BB: OK, so we're just trying to grind through camp here. This is what we need, to string some days together, good fundamentals, build in a little situational work, build our conditioning and just keep getting better every day. It's not a big secret. We just have to grind it out.
Q: What have you noticed from LeGarrette Blount since his return from the hip injury that ended his season last year?
BB: He's been fine.
Q: How about in terms of his conditioning?
BB: Yeah, I don't think that's an issue. He looks trim, he's running well. I don't think he's had any problems.
Q: Are there a certain amount of things you need installed before you take the field for joint practices next week?
BB: No, we don't have to. If we get them in then those are things we can work on with that team, and so we have to coordinate it with New Orleans in this case. I think it'll be common for Sean [Payton] and I to have a conversation and say "Hey, are you guys ready for this?", and if the answer from either one of us is "No, we're not, let's hold off on that," then we'll hold off on that and do something else. So, we'll just have to see how it matches up. I'll probably talk to Sean again sometime over the weekend, or something like that, and just set up the practice schedule and all. I think all of the basic things – third-down, red area, two minute – things like that I'm sure they have in. He's sure we have in. I think some of the other situational things we just have to decide if we want to deal with them or maybe we put them in so that we can deal with them against each other instead of doing it yourself. Sometimes some of the same guys you have on the hands team are on the onside-kick team. So, if you can do it against somebody else then you can actually get good work with both guys.
Q: What have you seen from Jacoby Brissette so far in camp?
BB: He's working hard; learning how to make progress.
Q: How does his unique size help him at the quarterback position?
BB: Everybody has their own attributes. He's a big, strong kid that can run. It'll probably help him in the pocket, and maybe out of the pocket. We'll see, we haven't really gotten into those situations yet, but he's got physical talent.
Q: What did you see from Chris Long at this stage of his career that you drew you to him?
BB: Well, we've known Chris for a long time. He came out in '08 [2008 NFL Draft], or whatever it was, so from scouting him back then and playing against him, seeing him in the league. Coach [Brendan] Daly was with him at the Rams so he had a little bit of knowledge of him. Chris obviously missed some time here the last couple of years so part of that was just where he was physically, but I think he's been able to train. He's in good shape. He had a good offseason for us. He's definitely ready to compete.
Q: Having a relationship with his college head coach Al Groh, does that allow you to go back and talk to a guy like him and see how Chris was in college?
BB: I think we did that. Chris, he was the 2008 draft, right? Which was the [Jerod] Mayo draft, where we picked higher than we normally pick. I think we were at seven, Chris ended up going at four or five, whatever it was, so he was in that conversation. We didn't' know whether he'd be there or not be there but that's part of the conversation. We did a lot of work on him. In the end, he was drafted before we picked so it never played out but we definitely spent a good amount of time with Chris and of course talked to Al and the other coaches down there. But that's a long time ago. At this point I think the players definition of his NFL abilities and value is based on – there's a lot of evidence there much more so than there is in college. I think that ship has probably sailed from an evaluation standpoint.
Q: Is this the time of year where you look into whether a player such as Chris can make the move to rushing on the interior of the line if he doesn't done much of it in his career?
BB: Yeah, Chris would fall into that category; same thing. He really hasn't played inside, but we've played him some in there.
Q: What does a player need to make that transition inside and have success?
BB: It's a different type of matchup. Generally, when an end works against a tackle it's pretty much just those two guys. Sometimes a back or a tight end might chip him but for the most part it's pretty much truly a one-on-one situation from a wider alignment with rush-lane responsibilities on the edge. Inside there's a third guy involved somewhere between the center and the guards against usually two rushers, unless you blitz but let's just say you don't, if you rush four then it's some version of three-on-two in there, so you're dealing with another guy that you're just not dealing with outside. The guards are generally have a little less length and a little less athleticism than the tackles but you also have a little less space in there. Seeing the way the protection slides, which way the center goes, whether you're rushing on the guard or rushing on the center; as a defensive end you're really not that worried about which way the slide is going because that doesn't affect you too much. It might affect you from the inside to make an inside move on the tackle. The guard might be there, but again, I'd say overall that's less of an issue than when you're playing inside, so there are some scheme things, there's a little matchup difference. It's different for the guards to see those guys inside like that, too, that usually have more length, more speed, more quickness, less power generally.
Q: It seems as though when you have those guys on the inside combined with the versatility of your linebackers it makes for a pretty hard group of five to identify and stop. How much of a challenge is that for the offense?
BB: Yeah, well I think really the key number is six [rushers], not five. If it's five, they can identify who you're five are then they're going to be five-on five. That's what we see. If there is six, then there's I would say, on paper anyways, a potential mismatch of a back or a tight end on one of those guys; a defensive end, or [Dont'a] Hightower, or [Jamie] Collins, or linebackers but you could call them ends if you wanted to. So, I would say those are where the mismatches are and then, if so, it could be any number of things where we could locate them. If there's only five guys, if the team has one good blitzing linebacker and four down lineman then what we would do – what most teams would do, try to do probably – is just us five have those five and sort it out from there and get the other protector, usually the back, the sixth guy.
Q: What have you seen from Jonathan Jones in his brief time here?
BB: He's done a good job. Jonathan's really done a good job. He's been out there every day, he works hard, he's fast, he's tough, and obviously played in a good conference [SEC]. You can see his speed in that conference, which there's a lot of speed on the other side of the ball, too, to see it against. He learns well. He's a great kid. He works hard. He'll do whatever you ask him to do. He's done a good job. He's showed up in the kicking game so I think he's been very competitive.
Q: You've said earlier in camp that the safety position is one of the deepest and most competitive on the roster. How does that impact how you view the linebacker position given the way defense is played today with sub-personnel on the field more times than not?
BB: Yeah, it's different but probably a little bit similar to where we were last year. Last year we carried six safeties. A lot of times we only had five active even when all six were healthy. We went a couple of different ways on that last year but we carried more depth at safety. I think in a certain way it supplements your linebacker group. It also probably more significantly gives you depth in the kicking game. There are only so many safeties you can get on the field defensively at once, but in the kicking game those guys – a lot of them can play four phases – particularly if you can get a safety to play a linebacker-type of role. Some safeties are more cornerback-oriented, if you will, on the kicking game. Like Devin [McCourty] for example, when you play him in the kicking game it would really be more of a corner role. But most of our safeties are kind of safety to linebacker, if you will, in the kicking game.
Q: What kind of progress has Jordan Richards made in his second season?
BB: Good, good. Yeah, Jordan got off to a late start last year with the whole Stanford trimester schedule they were on, or whatever it is. He kind of missed a lot of the spring. He's a smart kid, he works hard, he caught up, but it's not quite the same as being there from day one. He had a really good offseason and he's been on the field. He doesn't miss anything, he's a durable kid that's smart, really pays attention, just gets better every day. I think he's taken some good steps. Again, it's a very competitive position there, but he's definitely gotten better.
Q: Does a kid's college schedule affect his draft evaluation at all if you know he is going to arrive late to camp?
BB: Not too much. I think you take a little longer view than that, but I don't think there's any question that it slows them down a little bit. In the process can they catch up, and again, I'm not saying Jordan didn't catch up. There's pretty good competition at that position so I don't know that it would've changed. I'm not saying he would've been a 90-percent play time guy had he been here from day one, but it certainly didn't help him any. If that was the answer we'd tell them all to just stay home and show up in the middle of June. I don't think that's the answer but it is what it is. If that's where you draft a kid from then you just live with it.
Q: Is Jordan Richards a guy that you can see playing that sort of linebacker hybrid role or do you envision him playing deeper in the secondary?
BB: I think he can do both. He played a lot of deep-field coverage in college in a pretty good passing league [Pac 12], so I think he can play back there. He can definitely play down so he has good versatility. Sometimes those situations are a function of who the other guy is, too. In our case we're probably fortunate in that really all of those guys have the ability to play strong and free, up and back, whatever you want to call it. There's pretty good versatility there so that helps us scheme-wise too so we don't always have to tell the quarterback "Well OK, this guy's going to be deep, this guy's going to be down." Sometimes we can switch it and we're comfortable with that. It's better if they can do more but if they do one thing really well then that's OK, too.
Q: Did Jordan see a lot of time in college against tight ends?
BB: He pretty much did it all. You could see it all on film. He played free safety a lot, he dropped down in the box a lot, he was in man coverage. They had a good mixture of scheme and you could see him do a lot of different things. There was a lot of in the box, run, force-type plays, playing in tight spaces, there was a lot of open-field tackles and space plays, whether it be check-downs or passing-game plays where he was coming from 25 yards deep.
Q: Does Jordan playing for a program that had a head coach with NFL experience [Jim Harbaugh] help him transition at this level?
BB: Yeah, I think all of those things [help]. Certainly better than not, better than getting a guy from a program where none of those things are in place. But look, it's a transition no matter where they come from to here or any other NFL team so everybody has to make it. There's a certain element to it, some people have a little bit further to go than others, other people have a little more difficulty with a transition than others. It's no real exact science there.
Q: Does your depth at running back allow you to take your time with getting Dion Lewis back on the field?
BB: We don't really look at it that way. We just try to – first of all – we don't have very many days total from the time we come in to our first preseason game, and a couple of those days are players day off, and the conditioning day, so it's not like we have unlimited time, so we try to do the best we can with the time we have for everybody. The players that can participate, [they] participate. Hopefully they get a lot out of it. The players that can't participate, they get as much out of what they can do; walkthroughs, or film sessions, or whatever it happens to be. Until they can get out there then they have to do what they can do, but that doesn't change how we make [decisions]. We've got 89 other players to coach, or however many other guys are missing, but there's still a lot of players out there that we've got to coach, got to get better, and we can't wait and hold everybody else back because one person or a couple of people aren't out there.
Q: Has he been able to at least participate in certain conditioning-type of things?
BB: Well, he's on PUP so there are certain things he's not allowed to do as far as team walkthroughs and things like that. But the meetings, all the teaching things that we do, he certainly participates in those, and then physically, he can do the things that he can do from a rehab standpoint. Whatever the players can do, they can do either by their physical situation or whatever the rules are. Whatever they can't do, then we try to not let that hold them back from what they can do.