Jon Gruden Transcript: July 31

Here is the transcript from Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden's morning press conference at training camp at Disney's Wide World of Sports on Monday, July 31.

On if he's limiting QB Chris Simms' reps because of Simms' sore arm

He has a sore elbow, and we hope to have him on the field throwing tomorrow. That's all I can say. I don't read all the stories no disrespect to anyone. But Chris Simms is cleared to play, and were going to try him on the field again tomorrow.

On what the team's depth chart at quarterback looks like right now

Nothing is settled.

On if he would be comfortable playing Simms in a preseason game right now

I'm not going to elaborate any further than we're in the third or fourth day of camp. He's missed a couple of practices with a sore elbow. We expect him to throw tomorrow. We'll make the depth chart decisions at a later date. But to be fair to everybody, he does have a sore elbow. He's been cleared to play by our trainers. I don't know what all the stories say. But we expect him to practice tomorrow, and well ease him back into it and hopefully he'll be able to start making a run at this thing.

On what the late Bill Walsh meant to him

He meant a lot to me; I'm glad you brought that up not only me, but a lot of people in this business and in this world. It was a tremendous loss for me personally and I know for a lot of football people, and I just wish his family the very best. I can only tell you he'll be sorely missed by a lot of people.

On his personal experiences he had with Walsh

Yes, I got a lot of those, but with my voice the way it is right now I think Bill Walsh's legacy will live forever. He's one of the truly great coaches of all time, and it was a pleasure being associated with him and knowing him and I'll miss him.

On if he is surprised Simms' sore elbow is getting so intensely covered

Yes, I am because we've got a lot of good things happening here. If you've watched practice, you've seen [Jeff] Garcia really does a heck of a job. He's got a little bit of a twinge in his hamstring. God knows, that might be on the USA Today tomorrow I don't know. I'm concerned with that a little bit. You're going to get guys at that position that do have soreness in their elbow. I went through that every year with Brad Johnson and [Brian] Griese. Unfortunately, it's happened early in camp. I don't want to speculate; I'm not a doctor. I don't think anybody in the media is a doctor. I just think that we respect the situation with the facts that we have. Chris will be back hopefully in a limited fashion tomorrow, and he'll be a more focal part of the practices once his elbow returns to full health.

On if he was pleased with the offense during the 11-on-11 drills today

Yes, some parts. We put them in some tough situations early. We dropped a big pass down the field. We missed another. We had a couple of issues with pass protection. But we held some guys today to look at some other players and matchups that we wanted to create. I wasn't totally thrilled, but there were some things on the other side that I was happy to see.

On QB Luke McCown's performance

I'm pleased with Luke. There's another really good story here at the quarterback position. He missed last season with a serious knee injury, and he's getting about 40 percent of the work right now. He's taking advantage of his opportunities, and I'm pleased with what he's doing. I really am pleased. He's athletic. He's managing our football team. He's making a lot of plays.

On what Walsh did on offense that was different

He was an extension of Paul Brown, I think. He grew up under Paul Brown who in his own right was a Hall of Fame coach and one of the founders of the creative passing attacks that came into this league. He brought it to modern day football, and certainly, he was a great personnel man. He was unbelievable in terms of orchestrating practices. And when you put him together with Eddie DeBartolo, you had quite a battery for a long period of time. But his creativity and his overall being ahead of his time is just what really separates him.

On how proud he is to be part of the Walsh family tree

I'm one of those acorns that kind of fell far away from the tree. Again, I can just say that it was a great experience to be educated by guys like that, and I'm going to miss him.

On where he wants to see improvement

We need to step up everywhere. I've got to step up. That starts right there. And I think our veteran players have raised the bar here. And I think free-agent veterans have come in here and helped us do that. I want to see the rookie class step up all of them, from [Gaines] Adams all the way down to [Marcus] Hamilton and our free agent class. I want to see them step up.

On how important it is for LB Barrett Ruud to step up this season

Well, he is stepping up. He's a good player. He stepped up last year when [Shelton] Quarles was out. He's a good middle linebacker with a chance to become outstanding. We've got to play great around him, too. The other linebackers have got to play great. Upfront, we've got to play great. Our safety people and our corners we've all got to step up. But Barrett Ruud is going to be a leader here, and he is asserting himself right now.

On if Walsh's death puts football into perspective

Yes, it sure does. I always looked at him, still do. It puts a real realistic I don't know. It settled me down a little bit. It got me to sit down and ponder things for a little bit. But you better enjoy life while you're living it, and take advantage of every breath you take because its a short run.

On possibly running a 3-4 defense

First of all, you've got to run a defense or an offense that suits your personnel, no matter what you come from or what you want to do. You've got to be able to do things that suit your personnel. And we'll see what happens. We'll see what happens. We do feel like we've got some players who could thrive in that scheme, but we've also got a scheme that we've invested a lot of time and had a lot of success in. So, it's a good front. It's a good front. It's not what we've been a part of, but that's not to say we wont dabble in it.

On if QB Bruce Gradkowski is taking advantage of his opportunities

Yes, I think so. I think he's doing some good things. He had the ball slip out of his hands two or three times today, but he is doing some good things. These are tough practices. These are tough practices on any quarterback, given the volume of plays that were running and the kind of practices that were trying to put our players through. I think he is doing some good things. He's showing some improvement, and hopefully that continues.

On the biggest difference in Gradkowski from last year to this year

He knows what he's doing. He knows where to go with the ball. He's quicker getting to the second and third receivers. He's seeing defenses better. He's seeing the strong rotations, the weak rotations, unblockable blitz fronts. He's more equipped to take another step. And his tempo, he's got more time at the line of scrimmage. I think he's so much better in that regard. Hopefully it helps him.

On the challenges of transitioning to a 3-4

The challenge is you've got to invest the time doing it. You've got to invest the time doing it. You've got to get good at something. We want to be good at our over defense, our under front. We want to be a good on-gap team. And to do that, you've got to invest a lot of time at it. To be a 3-4 team, obviously you've got to work at it because it's a different front. The run fits are different. Everything is different. Techniques are different. So you've got to invest the time, if we decide to that. I think you'll see a lot of time invested. If you don't, you won't.

On why it took Coach Mike Holmgren so long to utilize the shotgun

He was only in the shotgun one play last year, alright? And Seneca Wallace was at quarterback. I think the three-step passing game basically becomes a one-step catch-and-release. The timing of all those routes is gone, and the shotgun obviously eliminates a lot of runs and play-action passes and things of that nature. But what can I say? The 49ers and Mike Holmgren's offenses have had a lot of success right underneath the center, and you've got to give him credit for sticking with what he believes in.

On the one lesson above all others he took from Walsh

You better work at this business, and you better try to surround yourself with great people. You better work, and when you get tired you better work some more because the other guys are working. And don't ever look past the player. You give everybody an opportunity to develop. You know some of their players were Hall-of-Fame, first-round players. Some of their guys like John Taylor, Brent Jones, Jesse Sapolu, Guy McIntyre they slipped through the cracks. They kept working with them and developing them. And they found a lot of guys late in their careers that came to San Francisco and dominated and played great guys like John Frank, a tight end and Fred Dean, a lot of really good players. I can remember [Jim] Hacksaw Reynolds, guys like that he was able to pick up whether it be for one year or two years. Matt Millen guys like that who gave his team what he felt he needed. And he would coach anyone. At any time, he would coach anyone. And I gave him a lot of credit for that.

On inviting Walsh to talk to the team a few years ago

He spent a few days with us and talked to our coaches, observed practice, gave his feedback. We went over the schedules. He was the first guy, I think, to practice during the regular season in shorts. He just did a lot of things that were at the time kind of exclusive to the 49ers. Some of us that were there and had been around it, maybe we stole some of those ideas and use them ourselves.

On if Walsh was the type of guy you could call

Yes. And obviously some of our players Alex Smith, Julian Jenkins worked with him at Stanford. And he leaves quite a legacy not only with football but with life. He made an impact on a lot of people.

On how WR Michael Clayton is looking so far

He's looking good. He's looking pretty good. He's in a competitive situation, and he's competing. He's going to be a good player for us.


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