Daboll: How’s everybody doing? Kind of cranking right along now. It’s the dog days here. We kind of had a ramp up period, if you will, up until the scrimmage. In terms of the amount of reps and things we were doing, we’ll increase them this week now that we got through this first, we’ll call it, eight practices. We continue to work situations but amp up some of the reps, some of the conditioning, some of the things you need to do at this time of year. So, that’s kind of where we’re at. I thought it was a competitive practice, scrimmage, what you call if the other night. It was great support from the fans. Still got a long way to go. We’ll be back into the red zone today. An important next few days for us in terms of improving as a football team mentally, physically, every area you’re going to need to continue to get ready for the regular season.
Q: What’s the process of ramping up for a preseason– especially the first game?
A: You asking about playtime?
Q: Or just in terms of how you prepare for the first preseason game.
A: Yeah, we’re really focused on us right now and improving our fundamentals and techniques and execution and assignments and conditioning. That’s where we’re at. That’s where we’re going to spend the next three days, on really focusing on what we can do better collectively: coaches, players, staff. That’s where we need to be.
Q: Brian, you mentioned conditioning a few times the other night and again today. Are the players farther behind than you would like at point conditioning-wise?
A: No. Again, that was the ramp up period relative to what we were doing. Soft tissue injuries, keeping them healthy. It was really the plan. Pressed them a little bit that night with long drives; the sports science people say that we had 34 plays in 45 minutes, and that was kind of the plan of going into it for the ones to press them a little bit so we could get going this week. Again, the intensity, the effort, the energy has been good. We’re just going to increase it a little bit relative to reps or extra conditioning, if you will, in between. You’ll see one, we’re going to do a red zone period today at some point, and then we’re all going to sprint to the other end of the field and keep the same group on and day two more plays in the red zone. Or we might sprint a little bit – some quick sprints before a period – and then have another period right after that. So, all part of the plan in terms of the offseason and talking with the sports science and the trainers. And you tweak things here and there. But that’s kind of where we planned to be this week.
Q: I know you weren’t a head coach last year, but you were obviously …
A: Every year. Any year. (Laughs)
Q: How did you see the preparation for the preseason change when they took the fourth game away? Did you guys change anything specific? Do you have a better understanding of how to handle it this year now?
A: That’s a good question. It was always kind of the same for each team 20 years ago. And I think every coach has their own philosophy. There’s people who don’t play their guys at all. There’s people that play them a little bit more than others. I think you have to do –what I’ve learned – is what’s best for your team. Being around different teams and different coaches, kind of what you need as your team and your team development. Being our first year, we’ll try to decide what’s best for us with our guys.
Q: What’s your philosophy generally? Where do you stand on that?
A: I think it’s a collective effort. I think it’s an individual basis with the players. Some guys have played a lot of football. Some have played less. Everybody’s, in new systems here. With our system on offense, our system on defense, the kicking game is similar. But I think that’s important to play football: to have live reps. How many reps that’s going to be, I can’t tell you right now. I think it’s going to be less for some and more for others, and each game will have a plan going into it. I anticipate all of our guys playing on Thursday. I haven’t even talked about it with the players either. I think our focus is really on getting better. Probably should’ve told them before I told you.
Q: When you hired (Assistant Defensive Line Coach) Bryan Cox, he’d been out of the league for five years. I’m just curious what that process was like. What appealed to you to think he was right to bring him in?
A: Well, I was with Bryan when he was a player, and he was one of the best leaders I’ve ever been around. As a linebacker, he was smart, tough, dependable. You know, back when we were playing at New England, he had an unbelievable hit on (Former Colts Wide Receiver Jerome) Pathon. We were 0-2 going into a game if I’m not mistaken and heavy underdogs. Early in the game, he set the tempo. He was always there as a player. Then, I’ve been around him as he started his coaching career at different spots. He’s a very loyal person. He’s smart. He’s played a lot. He was a linebacker. But he was basically like a defensive lineman playing linebacker back in those days. But I thought he could add value to the staff. There were a lot of people in the room when he was interviewed, asking him questions. He’s a good teammate. A lot of good things.
Q: Do you have any idea when (Defensive Line coach) Andre (Patterson) might be back?
A: No. I talk to him a lot. Sooner rather than later. But there’s not like a set date. He’s still working through some things medically, and he knows we’re there for him.
Q: Brian, how would rate the attitude of this team from day one, and how important is that for the success of a team?
A: They’ve been good. They’ve come in here and have done everything they’ve been asked to do. They come in with a good attitude each day. They take corrections well. They try to improve them. They have good energy out on the practice field. They give good effort. There was kind of a rest day for them yesterday – day off. And there was so many guys in here getting treatments, workouts, taking care of their bodies, and that’s on their own time. So, it’s good to see those guys come in and take care of their most important tool, which is their body. They’ve been a good group to work with. Study hard. Good communicators. So, it’s been a good group to work with.
Q: In football terms, are they where you expected them to be two weeks into camp?
A: I don’t have any expectations. I just expect them to get better each day. There’s a lot of stuff to clean up. There always is every training camp regardless of any team you’re with. But I would say especially a new team with new systems and new communication and different things. I think we’ve made progress. I think we still have a long way to go.
Q: Brian, you have lost (Offensive Tackle) Matt Gono and (Offensive Lineman Marcus) McKethan. Is there a need for maybe not a UFA flyer but a guy who has played a bunch of games in the NFL for the second team offensive line?
A: Yeah. I think (General Manager) Joe (Schoen) and his staff – the scouting department – are going to look at every avenue to try to improve that situation. You obviously can’t, you don’t have a crystal ball when that stuff happens. And it’s too bad, by the way, about Marcus. I spoke to him yesterday. For a young player to have a non-contact injury, it was tough. But he’s in good spirits. So, he’ll have to start rehabbing. But we’ll try to do whatever we need to do. Whatever it needs to do, we’re going to try to do.
Q: How do things stand with Gano?
A: He’s here. He’s not doing anything physical. But he’s here today.
Q: How much does that situation with the line accelerate (Offensive Lineman Josh Ezeudu) Josh’s development and what you need from him?
A: I don’t think there’s any pressure in terms of that. I think we’ve put him in a lot of different spots early on in camp, and that’s not always easy for a rookie. But we’re going to need him to be flexible. You’d like him to be able to let him sit at one spot as a young player, but where we are, and he did a good job in spring and up to this point right now of being able to play both spots. We’ll need him at each spot.
Q: Brian, what have you seen from day one from Andre Miller, a guy who obviously is changing positions and is getting some first team reps out here?
A: He has some good quickness, and he’s got good ball skills. He was a receiver at Maine. So, to come in here and switch positions, it’s not the easiest thing. I was around a fullback by the name of (New England Patriots) James Develin, who was one of the all-time great players to be around – smart, tough, dependable – was a defensive end. Went through all of these different leagues. And he learned to play that position at a high level, but it was a work in progress. I’d say that’s where Andre is. He does some things well. Some of the things he’s doing for the first time ever. It’s such a different game when you’re in the backfield and looking to block guys in the box rather than outside running against the corner, whoever it may be. So, he’s studying hard. He’s got a long way to go to continue to improve, but he has a skillset that he’s done a good job with it so far.
Q: You mentioned sports science a little bit earlier. You obviously were part of staffs when there were two-a-days. So, I understand like the health aspect of it, but have you found it’s a little bit more challenging to get guys ready for season opener now with the restrictions that are placed on you?
A: No, because each year you evolve from two-a-days. You evolve to one-a-day. There’s more sports science. There’s more analytics involved. I’d say I learned a lot from my time at Buffalo, where they’ve gotten off to historically fast starts. Very healthy roster. So, I was thankful for my time learning under (Bills General Manager) Brandon (Beane) and (Bills Head Coach) Sean (McDermott) and how they did things there. And I think you just adapt every year. Adjust and adapt to whatever the rules are. How much practice time, the structure of it. I think that’s what you get paid to do as a coach.
Q: How were you able to do that – to get off to those fast starts despite the less time to prepare for it?
A: Well, you have good players that go out there and execute well under pressure. They were healthy. I think Coach McDermott does a great job with those guys at Buffalo of getting them ready to go early, and at the end of the day, it’s about the players going out there and executing, performing under pressure, and making the plays when they need to.
Q: When you went out there when you had the scrimmage the other day, and you went back and watched it, was there anything you came away saying, ‘Okay. This is – went really well or need to work on,’ or anyone in particular that really stood out to you?
A: Yeah. Good question. A lot of things to work on. The coaches came back and watched it right after the scrimmage.
Q: I’m just wondering if today when you go out there you say, ‘We didn’t do this, so we’re going to do this.’
A: It was good to see the threes get some live tackling reps in there to evaluate it. But I think you’re always working. It’s a constant battle of certain things you want to work on each day. There’s nothing that we have set in stone right now in terms of, ‘We’re doing this so great.’ We’re a long way to go. Whether it’s how to rush the passer, blitz pick-up, getting open, catching the ball, covering downfield, different play recognitions, total effort. I’d say coaching staff, substitutions, getting the right guys on the field, getting the calls in quickly. I think we’re so far away from where we need to be, but that’s usually where most teams are in the beginning of camps. Thirty days away, there’s a lot to work on, which is a good thing. We certainly need it.