Q: What’s the procedural difference right now between releasing a player and waiving a player?
NC: It’s the same. Any time that you remove a player from your roster, you designate him ‘X’ amount of ways. There’s certain ways you can designate that player so we take all the information like we normally do and then we release the player and then we just move on.
Q: It’s my understanding that a player with less than four accrued seasons would count against the 90-man roster if he was placed directly on Injured Reserve. Is my understanding accurate on that?
NC: Look, we make decisions every day on the roster. If there are any rules questions, I would direct those to the league and their interpretation.
Q: What did you see in
NC: Versatile player. He had played a little bit of corner in college. Maybe a little bit undersized just from a height, weight, speed standpoint for the safety position; 190 pounds, but was real fast, aggressive, very instinctive player, matched up well. They played him a little bit at their money position or in some of their dime packages, played him close to the line of scrimmage. Steve has done a nice job. He’s a versatile player; he was able to do a number of different things in San Diego’s defense. I think some of the things that we’re doing are a little bit different, just systematically but he’s indoctrinated myself into our system well. He’s done a nice job to this point. He’s been here since day one of the offseason and so far so good.
Q: After last night, you have tape on all 31 other teams so far in the preseason. At this point, do you budget time specifically for each team, do you just focus on opponents you’ll play later in the season or do you look at specific players? What is your methodology behind it?
NC: It’s a combination of things. We’ll have certain people that follow specific teams and will be responsible for evaluating and writing those players. Then what we’ll do is we’ll meet as a staff and go through one scout’s evaluation and then we’ll have somebody else watch that player so we can kind of get more than one evaluation. So certain people have certain teams that they follow. I try to watch each game: I try to go through both sides of the ball and watch the kicking game as well, just to try to get a bigger picture view on things. You try to do the best you can between practice, practice tape and watching the preseason games. The good thing is the next set of games isn’t played until this weekend so it gives you a certain amount of time to work through it.
Q: Do you tend to focus more on the guys that you project be at the bottom of the roster and might wind up being available or do you watch everyone? NC It’s only one game but you try to get some basic idea of just about everybody. You see some of the rookies that have been added to the roster or some new players that may have changed teams. You’re just trying to get a big picture view of the team. Some players you’re more familiar with than others because you’ve studied them, whether that’s in college doing that evaluation process or you’ve studied them through the years being in the league. It’s just a combination thing and you just have to push through it.
Q: Going back to Dane Fletcher, I think some people are having trouble understanding why you waived a guy who was valuable in the past. Why was waiving him injured the right decision for the team?
NC: I don’t really have anything to add other than what I said earlier. We made the decision that we made and we’re moving forward.
Q: What have you seen from
NC: Alex was with us for most of the year last year; worked on both sides of the ball in practice on our practice squad. It was just something in the offseason that we felt was the best thing for him and for the team at that time. He’s worked really hard and tried to apply his craft and learn his craft. He was a defensive player but he’s tough, he’s smart, he’s got good size, he’s got good playing strength. He actually did a pretty good job for us last year in practice on the scout teams in that role so we thought that it was something that he’d be able to handle. He’s going out there, he’s been out there every day, he’s been on the field, he’s working hard at it and we’ll see how it all unfolds.
Q: I know you guys kind of go about things with a business-as-usual type of approach, but for that to happen the biggest game of the season, was that something you had to make sure he was OK with?
NC: Right now we’re just focused on practice and where we are with the team. What happened in February is long gone.
Q: How important was it for him to get out yesterday, the tight ends with the defensive ends, working on blocking techniques and situations that he may not have faced last year?
NC: There’s so much that goes into that position – blocking, receiving, catching, splits, alignments, blocking a certain technique, whether it’s a six-technique, whether it’s a seven-technique, whether it’s a nine-technique. But you just try to establish your foundation through the spring in training camp and work on those techniques in a real live setting, whether it’s in practice or whether it’s in the game. But that position, there’s really a lot that goes into that position because you’re really involved in every phase of the game – run blocking, pass protection and the passing game.
Q: How much more focus of his preparation has been on that as opposed last year?
NC: I think it’s more specific because during the year when you practice, you’re doing multiple things. So when you get into the offseason, when you get into training camp, you can focus a little bit more on the specific skill as it relates to one particular position. He was really doing both things last year so the focus this year is really more on that side of the ball.
Q: Do you have any certainty one way or another if
NC: I don’t have any updates on Brian.
Q: I wasn’t asking for an update, I was more curious if internally you have an idea of where it’s going and you just don’t care to share that publicly?
NC: Really, everything is day-to-day. We’ll take today, deal with today and then whatever happens tomorrow, we’ll take that as it comes.
Q: What are your thoughts on
NC: Shane has had a pretty good camp. Last year really kind of got off on the wrong foot – [he] had a few days of practice, then he was hurt, then it took him a little while to get back on the field, played a little bit against Kansas City and that was it. But he’s done a nice job. The whole running back group in general, I think that group has done a good job. It’s a pretty good blend of different styles and different skills. They’re all younger players, some with more experience than others. But Shane was a versatile player at Cal, they used him in the backfield, out of the backfield, they used him in the passing game, he carried the ball. Hopefully, the most important thing whether it’s Shane or any player like him, is to take the performance one day and try to continue that and try to develop consistency and dependability from one day to the next, one week to the next because in the end that’s the most important thing for the player. Then everybody, whether it’s players [or] coaches, [is] able to count on that player that much more.
Q: What did you like about Shane Vereen relative to some other running backs in the draft last year? What made him the right choice for you?
NC: Like I just mentioned, he was a versatile player. The offense that they run at Cal I’d say is a pretty complex system with Coach [Jeff] Tedford. They do a great job offensively. They ask their running backs, they ask a lot of their skill people to do a lot of different things so Shane had been exposed to a number of different things. We felt that he was good fit for what we were doing.
Q: It’s a young group at running back. Were you ever curious about how they would do without a veteran?
NC: Really, it’s the players’ job when they come in here each day, it’s their responsibility to prepare themselves and get themselves ready to play. It’s not a matter of relying on a veteran or relying on somebody else. They have to do everything in their power to prepare themselves so that when they go out on the field they perform at an optimum level. You guys know we take practice pretty seriously around here. So the same type of focus that you would allocate to getting yourself prepared for a game is the same approach and focus that you want to have going into practice. That’s their job, that’s our expectation as a staff and then in the end, they have to go out there and perform on the field.
Q: Now that
NC: It’s really, I would say, kind of been an evolution because he got started so late, really didn’t go through any offseason, any training camp so this year he was able to go through everything. There was a lot of teaching that he had missed. He’s come in, he’s in good shape, he’s been out there every day [and] he’s been durable. He’s working hard to improve but he has good size, he has good playing strength. He played left tackle at TCU; he’s been mostly working on the right side. But the skills as it relates to the position, he’s got a pretty good skill set. The more that he plays and the more experience that he gets, hopefully it will continue to improve.
Q: Are you pleased with how the secondary is shaping up?
NC: I think really, we’re just looking at everything from a team perspective. I think the most important thing is for our team to continue to improve. I think defensively as a group, there have been multiple people on the field at different times but I think the team is moving in the right direction. We’ve had some good practices here the past few days. Our hope is that we can take what we did last week and then when we get into this week against Philadelphia that we’re going to be better than we were last week. That’s the most important thing for our team.
NC: The versatility is one of the things that I would say was intriguing but in the end we just put them in the position and move them around and just figure out relative to the other 10 guys on the field how it all fits together. Could he play corner? Maybe, but right now he’s worked at safety, he’s played the money position, so that’s where we are right now. Could that change at some point? Possibly. I think one of the things that dictates that is who is healthy and where we are in the season. If he’s asked to do that, then he might have to go out there and do that. I mean, who would have thought Julian [Edelman] was going to playing defense last year? A lot can happen; a lot can change.
Q: How lean is the veteran free agent market along the offensive line?
NC: I think there are a lot of good players across positions that are still out there that played a lot of football for a lot of teams last year. We’ll continue to do our due diligence like we always do, we’ll do our homework and we’ll be prepared for whatever opportunity and situation arises.
Q: Specific to the line, is that leaner than other positions?
NC: I think there are players available at every position.
Q: Can you confirm reports that Chad Clifton will be coming in for a physical?
NC: There’s no truth to that.
NC: Part of that is based on what the league rules are just in terms of when the player becomes active off the PUP, then he has ‘X’ amount of days where he has to be in shells and then eventually he’s able to put the pads on. We might be a day or two away from that but we’ll make that determination each day to see where he is.
Q: That determination hasn’t been made yet?
NC: I haven’t, we haven’t had that conversation yet. He’ll be out there, I’m just not sure exactly what dress he’ll have on today.
Q: Have you had any contact with Andre Carter or his representatives?
NC: We stay in contact with a lot of agents at this time of the year. [We] have multiple conversations just in the event that something does come up. I would say we’re no different now than we were a few months ago.
Q: How has
NC: This is really the first week he’s actually been on the field and been able to do a few more things defensively. [He] didn’t really have a lot of experience just defensively at Ohio State but smart kid, understood what they were doing real well defensively. I think he’s learning. I think it’s a process for him. But he has good size, he’s smart, he can run. I think there are just some things he’s going to have to learn technique-wise and just seeing things, whether it’s formation, empty, just the multiplicity that goes into defense in general but that specific safety position because there’s so much communication that’s involved in that spot.