Head Coach Robert Saleh, 6.4
Rich Cimini, ESPN: Robert, can you just run down a couple of the guys and give us updates on a couple of guys who haven’t been participating like Corey Davis and (Denzel) Mims and (Mekhi) Becton?
Yeah, I can give you (an update) on those three. With Corey Davis, if it was game week he’d be rolling. He’s one of those veterans that really doesn’t need the reps. We have a lot of young guys on our roster and he’s perfectly fine, just working through a couple of nagging things. When you talk about Becton, he’s dealing with a foot. And, it’s nothing that needs surgery. It’s really not that big of a deal but as you guys all know, he’s a very large human being. So, we’ve asked him to stay off his feet, so we keep him inside during practice. But he’s been in meetings, he’s been doing workouts, he’s been doing all that stuff. So, he’s fine. And then Mims was battling a non-COVID illness and he should be at practice today.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: Mekhi (Becton) actually practiced right? Because he was out there for a day or two.
Yeah, he came out the first day and his foot started bothering him and we just took him off the field.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: With Becton, Robert, he’s kind of dealt with various ailments throughout his rookie year and now kind of a foot issue. I know we’ve talked a ton about his weight, is this something where if he lost some, I know you’ve talked about speed and power and all but, if he was maybe a little bit lighter, some of these little nagging things wouldn’t necessarily be happening? I know big men and feet can be a little scary.
No, that’s a good question, Connor. It’s every player, when you take care of your body and when you’re in shape and you’re doing all the things that you need to do, you think about it, their body is their moneymaker, right?. And, the amount of investment that you put into your body is the amount that it will give back. And so, that’s part of the learning progression of young men. They have to learn how to take care of their bodies. They’ve got to learn how to eat right, workout right, rest right, regenerate, staying hydrated, and all those different things that lead to longevity in this league. And, Mekhi is one of those. He’s a young man, he’s a very talented young man, he’s a very large young man. And, he’s learning every day on what it takes to be a professional and how to make that next step. So, we’ve got a lot of faith in him. He’s doing all the right things right now and we’re excited to get him to training camp and get to work with him.
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: Hey Robert, when you hired Jeff (Ulbrich) as your (defensive coordinator), I’m curious, what went into that? How he aligns with your defensive philosophies and whatnot? I know, obviously you guys have worked together. But what are the things that he brings to the table for you?
So, Jeff, first he’s a former player. If you ever get a chance to sit down with Jeff in a non-football setting, he’s probably one of the most real dudes that you can actually be around. His knowledge of football, his mindset, the things that I believe in philosophically with the mindset of how to play this game and the way you maximize players with regards to scheme and the details that come with it. It can relate to him because he played the position. He played linebacker and so he understands what worked for him and what worked for Patrick Willis and what worked for Navarro Bowman, when he was with those guys. And on top of it, being with him in Seattle and then (with) Dan Quinn in Atlanta, he’s got some recall and he’s got a lot of great thought, and a lot of great information, and a lot of great scheme that he can bring. So, a lot of the Atlanta stuff is going to be a part of this, and along with the San Francisco stuff, if you want to call it that, and what we’re bringing here. So, it’s going to be a good marriage in terms of not only philosophy but scheme.
Mark Cannizarro, New York Post: So, personality wise he’s a very high energy guy as well, which is very much your calling card. How combustible is that between the two of you guys in those defensive meetings and where do you think that’s going to take this thing?
No, that’s awesome. What’s great about Ulbrich is that he’s a tremendous teacher first. There’s not a lot of fluff, there’s not a lot of yelling. I don’t believe in that in the meeting rooms. I don’t believe in that in the practice field. I believe that even on the practice field it’s about teaching and the moments that you see, the moments of energy are celebrations. They are not butt chewings, if you will. It’s an understanding of all the work that just went into each other. Players, coaches, everybody. And so, when great things happen on the football field, the excitement that you see is for the player more than it is for anything else. And, that’s what Jeff represents. Jeff was a former player, he knows how much work needs to be put in. He knows how much work goes into just one play. And so, when those plays are successful, that’s what you see. So, he is pure energy. He’s real. He’s a guy’s guy and it’s awesome that we have him here.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: Robert, Jamison (Crowder) hasn’t been around. Why is that?
So, Jamison, obviously, he’s working through some stuff with a contract with Joe (Douglas) and his staff and his agent and all that stuff. So, really confident to get Jamison in here quickly and when we do, he definitely has a role for this team.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: He has a contract, so maybe you can eliminate any confusion, what do you mean working through stuff?
That would be more of a Joe question, Rich.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, with Tevin Coleman, I know he was banged up for you guys last year but what was it that you liked about him that you decided you wanted to bring him here?
So, Tevin. He’s pure gas. When he gets the ball in his hand and he makes that one cut, it’s like he shot out of a cannon. He’s got tremendous speed, he’s got tremendous mindset when the ball is in his hand in terms of breaking tackles, falling forward, creating positive yardage. And, his leadership, his on the field demeanor, just all of it, his practice habits, he represents what we covet. To have him here, especially since we do have a very young backfield, to have him here is awesome.
Brian Costello, New York Post: And, along those lines with all the guys you have, I’m just curious, philosophically, some places you’ve been had a workhorse back. You know, Arian Foster and Marshawn Lynch. How do you see having that one bell-cow guy versus running back by committee?
The league is changing some. I do think when you come at them in waves, it’s a lot harder on a defense, when you’re just able to wear down. There are some guys, Derrick Henry still does it, there’s a few those. If you have one, you have one. But, you never want to force the issue and you want to share the load and give these guys more of a chance to have longevity in their careers because feeding them the ball that much can also be a negative. But when you look at the backfields that we have, they all have different skill sets. Tevin is explosive and fast, you got (La’Mical) Perine who’s big, a big, power back and that can get downhill in a hurry. Obviously, MC (Michael Carter) is a very agile quick back. Ty Johnson is explosive. I’m sure I’m forgetting someone, but each back has a unique trait and being able to find a role for them is going to be what’s fun throughout this process.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Robert, just to confirm, I guess a little bit. Some will hear contract and Jamison Crowder and obviously look at his deal realizing there’s basically no guaranteed money left. And, you have Elijah Moore who’s a pretty good slot guy and see as a potential parting of ways. That’s not the case? You still expect Jamison to be on this team this year?
Absolutely, Jamison’s definitely got a role here and we’re excited to have him.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: A quick follow up that is not Crowder related. We’ve obviously only seen Zach (Wilson) practice a couple of times so far but as you’ve mentioned, and it’s pretty obvious, is that he has the strong arm where he can make all the throws and has like crazy velocity but we’ve seen a couple passes where he’s taken that off and he’s had the touch throws. There was the one to Keelan Cole, another one down the sideline to Michael Carter. Is it uncommon at all to have a young quarterback that has that much arm strength but also has the ability to throw the fastball and the change up and mix them up pretty interchangeably?
I don’t know if it’s uncommon, there was another rep in there if you guys remember from Wednesday. Defense was running a coverage that vacated the middle of the field and he had (Braxton) Berrios down the middle, and he just zipped it in there and didn’t try to do anything cute with it. He just got it to him in a hurry. And, some young quarterbacks might try to make the perfect throw, he got it in and out of his hands as quickly as possible and got it to him as quickly as possible so (Braxton) could go create with the ball. And, we felt like that was a pretty veteran move. So, we love the mindset of the young man, we love where he’s going, there’s still stuff he does have to learn but he does understand. He has great control of his arm, if you want to call it that, it’s not just a fastball, for sure.
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: Robert, for all the good things that Zach has been doing, what are some of the things that you’ve seen in these OTAs and practices that maybe he’s struggling with or are signs of a guy that’s still trying to figure it out?
Yeah, there’s ebbs and flows. You might see a couple today, right. But, your session on Wednesday was the first time he was in the red zone and the offense was in the red zone and everything gets tighter. And, that’s where rookies traditionally struggle because the windows are tighter, the decisions have to be made faster. That’s where the difference between field goals and touchdowns win football games. So, when you saw that, those are the areas of situational football he’s going to have to improve at obviously. But you just love the kids demeanor, you love his mindset, you love the way he’s attacking everything. You just love the progress. And, now it’s just a matter of continuing to get reps, to get live reps, get game reps, and you go through the bumps and bruises. But you trust that his mindset is not going to let him fail.
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: This is a follow on that, you’re coming on your full squad, veteran, full team minicamp. How is that going to be different for Zach and how much are you looking forward to that transition from the things you’re doing now in these OTAs to, maybe that rachets things up a little bit in those practices?
So, the next step for him is going to be unscripted periods where, and it’s for everyone, not just him, a lot of the things that we do are very scripted, they’re organized, they’re designed to give players certain looks on offense, defense, special teams, for that matter, and we’ll start evolving into unscripted periods, unscripted situational periods so the coordinator and the play caller and the signal caller, whether it’s offense or defense, can get familiar with one another. And, the receivers, they can’t look to the receiver coach, but everyone’s off the field. Just trying to create a game like atmosphere is going to be the next step and to try to get as many reps of those as possible.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, NFL Network reported that you guys worked out Morgan Moses, the Washington tackle. I’m just curious what was behind that, are you guys looking to upgrade right tackle?
Morgan is obviously a fantastic player, he’s got a lot a lot of history in this league and has played at a very high level and somebody that we brought in and obviously that’s, again not to deflect your question to Joe (Douglas), but he’d be the one to ask on that one. But he is a very good football player, and we’re not going to shy away from adding good football players.