**B:** We started the game preparations today. This is the first time that we were actually preparing for plays that another team runs. Part of the practice today was geared towards simulating the San Francisco offense, defense, punt rush, and things like that. One of the things that we have to do as a team is to learn how to practice with each other, so that we can give the other side a good look, but at the same time not make it so ridiculously easy that it doesn't simulate game conditions. We want to get as close to the timing as we possibly can, but at the same time let the offense and defense perform their jobs and plays. Today we were up and down on the practice tempo. First it was way down and then at the end it was probably on the boarder line of getting a little out of control. That is something we need to adjust a little bit. We were working on the running game this morning and we're working on the passing game this afternoon. Tomorrow we'll try to put it all together in a down distance situation, and we'll try to hit all the phases, the red area, the goal-line, and short yardage. Then Sunday we pack it up and go to Ohio. That's where we're at.
Q: Can you talk about some of the younger guys who seem to be getting a lot of time, (Greg) Robinson-Randall, (Reggie) Grimes, and Adam Davis in particular?
B: On the offensive line we started Adam at left guard and swung him over to right guard, so he's really been working at both guard spots. We had Jason inside, but then had to move him out. Rob Ryan was with Adam at Oklahoma State, of course Rob coached on defense, and while we were getting ready for the draft we quite a bit of background on Adam from Rob. I have a good feel for the player in terms of toughness and his competitiveness and being the type of player that we want on the offensive line. He's come in and really worked hard. He's had a lot of opportunity because of the injuries, and he's really done a good job of taking advantage of those. Greg (Robinson-Randall) has really worked hard, and, boy I almost hesitate to say this because when you say it, it usually turns the other way, but Greg has worked as hard as any rookie that I can remember having. He came in overweight. He's been working out four or five times a day, both practices plus extra conditioning sessions with Mike (Woicik). He's lost quite a bit of weight. He's been out on the field every practice. He's taken close to every snap. He doesn't make very many mistakes. He's been very diligent in his preparation and his effort out there. He's done a nice job. He'll probably go out there today and give up seven sacks. No, he just plugs along. He's a quiet kid and doesn't say much, but he's always there.
Q: In the past you've had pretty good success with guys like that. You know (Corwin) Brown, and (Jason) Fabini. What is it you look for in these young guys?
B: Number one is to be able to work hard. We tell the scouts that if they don't want to work hard, then don't even bring them in because for an offensive lineman there is no glory in it. It's just playing out there in the mud and there's contact on every play. You bang away and have a lot of assignments. If they're not mentally tough and physically tough then they won't last. Greg comes from a tough program. He was at Michigan State, and I know Nick Saban very well. I coached with him for four years at Cleveland, and he runs a tough program. When Nick says they're tough, they're tough. He said Greg's tough, and he is right, Greg is. To finish the question on Reggie Grimes, Reggie was a player who really didn't start at Alabama last year. We saw him a lot when we were scouting Cornelius Griffin, who the Giants drafted. Reggie was part of the rotation. The way that Alabama plays their defense is with ends that are very fast up field. They're pretty good too. There will be some defensive linemen drafted out of there this year, next year, and probably the year after that. They have some guys that are pretty good, but they have ends that are more of a one-gap type and that are real good pass rushers and very athletic. I would say that Reggie is more of a two-gap type of player even though he played one-gap in college. I think that our style of play fits him a little better than what he was asked to do in college. He needs just a little more background in doing it. He is another one like Greg, kind of a quiet kid. He's very diligent. He takes coaching well and you can see some improvement everyday. Those guys that improve everyday, we have enough days here, it's kind of hard to hold them back. It's the ones that don't improve everyday that people pass up. It has been hard for the other players to move further ahead of Reggie because he's continually taking another step up the ladder. He's been a real positive, but it's an unusual situation where you look at a guy who didn't start in college, and now he's in a position where he's receiving considerable playing time.
Q: It's always paramount to find somebody with talent, but in terms of work ethic, for the kind of line play that you want, is it somehow easier to make good football players out of guys whose talent doesn't just jump out at you, as opposing to looking at linebackers, or corners, or receivers? Is it a different measure for lineman?
B: It's a good question. To digress for just a second. We are in the process of making some changes in our scouting department. Even the scouts that were here previously, our system is new for them, and we've added some new people. We've spent quite a bit of time with our entire scouting staff going over what we are looking for in players. When we send them out to scout we say, 'here are the things that we want at this position, and here are the things that we want at that position.' Without being long winded about that and just to take it to the defensive line, the two major criteria would be physical and mental toughness and strength because that is what we ask them to do. We ask them to be physically and mentally tough, to hang in there every play, play after play after play, and they have to be able to hold the line of scrimmage and hold the point of attack. You could have a strong guy but he's not really mentally tough and every other play he's getting rolled out of there. Then after he gets rolled out he plays more aggressively, but then two plays later it's the same thing again. We just can't live with that. On the other hand a player who is undersized might play hard, but if he just can't hold the point of attack, then he gets washed back into out linebackers and our linebackers can't play. Those two criteria are important for us on the defensive line. If you take a kid who is tough and he is strong then there's something for us to work with.
Q: How about on the offensive line?
B: I think that the players need to have, I don't want to say intelligence, but I want to say football intelligence, and they need the ability to adjust and adapt to a lot of different things. You have different protections and then you have different running plays and you also have different looks from the defense, so on the offensive line you have to recognize where everybody is and how we're going to block this. That involves a lot of communication on the line and a lot of recognition. Defensively, as a defensive lineman, you pretty much know where the tackle is going to be, one spot away from the center. You know the guard is going to be right next to the center. There isn't as much recognition on the defensive line. On the offensive side of the ball there is a lot of recognition and communication, and that's the thing that needs to be factored in at those positions. Generally speaking those players on the offensive line don't run as well as the defensive linemen. If they did they would probably be playing defense. That's what we tell the defensive linemen.
Q: I noticed that Ty (Law) wasn't out there today, any official word on that?
B: Yeah, the official word is Ty was at jury duty. I hope he's not on a six-month murder case. He had it postponed a couple of times. It goes back to the Pro-Bowl, then the offseason surgery. He just couldn't do it. Finally the obligation came up. It's obviously not the time I would have picked, but it's a civic duty, and he's doing it.
**Q: In a more perfect situation you would have more depth on your offensive line. I would assume you would have had certain people out there for a couple of snaps on Monday, and the younger players would have gotten a lot of playing time afterwards. Right now you are going to have to start a lot of the younger guys. Is it a little worrisome because you don't have that many people out there?**
B: There is no question that the younger players would play quite a bit anyway. If they play another ten plays what is the difference? We all know how it is during the season, most teams carry eight offensive linemen into the regular season. During sixteen games, a lot of time it is the same guys. Regardless any given game you take eight in. We'll have more than eight. I'm sure there has been one, but I can't honestly think of a situation in a regular season game where I've seen a team have to play a tight end on the offensive line or move a guy over to defense. In the regular season you take eight guys to the game, and somehow or another those eight guys play. We have eight to play in the game, and I don't really see that as a big problem. On the other hand to go scrimmage against the Giants where one group comes in and then another groups come in, it's like waves. They have people that they want to work against, and you have to throw people out there to compete against them. It is a lot easier to get run down in a scrimmage situation then in a game situation where your defense is out there and you have kicking plays and all that. You can pace yourself through a game. The only thing that I really worry about is the conditioning of the players at this point in the season. There are a lot of players that aren't in condition to play sixty minutes right now at the end of July. In October they are in better condition to do that. Those kids have been playing a lot. It's not like we are going to have to play them and they haven't been working, believe me, they have been working hard. Some of those guys are going to get a break when the games come relative to the practices, the double conditioning sessions, and all that. I know they can't wait for the game. They get a day off.
Q: What are your main objectives going into Monday night?
B: I'd say the combination of not just Monday night but even the next couple of days, we need to mentally prepare for a game. We need to prepare both in terms of the preparation leading up to the game, studying the film, learning the scouting report, learning the game plan, and mentally getting ready to go and play a football game. We need to get ready to react to the different situations that will come up during a game. What I told the team last night, and they will probably hear it everyday this week, is that it doesn't make any difference if this is the first preseason game, the sixth regular season game, or a playoff game. It doesn't make any difference in terms of the fact that you are a football player and your job is to play football. You get ready to play football. It doesn't matter if you are going to play one play, seventy plays, or thirteen plays, and I honestly don't know how many plays they are going to play. However many it is, that is a situation a player can't control. He doesn't know whether he's going to be in there for three plays or whatever. We might have three twenty play drives on offense, and a guy might play nine plays in the first half. Who knows, but it doesn't make any difference. They can't control that. They have to prepare to play. That's what I've tried to emphasize to them. You get ready to play. Don't think 'I'm going to play this many plays, or I'm going to play in this quarter or that quarter.' They can't control that. We will control that. Honestly, I don't want to tell them ahead of time that this is what it is going to be. I don't think that is the mentality that they should go into a game with. I don't want them thinking 'I am going to play ten plays in the second quarter, so in the first quarter I'm off duty and my watch doesn't start until the second quarter.' We're not doing it that way. You get ready to play and we will play, and when the game's over then it's over. I'm not looking for a bunch of guys running around in t-shirts in the second quarter and sitting on their helmets squirting Gatorade on each other. That's not what we're going out there for.
Q: Does that include Drew (Bledsoe) and all the front line players?
B: It includes every player. They are on one side of the fence or the other. If they go to Canton, they're going there to play. The players that can't play are not going to go to Canton. They are going to stay here and get healthy, so that they can play. We're not going on a field trip to the museum and all that. We're not taking them out there as a class trip. The guys who are out there have to be ready to play. Anybody that's out there in uniform, I've told them to be ready to play at anytime. That's what they should be ready to do. Obviously, everybody is not going to play the whole game. Nobody's going to play the whole game. That isn't the point, the point is that mentally that is what they need to be ready for. When the regular season starts that is truly the way it is, and I think it is hard for a player to change that mentality in the first game. I don't think that is a good precedent to set, so I'm trying not to set it. Now, I understand we're not playing for the AFC championship, but I think a player's mentality and how he gets ready for the season or ready for a game is an important mentality to establish.
Q: So, is it just your constant war against human nature?
B: I don't know if it's that, but I know how we prepare for a regular season game, and I want the preparation to be the same for a preseason game so that it becomes a habit. If you get into a bad habit in the preseason it's just going to take you awhile to get out of that habit in the regular season, and I don't want to encourage anybody to get into that. I understand that this is not the Super Bowl, but if you're a football player you play, if you're a coach you coach. My job as a coach is to get the team ready to play, and whatever situation comes up in the game, I'm going to coach the situation to win. Am I going to pull out every stop? No, I'm not saying that, but if it's third and three, we're going to try and gain three yards. If it's a field goal situation at the end of the game to win, then we'll try to block it. Whatever it is, we're going to play that situation regardless of who is out there playing. I'm not saying our front line best player is going to be out there every single play, that's separate. What the players really need to understand, and the point I'm really trying to drive home, is we're here to win. We are going to do what we need to do to win, and that's the way that the team is going to be coached.
Q: Is it just as important for your coaching staff to get into that game mentality?
B: Absolutely. We're a young staff in terms of the amount of time that we've been together. There's a lot of us that have a lot of experience, but still it has to be put together, and it's different from the way it has been. I've tried to simulate that in practice in terms of calling plays, and you can see how in practice the last few days the coaches have been further and further away in team periods and the players are more on their own. We have to develop a coaches communication both on the sideline and from the press box down in terms of making adjustments, handling substitutions, and situationally what do we want to do. This is a time of the year that as a staff we have to start preparing for those situations. We really haven't done that in the last two weeks because it's been the day-to-day training camp where you plan a practice, watch the film, make the corrections, and do it again. We're really starting to get into things like what charts are we going to have in the press box. Who's going to put the stuff on the board at halftime? What's the pregame warm-up? How are we going to handle the communication if a guy gets hurt, and he comes off to the sideline? How are we going to tell how long he is out for, and who is going to tell who? There's a lot of organization. We the coaches have to go through a period too.
Q: Can you update the injury situation, specifically Max Lane?
B: He's out there. He's doing some drills. Assuming that he hasn't had any setbacks, which he hasn't had, then we'll just progress and put him in the drills this afternoon or tomorrow morning. With the other guys who are close, we'll get them warmed up and try to get them going and put them into the drills. If they feel good then we'll go the next drill. If the injuries start to bother anyone, and the trainer doesn't feel like it's quite right, then we'll do some supplemental things away from the drills, and the next day we'll do the process again. When they are ready they are ready. If they are out there in pads during the beginning part of practice than that means that they are pretty close.
Q: I know you've been evaluating your players since mini-camp, but now that the games are here is it easier to put people under a microscope and really evaluate them?
B: We are at the point where we need to play. We talked about this as a staff the other night. We've practiced against each other as much as we really can. We need to play and see how the players are going to respond to game conditions and reacting under pressure and seeing things full speed. I think that they are prepared to do that, and I think that the practices have been at a good tempo. We need to play, and we need to see how they are going to play. I would trade this for another two or three practices. I would rather play against live competition and see where we are.
Q: Who is not traveling?
B: Any player who cannot play. Some of them are pretty obvious. The guys who are on the fence, well, we'll have to make a decision on them this afternoon. (Adrian) Klemm and those guys are obviously out. If they can't practice this afternoon, then it is very unlikely that they would be able to play.
Q: Bill I know your plate is pretty full, but is there any curiosity on your part to see what Dennis Miller is going to be like on Monday?
B: Well, we're making history this week. I feel like I have enough things myself to focus on. I'm looking forward to meeting him in the pregame and production meetings and all that, but I'm more worried about my team and how we're going to do against the 49ers. That's the big concern.