Weis Practice Comments

Coach Weis met with the media Sunday following team practice in full pads. Coach Weis began the session in an all-business-like manner, but about halfway through the session interjected some typical Weis humor into the mix.

Did the tempo of the practice pick up to your satisfaction?

"The tempo of practice was pretty good. It was a very physical practice and that was what the intent was. The intent was to smack ‘em around pretty good for a lot of hours. And there are a lot of sore puppies right now. Fortunately, no one got banged up, but there are a lot of sore puppies."

What are some of the things you do when you want the practice to be more physical? Is it a tempo thing?

"You set up several contact situations, and there are a whole bunch of them. We isolated a couple of situations today. We put in red area; we put in third down as we finished the first time through. In the red area and on third down, you can't do those things without being physical, so in those team segments we banged them around pretty good. Now that we got in red zone and third down, we also introduced them for the first time to down and distance. Because until you put in third down, you can't go first, second, and third and interchange personnel and go different personnel groups on offense and substitutions on defense. Even though we didn't do it for a long time at the end, we did get to go through a couple of groups for at least a couple of series. They got a sprinkling of a better feel for how the game is played."

What is your comfort level at the Sam position with Mitchell Thomas and Anthony Vernaglia?

"I've been encouraged. They bring different things to the table. I've been encouraged with both their play. I'll be interested to see what happens tomorrow night when it's more like a game situation because what happens a lot of time in a controlled environment, you don't get as much of a read as when the coaches are no longer on the field. The coaches aren't spoon-feeding you anymore and if you go out there and you are misaligned, the coach can holler out, ‘widen out' or ‘this is where you need to be'. Now all of a sudden when they're on the sideline, now you have to start thinking for yourself and working with your teammates. So far, so good; but when the coaches tomorrow night go off to the sideline, I would like to see how the communication goes with players. Therefore, I will have a better feel for both Mitchell and Anthony when that ends up happening."

How is Junior Jabbie progressing; is he a little rusty and is he in the mix as a returner?

"Actually, he has just started to earn himself some extra reps. He came in and he wasn't in very good shape - and rusty is partially fair. Being not in very good shape, you can do something about that too. He is starting to earn some reps, but I'm not saying he's moved to the top of the depth chart, but he actually is playing himself into some consideration. On Wednesday we will have an hour of practice with nothing but special teams. So just like I reserve judgment on starting to place people on depth charts until after we have scrimmaged a couple of times, I do the same thing on special teams. When you have a controlled drill, certain players stand out on certain plays, but it's a lot different when the referees are there and all that stuff is going on. We'll see how it goes. He could play himself into the mix, but we have several candidates at kickoff returner."

Could you describe the differences between John Carlson and Marcus Freeman? Is one or the other beginning to pull away?

"They both have shown that they can block and catch. So let's start with similarities. When you have two tight ends who can do that, it gives you a lot more flexibility because then you don't get pigeon-holed into doing certain things. One of the biggest problems with tight ends is when they are only one-dimensional; where all they can do is block or all they can do is catch. But I think both of them have enough versatility athletically to hold their own in both the passing game and the blocking game. So I like to think there are a lot of similarities more than contrasts. I think they are a good complement and they are pushing each other and that's the way you want it. You want competition with guys you have confidence in and I have confidence in both those players. Every day I pick out a couple of players who are going up the depth chart in my trust category and last night Marcus was one of the ones I was talking about."

You banged up pretty hard today and tomorrow you have two-a-days. What will those practices be like?

"We'll go real light tomorrow morning because we are going to go heavy tomorrow night. At 8:00 tonight, I will kind of tweak the schedule. We'll go out there less. As a matter of fact, while I'm on that subject - and they don't know this yet but I'll tell you if you don't tell them as I will tell them at the 8:00 meeting - we are going to hatch some meeting time in the morning where it would be extra practice time. So we're going to go on the field from 10:30 until 11:30 and the first 20 minutes is yours. So we start at 10:30 and so when we're up, you're up; so you'll know what your access is as far as that goes. But in the morning we will go real light and I probably won't even have those protective shells I like to wear. I may take those off and just have them in jerseys and helmets and do more situational stuff. There are some guys I want to get into the mix, like Ryan Harris, tomorrow and put in there for the first time, so that's the perfect tempo to introduce him for the first time back in there."

When Ryan Harris comes back, where does Sam Young shift to?

"He'll compete for the starting right tackle - that's the first thing he'll do - and be able to back up at left tackle. When Ryan is in there and going; Ryan is in there."

You were basing Marcus Freeman's trust on yesterday's performance?

"No, all through training camp he has just been very consistent and solid. You don't base it off of one day because you can have ups and downs, peaks and valleys, but he has been very consistent and that's when I gain trust in a player."

You have mentioned that Brady has talked to Tom Brady and other quarterbacks. Do you have the kickers watch tapes of Vinatieri?

"Geoff (Price), one of the reasons he is booming the ball so well is that he spent a bunch of time with Hunter Smith with the Colts. We've got them all over the place. Now that Adam is in Indianapolis, he'll be a great resource for our kickers too. Everything we do, we have to do through compliance because there are certain things they can do and there are certain things they can't do. I just can't call Adam up and say, can you come over here and work with the kickers. I have to call (Mike) Karwoski up because I don't even know the rules sometimes and I'll say, ‘Mike, what do I have to do to get the kickers some advice from Adam Vinatieri'. Hunter did get time to spend with Geoff and I think the residual effect is obvious if you see him out there, because he is booming the ball right now."

Did you do that when Brady Quinn spoke to Peyton Manning and Brett Favre?

"He can call them; they can't call him. It's just like a recruit. It's unbelievable. I can text you, but you can call me if you are a recruit. I can't call you, but I can text you and say give me a call. One of the things you guys should do, because all of you do a great job of research, you should read the compliance book sometime and take the compliance test. It's a book about this big (3-4 inches thick) and it's nothing but rules and regulations. It's a 40-question test, and I forget exactly the time; but I did it a lot quicker this year than I did last year. But it's like I haven't taken a test in all these years; wow. You should take that test. There are rules you would say, I just don't get it."

How did you do on the test and how long did it take you to do it?

"I got 40 out of 40 in case you are wondering. I did okay on the time; the girl thought I must have been cheating."

You said you needed the week to get the No. 2 quarterback in focus, are you still working on that?

"I want to definitely get through tomorrow night. I want to see what they can do when we're not standing right behind them and all of a sudden they have the play and no one is near them, and it's their huddle. We have the play called and a blitz is coming or there is some pressure and they have to make a good decision. I think it's more a game-type decision. We have three nights that we are going to go into the stadium, tomorrow being one of them, and you can't wait that late to make a call on it. So I think tomorrow night will move us a little closer to making that decision."

There's a possibility you could have 18 seniors starting this season; do you see pluses and minuses to having so many senior starters?

"I've said before, there's nothing better than experience, but you also have to be able to play. As I also have said, I will play as many freshmen as I can too; for the same reasons. If the freshman is the best player, the freshman is the best player. It's great to have experience as long as you can play. And it's just being very practical when I give that answer."

You were talking about the No. 2 quarterback spot; does that go for other positions too, such as Sam?

"We won't have to make it tomorrow night, but as the players have been told by me because I'm very honest with the players, I told them after tomorrow night we are going to have to stop repping three full teams because we have been trying to rep everyone to give everyone a fair shake. But after tomorrow night, we are going to start repping two full teams. And then we are going to begin repping one full team and I call them 1's and 1A's; the first guys and the first substitutions. After that, because you start narrowing down as you get closer to game time, you are not looking to get the two-deeps equal reps. Obviously, the first guys are going to get a lot more reps than the second guys are."

Are you open to changing the backup depth chart once the season starts?

"I just said it on the field today fifteen minutes ago, I explained that very thing. I said once these depth charts are set, they are not etched in stone. There could be somebody who starts lighting it up down on the other end of the field and we say, we have to get him in here. Or it might be somebody who plays on special teams but they're not in the two-deep on offense or defense but play on special teams, and they go there and all of a sudden there's a situation where you put them in a game and they make a couple of plays. Yes, those depth charts can change, especially as injuries occur, but even by earning the right to move. And it works the other way too now. The guy up here can move down the other way too. So it isn't just guys moving up; it's guys moving down as well."

If Travis Thomas is going to be an every-down linebacker and get some offensive reps, how will this affect his special teams play?

"There are four major special team units, not slighting field goal or field goal block. You have punt, punt return, kickoff, kickoff return. What you do with a guy like that - that was on four units because I believe in playing the best guys - is don't play him on four units. You play him on two units instead of four units. But if he is the personnel protector on the punt team, you can bet he's going to be the personnel protector on the punt team because that job is just too important. It's not like you say, ‘Okay Travis, you're the starting linebacker; you don't do that anymore'. That's why Zibby and Mo Crum are still on the punt team. Because the last thing you want to do is put somebody on the punt team you don't have confidence in and all of a sudden the punt is getting blocked and you are losing. You just don't play him on all four units; you cut down the units you play him on by prioritizing which ones he can help us win the games."

You still haven't figured out who No. 2 is yet, but if one of those guys had to play, how confident are you in those guys in that group?

"There are two different mentalities - one mentality is finishing the game and the other is building the game plan around the player - so they are two different things. One is you have a game plan and now you are putting someone in to run that plan. The other one is, you lose the first guy, now you have to play the guy that will give you the best chance to win; and the answer might not be the same guy. They are two totally different situations so when you are looking at a backup quarterback, you have to look at two different situations. One is: the guy is out four plays because he is dinged and the other is: the guy is hurt and he is going to be gone for awhile and we still have to win the game. You can't throw in the towel because your quarterback gets hurt. Obviously, no matter where you go, when your first quarterback goes out, there is going to be a big drop off to the second one. Teams that are usually most prepared are ones who can handle that and don't turn it into a complete crisis."

How serious is Sam Young as a contender as a starter?

"Serious. He is a serious contender. That means, if he ends up being the best guy there, and he might be, he'll end up being in there."

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