In Arrelious Benn's case, to what extent does his history go into an evaluation?
COACH KELLY: Honestly, none. We've just got to take him the way he is. He's had some injuries in his career, but our thought isn't if he's clear and ready to go like he was today in practice. I was actually pleasantly surprised because of the time away, sometimes there is an ease back in factor, I didn't see that from him. I've got to obviously look at the film, but I thought he looked pretty good. At this point in the time, he's been in the league for a while, he's an experienced player, so what can we use him for? Right now, with his size, his ability to play special teams, he can bring a lot to the table. So really happy that we had a chance to get him back out there today.
Have you figured out how you're going to divvy up the snaps for the first preseason game?
COACH KELLY: No, that's a good question. What we talked about is we want to get through Tuesday, Wednesday practice, and then we've really got to sit down. Because we're going against the Patriots, so we believe the practices, we're going to get some good, quality work against them. But we talked about for us inform say this is what we're going to do on Monday, and then all of a sudden, the lineup changes so you don't know. But after Wednesday, we'll probably have a final meeting and then have an idea going back through it. We're still going to practice against the Patriots on Thursday, but it will just be in helmets. It's a lot of situational work, situational kick game, and some of that stuff. So it's not a physical practice by any stretch. But talking about Coach Belichick, we want to get some work in. But we'll know by Wednesday what our situation is and kind of have who is going to be able to play in the game, and have it. Because there are a lot of components that get involved in that.
Are you seeing any separation at all in the quarterback competition?
COACH KELLY: I thought today they all played really well. I was encouraged with the entire team to come back. We had Saturday off, but I thought the energy out there today, there was a real good give and take by both sides of the ball, so I think all of them on today had a pretty good day.
When you go through it and you're going as many times and as many evaluations, there is an up day and a down day, and up day and a down day. So who consistently over the time has played at the highest level? But to say one day this guy was above and then it drops, so I thought all three of those guys today, and then the little snaps that Dennis [Dixon] got, they played pretty well today.
So the performance through Wednesday kind of helps determine who is going to start?
COACH KELLY: No, not performance, just what the depth chart is, who is available. So where were we with ‑‑ what are we trying to put out there for one offensive line group, one tight end group, one receiver group. To try to get those guys how long we can go. There is a lot more that factors into it. Because, again, we don't believe it's fair to say, great, I'm here. But he played with a different set of people. So trying to figure out that part of it.
When the quarterback has problems with down passes, has it generally in your experience been a height problem or a throwing and lane problem?
COACH KELLY: It's a throwing and lane problem, unless you're Dan McGuire or someone like that where you are throwing over everybody. Almost everybody, the average size of a quarterback is 6'2", 6'3", and you have linemen in the 6'6" range, you're throwing over people.
One of the reasons we brought those things and we used them at Oregon to kind of end snake seven on seven. Sometimes in seven on seven they can get complacent especially when you're throwing shallow cross routes, there are going to be some linemen there. And if you continue to get in the habit of throwing the ball over there, it's not going to happen. Lane [Johnson] is 6'5", Jason's 6'4" plus and Todd Herremans. In those situations I believe it's a lane situation. We're trying to get a little work and little simulation in that on the seven on drill.
I think Matt Barkley has done it once in college with the flyswatters?
COACH KELLY: I don't know the exact count. They've all done it more than once. I don't have the exact count. You may be right on that, but it's being aware of where those lanes are more than anything. I don't think it's a height issue.
If at times Mike Vick has the ball, are those mostly design runs?
COACH KELLY: In this, I would say today they were mostly break downs. We don't have many, I don't think we had any designed quarterback runs today. So not breakdowns, but it's part of being a good decision maker is if everybody's covered, don't force it. If, obviously, people are going to play man coverage and turn their back on you, you looked at the one where they probably had a 25‑, 30‑yard gain.
So that's a good decision on my part. I don't consider that a breakdown. I consider it a good decision by the quarterback, and I also consider it, because I'm rooting for both sides, it's great coverage by us. Now we have to be better in our rush lanes in terms of containing the quarterback. I think when you have the mobile quarterback, and we're going to face some even in our conference, you better make sure your rush lane has some integrity to them. If you get stuck with three guys coming from one side and a wide rusher on the other side and you get the kid in Washington, he's going to make you pay. So you have to be conscious in man coverage where your rush lanes are.
With Ifeanyi Momah, are you seeing his natural speed show up in team drills and practice and everything?
COACH KELLY: At certain times. I think with all young players or with all players when they're thinking too much, you know what I mean, I don't think they're running as fast. So if their head is moving and they're a little confused then their feet don't move as fast. When Mo knows exactly what he's doing, he can cut it loose a little bit, and that's when I start to see guys, like today, I thought Damaris [Johnson] had a good practice where Damaris was starting to pick things up to the point where he's not out there thinking. I have this. He's reacting and going. It doesn't matter what position you play, when you start to see guys, it almost seems like they're getting faster. They're not getting faster, they're just run to go their potential, but they don't have to think anymore. They get the play call, they know what they have to do and they execute it.
On how the defense has adjusted to the tempo of practice?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, I think these guys have really settled in. Really, the way we want to practice is always, it's faster than game. You know, we're getting the ball down faster because I always believe you can slow down. I think it's hard to speed up. So when our guys, when we get into game‑like situations, they're going to find themselves, hopefully it's a little easier for them. But they've been fantastic in terms of assimilating to the style of practice that we want to practice in.
Some players got into a minor scuffle today, is that something you discourage?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, we talk about being bigger than the situation. At times in this game people get probably hit. Sometimes you're going to get hit in your opinion which is illegal. But the concept that we try to teach to these guys isn't to retaliate because if this was a game, they'd be out, and they've got to learn to do it. It's not like well, it's practice, so I can do it. Because we always believe you're going to play in a game like you train. We've been fantastic. It's tough. I've said since day one, the biggest positions that have to cooperate are the offensive and defensive line. There are a bunch of men up there and they're battling. At times, you know, if you trip over somebody or you're down or someone takes an extra shove, you kind of take exception to it.
But it is a good, teachable moment for us. Our guys understand it. We'll talk about it again in the meeting tonight. But obviously, you can't do it in a game, so we'll discourage it in practice.
Jason Peters left practice early again today. When that happens, you're moving Lane out to the left and Todd to the right. Explain the thinking behind that?
COACH KELLY: If we were going to play a game, we're probably going to go with our best tackle combination. So, for us to do that, then Lane needs work at left tackle, and Todd needs work at right tackle. So, instead of saying in the Redskins game, hey, we've got to move Lane, but he's never taken any snaps over there. We had planned all along at getting Lane work at right tackle and left tackle. We had planned to get Todd some work there. If it ends up being Dennis [Kelly], then we may still, Dennis may feel more comfortable playing right tackle, it may be a one‑person move where let's move Dennis into right tackle and Lane over to left tackle. So we're just making sure as you look down the road, we have some contingency plans on how it works. The versatility that Lane brings us brings us the ability for a guy that can play both tackles and to be honest with you, that's rare. There are some guys that are legitimate right tackles and finding tackles in this league is very difficult. That's one of the things that looking at him in the draft, here's a guy that can do both. I think that was something that we really liked, and I think I'll give you credit, I think you were the one that told us to take him.
Then with Todd ‑‑ right, didn't you tell me earlier?
I wanted Eric Fisher
COACH KELLY: I'm sorry to bring that up. I thought you said Lane. But we couldn't pick Fisher.
I did pick Lane when it came to four
COACH KELLY: Okay, we're good. With Todd, I think his versatility, being able to be a guard and a tackle is a huge help to us. So I don't know how it will end up expressing itself. But I think when you get an opportunity in practice to go through some things and see them on film, there are some subtle differences, different foot up, some of those things.
But one of Lane's versatilities is in college, he played right tackle and played left tackle. So it's just kind of giving us down the road, we've got a little bit of depth from that standpoint.
Do you have a timeframe yet on Riley Cooper?
COACH KELLY: No, not yet. When we do, we'll make sure we announce it so it's not going to be a surprise to anybody. But when we do get some information on him, we'll make sure we get those to you guys.
It's been three days and two practices and an open roster spot, why is that?
COACH KELLY: Why?
COACH KELLY: Because, really, we've been at 90 for a little bit. We're trying to figure out, it's kind of the way we looked at it as a contingency plan. If you lose one more at anything, what do you do? So if we lose another corner, you'd hate to be at 90, and when we lose a guy, but you only lose him for a couple days, you'd hate to be at 90 and say I wish we had another corner in here instead of taking the extra receiver. We feel because we have seven tight ends and five running backs, if for some reason we feel our receivers are getting tired and we have nine guys to go, we can play multiple tight end sets and multiple running back sets.
So we feel like we weren't going to run those guys into the ground. So to just go one for one, I our thoughts, if we're at 89 and we lose a guy, but we don't lose him for ‑‑ obviously, in [Jeremy Maclin's] situation, we replaced him, you know what I mean? In BJ's situation, we replaced him. The injuries you worry about, if a guy's out for two weeks, now we need a body in here to get us through those next two weeks and compete as he comes back.
So we've held it just almost like you've got one in your back pocket if you need it. So that's how we approached it.
You spent a lot of time during practice on special teams and placed such an emphasis on special teams compared to a lot of other coaches?
COACH KELLY: Again, I can't speak to what other coaches do, but I think it's an integral part to the game. There is a statistic out there in the last 25 years in this league, four games a year comes down to three points or less.
So if the margin of victory is so close, we're going to work on anything that we possibly can within the rules to give us an advantage.
I think you just look at one phase of the game as just an afterthought, you know, as we talk about it, is if you accept it, expect it. If you accept your guys kind of going through special teams mediocre because as a staff it's not a big emphasis for you, when you go out on Sundays and don't play well in the kicking game, you have nobody to blame by yourself. We're going to put a huge emphasis on it.
When you play in this league, the talent level is so close, and margin of victory is so close, that anything we have a chance to affect the outcome of the game, and special teams is a huge part of that, we're going to spend time on it.
Talk about DeSean Jackson as a punt returner?
COACH KELLY: I think he's an outstanding job of tracking the ball. He does an outstanding job of catching the ball. We know how dynamic he is when the ball is in his hands, so we're obviously ‑‑ we don't tackle in those situations. But I think we all know what DeSean can do when the ball is in his hands. The biggest thing for us going back to thinking about special teams, it's a huge fundamental game. So we're working extremely hard on all drills to make sure that we're fielding the ball the right way.
Part of being great in special teams is I think anything from the catch on is a bonus. But you've got to catch a ball. There are so many hidden yards when the returner doesn't catch the ball, and all of a sudden now the other team gets an extra 15 yards because of the roll, where if we had just kept the ball off the grounds, we're going to be 15 yards better than we were. So a lot of being a great punt returner is being a great decision maker. Can you go get it? There are times in games where I believe at the college level we've won games because our returners just fair caught six punts, and didn't let the ball roll.
There are a lot of times it's hard to simulate that and to find a guy that really has the courage to run up in there. So I think he does a great job right now watching him from a fundamental standpoint, so I'm excited to see what he can do when we get the ball in his hands.
Mychal Kendricks' skill set allows him to play both the run and the pass. Do you see having him as part of the nickel package?
COACH KELLY: It's a great question, because Mychal Kendricks' skill set is great to blitz, but Mychal Kendricks' skill set is great to cover. So I would argue he may be our best cover linebacker. So you're kind of caught in that.
You look at the play he made, the dive and catch on the interception, I'm not sure we have another linebacker with that skill set. So it's tough when you have that ‑‑ I shouldn't say it's tough. It's nice to have a guy that has that skill set that can do both. So I think we've got to be conscious of, yeah, he's great to bring on blitzes. But he's also great in coverage, so we have to mix and match. But the ability, what it ends up being for Mike, is he's truly a three‑down linebacker.
How did Arrelious Benn play today?
COACH KELLY: Regis? Yeah, as I said earlier, I was pleasantly surprised. I did not ‑‑ you expect some rust, to be honest with you. A couple of the early drills, quarterback receiver catch drills, running routes and things like that, he kind of flashed a little bit.
I thought he was really good from a mental standpoint. He missed some insertion time because, obviously, he was out, and we can't stop insertion just because one guy is out. And we called things today that he had never run in practice before and he really picked up.
So as I said earlier, I was pleasantly not surprised as much as maybe happy to get Regis back out there. He's a big, physical target, and he's also really good on teams. So having that versatility of having your receivers that can contribute to special teams is a big help for us.
When you lose two receivers and not knowing if one might come back, did you see enough in OTAs?
COACH KELLY: No, have I seen enough? No, I haven't.
COACH KELLY: Yeah, I'm extremely hopeful. I'm an optimistic guy. But have I seen enough from our guys to say we're a thousand percent? No. But I wouldn't say that about anything right now. I still think this is a work in progress. I think every day I've seen this team improve. I thought we had a really, really good training session today and I was excited about it.
But as I tell those guys and we talk to them at night, it means nothing if you don't come back out and do it again tomorrow. We have to continue to develop those habits and do it. I'm excited about the direction we're heading. But am I 100% certain to look at this position and check it off and say good to go? No, not yet.
What do you want to get out of these sessions?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, I just think there is a certain mindset so that when you come watch it, there is a consistency to it. I think the biggest problem is when there is a really, really good one, and you get all excited and the next time you come out, it's flat and you kind of go up again. You've got to try to stay away from the valleys and a lot of times, I think that's really what kind of your mindset is. And we're trying to develop daily habits with these guys so there is a rhythm to them.
Part of what we're trying to do is why do we practice at this time? This is when we're going to play. So we're trying to get the body set, get the clock set that this is how it's going to be.
But the biggest thing you're looking for, and that is a great question, is the consistency aspect of things. Because this game, during the course of a game, there are going to be times when plays can be really high one day, and then be off for six or seven plays and then be off again. I think it's that consistency level that separates good from great.
T Jason Peters was unable to finish today, is it a situation where maybe you think about backing off on him? COACH KELLY: I don't know. Until I find out, and I say the same thing every day. If someone goes down in practice or doesn't finish practice, until I can get inside and find out exactly what it is, it may be ‑‑ if it's the hamstring again, maybe we need to look at how quickly are we going to bring him back from it? When I do find that out, I'll be sure to get all that information to you. Thanks, guys.