Coach's Corner

Defensive coordinator Bob Sanders talks about progress of defense; Justin Harrell, and nickel cornerback battle

Q: How do you feel about where the defense is now compared to a year ago?
Bob Sanders:
"We're further ahead right now just because it's another year in the system. It's another year together. Everybody's back. I'm appreciative of Ted (Thompson) and his staff for holding us together like he did. When you do that, you're able to build and move on a little bit, so I think we're further ahead now than where we were last year in the preseason. Mike (McCarthy) did a lot of research, a lot of hard work to get the schedule right, so hopefully we'll start fast. That's what we need to do. Last year we didn't do that, but hopefully we will."

Q: What are your thoughts on Justin Harrell?
He's done a good job. He hasn't played a long time in pads, but he's done a real nice job and he's starting to flash things that you can see are really, really special. As he gets into better shape and is more familiar with the calls … learns to play at the level that you have to play at, he's going to be fine. He's doing a good job."

Q: How physically challenged is he at this point?
"He hasn't put the pads on in about a year. He's a hard worker. Naturally, I think everybody out here is challenged because it's camp and that's what we hope to do. But he's challenged a little bit, yes."

Q: Does Patrick Dendy have a leg up on others battling for the nickel cornerback position because of his experience last year?
"He played well for us. He has done well in the off-season. He's about to get his legs back up under him again a little right now. When you've got familiarity it gives us a little edge, but those other guys are working hard, too. Hopefully, experience gives you a leg up."

Q: What have you seen from cornerback Frank Walker so far?
"He's quick. He's fast. He's got all the tools that you need. Again, he's learning a lot of things and working on consistency. He is a talented young man, right in there in the midst of the battle and doing a good job."

Q: How have Johnny Jolly and Ryan Pickett held up after missing a few of the first practices in training camp?
"They've done a good job. They're working hard and getting in shape and stretching themselves. I appreciate the effort to get where they need to be."

Q: Is Jolly still an up-and-comer like you thought he was last year?
"I do, and I still do. It was disappointing that he came in the way he did, but he's working hard now. Hopefully we'll get him in shape before the season starts and get him ready to go."

Q: How big of a setback is that for guys, like Jolly, who are not in shape?
"It not only hurts himself, but the other guys who have to take his reps, and also the cohesiveness and chemistry."

Q: Can A.J. Hawk continue to get better this year?
"He continues to play at a very high level. His familiarity with what we're trying to get done and some situations he sees the offense do, not necessarily what we're doing, like get yourself down on a route, he's getting more comfortable and hopefully he'll continue to improve with our whole defense. He has big play potential, no doubt."

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