The way practice is set up right now without pads, do you feel you can get a real good read on your guys without contact?"Not physically, but mentally, so the emphasis becomes more mentally to see how much they have retained from spring practice; how much carryover there is from spring practice to those days in shorts and helmets. That's what you want to get accomplished. We knock some rust off on fundamentals and get them moving around and get them back into football shape. The mental aspect is what you want to see; how much carryover they have."
How much carryover did they have?"It's been good. Older guys, veteran guys, carry more over than younger guys."
You have been pretty demonstrative at practices. Do you feel like you have to light a fire under these guys to run between drills sometimes, and between reps, and those kinds of things?"I think that's football. That's pretty much everyday life for football practice. What you try to do is create habits, good habits. It's just the way to create good habits so they will do it over and over again so it becomes second nature."
Do you have older guys who are helping create these habits?"Yes, absolutely, no doubt. They see younger guys; you can hear them when they see younger guys not doing something right. You want the older guys to correct the younger guys whether it be effort, fundamentals; you want them to constantly have dialog and be coaches on the field. It keeps their mind in it. It keeps them sharp and there also is a peer pressure thing there too. I think it's good when older guys utilize that role and coach."
Is Sam Young the most natural guy at that?"I think most of the older guys have gotten to that point. I think it is just kind of a growing through the program process. Once they have been on the other end of the spectrum, they understand that now because they have lived it and experienced it. Hopefully, they have taken on those roles."
Matt Romine has been a hard-luck guy with injuries. Where is he right now?"Matt's doing okay. Matt had some bad luck in the fall and in the spring, but that's part of the game and you don't worry about that. You just know that he is going to be a little bit behind because of that. And you just keep plugging away with him. I think he's doing okay."
How long is the left-tackle battle going to go on between Paul Duncan and Mike Turkovich?"Until it clears itself up. I'm not going to make that decision. Ultimately, they are. When that gets cleared up in our minds, once we see enough of one person doing the best job, that's when it will clear up. There's no way I can pinpoint that."
Are they splitting things pretty much 50-50 right now?"Right now, it's been that way."
Why did Turk make the move from guard to tackle? Was Chris Stewart pushing him out or was he better suited for that position?"Stewart's on the right side, Turk was on the left side. When you're throwing the football, ideally, your best pass-protector, if at all possible, is playing the left tackle. So we're trying to see who is going to be the best pass-protector over there to play that. That's an important position when you're throwing the football with a right-handed quarterback, which we have. So we're trying to find out who is the best one to do that."
Was there anything about his footwork in the past that made you think he might excel at that?"No, what I like is that we have two older veteran guys who have playing experience at that position. I think that gives us the best opportunity to find out who's going to be the best at that position."
Is that the kind of position where you'd want to have more than one good player?"That's why it's a good thing they are both battling for it. Obviously, we feel good enough for both of them to battle it and we feel good enough that both could play there."
Do you feel like you have six guys out there that you can trust, but beyond that, there are a lot of questions?"Yes, we have six real veterans and those are the guys who have been around more than two years and those are the six guys that we know about. It's early in camp; we've had one day in shoulder pads. I like the attitude and I like the willingness and I like how much they have retained from spring to this point. We're just going to keep building on that foundation on a daily basis."
Is there a noticeable difference in their strength and what they are able to do in practice?"Obviously, you can see that they are bigger and stronger. It's still real early in camp to see all of that because, obviously, the first time you put shoulder pads on, you play a little high and you've got to get used to playing low. That really is the tell-tale, how strong you are. Then when you put the full gear on, there will be another little process of getting used to all the pads and you've got to get them to play pad leverage lower and lower. After three or four days in full gear, they start to get back that leverage."
Did the guys like mixing it up yesterday and getting to play in front of people?"To be honest, I haven't even talked to them about that, but I will ask them this afternoon before practice. That's an interesting question. To be honest with you, once you get out there and get started, you don't really notice it. It was great the fans showing up and being out there. But when you're working and playing, I don't know how much you notice that in practice. You notice more, of course, in games but that's 80 some thousand. It's easier to notice that."
Is there anybody getting close to joining that six at this point?"There's a group of guys and they're the guys that have been in our program more than a year. It's time for them to start making a step forward."
Until then, would somebody like a Mike Turkovich be considered for the left-guard position?"It could be him but it all depends on who wins the left-tackle. One of those guys might end up being a utility. We had a guy years ago that really never played a whole lot starting off but had a value to us because he could go in and fill a hole or a void at every position but center. Eventually, you have to get those younger guys to come on so that you have eight or so guys, but I feel solid with the six that we have and hopefully we'll get some of the younger guys to move forward."
The left-tackle position no doubt is very important as there were several left-tackles taken early in this year's NFL Draft. Why is that?"They're like quarterbacks, you have to have one. It's hard to play football without a quarterback, unless you play option. But if you are a pro-style type team, you have to have a quarterback and you've got to have a left-tackle. You have to have a lot of other things, but you'd better have those things in place."