HEAD COACH JEFF FISHER**
(On the return of Jevon Kearse and David Thornton)
Yeah, you know it was good to get both Jevon [Kearse] and David Thornton back, they were excused for a couple days. They were excited to come back, it worked out well, they came back for the first practice we had in shoulder pads. It was a good day overall. I was pleased with the tempo and pleased with the ability to practice together. It's hot, they worked through the first part of practice in the heat and settled down and stayed focused. We had very few mistakes in a practice where you would expect more mistakes because of the heat.
(On players wearing shoulder pads for the first time this year)
We got a lot done in the first couple of practices but you're going to play in shoulder pads and so were going to practice in them. We're going to do it again tomorrow and then were going to pick it up with two on Tuesday and we'll have a full-padded practice on Tuesday afternoon. Part of our approach has been to acclimate, to rest and recover, but when you come out with shoulder pads on we've got to get things done and they did.
(On if the defense seems faster this year)
I think we have increased our overall team speed, in all three phases, which is good. The defense is running to the ball and a big part of that is because of their conditioning and I think it's also because of the fact that we're going once a day. You can cut it loose out here in three or four periods and still recover and do it so we just want to get accustomed to playing full speed every snap.
(On having the entire roster together out on the field)
No, we're basically in the middle of camp. Everybody's here and everybody's healthy and we're practicing, trying to get better every day. They're meeting, they're enthusiastic, they like what they're doing and they're working after a heated practice so I can't ask for anything more from them right now.
(On if defensive expectations are higher this year)
We expect to do better in all three areas but just because you played well the year before doesn't guarantee anything. You have to start over and you have to learn that. There were games where we could have played a little better defensively and we didn't but statistically I think you can pull some satisfaction out of what happened last year. But to me and to [the players] it's not good enough, you have to do better. You got to win more games, you got to play. Our defense last year, I think, over the course of sixteen games was involved in eight or maybe 10 two-minute drives at the end by their opponent to win the ballgame. We won a number of them but those games are too close, you give up one big play and the outcome is different. We're trying to get better so we don't end up in those types of games week after week.
(On Justin McCareins and Justin Gage being the starting receivers)
Well we expect some of the other guys to keep improving and step up but right now both Justins are making more plays. We got some big plays out of them today. Their production level right now is a good target area for the younger guys, that's what they have to get to. They have to become more consistent on a daily basis and do the rights things because right now Justin and Justin are in the right place at the right time.
(On Brandon Jones' improvement)
Brandon's had a good offseason and he's got that injury thing completely behind him. He's getting open and making plays and he's much more comfortable now with another year under his belt.
(On players having trouble with the heat)
Paul Williams went in and got hydrated and came back out. We'll know in the next couple hours but it looked like they were prepared and they got through it.
(On what he hopes to see from LenDale White that he may not have seen last year due to injuries)
Well he showed up week in and week out despite the fact that he was in a great deal of pain and discomfort with the knee. He's working to get into better shape, he's stronger, he's hitting the holes better and I expect more production out of him throughout the course of the season. When you enter this league and you get into your third year, you expect to see some good things and he has the same expectations.
(On if he is seeing defensive back-ups stepping up)
Well they're competing, it's still early, but they're all competing and they all know what to do. You see those things on the practice field, you just need to see them carry over to game-situations during the preseason.
(On if the defense is among the top in the NFL)
You know I have no idea what's going on outside of here. I think we have good players in a lot of positions. We have to stop the run and put pressure on the passer and get off on third down and get turnovers, and if we can do that, you know it's probably a question you need to ask me at the end of the season.
(On his assessment of Jason Jones and William Hayes so far)
Well without pads they were fine. I'm going to go look at the tape now and see how they fared today in pads. It looked like they held their own, they understand what to do. There's a lot going on right now in their world but they've been improving each day and that's what's most important.