BB: A couple of updates we…Willie [McGinest] started practicing yesterday. So we'll start to work him back into the program a little bit here, kind of like we did with Brandon [Mitchell] last week. Brandon is doing a little bit more than he did last week. Ray Hill had surgery on his knee yesterday so he'll go on injured reserve at some point here in the near future. I spoke with Andy Katzenmoyer yesterday and the doctors have convened on this. Andy is going to have surgery on his neck in the near future and then he'll most likely be placed on injured reserve as well, when that occurs. Expectations are that he'll have full recovery and be back for the 2002 season. I think that's what the expectations are from everyone. So that is a little closer to being resolved than it was yesterday. As far as the Tampa game goes, I think this is…as I have told the team I think this is a good test for us this week going on the road, playing against a good football team, in hostile territory. We played Tampa in the third preseason game last year and it was a little different because we opened with them two weeks later. But I think it will be a good test for our team to see how we deal with this team and this situation. We've looked back at those last two games from last year, the opener and the third preseason game, and hopefully we'll be able to see some improvement from the way we played them last time. I know they've made a few changes, but essentially it is a good team. It's a playoff team. We played them twice last year so we have a little bit of a level of where they are at. So our preparations will pick up today as I said yesterday. It will kind of be like a regular season week for us in terms of our preparation. I think our players need to get into that routine where they are thinking more, a real focus on the next opponent rather than training camp where there is a lot of installation and working on our things. Now the emphasis is more on how it is specifically geared towards the next opponent.
Q: Andy Katzenmoyer had surgery before, what wasn't taken care of that is now going to cost you a player for a year?
BB: The surgery that he had the last time didn't quite take care of it and the expectations are that this will.
Q: In the same area?
Q: Same surgery?
BB: I think it is a different procedure.
Q: Same doctor?
BB: I believe it is.
Q: In your thinking, how much of a hit is this for you?
BB: Well this really occurred back in July at the start of training camp. When Andy wasn't out on the field in July, whenever that was the 22nd or somewhere back in there, whatever it was, we were working without him then. We've brought in a couple of players that in one way or another factor into the depth at that position. So we have kind of been without him since then and nothing has changed from yesterday to today as far as that goes. Certainly we would like to have Andy out on the field. We'd like to have been working with him all the way through camp, but that didn't work out. So we have already kind of been in the process of moving along and we'll continue that process.
Q: Is this at all a lesson to all the players to listen to their bodies? He had medical clearance but still experienced discomfort and knew something was wrong?
BB: I don't think that was the case. No, I don't think that was the case. I think that Andy went in…I think Andy and the medical staff and all of us went into camp this year expecting that his problem was resolved. As it turned out it wasn't. So when we started having contact and he had some further problems, then it was readdressed.
Q: What offensive linemen will be practicing this week, of the guys that have been out?
BB: They will all be out there except for [Mike] Compton and Adam Davis.
Q: [Adrian] Klemm and [Matt] Light will be full go? No red jerseys?
BB: They are out there. Quarterbacks will be in the red jerseys this week, I don't think we have anybody else.
Q: So is the expectation that those guys will be in on Saturday?
BB: It's possible. It's possible. They haven't done a lot of full contact work, so we will see how it goes today. We'll see what kind of effects they have tomorrow and make a decision on what we think they can do Saturday. If we can play them without risking a setback, we will. If we can't, we won't. We'll wait a little bit longer.
Q: Will you play Klemm at left tackle?
BB: That's where we'd like to work him. Again, a little bit like Andy's situation, we haven't had him there so we have had to work other people, but we'd still like to work Adrian at that spot.
Q: Do you have some unfinished business at nose tackle? Is there anything coming there down the stretch?
BB: Well I don't know what's coming down the stretch. I can't predict what is going to happen. If we have an opportunity to improve the team, I think that we've shown this year that we will do that. Whether that will present itself or not, I don't know. I think that Garrett [Johnson] and Jace Sayler are both making good progress at that position. They've improved since the beginning of camp and in both the preseason games. I think that some of the experience that Garrett gained last year playing when Chad [Eaton] was out and later on in the season when we had a little bit of a rotation going there, that he has benefited from that experience. So we need to keep our depth on our team and probably work another guy or two in there just so that we have a third person that can play the spot in case something were to happen to one of those two. I think they are making good progress, but if we had a chance to upgrade it, or add some depth to it, I would rule it out.
Q: How is Stephen Neal doing?
BB: Steve is making progress.
Q: He's in the offensive line stuff, right?
BB: Yeah, he still is. He is. We played him a little bit more last week against Carolina and I think he did a lot better against Carolina than he did against the Giants. He's definitely making some progress; of course he's probably got more ground to make up than anybody.
Q: Do you see him more of an offensive guy rather than defense? Seems like a wrestler would be more of a defensive guy?
BB: Well, I think you could make a case for either one. The thing that he's got going for him on offense right now is he is getting a lot more of an opportunity. He is getting a lot more reps. We have a little bit less depth on the offensive line and I think he has adapted to it well. But I am not positive what his best position is. I think that he's…regardless of what happens to him he benefits from, if he plays defense he has a little bit better understanding of what is going on on offense or vice versa. I think the fact that he is on offense now, that he benefited from being on defense, because he has some idea of what's going on over there, with the emphasis on some. But in the long run, I'm not sure. We want to keep working with him, but he's got a ways to go.
Q: There have been a lot of positives in the first two preseason games, have you pinpointed areas that need improvement?
BB: Well some of the things that we need to improve from the first two games offensively would be our red area production. We are still not getting the ball in the end zone enough. We've had some problems on defense that I don't think have been…on particular times we had some break downs that didn't show up on the plays for different reasons, but we need to tighten that up a little bit. I'd like to see us get our punt return going a little bit and based on the Carolina game I think our kickoff coverage needs some work. I'd say overall there's…we've played quite a few people in the first two games, but so have all the other teams. But I think that one thing that we really need to start improving on as a team is just our consistency. We have some good plays and some plays that aren't so good. We need to level that off a little bit and be acceptable to good rather than kind of bouncing around, because those mistakes, whether they show up in preseason or not, will eventually start showing up sooner or later.
Q: Along those lines, when do you start giving the players you know you are going to be counting on this season more time, versus evaluating other players?
BB: I think we did that last week and I think we are in that mode now. There's still some competition going on on the team and I just don't think it is fair in the long run to make a decision when really the players are still that close. So there's a little bit of that going on, but we tried to play our players that we think will be getting more playing time, against Carolina. We'll continue to do that. We also spotted in some of our depth guys at the positions. You know a new group of receivers, a new tight end, or we have a little rotation going at linebacker, corner and at safety. But I think that that's still pretty healthy. But we'll do more of that. It will be more of a continuation of what we did against Carolina, maybe a little bit longer into the game so we can get those guys more plays under fire. But to answer your question, the process has already begun. We just need to do more of it.
Q: Given the veterans you have brought in, would you expect to see more consistency than you are right now?
BB: No, I think overall that they've handled themselves pretty well. But every time there is a new situation and they experience it under pressure there's something to be gained from it and I think that they'll see it that much quicker the next time it happens. Whether it is linemen passing off games or a running back reading a whole a little bit better or a blocking scheme. You know we had a couple plays in the running game, I think two with Antowain [Smith] one with J.R. [Redmond], where the way they anticipated the block was just a little bit different than the way it happened. They had some hesitation in there cut. And you look at it and say 'maybe they should have cut the other way,' but they were anticipating one thing happening and the blocker did a little bit differently. So there are thing like that…
Q: Is that a familiarity thing?
BB: Definitely. Right. It's them fully understanding what their teammate is going to do in that situation so that the next time they can not be hesitant, waiting to see what is going to happen, but be confident that this is what is going to take place and they can handle their assignment with the same level of aggressiveness. I mean that is just an example, I think an easy one, but there are a number of other ones like that, between a linebacker and a safety or between two linebackers, little things like that that can be tuned up a little bit. But I think the players are…when we give them something they understand it. There is a lot of conversation both in practice and in games between players, between the teammates trying to work things out. 'Here's what I saw. Here's what I am going to do. OK, good. This is how I am going to play off it,' and that kind of thing. It is very encouraging to see that kind of communication and teamwork taking place. We're definitely headed in the right direction there. We've still got a ways to go, but we are making good progress.
Q: Is there more importance in getting those offensive linemen back of the example you cited?
BB: It would be great to have that, yes. It would be great to have that. We can't play with them until we can get them out there. It would have been beneficial to have them longer than we have had them, but that is the way it is we'll just have to do the best we can. Guys that can work together longer, particularly through training camp and the preseason games, I think are that much more ready to go when the regular season starts. But we haven't been able to do that in every position this year.
Q: Is anybody stepping up at tight end?
BB: I think that's a pretty competitive position. We played a lot of multiple tight end formations last week so that we could get all those guys involved in the game. We'll probably try to keep doing that this week, I'm not saying necessarily to use a lot of two and three tight ends but use some of it and also try to get a good look at all those guys. That's a position where we'd really like to settle on one guy. I'm not sure that one guy has really taken over that. We haven't had a lot of production from that position in the passing game in the first two games and we'd like to see that.
Q: What is happening with [Jabari] Holloway and [Arther] Love?
BB: Love is on, he's on the PUP [Physically Unable to Perform] list. And Holloway injured his hamstring and he is getting better but still not back yet.
Q: Is your defense, in your view, improved? And why?
BB: I think we are better on defense than we were last year. One, we've added some players and we have much better depth, particularly at the linebacker and defensive back positions. I think that the second year in the system has helped a lot of the carry-over guys. Even some of the new guys who were in, like [Anthony] Pleasant, [Roman] Phifer, [Bryan] Cox, guys like that. Otis Smith who wasn't here through training camp last year, but…are guys who have been in a similar system or in the system that we are playing, before. So even though they are new there's quite a bit of carry over on those players. Even guys like Sayler and [T.J.] Turner, from college, have some carry over, not directly in this system, but its pretty close. So I think those things are a factor too. I think that Romeo [Crennel], as I said when we hired him, I think is a very good addition to the coaching staff and especially the defensive staff. I think that he's done a real good job of blending things together both on the coaching staff and with the players. So I think that we are better in those areas. We still need to produce it on the field, but from practices and from preseason games I think there are a lot of good signs there.
Q: Do you anticipate as you go into the week, Robert Edwards playing against Tampa Bay?
BB: I'd say less than 50-50.
Q: Is your focus right now just getting him in to practice right now?
BB: He definitely needs to get into practice before we can play him.
Q: Is he going to practice this week?
BB: I would say probably not today. It may be limited, but I don't think he will be doing all the things out there today. I think Robert is getting better. I think physically he is close to being through his groin injury, but I don't think that he's quite there yet. It's day to day and those things sometimes can…sometimes they linger, sometimes they clear up. You know we'll monitor him every day, but we don't want put him to out there before he is ready to go.
Q: Has anyone separated themselves in the running back competition?
BB: I think that the running back position is shaping up about probably like we expected it would. The players involved there have different strengths and they are not the same. Antowain Smith has different skills as a player than Kevin Faulk, but they both have significant skills. J.R.'s in a little bit different category, but he has done good things too. I think what we are in the process of doing right now is trying to find the best way to utilize the talent that we have at that position, both at running back and at fullback because they are interrelated there with Marc [Edwards] and Patrick [Pass]. They have both been productive. So I think we want to try to find the best combination, the best mix. And that is still a little bit of a work in progress. But to answer your question, I don't think one guy is at the point where he is going to be out there taking every snap.
Q: You said J.R. is in a different situation than Antowain and Kevin, what do you mean by that?
BB: Well I don't think that J.R. is the same player that Kevin is. I think he has different skills. He's bigger.
Q: So they all have different skills, all three?
BB. Yeah. Right.
Q: I didn't know if you meant from a progress level?
BB: Oh, no. No. I think they've all worked hard. They've all been healthy, other than Antowain missing the first day or so of practice, two days, whatever it was. Those guys have been out there everyday. Marc Edwards, Patrick Pass, Walter Williams, they haven't missed any time. They've continued to progress through camp. I am just saying that physically, both physically and in their style of play they're different. They contrast. Not to say that one style is better than another, but they clearly are different.
Q: Getting back to Andy for a minute, he had surgery in November and came back. Is there a worry that you will go through this all over again or did they doctors say we need to go in and do this to alleviate it?
BB: The later. No question…rest assured that that question has been asked. Are we going to be having the same conversation again at some later point in time, next August or next July, or whatever it is? That question has been asked very specifically and I feel confident and the doctors feel confident that this will take care of it. I think this is a little bit like, it's different, but I think it is a little bit like the situation with Willie that a more conservative approach was taken and it was calculated that that would take care of the problem with Andy. Evidently it hasn't and this is something that could have been done before, but it wasn't felt it was necessary. Now I think everybody realizes that this will do it, that this will take care of it. And had we known it would turn out this way I'm sure that everybody would have decided to do it this way the first time. That was the same situation with Willie at the end of the year last year. The determination was made by several medical people that a conservative approach would probably take care of it with some supplementary exercises and so forth. Then when we got to mini camp and started doing some things it didn't look like that was going to quite get it. Then we went with the next procedure with Willie. It's different, but I think there are some similarities there. Yeah we fully expect that Andy will be ready to go next year. I think that he expects that. I think the doctors expect it and everybody feels confident that this will take care of it.
Q: All the doctors agree on this?
BB: I think that everybody concludes that this is a proper step to take at this time.
Q: How much do you expect Drew Bledsoe and the first team to play this week?
BB: You know that is a tough question because the last two preseason games we have had a lot of snaps on offense. I think we have been right around 80 plays in both games, which is on the high side. So I think that they may be in the game a little bit longer than they were last week against Carolina, but whether that translates into more plays or not, I am not sure because we did have a high number of plays, particularly last week in the first half. But even in both games we had a high number of plays offensively. When you say play more does it mean playing more plays, not necessarily? Does it mean they will be in the game longer? I would think that this week they will be in the game longer, yes.
Q: Would you like to see them play the first and second quarter continuously? Or is it not that big a deal?
BB: I don't think it is that big a deal. I would like to see our players who are going to be playing the most during the regular season come back and play in the second half. I'd like to see them go into the locker room, talk about the adjustments, mentally go through the process of coming off the field and then going back on and playing again. Now some of our guys did that last week, but not all of them and I think the ones that didn't we want to get in to that and have them experience that in preparation for the season.
Q: Is PUP an option for Robert to give him an extra six weeks?
BB: No. No. PUP is only…the only player who has a PUP option would be Arther Love because he has not been on the field practicing. He's just been rehabbing his injury. All the other players, Willie as of yesterday, have been practicing so that…it is one or the other. Once they practice there is no PUP.
Q: Coaches handle things differently, for you is this game like a dress rehearsal or is the final preseason game more like a dress rehearsal?
BB: I don't really think of it in terms of dress rehearsals. I think of it in terms of getting our team ready to play the regular season. There are different things that we feel like need to be accomplished, some of them you get in one game, some of them you get in another game, some of them you get cumulatively. So I think there are certain things we want to accomplish in this game that say we didn't get done in the last game against Carolina. On the other hand I think there were some things we did against Carolina that we won't do in this game. So to me it is part of a process that leads up to trying to have your team ready for the opening game. There are some aspects of this game that, maybe length of playing time being one of them, are things that would be more unique to this game than maybe the second one.