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Ron Rivera press conference | June 7, 2023

On how DE Chase Young looked yesterday:
"He looked good. He really did. Real excited about it. Looks like he's got some explosion back, which was one of the really neat things in terms of watching him, his get off. He looks like he's more confident. We noticed that as well and we've been seeing that in watching [TE] Logan Thomas. Another guy that was coming off a year removed now from having had knee surgery. So, feel very good about what we're seeing from our guys."

On what the team looked at as far as air quality for practice today:
"No, it's not an issue right now. We looked at what's called the AQI, the Air Quality Index, and right now it is orange, which is there is some concern. We reached out to our doctors, our medical personnel and asked about what our options are as far as practicing today and tomorrow, and probably our last one next week as well. We'll probably have to continue to monitor it, but the big thing that we've seen is that the number is not in an area where it's really considered dangerous. 200 is what's considered bad from what I've been explained, so we're obviously looking at that. We're gonna talk to the players before we go out there and tell anybody that has respiratory concerns that obviously we would excuse them or if they start feeling any issues during workouts, we'll send them inside. Then we'll have to consider tomorrow potentially going inside the bubble for practice, which if we can avoid it, we will. But if not, if the air quality becomes a little too concerning then we most certainly will go in. But we've looked at it, we've talked to the medical personnel and as of right now, we're okay. Again, the only concern that we have for anybody is that anybody that does have a respiratory concern like asthma or something."

On if there will be space concerns in the bubble with the team currently at 90 players:
"It would probably limit some of the things in terms of having to share the field and split it. We would probably have to limit some of the other drills that we have and really just get to the meat of the practice as soon as we're properly warmed up and ready to go."
* On what he has seen from TE Cole Turner so far this offseason:*
"Yeah, I mean the thing about Cole more so than anything else is obviously last year was that the injury was a major setback and it did take a little bit longer to heal up. So the hard part for us was we really did see a guy that had a lot of potential coming in for us. And what we have seen obviously has been, he's had a great spring. He's been here almost the entire offseason on a voluntary basis doing the things that he needs to do and develop. One thing is you've seen this, he's got a really good grasp of the offense so far. He's still learning it, but he's learning it quickly and doing the things that we need to have him do to be able to help us go forward."

*On when he can tell that a player is ready to go to another level: *"Well, I think a lot of it has to do with them showing us what they've learned, what they're doing out on the field. And part of it too is in this offense, with what Eric's doing with players is being able to play more than just one spot in terms of the skill guys. For the tight ends there's the Y, there's the U or the F depending on how you wanna look at it. There's like about four or five different tight end positions. That and having him be able to play one and go to the other and play it as well, I think that's the thing that we're looking at."

On why the team has been working on more pass game concepts than run game concepts at this point in the year:
"Well, two things. Mostly on the offensive side is getting the throws for the quarterbacks more so than anything else. This is a precision offense. A lot of it has to do with timing and accuracy. Putting the ball where it needs to be thrown. And then quite honestly, secondly is one thing is that in sitting down and talking with the coaches that if we limit the run game right now when we're actually doing some of the competitive stuff, it's gonna limit the collisions. And so we got whacked last year, lost a couple of practices and stuff and you know we're trying to limit those collisions and it's one of the things that we gotta constantly remind our guys is that we're not asking them to compete for the ball right now. And so just trying to be careful with them."

On how much they're able to work on run fits at this point in the year:
"What we've been doing, I don't know if you guys noticed is we're on two separate fields and one of the things that we've done this year is we've focused more on stuff like that in terms of the defense giving each other the looks and the defense each working on the run fits as a group as opposed to coming in and trying to do it while we're doing a team drill. So we've gotten away from that in terms of the live practice action to just using that for the installation and walkthrough stuff. We have made a concerted effort in terms of what we've done is we do more individual, more group, and we haven't done as much team in terms of that stuff, but what we've taken when we do do the team, it has been a high concentration of pass."

On how defensive ends can work on finishing plays better:
"They get to the quarterback and again, not necessarily getting him down as much as impacting the play. Forcing the quarterback to throw the ball sooner than he wants to, throwing the ball away, tucking it and running. That's more of the finishing a lot of times instead of just, winning but then getting washed by, that's not effective enough because all the quarterback does is step up and throw the ball or get a little more deeper and throw the ball. And so then when they talk about finishing, that's getting to the quarterback, impacting the quarterback, getting him to move and impacting the play."

*On how impactful it would be to have elite edge rushers on a defense with DTs Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne in the middle: *"Well, I think the biggest thing obviously is it's gonna do one of two things is they're going to accumulate the sacks. Last year we were pretty good on third downs and we really took a huge jump and [defensive coordinator] Jack [Del Rio] and the staff did a hell of a job. But, add one more element to it and now it does impact the games even more so for us and creates even more opportunities to win a few more games."

On what he has seen from CB Emmanuel Forbes Jr.:
"Well, I think the biggest thing in terms of just watching him move around more so than anything else, it's what we were hoping for. I mean, we're looking for a guy that can impact the ball when it's being thrown, when it's in the air, and that's who he was in college and that's what he's showing us so far. So it's been pretty exciting. We're feeling really good about it so far. Obviously there is the physical nature of the game that we'll have to watch once we get the pads on, but as of right now everything else he's done, he's done exactly what we saw. He is a ball hawk. He does time it out very well, does put himself in position. He's working against some of the best route runners right now in the league, and that's kind of neat to watch this young man grow already. So it's been a very good offseason with him so far. I believe it's only two and a half weeks that we've had him, but it's been good to watch."

On if he thinks the team can try to win games with a different formula this year based on some of the changes on the offensive side of the ball:
"I believe so. I think one of the things that we wanna do offensively and again, feeling pretty good about the quarterback position. Not that we didn't feel good about it back then, but these are guys with a little different dimension. And if it is true and they do come through and do play the way that we hope that they can play, we believe they can play, with some of the things that we're doing on the offensive side, it most certainly could change and impact us in a positive fashion. I think some of the stuff that sitting down and listening to Eric talk about it, the excitement in which he talks about it all is great, but to listen to the strategy side of it and how he wants to attack and the way he wants to attack and the way he wants to use the throws and the way he wants to use the runs, there is some opportunities for us. And I'm pretty excited about that."
* On what he saw from the offensive line yesterday:*
"Well, I thought it was really good. I really did. You know, the nice thing is the depth is showing itself right now and that's a huge plus for us because as far as the depths concerned, while [T] Charles [Leno Jr.] was out, [T] Cornelius Lucas, who has started for us in all three years he's been here with us, just stepped in and did the job that we know he's capable of. And if he has to become a starter again, he would come in and help us just like he has. So we feel good about that. What I've really enjoyed seeing is some of the young guys, younger guys that have gotten more and more opportunities. We've put [T/G] Sam Cosmi in one position and we've left him at right guard and he seems to really settle in really nicely working alongside [T] Andrew [Wylie]. That was kind of cool to watch. And then looking at the left guard position, [T/G] Saahdiq [Charles] has really done a nice job, but you know, [G] Chris Paul's really just nipping at the heels of all of our offensive linemen becuase one thing we found about Chris is that he has got great position flex. He's shown that he can play both guard positions and we believe so. There are some questions to whether he can do tackle. I mean, it's something we're gonna look at once we get into the pads in the summer and see if he's capable of that as well. So that's another huge plus. Then watching some of the depth things that we have going on at center, that's been another nice spot. We brought in [T] Trent Scott as far as another tackle backup, a guy that can help us in those situations. We drafted [T] Braeden [Daniels] because of that. We drafted [C] Ricky [Stromberg] because of that. We got [C] Tyler [Larsen] who's coming off the injury who last year when as our starting center, we were 6-1-1. So, we feel good about the depth right now and we gotta get through it, stay healthy obviously, and we think we're doing some things the right way."

On if he can get a good sense of where the offensive line is at without being able to run the ball or have pads on right now:
"Yeah, I think so. As far as right now they're going in the right direction. I mean that's probably the biggest things we see is, and on the limited times when we are running the ball because we do have some RPO stuff and so the ball has been handed off a couple times. You do see some of the creases, you see that they've made those holes. But as far as the run game is concerned, we're not quite there yet with that as far as knowing. But the pass protection is pretty good. We did some blitz stuff the other day and watching those guys communicate and pass off the blitzers was pretty good. And so they're most certainly headed in the right direction." 

On having the starting defensive lineman playing up to their potential:
"I think so. I think if everything comes together and it's not necessarily just been putting it on the D-line, but part of it has to do with some of the coverage stuff that we struggled with. But that seemed to really straighten itself out last year. I think [Defensive Coordinator] Jack [Del Rio] and the defense staff have done a really nice job with that stuff. With mixing up some of the coverages with some of the pressures, and then the development of some of the other younger players, especially the younger defensive box. I mean, [S Darrick Forrest] stepping up the way he has, [S] Kam [Curl] continues to play like a solid veteran for us and productive guy. You got [CB] Kendall [Fuller] out there who did some really good things for us last year and you know, we can keep [CB] Benjamin [St-Juste] on the field who really showed that he has the potential to be a real physical corner for us. And then add on those young guys, I think that can be something that can really help the front as well."

On OC Eric Bieniemy being an asset to the offensive line:
"Oh, most certainly. I think one of the things that is interesting is a lot of the stuff is being put on the quarterback and the center immediately. There's a lot of things that Eric has in terms of tools for the quarterback to identify things. So, it'll be up to them to make sure they're communicating. That's one of the things that [QB] Sam [Howell] and [QB] Jacoby [Brissett], and [QB] Jake [Fromm] for the most part, all three of those guys, have really picked up very quickly to help identify stuff for the offensive line. And then also having the tools of being able to audible into something quicker to get the ball out of the quarterback's hands sooner. So there's a lot of positives that Eric has really been instilling in these guys and they've seem to have grasped it pretty well."

On how relieving it is to hear that OL Sam Cosmi is willing to be wherever he is needed on the offensive line:
"Was really good just because of the fact that knowing that he was up to it and whether it was at tackle or guard, he was more than willing to play either spot. And what it did was it really helped us in terms of going out and seeing if we can get [OT] Andrew [Wylie] knowing that Andrew would come in and be able to play the right tackle position. Nice thing about Andrew though is he could play either side as well as guard but knowing that Sam was up to it and we just feel with Sam's athleticism as a guard, you know, it would be a real big plus for us. So, it's been good for him. I know it's been good for him because you can see it on tape. And also, just developing the rapport with one guy right now has been, I think also another thing that's helped him."

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