What are your first impressions of James Aldridge?"I like a lot of what I see. He's big, powerful, and has very good quickness for a guy with his size, and that fires me up. He is going to have an uphill battle as there is going to be great competition for this running-back position. The two guys who handled the position are back and will be back for another year after that. So he has work cut out for him, but athletically it's tough not to like what you see from him. I'm encouraged with him as a player."
How is the development of the backup quarterbacks progressing?"They're making progress, but I would say the progress is slow. I think both of them have gotten better, but the problem is, you have a tough time being objective when you have that number 10 being the guy in there first. You really have to do your homework, and that is why I don't make any rash decisions until I have watched the tape of practice, because you have to remember this is not Brady Quinn going in there. But more importantly, I want to take a very close look at every snap from the whole spring. Every time they are doing anything that is competitive, even if it is one-on-one, I want to be able to watch that and see how they go. They are doing a better job of running the huddle, but the easiest way to lose a team is to get in the huddle and not be able to call a play. We're not having that problem with either one of them, so at least they know how to run the operation, and they know how to identify the "mike" linebacker which is what we do. As far as execution goes, I'm going to refrain from judgment until the spring is over, and I really get an opportunity to sit back and study what I'm seeing."
Have you been able to handle the offense differently this spring compared to last year?"Fortunately, I have been put in a position where I can go around to different spots in the offense and where I can go down and watch the defense a lot more and the individual group periods because of the redundancy and number of times of what we are doing on the offense. If something is new, I will be down there with the offense, but the rest of the time I want to get a better understanding for what I believe physically our guys are capable of doing on offense. The best way for me to give any input or inject opinions with Rick (Minter), Jappy (Oliver), and Bill (Lewis) is by being down there and watching and not just watching things on tape. Sometimes watching on tape doesn't give the feel for the energy that is taking place. You can see x's and o's and assignments, but you can't feel the energy. This year the offensive staff has been able to run with a lot more, I think I'm doing a better job of evaluating both offensive and defensive players and special teams as well. I'm not necessarily watching the coaches but the fundamentals and techniques. It allows me to sit there and say this guy is on the rise and I think this guy is no good, and I obviously say those things based on what I see. Then when it is time for the offense to go against the defense I'm back talking with Brady and the other quarterbacks and then after practice I sit and watch the tape."
Is there anybody on the rise at the linebacker spot and if so would you like to name them?"Yes and no. The whole group has improved but there are certain guys moving up faster then the other guys. Those are the guys who are going to get the opportunity to play and some of that will play out by the time we play the spring game."
Did you work on special teams out there today?"We worked on kick-off returns because it's tough to get the full field going with wedge and the height of and the timing of the wedge and things when you're inside. It was a big plus to be outside today."
Do you have guys that are stepping up as returners?"Today we went with a couple of the more inexperienced guys, because I'm looking for guys who can run fast that are new to the position. We looked at George West, but we also put Terrail Lambert back there today. Terrail has front line speed but last year he played most of the season with a cast on. The last thing you want is a guy back there handling the ball with a cast on. I'm only looking for guys who can run real fast, and those two guys got the bulk of the reps today but come Saturday it might be someone else."
How is the pass rush progressing this spring?"The problem is, I've been too encouraged and that's good and bad. It's good for the defense but bad for the offense. Things have been very up-tempo, especially with the guys that have played a bunch. Those first four guys have done a good job of getting off the ball. We have been emphasizing straight rushing to see if they can actually beat people, because at some point you are going to have to beat a guy one-on-one."
How is Rhema McKnight doing?"Rhema is ready to play. I have a lot bigger problems than Rhema. I wish I had a few more Rhemas out there."