HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK
(on what he is looking for from Jake Locker)
When they are on the field, you just want to see guys getting comfortable with the offense him and Matt (Hasselbeck) with having the first offseason to truly learn from what we did last year and watch the cut-ups, which they have been doing. The quarterbacks are doing exactly what we hoped they would do and this offseason is as valuable to them as it is to anybody. We all know the problems with last year coming in like they all did and not knowing exactly what we were trying to accomplish. I think this year they have a lot of tape to watch and they have been doing that. They have been coming out and doing a lot of technique work which you do this time of year and they have all been doing a great job like we said. We are real happy with that position. Now it is a matter of doing it competitively with the players, so that is the phase we are working on now.
(on if he feels the team would be willing to accept a young starting quarterback as opposed to a guy that has done it 13 years)
I would hope so, yes. I would think that wouldn’t be a problem. I think like I said with Jake (Locker) coming in last year, we all talked about it already, that even though he didn’t start, we understand that he is a young football player and obviously Matt (Hasselbeck) has experience, but these guys know that if we feel like a guy is ready to play that wouldn’t hold us back from making that kind of decision because he is a second-year player. I don’t think his teammates would have a concern for that either because they would both bring different things. He can offset his experience with his legs and extending plays. There are always pluses and minuses. The bottom line with your question is no I don’t think anyone in this building would hold that against whoever the quarterback is. I think they would be excited about either one.
(on how rare it is for the two players that are battling for the spot being good friends)
Probably to the level they’re at. I think the way they came in and having a lot in common with the backgrounds and that part of the country, so they already knew of each other. We will see how it all plays out, but I think it has been great. Like I said and everyone has said numerous times I think Jake (Locker) is in position to compete and start this year because of Matt’s (Hasselbeck) help. Matt helped him get to this spot and Jake has been working hard too. Again it is not easy for a guy. Matt has been doing everything that he needs to do, like he has said, he is doing everything he needs to do to get ready to play his best. He is not getting caught up in all the who is going to be the guy. He has to assume just like Jake would be that he is going to be the guy. I think they are both preparing very well.
(on importance of Jake Locker’s mobility in five wide receiver sets)
Yeah, but then you say well Matt has more experience so he will get rid of the ball quicker and he won’t get fooled. Whatever ends up happening there is an advantage for both of them that they bring. Whatever we do, someone can always give me the other side of the argument on why we should have done the other no matter what we do. That is just the way the game is at any position. No one is going to know everything we know and we will never be able to explain it all to everyone on why we are doing what we are doing. The bottom line is we hope that whatever we decide to do that it ends up in W’s and if it doesn’t then everyone will say great decision. We have to worry about what is best and we will do that.
(on the potential of going into the season without a fullback on the roster)
No, we are not. I think the versatility, I like the fact that we can do more and more and that we are not predictable to what we may play a game with. Maybe there will be games where we say, the fullback is not going to play until the four-minute which means we are winning. If I think that then maybe we start the game with a fullback and we are doing it 10 to 15 snaps early in the game. It gives us the flexibility with the guys that we have to make another team prepare for a lot of things. We will definitely have a fullback. The bottom line will be more how much he plays from one week to the next and how much the four receiver thing plays or three or the tight ends. Having the weapons just gives you more opportunities to decide … when we open with the Patriots, what is the best way to attack them, what is the best personnel to put on the field. Those are decisions that Chris (Palmer) and his staff will have to make week to week.
(on the importance of improving the pass rush)
You think about things that have to improve on both sides of the ball, getting turnovers, you start with points obviously and we gave up the eighth least number of points, you want to be number one. You want to improve time of possession and getting off the field. You start looking at all those things that factor into wins. We all know how important a pass rush is. You have to really break it down and see what really did good in games and how many opportunities did you have or that you didn’t take advantage of and how are we going to improve it. I think we did that and that is when you saw us add (Kamerion) Wimbley. I think some of the things we are going to do with different guys that we think will be different. I think just the fact that we will be doing so many different things on defense than we did a year ago is going to help us in that area alone. The fact that we will be more versatile on defense. We are talking about the offense and the versatility, I think you are going to see a lot of things on defense that really the guys weren’t ready to do last year. If we had done some of those things, we may have failed in other areas. I think Jerry (Gray) did a great job last year like I said throughout the training camp last year and during the season, of using his players wisely and not overloading them, so they could perform and gain confidence. That is why, like I mentioned before, four or five young players were able to start and contribute because we didn’t overload them. I think this year you will see more things, which we are already doing things out here, which will naturally bring more pressure. It is not necessarily because of personnel, part of it is going to be scheme too.
(on Robert Johnson’s ability to contribute at safety this year)
He’s one of those guys. We have a group of them that we’re hoping will step up. He’s had injuries in the past that have hurt his development. Like you said, he’s a good-looking kid, he covers a lot of ground, and he’s big. He should be able to make plays for us. The key for him is to stay on the field and get reps because both years he’s been held back with injuries. Yeah, he’s a guy you’re counting on, just like you are at other spots with those young guys stepping up.
(on whether Robert Johnson is strictly a free safety or if he’s more versatile)
In the scheme of things, because of the way he’s built and his size, you would think he’s more of a free safety. I think you kind of wait and see. When you start playing the games, if he gets in the mix, because of the versatility, does (Michael) Griff(in) move over a little bit more and play in the box more? So if you end up going that way, you look at ways to get him on the field. If he’s a guy that ends up being someone we feel can make plays for us and start standing out in different ways as he starts to play, then you start figuring out how to get him on the field. I think that’s what we would consider, would we move, or how do we do it.
(on the challenge of Leroy Harris making the switch from left guard to right guard)
I’m hoping it’s easier for him. He’s right handed, so you’d think it’s more natural. When I played left guard, I put my right hand down because I was uncomfortable with my left-hand stance. Bruce (Matthews) did the same thing when he played. I think you see that very rarely. I was never really comfortable on the left side as much as I would be on the right as a natural right-hander. We’re obviously hoping that that gives him comfort, which I think it will. So I think that’ll be an easy transition for him. He’ll obviously get reps there. Before he started at left guard, he played all three spots. He played right tackle in a game. Yeah, he’s comfortable. You can tell it already in the stance and the stuff he’s doing. We just have to keep him out of team activities. Unfortunately, he won’t get team activity work maybe until the last week (of OTAs), or we may even hold him because of his shoulder, just to be smart with him. But for camp, we feel like he’s in great shape, and he’s out here doing everything. He should be good for camp.
(on comparing the strengths of Fernando Velasco and Leroy Harris)
I think there’s a lot of similarities because they’re built similar as far as size, height, physical guys, strong guys. They have natural leverage. They can match up on any type of person, a quick person (or) a big guy. I think there’s a lot of similarities, the fact that they can both play all three spots. And Fernando is in kind of a unique spot. He’s getting a lot of reps at right guard, which is great for him. I think he can play right guard no problem in this league, and the fact that he can probably start at center gives him a chance to be in that mix, too. It’s just a matter of now he’s getting a lot of guard work, and he can be in the center mix later, depending on how Leroy is doing health-wise and there’s no concerns, which we don’t think there will be. It’s going to be good competition because we feel we’ve got players that just haven’t had the chance to show they can play every down. They haven’t had that opportunity since they’ve been here other than Fernando has had probably four or five starts because of guys staying healthy, which is a good thing. It’s exciting for them. You watch how he’s coming back in great shape and strong. There’s a lot of similarities, actually, between all three of them, when you throw Eugene in that category. There’s a lot of similarities between those three guys.
(on what he has seen out of Derrick Morgan and the expectations on Morgan)
We’re expecting—I know he is, too—he should be over the hump, that we shouldn’t even have to talk about an injury anymore. I think he mentally and physically got over that last year as we got through the middle of the season. You start seeing him showing up. Now it’s a matter of learning the game, like he’s doing now; getting comfortable, knowing that that’s his spot over there. So we’re expecting, obviously, big things out of him. That’s when people talk about, ‘Well, he can play the run well, he chases well, he’s a good athlete, and he likes to play on Sunday. He’s a competitor on Sunday. When I watch him on Sundays, he really is into it. He plays hard.’ So I think this offseason is probably huge for him, just what we’ve been doing so far. He’s healthy, and nothing’s holding him back. He’s getting a lot of reps working on his pass-rush stuff. Now you can start developing different things in him that we couldn’t before because last year was more about—well, we had the lockout—but then by the time we got to camp, it was more of what we talked about. We talked about his injury. Now that talk is over, and it should be about how good a player he can be for us. That got it started as a rookie, when we brought him in for three or four or five weeks and was off to a decent start as a young kid. We’re hoping that that’s where he picks up.
(on Eugene Amano)
Eugene practiced today. He’s been doing individual (drills) the last couple days. He did some team run today, and then he probably got about 10 snaps today of team work. He’ll just keep upping that number. He should be able to stay in there now the next two weeks and start building his reps up.
(on Leroy Harris’ injury status)
Leroy is probably going to still be, again, because of his shoulder, being careful with that. You can’t protect, you can’t wear shoulder pads (during OTAs), you can’t wear pads on your shoulders, so we’d probably just be smart there. He’s fine, and we feel good about him. But chances are he’ll be very—maybe the last week, if at all, as far as team activities.
(on the possibility Harris will not be available until training camp)
Right, we may not allow that because of the rules of Phase III (of OTAs), and you can’t wear anything on your shoulders. So we’d rather him not get run into by accident or something.
(on when Kenny Britt will do more in his knee rehabilitation)
He will be. All of his stuff is just, I haven’t seen, I don’t know exactly where he’s at right now as far as … Our concern, our key thing is that we think he’s on that same schedule he was on that knee. In camp, he’ll be out here practicing and doing different team periods and running and it will be something similar to last year. He’s feeling good. He’s just continuing his rehab. We know he’s not going to do anything, obviously, between now and when camp starts, other than rehab. He can start, hopefully, when we get back in July with getting into some periods like he did last year, when he had the hamstring and we limited his reps. We’ll probably do something similar.
Article Courtesy of Titansonline.com