Q: Tom, what’s the message you want to impart to these guys?
A: Well, the message is one of improvement. It’s one of taking full advantage of setting the bar, and what we were able to do in the last six games of the year, and analyzing the previous 14 to the last six, and saying to ourselves, ‘Which team are we here?’ The quality in which we played. The things that I’ve mentioned the whole offseason, 14 points a game, 1 turnover, big special teams plays. Those have really established the team we can be. An awful lot of emphasis is on improvement. We certainly want to continue with ‘All In,’ and ‘Finish,’ but we’d also like to come out of the starting gate and sustain, and then we’d like to finish. We would like to establish the kind of consistency that we think we’re capable of playing with. Those are all of the challenges that we gave them in this very first meeting we just had.
Q: How does all that fit on the back of a T-shirt?
A: You don’t see any t-shirts, do you? The message is a little lengthy for that.
Q: You’ve got some older guys that have been through this with the Super Bowl team before. How much are you counting on them to sort of spread that message from the top?
A: Well, I’m counting on them. The leadership factor in the locker room is key. I’m counting on these guys not only to show that way, but also to take some of these young people under their wing and point them in the right direction as well. I think that from our very first meeting, people are going to be able to put behind us what has been accomplished. Obviously, we were very proud of that, but the great thing about the mountain is that everybody starts the climb again right at this particular time. I think that the quality of the people that we have in the locker room, and the veteran aspect of it, who have been through it; the message is well implanted, and I think they’ll carry it through.
A: He just got here. He just ran. He ran pretty well. His weight is down a little bit. I’m hoping I see that in terms of the way he runs and his speed. We’re anxious to see him once we get started.
Q: What do you think about the fact that you have 15 practices?
A: Well that certainly is a different approach. We did that last year and we had a few other things to contend with last year: hurricanes, tornadoes and that kind of thing in preseason. We were able to overcome all of that and have a pretty good start. I think the thing we’re trying to emphasize with our team is that you notice how the CBA states some of this stuff, they call it two practices. It isn’t two practices. But I think the emphasis comes from the jog through, the walk through aspect of it. And that really has to take the place of a practice for every team. So those have to be sharpened. The focus, the concentration, the pressure they put on themselves to perform in the classroom and then in the jog throughs. It’s not like it was when we had separates within practice or jog throughs before two practices where guys can kind of put themselves in a ‘going through the motion’ mode. That’s not the case here anymore. You have to take full advantage of everything you possibly can. One of those being a jog through, which is in the place of a walk through, which is in the place of a practice.
Q: Some of the things you were talking about: improvement, which team are we… sustain, all those things. Guys like Eli have been saying those things since the spring. Do you get the sense that they do grasp that message already and won’t need a lot of prodding in that regard?
A: Well, I hope so. I mean, obviously, I feel they realize. They’ve said as much. They’ve all said as much. The fact that we did so well in the final six games. The fact we played so well in the fourth quarter. The fact we did so many good things on defense in the playoffs. But when you pull out, as we do, the worst to best each year, and you look at the top, the real list of what we didn’t do well, that’s what we have to impress on our team in terms of what has got to be improved upon. Because the comparison between the last six and the first 14, you kind of just shake your head.
Q: Is there anybody who will start the season on PUP or be limited?
A: There’s four that will be on PUP. There’s Canty, Beckum,
Q: How’s Beatty doing….
A: He’s going to be limited. But he’ll be able to go. We didn’t run him. We’re going to have to be careful with him, no doubt. But he can medically start practice.
Q: You have to be careful because of his back?
Q: You said, “Which team are we?” Do you have a handle on which team you are?
A: I think so. I’m hoping that we’re a good team that finished.
Q: You had a breakout year last year for
A: We’ll see. We’ll see. We’ll have to wait and see on that one.
Q: Is Hakeem Nicks still on track for mid-August? Were there any setbacks with him?
A: There are no setbacks, but he just started running. He just started running in the wading pool. He’s got all of that to go through before he can get out there. He’s been on the elliptical, so he can do some things like catching the ball, but he’s not going to be able to run.
Q: How about Canty? That’s his knee, right? He was convinced all off-season that he was going to be ready for this.
A: It’s going to take a little while.
Q: How much did you allow yourself to enjoy the off-season? Getting the award from the Army down in D.C., throwing out the first pitch at the Yankees game, and other things of that nature?
A: Well, I tried; I thought I had my fastball. I threw the split-finger in there and it drifted a little bit on me. I was really upset about that. One of my grandkids behind me corrected me on that. So we enjoyed those things, but it doesn’t change the fact that now is the time to start over. We’ve put all of the time and effort into our preparation before we came up here. We’re just excited about getting going.