Offensive Coordinator Mike Kafka
Q. What did you think of (quarterback) Tommy DeVito's performance on Friday?
A: I thought he did a really nice job in there. Gutsy, played tough, I think he did all the things we asked him to do from an execution standpoint. He's growing each and every day.
Q. We saw (center) John Michael (Schmitz Jr.) get a lot of snaps in the first half. How'd you see him adjust?
A: It was good. That's really – training camp, preseason is really for those young players and it's good for the young players to get in there and get in the mix on how the speed of an NFL game shows up, and it comes on you fast. I thought that those young guys did well, JMS (John Michael Schmitz Jr.), like you said I thought was one of those guys who – he got in there, he played hard and there's obviously a bunch of things that we can get better at and that's where we're working to improve on.
Q. Where does the competition on the interior stand in your mind at this point?
A: I'm not going to probably get into the depth chart stuff. I'll let (Head Coach Brian Daboll) Dabs talk on that.
Q. How do you assess (wide receiver) Jalin Hyatt's performance in the game?
A: Yeah, Jalin? Yeah, Jalin did some nice things. He didn't have a bunch of targets, but he was in the right spot and where we wanted him to be. Again, those young guys are just growing and continuing to get better, and we'll get them in our mix as we keep on going through the preseason.
Q. What do you look for out of veteran guys like (wide receiver Jamison) Crowder and (wide receiver Cole) Beasley in a camp like this?
A: It's a competitive deal so all those guys are in the mix, right? So, you try to put them in the best spot to show what they're about and give themselves an opportunity to make some plays. I think as a player – being a former player, that's all you really want is an opportunity. So, with the preseason, the training camp, kind of the whole scope of body of your work, that's really what goes on through the evaluation process. Then you get into the preseason games, and you get the opportunity to do it in front of our fans and in front of the whole organization.
Q. When they've done it their whole career against one's and then they go against two's, do you expect them to show up like they did the other night?
A: I'd say the level of execution is high for anybody. First, second year, eight-year vets. The level of execution for us is really high.
Q. What have you seen (wide receiver Sterling Shepard) Shep coming off those injuries?
A: Shep's continuing to put together really good days of work. He's growing within the system; he's doing a good job with his rehab and prehab and running around. He looked really clean out there yesterday, so we'll just keep on working with him and as the week goes on, make a decision.
Q. When you look at the offense that Jalin played in at Tennessee last year, it's a lot more spread out. There are a lot more stack formations than in the NFL. Are there things that you pulled from Tennessee to make that transition easier for him?
A: Yeah, when we went through the scouting process with him and identifying things that we think he does well. So, just putting him in those positions rather it's inside, outside – all the different various areas of the offense that we can insert him into so he's one of those players, again, just growing, developing a role for himself and trying to make the best for him.
Q. Daboll can be explosive at practice and games. What do you think of that as somebody working under him as his offensive coordinator?
A: My interaction with Dabs has been awesome. We have a great relationship, we talk a lot, we're able to communicate at a high level. I think at the end of the day, that's what it's about. Everyone has their own personality; everyone has their own way of demanding what they want and getting what they want. With him being the head coach, that's part of my job is to make sure that I'm presenting that to the rest of my staff and the players on offense and portraying his vision of the team.
Q. The evaluation process is different for every player but a player like DeVito, how clear is the vision on how you develop a guy like that behind two established guys?
A: I'd say in my experience with the quarterback room is those young guys, you're trying to put them in a position where they understand – like they're going through their checklist. So, you're looking at the shot clock, you're looking at the guys in the huddle, you're looking at the personnel groupings that's in your own huddle, what's on the other side of the football, you're evaluating who's on what side of the ball. You're looking at corner, you're looking at linebacker, you're looking at matchups. Then all of a sudden you break the huddle and you've got a million things you've got to check out. Who the mike is, who the protection responsibilities are, making sure our guys are aligned in the right spot, then you're checking the clock again. So like there's a whole checklist and a thought process. That's really even before the snap, so all those things are happening. So, for a young player, you try to break it down for them so that they can do it simply, easy and allow them to play fast. For a guy like Tommy, he's going through that process, each and every day. It's not always perfect but you're seeing the growth and you're seeing the development and then you go see him execute in a game like that, do some nice things, throw a touchdown and have some success and that does nothing but just build his confidence.
Q. What are you seeing development wise and performance wise from (offensive linemen) Ben (Bredeson) and Josh (Ezeudu)?
A: I'm seeing a great competition. I'm seeing two or three tough kids – four tough guys that are really going after it in that core so they're doing a nice job and we're mixing them around and trying to give them as many different looks. In the run game, in the pass game, they're seeing a bunch of different looks from (Defensive Coordinator Don Martindale) Wink's defense as far as pressure. So, all of those things and you go all the way back, really to the spring, you evaluate that part of it then you take the whole body of work and now you can get a clean picture of how he fits into your offense.
Q. When you look at a quarterback and DeVito was under a lot of pressure, does that help you evaluate him?
A: I'd probably say we're looking to eliminate that pressure off the quarterback. We certainly don't want the quarterback having to throw with guys in their face, so we've got to work to improve all those things. It's not just the o-line, it's an 11-man operation and every group has a piece of it. Quarterback, the o-line, the running backs in protection, the receivers with their routes. Everyone has a piece to it, it's not just always one group although sometimes it may look like that.
Q. If the season started today, do you think that you could trust (offensive lineman) Josh Ezeudu to be your left guard? Do you think he has shown that he can handle that?
A: Yeah, I have trust in all those guys.
Q. Now that he's healed from the injury, where do you think he's going to play?
A: Josh is a really athletic guy. He's really athletic, he can recover and he's aggressive. We're working him through our – again, like every young player, we work through that mental checklist. Going through that process, continuing to work on his fundamentals and techniques, just like everybody. We're talking to Josh the same way we're talking to (offensive tackle Andrew Thomas) AT about the same fundamentals and techniques, so all those guys are working to improve on it and Josh is right on pace.
Q. What are the pros and cons of the offensive line rotation you did a year ago? Would you be averse to that again?
A: I think whatever way Dabs wants to handle it, that's how we'll handle it. I don't think that's set in stone right now so we'll just kind of play it by ear and as the competition develops and expresses itself, and then we'll make a decision.
Q. You did it for seven games last year, do you think it worked well?
A: Yeah, I think that's last year. Not to go too far back but just injuries and you're rotating guys in, so I think that's a part of that but ideally I think you'd like to have a core group. Again, you just want to find the best five.