BB: We made two roster moves yesterday, releasing Dan Hadenfeldt and Tony George. I'll just say a quick word about Tony. I think that Tony has made a lot of improvement from last year. I told him that yesterday when we released him. We have a lot of competition at safety and too many players to give the reps to that are available. But I think that Tony's going to play somewhere in the league and he's improved quite a bit and he's got some good qualities for a football player. I felt like my relationship with Tony really grew in the last year. But it just isn't going to work out here and I think that this gives him an opportunity to find a team where he can fit in from a scheme standpoint a little bit better than how he will here. I felt like I needed to give him that opportunity, because he really has worked hard and has given us a really good effort the entire camp.
We had a few players come back out to practice, so that's a good sign. Of course, Torrance [Small] probably won't be doing much for a couple of days. He'll try to stay off that leg. We'll see where he is in a few days. But otherwise, we're getting some guys back and that's good. Brandon Mitchell was in pads today for us and you saw Terrence [Shaw] and Adrian [Klemm] out there. Robert [Edwards] was ready to go this morning. We held him out with the wet field, but he'll be out there this afternoon. I just didn't think this was the right day to start back. And [Joe] Andruzzi, [Leonard] Myers… so that's good. Andy [Katzenmoyer], I think is waiting to get just a little bit more information on his situation and then I'm sure he'll make some type of decision fairly soon. So that's really… I don't want to speak for him, but I'll say that just on his situation, I just think he's waiting for a little more to come in and then decide what he's going to do.
I had a chance this weekend to think about the staff situation. I talked to the coaches and of course spent some time with Charlie [Weis] and what we're going to do this year is we're not going to add any new people. I'm going to help Charlie out on some of the things that Dick [Rehbein] would have been doing and we're going to have to redistribute the workload a little bit, with one less person doing it, amongst the other members of the staff. But we talked about some different options, and there were a couple of things we could have done both internally and externally, bringing in someone outside of the organization, but after all was said and done and after giving it quite a bit of thought and consideration, we all feel, and I definitely feel, that this is the best thing to do for us right now. This is obviously not the way we want to do it, but given the alternatives, I think this is the best thing for us and we'll make it work, so that's what we're going to do there. In no way, shape or form am I the offensive coordinator. That's Charlie's job. Again, I'm just going to help him with some of the things that I think we can use one more person on that side of the ball to work on. And so that's how we're going to handle that and we're going to do forward with that, we've already started to, and I'll just spend a little more time on the offensive side of the ball than I had in the last couple of weeks. So that's my update.
Q: Bill, can you talk a little bit about what kind of defense you think Tony George might fit a little better into as opposed to your scheme?
BB: I think Tony's a hard hitter. He's a tough, physical player and I think the best part of his game is playing in the box: contact. And our safeties do that some, but they also have some other responsibilities. But just overall, I think the competition at that spot's good. We have a couple of young players that we like. There's a lot of competition there and I think that's the way it would have turned out and I think to give Tony the best opportunity that we can… We could have kept him on the roster all the way to the end because we have the exemption from Europe and all that… But because I really have a lot of respect for the way that Tony's competed and gone about his job in camp, I felt that this was the fair thing to do with him.
Q: Whether [Terry] Glenn were here or not, you'd still be playing the first four games of the season without him, so from that standpoint, whose roles change, and who has increased opportunities?
BB: Well, all the receivers are in competition for playing time and I think that we have good competition at that position. I think it showed up Friday night against the Giants. We had a lot of people involved in the passing game. Not everybody, but I think that we'll be able to work everybody in this week, some of the guys that didn't get as many opportunities last week hopefully will get more this week and there's bee plenty of that competition on the field in practice and against the Giants in practice, so that will all work itself out. We'll put them out there, let them play, and the guys that perform the best will get more opportunities than the guys that don't perform as well.
Q: Are you hoping for somebody to step into the role as the go-to-guy?
BB: We'll see what happens. There's nothing orchestrated, but they're good players, they're experienced players, they've played in the NFL and they've produced in the NFL, so we'll just let them play and see what they can do.
Q: Obviously it's early, but would you keep more receivers… do you have a number in mind right now?
BB: We'll keep the 53 best players, whoever they are, and that includes offense, defense and special teams. And as a coach, you always have to have an eye for where a player will be in time, younger players. So I think every team has situations, I've certainly had a lot of them in the past where you have younger players who aren't quite ready now, but you feel like in time they will be and sometimes they don't necessarily outperform another player in training camp, but if you think that they have the potential to do that and you feel confident that in the end, they will pass them, then sometimes you wind up keeping them. So that's what all the decisions will come down to and special teams will be a big factor for any skill positions, not so much the offensive and defensive linemen, but all the skill positions, as to what our final roster makeup is. That's an important area for us, as we saw Friday night against the Giants. Special teams was a big factor in the game.
Q: Bill, do you get the sense that Andy's hurdle is more a mental hurdle than a physical one at this point?
BB: I don't know. You'd have to talk to him about that.
Q: Bill, do you feel like any of the receivers are standing out?
BB: I think all the receivers have flashed some very positive signs. I think that what we're really looking for is consistency, and I'm hesitant to jump on a bandwagon or, for that matter, jump off of one. After the first preseason game, it's going to come down to consistency in terms of assignments, getting open, catching the ball, running after the catch, being dependable and recognizing different coverages and that kind of thing. I think there's a lot in the bank, but before we anoint anybody or don't anoint them as the case may be, you still want to give them more of a chance here under game conditions. Pretty soon we're going to have to come to that point, but I don't think we're there yet… maybe in a week or two, we'll start to really zero in on that. But right now, all the quarterbacks are getting work with all the receivers. Troy Brown is pretty clearly at the head of the class, I assume you're talking about after that, but they're getting work with all of them and I think it's good work, so…
Q: It seems like David Patten has been doing things that have been getting people's attention.
BB: David's an explosive player. He's got good speed, he's a vertical threat in the passing game and he's been a good kick returner. He didn't get a lot of opportunities to run after the catch against the Giants, but that's something that he has done in the past and has returned kicks. David has some real strengths in terms of speed and his ability to spread the defense.
Q: Bill, how does Brian Cox compare to the best linebackers you've seen in pro football?
BB: Well, Bryan has a little bit of a unique style. He's a very productive player and that's the bottom line. Bryan's smart. He's extremely smart. He understands offensive football, he anticipates plays well, he reads things quickly in the game and I think that one of Bryan's biggest strengths is that he's decisive. He'll make some mistakes out there, but he makes them going full speed and sometimes even when he doesn't do it exactly the right way, it can still be a productive play because he's so decisive. He doesn't stand around and watch. He goes… Guys like Lawrence Taylor and guys like that played that way, too, and Taylor screwed up plenty of things, but he did them at a speed that was sometimes more disruptive to the offense than maybe even if he'd done the right thing, so Bryan's that kind of player. He's a real physical player and he's a very decisive player. He's always on the move. He's got some third down rush ability, he's had it through his career, and he's best in close quarters.
Q: Do think that to some extent, Cox is unfairly characterized by all the fines he has accrued?
BB: I can't speak for anybody else, but from my experience with him with the Jets, I can't remember him ever being fined, I can't remember him having any kind of discipline problem, being late for anything or having any type of conflict with any of the defensive coaches or the head coach, so I really can't comment on what happened in Chicago or Miami or Western Illinois or anything else, so I haven't seen that, no.
Q: Has Cox worked to be as good as you expected him to be in finding his role on the defense?
BB: Yes. I think Bryan's becoming more comfortable with… he knows the system, but he's becoming comfortable with the players around him. There's a lot of communication involved when you're a middle linebacker, with the linemen, with your linebacker teammates who are out there, at times with the safeties and… again, Bryan's very… he's verbal and he's definitive. Again, sometimes – this was true in New York too – sometimes he'd make the wrong call, but he made it decisively, so everybody played it and there was never a situation where half the team's playing one thing and half the team's playing somebody else because the quarterback or the signal caller, in this case on defense, couldn't get it out. It was decisive. And that's really what we need. When we make a call, we need it to be decisive and we need everybody to go with it, even if it's the wrong thing at that time, but we're better off than half and half. I think that Bryan's definitely becoming integrated into the team in a positive way.
Q: Do you see him as a leader for the defense?
BB: Bryan has leadership qualities. Absolutely has leadership qualities.
Q: Have you heard anything from Terry Glenn?
BB: I haven't talked to Terry Glenn. No.
Q: Is there anything planned?
BB: No news here.
Q: Can you define Bryan's unique style?
BB: I think if you took all the linebackers in the league or all the linebackers coming out in Indianapolis in the draft or something like that, you'd probably see guys that have some different athletic skills than Bryan has. For example, I don't think there are too many middle linebackers in the league that would be rushers on third down. That's usually not the fit that they have. They either cover on third down or they're off the field on third down. So that's kind of a unique package. Bryan has a lot of explosiveness going forward. Now, again, that's more of the trait of an outside linebacker than an inside linebacker. Guys who are outside linebackers rush a lot, whereas Bryan's inside and he does that. Athletically, he's a little bit of a defensive end, he's a little bit of a middle linebacker. Mentally, he's a little bit of a coach. So his package is kind of unique.
Q: What percentage of plays do you have in mind for Cox?
BB: No, there's no set percentage. We'll see how it works out. I think Bryan will contribute and I think our other linebackers will contribute, too.
Q: He'll definitely be out there on third down?
BB: No, I wouldn't say that. He could be. I think we have some depth on third down and we'll just see how that best fits together. Bryan gives us some depth in the third down rushers, but whether his role will be more on first down and less than third, or more on third down and less on first, or maybe split evenly, I think that will work itself out here in the next couple of weeks. We've got a couple of people defensively coming back that could fit into that picture too and we'll have to see how that goes, with Willie [McGinest], with Brandon [Mitchell], guys who we really haven't seen thus far in camp. So we'll see how that all fits together.
Q: You and Bryan seem to have a lot of mutual respect. How did that come about?
BB: Just working together. And working under pressure. You really find out a lot about people when you're in tough situations. When it's the middle of the fourth quarter and it gets tight. But Bryan's very bright. He's a smart, smart guy and he gets things very quickly. A lot of times, he gets things before I do. He'll come off the field and say, 'Here's what they're doing.' And then you take a look at it and you say, 'Yeah, you're right. I see that now.' Or sometimes it's the other way around. 'Hey Bryan, here's what they're doing.' 'Oh yeah, I don't know why it took me so long. I understand completely now.' You know, how they're packaging plays together, or why they're shifting, or why the formations are set the way they are, or how they're trying to create a certain mismatch, or attack the defense. So he's very, very good that way. I can't really speak for what his reputation is externally, but in my dealings with him, he's sharp and he's very good under pressure, too. The pressure of the game doesn't get to him.
Q: At what point did the two of you realize that you two were on the same page?
BB: I don't think I was ever not on the same page with him. As you go further into any relationship, you start off kind of neutral and see how it goes and then it starts off positively and then the more you work together and the better results you have together, then maybe the more positive it gets. So I think it grew through time. Certainly in the '98 season, when we won a lot of games and played pretty well on defense, and Bryan played a significant role in that. Looking back on it, I'd say that was a good year for all of us.
Q: Bill, now that you've had a few days to dissect Friday night, were there any areas that were better than you thought? Any that were not quite as good as you thought they were going to be?
BB: One of the best things in the game, although far from perfect, was the play of our special teams. They were good in terms of controlling field position. Our specialists were pretty good, not great, but pretty good. Our coverage teams were pretty good. Offensively, I thought that we hung in there. I would have liked to have seen us get the ball in the end zone more than we did. We were down there; we had some opportunities and didn't come out of there with touchdowns. Defensively, we did a pretty good job on the running game. There weren't a lot of holes in there and we were able to bat down some passes. I thought there were a few breakdowns on defense that didn't show up in the game, but they will eventually if we don't get them fixed. But, I'd say those were the main areas that I talked to the team about and I think just generally how my reaction to the game was.
Q: How did Antowain Smith look in the game and how has he progressed throughout camp?
BB: Antowain Smith got a couple of opportunities to run… get started… got around the corner one time. Antowain runs hard. He's a powerful runner. He can get his pads down. He ran a couple of people over, and that's the style of runner that he is. He's not a Barry Sanders, make four moves behind the line of scrimmage kind of guy. He's a north-south runner. He's strong. He's powerful. He's tough. When he got chances to do that, I thought he did it and we'll give him some more chances here in the next couple of weeks. I thought that J.R. [Redmond] ran well, too. I was pleased with what he did. There weren't a lot of holes when J.R. was in there. I thought he broke a couple of tackles and made his own hole a couple of times. I'd like to see those guys continue to carry the ball, and see how their durability is and see how their production is, as we add some more games and some more carries onto it. I'd say in general, I was happy with the running backs, whether it be [Patrick] Pass, Marc Edwards, Antowain Smith, J.R., even Walter Williams… they were all able to pick up some yards after the initial hit or after the first guy had a shot at them. And that's good, whether it's running a guy over, or avoiding them, or however they do it. That's really what we're looking for, is positive yardage, and what they can get on their own and they all showed some of that.
Q: How far has Robert Edwards fallen behind?
BB: He was pretty far behind to start with. He hasn't played in two years. He really hasn't done anything in this camp; he was only out there for two days. I'd say he's about as far behind as you can get for a training camp, other than those two days of practice.
Q: What's the extent of Roman Phifer's injury?
BB: It's no big… he'll be out there this afternoon. He's all right.
Q: Coach, would you be surprised if Andy retired?
BB: Yeah, probably. But I've been surprised before at this camp on a retirement, so it wouldn't be unprecedented, but I would be surprised.
Q: Coach, can you talk about the performance of Tom Brady and Damon Huard on Friday?
BB: I thought both of them did a good job. I though they both did a real good job. I thought they handled the team well, especially Damon, he got hit on that two minute drive on the first play there when he scrambled behind the line of scrimmage and threw it to [David] Patten on the sideline. He got hit pretty good, was kind of woozy and was really able to regain his composure and drive down and set up a field goal there at the end of the half. I thought he handled himself well. Both players had some pressure and were able to stay in the pocket and either get rid of the ball and make a positive play. Now both players got down there, had their teams down there and weren't able to get it into the end zone, so I'd like to see those drives finished off. Part of that was the passing game, part of it was the running game, but overall, I thought that they handled themselves well and didn't have communication problems, didn't have assignment problems and that kind of thing, and were productive moving the ball.
Q: Is the team ahead of where you were last year at this point?
BB: Overall, I think we're much more competitive. The offensive line is probably similar to where we were last year in terms of what we're playing with, although I think the players that are returning have some upside and we have a chance to fit that together and be okay there, but until that happens, we're not as strong at that position as we'd like to be.
Q: Is Robert Edwards a great unkown?
BB: I don't know what he can do. He hasn't played in two years. I'd like to see what he can do. It's unfortunately, because Robert's worked hard, he's trained hard. Had a little bit of a problem in mini camp that really hasn't totally cleared up. Came out in training camp and got set back again. So I know he's anxious to be out there. We're anxious to see him out there, but until he's out there, he's not out there. It just keeps adding on to the time that he's missed already. It's frustrating for everybody, but we've got to move forward. Nobody's going to hold the season for me, him, or anybody else.
Q: But Bill, do you have the luxury of waiting much longer to make a decision at that position?
BB: The longer it goes, the harder it gets. No doubt about it. The longer it goes, the harder it gets. And that's not just him. There's other guys in that boat, too. Players that have done relatively little in camp for whatever their circumstances are, for one reason or another, the longer it goes, the harder it gets.
Q: Coach, can you talk about what Richard Seymour is able to do in terms of his progress?
BB: I think Richard's made quite a bit of progress in the last two weeks. Richard's a bright guy, he's a hard working guy, he's very diligent and really goes about his job very professionally for a young man, particularly in the situation that he's in right now. But like any defensive lineman or any rookie, he's got a lot of things to learn, so he's learning about pass rush, he's learning about playing a little bit different system of defense compared to what he played at Georgia in terms of playing on the tackle and playing more square rather than playing in a gap. But he's made solid progress in all those techniques and all those areas. He works hard with the veteran players like [Anthony] Pleasant and [Bobby] Hamilton, and I think he's come along pretty well. But he's still got a long way to go, just like they all do.
Q: Coach, is the number two quarterbacking job still up in the air? Is that Huard's job to lose, or is it a battle between three guys?
BB: Huard's the number two quarterback until somebody beats him out, based on the fact that he's played and won games in the National Football League, which is pretty hard to do. The other two quarterbacks haven't done that yet, I'm talking about the regular season, so I think that's Damon's… As long as he can maintain the level of play that we think will produce that like it has in the past, he'll be the number two quarterback. I don't think that there's necessarily a huge amount of separation between the quarterbacks after Drew [Bledsoe], but Damon's ahead.