ago training at home and he'll be day-to-day and maybe a week or so before he comes back. Daniel Loper will be back on the practice field and we've got a couple other minor issues that we'll watch. As to whether or not we place anybody on PUP or any other kind of list that remains to be seen, we'll make those decisions here in the next couple days. I know Albert [Haynesworth] is of interest. Mike [Reinfeldt] and Albert's people are talking as we speak, we have every intention and hope that we'll be able to get him in here tomorrow. Right now, as it stands, he will be here eventually. We're hoping sooner than later but things, I think, are progressing as such that we'll be able to have him in and he'll be on the practice field as early as tomorrow afternoon. With that I'll open to questions.
(On Chris Johnson still unsigned)
Chris Johnson spoke with Mike and Vinny [Marino] and Steve [Underwood] and things are moving along pretty good. It may be a midnight hour thing tonight but things are progressing nicely and I would expect him to be on the practice field tomorrow. Now, the dotting of the I's and crossing of the proverbial T's may reach into practice tomorrow but it's not something that's going to be a long, drawn-out holdout. We're very confident where things are and Vinny's done a great job for us, we're very lucky to have him aboard.
(On the new roster limits)
Well at this point there's no difference because typically when you go in you're going to have four or five guys that are going to be down or you lose a couple guys. If you dip into the low 70s and the high 60s because you've got injury concerns or you've got older guys you're protecting, then it becomes a challenge but we're not anticipating anything. If we have issues, we have some injury issues, we may have to end this a little sooner just to keep healthy players on the field. I'm really excited about the schedule. We gave it a lot of time. Myself and the staff gave the schedule a lot of time, put a lot of time into it for that matter, just to make sure that we have ample recovery time between practice sessions. Field #3 is illuminated now, we got light out there, so we'll be able to use it in the evening if the heat becomes an issue, we'll be able to stretch practice sessions out a little bit more. And we're going to use less walk-throughs and utilize some mornings to have lifts and to recover. It'll be slightly different, but again, the main focus of the change is particularly because of their conditioning level and the maturity of the football team and how hard they worked this offseason.
(On monitoring Albert Haynesworth's reps when he returns)
Well when he arrives he's going to hit it running. I expect him to practice and fall right back in the rotation. He's been through it before. He said he's in great shape, he's been working out. If we need to back off a little bit we will but, we don't have any intention of backing off when he shows up.
(On if he has talked to Haynesworth at all over the last couple of weeks)
Not over the last couple weeks, no.
(On if Haynesworth's absence will become a distraction)
It's not a distraction. It only gives the younger guys more opportunities to get reps and develop. There are not as many reps to go around. The younger guys will take advantage of those reps. I mean Antonio Johnson, you saw glimpses of what he's capable of doing. You know, Jason [Jones]. We've got some guys who need the reps in there so we'll spread them out.
(On if Bryce Fisher's release is an indication of the coaching staff being pleased with the rookies)
Well, you know, it was not an easy decision but we're pleased at this point with Jacob Ford. You know, obviously, we've got Jevon [Kearse] back, we got Jacob Ford, and Kyle [Vanden Bosch], and William [Hayes] coming on. Dave Ball's playing nicely out there. We've got some options, we have some depth. Bryce at the time, it was a good decision for our football team because we needed, not that I want to refer to him as an insurance policy, but we needed his experience and we needed his athletic ability and we needed to be able to call on him last year when we had issues. And it worked out well. Bryce can still play in this league and we just felt as far as what was best for Bryce was to let him go now to give him a chance to catch on someplace. We've got youth out there, we've got potential that we think is going to surface so, I think it was a fair decision.
(On this year's team depth)
Yeah, what's interesting about our depth right now is that there's still a few positions where we are still a little unsettled about the depth. But in most of the positions what we're looking for now is we're looking for these backups to push starters. We've got competition, obvious competition at the left guard spot. I can't tell you who is going line up and start right now. The odds on favorites are Leroy Harris and Eugene Amano. That's where the competition is going take place. But for the most part we've got positions that are settled. We've got players, younger players in positions that are improving. I don't know how the receivers are going shake out. I know we've got 10 or 11 on the roster. All indications are that they can all play at this level. Now, however many we keep remains to be seen. Whether it's six or seven and who's active and who's playing, who's not, I don't know. But what I'm interested in seeing is the younger players start to push the vets for starting opportunities. I think we saw some of that during the offseason. We saw some of that out of Stephen Tulloch. Stephen accepted taking a back seat to Ryan [Fowler] last year, played very well on special teams, we moved him, flipped him back outside to the outside linebacker spot and he did a great job outside. Now I've got a swing guy that can play both positions and is ready to step up at any time. So I want to see that kind of that improvement out of some of the other younger guys, you know the second and third year guys on the roster.
(On whether linebacker Ryan Fowler's situation was resolved)
At this point I don't know the status of that. I'm not concerned, he's not concerned. He's indicated to me, as I've told you before he expects things to be worked out and it's not going to be a distraction for him.**
(On his perception of running back LenDale White's workload this season)
Well he comes in as our starting running back so he's going to condition himself and prepare himself for that eight and 10 play series. And that's what we're going to do. Now that doesn't mean to say he's going to carry eight and 10 straight plays in a practice period every single day or every single session, but we are going to start building his reps to get him conditioned for that, no different than how we handled it with Eddie [George] at camp. You know the other guys will get their reps. Chris Henry is going to get plenty of reps, and then of course Chris Johnson is going to be lining up all over the place.
(On competition at the Nickel Back position)
Well somebody is going to have to play pretty good to unseat Vinny [Vincent Fuller]. Vinny's done a real nice job there. He put two balls in the end zone for us last year and made a lot of plays. But we have tremendous depth there. Eric King can play it, Chris Carr can play it, we've got depth at the position. I'd like to see Eric continue to develop as a corner, because he is a guy who we would have gone to last year when we had problems. I want to see him play outside. So it's a good situation. Michael Griffin, despite the fact that he wasn't here, he's moving very, very well, in great shape and should improve significantly over last year.
(On whether Offensive Lineman Daniel Loper will be practicing)
He'll be on the practice field. Whether he participates in 100 percent of the drills and the sessions, I don't know. But he will be on the practice field. He's doing fine.
(On off-season player development of the younger guys, regarding their preparation for the season)
They use the experience to their advantage. They'll go back and reflect on their early years in the league and say, what could we have done different? Of course we help them with that. But what could you have done differently and how could you have prepared yourself? And they understand that, players understand. And I'll use first-year players as an example. These guys are thinking about their first snap in the NFL when in reality their last snap in the NFL is staring at them right in the face. So how far can you push that last snap away from you? That's up to them, with our help. And that's the same with the veterans. They have to work harder each year just to maintain their conditioning level. And unless they learn that early, their last snap catches up with them pretty quickly.
(On the essence of his speech tomorrow to the team)
We're going to address the spirit of training camp. We're going to address the normal rules, the daily do's and don'ts of how we get along and how we practice. And it's also going to be pointed out to them that this camp is a little unusual and that we expect the maximum effort on the practice field with the expectation that we are all moving the same direction getting ready for the opener. There's a lot of other things that are going to be covered during training camp but these guys are excited about getting back to work and so I'm not going to take up too much of their time. I'm just going to let them get on the field.
(On what the latest a player has shown up for training camp is and if that time was 12:01 a.m.)
No, you misunderstood me. The Collective Bargaining Agreement stipulates that we cannot practice any sooner than 15 days before our first preseason game. Friday is technically 15 days, but 12:01 a.m. is technically Friday. We could technically have something going on tonight at 12:01 a.m., but I don't. I'm going to wait until the morning. We're going to let them voluntarily check in this afternoon and this evening. Midnight Madness.
(On if some players want to look eager in the coach's eyes and if others tend to straggle in late)
No, we have mandatory things setup in the morning and they will be here. If they are not, they will be fined for being late no different than any other thing that happens during camp. And I've got two guys who won't be here this week. I've got two guys who are excused and I'll share that with you now. David Thornton let me know a long time ago that his brother is getting married and that he is the best man in his wedding and he won't be here until Sunday. Jevon was here today and checked in today but he's going back to South Florida and will rejoin the Rolle family because he's going to participate in the funeral services for Samari's father. So he'll be back Sunday as well. Other than that I expect everyone will be in.
(On how often the team will be using the new lights on field three)
Right now Jim, I've got just one practice scheduled. There's a chance I may do two or three before we get to the middle of preseason. It really depends on heat. A couple of things that we are doing differently here that you probably haven't noticed are that I've got a couple of noon practices. In years past we've practiced at 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. and now we're going to practice at noon. Because, guess what, we're kicking off against the Jaguars at noon. So we've got a couple noon practices but that's about all we're going to do that day. This is about acclimation and it's about preparing yourself to play 3 hours and 45 minutes in some unfavorable weather. There's a fine line between getting out there and getting use to it and wearing them out. So that is how we structured camp. I thought this team in particular handled the heat very, very well last year and we were well conditioned when we went down to Jacksonville. So I want to do a better job with the heat then we did last year. That does not include staying out of it, it means using it to your advantage.
(On if getting players acclimated to the heat means that there will no longer be night practices)
No, at this point I don't think I have that planned out other than just a walk through before the preseason games. * *
(On if this year's start to the season is as exciting as it has been in other years)
It's just like it's my first one. I'm really looking forward to it. The coaches took some time off, we came back to work Monday and everybody's rested and excited and so are the players. It's fun to walk through the building. They were here. They did some things this week. Everything was unsupervised, but they just couldn't stay away. So they are just looking forward to it, as I am as well.
(On when the first day is with full pads)
Full pads will be Tuesday afternoon. They will have protective gear on their legs. So, that implies that we're in full pads because we are going to be using shoulder pads quite a bit. But full pads will be Tuesday afternoon. Then Saturday and then Wednesday morning against the Rams.
(On the highlight of his summer vacation)
Coming back to work.* *