Opening: Welcome back. It’s good to see all these smiling faces, some guys have switched some spots. We just finished our first team meeting, we knocked that out. We will have another one later and will have a bunch of meetings today, the first day. We also have conditioning evaluation coming up here shortly. We hit some policies and procedures this morning and outlined again the expectations of everybody. Our goal is still to put the fifth trophy in the case, and the other thing we addressed is that those are just words right now. We need to go out there and put the work in and earn it. With that, we will open it up to questions.
Q: For a guy that is a first-year head coach, and you lay that out there, I mean every team says we’re going to try and win a Super Bowl, but to put it right out there to put a trophy in the case, does it kind of put expectations on the team?
A: Absolutely. It puts crystal clear high expectations on the team. That’s what we want and that’s what we’re here for.
Q: What do you try and get accomplished in training camp as a whole?
A: We’re going to start off smart. We want to build them up, build the team up into a strong team. We want to get out of camp healthy, so we’re going to be smart early on, get better as we go and get a step better everyday, but again, it all goes back to our identity: sound, smart and tough, committed to discipline and poise. Fundamentals will be important, they’ll be important when we get the pads on, not just for the big guys, but for the perimeter as well.
Q: What do you think of the group that you assembled that you addressed this morning? What do you think of the group overall?
A: I liked the look in their eyes. They were hungry to get going. They’re chomping at the bit to get going, just like I am, and it’s a good place to start because I’m ready to go.
Q: You bring up the staying healthy part. What do you do differently and how do you try and make that happen?
A: I am not going to try and make it happen. We changed some things with the schedule. We’re going to build them up similar to the way we built them up in the offseason, and we’re going to just add pads. Football is football, so we’re going to go out and play the game right way. The game looks a little different than it has in the past, but at the end, the teams that are standing at the end are the physical teams and the heavy-handed, tough teams. The game may look a little bit different, but that part hasn’t changed and it never will.
Q: How physical will this camp be?
A: I hope it’s real physical.
Q: Is that your goal, though, to have a physical camp?
A: Absolutely. When we have the pads on, we need to practice with a smart tempo, but we’re out here to be a physical football team, a heavy-handed football team.
Q: How often do you plan on having the pads on?
A: I don’t have the schedule right in front of me, but we’ll get them on after our first day off. We’ll come back and have the pads on and crank it up.
Q: Ben, is there a fine line between being an aggressive team and making sure you get out of camp and the entire summer before the season starts staying healthy?
A: Again, you can’t go out there and coach and play worrying about staying healthy. We have to be smart in the way we build these guys up, we need to start small and build them up as we go, but at the same point in time, we need to go out and we need to play football, we need to practice football, we need to get our pads on and we need to fit our pads in. You still have to be smart as far as the player’s safety concern goes. We have guys in vulnerable positions, we need to keep each other up. We can’t be on the ground, so player’s safety is my responsibility, but we still have to go out and play and practice the game.
Q: Ben, you’ve been around here for a couple of years now, and these guys in particular for a few months. As you go into camp, what is the one thing you are most curious about with this group of guys?
A: I like to see how they push through. The offseason is the offseason, but I can’t wait. I went in and we circled the first day we’re going to put the pads on and practice. We can’t wait for it. That’s when you start finding out about the group of men in the locker room, and I hope they’re looking forward to it as much as I am.
Q: What’s your biggest challenge personally?
A: Can’t start fast enough. Patience.
Q: What do you figure to get out of Victor Cruz early on in camp?
A: We’ll find out here in a little bit. We have the conditioning evaluation, we’re going to get a bunch of guys out there, move them around doing football specific movements and see how they recover from that. He looked good today when I saw him.
Q: Do you have a plan for him?
A: We need to see him this afternoon first. We need to go through the conditioning evaluation. There are a handful of guys in that category that weren’t practicing at the end of the offseason that we need to take a look at because we haven’t seen them for awhile.
Q: Is there anyone that can’t go through this that will be on PUP already?
A: There are three guys. Right now JT (Thomas) with his hamstring, (Jay) Bromley had an ankle procedure in the offseason, so we’re going to hold on him for a little while, and then Snacks (Damon Harrison) had some swelling in his knee, so we’re going to hold on to him.
Q: They’re starting on PUP?
Q: Coach, what’s the biggest thing you look for in the conditioning tests?
A: There are a couple things we’re looking for. Obviously we’re going to build them up slowly out there for it, then we’re going to go with some full speed movements. Again, it’s against air, but they’re football type movements to see how they’re dropping their weight and to see how they’re pushing off. It’s all position specific to see how their heart rate recovers. That’s a big indicator as to what type of shape they’re in.
Q: What can you say about the number of talented, undrafted free agents you have on this roster? Guys like the tight end Malleck, like the safety Adams, what can you say about guys like that in the early going?
A: The rookie class you mean?
Q: Yes, the undrafted rookie class.
A: They’ve made a lot of progress so far in the offseason. It’s certainly not too big for them and, again, we’ve got to see what they look like with pads on.
Q: What does today mean to you from a personal standpoint? Can you reflect at all on the road that has gotten you to today?
A: Someday I may reflect, but today is not the day to do that. We’re looking forward to getting out here on the field and moving on.