BB: We had a couple of roster moves today. [Matt] Light and [Tom] Ashworth both came off of the PUP list. They were out there practicing. It was good to see a couple of the other guys back out there like [David] Givens, [Randall] Gay, and Kevin [Faulk]. So, hopefully we can continue to keep that flow coming. I think that some of the guys that didn't practice are close. I know I have been saying that, but they are getting closer and hopefully by sometime later on this week, we will see some more faces back out there that weren't out there today. That is where we are. Of course, [Benjamin] Watson signed. Everybody knows that. That is another addition that we have to the group. I am looking forward to getting some of those guys back and working them back in there. This is a big week for us. We have our preparation for Cincinnati and that is a team that we play in the regular season, so it will take on a little bit more focus and I think it is a little bit more important than a preseason game where you don't play that team in the regular season. You really try to spend a little more time on, not only their scheme, but their personnel and try to let the players get a feel for what that is going to be like the second time around as much as possible. I know it is not the same, but it is a good preparation opportunity. This is also the week where we still have a lot of things that were left over from last week, the first couple of weeks of training camp before the opener, that we didn't fully get installed or some cases didn't get the chance to cover at all. We still have some installation left and some things that we want to finish adding so our playbook, so to speak, is completely installed and we have a good background on the things that we think we are going to need to do at some point during the season and at the same time work on Cincinnati and prepare for that game Saturday night, the whole playing on the road and that whole process and getting that smoothed out and being the visiting team and the preparations and the routine that goes with that. That is kind of the outline for the week.
Q: How much catching up does Watson have to do in your mind?
BB: Well, everyone is 20 practices ahead of him, just in training camp, plus on top of that he is a rookie, so all rookies have a big mountain to climb. I would say he has quite a ways to go. But, that is all in the past. We are moving forward here, and we will see what we can do with it.
Q: I know this is a business, but when a rookie holds out like that, are there hard feeling ever from the coaching side?
BB: It is a negotiation. Until it is done, there is no agreement. Once there is an agreement in place, then I think everybody can work with that. It never happened until last night and then finally this morning when it was signed. That is all behind us, and we are all trying to move forward. Everybody is happy with the situation as it stands, and we are moving forward with it.
Q: Was it a pretty quiet contract negotiation?
BB: Well, it will still be quiet because I really don't have anything to say about it.
Q: [Laughter] How do you balance how much you show during the game? Is that a concern for you?
BB: No, I don't think that is really a big concern. The point we play them in the season, everybody will have put everything that they have out on the table by that point. I don't think you hold anything back for a game as late as that one is. But, whatever it is, it is. I think the main thing is to get a feel for the way they play, their style of play, some of their schemes, what their personnel is, what their strengths and weaknesses are, [who] their different players are and how they try to accent them and that is something that we have to get familiar with. We haven't played them in a couple of years, and they have had a lot of changes and so have we since the last time we played them in the opener in 2001. It is like starting all over again. We went through that last year with the Giants and the Eagles and Washington. It is not the same because we played them a lot earlier, but it is still like more in the Giants game in the sixth week of the season. Once you get to that point, I don't think you have too many secrets.
Q: Are you limited at all working in the field house?
BB: No. The field house is great. As a matter of fact, we were talking about that out there today, how much higher of a quality of a practice we had there than either the other indoor facility or last year we were on that same field but it was outdoors and you still had the wet balls and wet turf. There is nothing wrong with working on that every once and a while, but in overall quality of the practice and execution, I thought we really got a lot done this morning and the facility helped an awful lot. At the same time, you get guys who are rehabbing and they can get good quality work in because they are cold, they are not slipping and they are able to rehab and work the areas that they need to work so that they can progress and their time frame getting back out on the field. It is really good. We have the clock for the two-minute drills and things like that. There are a lot of amenities that go with it. I think it has been very helpful. It helped us a lot last year at the end of the season when the weather conditions were what they were. We had a better quality practice when we went inside.
Q: It makes your decision making process easier, at least it removes one thing that you have to weigh and worry about, one would think, without having to debate whether you would practice indoors or not.
BB: Again, a lot of times, especially at this time of year, everybody is sore. Everybody has dead legs. They have some tight muscles. That is just the way it is. We've practiced 20 times. We've played a preseason game, so they should be. So, to go out there and slip and strain a muscle, pull a groin or something like that on a wet field, if you have a chance to avoid that at this point, I mean could we do it, sure we could go out there and do it. We could fight through it. I think it is nice that you don't have to do that. We had plenty of good work in there this morning, good contact, good effort, and I thought that was a pretty competitive practice and that is what we are looking for.
Q: Because they just put turf in at Paul Brown Stadium would you work on the turf just to get used to that playing surface even if weather permitted?
BB: I think we would just probably do it with the weather now. Because we have been in there so much, I think that everybody is pretty acclimated to that surface. We have played on it a number of other times.
Q: What will you be looking for from Benjamin Watson this week in order to play him in the game on Saturday, and if he does play, how much will it be?
BB: Well, we will just evaluate him like we evaluate everybody else on whether we think he is ready to play physically and mentally. He has a lot of catching up to do. He has some conditioning and contact work and all of that. No matter what any player has been doing outside of training camp, they can run around a track, do sit-ups, jumping jacks and all of that, but it is not the same as playing football and you don't have the other 21 people. You are not getting your coverage reads. You are just not seeing the fronts. You are not seeing the adjustments. You are not running off plays. There is just no way to simulate it. How long it will take and what the adjustment is and all of that, I don't know. There definitely is a lot of catching up to do. We will just try to take it day-by-day and not really worry about Saturday right now. We will just worry about Monday. Tonight we will worry about Tuesday and then Tuesday[we will worry] about Wednesday and take it day-by-day and just see where it comes out.
Q: Does it look like Tom Ashworth is on track to play on Saturday?
BB: Same thing. We'll have to evaluate him day-by-day to see how it goes, see where he is. He's been working under our supervision, obviously, and that is good, but he hasn't played football either. You can hit the sled and the bags and all that, but it's just not the same, so we'll see where that is. I don't have any goals or expectations. We'll just take it on a case-by-case basis and see where we are when the time comes.
Q: Michael Jennings didn't play football in college—how hard is it to evaluate a player like that, and what do you look at?
BB: Well, you just have to look at his improvement and see how quickly he is improving and see how quickly things come to him, similar to Stephen Neal. It's the same type of situation, and we have gone through that. There's a long way to go, and we don't have a lot of time. It is not like you are in a college program where you have a four-year scholarship-- that is just not the way it works. So, the improvement has to come relatively quickly, and you have to feel like the player is going to have a chance to get to a point that he will be able to play in the league. And that is obviously a projection because you are not going to see enough of that quickly, enough to be sure, but you just go with what you do see and what he does prove and how much he has improved. And Michael has improved a lot. He was with us in the offseason, and I thought that all of his football skills improved significantly during the offseason and during training camp, which sometimes there is a lull or a backslide when you put all the players out there and the pads come on. But, it really hasn't for him. He still continues to improve and still has a long way to go, but he is certainly headed in the right direction and continues to show up and make plays for us in his role.
Q: Do you evaluate only on workouts because there is no college film on him?
BB: Well he was in Europe. We saw him in Europe. I actually saw him practice in Europe when I was down there in Tampa when they were doing their workout. And we had out other scouts out there, people from our scouting department who went down, and so we looked at the players in that league, both the ones who were playing and the ones like Michael who were released, and then we signed him after he was released from Berlin there when they were training in Tampa before they went over to start playing the games.
Q: How much better is Ty Warren as a technician in his second year?
BB: Better. Much better. He has improved quite a bit. I think that when he started he played a similar position at Texas A&M to what we play, he played the 3-4 and played left end. I think a lot of that was similar, I think our techniques maybe were a little different than what they did, although there were some similarities, but we see, obviously he has seen bigger people, he has seen some blocking schemes, we don't see the option on the veer and those kind of things. But I think it is definitely coming together for him. He's worked hard in the offseason, he has had a really good time leading up to training camp and he has been able to continue that, to take that work that he has had on an individual basis, even in the passing camps, and then apply it here in these training camps. He is in really good condition-- I think he is in a lot better physical condition than he was last year. Again, not that it was bad. It is just better.
Q: Having that offseason program in between helped him?
BB: Right. I talked to him about it, and I think that it is true of a lot of rookies. When the rookie is finished their college season, they train for the combine, they train for their spring workouts, they kind of do that type of training, as opposed to in our offseason program we are training for the season and we are training for the skills specific to their position that will make them better within our system. So I think that the training is a lot more position-specific, and it is with a goal that's what the player's goal really should be, which is to play football as opposed to do a few physical measuring tests, which is what we do with the college kids when they are coming out because that is what we can do. So, we all know the reasons why, but it is a lot more productive for them.
Q: Do you envision Warren being an every-down player?
BB: Well, I think that Ty can play on every down. What his role will be I don't know, but I think he can play on third down.
Q: Bobby Hamilton came off on third down last year, right?
BB: For the most part, yes.
Q: What is the thought process behind having a two-way player like Troy Brown and Dan Klecko? Is it just a preseason experiment?
BB: No, when you can only carry 45 players to a regular-season game, you can't have a backup for every spot. You have a couple kickers and a snapper, you have some quarterbacks and now you are down in the thirties. If you had one player backing up each spot, that is 44 guys right there and you just can't do it. As you get into your multiple-receiver and multiple-defensive back groups, your three wide receivers, your four wide receivers, your nickel and dime defenses, there is no way to carry 10 or 12 defensive backs or seven receivers or eight receivers into a game. That would be almost impossible. So, somehow either somebody has to learn two or three positions, multiple spots, or in some cases you take guys and use them on the other side of the ball, whether it is [Mike] Vrabel at tight end or whether it is [Richard] Seymour on offense or [Dan] Klecko on offense or [Troy] Brown on defense, or whatever it happens to be. We have used [David] Givens over there, we have used other guys before, so it is a way to build depth for your team, and hopefully you don't ever have to use it but sometimes you get into a situation where you do have to do that, and I think it is a lot easier to do it now than it is the day before the game to say, 'We want you to go learn this stuff over here,' and the guy has never had a chance to do it. That's hard.
Q: What was your final assessment of how Troy Brown did on Friday?
BB: Not bad. Not bad. I think that he has picked things up pretty quickly, and the fact that he has picked them up pretty quickly has enabled us to move along with him, so it is not like when he is in there we can only run one defense. We don't want to be in that situation, but I don't think that that is where we are headed. Not that he is going to be able to do everything, but I think he will have a good foundation and a pretty solid understanding to do what we need to do. Again, it is like putting Vrabel at tight end on the goal line—you don't want every play to be a running play so you don't have to send the guy out. Sooner or later he is going to have to learn the passing game and sooner or later hopefully he can make a play in the passing game. So, he is a legitimate player at the other position the way the other team looks at it, not just that we are putting a guy in there to take up space.
Q: Is there any one thing that makes Larry Izzo such a good special teams player?
BB: I think it is a combination of things. Number one is that Larry is a very instinctive player. He was a really productive player in college, and he has been a very productive player on defense and in the kicking game throughout his time in the league. Even though his defensive snaps have been limited, when he has played he has been productive in those snaps, for example, in the Buffalo game last year. But he is instinctive, he has a really good feel for the game, he is quick, he has a lot of strength for his size, and pound-for-pound he is a strong man, and he is very quick and he is instinctive. Larry works hard, he studies hard, a lot of times he anticipates things well and can kind of get a jump on the play, especially in the kicking game. And relative to a lot of players that he plays against, he is much more advanced and experienced and sometimes he can get some good keys on those and make the play kind of ahead of time. So all of those things work in his favor.
Q: Will the first offense and first defense get more time this weekend?
BB: We'll do it on a case-by-case basis. We don't really say 'Okay, these 20 guys are going to do this'. It is each player. Some guys will go longer and some guys will go shorter. It will depend on where we think the particular players are and what they need and what we are trying to get done. Generally speaking, I think that some of our veteran players will play more than they did against the Eagles, but we don't have any set thing for the 'starting team', if there is a starting team. I don't think there even is one right now. I think there are a lot of positions where there is a lot of competition and that is what we are waiting to see, is how it is all going to unfold.
Q: Did consistency on the offensive line last year make it easier to go through the first part of camp without your starting tackles? Did it make it easier to plug them in?
BB: I don't know about that. We have a lot of guys playing here this year that didn't play last year. We were anxious to see how they would come along. Like [Jamil] Soriano, [Gene] Mruczkowski, [Stephen] Neal didn't play at all, Brandon Gorin had very little playing time in the regular season, [Adrian] Klemm missed a good part of the year, even though they had played before. But some of those guys hadn't played at all, like in a Mruczkowski case and Soriano and guys like that, other guys didn't have much playing time, like in Gorin's situation, [Bob] Hallen wasn't with us last year. We had a lot of new faces there. They got a lot of reps and we needed to see how all of them were going to fit together and they are playing multiple positions. They aren't all just playing one spot. They are moving around. And, again, when you take seven offensive linemen to a game, then somebody has to play more than one spot. You just can't take 10 linemen and have a backup for every position like you do in college. You just can't do it that way