*On his thoughts on the schedule: *"Not much. I mean, you gotta play the schedule you gotta play. It's all right. It'll be fun to have the Thanksgiving game again. That's kind of cool and other than that, I wish the bye might have been a little bit sooner, but again, we'll take it where it is."
On CB Emmanuel Forbes:
"There was a couple of coverages that I sat there and did go back on a couple times. One of 'em was he went into a hinge technique and basically what he did was he put himself in to be able to play the high, the low, and the ball was thrown to the high and he was able to turn, and with that burst of his speed, that length, he was able to tip the ball outta bound, so you could see that and that was one of the things that caught my attention. Another one was when he jumped a route quick SL on the inside was able to beat the receiver to the spot and make the interception. I mean, those are the kind of things, the great anticipation, but then you kind of wonder where it comes from. I was sitting behind him and watching him in meetings and then I was sitting back watching him during the walkthrough today and then I watched him with Coach [Brent] Vieselmeyer and as coach was explaining something to him, you can see how attentive he was. The questions he was asking, I thought were really well thought out. There are some things that kind of lead to why I think, or I believe that's why he makes those kinds of plays because those little detail things I think don't get away from him."
On what he is looking for from rookie minicamp:
"First of all, first opportunity to see them in a football environment, you know, on the field. I'm looking forward to that this afternoon. More so than this morning because this was really just walkthrough, installation, try and get these guys familiarized with some of our basic stuff so that they can go out and perform quickly. For us, we really wanna watch how they react to what they're seeing, how their retention is and then just some guys making plays in terms of some of the receivers, some of the defensive backs. We wanna see some quickness as far as some of the defensive players, defensive line in particular and then with the offensive guys, we wanna see them using their techniques that that's being taught to them today. We'll see how that goes today and tomorrow in terms of their retention and how are they adapting to the techniques that we are teaching as well."
On what message he gives to the rookies as they start out their NFL career:
"More than anything else is pay attention. Be very attentive, pay attention. That's probably the biggest thing because one thing a coach wants to do is he wants to make sure he feels that what he's telling the young man, he's listening to, he's hearing and he's understanding. I tell 'em, if you're not sure, ask straight up, ask and that's all right. You know, if you're not sure, it just shows that you wanna make sure you know what you're doing. You wanna make sure that you know you're doing it right. So those little things are kind of things that you look for."
On when he knows that a rookie has gotten comfortable:
"I think some of the things that you anticipate in seeing growth from some of these guys is how you get to know them. You know that they're getting it just from the questions that they've asked and then the way they handle certain situations out on the field. You watch a guy through walkthrough and he may make a mistake, he gets corrected and then that same play comes up again during walkthrough and automatically he knows and he'll say something that kind of reassures you that he's gotten it. Those things are important. We pay attention to those little details with a lot of these young guys."
On if in the draft they were looking for a running back that can do certain types of runs:
"I would say we were looking for a back that fit what we wanted to do and the way we wanted to do it. I know Eric [Bieniemy] really liked Christopher [Rodriguez Jr.], so that was one of the pluses for when he was available when we were picking. Secondly, I still liked what we saw as far as the growth was concerned with Antonio [Gibson]. I'd like to see Antonio get a few more tries, obviously last year, but Antonio's shown tremendous growth and we're pretty excited about who he could be. This is a guy that played wide receiver at one time coming out and one thing that he did have was every nine touches resulted in a touchdown, so we're looking for some production from him as well and we're looking to see that he does fit in into the scheme of things as far as what Eric Bieniemy wants to do with the offense."
On the kick and punt return game:
"Well, there are a couple guys out there, but one of the more notable names, and I'm gonna have to look it up and so I can say it properly, but he's a young man we got out of UCLA. He'll wear number 10 out there, Kazmeir Allen. He played some slot for them, some wide receiver for them, some running back for them and then he returned both kickoffs and punts for them, and he did 'em in the bowl game in the All-Star games as well. So he's a young man that most certainly has gotten our attention and he's a young guy that we went out and tried to make sure we were able to recruit and bring him in as a free agent."
On teaching players about gambling:
"Lesson will be very blunt. It'll most certainly be one of the ones that we will use in our player development program. You know, I think Malcolm [Blacken] has done a tremendous job with that and that'll be one of the things that will most certainly be emphasized with them. When we did find out about the Shaka Toney thing, we called the league and asked the league if they could send us some information that we could use and do a presentation with. We presented to the team. Malcolm led that for us and the whole team, everybody that that's in that building that's associated with us was in that room. We presented it. We talked through it. Malcolm will follow up with these young guys and, and it will be presented and they will talk through it with him as well."
On if you can find talent from the XFL and USFL:
"I believe you can and again, the good part of it is these guys have film and quality film for us to take a look at. We'll get a chance to see where some of these guys are and how good some of 'em move. It's just like anything else. It's just as if you were watching college tape but it is some of these guys are talented and someone just need an opportunity."
On what he wants to see from the undrafted/tryout players:
"Scouting and drafting and signing college for agents, it's a difficult thing. It's not a proven 100% science. Some guys are gonna slip through the cracks and maybe this is an opportunity to find one of those guys but again, you're looking for somebody that will stand out depending on his position and whether or not he was making plays. If it's a receiver or DB, is he running good routes and making catches, or is he defending receiver as well? If it's an offensive line, how's his technique, how is his pad level and by that I mean, is he in a good body position. With offensive lineman, it's about technique and body position and that that'll tell you whether a guy has a chance."
On what the biggest takeaway players should get from this before coming back for training camp:
"This is a little different this year having Eric Bieniemy out there. I would say it's kind of twofold as far as the offensive guys. We want to really be able to feel comfortable about a lot of these guys have assimilated to what Eric has brought and has installed as far as our offense and what we're gonna use this season and then it'll be about the retention. Just how muchof what we're doing, do they learn how much of it they're gonna retain and that'll be important for when we get started that first week of training camp, so right now it's about learning the X's and O's of what we're doing. And then the second thing, more so anything else, is did they show some growth in their abilities, their techniques, their base fundamentals. Did they improve that way? And again, we'll see that by the end of Minicamp and OTAs and then we'll get a flavor for where they are the first week of training camp."
On if he looks for anything different in the undrafted free agents and the tryout players compared to draft picks:
"Well, I think with the draft guys, you have an anticipation and the expectation of them coming in and really doing things well. Some of these younger guys that hadn't been drafted, there may be some limitations or some things that they've gotta work on and that's, that's probably why they didn't get drafted, but they still have a skillset set, you know what I'm saying? They still show a burst. They still show some quickness. They still show some strength and power which is all the more reason to want to keep some of these guys because you could always exchange a guy for somebody that you've already signed. If somebody flashes like that, you sit there and go, wow, we need to really think about this young guy and if you change him out, you do and if you don't, he's most certainly be on a short list if something were to happen, he's a guy that you would want to bring back."
On how impactful each training event is on the next one:
"It's all part of that. One of the things that both Eric [Bieniemy], Jack [Del Rio] and even Nate [Kaczor] for that matter, we are not just starting from what initially truly is step one. We are working basics and fundamentals and stuff like that, but with what we wanna do offensively, with what we wanna do defensively, what we wanna do more than anything else is we are gonna throw a lot at these guys. Okay, because what's gonna happen is we'll go through it a couple of times with them. So right now, we threw a lot at 'em today, we'll throw a lot at 'em this afternoon, a lot at 'em tomorrow morning and tomorrow afternoon and then we'll see how they are on Monday. When we get to Monday, what's gonna happen is they'll be integrated with our veterans that are here. They'll go through that and then when we get to the start of OTAs on the field, phase three, then we'll go back and we'll start from the beginning again. Our current guys that are here will get it three times, basically and then what'll happen is our young guys will have gone through it twice and then we come back for training camp, we'll start all over from the very beginning of what our initial plan is for installation. Hopefully it'll be one of those things that the guys, their retention is very good. They'll be able to readapt and assimilate to how we're doing it."
On what he expects the learning curve to be with what Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy is teaching the coaches:
"I think it should be very good. I think for the most part everything that they're gonna be installing has been everything that they've been working on. One of the things that I've alluded to with some of the questions I've gotten is just how early they get started. Typically you come in, everybody starts at eight o'clock, but with Eric and the offensive staff, they start at 7:00 AM. They go through everything. And then the thing that's been impressive is how he's worked with each one of these coaches individually for their specific positions, whether it be the offensive line, the tight ends, the running backs, wide receivers and he's with the quarterbacks daily. But he's constantly with these coaches and constantly going through little detail things, so it's been real interesting to watch the way he handles things."
On OL Mason Brooks:
"Well, he's a guy that played a lot of football. He may not have started a lot, but he played a lot of football. He's shown some position flexibility more so anything else, that's always something that we always feel is an important thing. There was a general toughness that we liked and that we thought, this is a guy that could come in and help us out. If you can get a guy like that as a undrafted free agent, you gotta see and take a shot."
On Bieniemy working with Rivera to change some of the structure of how the team is doing things and on why he feels those changes were necessary:
"Well, I think one of the biggest things obviously is I just felt we needed to do some things different. We needed to evolve and I think with the playmakers we have, we had to find other ways to get the ball into their hands quickly. What I really appreciate has been the approach and the way he does things. What we've done too is, he and I have sat down and we've talked about some of the structure in a couple of things. One is how will we do things? And one of the things that really struck me was in his press conference was he talked about learning to be comfortable when you're uncomfortable. And as he and I talked and I listened to some of the things that he was interested in doing, I thought to myself, that's a heck of a deal right there. I mean, we will stress our offensive guys to adapt and learn, but at the same time our defensive guys are gonna have to adapt and learn as well because they'll be practicing in a whole different fashion as well. So, that was something that I really felt as he and I discussed things in the last month and a half that I felt needed to be done. That was all part of what I talked about when I first introduced him to you guys. You guys asked me what would some of his duties be. Well, that's part of it. It has been to help me plan and structure the way we want to do things during OTAs, minicamps and going forward into training camp, as well as when we get into the regular season. I wanted to see if we do some things different. I'd been in the same system doing things a specific way, and I felt the shakeup is good and it's good for me as well. It is a whole different approach. One of the things that he did differently, and I think that he adapted a little bit of what they had done in Kansas City under Andy [Reid]. And again, I was fortunate enough to coach for Andy as well. And so I had a lot of trust in what EB was talking about. We restructured the way the offensive coaching staff is gonna be structured. We've moved some guys around over a couple of positions so they can help the younger coaches that we've elevated as well. And a big part of it is for EB it gives him channels of communication. I mean, he can work directly with the tight end coach and the offensive line coach, but he can also go to Coach [Juan] Castillo and work with him directly as well, so he's getting a different perspective from all those guys. And then he can talk with Kenny Zampese about what Kenny's seeing and he may have Kenny go over and hang out with the wide receivers for a little bit and tell him, 'Hey Kenny, I want you to look for this.' Or 'Kenny, what did you see?' Not that he's looking over anybody's shoulder, but it's an extra set of eyes because EB can't be at all of those stations at one time. He now has two sets of eyes that are somewhere close to all those other stations and he can get immediate feedback. I thought that was a heck of an idea and it was something that I felt could be very beneficial to him as well."
On if inviting 35 tryouts players to rookie minicamp is another one of those changes:
"Well, what we wanted to do was we wanted to have basically two full units, offensive and defensive. A big part of it too was for a lot of our coaches, it was the first on the offensive side, it's the first time doing it this way. And we felt being able to get a lot of work for the coaches as well was gonna be important. And it was also one of the things that Eric really felt strongly about doing. So again, as I said, it was something that we were looking for a little change, something to do a little different. That was one of the other things that we agreed to. And again, it goes back to what I said, we elevated Eric to assistant head coach for a specific reason. That was one of them."