On how he has developed and changed as a person and as a coach over the past year: "Well, you know, last year it was certainly a different set of circumstances this time last year. From my standpoint, it was an opportunity this offseason to look ahead into 2010 and plan ahead as a staff how we wanted to go about attacking things for this season. Professionally I've grown a significant amount over the year. I think we've grown as a staff, our players handled last year about as good as players could handle the situation the way it was last year. I'm proud of the players of the way they handled it last year and we're looking forward to 2010."
On whether things have come easier to him over the past year: "Like I mentioned, last year was a unique situation. It was a different set of circumstances. Now we've introduced some normalcy, if you will, into the equation and it gave us an opportunity as a staff to get together since February and plan just like a normal staff would plan and handle the offseason since February."
On what type of contributions he's looking for from the new additions and rookies: "I'm looking for the best 11. I don't care, young, old; I want the best 11. It doesn't matter what you make, doesn't matter how many years you've played; if you're here and you've performed you're going to play. Bottom line."
On what players need to do to make an impression: "Making plays on the field. It's all about performance. You guys know it as well as I do. You make plays on the field, handle yourself off the field and you'll see playing time."
On the advantage of having past experience coaching the secondary and the linebackers: "That's an unusual characteristic to be able to have coached those two positions, multiple positions in the NFL and I've done that. I've spent a number of years with veteran players, Pro Bowl players and it's to my benefit, it's to our benefit. I would hope, as a coach, that I can coach the position, I can teach it from A to Z. I'm just a part of the staff and we've got a great staff on defense this year." Video Player : Sean McDermott Press Conference
On whether there will be a significant setback with DE Brandon Graham because of his absence in camp: "I don't want to speculate how long it's going to take here. That's not for me to be involved with. I trust the powers that be that they'll work it out. You guys know as well as I do, if you're not here it's hard to improve as a football player. It's hard to build and contribute when you're not here. We're not waiting on anyone, we're moving forward as a defense. If and when they report, they'll have to get caught up."
On whether it's a case-by-case basis with rookies holding out and whether it's more urgent for defensive linemen to be in camp: "I think it is on a case-by-case basis. Every position is different, every individual is different. There is a transition and you guys have seen it as well as I have over the years, there's a transition that has to take place to transition your skills from the collegiate level to the NFL level and to play at a high level, which is what we need from both Brandon and (S) Nate (Allen)."
On the impact he expects LB Stewart Bradley to have on the field and as a leader: "Stewart, his value, in terms of what he brings to this defense both on and off the field, you can't put a number on it, you really can't. What he does for us in the huddle, what he does for us in between plays and let's keep in mind he's still a young player. From my standpoint, he's the guy that's going to quarterback the defense and he's going to know the defense as well as I know the defense and by situation, make checks to put us in the right defense. It'll be a significant addition to our defense having Stewart back."
On what he has seen from Bradley's knee injury and what he needs to improve on: "From what they tell me, the time coming back does take time. You guys see it across the league, different players come back at different times, if you will. Stewart, in my mind, has done a heck of a job from a rehab standpoint working with (head athletic trainer) Rick (Burkholder) and the trainers. He looked in the spring like he was ready to go. I'm anxious to see him in a couple of days here and see how he looks again. I would imagine he's going to look even stronger than he did about a month ago. The biggest thing coming back from a major injury like that is the mental toughness part of it. You're talking about a mentally tough individual when you talk about Stewart Bradley."
On how he plans to monitor how much he uses Bradley throughout camp: "It's part of evaluating personnel and part of evaluating personnel is knowing what your players are going through and in Stewart's case it's coming off of a major knee injury. So, there's not going to be any reigns pulled back early on. We'll just see how he looks. It's important that he's out there on Sundays for us, or Monday nights, and we'll keep that in mind as we go day-to-day here or practice-to-practice."
On whether he has to be more patient due to a small window with getting the players ready for the season: "No. There's an urgency and patience was somewhat for the spring. These players have all been with us for a couple of months now and we are young. We're one of the youngest defenses in the NFL if not the youngest but, at the same time, it's important that we mature each and every practice, each and every meeting and that we can turn the page from one practice to the next. I don't think (Packers QB) Aaron Rodgers is going to be patient with our defense at all."
On not having the top two draft picks in camp: "I'm coaching the guys who are here and the question was already asked. I don't get involved in that side of things. I trust the powers that be, they're going to work it out. I also have a lot of confidence in Brandon and Nate, at the same time, that they're going to get it done. I'll just leave it at that."
On whether he plans on taking the same approach as last year: "I think every year is different, every situation is different. I'm looking forward to this year to come in with the weapons we have, the speed that we do have and teach football. I think when you're trying to build the way we're trying to build it on defense with the youth that we do have, it's important that we start Day One with fundamentals. It's not a sexy term for you guys to report about I know, but we're going to work on tackling, we're going to work on getting off blocks, we're going to work on catching the football, scooping the football up when there's a ball on the ground. That's what wins football games. If you don't tackle well, and we didn't tackle well last year, you don't win football games on defense. We've worked it last year more than I've ever worked it since we've been here in my tenure. We're going to work it even more this year. I'm a big believer in fundamentals and building a solid foundation especially when you have the youth that we have on this field on defense."
On the importance of improving the speed at the linebacker position with the new additions and with Bradley back: "When you have speed on the field it gives you a lot of different options. Speed is one thing, but speed with football instincts is another thing. I think when you mention (LB) Ernie (Sims) and Stewart and the guys that can run, and (LB) Keenan (Clayton), you've got guys that are football players, football savvy players that have the speed and the ability to run with tight ends and receivers down the field."
On where he envisions LB/DE Ricky Sapp contributing other than special teams: "He's going to start off on the defensive line and work at the defensive end position and we're going to keep our options open with what he can do. With a couple of the other players, really all the players on defense, when you look at your personnel, it's a rubics cube. Coming out of training camp, you want to know what you have and what the abilities and the talent level of your personnel really is and how you can use them to win football games on defense."
On how tough it is for a guy like that who has spent most of his college career going forward as a rusher trying to learn coverages: "We've done that a couple of times here during my tenure and each case is a little bit different. In Ricky's case he's got a great attitude and we'll just see how he can transition in order to play both. Right now he's going to be a defensive end."
On how far behind S Kurt Coleman was when he got to training camp: "Well, Kurt's a smart football player and he handled himself extremely well. What he showed me today was he's been working and that's a start. He's worked with the coaches during the offseason. He's been very studious in the way he has approached the time when he was away from us; staying in contact with the coaches, staying in contact with other players. The way he handled himself out there this morning, you would have never known he was away for about a month which is to his credit."
On whether it was Coleman who sought to speed up the process: "There was a plan in place, as I mentioned in the spring, there was a plan in place. It takes two to tango and there's got to be a willingness on the player's side of things and there was a tremendous willingness on Kurt's part, so he deserves a lot of the credit as well as the coaches."
On who worked out with Coleman after OTA's (organized team activities) ended: "Both (defensive backs) coach (Dick) Jauron and (defensive quality control) coach (Mike) Zordich stayed behind and worked with Kurt and then stayed in contact with him throughout the vacation and visited with him during certain points of the vacation as well."
On whether the tables have turned now that Coleman is in camp and Allen is not here: "Yeah, it's certainly to his advantage. Like I said, he's already a smart, intelligent football player and now he's getting the reps behind and the innate intelligence. I expect his learning curve to dramatically increase."
On what Coleman showed him in practice that opened his eyes: "Did you guys see the red zone?"
On what he showed specifically: "Breaking up passes and not afraid to stick his nose in there and we don't even have pads on. That's playing Philadelphia defense right there."
On whether he gets as excited to coach these young players as he thinks they are to be out there on the field: "You love it when the players are eager to learn. Last night in the meeting – look, there's always an anxiety around or an eagerness around the start of training camp. I've been at this a long time since I was very young and walking through the stretching lines when my father was a coach. This time of year, if you're not waking up in the middle of the night thinking about training camp, maybe you haven't been at it long enough, I don't know. Or you don't have it in your heart. From a young person's standpoint, I'm hoping they didn't sleep very well last night because I know I didn't. This is the start of training camp, for you guys as well. There is something different about this time of year. The heart beats a little bit differently about this time of year. I'm anxious to be here, I know they are, I hope they are, and we're ready to get to work."
On the importance of getting pressure from the front four this year and whether this is a change of philosophy blitz-wise: "It's not a change of philosophy pressure-wise. Last year we pressured right around the same, we had done it since I've been here. I know the importance of getting pressure with just four. We did a good job of that last year. You can always look for more. You guys know, you've been around this organization long enough to know that sometimes in the secondary, you're only as good as your front four and vice versa. They go hand-in-hand. Getting pressure on the quarterback is a must in this league on defense. These quarterbacks are too good to let them sit back there and pat the ball. We've got to make sure we're working on that and (defensive line coach) Rory Segrest does a great job with that."