* (With the numbers the way they are, are you going to wait until tomorrow before making the roster decisions?)*
That's really not the reason. There is too much stuff that is unknown right now in terms of injuries and nicked up and things like that. We just felt like with a little bit more time we would be able to make better decisions.
(Since you came here in 2005, has it become progressively harder to make roster decisions?)
That would be the hope, that we would continue to improve. I think the quality of our roster is pretty good, and it's a hard time.
(Why do you think Graham Harrell hasn't gotten a shot until now with how productive he was in college?)
I don't know. I think it just happens. Sometimes it is the position and 80-man rosters and things like that. I don't know.
(Seems like he has really improved over the last week or so?)
I'm sure we want all of our guys to improve daily, but he was a pretty good quarterback at Texas Tech.
(Are there roster spots still to be won or lost on Thursday night?)
(So even with OTAs, mini-camp, training camp, and three preseason games, this game will still factor in?)
Yeah, we had to do all of the other stuff before you get to this point. But yeah, there are still decisions to be made. There are a lot of balls up in the air right now.
(Would you say there are a handful of spots still open?)
You got here late, but I have a cold so I'm not thinking well. I can't get into real deep things today. I'm taking medicine.
(What are the things that sway the decision one way or another?)
Like I say, we do have this body of work with some of these guys from previous years and certainly the bulk of them since April and May. So something is not going to be decided just based probably off of one play and one game, but it's the whole body of work. You have to put yourself in a position to win a spot by now.
(History would suggest there could be a player or two on the final roster that isn't with you now. Do you anticipate that again?)
We are certainly actively involved in looking at other teams and players on other teams, more specifically, and that could well be. You never know, but we're always going to try to get better.
(How much work goes into making a trade at the final roster reduction as far as calls?)
In addition to that, there is a lot of video work done leading up to all of that, which we are doing this morning, comparing this guy here on this team and this guy here on this team and you try to compare them to the guys that you have and that sort of thing. There is quite a bit of work.
(How much does the dynamic change with those calls since John Schneider is no longer here?)
The rest of us just take the teams that he would normally be calling.
* (Tim Masthay has appeared to jump out in front at punter. Is that a fair assessment?)*
I wouldn't care to put it that way. A good day last Thursday I think it was, but again, we're going to kind of look at this as smartly and as best we can to make the right decision. I wouldn't jump to any conclusions yet.
(Does the fact that he can also kick off give him an advantage?)
I think every time you have another skill I think it is a good thing.
(Do you feel you have upgraded the position with whichever punter you end up going with?)
We hope so, and then we get into the season and then we actually start doing it for real and then we'll see how good we are.
(What is the non-drafted free agent process like? How hard do you work at it, how important do you think it is, how much preparation goes into that, how does it compare to your draft process?)
That's all one and the same. They're all part of it. It's evaluating college players, and then the actual signing of the players once the draft is over is a different kind of thing. But the evaluation part is the same.
(So when you do your reports, they separate out, the draftable guys and the free agents?)
Right, but often times you have people that you're able to sign as free agents that you might have had as draftable. It just works out that way.
(You have a good track record of getting good players after the draft. Did you have guys like Zombo and Shields ranked as draftable players?)
I wouldn't speak to those guys specifically, but I would think most teams are similar. We usually have a guy or two that wind up making our teams, and hopefully we have some that do this year. But I would think most teams are kind of like that.
(How hard is that to do? Is it as hard as making it as an undrafted guy when there were 17 rounds?)
It's a hard business. It's a hard business for the draft choices, any of these young guys, because like we said before, we feel like roster-wise we feel we have a pretty good group of guys that they have to try to beat out.
(When you have a rookie and a veteran who are dead even, does the rookie get the benefit because of potential?)
No. I can't recall ever looking at it that way, and I don't think our staff looks at it that way. It's just, these are going to be some hard days for us. I've talked about this before. It's very hard on all of us, and it's hard on the guys, but I don't think there's any one thing that's a deciding factor. Certainly age is insignificant.
(Do you talk to Mike at all about how many snaps or situations you want to see guys in during preseason games?)
The coaches usually decide that. I might leave subtle little hints from time to time about certain things. But they do a good job of getting everybody in the game. I sit in on the staff meetings after every game, and they talk about the number of plays here and the number of plays at this position. It's pretty well thought of, and I think if I got in it, it would probably just mess it up.
(What did you like about Shields?)
What everybody likes. He had good size, excellent speed, new to the position. The guys at the University of Miami historically, they come into an NFL training camp and it's not overwhelming to them. They usually assimilate pretty well.
(What about Zombo from Central Michigan? That's a good football program but it's not the U.)
It's not that. But the players from that conference, more and more of those guys are contributing in the NFL now. In Zombo's case, we liked the way he played. He played hard. Played in a three-point stance all the time, but he had a lot of good qualities.
(Given your own history, is there a little part of you that roots for the non-drafted guys?)
Yeah, I know what you're saying, but no, it's too important for us to make the right decisions for me to get into a cheerleading thing, hoping and wishing. You have to let this thing play out. It's like even now, there's a lot of assumptions being made, but this thing has to play itself out, and we don't know how it's going to turn out. So we'll see how the next few days go and try to get through the weekend and do right by the Packers. But I don't have the luxury of being able to do that.
(So an undrafted guy really earns his way onto this roster?)
Sure, I would hope that would be the case for everybody.
(Would you feel comfortable with John Kuhn as the No. 3 halfback if need be given the injuries at the position?)
Well yeah, if that's the way it works out. I think John is a very good player. He's shown time and time again his ability to be versatile and do a lot of different things.