Q: Can you assess DJ Hayden's performance from last week?**
Coach Tarver:"DJ did some really good things. He had zero true mental errors. He knows what he's doing. What he needs to continue to do, like all young players, the best way to get better at playing football is playing football. He's done a nice job this week in practice understanding times of penalties and controlling his hands down the field, things like that. He's been emphasizing it and it's good. He's right in his progression and he's improving every day."
Q: Did you talk to him about the taunting penalty?
Coach Tarver:"That was a great hit. That is one of the things we talk about as a defense. It's one of the things that we emphasize a lot. You're going to do something good, so don't turn it into bad. Take bad and turn it into good. That's what we've been doing for four weeks as a group. We take the things that we didn't go quite as good and we've been making it better. Cleveland game, we didn't play as good after turnover. After turnovers in Seattle, they got the ball at the 18 and the 30 and they got one field goal. That's outstanding sudden-change defense. You make a great hit, young man, the rule emphasis this year is that you cannot stand over anybody, regardless of whether you say anything, so we talked about that. That's on the progression of becoming a good, solid football team. You know Tony [Sparano] says it, that's Oakland beating Oakland. We have to make sure that doesn't happen."
Q: You made a pretty good quarterback pretty inefficient last week. Is that something you guys can build on?
Coach Tarver:"One is, we're one game at a time. Two is, this is a new group that's progressing together. Really, it is. You've got from the start of the season, a ton of defensive players that are on IR, so it's a new group. Every week we're getting better. Any of that history doesn't concern us. What concerns us is getting better every week. The fact that we were able to cause some incomplete throws and get our hands on some footballs, now we need to come down with those. That's part of the emphasis this week. We're improving in those areas. It's a matter of, what's next and how do we handle it this week? What are we doing well and what do we need to improve on? Let's focus on that."
Q: Coach Sparano was talking about the eight incompletions and the fact that there were 300-something yards after catch in the Broncos games last year. I assume with Peyton Manning and the way he gets the ball out of his hands, tackling guys immediately is paramount.
Coach Tarver:"Yeah, it's paramount. The teams that can, when the ball is thrown underneath, go run and hit and know where your help is, know how to use where all the other players are within the coverage, are the teams that are able to limit yards after contact. That's obviously where we have to improve. Again, new group, new year, getting better, that's why you play the game. It's going to be exciting. I'm excited to watch our so-called younger players compete."
Q: Miles Burris had a couple of those last week, where he rallied to a short pass and made a hit that we've not seen him do as often earlier.
Coach Tarver:"Miles and Sio [Moore] are both improving. All of our linebackers are improving when the ball is thrown and understanding where guys are, as they continue to work together. What we're improving on is knowing where the first down markers are and setting up there, then rallying to anything thrown underneath. We're definitely improving in that area and we need to improve in that this weekend. That comes from working together. That comes from reps played together. We're excited about where they're headed in that progression."
Q: When you face a team like Denver that has an elite pass rusher like Von Miller, do you take Khalil aside and tell him to specifically use him as an example?
Coach Tarver:"Our pass rushers watch all of the sacks in the NFL every week, so we watch all of that together anyway. You're always trying to learn from the best in the world. We work on that every week, looking at those things. I don't know who had the stat, but I saw that Khalil is third in pressures, so that's pretty darn impressive. I know he's back there a lot and I hope that continue. We learn from everybody as much as we can. These pass rushers are the best in the world, so if you want to be the best, you look at it. But, you also have to understand who you are. Khalil does some things that maybe those other guys don't do quite as good and they do some things that maybe he doesn't do quite as well yet. You don't want to just copy people, but you do want to learn and progress and build it into your repertoire."
Q: Do you see similarities at all between Von Miller and Khalil?
Coach Tarver:"I think Khalil has extreme power and burst. We think Von has that extreme quickness off the ball. Khalil is very quick as well. The ability to flip their hips is very similar. The long arms for their body and things like that. There are similarities but there are also some differences. Khalil has extreme power. As long as he keeps throwing his hands at people and using that, he's right where we need him to be and he's very conscious of that. There are some similarities in their movements and things. I do know that both guys can cause havoc. We're really excited to have the one that we have in our program."
Q: Do you have to tell Khalil to not get frustrated with holds that aren't called? It seems like even at a national level, people are recognizing that he's getting held.
Coach Tarver:"If you're causing holds and you're making him hold you, then you're going where we need you to go really fast. He stays on that progression. This is a fast game. It's not that holding is legal in the NFL, but nobody can see it all the time, it's a fast game. What you have to do is, don't let them hold you. If you don't want to get held, get them off you. Use your hands. Some of that is controlled by how much you attack and some of it is that they have to do everything they can to slow him down. Any time the opponent head coach is talking about you, that's a good thing. He's right in his progression. He just keeps working. He keeps his mindset where he is. He's going to be outstanding and we're going to be just fine."
Q: What fundamentals go into being a small defensive back guarding a large receiver like Demaryius Thomas?
Coach Tarver:"Yeah, body position. Starting the down correctly, based on whether you're up or off and those things are critical. Playing through his hands are critical. You can't catch the ball until the hands come up. We have a lot of drills and plays that simulate that. All of our DBs do it, so we're continuing to get better in those phases. We have shown that the last few weeks. It's going to be a great challenge and we're looking forward to it."