BB: Well, we're ready to get rolling here today on the Raiders. This is a really impressive team. They have a lot of talent and played well here in recent weeks. Offensively, they're as explosive as anybody in the league. They've got a great offensive line, great backs, tight ends, wide receivers, quarterback. They've got a ton of talent. They utilize them all. They have a good scheme, put guys in different places. It's hard to find them, it's hard to defend them, hard to tackle them, so they're really tough to deal with. Very talented defensive group who have a lot of very skilled players. Obviously, [Khalil] Mack and [Bruce] Irvin are a big force. They've done a good job with their inside players - you know, [Justin] Ellis, [Eddie] Vanderdoes. [Mario] Edwards is a very disruptive player. They've got good team speed. Their safeties do a good job - [Reggie] Nelson, [Karl] Joseph. They blitz a lot, cause a lot of disruptive plays. It's a very experienced team. Offensively, it's very experienced. Most of those guys are back. They added [Marshall] Newhouse, but he's a veteran player. Defensively, they've got a lot of experience there, particularly in the secondary. So, add [NaVorro] Bowman, another good football player that can really run the defense in the middle. He's been a good addition for them. Special teams - kickers have big legs. They can really pound the ball. [Marquette] King can change field position, and of course they're very explosive with the two returners with [Jalen] Richard and [Cordarrelle] Patterson. Those guys are very dynamic players. You know, the Raiders have been in a lot of close games, they've won a lot of close games, they have a good field goal kicker, they can score quickly in any phase of the game, but particularly on offense with their great skill players and quarterback, so they've done a good job of winning a lot of close games. We know we're going to have to play 60 minutes and play a good football game in all three areas to be competitive with them. So, we'll get started on the process today and be ready to go Sunday night.
Q: How special is it to be practicing at the Air Force Academy this week?
BB: Yeah, it's great to be here. I have a lot of respect for all the service academies - but Navy first - but a lot of respect here. These guys do a great job. Coach [Troy] Calhoun's done a great job with this program, and this has been a great program going back to when Ben Martin was here when it was formed - of course, a Navy man back in 1960. I sat in this stadium a couple times over here on the visitor's side. This is a great institution. The discipline and leadership they have here - I hope some of it runs off on me this week. That will be a plus.
Q: How has the team reacted so far to being in Colorado Springs and being away from home?
BB: We feel like it's the best thing we can do. I think everybody understands that. We're ready to go to work and make the most of it.
Q: When you were here as a visitor, was that for scouting trips when you were younger?
BB: I was in Denver for a year.
Q: Do the Raiders move Mack around the defense or does he stay anchored?
BB: Well, in their base defense, they flip-flop the line. In their sub defense, then he and Irvin stay right and left, so they do both. Yeah, they move them around in their sub defense, too. Sometimes he's inside over the guard. So, probably in the end, everybody will get a shot at him, but primarily he's on the weak side of the formation and Irvin's on the strong side in their base defense.
Q: The Raiders gave Bowman signal-calling responsibilities in his first game. What does that say about his ability to captain a defense coming into a new team?
BB: Right. Well, again, he's a pretty experienced player. I mean, I think some of his background goes back to Coach [Ken] Norton [Jr.] when he was at San Francisco. So, I'm sure they had a relationship or Norton had confidence in NaVorro based on what he could do. But, look, he's a good player. He's a very instinctive player, as well as being a good player. I'm sure they wouldn't have done it if they didn't feel confident with him doing it. But, at this point, with multiple weeks in the system, he looks very comfortable in all the roles they put him in - not that he didn't before, but I'm sure it's even more so now.
Q: How would you say Stephon Gilmore has come back from his time away?
BB: Well, he was able to practice in a red jersey there for a couple of weeks and then got the game action last week. I think all that added up. It's all a part of it. Hopefully, this week will be better than last week.
Q: How much time is dedicated to special teams in practice? Is it equal to offense and defense?
BB: Oh no. No, but look, we try to prepare for the game the best that we can. We have a lot of things we have to get ready for. We try to balance that out and we put a lot of time into everything - situations, offense, defense, special teams. But, no, it wouldn't be split equally, but we do what we feel like we need to do to be prepared. Players work hard at it and Joe [Judge] and Bubba [Ray Ventrone] do a great job of teaching it. It's about what it's been in the past.
Q: Is there anything you have to discuss with your players or coaches about practicing for a week at this altitude?
BB: Well, yeah, we talk about some things we feel are important, but I mean, we do that every week. Every week's got its own challenges.
Q: How important is Patrick Chung's versatility for this team? We see him in a lot of different assignments, maybe more so than other guys on the defense.
BB: Yeah, more than anybody on defense. He does a great job for us. Pat's done that for some of the last, really, three years. He plays anywhere from linebacker to safety to corner to safety on the line to safety off the line, as well as in the kicking game. You know, he has his plays on special teams, too. Pat's in very good condition. He's an excellent athlete, good football player, good tackler, plays well in space, has a good set of skills that translate and they transfer to coverage positions to run fits and tackling in space playing in the kicking game. So, he's very competitive in all those spots and he's smart and he handles a lot of responsibilities for us. We're very fortunate to have him. That's a good group, really, with Devin [McCourty], Duron [Harmon], Jordan [Richards] and what Nate [Ebner] gives us in the kicking game. It's five guys that all help us in a lot of different ways. Pat's versatility - they all are pretty versatile, but Pat's versatility is a big plus of the defense, no question.
Q: When you're game planning and communicating on the field, is it helpful to have an experienced group back there that has played together for a while?
BB: Yeah, we can definitely go back to things that maybe we haven't done in a while. You know, talk about, 'Remember when we used this against Tampa or we used this last year against Buffalo or somebody.' Then there's good recall and good application of it, so yeah, there's times where that definitely helps. Same thing on offense with players like Tom [Brady] and James White, Rob [Gronkowski], Danny [Amendola], things like that - you know, guys that have done things together for multiple years. You get a situation that's similar to the situation you had a while ago. You can go back and refer to that. I mean, you know you're not going to be able to do that with Deatrich Wise or [Jacob] Hollister or somebody like that. They just haven't had that kind of experience, but the experienced players, sure. That comes up from time to time. That's a good reference.
Q: How would you characterize Derek Carr's ability to make plays while extending plays?
BB: Good, good. He's athletic, he's got good vision, he sees the field well and he's accurate. Very good. He's good at everything. He gets the ball out quick, but he can extend plays, good on the deep ball, good on intermediate balls, good on third down, good in the red area, manages the game well, can check and get them out of bad plays. The guy is a really good player. I don't think there's any doubt about it.
Q: How meaningful was it to have Coach Calhoun address the players earlier this week?
BB: It was good to have Troy come over. Yeah, I think it was a good connection for us. I mean, we're here, so good for everybody to learn a little bit more about what's going on here and where we are and what takes place here. Players have been over here for a couple days. We worked out here on Monday, did some other things yesterday, but it's kind of good to have a little bit of an understanding of where you are and what happens at an institution like the Air Force Academy. I mean, we only have one guy that can really relate to that, but other than [Joe] Cardona, going to a civilian school is a lot different than what happens here - not good or bad, just different.
Q: Is there a bond between people that have been associated with any of the service academies? Even though you compete against each other, there also seems to be a respect because all are working towards a common goal.
BB: I think you really described it well, probably better than I can. Yeah, you go and compete on the field, and then when it's over, you're fighting with each other, not against each other in the real fight, in the military fight. Obviously, they all learn that and the cooperation between the different services in our military that they need in operations is something that anybody that's in military is familiar with. But, on the field, the competitive competition and sports competition is different. But, that's part of the training and part of the leadership and discipline that the student-athletes at these schools learn is they learn through sports and they have a lot of intercollegiate sports, but the players that are the student-athletes that don't play intercollegiate sports compete on intramural sports. So, I think there's a lot of great lessons in sports and these academies believe in them, so they utilize those tools to help develop their men and women.
Q: Last week you spoke to the Navy football team. Is that a rewarding experience for you?
BB: Yeah, well, it's really an honor. Ken's [Niumatalolo] asked me to do it a couple times in different situations, but to speak to the actual team - not recruits or something like that - it's really an honor. I have so much respect for Ken and the Navy team and the Navy program and the institution that just to be able to stand up in front of that group is a pretty special feeling. I was probably as nervous as I've been talking to a group in quite a while. But, yeah, it was definitely special and just something about looking at that group of kids that's a little bit different than looking at another team - not to take anything away from any other team, but that's just a little bit different and it's special. So, I really appreciate Ken giving me that opportunity, and I'm glad they won last week. Not that I had anything to do with it, but I'm just glad that that worked out for them, too.
Q: Considering your history with the Naval Academy, do you have a different perspective for the Air Force and service academies?
BB: Yeah, absolutely. I have tremendous respect for them. Yeah, what they do and how hard it is to, No. 1, get into a service academy, No. 2, meet the demands that the service academy puts on you physically, mentally, learning - I mean, look, the kids that come out of here operate the highest technological and most sophisticated equipment in the world at a high level, at a high price, too. So, there's a lot at stake. Yeah, what they do and how they do it and how they're trained to do it is - very proud to be here and very proud of what they do. The leadership training, the teamwork, the communication skills and so forth that they have to have is remarkable. It's one of the things I mentioned to our team - when you think about military operations, you think about the guys that are actually out there pulling the trigger and fighting the battle. Certainly, they're important, but then when you look behind it, you have all the people that have provided the supplies, the equipment, the transportation, the communication, the backup, the support and all that. There is just as much behind the fight as there is out there on the front line, and that's obviously a lot different, but it has some similarity to our trip this week. You know, you've got the team playing out there on the field, but behind the field you have a lot of support people - equipment, training, operations, all the set up here, set up in Mexico and so forth - that the great people in our organization that work so hard to make this a smooth trip so that the team can perform their job, the coaches and the players, that we can operate efficiently and compete against Denver and now Oakland, really give them a lot of credit for what they've done on this trip. It's a lot different. I'm not saying it's the same as the military operation, but there is a behind the scenes component of it. So, I just want to recognize those people that have done a great job for us in our organization.