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Coach Mularkey's Sunday Press Conference Transcript



(opening statement)

It's going well. Getting ready for the next one. I felt good yesterday. Again, I'm not pleased with the outcome—never will be, not winning a game—but there were things in that game that afterwards, I felt good about the direction we were going. And then I wanted to come in here and watch the tape and see if what I felt yesterday was true, and it is. There are some things in that game that I think is helping build the process that we're trying to start here.

(on what he liked in the game)*

Yeah, offensively, obviously I liked that we had some drives against a very good defense. We went no-huddle, scored on the no-huddle. The run game—again, that's a tough team to run the ball against. We knew that was going to be the case. That's the kind of team you've got to just keep running it. Eventually, that thing is going to happen. It's going to kick in. I know we didn't rush for 280 yards, but we rushed for a four-yard average. That, to me, is good. I thought our protection was good, was better than Week 1, which we wanted to have. I thought our mental errors had a drop off. I thought defensively, again, we had a couple mistakes. We had two plays that went for 100 yards and two plays that led to scores basically. One was a score. Other than that, against a team that likes to run the football, for eight rushes for 19 yards in the first half, that's stopping the run. I think they had 55, 56 yards total (rushing) for the whole game. That's what we have to do. I mean I would have liked to have seen if it was a regular season game how it would have played out, but it was a physical game for a preseason game. We knew that going in, but it was very physical. I wanted to see if we'd come back after Week 1, and we did.

(on how he would assess the pass rush)

Well, if you watch these guys during the game, the back and the tight end were constantly shifting up to the edges to attack us. So they were in max protection for a good bit of their passing game. They were not going to let us get to (them), so they were very aware of our pass rush to be able to do that—again, which gives him a little more time. But I just watched it with Coach (Dick) Lebeau here prior to coming in here. There was pressure. That pocket was closing in on him. So he made some very good throws early in that game, but there was some pretty good pressure coming from all sides.

(on how many of Carolina's big plays were a result of poor tackling)

Well, the touchdown, obviously—poor angle by Antwon Blake and then you've got (Da'Norris) Searcy standing there about five yards off, basically by himself in the middle of the field with Teddy Ginn (Jr). I've been around Teddy in Miami. He can fly, so not a fair fight when it came down to that. So you can't miss tackles. It was a nine-yard pass. It was a nine-yard hook that he's probably defended 100 times that should have been a catch-tackle, move on.

(on Brice McCain stating earlier in camp that he likes to play press coverage and if that technique is being used in games)

A little bit of both. Even from the sideline, we're telling guys to get up there, to press. But I think more of what Brice (McCain) is talking about, what his role has been mainly has been as a nickel. He feels more comfortable as a nickel, which you can as a nickel press a little more than you do outside. But it felt that way—again, looking at the tape, probably a little bit softer than we want to be. That's been addressed.

(on how to prevent opponents from having big opening drives for touchdowns)

Well, we're going to continue to address it. That's the No. 1 thing. Two is make sure guys are in the right place so we don't have plays like that—a bad tackle, a missed tackle. Can't do that with anybody. Can't do it in the open field. Can't let the backs out of the backfield for big plays like we did yesterday on that third down-and-seven. Things like that, I mean, you can't do it but they've got to start doing it consistently. It's been addressed. It's just one guy here, one guy there. Again, defensively, I told you if you have one guy out of position, you can get burned.

(on if Carolina's long pass to the running back had similarities to San Diego's long pass to the running back)

No, this one (Brian) Orakpo should have peeled off the blitz. Again, we had an issue last week. It was more of we added on when we thought they were in protections. We added on and the back got out. A little different circumstance, but still, it's things we've got to correct.

(on if he feels comfortable with the starting offensive line he has been using)

There is still competition there. I can say that. There is still competition there. There's things we've got to get better at, but we're not going to declare that the starting five for Minnesota by any means.

(on how Quinton Spain played)

He played average. He played average. He did some good things and then did some things that he can be better at. A lot of it is really techniques, a lot of it is hand placement—things he can get better at and he's been coached to do that. He's on edge when he doesn't have to be. If he just corrects a couple things, he can be a force in there, but he's got to correct those things.

(on how Brian Schwenke has played)

(Brian) Schwenke has held his own over there. Yes, he has. He hasn't obviously had the amount of reps. We're going to give him more reps. We're actually going to give (Sebastian) Tretola some reps over there, as well, because he's playing well, too.

(on if Brian Schwenke and Sebastian Tretola will get reps with the ones)

We're talking about it, yeah—those three, again, working with the ones.

(on how he would assess Rishard Matthews' progress)

I've been really happy with Rishard (Matthews), really this last week in practice. His route running—he ran some really good routes yesterday. We didn't get the ball off. We had pressure on one of them on a big play down the field. His blocking has been very good. I mean everybody always talks about the receiving end of things and the route running, but his blocking has been very good, as well.

(on how he expects teams to defend Tajae Sharpe after proving he is a threat)

I mean it's really a game—about five plays, six plays. I don't know if they're going to go out of their way and try to eliminate Tajae (Sharpe) right now. I mean he made some big plays yesterday. I'm hoping he consistently does that so they do have to worry about him, but after one game, I'm not sure that's going to be a game-wrecker kind of identity as of yet.

(on if Tajae Sharpe continuing to play at this level will take pressure off of Delanie Walker)

Sure, absolutely. If you've got somebody that can consistently get open like he does and make the plays and they have to take two people to go over there or roll the coverage to him or whatever they do—cheat the safety to him—that opens up other options for everybody.

(on if Jack Conklin improved in pass protection this week)

Yeah, he still got tested inside on one. Again, that test will keep coming until he closes the door on it. Those are things that are good to see for him that hey, I've got to quit oversetting.

(on if Marqueston Huff delivered a textbook hit on how to safely tackle over the middle)

I'd say yes. I would. I mean that was a clean hit, and actually, I thought the penalty on the return was a clean hit. I'm going to call on that, but I'm trying to teach these guys to do things the right way. When they have penalties—and I'm sure when you get an unsportsmanlike conduct, a fine is probably going to follow—and before that goes down, I want to look at the tape with the officials and say, 'What are you looking for?' so I can teach the rest of these guys not to put themselves in that position. So we'll have that discussion.

(on what caused the offsides penalty on the kick receiving team)

We were anticipating these guys kicking it like they did there at the end of the half to kick off the time. We moved everybody up five yards, and they moved up too far. Actually, we had two guys that were offsides on that. I can't remember the last time (I have seen that happen).

(on who was offsides)

Our front line.

(on how Dennis Kelly played)

I thought he did well for being here a short time. The one issue when we went to the no-huddle with Alex Tanney was does Dennis (Kelly) know what to do at the line? And he kicked right in. All go check, and it was immediately like, yeah, he's good to go. So we kicked it in. That was really impressive on his part. He made a couple mistakes—one on the fumble down there with (David) Cobb. He blocked out on a play, left a three-technique coming screaming out of the backfield. But for the most part, he did his role.

(on how Kevin Byard did returning kicks and his plan to use Kalan Reed in the return game)

Yeah, I wanted to get Kalan (Reed). Kalan has really been the one guy that hasn't gotten a lot of reps. I'm going to try to make that happen here these next couple of weeks. But Kevin (Byard), other than putting the ball on the ground—I could see it because I said in the team meeting, 'Kevin, you're the one guy that doesn't handle the ball a whole lot. You need to have more focus on handling the ball.' (It was) a good lesson for him, but I thought when he settled down, he just has a knack of finding ways to make yards. He can make some people miss, just like you see on interception returns. He's got a knack.

(on if Marcus Mariota's interception was due to underthrowing the ball or trying to do too much on the play)

We're constantly talking about taking what the defense gives you. We didn't do that there. Based on the coverage, both outside guys would have been easy completions to move the sticks. Marcus (Mariota)—I think he tried to force something in there that he wishes he didn't. A good example of just take what the defense gives you and we'll have points one way or another on that drive.

(on how tightly snap infractions are being called and the effect it has on Ben Jones)

That was a point of emphasis. We get an officials' tape weekly on things that they're going to be looking for. So again, I address it with the team exactly what they're looking for, because you know they are going to try to make an example somewhere in the game. So we talked about it, Russ (Grimm) talked about it in meetings, I talked about it in the team meeting about moving the ball. You can't go flat to 90 degree, or they're going to call it. It was close. I mean it wasn't like he was trying to make the defense jump offsides. It wasn't anything exaggerated, but I just think it had something to do with that tape that they're going to set an example.

(on whether Antonio Andrews didn't get more carries because he wanted to get David Cobb more involved)

Yeah, I wanted to get David (Cobb) a little more work other than a scrimmage.

(on how Marcus Mariota has played over the first two games)

Yeah, he's done a lot of good things. He has a very good command of what's going on, and we're doing a lot of things with moving parts, a lot of shifts, a lot of motions. He's doing that, even with himself within the no-huddle. We started in one set—he's naturally making some shifts happen by putting us in sets to attack the defense, and he's doing it and giving us plenty of time to do it. It's not like we've had a lot of times where the clock has been close to going out with Marcus (Mariota). He's very aware of the situation with time management and putting guys in position to do their job. He's been very impressive.

(on how difficult Alex Tanney has made the decision to keep three quarterbacks)

Again, we're going to have a couple tough decisions when it comes down to it in a number of areas—quarterback is no different. It's rare that you can come into a camp and have three guys that can put an offense into the right sets, the right protections. So it will be a tough decision when it comes down to it.

(on how much Alex Tanney has improved since last year)

He's been very steady in his improvement. Nothing really flusters him. He's very smooth in how he operates. He's been that way since he's been here. Running the scout team, it's very similar to what he did out there against (Indianapolis) that last game when he played the second half.

(on the competition at nose tackle)

Austin (Johnson) is getting better. He is. We're trying to give them both fair opportunities, but they're getting better. He has picked up his game since we put that roster together for the Chargers game, and he was in the third slot. He's picked it up a little bit since then.

(on if that roster helped to motivated Austin Johnson)

I think it did, based on his performance since then. Yeah.

(on if he was pleased with the way Derrick Henry was able to evade defenders tackling him low on his 13-yard run)

I would think he would run through a lot of those. I would. I wouldn't have anticipated them tackling him like that if they were smart. Tackle this guy up high. He's a load, so he's just got to get used to that, but I think he is just going to run through that.

(on what are his expectations are from Kevin Dodd this week)

We're going to get him more involved in the team segments. It's been more things like seven-on-seven. Things where there's not going to be physical contact. We have an extra day on Monday, so by the time we get to the week's end, he should be good to go. Speaking on his conditioning, that's another (thing). We'll see where he is with that.

(on if he anticipates Kevin Dodd will get snaps in the game against Oakland)

Yes, he and Aaron Wallace.

(on whether Jason McCourty will practice tomorrow)

He should be practicing tomorrow.

(on when Kendall Wright will return)

I'm hoping by the end of the week. Hopefully by Thursday or by Wednesday, which will be a Thursday type of day (for us).

(on Kendall Wright's game status)

That would be questionable.

(on whether the starters will get the most extended playing time against Oakland)

More than the first two games, yeah.

(on if it's important to have guys come out at the half)

No, I've talked about it with the staff. No, not for us.

(on if Justin Hunter is playing better and is more motivated)

I think he has responded (well) since the trade. I think he is studying more. There are still things in that game—he fell down on another route. We were trying to take a shot with him, he fell down on it. Those types of things. The two-point play wasn't a great throw, but you (would) like to see him come down, and somehow make that play happen. But other than that, he did some good things in the game—caught the ball over the middle. He's trying. He knows where his status is, and he knows there's a lot of demands on him.

(on if he can tell guys are more pressed now that the first roster cut is approaching)

Some individuals you can tell that, but for the most part—more young guys than anybody that are pressed.

(on if there is anything borderline players can do in one game to help their chances)

Again, do something that wows the coaches. Again, do something special teams wise, so if you're sitting there on the border, this guy or that guy—the one guy that did something in an actual preseason game would probably give him the edge over the other one. So yeah, there's plenty of time still. All of these practices will count on where these guys will be on the roster when it's all said and done.

(on what the conversations are like with Jon Robinson regarding the roster)

Jon (Robinson) and I talk about it every day. It hasn't really changed. That's something that, since we've been together, we're constantly talking about where we need help, how guys are playing. Jon (Robinson) sits in with us and watches the tapes, so he understands exactly what's going on from the coaches. I think that's really good for him and his department. But we are constantly talking about every position and where we need help or where we need guys to play better. All that comes up with him.

(on what went wrong on a throw to the sideline with Justin Hunter)

It was more feet, and it was more route. That route is not designed to be flattened off like that, so he put himself in that position to where basically the ball had to go out of bounds and the route dictated that. If he had stayed on a higher angle, that's a route you can catch and run with it. So, that route was not good.

The Tennessee Titans battle the Carolina Panthers in Week 2 of the 2016 preseason at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)

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