Q: One thing that wasn't as good last year was the running game, how do you get back to that?
A: You know there's certainly a commitment right from Tom on down to restore it to where it was. I think it's a combination of a lot of things but we weren't as good. The key is how do we get it back and I think the effort will be made both technically, time wise, passion, commitment, all those things to get it going. But where we really fell off was not so much in efficiency or even average per carry, which we did a little bit, but the big plays, we didn't have many big plays in the running game, and the year before that was what we were very, very good with. That was the negative, the positive was we continued to improve significantly in the passing game and we got a lot of big plays in the passing game. If we can get the running game going and get it back to close to where it was and continue to grow in the passing game, we'll be all set.
Q: What are you looking for in Andre Brown this summer? Can he be a factor this year?
A: Who knows? We haven't seen enough to make a judgment, we just really want to see that he's healthy, that he can learn the offense and give him an opportunity to showcase his skills and see what he's capable of doing but we really don't know.
Q: When he is healthy, what you see on his film in college even, what are his best attributes?
A: Just his running skills, his vision, his ability to make entry points that are good, he's a solid runner, he's not the great speedster, he's not the big overpowering back. He's just kind of a well-rounded all-around back that has a lot of skills. I call him a complete running back.
Q: Big expectations for Ramses Barden this year to make a bigger impact? What have you seen from him that makes you think it's going to happen?
A: Again we've got to see. He didn't have a chance to do much last year, so this year he's going to be given a chance. Hopefully with those opportunities he'll take advantage of it. You know he's a big kid that has good ball skills, it's a big target, he's got to get open, he's got to block and take advantage of his size. If he can do those things, I think he'll contribute but he's got to do them well enough that he can take some playing time from those other guys. And those other three guys right now are playing pretty well.
Q: Have you ever come back from one year to the next with so much continuity, you have your top 11, 12, 13, 14 guys back from last year?
A: Yeah, I have. It's always a good thing, never a bad thing, particularly if the 11,12,13 you got coming back are good players. And we think they are good players, but the key is can those 11, 12, 13, 14 players stay healthy. And that's where you get concerned. I won't say some of them are old because they get highly offended if I do but some of them are very experienced, they have vast experience, so you worry about those guys being a little more susceptible to wearing down. But right now, knock on wood, the guys we've got coming back we feel very good about.
Q: The offensive line has moved around a bit during the mini-camps, are you going to continue to do that here?
A: Yeah, I think you have to, just from the dangers of injury and who can play where and they can have a little background with playing that position. So you've got guys playing left tackle or right tackle. You've got a tackle playing guard and some guards playing center. Yeah, we've always done that and we'll continue to do it. Plus it gives you an opportunity to see, maybe there's some positions where you kind of pigeon hole somebody and maybe you move him to another spot and say maybe in actuality you'd be better suited for that position. But for the most part it's just in case of injury.
Q: Is that the case with David [Diehl] and why he's facing sort of a challenge? He's overcome so many doubters and showed he can play left tackle and been to the Pro Bowl and he's being pushed this year by Will Beatty. Are you trying to see if he's better suited at guard?
A: No, not at all, it's really just to protect him. What happens if one of the guards goes down. Is William your next best lineman as a sixth lineman? Are you better off moving William to left tackle and moving David into guard or are you better off maybe moving someone else up to the guard position and keeping David on at left tackle. It's more that than anything.
Q: Is your ideal situation to have the five guys from last year on the field starting?
A: The ideal is for our best five to be out there and that will be proven at the end of the exhibition season, but certainly the guys in that position now are the returners from last year. So they have the edge so someone's got to play well enough to unseat them and as I've said before many times, the five of them are very proud, tenacious competitors and I don't see any of them relinquishing their starting job easily. So someone's going to have to really come up and do a phenomenal job.
Q: Any chance we see Antrel Rolle out of the wildcat?
A: There's always a chance. You don't want me to tip our hand now, do you?
Q: With Brandon [Jacobs] last year there just didn't seem to be something there. Having the chance to look at him in the off-season after surgery, was it the knee, was it a combination of things?
A: I don't know, we don't know. He wasn't as effective, so I'm going to say it's his knee. That's the only way I can try to begin to explain it, but with anything it's never just one thing. Maybe we didn't block some things so well, maybe he didn't make some good decisions quite as often, maybe I didn't call the plays at the right times. Who knows? But the bottom line is he's a big, strong powerful back and when he's playing effectively we're a better football team. And so hopefully we can get him back to that. The thing that's maybe unique about him is certainly his size but when you get him in the open space he can run very, very well. I'm talking speed wise. We somehow have to get him through the holes fast enough so he can take advantage of that. And that's something we're hoping to see.
Q: In the spring what did you see in him?
A: I wouldn't judge him yet. It's kind of premature, just because he was kind of feeling his way. I don't know when we'll be able to make an accurate assessment. It looks like he's back or it looks like he's got a ways to go. It may take the full exhibition season.
Q: How much did all of these circumstances with the running game force you to grow in the passing game and the young receivers last year and then going into 2010 what are the benefits?
A: As always, you're looking to do whatever is necessary to move the football and be effective, so maybe not being as consistent with the running game, or not having big plays with the running game, we were able to rely a little bit more on the passing game so that probably helped to spur our growth in the passing game. Hopefully that will continue. You had two young guys that have never played before, and you expect they have nowhere to go but up. Steve Smith has continued to grow and develop as an inside receiver, which I think all of us expected, but he also did a great job when he was outside, which is something I don't think all of us had anticipated. He's just a complete, all around receiver, so I feel real good about where we are with Mario [Manningham] and Hakeem [Nicks], and someone was asking about Ramses [Barden], who knows, Ramses will be good, we lost Dominick [Hixon] so you're waiting to see who will step up. So it should be a solid group because it's a young group.
Q: Has this camp become as much about finding an identity, because you had been something else before '09, and then you became that?
A: That's a great question, I think our goal is to try to get our running game going again, that's what our goal is. But having said that, we're going to do whatever is necessary to move the football, so if it turns out our greatest strength is throwing the ball then I'm certainly not averse to doing that, but we would like to get the running game going again. There's no question about that.