Posted Apr 7, 2010

Q: How do you feel about the new offensive line additions?

CASSEL: “You know, I’m just getting to know them. I’m excited about what we’re doing. Scott (Pioli) brought in two offensive linemen, obviously C Casey Wiegmann and G Ryan Lilja, and it’s going to just add competition at that position. That’s what Coach Haley always preaches – competition makes everybody better. It’s great to have two veteran guys in the locker room.”

Q: It seems like this project is about bringing in guys who have been part of successful programs and cultures. (G Ryan) Lilja fits that bill. How important is having a guy like that around?

CASSEL: “It’s always great to have people with experience and that also come from a winning culture. I think that kind of permeates throughout the locker room and everybody starts to feed off that. So, it’s great to have Ryan here. He’s also a guy that we’re all starting to get to know because it’s only the second week into the program. I think he’s still getting familiar with his surroundings and everybody else is kind of getting to know him right now.”

Q: With a new offensive coordinator, do you know anything about the direction of the offense or right now is this all just making sure that everybody’s in shape?

CASSEL: “Right now it’s more focused on the strength and conditioning part of the off-season. We’re focused on the body and getting in shape again. Guys have come in in great shape so far and we’ve got a new strength and conditioning coach that Coach Haley is highly involved with, with Mike Clark. Everything’s going great. We’re working out, we’re working hard, but in terms of the mental side of the ball and what we’re doing with the playbook right now, we really haven’t gotten too involved in that.”

Q: What does bringing WR Chris Chambers back mean to you?

CASSEL: “It’s great. Chris was a high-impact player for us last year; he made a lot of big plays. He’s a veteran guy; he’s a professional in every sense; he’s here right now working right now, so I think it’ll be great for us to spend a whole off-season working together and just build off what we were able to accomplish last year.”

Q: Chris was saying that the new strength and conditioning stuff was having you guys do stuff he’s never done before, and he’s been around the league for awhile. What kinds of things are you doing and are they different than anything that you’ve ever done?

CASSEL: “There’s a lot of different stuff going on and I don’t know exactly how to explain everything that we’re doing, but I’m sore in places that I haven’t been sore before. I’m walking around a little gingerly. We’re doing a lot of almost like circuit training, they call it complex training. It’s where you put a lot of different exercises together and it works not only your cardiovascular system, but it also works your muscles. It’s a great start for us. We’re only two weeks into the program, so I’m sure they’ve got a lot more coming our way.”

Q: What are your thoughts about WR Dwayne Bowe and what do you expect out of him this off-season?

CASSEL: “I think the next thing for all of us is that it’s a fresh start, it’s a new season and Dwayne is here, he’s working hard and I have high expectations for Dwayne. I think he can be a huge impact player for us. It’ll be our second year together and I think the more time we can spend together, the better. It’s just going to be one of those things where we want to get better and we’ll just continue to work at the things we need to.”

Q: Last year’s goal coming in the off-season program was weight loss. What is this year’s goal?

CASSEL: “Good question. I don’t know what the goal is. I think everybody is just collectively trying to make our team better and get prepared to go out there on the football field and win more games. Any time you win four games, that is a disappointment for us and our organization. We are getting ready to go out there and try and win more games this year.”

Q: What are your expectations for the offense out of the gate this year?

CASSEL: “It is hard to say right now. Obviously we have high expectations and we want to be as effective and efficient as we possibly can. Obviously our goal every week and every Sunday is to go out there and win ball games. I don’t think winning four games is acceptable around here and it will never be acceptable. So I think our main goal right now is to win our division and it is always going to be to win our division. Offensively speaking we have a long way to go, we have a lot to work on and that is what the off-season is about. Until we really get going and get closer to the season and do that, I will give you a better answer to that question.”

Q: As an individual, what is the most important thing you need to address this off-season?

CASSEL: “I have sat down with both Coach Haley and Coach Weis behind closed doors and we’ve talked about different things, whether it is mental or physical that we want to kind of work on this off-season and use as projects. I will keep those discussions to ourselves, but we have had those discussions and there are things that I want to do personally that will not only help myself, but also help the offense as we move forward.”

Q: What do you need to do personally?

CASSEL: “Like I said, those are discussions that have went on that I am not going to get into right now.”

Q: What has it been like for you to actually get to know offensive coordinator Charlie Weis?

CASSEL: “It has been a pretty easy process to be completely honest. Like you said, I have a lot of familiarity from New England going in there the year that he left and a lot of the offense was carry over from what Charlie had done. We started to meet and make introductions and he speaks the same language Coach Haley does and they come from similar backgrounds. It was pretty simple to get talking about football and start going over game plans, what we did and what they did, so that was pretty simple. Now it is just building that relationship and starting to understand things like, how does he call a game? And what plays do I like? That is a relationship that has to build over time.”

Q: Are things different at all this year? Last year there were a lot of new pieces. Do you think that things are starting to settle a little bit and the team is starting to get a little bit of an identity after so much transition last year?

CASSEL: “I believe so. Any time you’re around a program for a year and around a coach for a year, with Coach Haley, I think now all of us that have been here for at least a year understand the expectation level coming into it, we understand what he’s going to expect from us in the off-season program and as we move forward. That’s a little less stressful than what it was last year and we have at least a core group of guys that are here that understand their role. That’s what we need to do; we just need to continue to build on those roles.”

Q: Who do you want to see the team draft?

CASSEL: “I don’t make those decisions. I leave that stuff up to Scott Pioli and Todd Haley. That’s what they’re hired to do. I’m just here to try get better and make the team better.”

Q: Are you hoping for offense though?

CASSEL: “I’m always offense. Let’s go, offense all day long (pumps fist and laughs). I won’t be doing any of that. I’ll leave that job up to them.”

Q: At this time last year, you had Chan Gailey as your offensive coordinator. Then there were changes, but nobody made excuses last year. Are you looking forward to having this setup that you have now through the whole season?

CASSEL: “Absolutely. Like I said, it’s a fresh start for everybody. We’ll spend this whole off-season and we’ll just try to hone our skills, get better and build ourselves up and try to get better as an offensive unit, as a team and as we go into the season, hopefully build off the momentum we built up from last year in the last four games and just take that into the off-season and go with it.”

Q: Are you excited about possibilities when you look at some of the changes that have taken place?

CASSEL: “Absolutely, I’m excited. I’m excited for everything; I’m excited to be back here. I love coming here, working out; this is what we do for a job. To see everybody so enthusiastic and energized about the off-season program, it’s fun to see. As we move forward, I know these guys are going to give it their all and I’m excited to see what we can do in the future.”

Q: Is Todd Haley more mellow now?

CASSEL: “This time of year everybody’s more mellow.”

Q: Does it seem like he’s mellowed some, because once you know him, he’s got a sense of humor and he seems more gracious. Or is he just at a high 100 miles per hour all the time?

CASSEL: “Well, Coach, he’s got a fire about himself and I think as players, you appreciate that. He wants the best out of each and every player. So when he’s yelling and he sometimes gets in your face, at the end of the day, as a player, you have to realize that the only reason why he’s doing that is because expects a lot out of you and he wants you to be the best that you can be. Sometimes those lessons are tough on you and sometimes you just have to bite your lip; but at the end of the day, Coach Haley pushes us to be the best that we can be.”

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