Q&A with Todd Haley 10/11

Posted Oct 11, 2011

OPENING REMARKS: “In here today, we’re going to practice here in a few minutes. Players have been in here. They had a good lift this morning. We’ll condition some after practice. We’ve got some meeting time allotted to do some study on both ourselves and the Oakland Raiders. Good energy, good workout this morning and looking forward to getting out on the practice field. There’ll be some guys that don’t do quite as much, especially the guys that played a lot of plays on Sunday. Again, we’re working internally and externally here this week trying to get better so that we’re ready to go coming out of this bye week.”

Q: Are you going to have some new assistant coaches again this week?

HALEY: “No, I didn’t go with the formal coaches this year, but some of the more veteran guys that won’t be doing a ton have been asked to participate and work along with the young guys, in an effort to try to be developing as much of this young skill that we have and develop our team at the same time.”

Q: Have you had a chance to talk to last year’s valedictorian, Mike Vrabel, since he has actually gotten into real coaching?

HALEY: “No, I texted a couple times, but haven’t actually talked to him. I know they had a tough one this past weekend.”

Q: With the new rules, are there limits on what you can do during the bye week?

HALEY: “Yeah, the padded part of this is factored in to what you can use in these first 11 weeks. Tomorrow, we’re planning right now, I think we’ll have a padded practice. We’ll have to see because again, if you use one during this week, then you’re going to lose one in this first 11 weeks. So, just trying to make sure that we do the right thing, but we’ll have a meeting this afternoon and try to figure out what we think is the best after today.”

Q: They don’t have a limit on the hours they can be here?

HALEY: “I think it’s the same as always.”

Q: Can you give us an update on your running backs and their health?

HALEY: “Yeah, not too bad, I don’t think. Again, just from the nature of how many snaps that Jackie [Battle] played and then the fact that Le’Ron [McClain] had a little issue in the game, you won’t see them do a whole bunch today, for sure.”

  Q: Jackie’s style seemed to give himself a headache. He likes to lower his head. Have you guys talked to him about not doing that?

HALEY: “Yeah, yeah, absolutely. It’s something that we don’t want anybody doing, whether you’re tackling, hitting, blocking. We want our heads up and see what you hit. I think, again, it comes down to technique. It’s late in the game and you’re tired and it’s not as easy to bend your knees and I think it comes down to bending your knees in most instances of why people’s heads go down. If they bend and get those knees down, generally the head will stay up. We’re talking and working on that always.”

Q: Is it a concern to you guys that you don’t have a rushing touchdown?

HALEY: “No, not to me. As long as our run game is becoming more and more efficient – which it is – and I think we’re getting better running the football, especially this last week really was more of the way that we want to be able to run it and I was excited to be able to see a game unfold like that from a run standpoint. How we get into the end zone doesn’t really matter to me at all. It really doesn’t, provided we’re moving down the field like we did in the game here Sunday.”

Q: How’d it feel to get WR Steve Breaston those touchdowns?

HALEY: “I was really excited to get Steve here and I had past experience with him. Everybody around here is getting to really appreciate and like what Steve is all about. He’s been getting more and more comfortable, so you’re always happy to see a guy have some success. His has been building here the last few weeks, along with a lot of other guys, and that’s a good sign for our team.”

Q: Can you flash back to Arizona and talk about what you saw there that you wanted to see here?

HALEY: “Steve came into the league as what people thought was just a returner, and that’s what he started doing for us in Arizona and he did it really well. He returned a big, big kick against the Steelers I know in his rookie year out there for a touchdown, or a punt. He developed into a receiver while he was in Arizona, and I was able to see that and be a part of it, witness it. When you see a guy develop and come along as much as Steve did, it’s exciting. But really, at the same time, when you get to know guys like you’re able to when you’re with them every day, you see a little more than what everybody else sees. It was easy for me to see what Steve is made of and what’s allowed a skinny, 170-pounder coming into the league that everybody thought was strictly a returner to become a receiver that people talk about it. He’s coming along here now. I think it’s taken a little time to get comfortable with his surroundings and teammates and quarterbacks and all those things, but I love Steve. I think he’s a great addition to our team. He’s another one of those guys that just refuses to accept ‘no’ as an answer and he’s a fighter and he plays tough and he plays receiver the way I like to see it played.”

Q: With G Jon Asamoah, it seems like there is improvement each week. Am I wrong?

HALEY: “No, the last two weeks Jon has really played well. I felt [he was] kind of an unsung hero in this last game – really the last two games, in my opinion – this last game especially just because of the yardage we were able to accumulate running and he’s been right at the heart of that. He’s another young, second-year, developing player that missed an offseason this year, although he’s a very hard worker on his own. Like we said, this year was going to present a lot of challenges that everybody else was going to face, but again, in my opinion, when you have a younger roster like we do, some of those guys had some catching up to do and I think you’re really seeing him start to come on and pick up where he was when last year ended.”

Q: He’s big and strong, but it seems like he has seemingly quick feet for a guy like that?

HALEY: “He’s a guy we’ve been very excited about since the day he showed up and we were excited to get him on our team and first and foremost, jus this mentality is what you really like. You don’t hear boo out of him. You’ve got to lean in real close to hear him talk but he’s serious, he’s tough, he’s highly competitive at his job and really within the game you’ll see some emotion out of him on big plays or big runs or big first downs. Again, he’s getting more and more comfortable working in and around some of the veteran guys we have and they’re becoming a nicely, tightly-woven unit right now. That takes time, but I’m excited to see that it’s happening.”

Q: Do you expect an immediate impact from WR Jon Baldwin when he gets on the field and how it will that affect the rest of your wide receivers?

HALEY: “We talked a little yesterday just about how he’s ready to go, he was ready to go this past week but we held him out and some of that was due to the team makeup right now at the time and what we had kind of been working towards and some of that was really just because he hadn’t had a ton practice days with live bullets flying, so to speak. I’m getting more and more excited about Jon and what I think he’ll be able to offer us. But again, those 46 spots on Sunday are critical and hard. I go up to the last 90 minutes before kickoff, still mulling it over and talking with some of the coaches and trying to make sure that we get it right. Usually five of those guys you kind of know what you’re going to do just off of practice but the last two are always difficult. We’ll just have to see how this week goes and into next week how things kind of pan out.”

Q: How close was he to being active then?

HALEY: “I think real close. He did enough things in practice that we were all excited and thought that he could potentially help us. You’ve got to take into account special teams and he hadn’t done a lot of practicing on special teams because of being hurt and not being out there. We just have to do what’s best for the team right now and we won the game, so I feel like we did the right thing last week and we’ll try to work real hard on it this week. You just don’t know how things are going to go. There are a lot of variables that could change from now until next Sunday, or two Sundays from now.”

Q: Before the game, you have the quarterbacks and wide receivers working out in pre-pregame drills. Have you made a decision based on anything you saw in that?

HALEY: “No. Generally we try to do that an hour before pregame so it’s just starting when that decision has to be made. If we want to work somebody out, if it’s a different kind or injury, we’ll generally do that earlier on Sundays or on game day than when the receivers go out there and start their pre-pregame.”

Q: Noticed that you had offensive linemen moving on plays, pulling, etc. Are those things getting done better now?

HALEY: “I think that group is coming together. There were some changes coming into this year that we knew were occurring and again, with some of the challenges of the setup this particular year that everybody had to deal with, that was a big challenge for us in a number of areas – but offensive line was one of them because you missed a lot of time where you’re working those guys together and they get to know [each other], because they’re doing a lot of communicating in and during the game, while they’re on the field and while they’re off. I just think you’re seeing that group come together and Ryan (Lilja) played one of his better games I thought this past week, as they all did. When you rush for 190-something yards and score points and do some of the things we did it means most of the guys played pretty good and Ryan was one of them.”

Q: You talked about some changes on the offensive line. One of the guys that stayed the same is Casey Wiegmann. Has he continued to keep his play at a high level?

HALEY: “Yeah, I’ve been really excited about Casey. That was a big thing to all of us, especially the offensive staff and Coach [Bill] Muir and Coach [Pat] Perles and those guys for Casey to make the decision to come back. As guys get older and as long as he’s played, you’re paying attention and I always say to the older guys ‘You’ve got to show me you still have it and then I’ll take care of you a little bit.’ Casey has shown that here and like I said, the whole group is really starting to gel and come together as a unit and [Rodney] Hudson’s not far behind them, he’s right there working every spot, every practice and I’m excited about him at the same time, even though he hasn’t been out there.”

Q: With Wiegmann at 37 years old and playing so many straight games and consecutive snaps, how do you explain that? There’s got to be a little luck, but there has to be more than luck too?

HALEY: “I don’t know. I think if you could write that book you probably could make a lot of money because I think anybody that’s trying to play in the NFL, they would read it for sure. I’ve always said that to receivers, ‘Jerry Rice wrote the book on how to be great. Read it and watch it and live it.’ I don’t know. I think Casey’s a highly-competitive guy that has probably overcome odds most of his life on the athletic-football end of it and he’s achieved things that where probably countless people at each stop that said he would never achieve. And that’s kind of the makeup of our team – we’ve got a lot of guys like that. Casey’s at the top of the list. I’m just excited that our paths crossed again here during my coaching career and that he’s a part of our team. I know the guy works exceptionally, exceptionally hard. I know he’s into obstacle races and all kinds of things that average people don’t go out and try to attempt to do but he’s into that. And like I said, he’s a highly-competitive guy and there’s not a minute that goes by that you’re around him, you could be fooled very easily, but as soon as the competition starts, you see him right up at the front most times, whether it’s running gassers or drills, whatever it is.”

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