Coach Whisenhunt's Monday Practice Transcript



(on if he's made a decision in regards to starting Marcus Mariota in Thursday's fourth preseason game)

He's going to start for us…this year.

(on if Marcus Mariota will start on Thursday)

We'll see.

(on what the decision to start, or not start Marcus Mariota on Thursday will come down to)

I think it's a feeling. We'll see where it is after the week of practice. I'm not leaning one way or the other to be honest with you.

(on when he will make the decision on whether or not Marcus Mariota will start on Thursday)

I really don't know. I haven't thought that much about it. I think he'll be prepared to play if we want him to play, and if we don't play him, we don't play him. There's just a lot going on as far as what we're trying to get done in preparation for this week and even next week, so we'll see how the week goes.

(on if Marcus Mariota playing or not playing Thursday will make a big difference in the grand scheme of things)

I'm really not trying to be a smart aleck, I'm not trying to dodge the question, it's just I don't know at this point. I don't know that it does or doesn't make a difference at this point. I think some of it may be a feel for where we are as a team, and I think some of it may be, wake up Thursday morning and say, he's not going to play today. I don't know; some of it's going to be dependent on where we are as a team and how the week's gone. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, because ultimately it makes him prepare to play, and that's the most important thing, is to be prepared to play.

(on if this is the toughest preseason week to prepare for when it comes to figuring out who to play)

I don't think so. I said after the game, and I still believe that, there are some guys that have earned the right to play this Thursday. So some of that decisions been made for us, and we'll see.

(on if the fact that some players are fighting for their last shot at making the team makes the fourth preseason game exciting)

I think for a guy that was a 12th-round draft pick that's a free agent today, I mean for me, the opportunity to play in a game, to make a football team, that's a big deal. And as a guy that was an underdog, I pull for these guys. It's exciting for me to see them get into a game and have a chance to make a play, and actually have some guys make the team in that fourth game. So to me, the human element of the game, there's a lot of it in this game. Some of it is tremendously disappointing because guys don't take advantage of the opportunity, and some of it is tremendously rewarding because you see guys do that. So yeah, I get fired up about the game and I think a lot of these guys know they're going to get an opportunity to play and they'll be excited about it. I think one of the things that I really like is some of the guys that know they're on the team, they get excited to see these guys have success too. After however long it's been, a couple of months, thousands of snaps with these guys, sweating, getting happy, fighting, to get to this point where it comes down to this game where your livelihoods on the line, they're pulling for them. That's what being a team is all about.

(on how many spots are accounted for already)

I don't know. I really don't. I think that there are probably a number of positions where there are a couple of guys vying for a spot, and then some of it is going to depend on the health of where we are as far as if we keep an extra guy here or not. Some of it may even be who else would even potentially be available. I think you always have to keep your options open with those kind of things and we'll do that.

(on if he would prefer two players or one in the return game)

I don't think that's important. I don't think that's an advantage or a disadvantage. They are two different skill sets and I think with the way the kickoff rules are now it's really deemphasized the kickoff return aspect of it. I don't think that it makes a difference. If you have a guy that can do both and he's superior at, if it makes your team better, I'm all for that, but I don't think that is a real factor.

(on if Blidi Wreh-Wilson is ready to play)

He practiced today and really did good and did a nice job. A lot of it is going to depend on how sore he is tomorrow. I think that game speed, getting him acclimated to the game speed is important. I don't know that it's 50 snaps or 30 snaps important, but we'd like to get him in just to get him comfortable with that element again. I'm certainly very pleased with where he is today.

(on his experience as a player and if cuts ever get easier)

You know, it's not very easy. Like I said, I've sat on the other side of the table and had that happen to me, and it's hard. Everybody is at a different stage. I said to our guys, this game means different things to different guys. Some guys are trying to get on a team, some guys are trying to show that they can still do it, and some guys are on their last leg, so it's always tough. When you have gone through a lot here, how ever many period of time, since back in May, practices, workouts, battles, and whenever you have to tell somebody that they're not going to be on your team, it's tough.

(on if he and the coaches enjoy piecing a team together)

That process has been ongoing. We talk about it every week. We rank the players, we talk about different positions. Obviously, every position coach has their favorites, or are invested in their group, and their opinions. I think communication and talking about it is an important thing, that's the best way to get to a right answer. Sometimes you're going to have disagreements and that's OK. We're just trying to put together the best team and improve on what we did last year. That's what our focus is.

(on how much the team has worked on Tampa Bay)

Not a lot. We'll have plenty of time to work on Tampa Bay. We did a little bit in the offseason, but that doesn't guarantee that's what they're going to do this year. We look a little bit at the preseason, but that's not any different than what you do normally.

(on how many times a player has made a play in the fourth preseason game and secured a spot on the team)

There's been a few times. I can remember probably more than a handful of times where a guy has made a play, or made something happen in the last game and made the team. It's a little different now, in today's NFL, because of the way the rules have changed as far as injured reserve and those kinds of things, but still, I've seen it happen. It seems like there's always somebody who is in consideration for that, and you see how they do.

(on if he has had a player suffer a severe injury in the fourth preseason game)

I don't really recall that happening, and I thank you for jinxing us by saying something like that. Maybe I've blocked it out because it's a bad memory.


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