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What We Learned From Tuesday's Media Availability

Defensive Coordinator Bob Sutton, Special Teams Coordinator Dave Toub, RB Spencer Ware, LB Dee Ford and DL Chris Jones spoke with the media on Tuesday


Q:Are there some young guys that you're particularly interested in getting at look at in a game environment?

SUTTON:"I don't know if it's just the young guys, we have a lot of different people that are working their way in or working on different units so it's going to be a combination. Obviously the young guys who we haven't seen play that's always of interest to all the coaches because as much as we can evaluate them here, it's not until they really get out there and they have to do it on their own by themselves they have to bounce back from a bad play. That's a big part of the NFL, you get knocked down a lot in this league. From standpoints there's a lot of good players on different teams and they're going to get a handful of good plays against you and the individuals and the units, and teams that stay focused and not get shook up and not lose the confidence in themselves and the system are the guys, and teams, and units that end up being successful. That's the biggest thing. I've never been able to figure it out until you see them play, exactly what they're going to do in true competition. This is awesome here, but it's still different than game time." Q:What have you seen from Chris Jones in the couple days in pads?

SUTTON:"Chris is a very talented guy. He's a big man, and he's very athletic for a big man. I think he's shown very well here, and these first couple of padded practices he's shown that he's got some ability to stop the run and he also shows that obviously he's got pass rush ability. He can move, for a big man he can get in small spaces and turn his body and he's got a great wingspan. When his hand goes up you don't have a lot of daylight in there to see. I think he's done a really good job. Like all young guys that are trying to establish themselves the way you become a starter in these league you have to be consistent and that's the challenge with every player. Whether you're a young guy or the guy who's trying to get the job you have to be consistent because that's how you choose your players."

Q:What's your camp objective for Dee Ford? SUTTON:"He's like most of our guys, he has to keep playing very well for us and keep improving. I thought he had a really good offseason in OTAs. He registered a very good season where he showed us some really positive things. I've answered the same way to Dee, it's about being consistent. He's done a great job. He had some great get offs today out there. He's working really hard and obviously with Justin being injured, that's really a key guy for us, and we need him [Ford] to step forward."

Q:I know you like Eric Murray, at 5'11 200 is he big enough to hang in there, safeties have to be able to bang a little bit?

SUTTON:"I don't think there's any problem with that. In college he was a physically tough player, he's aggressive basing that both on what we've seen and what we saw in college. He was physical in college so I think the physical part will be the least of our concern with him in there. He has to come in, again the transition inside you have a lot more things happening and they happen both ways. On the outside you kind of know what's going on, inside you're dealing with a lot of things. You have runs, you have passes, you have runs that are passes that are crossing formation quickly. So there are a lot of things you have to have good eyes and instincts for, that's the big challenge for Eric. To get enough reps in there and for us to see if we think we're right and this guy can play. Like I've said before one of the advantages if he can make that transition then he gives you a really good cover man inside, and that's huge in our league. You get spread out a lot, empties and tight ends that move out of the core so to have a corner that is a safety could be a huge advantage for us."

Q:Dee Ford had mentioned that he felt like he had to lay off the weights. That early on in his professional career he felt like he was in the weight room too much and that was taxing his body for game day. Do you feel like maybe him do a little less of that this year is going to help him play more of a role?

SUTTON:"I don't know anything about that. I can only judge what I see on the film. That's between him and the strength coach. I wouldn't really have a comment on that."

Q:On KeiVarae Russell he seems like a pretty bright guy. How well is he taking to the adjustments you guys have been asking him to make?

SUTTON:"He's done a good job. He's got a ways to go like all of the young guys. This thing keeps getting ramped up, from the standpoint of there's more installs what we're putting in and then you have to deal with the offense and whatever they're putting in for that couple days. There's a multiple factor that's occurring so all those things start to run together a little bit, and like any of the guys who haven't been in the system long it takes a little bit of time. I think he's worked hard at it, he's trying to improve, he's still got a long ways to go like some of the other young guys, but we've been happy with what he's done. He has ability, and we just have to keep coaching him and get the dog out of him, and I think he'll be fine."

Q:You guys have a lot of young guys. Has that created a challenge for the guys in the secondary?

SUTTON:"No, I think every year is different dynamics, different groups. We've got a lot of safeties that have come through here in three years, and transitioned from one to another and we have to do the same thing this year, whether they're safeties or corners or whatever. The only way you can do this, I think, is to just get a little bit better everyday. You have to have the toughness and grit and kind of push yourself. It's all about habits, and the habits are formed out here. Like we tell the players all of the time when you come on this field you're going to form a habit, a good one or a bad one. You're going to form a habit, you don't get to be neutral and walk away from it. That's the challenge in camp, you seem to really demand a lot of yourself and stay focused. You can't allow boredom to seep in, that's part of being tough mentally. I'm doing that same drill and I'm doing it better with new energy and new intense focus for that same drill you're doing or the same periods that we have there. That's the key. That's one of the biggest things we push during camp is these are important days you can't one slide by and think you can get it next week. Or you have this many days until opening. In the moment, this is the most important thing you can do to help us and help you develop as a player."

Q: In the absence of Eric Berry and these younger guys getting more reps, how much does that benefit them and maybe you as a coach?

SUTTON: "Well you know there's good and bad obviously. We'd like to have him be here, but it's kind of like when a guy gets knicked up.  The next guys got to go in there and rep. This is true, at least every year I've been in the league, players when they sit here they look out and they kind of count and figure out, okay I'm this or I'm this on the depth charts. Before this seasons up, there's going to be a handful of guys that aren't starters that are going to be starters. They can't wait until that week to become a starter. You have to prepare right now like you're going to start. There's no hall passes, rookie, new guy in the system, whatever, you're here. On Sunday's when you take the field the team that goes out on the field is the team. Your expectations are to be a starter. You don't get to prorate it and say you're his backup, no you're a starter. Every guy here is counting on you to be prepared. We count on you so that's been an advantage from the standpoint of reps. They have to take advantage of that right now."

Q: What about Marcus Peters. What have you liked so far?

SUTTON: "Well I think he's come back and again I'm relating this from this whole process here from OTAs on. He's done a really job of preparing and improving and Marcus is no different from anyone else. You don't get to start at the top of the mountain again. You've got to start back at the bottom and you've got to build your game and build your technique. The things you're doing right now and the things you do in practice, those are the pillars that you need for a player, those are the tools you need in your tool box. Whatever those techniques are, you've got to develop them here and become an expert at those. That's back to the same idea of focus and intensity. I'm not talking intensely jumping up and down, I'm talking concentration. This is my chance in this drill to get it, whether it's in your own group or you're going against an offense player one-on-one. I've got to be in this moment and I've got to do a great job. That's the competition we're looking for."

Q: Andy Mulumba free agent from Green Bay, he's a kid getting a lot of chances with Justin and Tamba out, what are your thoughts and observations about him so far?

SUTTON: "He's done a really good job. That's a position that's multi-faceted, there's base, a lot of coverage aspects. There's a lot of things we do with these guys that we ask players from zone coverage drops, and blitzes, to rushing the passer, to covering backside. Learning that position is really a big challenge I think. It's not just an outside guy that's rushing all the time. There's a lot. I think Andy's done a really good job. He's an all-out player that busts his tail. He snaps off to the ball when it's a throw and a run. You know we've been happy with what he's brought. He's a big strong guy and I just think he's going to keep getting better and better."

Q: We talked a little bit about Marcus Peters earlier, on the other side Sean Smith has left a huge void. I was just wondering candidate wise who stood out to you these first few days?

SUTTON: "Well we're really looking at everybody. Obviously we have Phillip Gaines whose working his ways back in off of the injury and we think he's done a good job. We have Steve Nelson who's playing out there as well, and also playing inside. Then we've got all of the young corners out there whether they're lined up on that side we're just evaluating it as corners. Who can go out there and play. I don't think we're anywhere near making a call on that until we see them all in action. To include Phillip Gaines, we're probably not going to know until right at the end."


Q:I know it's early, but do you know the punt return order by chance?

TOUB: "No, not until we play a game. I think it'll just sort itself out. You never go live – here – at training camp, so you never know what you got. After that first preseason game, we'll know a lot more."

Q:I noticed 81 [Tyreek Hill] is out there – are you just mixing it up?

TOUB: "81 [Tyreek Hill] is a good player. We're just mixing it up."

Q:What do you like about Tyreek [Hill]?

TOUB: "He's got great, great catching. For a rookie coming in, he's really advanced as a catcher – a punt catcher. That's number one, and then, he's got a really great first step. He's got top speed. We think he's strong, and we think he's tough."

Q:How can you test out here how good a guy is at catching tough stuff?

TOUB: "Well, the situation that we had today with the punt team coming down and flying by – that tells us a lot. Every one of them caught the ball well. So, we try and put them in those situations as much as we can. You know, it's hard to do that all the time because we're practicing so long, and we're asking them to do a lot of running there. It's something that we will probably do four or five times this training camp. It's really the preseason games where we're really going to evaluate – not only the returners, but all of our special teams players – where you can live tackle in kickoff situations, and punt situations and return game too."

Q:Are you ever amazed by how much Tyreek Hill can close space?

TOUB: "I'm not surprised by it. The guys that are going against him are surprised by it because you can see it. They think they've got an angle and all of the sudden – bam – they're done. He also has the ability to change things. He'll show you one speed, and then all of a sudden, he has another gear. He's dangerous. He's going to be dangerous, and we're excited."

Q:Is it luxury to not have competition with kicker, punter or long snapper?

TOUB: "Yeah, that's a good question. Last year, we were trying to figure out who our long snapper was, and every day we had competitions. You know, it is. Now, we know what these guys are. They're coming in at a high level. Veteran guys that are leaders – especially [Dustin] Colquitt – it helps us. It's something that I don't have to worry about, and I can concentrate more on the cover guys."

Q:How often are we going to see De'Anthony Thomas this year on punt return?

TOUB: "You're going to see him a lot, especially in the preseason. You know, we want to feature all of our guys as much as we can. Hopefully, we get a lot of punt returns in the games."

Q:As far as [Tyreek] Hill, are you looking at him for punt returns and kick returns?

TOUB: "Kickoffs and punts."

Q:Have there been any other rookies that have stood out to you?

TOUB: "[Demarcus] Robinson looks good. We have a whole stable of returners right now. It looks like individual practices are wide receivers because they are all out there. Everybody wants to do it. It's important. Everyone is taking it seriously and is out there catching, concentrating and focusing. There's a lot of competition here, so it brings out the best in guys, and he's one of the guys."

Q:Is this an all-time high of willingness to do that? 

TOUB: "Our whole team is willing right now. We had a little taste last year, and you could really feel the intensity. You can tell they focus in practice. The guys are working. It's really been a pleasure to coach these guys."

Q:Does Knile Davis still fit in kick return?

TOUB: "Yes, Knile [Davis] is still our number one kick returner. He took the first one back in the playoff game. He's an excellent player. He came back in the best shape of his life. The conditioning test, I think he was first out of all of those guys. He's lean, he's ready to go, he's focused and he's ready to compete."

Q:So you think he can earn a spot on the roster on special teams only given some of the other numbers?

TOUB: "He's starting to do a lot. He's not only a kick returner now. We're working him in as a cover guy as well, and he's doing a lot as a mike in punt return. He's taking it seriously. He knows it's important. His focus is there."

Q:Have you noticed Cairo Santos leg getting stronger?

TOUB: "I noticed that. We haven't had a lot of kicking. We've only taken two days. His kickoffs look good, but there seems to be a little bit more pop in his leg and that's going to help him."


Q:Does it feel like last year a little bit without Jamaal (Charles) out there?

WARE: "No not really. I wish he was out there, we miss him out there, everybody does."

Q: Can you notice a difference between the offensive and defensive lines in this training camp compared to where the guys were at those positions a season ago?

WARE: "I really can't say because I wasn't getting reps with the 1's last year to know, but I watched those guys and then now that I'm in the rotation and getting a feel for it, it's going to be good."

Q: Do you think you'll be catching some passes out in the backfield this year?

WARE: "Yeah absolutely. We try to utilize all our running backs and our skill set. Just find ways to attack the defense."

Q: (Charcandrick West): What do you think of Charcandrick West?

WARE: "I like Charcandrick West. The only thing I really don't like is that his number is three digits away from mine, it's too close. But that's about it."

Q: Do people still confuse you two?

WARE: "No, no. (West, in crowd, responds 'He's bigger.') My face is wider, his is longer."

Q: Does Charcandrick smile too much?

WARE: "No it's good to smile. He makes me smile. He makes my day a lot easier out here. I love the running back core, we're great friends. It's a brotherhood. Even when we're at our lowest point or our highest point, we always strive to get better and we've always got each other's back."

Q: What do you hear from Jamaal (Charles) these days; do you still see him everyday?

WARE: "Absolutely. He's good, getting healthy. Can't wait for him to get back."


Q: Where you see yourself in the grand scheme of things, with the injuries to Justin Houston and Tamba Hali?

FORD: "I'm here to do what I've always wanted to do. As far as my goals, I see this as an opportunity. I knew at some point this is where I would be. So for the last couple of years I have been working to get to this point. This is a chance for me to step up and really show what I can do."

Q: You were talking some of those benefits, getting extra reps through OTAs, through minicamps and the first few days of camp. Do you think you're farther along now than you would've been?

FORD: "I don't want to say that. I would say the reps are kind of synonymous. I've gotten a lot of reps in offseason and training camp. The experience from games is what is going to help."

Q: How is Dee Ford the player different from your rookie season to now coming in as a veteran?

FORD: "Smarter, a lot smarter. I understand the philosophy, I've always understood the philosophy, but with time, you're just going to get that much better."

Q: How do you feel about your speed coming off the ball right now? Soon as the ball is snapped you're off the line. Bob Sutton mentioned you got a lot of really good jumps today.

FORD: "This is the time I really like to work it because your legs are dead. Of course you're going to be way faster on game day. Anytime you can still get speed off of the ball knowing that the environment of training camp is to get you into shape and train you to the extreme so game day is easy. So with getting some jumps off the ball today knowing that we've come in, we've done conditioning, we've done extensive amounts of some plays and can still get that burst. I just know I'm going to be that much faster on Sundays."

* *

DL CHRIS JONES Q: How's your first week going so far?* JONES:*

"It's exciting. There are a lot of new things going on. It's also different -- a lot different from rookie training camp, but it's going well. I'm starting to get a feel for everything, and it's a lot faster than college football but that's okay." 

Q:Do you feel like you belong here yet?JONES:"Yes I do, but I have a lot of work to improve on yet and a lot of details to clean and fix up. Just smaller details like my stepping, eye and hand placement. Mostly being able to remain consistent and persistent in those areas."

Q:Has the talent of this team's offensive line met your expectations?JONES:"We've got a great group of guys here. I thought they'd be very talented players coming into this -- which they are. I'm just trying to compete day-in and day-out. They're NFL players so they're here for a reason, but I'm also an NFL player and I'm here to compete."

Q:How tough will the competition be with this team's defensive front? JONES:"They keep us competitive. It keeps us on our heels. I know I've got three good guys in front of me with Jaye Howard, [Dontari] Poe, and Allen Bailey. They make me want to compete. As a competitor, I want to play at a higher level than they do. It keeps that competitive edge going throughout our whole group."

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