Q: How different will it be this year to try to capture the energy the fans bring when they attend training camp? Is there anything missing because of that?
BB: Well, Tom [Curran], that's all out of our control, so we're going to try to focus on the things that we can control. Certainly, we have a lot of practices throughout the course of the year where there aren't fans there, so I don't think that's something the team is unaccustomed to. Actually, we are accustomed to it. So, we'll control the things that we can control and the things we can't control, we're not going to worry about.
Q: Without having the benefit of preseason games this year, how will you change the approach to camp to create situations where you can better simulate a game situation, especially when deciding on if a guy will make a roster?
BB: Yeah, well Yianni [Kourakis], we'll have to create those. So, as we get to different points in camp depending on what we're ready for, what we have installed, what situations we're ready for, and then we'll have to create those situations, practice them against ourselves or practice them against a simulated opponent. We work against ourselves, we do what we do, but that may not be what everybody else does, so we would have to create that. There are other ways we can work on those situations, but ultimately, we're going to have to go out there and do them against ourselves. That's one of the advantages of practicing with another team. When we didn't practice with another team, then it was the same situation. Even though there were preseason games, the fact of the matter is that with a minute to go in the game, the players who are going to be doing that in the regular season generally weren't on the field anyway for that situation. Without the joint practices – which again, sometimes we've had, sometimes we haven't – but then we'd have to create those situations ourselves and coach them and evaluate them and all of the things that go with them. So, that's where we are this year.
Q: With practice squads expanding this year and with teams now being able to have players with unlimited years of experience on practice squad, how does that change the way you evaluate your roster this summer, if at all?
BB: Well, it's certainly something that we're aware of. I think it's part of the conversation, but again, those players have to pass through waivers to get to your practice squad. And they're also, even if they're not playing, they still had the opportunity to go somewhere else. So, I think some of that is going to depend on not only who you want on your practice squad but also who you can get on your practice squad. So, whether that's you getting a player from another team or another team getting a player that you have, since the setup is a little bit different this year, we'll have to see how all that works out. So, you may want to have a player on your practice squad, but if he feels he has a better opportunity somewhere else, you might lose that player, or vice versa. I think some of that is going to be determined by final roster make up and what areas you kind of have on your roster and what areas you don't have as much depth at. I would think that teams would want to carry players on their practice squad to balance out that depth, but that would vary from team to team. Again, I'm sure there will players that will evaluate different teams' situations, and so it will be a little bit like free agency for the practice squad.
Q: You are one of a handful of teams that haven't had to place anyone on the COVID-19 IR yet. Is that a testament to how seriously guys are taking things now, and also how seriously they took things before they arrived? Was there a lot of work put in by the team in this area?
BB: Yeah, absolutely, and I think that the team and the organization have addressed this very professionally, strictly, and we've changed quite a bit as more information or different techniques or products or whatever have become available or our information has changed. So, we've been very fluid with this, the players have done a great job of following protocols, and we've also had a lot of great feedback from the players on things, suggestions. Because seeing it from an organizational point of view or a coach's point of view is one thing, but when you're a player, you see what you do on a daily basis maybe a little bit differently, and so their feedback has been great and we've made quite a few or I'd say several modifications to our protocols and programs because of them or suggestions that they've made or concerns that they've raised. So, I think we're working together, but we've got a long way to go. We'll see, but it's constantly evolving, and I'm sure that we'll have a lot more discussions and situations that we're going to have to deal with going forward when we get into things like traveling and things like that. So, we're not there yet. We've got a full plate right now, but eventually we're going to have to deal with other factors, as well.
Q: If any of your players are using the Oakley face shield, how have you seen them perform and their effectiveness?
BB: Well, we brought that up to the players quite some time ago. We actually started working on it back in May before even the Oakley shield was available and doing research on it and so forth. The players are aware – it's an optional piece of equipment. All of the players are aware of it, all of the players have been given the opportunity to work with it during those first nine days of Phase One or eight days of Phase One, and then in Phase Two, so the last four practices. Guys have experimented with it, and we'll see what ultimately their decision is. It's an individual decision. They may change based on the experiences – obviously, we haven't had contact, so there's nothing to evaluate there – but they've run in them and worked out in them and so forth. I think we have some guys that will wear them, we have some guys that won't, and that may change based on their experiences with them. I think the fogging up and all that falls pretty much into the same category as the eye shield. It's not quite the same because it's a little bit lower, but there are some things you can do, there are some products. But even just like basically snorkeling and scuba diving, there's things you can do to prevent or minimize that problem – I don't know if 'eliminate' is the right word – but there is an air flow and I would say a comfortability issue. So, we'll see how it goes. But, yeah, everybody has the option to have them and then they'll make their individual decisions on that based on their personal preferences.
Q: Did you say the team created its own masks back in May?
BB: No, we didn't know what was going to happen, so we looked into those options – extending the eye shield. There were a couple other products out there based on guys that had injuries – a broken nose, some type of facial injury – to help protect it, similar to what you see in basketball. But, it was more of a medical thing, as opposed to the COVID problem. But, anyway, we started looking into that, and if we needed to have a manufacturer do that – ultimately, it was all done – but I'm saying we've been on this for quite a while. It's not anything that came up on us quickly.