The opener is huge. It kicks the season off and you begin to find out where you are as a football team. Every year, the opener is a huge game.
How did the practice go today?
The defensive side of the ball really stood out today. Especially in the third down area, which is really, really encouraging. Probably out of 20 third down attempts, we might have picked up four first downs. You talk about 20 percent efficiency on third down, so on the one hand it's the best we've ever had in that type of scrimmage since we've been here. Obviously some improvement to make offensively.
Is Alex Loukas still a candidate on defense or are you going to keep him on offense?
I suppose if there were some need for him to go back to defense he'd have the ability because he has the base of the system down, but we've moved him over to the offensive side full time.
Is the thinking that he'll be your No. 2 guy and he'll need lots of reps on offense?
Yes. He's our No. 2 quarterback. That's a valuable position and one that needs reps, so that's our thinking.
Coach, in that open practice last Thursday we saw Corey Gatewood playing offense. Is that a permanent thing, and where does he stand position-wise?
It's something that Corey approached the coaching staff about so we let him come back there. We know there are some things he can do offensively, but I think the way the competition was going at corner he felt like his best chance to help the football team and get a lot of action was on the offensive side of the ball.
Does that mean Bademosi is pretty much locked into that corner spot opposite Richard Sherman?
He's No. 1. I wouldn't use the word locked, don't use that as my voice.
What's the competition like in the rest of the defensive backfield?
There's a lot of competition. Barry Browning again, has risen up the depth chart and is working with the ones right now with Sherman working through something physically. It's been a lot of competition there, yes.
Is Gaffney hurt?
He's working through something.
Any idea when he'll be back?
Yeah, when he's well.
Same with Sherman, when he's well?
Yeah. But it's been good. It's been a good camp. We have a football team right now that we checked the statistics and it's a healthier team than it was last year at this time by quite a bit. There's nobody who's had a season-ending injury. The guys are working through things, but we expect them back in a pretty timely fashion.
Then, Cleophus Robinson did retire from football. He came in with pre-existing shoulder injuries and didn't feel like he could continue playing football.
In the open practice Anthony Wilkerson looked really good to me. You don't usually talk about him with the other four running backs who are in the mix for playing time (Usua Amanam, Stepfan Taylor, Jeremy Stewart, Tyler Gaffney) but how does Wilkerson fit into the running back mix for this year?
He'll be in the mix. There's no question that the talent is there and he has all the tools. But when he will be game-ready with understanding all the intricacies to play that position in terms of protection and assignment blocking rules, it might be ‘x' amount of games into the season before he's ready to go.
Has there been any change in the running back pecking order?
No. They've all done very good things and you could talk about each guy and say the good things they've done. Lately Stepfan Taylor has consistently been in there doing a good job. One of the guys who's come the furthest is Usua Amanam. Jeremy Stewart is still rock-solid. Tyler Gaffney has missed a few practices but we expect him back soon.
Is Usua the type of guy who might come out of the backfield on passes or do you see a possibility he could be a full-time guy?
It won't be limited to just being a scat-back type of guy. He's a strong, intelligent kid who can handle quite a bit more of the offense than we might have anticipated. So he's been impressive this camp.
What did Alex Loukas do specifically to elevate himself to the No. 2 spot?
Just been throwing the ball well, practicing well, making plays. He's a very gifted guy and he's throwing the ball really well and playing better.
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