Head coach Greg Schiano spent a few minutes at the podium after Monday's training camp practice discussing the morning workout, the secondary and the linebackers, among other topics.
“Okay guys, practice four, just in case you guys needed me to keep track of that for you. I thought the effort was outstanding. Probably the best we’ve worked in the four days, the hardest. Cleaned some things up. We got into some situational football, which is good. We’ll start to get into more of that each day now.”What are your early impressions of Dallas Clark?
“I’m really excited to have Dallas on our club. Not only how well he’s performed so far, but the leadership, maturity, all those things. I think he’s going to be a key part of what we do.” What about the progress of the backup offensive tackles that might be replacing Penn?
“I think Dotson has done a really good job. (Jamon) Meredith has done some good things. And then some of the rookies, I want to hold judgment on them. I’m impressed with what Dotson has done so far.”Did Eric Wright go off the field today?
“I think he’s okay. Something small probably.”How’s the secondary coming along?
“They’re working hard. I coached the position before I became a head coach, so I’m probably biased, but you have to cover the best athletes in the game and they know where they’re going and we don’t. As a secondary, I think that’s the position that takes the longest to gel. But they are working their tails off, and every day making improvements. So if we can keep doing that, we’ll get there.”There’s a nice blend of experience and youth back there too.
“We do, we do. And I think to have Ronde (Barber) back there is just a blessing. He’s got all his experience and maturity. Again, I think we have a good mix. I like the kind of young experience mix that we have.”What does Tiquan Underwood bring to the mix?
“Well, he has had a good first four days of camp. He has made some big plays. You know chunk plays which are critical in offensive football. So if he can continue to do that-- you know four days doesn’ tmake camp. You got to have first four before you can have the second. Right now he is off to a good start.”
Zuttah has showed his versatility his whole career and what makes him such a good fit at that center spot?
“Well, I think he is a strong guy, but there are a lot of strong guys. He is very intelligent. [He] can learn things very quickly and grasp concepts. A lot of times with all the different blitz looks you get in this day and age of football you really need someone who understands concepts because you are going to get new looks—just a little bit different. If your center can identify and communicate that it kind of calms everybody else down. That’s what we are counting on from Jeremy (Zuttah).”Is the competition at running back a lot different than other competitions because you know you can go with the complimentary system?
“Probably, probably different than like a quarterback kind of competition because you want to play one quarterback. You really don’t want to be alternating quarterbacks. Whereas running backs I almost think in this day and age it is a necessity. One guy cannot take all the carries as big and strong and violent as the defensive players are.”For the one guys specifically though how are you going about this?
“I think if a guy—if that happens then certainly you let it happen, but you don’t make it happen. I think that’s where you make a mistake. You are going to make something happen. It has got to play its way out. Until it does you have guys who are good players and you kind of keep facilitating that it does play out by giving guys touches. As I said all along though whether it is receivers, running backs, doesn’t matter who it is they will earn those touches in the game because the touches are limited.”In the 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 work can you tell if Freeman is starting to improve on the decision making?
“I think just like the whole team, he’s improving every day. And part of that is decision making. A big part of it is. When you look at quarterback play, that may be the biggest part of it. It’s very much like a fighter pilot. They’re making split-second or high-speed decisions that you have to make and then you have to execute once you make those decisions, so we try to put him in as many situations as we can. Defensively, we’re trying to show him looks and take them away so he’s got to really figure it out and I think he’s doing better every single day. And that’s what we have to do at every position, but we all know how important the quarterback position is.”What have been your impressions on battle going on for starting linebackers?
“I think there are definitely battles. I’m pleased with Mason. He’s getting better every day. Adam (Hayward) is coming back from the injury and he’s starting to get it now. I think Lavonte (David) is doing some really good things. I think we have some really good young kids there. I think Black has made a lot of plays these first four days. You just have to keep getting better. The whole thing is, doing your job. One of the things you can’t do as a defensive player is try to do too much, because what happens then is you try to do too much and something opens up and you have a big play and then guys start to lose confidence in what they’re doing so we just got to do our job and do it consistently and I think the linebackers are starting to a better job of that and are starting to get a better feel for things.”Can the linebackers set the tempo for the defense?
“I believe the front four sets the tone. I believe the linebackers are important, I played the position and love the position, but at the end of the day those front four are the key to your defense. They make everything else go.”How has Dallas Clark looked to you?
“I think he looks really good. I think he’s working his tail off. He’s a true professional. Like anybody else you keep your fingers crossed, because it’s a violent game, but I’m very pleased that he’s on our team.”
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