Q: You had six guys that could theoretically be starters on your defense out today. You say it’s not a major thing, but how much does that set back the overall progress of the defense?
Coach Allen: Obviously it’s part of camp, and you have to deal with injuries. It’s frustrating to not have guys that you’re counting on to be out there on Sundays to be able to go through practice. This is part of where we develop the foundation of the team we’re going to be. It’s important for those guys to get back out here as soon as possible.
Q: With Menelik [Watson], how much is he behind, and are you getting any sense he’s close at all?
Coach Allen: He’s way behind. He’s way behind. He went through the offseason program, but here we are in the second week of camp and he hasn’t seen a down yet. He has to get healthy and get back out here. It’s frustrating to me, but it’s frustrating to him too. These guys, they want to be out here, but obviously injuries are a factor in this game and at the end of the day, we have to coach the guys that are out here and that’s what we do.
Q: [Khalif] Barnes’ experience on the inside is fairly minimal. What can he bring to you there?
Coach Allen: Well he’s a big guy that has some power. I think that’s something that we want to look at – him moving inside some and kind of mix and matching the lineups a little bit and see what we have. That was something that we kind of planned on doing throughout camp, and we took the opportunity with Brisiel being down to put him in there and see what he can do.
Q: Have you pretty much mapped out what days you’re going in pads and what days you’re not? Do you sometimes change up if a guy’s out?
Coach Allen: Part of it is an adjustment. The anticipation was to be in pads today, but with the injury situation the way it is, we had seven defensive linemen that couldn’t practice today. It’s hard to get multiple groups of a defensive front out there when you only have seven guys that are able to go. We took the pads off, we slowed the tempo down there at the end in hopes that we can keep some of these guys who have to take extra reps as fresh as we can.
Q: What can you get from the almost walkthrough pace you were doing?
Coach Allen: The mental part of the game. That’s really what you’re working on; it’s not nearly as much about the physical part. It’s just the mental part of the game and understanding your assignments, making sure, as a quarterback, you’re going through your reads, you know where to go with the football. Defensively, being able to adjust to formations and play out route combinations.
Q: With those seven guys out on defensive line that you mentioned, right now are you thinking, “We’re going to be getting some of these guys back pretty soon?” Or are you actively trying to look and bring somebody else in?
Coach Allen: Well I think we have to look at bringing somebody else in. We’ve been in the process of doing that and when we find guys that are out there that are healthy and that can come in and help us, then we’re going to try to bring those guys in. It’s a matter of finding the right guys.
Q: Can you talk about the working relationship that you have with [defensive coordinator] Jason Tarver and how you guys are building this scheme?
Coach Allen: We sat down prior to last year and went through his background and my background and some of the things we wanted to do defensively. We come from different backgrounds, but we have the same philosophy. He and I have a great working relationship – I think we both understand what we’re trying to get accomplished and what we want to do defensively. We meet on a daily basis to make sure we’re on the same page on everything, and I like what I’ve seen as far as the progress of the defense so far.
Q: How differently do you think the defense will be this year? There are a lot of new pieces.
Coach Allen: We’ll see when we tee it up. I think we’ve improved ourselves in certain areas. Obviously the linebacker position, I think, is an improved position. I think the secondary is an improved position. I think once we get the full complement of defensive linemen back, I’m hopeful, and I anticipate we’re going to be better up front too. We’ll see. We’re going to get the opportunity to tee it up and go play some preseason games, and we’ll have a better evaluation of where we’re at.
Q: Do you pay any attention at all to the Cowboys playing tonight?
Coach Allen: Yeah. Obviously we’ll be in meetings this evening so we won’t be able to watch the game live, but we’ll start looking at the Cowboys probably tomorrow and try to come up with a little bit of a plan for them for the opening preseason game.
Q: Is [your preparation for the Cowboys game] mostly about what you guys do though, in the first game?
Coach Allen: Yeah, mostly. Mostly, I mean obviously you want to give your guys an opportunity to have success and understand some of the things that they’re going to see offensively, defensively and in the kicking game, but it’ll be a lot more about what we do, being able to play out our rules and focus on what we’re trying to get accomplished.
Coach Allen: Well, I think he’s got the physical tools. I think he’s behind from a mental part of the game, and that’s where he’s got to continue to work to improve.
Q: Going off of what you said about the improved linebackers, Nick [Roach] having played behind [current and former Bears LBs] [Lance] Briggs and [Brian] Urlacher in Chicago … I don’t know how much leadership skills he was able to show there. What have you seen from him in that perspective so far?
Coach Allen: Yeah. I’ve seen the leadership skills. I think Nick … He’s extremely bright. He understands the game. He’s getting a better feel for what we’re trying to do defensively. The scheme that they were in was probably not as multiple as the things we’re trying to do here. There’s still a little bit of a learning curve for him as far as that’s concerned, but I think his leadership skills and command in the huddle, I’ve been very pleased with.
Q: How much more significant is that particular position compared to last year?
Coach Allen: I think it’s obviously a significant position. I mean that’s one of the quarterbacks of your defense. That guy in the middle’s got a chance to get you the right calls, get you in the right checks and make sure everybody’s lined up and doing what they’re supposed to be doing, so we’re counting on [Roach] to take a leadership role. We’re counting on him to run our defense.
Q: You mentioned that you’ve been planning to work some guys in like you did today with [Mike] Brisiel being out. What have you seen from guys like
Coach Allen: Well I think when you look at it, after going through a week and a half of camp, I look at Barnes and
Coach Allen: The guy is a big, powerful man, and he’s played guard before. I mean it’s not like it’s a totally new position to him. Putting him in there, giving him a look, at the end of the day, we’re trying to find out what’s the best combination of five guys to put out on the field that’s going to give our offense the best chance for success.
Q: When you looked at the tape of
Coach Allen: Obviously he played the game smart, he was in the right spots, he was very athletic, played the game with quick-twitch, and played the game with speed. I think that when you look at a guy like him – and he primarily played on the edge as a SAM linebacker there – but when faced with the opportunity of going inside when [former Bears LB Brian] Urlacher was hurt, he was able to go in and play really well in there. He was a guy that when we sat down and watched the tape, you couldn’t help but notice the guy making a lot of plays.
Q: Who has been consistent from the beginning of camp through today?
Coach Allen: It’s hard to just identify certain individuals. Obviously, the guys like
Q: With [Tracy] Porter and [Mike] Jenkins out, some of the young corners got a chance to get more reps today. Do you like the depth that you have there?
Coach Allen: I do. I feel a lot better about the depth and where we’re at this year with the corner position. Obviously bringing in Tracy and Mike are really big acquisitions for us, but to get guys like
Q: Do you think the veterans have helped your younger players progress?
Coach Allen: Any time you get a chance to sit back and look on the sidelines and watch guys, how they compete, watch guys how they play, and watch how they understand what’s happening to them in the game, I think that’s helpful for any young player.
Q: In which ways has Chekwa improved?
Coach Allen: Well, coverage. That’s the main thing you look at when you look at a corner. When you look at him, I think he’s improved his flexibility, his ability to cover down the field and change directions, as well as his football awareness and instincts. I think those are really a couple of factors that when you look at Chimdi. He’s always been able to run, he’s always had talent, he just hasn’t quite been able to put it together yet. He’s put together a solid camp so far, and we’ll look at the preseason to see how much improvement he’s really made.
Q: Last year, a lot was made about [Terrelle] Pryor’s problems getting out of the huddle. Has that problem been solved?
Coach Allen: I wouldn’t say the problem has been solved, but I would say it’s gotten a lot better. That’s still something that we’re going to continue to harp on him about. That’s part of the quarterback position; to be the leader out there, to be in charge, to be able to get guys in and out of the huddle and set the tempo for the offense. I think a lot of times you look at some of the inconsistencies, when you have them on offense, a lot of the time it starts with your ability to communicate and get in and out of the huddle. He’s been much improved, but we’re still continuing to work on that.