HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK
(on why Chris Johnson wasn't at today's practice)
Yes, he was excused today and he will be back tomorrow.
(on how many practices Chris Johnson has missed this offseason)
He hasn't missed any as far as we asked him to be four days a week at least at a minimum since we started the program and he has done that. Like I said last week, a lot of the weeks he has been here five out of five days, so it has been good. This is something that we knew he would need some time off for, so he will be back tomorrow.
(on Leroy Harris returning to practice)
That was real good. Leroy has been out here with the team just doing individual drills. We gave our physicals yesterday and the doctor felt good about his shoulder with the time that has passed and everything looks good there. They felt the appropriate time has passed to kind of go ahead and let him get back in the middle of things. Plus it will be good for his confidence to get two or three days of work with the offensive line, so when plays are called you quit worrying about your injuries and maybe what is bothering you. I think it works well that he is out there. He did quite a few reps today and he will do a little bit more tomorrow and the same thing on Thursday and then that will hopefully help carry him with good confidence coming back to training camp.
(on the play of Eugene Amano)
He is doing well. He has been in this position pretty much his whole career coming into the league as a seventh-round pick. No one ever thought he would accomplish what he has, so he knows how to handle things and earned his way into a starting spot. He realizes that we need to get better this year. He knows that, and not just him they all know we have to play better up front in all phases of the game. It just so happens that him and the inside spots, we're creating a lot of competition. We have had some young guys here that deserve an opportunity to push those guys which they are. I think he has handled it well. I think the fact that he has been out here the last couple of weeks, I think his health again is behind him now and he feels pretty confident. He should finish up strong the next couple of days and we should have a good, young healthy group coming back in training camp.
(on the growth of Fernando Velasco)
He has played well. He is another undrafted guy that really whenever he has been asked to play, has played well. He came into a couple of games a couple of years ago and played very well in the Dallas game which we won in Dallas and he played guard that day. He has come in and played some center. That is the thing is we have confidence in him. Kevin Matthews filled in a couple of years ago for a start and another half a game, so we have seen what he can do under pressure too. Again we are happy with what we have there even though they are all young guys. We thought it would be great competition and that is how it has been here. Those two guys have gotten a lot of work, Fernando and Kevin Matthews; have got a lot of work with the first group quarterbacks during the OTA period. Now Leroy and Eugene are getting a lot of work, so I think that makes a nice mix of competition coming to camp.
(on the potential of mixing guys into the different competitions on the interior offensive line)
There we can probably play a little more. The quarterbacks are comfortable with both centers and the line is the same way. I think like all of the positions the sooner the better, once we feel like we have the right guys in place then we will lock them there and start working that group together. I think you would like to do that sooner than later in all the positions that we have. I think some will become clearer a lot quicker maybe than others. Some we have a good idea right now and what is probably the best thing but we just want to see it unfold once we have pads on and we are doing some things under live contact. That will be the part we have to handle once we get camp started.
(on the play of Karl Klug and Jurrell Casey this offseason)
I think it has been great for them to have … they never understood what an offseason meant. They always heard about the offseason and you gain weight and you do this and you will get stronger, but they didn't have a chance to experience that. I think now they are appreciating it. I think until you go through it, I think they understand the game a little bit better, having another coach with them with (Keith) Millard helping them with the pass game a little bit. I think they have been exposed to a lot more. They have been asked to do more things than they were last year. I think they kind of like that. I think they got more comfortable last year and now it is just a matter of adding more things to their game and you realize how much you can improve from year one to year two. I think you will see that in these guys. They both have had good offseasons and good attendance and I think those are guys you are going to continue to hear from next year.
(on the new pass rushing techniques that Keith Millard is teaching)
I don't know that it is anything new. It's more of another person to get guys re-focused on having a plan and having a move. I think between him and Tracy Rocker they did a good job of studying the tape in the offseason of each guy we have; the linebackers, the D-line and I think Millard did a good job of sitting with Tracy and going through and seeing what guys were already doing well and how we can make guys better or get them a counter-move. The same thing with the linebackers and he worked with Frank Bush and talked with Frank about Akeem (Ayers) and about (Colin) McCarthy when they are rushing and what we saw last year with what they already do well naturally and how we can add to the package to kind of make them better and more effective. I think it is more of that. He is just doing a good job. That is why I was excited about him. He does a good job of complementing what you had in place. He is doing a great job of complementing the staff that we have and adding to what Tracy is already doing because Tracy is coaching 16 guys out here, so it is nice the players having someone else they can go to and talk to besides just one coach. I think it has been a benefit that way.
(on signing Kamerion Wimbley and how it is important for him not to try to solve the pass rush problem by himself)
I think the fun thing about him is with his demeanor he understands that. He seems to be a guy that handles pressure very well and doesn't take it all on himself like he is the savior of the pass rush. Even when we were talking to him and we had a visit in here, I was talking to him more about how he can add to what we don't have. We have other people around him that we thought would be very helpful to try to attack defenses in different ways more so this year than we did last year because everything was so new to everybody and we were playing so many young guys. I think he has handled it well. I think the way he practices has been a big plus for the whole defense. He practices like a pro and he does it right. He works hard and he runs from drill to drill and he does all the little things right that coaches are usually yelling and harping on. He is a guy that does it and he is a guy that these guys are following already because they know he has had success in the league playing different positions. I'm sure at some point he is going to put pressure on himself to perform as all good athletes do and he is going to want to put numbers up for us which we hope. Even if he doesn't get the sacks, if he creates the problems and other guys get sacks that is what it is all about, getting off the field as we know. I think he is a great complement to guys like Derrick Morgan to what he can do, to what Akeem Ayers can maybe do. They are all kind of built alike, especially Akeem. He has a lot of the same traits he has. I think they are already learning from how he prepares and does things. He is going to help us in a lot of ways. Time will tell and we will see how it works, but I think he will handle it well.
(on Wimbley playing multiple positions and now focusing on just defensive end)
I think it is a relief for him, knowing that where he performed probably his best was with his hand on the ground as far as getting after the quarterback. I know when we played against him we were more fearful of him being on an edge than playing on the second level as far as rushing the quarterback and playing every down. I think for an athlete usually it is nice to be in one spot; to know that we brought him here for a reason to do a certain thing. The nice advantage for Jerry (Gray) is knowing that we can stand him up and move him around too. He is not uncomfortable doing that which again creates problems for an offensive line and a running back. If you get Akeem (Ayers) doing that and (Derrick) Morgan doing some of that, then all of a sudden you have a lot of weapons along with (Karl) Klug and (Jurrell) Casey, you have a lot of guys that can do a lot of good things. It gives us a lot of variables with the group we have.