Beautiful day, the end of the veteran camp, the rookies will be here for another week. We have gotten a lot done this offseason. And the big thing that I'm interested in now is the ability of guys to create some ….. mandatory mini camp into the training camp. And that is a long time. There will be, obviously, an emphasis on conditioning and strength. The developmental intensity of that program will be increased as we get closer to camp. But making sure that we are safe, enjoy the time with our families, get our minds ready to come back with great purpose, great enthusiasm. And I look forward to the challenge and I'm really excited about our preseason. I think it is a very challenging preseason. A lot of tests – a lot of the tests will be in areas that we have deemed we wanted to be tested in. So we look forward to it. It has been a nice offseason and now a break for the veteran players and in another week, for the rookies.
Q: What is the one thing that you are most unsure about your team as you head into the summer?
A: I don't know - so much has been made of getting Kenny Phillips back, I think, at full speed. And I'm very confident - he is, also, that he will be back. We look forward to that part of it. It is always a challenge integrating these young guys into the program and solving some of the issues that we had last year. Obviously always staying healthy and that type of thing.
Q: When we talked to you yesterday you did not know the extent of Domenik Hixon's injury. How stunning was that and how big a blow is that?
A: Domenik has nothing but respect from everyone here. He is an excellent teammate. He is a guy that we are all personally very fond of. He is completely reliable and dependable; just an outstanding young man; outstanding leader in the locker room; a stand tall guy; a guy who is very positive, always very re-enforcing for his unit as receivers and special teams. It is a major disappointment because I think we all wanted to believe – he has had something similar to that a year ago – and we all wanted to believe that it wasn't inevitably what it turned out to be. We were disappointed and greatly upset. But I saw Domenik this morning and told him that first and foremost our concern is for him. He assures me that he will get this taken care of and he will be here to support his teammates and looks forward to coming back.
Q: He had become such a potent kick returner or punt returner. Do you have any early thoughts on where you go from here to replace to him?
A: No, we have a lot of guys working in those capacities. People are just going to have to – this is an opportunity for someone to step up and be recognized in that role, certainly, and all of the special teams roles. Domenik was always very much involved in our receiving corps, as well. There were many days you guys watched that he looked to be the best receiver on the field. But this is an opportunity for someone. And we challenge the guys to be able to take advantage of that.
Q: What did you and Domenik talk about and how did he respond?
A: Just typical things - that is what was said, and he has a smile on his face. He is disappointed. He talked about the surgical procedure and then the recovery time and being able to come to camp and be with his teammates and certainly with us during the fall. So that was the conversation.
Q: Jerry Reese commented on the turf issue.
A: I don't want to get into that. There are all kinds of – you can speculate on whatever you want. But the fact of the matter is, it was an injury that occurred when he was not hit, he was running up the field and we are just going to leave it at that.
Q: Aaron Ross hasn't done a lot – any – punt returns since he has been here. I know he has had injury problems in the past, but he seems like he has embraced taking an early shot at that. Do you see him in that role?
A: I would hope; I would hope. He did that in college. I would certainly hope that he would be one of the guys that would really be a consideration.
Q: Mario Manningham is a guy that Jerry Reese mentioned as well.
A: He has been back there consistently, yeah. The number one thing, of course, is the ball security issue. And that would be where someone has to really prove, first and foremost, that they have mastered that part of it. So it will be interesting in camp to see who comes to the front.
Q: Was Manningham excused today?
Q: Do you have any feelings on the proposal of the 18-game regular season?
A: I do, but they will remain my own.
Q: Justin Tuck's injury?
A: No, there is no injury. He just got sore.
Q: Was that from the soft turf?
A: I'm really not sure what it is from. It would surprise me because this grass is very good, very nice, very soft. And you wouldn't think that would be the issue. I know what you are saying, but if you are going to try to compare, it is soft over here, too - probably wear and tear.
Q: I know the minicamp is only three days but is there a particular rookie that may have stuck out a little bit more than others with his progress?
A: No, I think they have all competed and from time to time we have certainly spotted them. Jason (Pierre-Paul) stood out, (Joseph) Linval stood out. Chad (Jones) has had a pretty good – and I think right at the end of the OTA's he was starting to emerge and doing things very well on special teams and in the secondary. (Phillip) Dillard from time to time has been a guy that has kind of jumped out at us. Mitch has done some good things. He gained attention that way. So I think pretty much they have hung in there well. They have taken advantage of the number of snaps that they have gotten for the most part. They have stayed out here. And it has been a real good experience for them.
Q: Your end of camp speech on being safe. Did you have to remind them about the Mathias Kiwanuka thing? Did you bring that up at all?
A: No, I did not bring that up. That is a little bit too personal. What you talk about here is when you make a choice make sure it is in the best interest of you and your family. And always make sure that whatever you decide to do, don't do anything that you wouldn't be proud of if it was on the front page.
Q: Through the OTA's and now minicamp, how do you see the defense? Do you think they are starting to gel?
A: They seem to be a group that had some fun working together. There are some personalities back there – (Antrel) Rolle and (Deon) Grant are gregarious kind of guys and that has been a real plus. And I think, hopefully, there is some confidence growing at the linebacker spot. And certainly you can see that there is some depth emerging in the front. So I think they are anxious to prove what they can do.
Q: You think Perry Fewell was a good hire then?
A: I think so, no doubt. I'm convinced of that.