Coach Fisher's Training Camp Press Conference




 (opening statement)

Alright, well we'll get started…first, let me start out by giving you an idea of where we are this afternoon, this evening and tomorrow.  Players are going to be permitted to voluntarily report this afternoon.  We have a meal, it's not mandatory this evening, 5:30-7:30.  All the rookies will be in this evening with the exception of two, which I will go into in a minute.  We will have mandatory breakfast in the morning, we have testing in the morning—each and every player on the roster will test.  We will resume some meetings in the morning and then we will be on the field at 3:15.  At 3:30 we will begin to stretch and tomorrow afternoon will actually be the first practice of this year's training camp.

We have two players who are yet to be signed.  I spoke to Mike (Reinfeldt), the process is moving along quick, it could happen anytime: tonight, tomorrow.  He's not overly concerned about this thing, particularly because of what you have seen over the last 24 hours, and how many first round picks have been signed and slotted.  I think three of the top five are already signed, so he feels very good about that.  He has been working vigorously to get this thing done as quickly as we can.

CJ (Chris Johnson), since we've talked last, we've gotten a lot accomplished with CJ.  A very, very difficult situation considering the circumstances.  We are very pleased that both sides were able to come to a resolution.  We got creative and were able to move some things around.  CJ is happy, we're happy; I'm expecting him to come in in great shape and really pick up where he left off.  I don't have any reservations what so ever about his conditioning level.  As far as our plans for CJ, this preseason is just to get him back to where he was and pick up where we left off.  So I'm excited to get him back in, he hasn't met his new teammates yet…the rookies, for obvious reasons.  I know he is excited about that.  We've got some things offensively that we did not get to install, practice and do in the OTAs because he was not here, so we'll be working on some of those new and creative things for him.

As far as the quarterback situation is concerned, I'm happy with where we are.  Vince returns as the starter.  I'm very pleased with his offseason, the commitment, the improvement…I believe we have surrounded him with the best skill players to date that he's been on the field with.  That simply will help in his improvement, he has room to improve but again I think what he was able to accomplish on the field this offseason, I think all the signs are there for him to have a great year.

We've lost some players; I want to talk about Keith (Bulluck) just for a moment.  It's difficult, whenever you have a player like Keith who has put that much time, effort and commitment into an organization and vice versa where you are not able to create a situation in which he is able to finish.  Despite what was reported, there was some communication, some dialogue that took place and I believe it was Keith who elected to go ahead and take that deal with the Giants.  I wish him well; I hope the knee is behind him.  It appears that it is, I know he is going to have a great year.

A lot has been talked about leadership, with Keith, Kevin (Mawae) and Kyle (Vanden Bosch) moving on.  I don't have any reservations what so ever about the lack of or concerns about it.  We've got a good locker room, we have young players emerging at each of the positions, this team has had a great foundation laid here over the years and the decades with Eddie (George), Steve (McNair) and the Franks (Wycheck) and of course the next group of guys with the Chris Hopes and the Dave Thorntons.  So I don't really have much of a concern what so ever about that.

Training camp, if you've looked at it, kind of follows the system…the modified system that went into effect two or three years ago—three years ago actually.  Where we're moving things around, not doing as many two-a-days, getting creative on the practice times, we're going to follow that routine this camp to the needs of this football team and kind of anxious to get started, obviously.  We've got practices at high noon, which we will be playing, we've got practices in the evening to get out of the heat, we've got a lot of emphasis placed on the recovery.  I believe this is a very, very well conditioned team that is returning so we will be able to take advantage of that.  At the same time, each and every practice rep is going to be essential on offense, on defense and on special teams.  Particularly on special teams because we have a host of younger players who have to step up.  We have players who have never done it before who will have to learn how to do it, we have players who have to step up so we have work to do on special teams and those reps are going to be very, very important.

We'll be working on our early season opponents this camp.  We didn't get much of that last year because of the difference in training camp and the extra preseason game.  We will spend some days where the emphasis will be on early season opponents.  As far as the injuries are concerned, I don't have any information for you coming in.  We did finish the OTAs with a number of players that could not have practiced the next day when OTAs concluded.  I will have much more information later, there is always a possibility that a player or two or three could start camp on the PUP (Physically unable to perform) and then be taken off of the PUP when they are able to play…and with that I will open it up to questions.

(on Keith Bulluck claiming he didn't talk to the team while the Titans claimed they talked to Bulluck)

You know I can't answer that, all I can tell you is I have been told that there were numerous conversations.  There were exchanges.  There were numbers and those kind of things.

(on whether or not he is expecting Stephen Tulloch to report to camp)

I have no reason to not expect Stephen (Tulloch) here, I have not talked to him.  But yeah, he signed his tender so …

(on whether progress would have been made if Keith Bulluck would have been more patient to sign)

That's hard to predict.  I don't know.  I mean, I guess you have to look at it from Keith's perspective and ask yourself would he have been happy here with that deal as opposed to somewhere else?  I don't know.  I can only question or guess and that might be a difficult situation.  It would be a difficult situation for me.  I do know this: if anybody is going to overcome an injury it's going to be him.  I'm certain that he did that.  I just read reports that he is 90% and they're going to get him through camp, and he is one of these guys, a Junior Seau type.  I mean, this is not his last hurrah.  He is going to go up there and play well and then see what happens.

(on whether things will be different in the locker room and on defense without Keith Bulluck)

You know, certainly it changes.  He is not the only one who has moved on, and the locker room has changed ever so slightly each year.  It will be different but there are plenty of personalities in the locker room to fill in for the liveliness and the personality that we lose with Keith (Bullock).

(on whether he approaches OTAs and training camp the same way this year as he did last year, despite the poor start)

Well, last training camp was very similar to the training camp before in which we won 10 straight.  So yeah I look at training camp to see, we look at everything to see what the contributing factors were.  The contributing factors were turnovers and young players and injuries and those kind of things, three point losses, we've been through this road before.  We could have been 3-3 going into the bye and we weren't.  With all of that being said, there is going to be an emphasis on getting started fast, getting off to a fast start.

(on whether veteran players can take the conditioning test early)

No they are permitted to voluntarily test today.  Many of the veterans have done that.  Those that have come in early, those that have been here.  There have been a number of veterans working here in unsupervised workouts over the last week to 10 days.  The rookies will be required to test tomorrow and everybody tests.

(on why the veterans take the conditioning test early)

Yeah, get it out of the way so you don't have leg fatigue.  It's similar to the test you've been probably hearing about the last couple of days.  That's precisely the test we do.  We do a 300 yard shuttle with the recovery time in between and then we do another.

(on whether they do a third set of shuttle runs)

No, we just do two and what we do is if you've had a minimum number of offseason workouts then the test is modified.  Those that have been here for at least 80 percent of the offseason workouts, it's a 300 yard shuttle, they will run 50 yard increments rather than 25 yard increments so it's a little bit easier. The 25 yard 300 yard shuttle is an appropriate test to find out what kind of shape you're in.

(on whether it is unusual to design specific offense for Chris Johnson and whether him not being at OTAs affected putting in the offense)

No, I mean it will involve Vince (Young) and CJ (Chris Johnson) and the rest of the offense.  CJ is different than the rest of the running backs. We have our basic standard offense that was installed once again and reinstalled when both the rooks, Stefon (Johnson) and LeGarrete (Blount), got in but some of the things with CJ we were unable to do.

(on Chris Johnson's mindset coming in)

Well he's going to be fine.  I believe that once again he has a lot to prove.  I'd be interested to see where he sets his sights on this year.  What goals he sets out there and attempts to achieve.  I'll remind you of last year at this time when he wanted to be the MVP and rush for over 2,000 yards and everybody kind of said, "Oh yeah really?  We'll see what happens."  It happens.

(on a realistic goal for Chris Johnson coming off a year where they did everything to get him to 2,000)

Help us win more games, very realistic.

(on how other teams have had a chance to figure out how to stop Chris Johnson this offseason)

It's hard to get faster.

(on whether they are going to have to be creative in order to get Chris Johnson the ball this season)

Well, you know if the focus is on CJ (Chris Johnson) guess what happens down the field.  We are going to win football games however we can, whether we hand the ball to CJ, throw the ball to CJ, or throw the ball to the tight ends and receivers.  If the focus becomes stop CJ then there are going to be other opportunities for us.

(on Chris Johnson's shape earlier this month)

He was in good shape.  Coach Watterson felt that he was moving around and running well.  He wasn't used to the workload of the other guys but I'm not anticipating any problems whatsoever as far as his conditioning is concerned.

(on whether Fisher will go slow with Chris Johnson at the beginning of camp)

No he will run the conditioning test, we'll see how he is but I don't think that will be a problem.**

(on whether Damien Williams not being signed has any impact on the return game)

The fact that he is unsigned has no impact or his setbacks in the return game.  He can catch, he can return, he's proved that.  I'm a little concerned about hamstring because he had a hamstring issue when he left and we haven't been able to monitor that and we will see where he is at with that.  But it'll get done.

(on whether Derrick Morgan has catching up to do)

Well he's got some catching up to do but in his case we drafted him because he's done it all before.  He can do those things he just needs to do it over and over and over consistently against better opponents.  I think once he gets in, we're all assuming he's healthy, once he gets in and everything gets done and he gets on the field I think we will see significant improvement on a daily basis.

(on linebacker David Thornton's status)

He's been here, and we have a much better sense. But we're not prepared to make a decision right now based on whether he goes on PUP or not. But I have a much better sense of where he is now, and I'm much more encouraged. I have no reason to think he will not (play in preseason games).

(on how this year's training camp compares to previous years')

Well, look at the roster. The roster's different. We have a lot of younger players and a new draft class. We have a lot of different factors. The fundamental approach is pretty simple. It's for each and every player to get better. That's what our objective is. If we take the same roster from last year and one player got better, we're a better team. It's how many players can you help improve. We've got a really solid group of younger players. There are six or eight or 10 of them in their second or third year who are no longer younger players. They are people who are expected to contribute and be productive and be professional and be reliable and play 70, 80, 90 percent of the offensive and defensive snaps. Those players at the tight end position, Craig (Stevens) and Jared (Cook), and the younger receivers. As I mentioned, Hawk (Lavelle Hawkins) had a great, great off-season. He needs to carry that over into training camp and the regular season. The youth at the cornerback spot, the young defensive linemen, which includes Sen'Derrick (Marks) and Will (Hayes) and Jake (Ford) and the rest of the guys. These guys are the guys we're counting on. They've given us every reason to believe in them at this point.

(on his confidence in Vince Young's ability to open up the running game for Chris Johnson)

Much more so. Based on obviously his finish last year and this offseason, much more comfortable. And again, as the relationship begins to grow between Mike (Heimerdinger) and Vince (Young) and they get more and more snaps and years and practices and weeks under their belt, things will only get better.

(on alleged poor communication of the organization with its former players)

You can go out and talk to any player that's left here. I challenge you to find one player that's left disgruntled. They may have left disgruntled because they wanted to come back and play here. But players like to play here, and we have players year after year after year that call back and say, 'Hey, the grass is not greener always.' Now, Keith (Bulluck)'s situation was unique. There was a timing issue that was involved. There was an injury issue there. There was an age issue there. And I believe deep down in his heart, Keith made that decision. We have great relationships with all our former players, and we maintain contact. But you also have the business aspect that is created through either unrestricted free agency or free agency or injuries or whatever. And that's the difficult part about it. There's the business side, there's agents, there's our front office, there's communication and there's negotiations. And that doesn't always work.

(on possible hits taken by the organization from a public relations standpoint)

I can go back and defend the organization with each and every one. They're all different. The deal that we offered Kyle (Vanden Bosch) at the start of the season last year was better than the deal he took at Detroit. We've got younger players here who are going to step up. There are two sides to ever story for all the players that come in here and all the players that leave. As far as taking hits, that's your perspective, not mine.

(on how former running backs coach Kennedy Pola's leaving hurts players' confidence)

I believe that Craig Johnson is obviously more than qualified and capable of handling this job. That's why we stayed in house. It was a lengthy discussion. I was elated when he elected to accept the challenge. He's going to do a great job. I had players come to me hoping that would be the route that we take. And so I'm not concerned about the transition. Mike (Heimerdinger) has a heavy hand at every phase of this offense, which includes the running game. If there's a transitional period, Mike will be able to handle it as Craig moves forward. But I have no reservation or concern whatsoever that this job's going to get done and it's going to get done very successfully.

(on running backs coach being a buffer between players and offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger)

As far as Dinger's concerned, he doesn't typically foam out at the running backs as much as he does the receivers and the quarterback. So I don't think the running backs have to worry about that.

(on how the new quarterbacks coach, Dowell Loggains, will approach the veteran quarterbacks)

He's established a great relationship with them. Again, Mike's going to handle a lot of that as he did with Craig. They'll be small periods of time throughout the day where Mike will be game planning and Dowell will be with him, but he's been with him up to this point anyway, so it's not a change for him. He's been a tremendous asset for us as far as the passing game's concerned from an ideas standpoint and a communications standpoint.

(on whether or not he has a different understanding of Pola issue)

I was very clear as to what happened with the timetable. There was one timeline, and it was mine. And I was very clear about it. We've got a legal issue here, and I can't comment on those things. But I can comment on what happened, and I did. And I don't really need to comment on it anymore. We've moved on.

(on Lane Kiffin's claims that Coach Fisher has softened his stance)

Softened my stance? No. What happened is what happened. I had one conversation with him Saturday.

(on Kiffin's claims that the lawsuit is a geographic issue)

I didn't see the comments, but I heard there were some comments to the effect that this may have been a geographic issue. That was brought to my attention earlier today. That's absurd. We're talking about two different entities here. We're talking about an NFL team and an action that took place last weekend and a whole different set of circumstances that took place months ago surrounding a tremendous educational institution, the University of Tennessee. So they're two completely different issues. How one could combine the two is absurd to me.

(on filing a suit against his alma mater)

This is against my alma mater, but it's against something that took place. It's not between me and USC. My name's not on that lawsuit. I have tremendous respect for that university. I always have, and I always will. So that had nothing to do with it.

(on if he sees any problems while getting a contract done with rookie wide receiver Damian Williams)

Obviously, there must be issues and we're working through them.

(on why his team will win the Super Bowl)

I think there's probably 31 other coaches who think they have a chance. We do as well. But that's not our goal tomorrow. That's a very unrealistic goal to present to your football team. The only way you achieve those types of goals is you set short-term goals and move forward. We have a number of short-term goals that we have to achieve. They vary from practice to practice, day to day, week to week. To me, the most important thing we're trying to accomplish here that I mentioned to you earlier is one, get better, each and everyone of us improve. Secondly, get ourselves ready to play the opener. And not only just play the opener, but play to win and in fact win the opener. And once you step past that, then you group your season into quarters. You've got to win early. Then you've got to build wins. Then you've got to push in position. We take it one day at a time, one week at a time and one short-term goal at a time. But this team has high expectations. But so did the team that started camp last year after winning 10-straight and winning 13. So every team's different. And as I've said numerous times, you can't just escrow stuff and then withdraw and start over. You've got to do it over and over and over again and you've got to do it better. And that's got to be our focus.

(on whether or not last year's 0-6 start caught him off guard)

Yeah, I did not anticipate it. I thought camp was good. We overcame some things. We had some holes. The return issues were my responsibility. I didn't address that adequately enough, but we will do that this year. But I didn't anticipate that. And again, you saw the games that could've gone either way.

(on whether or not the team can carry over from last year's strong finish)

I think there's a great deal of excitement that spins off from individual achievement – what CJ (Chris Johnson) was able to do, what Vince (Young) was able to do, he improvement, the improvement of Kenny Britt, the improvement of a number of younger players. So with those individual things that took place, one makes the logical assumption that they're going to be better. That gives you a chance to go into the season with a great deal of excitement.

(on the cornerback position battle)

We're going to discuss this thing between now and tomorrow.  It doesn't really matter who starts off there.  We're going to give everybody equal reps.  You've seen Cortland play both sides.  The winner is going to have to be able to play both sides as well.

(on whether the winner of the cornerback battle will have to play both sides)

I believe that would be the case.  Now it's not going to be a slam dunk guaranteed deal that Cort (Finnegan) is going to match up but it would be beneficial for them and there is no reason for us to think they can't.  They were all good at it through the OTAs.**

(on being relieved that quarterback Vince Young was not suspended by the NFL)

First off, I was glad that there was a conversation; I think that is a very enlightening experience for any player, any coach to go to New York, especially under the circumstances.  I talked to Vince and Vince felt very good about the visit, I anticipated that this was the decision that the commissioner was going to make.  My understanding was that it was a great visit, they have a good understanding, things are behind him and yes, we look forward to having him for all 16 games and more.

(on whether the Titans' lawsuit against the USC will have an impact on his donation to his alma mater)

No, none what so ever.

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