Quotes From Camp - August 06, 2006 (Sunday)
Head Coach Brad Childress
Childress: It's a beautiful day here. Just a couple of things about injuries. Obviously Tank Williams suffered an injury yesterday to his knee cap. That will probably be a season-ending injury. We have yet to make a move on him, but it was a significant injury. I feel terrible for Tank for a few reasons. No. 1, 30 years of doing this, injuries are the toughest thing, and season-ending injuries, to a guy that has worked awfully hard to put himself in a position, is particularly disappointing. In addition, my family and my guys - he is one of the guys, he's one of the guys that flew in here as a free agent, one of those 10 guys that I sat down and looked in the eye and talked with. When I saw him in the shower room last night, it was kind of an emotional thing, and you know what? I know there is a plan. I don't know what it is, but he knows that there is a plan too, but he's going to suck it up and take it, and rehab. I'm not sure what his arrangements are yet. I know Dr. (James) Andrews did his first surgery. I don't know if he will do the second surgery, or somebody else. I feel bad for Tank, and I feel bad for our football team.
Chad Greenway had a concussion yesterday. He was bright and bouncy last night. He did OK on his protocol - they have a computer where they check his awareness, a baseline from when he comes in. We held him out this morning as a precaution, but he'll be out at special teams running around this afternoon. You know we waived Dez White yesterday, and Chester Taylor is still tender in his groin area. We want to make sure that he treats that up and takes care of that before he gets back on the field.
Practice today - we had a pretty good segment on the introduction of our two-minute offense and defense. More protocol, more procedure, more communication, and it went well. We kicked field goals at the end of that with Ryan Longwell, and then we moved the ball. It was the first time we've moved the football where on offense if you gain a first down, you got the defense feeling it. We brought it back to the same spot every time. That's what football is about, and that's when your offense and defense feel the personality in the huddle, by themselves, without coaches stepping in correcting and communicating. We're filming it, but that's where the personality starts evolving. You'll see more of those "move the balls" as we head through camp.
Q: On signing Dwight Smith...
A: The one thing about Tank is that he embraced it. He made a phone call to Mike (Tomlin) when we signed Dwight Smith, and just said, Ã¢â‚¬ËœHey coach, all I want to know is if I have a chance.' Usually when you see that note and it says, Ã¢â‚¬ËœTank Williams called,' now what is he going to talk about? How come you signed that guy? Competitive as hell. You wish everybody would make that phone call and say, Ã¢â‚¬ËœI just want to know, is it a competition? If it's a competition, I'm good.' And you know what, Dwight's good with it too. It just ends up being fortunate that Dwight is on our football team now.
Q: On Kevin Williams not practicing...
A: Kevin Williams has a little swelling on his knee. Of course, he's had a chronic knee since coming out of college, and it's two-a-days. The wear and tear takes its toll, and so we shut him down today. It's chronic, so we'll just see if we can get the swelling out, and get him back when we can get it.
Q: Matt Birk is back. How important is that? Is he back to where he was before his injury?
A: He feels like he's back where he was. I haven't seen him take one step backwards, or flinch, or grab anything, or indicate that he had any type of discomfort down there, so just with the live reps that we've taken, I don't have any indicators that he is anything other than 100 percent. It's big because that's the guy, again, standing in the middle, that basically makes the calls for protections, for run schemes. We ask him to identify some looks. Obviously he has a Harvard education. I was screwing around with Steve Hutchinson. I told him we'd let him make the calls, but he graduated from Michigan, and Harvard is a little better academic institution than Michigan. Of course, he gave me a piece of his mind too. I'm happy Birk is back, and that veteran kind of calmness is huge.
Q: Now a week into camp, how are you gauging the players' progress?
A: I need some time to chew on that. Can I answer that in chapter two tomorrow? I'm pleased. We're just one week into the installation schedule, and as I flipped through with Jermaine Wiggins yesterday, there is a way lot more to come from our standpoint. But I think they're doing well. From an offensive standpoint, I see guys making improvements, just in route fundamentals, in understanding those concepts, and as I say to them - everybody in the NFL has some version of these plays. It's not about the lines on the paper. It's about all the little minutia that makes those plays successful plays. It's a disciplined offense. You have some flexibility within the offense if you understand what's happening to you. Defensively I think they're flying around the football at a high level, and I think Mike has them going over there. He has more of his package to add as well, but the base stuff, I think they're doing well.
Q: What's your philosophy as far as balancing camp in terms of hitting?
A: You know, we usually are going to have some segment that is live every day. It may be a set of three plays at a yard line, it may be a move the football, it may be going back in the red zone and having a live segment as opposed to a bring-it-back-to-the-20 segment. There is no way around that. With training camp, somewhere, you're going to have to have some contact, you're going to have to let those guys be in their pads. They have to go through not only soreness of muscles not only from running and conditioning, but just having those pads settle up on them, and that happens every year. You're right, it has to be a balance. You have to be in tune to when enough is enough, when you need to start to recharge them, and I'm sensitive to that. That's why we hit one period identified as we go through camp.
Q: How pleased are you with Troy Williamson?
A: I will tell you that I had one impression of Troy coming in, and one impression of Troy since I've been here. He's niftier, he's more nimble, he's got a little bit more wiggle than I had anticipated. I thought of him as a long-stride guy who was better at 60 yards than at 40 yards. We're teaching him to use that speed in those bursts, because people will honor him for his on-paper speed. Better hands than I anticipated, and will go into traffic and catch the football, and better underneath. I think he's taken those same steps that I'm talking about offensively, that's understanding what he can do, what he can't do, to do the job.
Q: Can you talk about what Steve Hutchinson has done?
A: You have to hold him back. He got hit in the ear here the other night in the nine-on-seven against Kansas City, and that might have been the only swing I saw full on. I just happened to be standing right next to it. He's doing a good job. You have to hold him back. You really are not going to appreciate Steve Hutchinson until you watch him play, and finish, and get after the guys around him and help. You're going to understand his power. We respect our guys out here. We're not picking people off, not going to assist somebody when you don't have somebody to block. Not only is he physical at the line of scrimmage in pass protection, but he's physical in his finishes when you're bringing people to the ground. We just don't cut or get on legs, or do any of that kind of stuff. When we get in there with live bullets, I think you'll come to a little greater appreciation. He has a nice little nasty to him.
Q: Brad Johnson connected on a bomb with Williamson today...
A: How far did he throw it?
(Forty or 50 yards in the air).
Usually that is plenty. You don't see a lot of 70-yard throws in this deal. I think this. In terms of standing there flat-footed, there are going to be people that can do that, but he can throw on time as well as anyone. I'm fond of saying that you throw with your eyes and your legs. Your arm is going to do what it's going to do, but it's all coming out of your lower body and your eyes telling you to throw it on time. His sense of timing is such that he can get a ball up and let somebody run under it. The saying with quarterbacks is, don't throw hard, throw early. Not waiting for it to see it come open, be an anticipatory thrower, and he's that kind of guy. He has plenty of arm.
Q: What's the Pat Williams update?
A: He's still moving along. It kind of cooled off on us. I was expecting hateful hot when we started that first day, but he's made progress. He'll be back in the next couple of days, probably.
Q: You talked to the local college team the other night. What did you say?
A: I told them three things that we talk about all of the time that ring true for any football team, and I think I've told you guys this. Be good at the things that take no talent. It takes no talent to be in shape, to be in great condition. It takes no talent to know your assignment. No talent, zero talent level, and it takes no talent to hustle to the football. If you can do those things as a football team, and you have a chance to win a lot of football games. And then you add a little talent along with those three things, you've probably got a real good football team.
Q: Do you feel like Troy Williamson is polished enough to be a No. 2 receiver?
A: You know, it's interesting you say that. I follow basketball a little bit, and it's been probably in the last 15 years where they say a guy is a one, a two, a three, a four. The two, we're usually going to have a guy on opposite sides of each other. I don't know who is the one and who is the two, if you're ordering and numbering. I'd be hesitant to say the two. I think he certainly has the ability to potentially be a starter.
Q: How do you feel about your running game?
A: I feel like we're coming along there. We're seeing a lot of eight-man fronts, nine-man fronts. Mike does a good job of putting people next to the line of scrimmage, and I think we're going to be a good running football team. Again, you usually don't get the whole flavor for that. All of those outside plays that we're attempting to run, we're respecting our teammates. We usually cut on the backside of those, which takes somebody out of the pursuit. You see a lot of those that come from the backside that end up getting grabbed from the backside, and it's frustrating as hell. That's one of the biggest frustrations Steve Hutchinson has, because that slows a lot of things down now - and I'm talking about cutting legally, at the line of scrimmage. But we don't cut our own people. We end up doing that on Monday night. We don't cut the line of scrimmage when we spread out, so it makes it tough on those backs against defensive ends. We'll cut on Monday night (against Oakland).
Q: The left side of the line gets a lot of attention, but how about the right side?
A: I like the right side of my line. I think Marcus (Johnson) is a year better, and I know what Artis Hicks is. I think like the left side of the line, they're learning to play together. As we talked about before, those five have to play together, whether it's left side or right side. They're coming along.
Q: Does Tank Williams have any ligament damage?
A: To my knowledge, no ligament damage. That's one of those things that I asked as well. It was the knee that he had surgically repaired. It's just unfortunate. I'm far from being a medical doctor, but they take a piece of that knee cap and a piece of that tendon, and evidently it didn't heal. From what the trainer and the doctor tell me, you usually don't see that kind of a knee cap injury a year-and-a-half out. Something was awry or amiss.
Q: Do you think you need to add another safety?
A: If I did, I sure wouldn't tell you Sean. It's nothing personal. I wouldn't tell you either.
Quarterback Brad Johnson
Q: I've been marveling about that deep ball you threw to (Troy) Williamson. How would you characterize his development?
A: I think Troy is having an excellent camp. Obviously he missed a big part of the mini-camps so I really don't know if the coaches had a feel for what kind of player he was. Last year we had five receivers. It's unfair to the receivers and it's unfair to Troy every time he came in here comes the deep ball. It's unfair. We got him going at the end of the season and he started making some catches. Just get the guy catches and he'll make yards after the catches and let the deep ones come. I feel very comfortable throwing to him and he's catching the ball well. He's seeing the ball come out of my hands and making adjustments. He's getting a better feel for coverages and a better feel for the system. There's just so much room for him to grow because he's so talented and so explosive. It's a lot of fun to play with him. He talks to you and he listens to you. When he starts yelling back at me, he'll be the "true" receiver that all receivers are. That's kind of selfish but I really enjoy playing with him.
Q: As far as camps go that you've been to, how does this one compare?
A: The first week was a rough week. There were more padded practices. It does wear on you. The coach wants to find out what kind of players he has, who's in it for the long haul. When guys show up July 31 they all say they're excited, but what guy is going to say that today? Then you're going to find out what kind of players you've got and what kind of team you have. Obviously he'll back down different situations, different tempos during the course of practices. But this past week has been pretty rough, but I think that's good for us.
Q: Have you seen Troy Williamson's hands get better? Is he more "sure" than he was a year ago?
A: I think that him coming out of college and playing with three or four different quarterbacks. I think just getting used to speed of the game, getting used to the speed of the ball coming at him. When you make your breaks, especially playing at this level. When you make your break the ball is going to be right on you. He's just seeing the ball a little quicker and he's having good training camp so far.
Q: Last year the center position was in flux. How good is it to have Matt Birk back when he could have retired?
A: Matt's resume speaks for it self. Him making it back is pretty remarkable. The price that you pay and putting it on the line like he has. Obviously he's the leader of the team, a leader of the offensive line and guys respond. He makes the right calls. He's a big guy and doesn't get pushed a lot. Hopefully he'll be a staple of what we're trying to accomplish on the offensive line. As far as having a strong running game and just being able to be suffice, especially against the first couple teams we play this season. We play against some big guys, especially in our division. His coming back is huge for us.
Q: Is it impressive because he didn't have to come back, with his restaurant and his Harvard education.
A: You can work the rest of your life. You don't get football back. I think he realizes that and he loves football. Obviously there are the aches and pains of it and you just deal with that once you're a player. He has a great reputation and does a lot for the community. He's a great leader on this team no doubt.
Q: What's your impression so far about the right side of the line?
A: Obviously Artis (Hicks) coming in here, he's been in the system before and knows the tempo. He's been on the left side so he's made an adjustment with it, especially with his feet and handwork up there. He knows the system, he loves the game, he plays hard in practice and gives it everything he's got. I think the communication level as far as picking up the system with him and Matt (Birk) making calls has been a quick adjustment. Obviously Marcus (Johnson) being in his second year in the league and just getting used to the tempo and what he's going to face every week. A lot of teams are going to put pressure on him because of what's on our left side, so a lot is expected out of Marcus. He plays hard and loves it. I enjoy playing with him, no doubt.
Q: Are the guys on offense finding that the intensity the defense brings raises your guy's game? It seems like the defense is making a point to fly around out there and you have to try to match that.
A: It has to. If you are going to win, you've got to have one of the better defenses in the league. The only team I saw that didn't do it was probably St. Louis when they won the Super Bowl. But when they did, they won 10-6 and 17-13 in championship and Super Bowl game. So if want to win you have to have a great defense. The offense cannot turn the ball over after scoring on a short field. You have to make each other better. The year we won in Tampa, practices were live every day. You're talking about some potential Hall of Famers. A lot of Pro Bowl players were playing against each other and made each other better every day. Talked about different adjustments in practice. Ã¢â‚¬ËœYou're giving me this look, we're giving you this look.' Trying to make each other better and make each practice competitive. I think that's what we're getting now.
Q: You played with Dwight Smith before. With Tank's (Williams) season-ending injury, how much confidence do you have in Dwight?
A: Dwight probably doesn't get enough credit. He calls himself the "real MVP" for the two interceptions down there at the Super Bowl. There could have been 10 guys that could have actually got it. He's a headhunter. He knows how to play the game, very smart. Especially coming into this system I think he helps all of the other guys out as far as believing in system and buying into the system. He makes plays. He's very aggressive. It's unfortunate what happened with Tank. Love the guy, the guy is a playmaker. It's just part of the game and we all move on. It's tough for Tank right now. But Dwight is a great pickup for us. I'm glad he's with us.
Q: Do you see any difference in Ciatrick Fason this year compared to last?
A: Last year he was a young guy, coming out early. I think he was just kind of happy to be here to some degree. His chances were very limited and we had him on a lot of third and short and a lot of goal line opportunities. This year he's getting more chances at training camp. He's running with some authority. He's made a lot of guys miss out in the open field. He's just getting a better feel for the game.
Q: Can you talk about the Hall of Fame hat that you're wearing?
A: I got it from Warren (Moon). Tony Richardson picked it up for me. I was extremely happy for him making the Hall of Fame.
Q: How is Ciatrick Fason doing with the passing game?
A: He's catching the ball. Number one he's picked up in his blitz pickups. That's the number one rule for a back. He catches the ball when you put him out in pass routes. He's just getting a better feel for open running and open pass route and option routes for him. But he's a more of a slasher type of runner and catches the ball when you give it to him.