We have a few guys back today and for this week. (Greg) Spires and (Mike) Woods, Bruce (Armstrong) passed his physical so he's out there, Chad (Cascadden) is back, and then some guys that practiced last week like (J.R.) Redmond and (Brandon) Mitchell. It looks like Ted Johnson and (Tedy) Bruschi will be able to do more now. That's good. It finally feels like we are starting to turn the corner there. This week we are getting ready for Washington. We'll start our preparations today, we really need to cleanup some scheme things, and do some installation. We couldn't do much last week because of the short week going to Detroit. We fell a little bit behind in the offense, defense, and the kicking game in terms of installation. Those will go in today, and we will also start preparations for Washington. It's a combination week for us. We are going to try and solidify the guys who look like they are in contention for playing time, roster spots, and all phases of the game. We'll try to get them a little bit more involved. We've had twenty-five practices and we've played two preseason games, so some guys have done better than other guys. It is as simple as that, and where we feel like the players have played better then we'll try to give them a little more playing time and give them a little more of the opportunity that they deserve. On the other hand not all of the precincts have recorded there voting. We have some spots where we are still waiting to see how some players are going to show up and what they are going to be able to do. We are just going to have to play that by ear as it goes and evaluate it. With the quarterback situation this week, I've talked to the quarterbacks. Drew will play, and he'll play a lot more than he has played before. John (Friesz) will play after Drew. John hasn't had a chance to play in the games, and we'll give him an opportunity this week to get some game time. That will be a little different from the way we have been doing it here the last couple of weeks. I will also say that in the kicking game, I know everybody just likes to talk about offense and defense, but the kicking game is a very important part of our team that needs to come together. The players in that area need to establish themselves as well, and the guys that have done better in that area are going to get more of an opportunity. It doesn't mean that anybody is out of it because if they're still here, then they are still a factor on the team and will still get an opportunity to do things, but some people have moved ahead of others and we are going to try and reward that. That is pretty much where we are right now.
Q: Is Tebucky (Jones) staying at safety or is he moving to corner?
B: Tebucky is staying at safety.
Q: How many roster spots and how many starting spots are sewed up in your mind?
B: I don't know. I think there is still quite a bit of ground to cover. I think we can start to identify who the competitors are. There are certain guys that are competing at a certain spot. I think other people have dropped behind and aren't in competition for a starting spot, but maybe are in competition for a roster spot. I don't know that I could define it as clearly as to say we have seventeen starters and forty-six guys and the other seven spots are up for grabs. I don't think that I could say that right now.
Q: Is tight end one of those precincts that hasn't really checked in yet considering how the games have gone and the fact that the ball hasn't really gone to them?
B: No, I think that is a position where the players have been out there practicing. Chris (Eitzman), Rod (Rutledge), Eric (Bjornson), and (Rob) Tardio have been out there everyday. I don't think any of them have missed a play. Their performance is on the record. I was referring more to the offensive line situation and the quarterback situation. John (Friesz) hasn't had a chance to play. It is hard to evaluate some of those positions where, for one reason or another, you just haven't had an opportunity to see them. We like to see more of everybody, but at the tight end position, those guys have gotten plenty of opportunity.
Q: How is (Antwan) Harris doing at cornerback?
B: I think he, like most of the rookies, is making some progress. There is a learning curve. There are some things that are new for him, but he is making some progress. He's a guy that could be a good special teams player, and he needs to do a good job in that role for us if we are going to improve our special teams performance.
Q: Is somebody ahead at right cornerback?
B: I think that it is still a pretty competitive position.
Q: After looking at film, how did Antonio (Langham) perform the other night?
B: I think Antonio has had a real solid camp all the way through. From the spring, to the training camp in Foxboro, to down here in the preseason games, he's had a real solid performance.
Q: (Rob) Holmberg gave you some good minutes on Friday, how has his progress been?
B: Rob played well. He played well last week against Detroit. Rob has been playing a couple spots for us. He's been playing both inside spots and has a number of jobs in the kicking game. He's a versatile player and I think that is his strength, kind of like we talked about Jason Andersen on the offensive line being a multi-position player. Rob can be a multi-position player for us on defense. That is the role that he needs to play. I thought he did a real good job in the Detroit game. He read well and was in on a lot of plays, and he didn't make too many mistakes. It was a very encouraging sign.
Q: You said Tebucky (Jones) is staying at safety. Do you mean for the next game or for the long term?
B: I think it is going to be for awhile. Something would have to happen right now. I don't foresee that, but I wouldn't rule it out, having to move him back to corner. I think he is going to be at safety for awhile.
Q: You said that Bruce (Armstrong) passed his physical and is ready to practice. Are you predisposed to keep him out of the games until maybe the last one, or do you want to see how he holds up?
B: I'll follow the medical advice that I get on that. I'm not a doctor.
Q: The other guys that have been hurt on the offensive line like Lance Scott and (Todd) Rucci, are they close to being available?
B: They are all getting closer. I don't think we have had any setbacks there. I think every player is making progress. They are closer now than they were a week ago. When they are going to be ready, I just don't know. We are moving forward, but we just aren't there yet. We have to keep doing more and more with those guys until we can challenge them like they would be challenged in practice without actually practicing them. Once they pass that test we can put them out there on the field in practice. They need to go through their straight ahead running. They need to go through their lateral running. They need to get some resistance work. They need to do some quick change of direction. They need to build up their stamina. Once the doctors and Mike (Woicik) feel that the players are at that point then we can put them out on the field. Until they feel that way, I can't put them out there.
Q: Have their injuries not given you an honest look at what your offense is going to be?
B: As I've said before, we'd like to have everybody out there. The people who aren't out there, we are trying to get them back as soon as we can. The one's who are out there on the offensive line are a lot of young players. It has given them more of an opportunity, and I think overall they have taken advantage of that. They have improved at a little higher rate than we anticipated they would, but we would like to have everybody out there.
**Q: How quick does the process have to be for them to catch up to everybody else?**
B: We'll go as fast as we can. I can't tell you what that rate is going to be. It's a new offense. It's a new system. How quickly they'll pick it up, and how quickly they adjust to the techniques that are different from some of the things that they have been doing, and how quickly they will be in game condition, I don't know. All we can do is go along and get them out on the practice field. Once we watch them practice and we think they are ready to play we will put them in a game. I don't think we want to play them sixty-five plays the first time they are out there. We want to build up to that. If there are negative reactions to the injury and nothing gets aggravated or irritated, then we go further and have them do more. We are following that procedure with everybody. That is just sound medical practice.
Q: Are you happy with the progress in practice and in the two games with all aspects of the running game?
B: I think there are definitely things in all phases of the offense and defense that we need to work on including in the running game. I think we are making progress. I think we are doing some things a lot better than we have been doing them. I don't think we are the '76 Bills. We are playing a lot of people, so there are a lot of things going on in there. Sometimes you get three or four things executed pretty well on a play, but one thing breaks down, and remember you only need one guy to make the tackle, so it doesn't make any difference if everybody else is flat on there back. If you miss one guy, then you have no play. If you look at it more objectively you can see some progress. If you can get some things straightened out across the board, then you can see where it could be okay. In the Detroit game, they came in and did a lot of stunting. They broke a couple of guys clean and made some plays in the backfield. We didn't handle it as well as we need to handle it. We are going to have to work more on that and do a better job of it. I'm not making any excuses, that's just the way it was. We need to block them, but some of those things weren't that easy, especially for an inexperienced group. Hopefully the next time it comes up we will do better.
Q: When is the point in time when you have to start preparing for the regular season without some of the injured offensive linemen? Is there a point in time when that decision has to be made?
B: It is pretty much always that point in time. When a player comes back from a serious injury like that you hope that he is going to be okay, but you don't know what is going to happen when he starts playing football. It's not like we're out there walking the dog. I mean these guys are taking on big people, they're running fast, they're getting hit hard, people are falling on them. You don't know how an injury is going to respond, especially when it is play after play and week after week. Sometimes those things don't respond as quickly as they would if it was just a normal person doing normal things. These guys are playing pro football. The players that aren't out there, mentally, we need to be prepared to play without those guys. We're not going to reschedule the games. We need to be ready to go. We put the people in there the best way that we think we can get them. Once they are ready, then we put them in there and readjust. There is nothing wrong with telling a player if this guy comes back keep your eye on this other position because we may want to slide you over here. We are not just going to stand here hoping everything works out okay in the first game, and then if doesn't what do we do. We are going forward right now. If we have to play with what we have, then we have to play with what we have.
Q: Is Tony George contending seriously for the starting spot or is he more for special teams and nickel and dime packages?
B: I think that it is going to be hard for a player to take a spot away from Lawyer Milloy. I think that would be a big step for any player.
Q: Are you looking at George at all as a free safety?
B: I think all of our safeties need to play strong and free safety. I'd say right now Tebucky (Jones) is ahead of all the other safeties on the team except for Lawyer (Milloy).
Q: Is it too much to say that you have been impressed by Tebucky's play? How would you describe his play at safety?
B: Exactly what I said. We have had twenty-five practices and two games, and I think he has performed better than the other safeties have. I think he is ahead of them. I'm not anointing him as anything. I think the other players are good players. I think that it is a competitive position, and I think you could say that about a lot of positions. I think you could say that about five or six positions on our team. I would say right now Tebucky has done a little better than they have. Where will we be two weeks from now? I really don't know.
Q: Getting back to the running game, it sounds like you are trying to put a positive spin on it as if you are progressing. This past week it looked like you took a half step backwards. You had a lot of problems running the ball. Do you think that is because of the stronger opposition?
B: We clearly ran the ball better against San Francisco. There is no question about that. We faced a much stronger defense. We had many more rushing attempts in the San Francisco game because we didn't convert very well on third down in the Detroit game, and we didn't play as well. On the other hand there were some positive things. There was some improvement in certain areas in terms of technique blocking. Did it all come together? No. We had some breakdowns against San Francisco too, but they just didn't show up. We had one play where we didn't block a guy. A guy was standing right in the hole. It should have been a one-yard loss, but Raymont (Harris) ran right by him and gained ten yards. That play had a missed blocked, and we shouldn't have gained a yard, but we gained ten. If we look at that play and say 'great we gained ten yards.' That is not going to happen in this league very often. A couple of times in the Detroit game we had plays blocked pretty well, but a guy came off a block or we didn't quite finish a block or a play and we ended up with nothing, but there were some positive things on the play. If you just wanted to take the statistics, then you could take that case to court and win it. There are a lot of things involved in the running game. There were some good things this week, but things need to be better.
Q: Is (J.R.) Redmond ready to start practicing, and are you eager to see where he fits in?
B: Yes, J.R. practiced a little bit last week. Again, we'll have to put him in there like these other guys that are coming back from injuries. We'll put him in there when he is ready to perform. We are not going to throw him in there until he is ready because I think that is just asking for a setback. How ready is he? We'll have to see as we go along.