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Safety David Merritt

Q: How is it to see Kenny Phillips back?

A: It was really interesting seeing him back there because of the fact that it's been so long, it's been a year. Then to see the kid move, I was impressed. I made a conscious effort to make sure to keep my eyes on him and watch his movement. He slipped one time and I was actually happy to see that, to see his response to come back from that slip, that was really nice. Overall, seeing him back there was really nice. You get Michael Johnson, Grant, Rolle and Phillips in the mix and we'd love to have Chad Jones back there but right now Phillips is like another little early Christmas present.

Q: Phillips was a little upset because they were mostly running plays…

A: The thing is that you can try to micromanage and tell him which way to break and say this is a drill we're going to do and a lot of times players would play the drill, instead of actually naturally moving and reacting with instincts so to see him get out there in a team period, where he doesn't know if it's a run or a pass, that's what you want to see. Like I said, you can kind of drill them and say we're going to break a certain way but coaching goes away once the play starts so it has to be instincts and technique.

Q: Was that slip that Phillips took just rust?

A: I'm going to have to take another look at that on tape. I don't know if it was rust or the cleats or what. I'd like to see that on film though.

Q: Would you like to have rather seen a long ball with Phillips?

A: I would've loved to have seen a long ball because that's where you're really going be able to tell if he's really able to get back there to make the play and right now I truly believe that he's going to be able to do it from what I've seen in individual and I think that he's going to kick right back up.

Q: Phillips said that he thought that he made all the right reads on the 12 snaps that he took, was that the way you saw it?

A: I saw the same thing. That's another thing, mentally that tells me that he's been studying and paying attention but I would never discredit the leadership that Grant and Rolle bring to the team. Those guys are forcing these young safeties to pay attention and to learn from the film because that's what Kenny (Phillips) has done the whole time because he hasn't practiced. For him to go in there right away and line up properly, get the calls and run the defense the way he ran it, was pretty impressive.

Q: The first week, Phillips took a lot of time kneeling next to you, what were those conversations like?

A: 'Coach, I want to get back out there. I want to get back out there' And I would tell him that I knew and that I wanted him back out there, too, but I had no timetable and so it was really interesting to see him come back out today and so it's very surprising and very happy.

Q: Was he asking a lot about what's happening on particular plays?

A: Yes, he always asks questions about why we are doing what we are doing. It's one thing to just say, 'Okay, this is what you do' but one of the things he does is ask questions and it sharpens me as a coach when I tell him why we are doing something.

Q: How much does he need to practice to be ready to play in a game?

A: A lot. Because you get the reactions out of practice that is like game speed but it's not and it allows you to sharpen up your instincts and read route combinations so he needs to practice a lot.

Q: Do you need him to be ready by next week?

A: No, not at all. Just to have the kid back today after not seeing him since last Fall is great so we're going to spoon feed him.

Q: Does he need like two full weeks of full practice in order to play in the first week of the regular season?

A: You know I wish I was God, I wish I could tell you that. I really don't know. We're just going to spoon feed him and take it slow.

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