(How has the work gone with fundamentals this week?)
We took the Tuesday meeting and went through St. Louis, did the corrections for St. Louis and then practiced those corrections. Wednesday meetings we went back to Philadelphia, because that was a Monday night game. We watched that game, went through the corrections for Philadelphia, all three phases, and we introduced Miami to them at Wednesday's practice, yesterday at the padded practice. Then today we were exclusively Miami.
(How valuable has this week been for you guys?)
It's been real valuable for a number of reasons. Just from a health standpoint, it gave us an opportunity to get some veterans some extra time in the strength and conditioning and the training room, get those guys healthy, get the guys that have been nicked healthy and it really gave us an opportunity to give our young guys a bunch of work. So I think it's been very productive.
Ferguson has a foot sprain. His is kind of like Kenderick Allen's. Next week will be a big indicator on how long he's out. He's still on crutches. That's something we have to watch. It has to do with the separation of the bones and cartilage or whatever. It's a very similar injury to Kenderick's.
(Has Will Blackmon been in any team work?)
He was in team today, and we're just bringing him along. He's doing more and more each day, and I'm hoping Monday we can get him full time. We'll see if he can go through a whole week of practice.
(How far behind is he, and can he still play a significant role on the team?)
I think after a week of preparation it will give us a better indicator of that. He's really only been out there twice. He did a little more yesterday than I think we initially planned, and today he was part of the normal rotation.
(Will Cullen Jenkins be ready for Miami?)
He's very sore today, so not as good as we expected. We'll have more information probably Wednesday to give you a better indication. It will be close.
(Did Koren Robinson miss practice today?)
Koren missed practice today because of his knee. Koren Robinson and Charles Woodson were the two we held out of practice today.
(What are your plans for the weekend?)
I'm going to go see my daughter.
(Is it nice for you to get away and get a mental break?)
It's always nice. I think bye weeks are important to the season because it gives you a natural break in the season where you're able from a professional standpoint to take a step back, do some more extensive self-scout, be able to practice and emphasize those things in self-scouting, and then on a personal level, you're able to get away. So I think a bye week is very beneficial to your football team.
(What will Monday be like?)
We'll treat Monday like a Wednesday. We're going to take advantage of the extra day for Miami preparation, so Monday will be a normal Wednesday for us.
(Do you bother to sit there Sunday and watch Miami play live?)
I like to watch them, but the TV copy is just so different from our copy. You obviously can see a lot more from the coaches' copy. But there's some things you can always get off the TV copy.
(With a young team, can you really gain something by stressing fundamentals?)
Absolutely. That's what wins games and that's the product of how you lose football games. You look at our two biggest problems we're having. On offense, turning the ball over. That's about as fundamental ... they teach you that the first time you walk on the field, how to hold onto the football. On defense, explosive gains, as far as your technique and being in the right position. To me, that's what fundamentals are, and when you have the opportunity to correct something, you need the environment to emphasize something as much as possible. That's what this week was all about.
(What role have you seen Brett Favre play in bringing some of the young guys along?)
I think he does an excellent job with the quarterbacks, just his communication in film study, in the classroom. He's an encyclopedia, a mouthpiece, in as many different ways as possible, unique ways, to say the least. He's an information source for everybody, and everybody has tapped into it. From that part of it, he's been excellent. He's a unique personality, he enjoys himself, and I think that's part of his leadership and his position on our football team.
(Can you talk about the growth your line has made since August?)
That's one group that has improved. You could sit and watch Week 1 through 5, they have improved on an individual basis, I think a number of players, particularly the younger guys inside. I think Chad Clifton is playing better, I think Mark Tauscher is playing better, they're getting more accustomed to the system. The key is the continuity of those five, and I think you're starting to see that more and more because they're doing the same things over and over again. As you get into game preparation, a lot of the blitzes and pressures and techniques, and how they're stunting and things like that, you're seeing the cohesiveness of them passing things off, and they're making the correction before you're even getting there to correct it. That's all part of the growth of any unit, and I think it's very evident in our offensive line.
(Why did Clifton and Tauscher take a while to get this down?)
I think it's new. You're asking people to do new things. It's different from what they've been asked to do. You go back to the strength and conditioning part of it, they have not been asked to do it that way in the past. Losing the weight, being lighter, they've had challenges since we arrived here, just like everybody else.
(What does Clifton go through in a normal week to get himself ready?)
He puts a lot of extra time in the training room. I think Pepper and his staff, particularly Flea, they do an excellent job. He's on a pretty regular program, he's very conscientious about it. That's the biggest thing that is different compared to him and some of the other guys.
(Do you limit his reps during team practices during the week?)
It's a communication between him and Joe. But for the most part, he hasn't missed a whole lot.
(Is the schedule for the bye week what it turned out to be from what you planned?)
This was my initial schedule, and I stuck to it, based on where we are as a football team. If there was an adjustment to be made, it would have been more time off.
(Are you more inclined in the future as your team matures to give the team more time off?)
(Do you think there are many other teams who have their players in pads during the bye week?)
Haven't called to ask. Everything we do is for a reason. I think it's important to be aware of how other people have done it. The most important reason is why, and I know why we practiced the way we did this week, and it was for a reason. I think we accomplished what we set out to do.
(What do you get out of the extra day preparing for Miami?)
It gives you an extra day if they're different, and they're a little different for us. This is the first 3-4 team we see, so that helps you with recognition. You can also overdo it too. You have to be conscientious of that, and I think we will take care of that in the way we practice next week.
(You've said guys can't put the ball on the ground, like Morency. What can he do to get back in there?)
I'm not going to hold his feet to the fire. He will have other opportunities to play in the offense. You can't look past what he has accomplished in his time there. But it's an emphasis for our whole offense, I'm not trying to make an example of one guy. We have a problem turning the ball over, period. We need to get that thing fixed. Really, how the turnover happens plays into it. When it's a lack of focus based on not using proper technique, then I have a problem with that. But when the defense does make a play, or there are other elements involved where it's not up to the player, I think you may need to look at that differently. We need to quit turning the ball over, and the only way I know how to change things is to emphasize it, and that's what we're doing.
(Barnett has put his nightclub up for sale, aware of that?)
His nightclub is up for sale? I grew up in that business; that's a hard business to be in. I haven't really talked to him about it. He had mentioned it in the past, but I don't know the specifics of it. That's a great move - it's a tough business.
(Are you a potential buyer?)
No, I've learned from the past.
(With past situations, could this be the first sign of him wanting to leave?)
You have to separate personal interests and professional interests. When personal interests affect professional interests, I think it becomes a problem. In my time around Nick Barnett, what has gone on in his personal business affairs have not affected his job.
(Do you talk to him about the way he was treated, remind him about how important he is to the team?)
I think it's important anytime players are involved in situations that you can give some advice to them. I grew up in that business, I've never been in his place because we weren't a nightclub, so that's a challenge. Timing and the way you do things like that are important. As far as his battle with the city, that's nothing we're going to talk about right here. I don't know the details. I just know that that's a hard business, and to be a professional athlete with the commitment to the job and what they're asked to do on a daily basis and yearly basis, that's a hard business to be in. I think it's a good thing he's getting out of that business.
(Most draft classes take time to judge but are you thrilled so far with the '06 class?)
We feel good about our draft class. They've been given the opportunity to play early and they have taken advantage of it. That's what you look for in young guys - you look for improvement. The biggest thing I've been impressed with is they haven't been overwhelmed. I think Colledge a little bit in the preseason took a step backwards, and the opportunity to put Tony (Moll) in there has allowed him (Colledge) to catch his breath and given him a chance to flourish. The last two weeks he's been playing very well. I think as a group, that's something that's consistent through that group. Their maturity levels are high, and they've been given more opportunities than most draft classes may be given early in their career. They're taking advantage of it, and we feel good after five games.
(What is the timetable for Blackmon and what can you hope from him?)
Time will tell with that issue. That's such an unusual circumstance that he went through with his injury. It could be one day, it could be six weeks. No one ever expected it to take this long, but it's just where he is. Until we overcome that, the information of him playing will answer your question. We all liked him in the OTAs and the little we have seen him in the group activity.
(Once he's ready, will he see time?)
It depends on how far he comes. We're not going to make knee-jerk reactions. We're going to put the best players out there that give us the best chance to win.
(You can't put him on special teams until you know he can play corner, right?)
I think it works hand-in-hand. The biggest thing is we have to get him healthy and where he feels comfortable. Usually you do look at special teams first.
(How much do you look back to the San Diego game for a reference on how to play against the 3-4 defense?)
Really, San Diego from a scheme wise wasn't the problem, we just didn't handle the pressure very well and particularly we didn't win the one-on-ones when they came. That was the biggest thing that happened to us early in the game. From a schematic standpoint, this 3-4 is very different from San Diego. San Diego is more of your traditional 3-4 with four big linebackers. Miami goes to a four-man front more than they go into the 3-4. They are distinctly different.
(How serious is Hodge's knee injury?)
Depends who you talk to. He's ready to go and wants to get off the crutches. But this will be good for him to get away and get off of it. I'm hopeful he'll be back if not Miami, then the following week.
(What is Woodson's injury?)
He has it above his quad, and he also has some ribs.
(Do you think it's anything serious?)
I don't think so. He had three good days of rehab, and he's getting out of town here, so we'll know more next week. We're hopeful he'll be ready for Miami.
(When are players due back here?)
Sunday. Monday is a Wednesday for us, and then they'll be off on their normal Tuesday, get them back on schedule.
(So Woodson can't go to Europe? Wasn't he overseas during the spring?)
Nothing surprises me where these guys go these days. I don't check their passports.
(When guys leave, is there any apprehension as a coach as to what they might be up to?)
I don't. My message was simple. I told them to be safe and be smart, be smart and be safe. They're men, I think it's important to treat them like men. A number of them are traveling, it is a short break, but I don't have apprehensions about it. That's part of being part of a football team.
(Has Rayner given you more than you hoped for since September?)
Both of our young kickers, that's something I've been very pleased about. They're strong-legged. I think they both have a bright future here. They're working hard, I like the way they go about it. I think we're off to a good start.