Q: You didn't get a lot of draft picks this year. Could you talk about the guys that you did get and how they have progressed so far in this camp?A: Jayron Hosley – the corner from Virginia (Tech) – still has a lot to learn. We see some athletic ability and talent there. He has got to progress with the speed of the game in the NFL and the pace of practice. But I think there is a lot to work with there. Our draft pick from NC State is not practicing with us so we can't evaluate him right now.
Q: Janzen Jackson?A: Same way. All of the rookies have a lot to learn. They have to cope, again, with the pace of what we do and how we do it. And we are trying to give them the opportunities to have success in how we install the defense and repetitions and what we do. Janzen does have a lot of athletic ability. A lot of these guys haven't had the conditioning that you would like for them to have because they have been off. They work out but their workout is a little bit different than how we work.
*Q: Bing seems to be very active in this camp. *A: No doubt, yes. I call him "Bada." He is not a surprise because he worked and he is enthusiastic. He worked last year on the practice squad. And then coming into this camp he is showing what he can do. We are excited about him competing for one of those jobs this spring as well as this fall. He has picked up where he left off from practice from the playoffs, etc. So, yes, he has performed very well. Rutgers man, right, yes. There is a lot of "geeze oh peats" and "holy smokes" out there. So they don't have it all down yet, though, okay. I just want you all to know that.
*Q: It seems like the way your defense has been set up, you are going to have a lot of competition in training camp. Do you sense that the roster is going to be hard to make for some of these guys? *A: Yes, definitely. There is going to be a lot of competition in the secondary, linebackers. I think competition brings out the best in all of us. And in order for us to get better this year we are going to compete. And so, yes, definitely we have a lot of competition. And we are looking to add more, so some of these guys may make the squad and have an opportunity to compete for a job.
Q: It is competition but it is at a lower level. Do you think it is going to be at a high level?A: I definitely think it is going to be at a high level. Number one, some of the guys that are returning from injury that will be competing have some knowledge of our defense and competed well and were able to make our squad a year ago. And so that raises the bar more so than lowering the bar.
Q: Are you interested to see – to start tinkering with the linebacker corps? You have a lot of guys which seem to be outside guys and maybe no clear cut answer in the middle.A: Yeah, that is going to be an area of emphasis for us this year. We are in the classroom, obviously, right now trying to get a feel for what our new addition – Keith Rivers – what he knows about our defense and how much he can understand and learn about our defense. And then we are just giving the young guys more opportunity to hear us talk about the calls and the communications of our defense. And so I sense that we are going to put it up for grabs. Whoever can take the bull by the horns and lead us will have the opportunity to step up and play. Obviously he will have to do it on the football field, too. But moreso in the classroom – being a leader in the classroom and knowing exactly how to set the front and get the coverage squared away.
*Q: Does the team still need that sort of big anchor middle linebacker? *A: I don't think college football allows you to have a big anchor middle linebacker anymore because of the way college football plays. And I don't think the NFL requires that as much anymore because a lot of these teams are one back spread teams. They throw the ball all over the place. We talk in terms of being a two-down Mike and then having the third down….linebacker. What is a two-down Mike? So we might have to redefine that a little bit as we continue to evaluate what offenses are doing the NFL.
Q: Can someone like Boley become that sort of Mike?A: Oh yeah, I think Michael Boley has the ability to do that. Is that his best position? I don't think that is his best position in the long run. But, yes, he definitely has the ability to do that.
Q: Shaun Rogers?A: I have watched him throughout his career. When he was in Detroit I saw him pick up a fumble and run down the field as a big man. Then he went to Cleveland – the first year in Cleveland I think he was with Romeo Crennel. He had a year where he could have been the Defensive Player of the Year. And then we obviously evaluated him off the film from last year with the New Orleans Saints. And I thought he ran well. I thought he was a load in there; a big man that can push the pocket in the pass game. You better put two people on him, okay. And that helps us; that helps our defensive ends. That helps us as a pass rush team. And then a big anchor as far as the run game is concerned. You have to take two. He can swallow up a hole. So he has got to get himself into football shape. We really like what we evaluated and we hope he is motivated enough to come in and provide us with that dominant guy up front.
Q: You have Boley and Kiwanuka returning as starters on the outside. Who are your two down linebackers? Does Chase go back to that role?A: Chase goes back to that role. Herzlich will have an opportunity to compete for that role. Greg Jones will have an opportunity to compete for that role. And we are not opposed to putting Keith Rivers – giving him the opportunity to compete for that role, also. So there is going to be competition.
Q: Will you still be in as many three-safety formations without Deon (Grant) being here?A: We have talked about that. We are just going to wait and see. Obviously we like that particular package and we don't want to lose that package. We think that is valuable for us. But with the additions of these linebackers that we have, we can be a little bit more creative we think. And so we just have to find out who goes where, who can learn the best. And then we will take it from there.
Q: Do you have any concerns about Marvin Austin being away from the game as long he has?A: No, I think that drives him a little bit more, because Marvin is a very hungry young player. Now, the concern is, "Wow, he hasn't seen this block or that block, or experienced this in such a long time that he is rusty." But, again, we are going to try to give him as many reps as we possibly can in the preseason to knock that rust off. If you can play football, you can play football. And I think Marvin is a good football player.