Frank Verducci's goal for his offensive linemen is clear.
"The goal is always perfection, which you're never going to get, but literally that pursuit of the perfection is what counts," Verducci said. "When they learn just to stay after it and they're never going to be perfect, but that pursuit as far as perfect technique, perfect assignment, it goes down to splits, alignment, hand placement.
"It just encompasses so many things that you can never get all that, but I am impressed with how they've approached it and if they keep that attitude and approach two-a-days that way, I think we're going to wind up with something good."
Verducci has seen his unit get closer and closer to its target throughout spring practice.
"I've been pleased that we've made incremental progress over the 11 practices. We've only had one day where I thought we regressed and then came right back and bounced back and had a good practice following that first scrimmage," he said. "I'm encouraged with the progress that we've made so far."
Verducci saw that progress continue as the offensive line did a much better job in the second scrimmage of the spring when the linemen were allowed to cut defenders. This week, the new offensive line coach got a chance to see what the offense is like when receivers Michael Floyd and Golden Tate are in the lineup.
"Seeing what we had with 23 and 3 on the field, we didn't have them on Saturday, boy they're both difference-makers. It was a more realistic look, but again we certainly didn't have all of our weapons," he said. "The thing that it did show is that we are making progress. I was pleased with the things that I got to see at full speed, so I felt that we made progress in the last week."
Verducci is not interested in having his players show him that they can do their job, he wants them to prove to him that they can do it every time.
"If they go out there one time and they flash the ability to do something, you have to ask yourself, ‘Is it skill or luck?' The more they do it over and over and over, you have to say it's an acquired skill," he said. "So the fact that they went out there and had a chance to do it again and did produce again tells me that they are catching onto it, that the consistency factor, which is basically what the position is all about, is starting to develop."
As the linemen continue to improve, their coach will continue to raise the bar.
"You're always trying to push the envelope as far as the progress that you make and for everything that you do, you're always looking to head to the next thing," he said. "My job is to keep a perspective on it and I look back and say, ‘OK, we've had 11 practices with these guys, where are we at?' The effort that they've given, the things that they have absorbed to this point, again, keep me positive about the progress."
Verducci has used spring practice as a chance to learn about his players and for his players to learn about him as much as anything.
"I just really felt like with 15 practices, the most important thing was that I could get an evaluation on them and they could get an understanding of what my standards are," he said.
Verducci will step it up a notch when the team comes back for preseason camp.
"I'm really just looking forward to getting them all healthy and getting them out there in August where we can really make a jump," he said. "I mean within the first two weeks of training camp we're going to surpass the number of practices that we've had to date here over the past month. That's really what I've got my focus on at this point."
He believes that the largest steps left for the offensive line to take have to do with technique and not the X's and O's.
"Assignment-wise, I think we're pretty solid, it's just the technique stuff, the day-to-day consistency," he said. "We'll flash that we know how to do it at times and then we'll not do it another time, so the consistency of doing it over and over are things that you kind of harp on."
But he is confident that this group has the determination to put in the work.
"Again, the effort that they've given, the investment that they've made and the attitude that they show up with everyday encourages me that when we get into the real tough time during August and we're grinding on them getting ready for the season, they'll respond," Verducci said.