(What's the status of Justin Harrell?)
Justin Harrell is excused today from practice for a personal matter.
(Would he have been able to practice?)
Yes. He was on the list to go this morning.
(What kind of camp is Desmond Bishop having, and would you like to see him get to another level?)
I think Desmond has really picked up his game as far as his versatility. Everybody was excited about some of the impact plays he had made in last year's camp and some of the opportunities he had during the season. We're a little more diverse this year with our inside linebackers about the different ways we're trying to play those guys and the number of different opportunities that we want to give them as the season unfolds. We want to see more consistency in Desmond, and I think he's been doing that throughout training camp. He definitely has the playmaking ability to make impact plays. He's done that time and time again here. But I've seen a lot more consistent, more mature football player. I love the way he plays. He's tough, he's instinctive. He's been an excellent special teams performer for us his whole time here, and I think we're definitely now seeing a more complete football player.
(If Dom keeps things vanilla again, is that a sign of progress in Year 2, that you don't have to work on as much in the preseason?)
I think it's important not to rely too much on scheme and really stay focused on the fundamentals. Last year was a totally different mindset for us because we were going from a totally different defensive scheme to more of a pressure scheme. It wasn't the schematic volume that was important in preseason, it was the ability to play pressure football in live game. That's why we pressured as much as we did last year. It wasn't as much as the different schemes we were trying to play against the preseason opponents as to develop that mindset, that speed, to get the pressure off the ground. The volume for this game, we're more focused on how we're playing specifically, the details we're playing with within the schemes. Frankly, I'll talk about Seattle's game. We'll meet today at 4 o'clock and the health of our football team coming out of tonight's practice will factor into the final decision, but I'd like to play this game very similar to the one we played with Cleveland, as far as the reps, as far as the volume, both offensively, defensively, and Shawn Slocum will have the biggest challenge as always on special teams because we're going to try to accomplish some things schematically with the first group. But also, we're going to try to get as many different looks as possible as far as getting each player opportunities. I'd like for the whole football team to play in this game, the whole football team that's available to play in this game against Seattle.
(Do you anticipate Justin practicing tonight?)
Actually, I haven't had an opportunity to talk to him about what's exactly going on. He'll tend to his family first, and we'll see if he's available tonight.
(Did his wife have a baby?)
That's really for Justin. That's really for Justin to talk on.
(Does having a West Coast game at this juncture present unusual circumstances that you have to plan around?)
Well, it's a long flight. We're able to stay on schedule. The toughest part about playing on the West Coast in the preseason is really the trip home. Everything else is normal. But it's a good situation to go through. We have a number of East Coast games. We won't have a flight as long as the Seattle flight. But it's important to get on the road. We'll do some things a little differently on the road than we did in the past, just minor changes, nothing worth really discussing. It's always good to review your road policies and what you're trying to do. We've been a pretty good road team in the past, and that's something we want to continue to improve on. The long flight home is probably the one negative because of what you have to get done Sunday as a coaching staff.
(Do you think Will Blackmon will be a go for the game Saturday night?)
I'll see how he feels after today. He was very positive after Tuesday's work, had the day off yesterday. From not having practiced, we'll see how he feels. I'm hoping, I assume he will feel well because the practice was a very high tempo. I'm very pleased with the practices. These practices shouldn't be hard on any of our players coming back from injuries. But the tempo has been outstanding. Thursday night last week, the two practices Tuesday and the one this morning, that's the kind of tempo you're looking for your football team to be in when you hit the regular season, and we've been able to string about four or five of those practices together. So I'm very pleased with the way we're working, because we're getting done … we were plus-11 minutes again today. Anytime you're in double digits there, your team is practicing fast.
(You've mentioned how you like the tempo. How does that translate into regular-season success?)
Well, it's part of a philosophy. We can go right to the game Saturday night. Matt Hasselbeck is probably one of the higher-tempo quarterbacks in the league. He was one of the quicker ones I've had an opportunity to coach. I'm not sure if they're still doing that. We'll find out more as we move closer to the game. But he plays at a high tempo, so it's good for our defense to be ready for that from their perspective. And we believe in the same philosophy offensively, and frankly, it's part of the reason why I call all the plays in team, because I'm conditioning my football team too. You never see us run gassers. We don't have weight issues. We're a high-conditioned football team, and it's a credit to the players the way they practice with the proper tempo.
(Tight end Tom Crabtree has shown some toughness. Is he one of the surprises of camp?)
You really saw Tom at the end of last year and he did a great job with his body in the offseason, so he has really prepared himself for this. He was a young man that we were excited about at the end of the season, having him here on our practice squad, because he showed right away the ability to be an in-line blocker and some natural toughness. We really wanted to develop his perimeter game and he has done a good job with that. You are seeing him fight through the wrist bruise that he has. He is a tough guy. He is having a heck of a camp.
(With Clay Matthews out, Brady Poppinga has taken a lot of snaps at left outside linebacker. How has he responded to that?)
I think Brady is doing very well. If you watch him in the pass rush, I think he is doing a much better job mixing up his rushes. I think Brady has always had a good bull rush, as we know, which you expect with his personality, but I think he has done a great job with his other pass rushes and you see it time and time again. I have always felt Brady was an on-the-line linebacker. I think he is a lot more natural player in this scheme and I think he is feeling very comfortable right now.
(The punters didn't get a lot of live reps this week. Was that by design to get them some rest?)
It's more the emphasis of what we are trying to do in the phases of special teams. When you go through training camp you have each phase that you are trying to concentrate on and you are also trying to be smart with your punters. We have kicked our punters at a very high number, so we're also conscientious of that, especially as we move closer to practice. But the big emphasis today out here was punt return.
Shells tonight, correct.