* (How was practice?)*
I thought practice was sharp. It was a cut-down version of a Tuesday morning practice. It was a review practice, so we had an opportunity to go through corrections from yesterday's practice in the jog-through phase. Then we had a couple of situations in our game situations and our screens and deceptive. We had the two move-the-ball periods, which was good work on both sides, and the no-huddle, which was also good work. I am pleased with what I saw out here today and we'll take a look at it on film.
(Have there been a lot of corrections?)
You don't want the mental errors. That is what everybody is fighting for, striving for as a football team is to nail down, lock down the discipline of your play from a discipline standpoint as far as mentally doing the right things and doing it the right way. You hope you are just correcting technical aspects of your football team. But it is part of the installation process because mental errors on one side or the other are always an opportunity that you can learn from. Sometimes there is a defense called against a particular offensive play that is probably not a good situation for the offense to be in, but more importantly to have the adjustments and answers to handle that particular play and that situation appropriately are things you can learn from and continue to build. You build the cutups and teaching reels just so you are always trying to stay ahead, particularly with the number of things we do offensively at the line of scrimmage. No different from a defensive standpoint. You get a particular formation that stresses the defensive call and puts it in a particular coverage element and a tough spot. How are you going to handle that in the season? Training camp work is always been in my opinion the best work because the offenses and the defenses really challenge themselves, and from a special teams standpoint, you really get to work on the nuts and bolts of fundamentals that you do not have the time to work on during the season.
(Did you have to scale back anything because of the injuries at linebacker?)
Not this morning. This practice was scheduled as planned, but yesterday afternoon's practice did reflect a scaled-back version because of our numbers.
(Do you have to be careful with those guys then tonight?)
We have a staff meeting and we'll have a medical report that is done after practice. We'll see how the treatments and the rehab have gone for the injured players this morning, and we'll see how many we have back tonight. We have a full practice slated and if we need to adjust because of our medical report, we'll do that. That's really a day-to-day practice.
(Is the punting competition still neck-and-neck?)
I would definitely say it is neck-and-neck. I think the Family Night scrimmage clearly shows evidence that we have two talented punters and they have passed their first test of kicking under the lights in a game-type environment. We put them under pressure from the punt-rush teams throughout the scrimmage and I thought they both performed very well. But our first opportunity to go in a real game will be against Cleveland. We're going to give these guys, hopefully not too many opportunities, it's kind of a catch-22. We want to make it as equal as possible because these guys have put a lot of time in. They have worked a lot of extra time, both here and away from here, preparing for this opportunity. So I want to max out their opportunity and make sure the Green Bay Packers pick the right punter. They both have earned this chance and I am very excited with where we are today.
(Do you expect to use all four preseason games to evaluate the punters?)
It potentially could come to that. I'll say this. If it takes us going to four, we will definitely do that. I'm not in any hurry to pick who our punter is for the Philadelphia game.
(Does the return situation remain fluid?)
I feel we have numbers back there, and that's what you want. Special teams is always a moving target as far as creating a depth chart that has a lot of flexibility, a lot of variation of different players playing different positions. Anytime you have an injury and you get into the 53- and the 45-man rosters, special teams is your biggest challenge, and it's no different at the return position. Sometimes you're going to have to maybe have a starter back there returning. Sometimes you will not. You always hope that one player will step up and take command of both return positions, but we have a lot of competition both in the punt returner and kick returner. The biggest thing I'm pleased with is we have numbers and we have competition, and I think that's healthy.
(How has A.J. Hawk looked?)
I would think A.J. is probably having his best camp in his time here. I've liked his approach. His conditioning is at the highest level. He's always been a highly conditioned athlete, and I think he's taken it to another level this year, and I think he's been very productive out here. He's put together some big days, and I thought he definitely stood out in the scrimmage Saturday night.
(How about Jarius Wynn?)
He's kind of just been OK. Jarius needs to take a big step. The other part of that is Jarius has a lot of competition. The two rookies have come in here, Neal and Wilson, and have done a very good job. Jarius has excellent competition. He's a talented guy and has natural pass rush ability, but he's definitely going to have to keep coming, because that's going to be a competition I think we'll all be watching.
(With Bulaga working at left guard now, where does that leave Jason Spitz?)
I think it leaves him where he's always been. Jason is a very valued member of our offensive line. He has excellent flexibility. He has started in football games, a number of football games for us. He's played multiple positions, and I don't view him any differently. He's someone that can battle for a starting position, but he's also someone that can play three positions if needed as a backup. My focus for Jason is really to see him get back to where he was when he was playing full-time. You forget that he was out all last season. He strains his calf. He's listed as day-to-day. We're just really trying to get him back to where he's comfortable playing at the level he's played at in the past.
(How has Bulaga looked at guard these first two days?)
Bryan did some good things yesterday. He had a mental error or two out there today that we'll have an opportunity to correct. He's done OK. He's had one padded practice, one practice in shells, and only naturally he needs reps. He needs work.
(When will he take reps at left tackle?)
He's been working left guard and left tackle, and he'll continue to do it throughout camp.
(So Poppinga passed his concussion test?)
Yes, everything's clear with Brady. Actually we were a little more cautious. It was probably a day longer than probably we projected initially. But I thought Brady had a heck of a practice today. He stood out to me.