Sparano's Saturday Post-Practice Comments

Coach Tony Sparano spoke more about the team's second-day draft picks after Saturday's practice after being asked mostly questions about Jake Long and Chad Henne on Friday. Here is a team-released transcript of Sparano's Saturday press conference.

On if he saw any improvement from the first practice to the second: "What I saw in the second day was the effort. From an effort-standpoint and an assignment-standpoint I saw guys a little bit more sure about what they were doing, moving around just a little bit faster, which you would expect in day two. They had one more time through it this morning in some meetings and they were able to play a little faster out here today, which was good."

On besides effort, if there is anything he can gauge from players in a minicamp like this: "I think so. Effort is one thing, but I think athletic ability; you see a guy change directions, move his feet in a small area, you see some long range speed out of some receivers and defensive backs, or lack thereof. You get a chance to see a little bit of power from the interiors that way. Obviously, when you get down the road and you get into pads, that's where the evaluator is and it's something that we're looking forward to."

On what he saw out of the tape from Friday's practice: "I think what I saw last night after viewing the film is I saw, clearly in my mind, we had some guys who lacked some stamina, some conditioning and some of those things. As we got on in practice, you could see that show up. And the point I just tried to make to them in the meeting this morning is that this is just a small sample of what's going to happen and what lies ahead. The players who are in the building right now have 24 workouts on these particular players right now as we finished up our sixth week of offseason [workouts]. These guys have to catch up a little bit and they have a lot of work to do in a short period of time."

On if he has had any thought of adding another veteran guard to the roster or if he is determined to see what he has first in the young guys:– "No. We really haven't given any thought to it right now. We want to see what we have, and we certainly are looking forward to seeing some of the veteran players come out here, too. From our standpoint, we haven't seen many of them out here on the field as well, so there are some guys in that group who we need to see, too." (On if the Jason Taylor situation has been overblown or if he is disappointed that he is not working out with the rest of the team) – "I think it's been overblown. I've said this before; I said it several weeks ago. I understand what Jason is doing. Jason and I have spoke and that's really all that matters. Jason and I stay in contact. As long as I know what's going on with Jason and he knows what's going on with me, I think we're in good shape."

On how working against Jason Taylor can help someone like Jake Long: "I think it's going to be very valuable. In fact, what's interesting is that I've talked to Jake about this several times even prior to him coming here, in our interview process. I said probably the best friends that he needs to make on our football team are Jason Taylor and Vonnie Holliday. I said they need to be your best friends. He kind of looked at me and wondered why I would say something like that. I've seen it all the time happen to young players is that they go against the veteran players and the veteran players can help them with some of the crafts, some of the things that maybe they expect or that give them problems. So I think Jason can share some of that information, certainly, with Jake. Vonnie can share some of that with Jake and it will help him to be a better player. So he needs to really stay in their hip pocket a little bit and get a chance to know them well."

On how working in the heat has affected the players from what he can see: "There is no question. In fact, I just mentioned that to them before we broke. I said this is one day of two-a-days coming up here. When we get down the road, we're going to have a bunch of these days; you're going to have 25 of these. It's going to be a lot hotter out as well. We need to take a look right now and we need to see some of the guys who can come out and do it from a consistency-standpoint. I think this will show us a little something when you come out here this afternoon and you see really who goes a little bit faster and who gets a chance maybe to step up that way."

On if Lex Hilliard's 50 college touchdowns jump off the page: "Yeah, I think so. When you see guys that do those kinds of things and put those kinds of numbers up in the evaluation process, obviously that's important for you. You want to see it. We take it into consideration, but the bottom line is when we are watching the film it is the ability of the guys."

On what he thinks of Lex Hilliard: "When we watch him we've seen a guy with some good upside, we've seen some good ability and that is one the reasons why we had him out here."

On Phillip Merling: "Watching him I was impressed, yesterday going back through the film, watching his hands and watching some of his body language that way. He plays with a little more strength than maybe I thought, but all these guys need to find real strength right now. We need to get these guys in the offseason program and get them going that way. I think they are all figuring that out as they watch the tape and as they see themselves go against one another."

On why it was important to draft so many offensive and defensive linemen: "There is a need for big people in this league. It's a big players league and we have to have some big people out here so us taking players in the line just happened to fit our needs at the time. It was the right player on the board. I think it is important to have them in house, to get them working, hopefully to keep them for the future here down the road, where you have several bigger, stronger players in your program and it is not something that you are going to have to go out and recruit a bunch of every year. Maybe you will have to recruit one or two of them each year, but not a bunch of them. It was important for us to address that right now."

On if the analogy of the line being the foundation for the football team like it is for a house resonates with him: "It does to me. I always believed the interiors are where you start on both sides of the ball. In our league if you can't protect the passer and you can't stop the run, you don't have a chance. I think a lot of that has to do with your people up front. You have to be able to protect the passer on offense, your big people have to be able to move and play physical and you have to be able to run the ball on offense. On defense you have to be able to stop the run. I think that's important as well. Your big people have a lot to do with that."

On if any of the receivers at this mini-camp fit the team's needs: "It depends on the fit. We have several big receivers on our team right now that aren't out here. Ernest Wilford is a big guy. (Derek) Hagan is a big guy. So when you look at these guys – Tab Perry is a big player – I think for us it was just a combination of finding enough big receivers out there and certainly some guys maybe that can create a little bit – a smaller guy that can create a little bit in the slot and maybe do some things that way as well."

On Davone Bess: "I see a player that has pretty good ball skills right now. He certainly needs to do some things from a conditioning standpoint. He knows his stamina. To play receiver in our league you are running an awful lot and there is not a lot of numbers. The one thing with him is he has been in an offense where they are running a bunch of routes every game. They are not handing it off. He is running a bunch of routes every game and I think that is a positive. I do see good ball skills from him."

On what he sees from Kendall Langford: "I see strength. I've seen strength at the point of attack a little bit yesterday, the strength that you can see when you are not in pads, but I did see strength at the point of attack and I saw a kid that moved his feet pretty well for a big guy, which is what we thought when we drafted him."

On if Kendall Langford is a developmental player or someone who might contribute right away: "We were 1-15 last year. We don't have many developmental projects. We are going to bring guys in here that are going to compete. I said it yesterday and I'll say it again today, the best players on our team are going to play. No bones about it. If he is the best, he'll play."

On what the team saw from Will Billingsley that led to his signing: "Speed, speed. The guy can really run. It is what we've seen. He is obviously a little bit raw and needs a lot of fundamental work, but we've seen speed and in our league we have to have fast players."

On the players', particularly Chad Henne's, schedule during mini-camp: "They met this morning for about two hours. In the morning there was a special teams meeting. There was a team meeting I started, then a special teams meeting, then an offensive and defensive meeting this morning. Now they'll go back into meetings this afternoon and they will view the tape from this morning. So there is a bunch of meetings that he is involved with, but during that process it isn't just the film-watching. We are continuing the install. We want to throw as much at him as we possibly can in these three days and see what sticks."

On what he sees in Donald Thomas: "I have seen some pretty good feet from a big guy like that. I've seen strength and I've seen a little bit more awareness than maybe even I thought with a lack of his exposure out there and his experience. I've seen some good feet and I've seen some good strength and those were the positives. Those are the things that we thought we've seen on film when we drafted him and we are certainly seeing that here now."

On if Thomas is a sentimental favorite because he is from Sparano's hometown: "He's a Nutmegger. The Nutmeg State, that's right, Connecticut."

On if he and Thomas talked about their hometown: "We talked a little bit about some pizza places on Wooster Street in New Haven – Sally's or Pepe's Pizza. He knows them well. That's not good."


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