Head Coach Dennis Allen: **"Just starting off, injuries I'll update you guys on. As far as who wasn't able to finish practice - Lucas Nix, Johnny Jones, Vance Walker and Brandon Bair – all those guys weren't able to finish practice. It's really at the end of the day the bumps and bruises you get during training camp, and we'll see how long it takes them to get back. It's day two in pads, so some of those things you have to be able to deal with and it's the "next man up" philosophy and get the next guy ready. I thought practice tempo was good. I thought it was a nice aggressive practice. We're trying to develop an identity as being a tough, physical football team and training camp is where you get that done. I've been pleased so far with the way training camp has gone. We have another practice tomorrow and then we'll give them a day off after that."
On Omar Gaither, is that a response to the guys that have been hurt, or is that a guy you've been keeping your eye on?
Coach Allen: "Listen, any time you get guys that have played for you and understand what your system is, you want to make sure you understand where they're at. We kind of call them tidewater guys; it's like calling up the Triple-A guy to the majors. He was a guy that we felt good about the way he played for us last year and coming in towards the middle, end of the year, and at the end of the day he started some games for us at the end of the year. I think any time you have those guys you have to pay attention to where they're at and if you have injuries, you have to come in and fill some spots and we had a couple extra roster spots that we made available for him. "
Also, with a guy like that, he helps because he can play anywhere right?
Coach Allen:"Yeah. I mean I think his versatility is good for us. He spent a lot of time at Mike linebacker. That's where we played him today and that's where he'll start him out. He's a smart enough player and versatile enough player where he can play a couple different positions for us."
Any time you have a guy that misses as much time as Jacoby Ford has and he misses a practice, is it anything to be concerned about?
Coach Allen:"No, I don't think so. I think it's a little bit more of a precautionary deal, but yeah, we need Jacoby out here. He's missed a lot of time, and he has to get some work. I thought he had a couple good days at practice so it's unfortunate that he's a little bit nicked up, but I don't anticipate him being out real long."
Coach, you talked about Nick Roach the other day. With the signing of Gaither how do you feel about that linebacker unit as a whole?
Coach Allen:"Well I still feel good about it. Obviously, it would be good if could get Miles Burris back out here and if Kaluka [Maiava] was able to be back out here, but I feel good about the linebackers that we have. I think we have a good, solid core of guys and I think not only from a depth standpoint defensively, but I think the fact that they're going to be able to help us on special teams is a good thing."
We know that Nick Kasa didn't play a lot of tight end in college. It looks like Al Saunders has kind of taken him under his wing. He's a huge target. Can you talk about his progress?
Coach Allen:"Well, he's way behind right now. He's way behind because he missed all the offseason with a hamstring. He's got a lot of catching up to do. I like his potential – he's a big, physical player and he's got some pass receiving ability. But again, it's even more of a big deal the fact that he's relatively young at the position. We'll evaluate him as he goes. The good news is he's out here, he's competing, he's working, and we're going to give him a chance to get better and see what he can do."
Guys like Gaither who just came in, I'm sure he's been keeping in shape and everything, and even Sio [Moore], who wasn't here the other day being able to work on the first day of pads, do you just throw them out there full time or do you ease them back in to guard against coming in cold?
Coach Allen:"Well, I think with the depth that we have at linebacker, with some of the injuries, Omar had to go in there and play, and he took a significant amount of reps today. I think you take them on a case-by-case basis. We worked out Omar beforehand and it's obvious that he's been working and staying in shape, so that really wasn't an issue there."
When you look at Josh Cribbs, his work as a return man is obviously unquestionable. He really gets animated and excited when he talks about playing in the coverage schemes. Number one, how rare is that to see a guy who's a kick returner double up as a coverage guy, and from what you see on tape, how good of a coverage guy can he be?
Coach Allen:"Well, first of all I'll say this: I think it's important for everyone to really understand what their role is on the football team, and I think Josh Cribbs really understands his role on the football team is as a special teams player first. He embraces that role, and he's excellent in all phases of special teams, not just as a return man, and I think that's what makes a guy like him valuable. We're going to continue to let him work, we're going to make sure we primarily get the special teams work with him, work him in a little on offense and try to get him back to full health."
Is there a risk, as good as he is as a kick returner, of exposing him on that side of the ball?
Coach Allen:"I think any time you play the game of football there's a risk, but you can't play the game scared. Injuries are part of the game, so we go out there and play, and he's just as valuable to us on our coverage units as he is on our return units, so we have to let him go out there and play."
When it comes to your nickel [defensive] backs, do you like to have a specialist in that role or is it something where you can bring somebody in from the outside? Even a guy like DJ [Hayden] could maybe fit in that spot like that.
Coach Allen:"I mean, obviously, it's a whole different world in the nickel. It's really a unique position because it's obviously a corner position, and yet it's part linebacker too. It takes a special ability in there; kind of a unique skill set inside in the slot, and not just from a physical standpoint, but also from a mental stand point. I think right now we're going to leave DJ outside. Let him get comfortable playing outside. We've been working primarily Joselio Hanson and Tracy Porter inside in the nickel."
Yesterday it looked like DJ was trying to get in on a drill, and he was told, "No, not today." Today he had a black jersey on, and it looked like he reluctantly put the red one on. Is he requesting to get in the mix now?
Coach Allen:"He wants to go. He wants to go, and I think that's the great thing about him. That really speaks to the type of guys we're trying to bring in here. Guys that love football. They want to practice. Playing football's fun. Most of these guys have been playing football since when they were in elementary school, and that's all they really know. He's that type of guy, and I'm excited about the fact that he's ready. Mentally and physically, he's ready, but we're going to take a little bit more of the cautious side on that and make sure he's totally ready before we put him into contact drills.* *
Do you think we'll see [Hayden] in a preseason game at some point?
Coach Allen:"Oh yeah. He'll play in a preseason."
Is Hayden going to wear any padding?
Coach Allen:"I don't know that we've really even discussed that. When we get ready to let him take on contact for the first time, as we get closer, we'll start discussing that a little bit more. I really don't foresee any issues with that. I think that when you talk to the doctors and when you talk to DJ, I think he's fine."
What did you think of the receivers today? It looked like some of the guys stepped up in this last period, Greg Jenkins being one of them.
Coach Allen:"I thought it was better. I thought it was better, and what you've got to be able to do is keep stacking brick on top of each other. We're trying to build a foundation with this football team and what type of team we're going to be, and we're trying to find guys that can go out and make plays for us. We've got to continue to be able to do that, and that's what we expect. We expect guys to go out and make plays because that's what you do in the NFL."
How did you think Sio Moore did today?
Coach Allen:"I thought he did fine. I thought he did well. He's still working a couple of the different positions, but I've been impressed with the way Sio's gone about his business. He's going to be a player for us."
He [Moore] missed one day. Does sometimes missing the one day kind of slow progress for a guy?
Coach Allen:"Any time you miss playing time as a rookie, it slows it down. So it's important for all of these guys to be out here."
Speaking of rookies, I noticed Tyler Wilson has a habit of patting the ball before he releases it, which some people think will slow down delivery. Are you working with him on that or do you care about that?
Coach Allen:"Obviously you want to make sure that you're mechanically sound as a quarterback and that is something that you work on. But we're primarily more focused on making sure he understands where to go with the football and that he can throw the ball with timing and accuracy."
Was there a point last season where you felt like it really clicked for Rod Streater, where it started to make sense?
Coach Allen:"I think, as a rookie, as you go throughout the season, you get more comfortable. But I saw something in Rod Streater when I watched the tapes of him at Temple. I mean, there's a football player there. When you sit down and visit with a guy, and you understand the things that motivate him and how much he loves the game of football, I didn't have any doubt that he was going to be a pretty decent player for us."
After two days of pads, how's the offensive line looking?
Coach Allen:"I think they've been physical. I think that's the type of mentality that we're trying to develop with them, and they've taken to it – they enjoy that. They're looking forward to getting back to a little bit more off the football and try to knock people around type of game. We'll continue to evaluate as it goes along, but I think, so far, for the first, few days I've liked what I've seen."