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News

Tarver Excited About Talent, Depth on Defense

Posted Jun 18, 2014

Defensive coordinator Jason Tarver spoke to the media after Day 2 of the Raiders three-day mandatory mini-camp.

Q: When you look at all the pieces and talent, is that something you salivate over as a defensive coordinator?

Coach Tarver: “We’re very excited to have the caliber of players, both veterans and rookies that we brought in, and in between that we brought into the organization. Now it’s our job, and their job, to be committed to what we’re doing and to get trained together, all of us, get trained together so that we can have quick reactions within a game and make a lot of plays. We have more players at each position that can impact the game.”

Q: Have you noticed better communication on the defense and how will that translate to better play?

Coach Tarver: “That’s the biggest thing: 11 guys have got to be on the same page. This league is a passing league. You’ve got to stop the run but it’s a passing league and when they do complete the ball short, you’ve got to go hit them. The Super Bowl was proof of that. When you’re on the same page, then you can rally to those things faster. We’re much improved in that we have more guys that have been in the program, but also the emphasis that both players and coaches are putting on that everything we’re doing is about who you’re talking to, what’s the signal, what are you doing over here, why’d you say that, let’s get that done right.”

Q: What are your impressions of Khalil Mack so far?

Coach Tarver: “I like Khalil. He’s tough. He doesn’t like to make the same mistake, which is critical in being good at any profession, but especially in a young man that’s a football player. We’re throwing a lot at him right now, as D.A. [Head Coach Dennis Allen] said, and he’s handled it and he really likes football, which of course is a big deal. You’ve got to love it, especially that position, you’re going to get contact almost every play. We’re pleased with where he’s going and hopefully he puts in a lot of work in this next month and really masters it before we get to put the pads on. But, he’s a big, good athlete.”

Q: Khalil has been compared to the likes of Von Miller and Clay Matthews. How do you look at those expectations for a rookie?

Coach Tarver: “Well, one, we want him to be the best Khalil Mack he can be, so that’s number one. He can do some things, athletically, that those men mentioned can do. But, to be great as a rookie, is being able to stay in the moment and do your job consistently and take advantage of the plays that are there right in front of you. You don’t want to give away the easy ones that come to you, because sometimes there are, and I think if he continues to go where he’s going, he can do that. So, I don’t know what the stats will be, I don’t know that, but if this young man goes where he’s supposed to go and plays within the frame of the defense, he has the ability to make some plays.”

Q: When you have a guy like Mack on the defense, are there things you can do that you maybe haven’t done before?

Coach Tarver: “Well when he was there on the board and when we picked him, there was definitely some drawing going on, some scribbling going on. What’s nice about Khalil is he has size and athletic ability, so that he can do some things on the edges of your defense, both in the run game and in the pass game, with his power, his length and his ability to bend and move. Those are traits that you want as many players as you can have on your defense, as many of those as we can get, the happier a coordinator is.”

Q: Should the number of guys you have to get the number of sacks you had last year go down this year?

Coach Tarver: “We will still give everybody a turn in activations, but if our players continue where they’re going right now and we continue to work together on our communication and work together on our understanding of how we fit, both in the run and in the pass game, we feel like we have more guys that when we get them in one-on-one situations, they can win their one-on-ones. That’s the players’ job. Our job is to help get them one-on-ones, their job is to win the one-on-ones. We have a few more, and we’re excited to see how that plays out.”

Q: Can you see some of the traits in this team that you could in the 49ers team when they turned things around, like Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers observed?

Coach Tarver: “Definitely. Here’s what those players and some of the other players that we’ve already had here and others that we’re bringing in, getting Tyvon Branch back, Charles Woodson, the corners that you mentioned. When you have players that care about being correct, working together and are smart enough to make adjustments, you can change it. That’s what this group is very focused on right now, is changing what’s been going on, one play at a time. You can feel that in those young men and in this group. So, what we need to do is build on that, with our young guys seeing how Carlos, how ‘T’ [Brown] how everybody approaches being a professional. That’s what’s great, they don’t like being wrong, they obviously don’t like when anybody makes a play, but they’re also interested in how to fix it, not just, ‘Oh man, something happened.’ No, it’s, ‘Hey, what happened here. J.T., talk to everybody, how do we get this fixed, how do we do this?’ So you learn from your mistakes. That’s what they bring, and that’s the difference. There are times that they’re going to make a play, but don’t get beat by the same thing twice.”

Q: Does the lack of continuity from bringing in different veteran corners every year hurt at all? What do Carlos and Tarell bring to the table?

Coach Tarver: “The good part with Carlos and ‘T,’ I call him T. Brown, we’ve been together when he first got to the Niners, so we’ve known each other for a long time, what they bring is, what they did over at the 49ers and what we do, we can translate a little bit. So, we call a couple things some different words. There’s a different language everywhere you go in the NFL. They’re quick on that adjustment. Shawntae Spencer was, he just got hurt. He was able to do that as well. They’re already, ‘Oh, yeah, this is just this.’ They just equate this call to this in their heads and their professional enough. So, that transition has gone smooth. That’s one thing. The biggest thing with those two guys is how they want to be right. They want to understand how to win, and they won.”

Q: How has Sio Moore done playing the WILL linebacker spot?

Coach Tarver: “He had his best day today. What I’ve been pleased with Sio is how quickly he reads things off of the line of scrimmage. He’s pretty darn quick reading things off the line of scrimmage. There’s a few things that he doesn’t know. He’s gotten better, he’s had a little bit of up-and-down in these practices, but that’s because he hasn’t seen things from that position, but today was pretty good. The second practice today was pretty good. We need him to keep progressing. He needs to stay in the moment and he needs to learn from some of these guys we brought in you’re supposed to go one play at a time and regardless of what happens around you, go to the next play.”

Q: Does Miles Burris look like the guy he was his rookie year health-wise?

Coach Tarver: “I’m pleased with Miles. Can’t wait to see him in pads, he’s really pushing. All our linebacker positions, I think Coach Allen told you guys yesterday, all our linebackers are battling. We have competition in the building at that position for the first time since we’ve been here, real competition. What that means is, not only for the roster, but for who’s going to start. So, we’re going to let it play out. But we’re pleased with where Miles is going, we want to see him in pads. Miles tries to be exactly right and Miles tries to be physical, and he is both of those things. He played well as a rookie and we would have loved to obviously have him last year, but we’re excited about where he is and where he’s going.”