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Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell Q/A

Posted Jun 14, 2012

Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell discusses how the defense is shaping up for the new season.

Q: How is Terrell Thomas?
A: He really hasn’t worked in the practices.  He’s done some of the jog throughs and he’s under the trainer’s care.  So, we’ll have to wait until Albany.  Mentally, he’s very sharp.

Q: How much are you counting on him?
A: He’s in our plans.  We have a backup plan also, in case he’s not ready, but he’s heavily in our plans and again, we’ll have to wait until Albany to see which man we go with.  Like anything we try to do, we have a plan A and a plan B and he is in plan A. 

Q: Keith Rivers told us the other day that if he could get back to his old form, it’s going to be a steal of a trade for you guys.  It’s early, have you seen flashes, signs, that he can be that player?  Is he picking things up pretty quickly here?
A: Yes, I was very pleased with how he performed in our OTAs and our mandatory mini-camp.  I think he’s becoming more comfortable with our terminology and within our defense.  I have high hopes for him and again, we’ll have to wait for training camp and preseason games.  But I did see flashes of excellence in his play and I saw talent that we could use in our package to help make us a better defense.

Q: Speaking of linebackers, what have you learned about the group?  Anybody jumped out at you? Do you have a better idea?
A: Our linebacking corps a year ago was young and inexperienced.  They were talented, but there was an area of concern because there was no OTAs, mandatory mini-camp, etc.  With a year under their belt, with some playing experience, they look bigger, they look stronger, they look faster, they’re more knowledgeable.  I think we’re a better unit, linebacker unit, than at the end of the 2011 season.  I think we have depth at our linebacker unit this year.  And I think there’s real competition for different roles within our linebacking unit.  I’m going to have to do a good job of evaluating those guys when we get to training camp and make sure that we put them in the proper positions for them to have success.  But that’s all part of evaluating them, seeing what talents they have, and then seeing what they do in preseason games, to bring different packages out.

Q: You ended the season with Chase as your starting middle linebacker and you began this year putting him back in that role.  Do you expect he’s going to stay there?
A: I can’t say he’ll stay there permanently, but right now Chase is our guy and no one’s clearly beaten him out for the position.  Chase has some distinct advantages over some of the other guys.  I said to the defense in our meeting, if I want to re-write my playbook, I would get Chase’s notes and re-write our playbook.  When I ask a question or when I talk about a defense in there, he puts the addendums in.  So he has been the best extension of me so far because he probably knows as much about our defense and how to make the calls and run our defense as any of those linebackers, with the exception of Michael Boley right now.  That’s pretty good. 

Q: He was let go from this team, he had all those intangibles, but he was let go for a variety of reasons.  Can he physically hold on to it do you think? I mean would you want him to?
A: I’d love for him to physically hang in there and do that.  No doubt about it.  He does add something to our unit, so I would love for him to do that.  Can he do that, I can’t say. 

Q: With the loss of Tollefson, is Mathias going to have to play a little more defensive end this year?
A: We don’t know that right now.  Obviously losing Dave was a blow for us, but we do have a plan and Kiwi will rotate and play some defensive end.  More? I don’t know, that remains to be seen.  He’s definitely going to be in that rotation. 

Q: Can you talk a little bit about what you’ve seen from the defensive tackles?  Austin and the young guys?
A: I’m excited about Marvin Austin.  Marvin Austin, I know he hasn’t played in a couple of years, he excited me last year in the training camp, in the preseason game.  He’s different than the other defensive tackles we have because he has legit speed and quickness and get off.  So, I’m going to have to learn how to use Marvin a little bit differently than I use Linval Joseph and Shaun Rogers and Rocky Bernard because I think that he can really cause some offensive linemen some problems with some of the things that he can do.  Linval was on a limited time basis with us because he was under the trainer’s care, but physically he looks good.  Mentally he was doing very well.  It’s great to have Rocky Bernard back.  He is a rock in our defense.  He’s a very solid guy that plays very well and then we’re looking forward to see what Shaun Rogers can bring to us.

Q: After all that time off for Marvin, how is his conditioning and his weight?
A: In this camp, conditioning wasn’t a problem and so you really won’t find that out until you put on the pads and the structure of how the one-a-days go or the two-a-days go, in training camp, it will be up to Marvin to come back in peak condition, so these next five weeks he has off, I assume he will really crank it up and get into better condition.  Right after practice today he was on the elliptical, he was working.  I know that we’ve talked about him being in the best condition that he can possibly be in, in order to get peak performance and we expect that.

Q: He looks a little big now, is that …..?
A: You know what, he doesn’t look big besides Shaun Rogers and Linval Joseph and Chris Canty and those guys so hey, I’ll go for it right now. 

Q: Does anyone look big besides Shaun Rogers?
A: No

Q: Do you feel comfortable enough to play three linebackers in the base defense more season than the last two?
A: Yes, I definitely feel comfortable to play three linebackers.  In our base defense at this point and time, based on what I’ve seen in this training camp and the OTAs and again, we’ll find out in the preseason if we can do that.

Q: Last time we spoke you were raving about Muasau. How has he done as the veterans are in and he’s mixing it up with them?
A: Mentally, he’s still working through.  When the vets come in, the reps get limited a little bit more.  But he’s not afraid and he has performed well.  He hasn’t stood out as much as we would like for him to, but again the veterans can overshadow you with their play because they have a lot more knowledge.  Again, training camp and preseason games will be a factor for him, but I still like Jake.  I think he’s a guy that can really help us. 

Q: You’ve mentioned plans beyond Terrell Thomas if he isn’t a go. Where is Prince right now in your plans?
A: Prince was still under the doctor’s care until the second mandatory minicamp practice.  So he was just getting his feet wet again.  We didn’t try to push him.  I think he only took 50% of the reps, if that.  So we let him ease himself back into playing.  The five week period, Prince has got to get himself into great shape physically.  Mentally, he was into it in the classroom, but Prince needs to work physically and training camp will be a big deal for Prince. 

Q: From the young safeties has anybody jumped out at you?  With Kenny and Tyler being sidelined has any of the ……?
A: Brown really showed me some things that I didn’t see in his workout.  Steve really did a good job in covering the ground from the post position, from the half position.  I think he had some blitz ability, we worked on the blitzes.  He was a guy that I thought we could do multiple things with.  I didn’t think that initially, but after the OTAs and minicamp, I think he did some nice things for us.  So, that was a pleasant surprise for me.  I still like Will Hill.  I think he’s a talented young man.  The volume of things that we do, you could see I taxed him a little bit, but again, we will try to put him in a position where he can have success and not have so much to think about in the preseason games.  I still like both those guys.

Q: Do you think Markus Kuhn’s work/visa situation has become a concern at all going forward?  He thought he was going to have it last week.
A: That’s one of those deals that’s out of our control.  As I talk to Markus it’s out of his hands, too.  But, he has to get all the mental reps he possibly can get, since he can’t get a physical rep.  I would assume that would be taken care of by the time we start training camp.  Is he behind?  Yes, it puts him behind from a physical rep standpoint.  Is he behind mentally?  No, he’s mentally into everything we did.  Would we have liked to work with him?  There’s no doubt about it, but hopefully he’ll be ready for training camp. 

Q: When you have the veterans and the talent that you have at defensive end and you have that rotation, when you look at a young guy like Justin Trattou, where do you see him fit in?  What’s the challenge for a guy like that?
A: Since Dave Tollefson, he was mentioned earlier, he is gone, we’re looking to fill that spot, that role.  So a guy like Trattou, a guy like Tracy, we lost Dave and Kiwi is always an alternative choice to go there, but if one of those guys can come on, then we don’t have to tax Kiwi that way.  That’s how you look at those guys and that’s what we’re trying to find out.  Can those guys fill that role that Dave Tollefson left.

Q: Can this defense be better than last year?  Do you think it will be better?
A: I said a year ago before we sustained all the injuries that we’d have a really good defense and I said after all the injuries that we would not be a great defense but we would be a good defense.  Those guys will decide how well we can be, or how good we can be.  I found this out about our New York Giant football players is that if they take a stand and they’re mentally into it and I’ll use the term, if they’re “all in,” we can be whatever we want to be.  So, I’m not going to come out and say we can be this or we can be that.  I’m going to leave that up to the players because self motivation or their motivation to be champions again will determine where we want to go.