It's the first day back for Riley Cooper rejoining the team, obviously he did pretty well. How do you think he handled it?
COACH KELLY: My concern wasn't how he practiced, it's just him with the team itself and get the chance to make sure he got to talk to every single guy so that they understand how we felt, what he did, and understand that he's truly sorry for what he did. We'll look at the film and correct all those other things, but that wasn't my concern.
Have you had a chance to talk to him?
COACH KELLY: I met with him again this morning. He talked to most of the guys before he left, but there were a few guys left, and I hope he was hoping that by the time he got out to practice he'd have a chance to talk to everybody.
Did you consider suspending him?
COACH KELLY: I didn't. I said that when he left. It was an excused absence. So it wasn't letting him come back or not come back, because he wasn't suspended. We gave him time to seek outside assistance, and when he had the opportunity to go get that done, and he called and was coming back this morning, and I met with him and he came back.
Did he have to show you something that made you think he was ready to come back?
COACH KELLY: No, I deferred to who he went to go visit with. Again, he wasn't suspended. It wasn't like he was suspended and he had to go through a set of things to come back. We just excused him, because everybody that met with him, and Riley himself felt that he needed to go talk to someone.
What kind of specialist did he see? What kind of professional did Riley see?
COACH KELLY: That's Riley's personal thing. And again, I know you have to ask the question, and I understand that, but that's not at liberty for me to say that. In deference to him, that's Riley's situation. I wouldn't comment on anybody in any situation if they sought outside assistance and they were excused in terms of where they would go.
Is this something you will have to monitor in the locker room going forward?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, that's a good point. We've got a pretty good pulse on where we are right now. Our players have been fantastic with us in terms of feedback, so it's really certainly a situation that, as I said, this isn't something that we just kind of put in the back seat and get moving forward. We'll make sure we keep our eyes and ears open and continue to monitor the situation.
Are you a little surprised that he did as well as he did in practice? Based on everything that's been going on?
COACH KELLY: No, I'm just out there making sure we get the whole drill going good. So if I look up and he caught one or two balls, my focus wasn't how is 14 doing, it was the entire team. So I'll go watch the film to make sure how everybody on the team performed today.
Is he going to play on Friday?
COACH KELLY: We'll figure it out. As long as we go through this week and everybody practices. Again, we've got to get through another good day with these guys, so I'm not going to make any predictions. Someone goes down tomorrow or if he were to get hurt tomorrow, so we'll see, but if he continues to practice, he'll play.
Talk about the majority of reps ‑‑ why were the majority of team drills first and second?
COACH KELLY: That's how myself and coach Belichick wanted to do it. Then we took a period where we split again and we called our basic group got reps in that situation. Obviously, when you play in your first preseason game, I would say our bottom part of our group is going to get more reps in that game than the first part of the game. So if you get a chance to practice with them, I don't know how much we're going to see Tom Brady on Friday night. So chance to practice against someone like that in some real good competitive situations was a good test for us. So just kind of did it that way. We thought the ones and twos would get more reps here in practice as opposed to the game on Friday.
You said at the start of camp that Matt Barkley would have an opportunity with first team reps. He hasn't gotten any yet?
COACH KELLY: Camp's not over.
Is that representative of how he's playing?
COACH KELLY: Camp's not over. You'll see a lot of him on Friday night though. Camp is not over.
Can you talk about the decision to keep Cary Williams out after a scuffle?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, we both talked. Someone got in extracurriculars they were going to be done for the day. It was one way we made sure that didn't continue. So I don't know exactly namewise who it was for them, but he sat and our guys sat. That was one thing we agreed upon. We didn't want this to turn into a wrestling match. Both of our squads knew before it happened. If you're going to get in a skirmish, you're going to sit.
Did you get a chance to see your defense against maybe the best quarterback out there. How do you think they did, and is it too early to tell how far they've come?
COACH KELLY: I think there is some good and some bad. That is the great thing with film. Our whole philosophy practice‑wise is let's just get it on top and we can coach off of it. So I saw a couple guys make some plays. We had a couple of decent pass rushes at times, and a couple of times he picked us clean pretty good. So I think there was some give and take out there. But obviously, one of the challenges against playing this team is you're playing against not only one of the top quarterbacks, but one of the top quarterbacks of all time.
What did you see out of Chris Polk?
COACH KELLY: I thought both of these guys have played well as camp has gone along. I think Chris has really stepped up his game coming from OTAs, and has probably been the most improved at that position. But we feel with those guys in, with Felix [Jones] we've got some depth at the running back position, and you're going to need it. It's the guy that's getting his hands on the ball the majority amount of the time that's going to get hit.
So it's very rare that you've got one guy that's your bell cow for the entire season. So I've been pleased with those guys in camp, I was pleased with them today. There are always things that everybody needs to work on. But I'm impressed with both of these guys right now.
What are you going to look for now moving forward with Riley back to be comfortable that the acclamation process is going the way you want between the players?
COACH KELLY: I think our team is extremely close. I think we have a great sense of understanding of everybody that's around each other. There's been great open communication between ourselves and our players and our coaches as this whole thing transpired. So I'll continue to talk to them. I think some leadership has emerged and certain guys that have really stepped up. I kind of lean on them a little bit. DeMeco Ryans, and Jason Avants and people like that that get the pulse of the team in the locker room.
So we'll see. It is an ongoing process, it's not something that we can just say, hey, it's over with. It's something we'll continue to monitor. The biggest thing with us and we talked about since day one is open communication. If you do have some issues or something that needs to be said, let's make sure that we can get that addressed.
How do you feel about the way the quarterbacks are playing?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, it's up and down. I think that's the course of any practice. So sometimes practice is a little bit different than the game because there is not risk‑reward. When you're out there for a ten‑play set, if you throw an interception, on the fifth play you're still back out there for the sixth play. That's why as you get into more game like situations on Friday night, there is a little more at stake in that thing. So I thought both of them at times showed some things that make you go, all right, we're moving in the right direction. But there are also things we need to work on.
Just a follow‑up question about the process of how Cooper came back to the team. Were you able to speak to his counselor or somebody in the organization prior to his coming back?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, we were. But there was no ‑‑ Riley wasn't suspended, so it wasn't like I needed verification to come back. We allowed him to be excused because we felt like and he felt like he needed to go see somebody. So there wasn't a system of we need to have this happen before you can come back. So I spoke to someone that he met with, and we talked about it, what is in the best interest? But there wasn't a set deal of we need this verification before we bring you back.
So it sounds like from your answer, if Riley wanted to come back, he was free to come back at any time after he felt he was done?
COACH KELLY: No, my answer is that we allowed him to go get assistance and then come back when we felt like he was ready to come back.
When did you find out he was coming back?
COACH KELLY: Last night.
Did you leave open the possibility that you might have to move on without Riley if the players don't accept him back in the locker room?
COACH KELLY: I don't see that happening after talking to our players. I think our players really understand the situation and are working with him to make sure they get a better understanding about the whole situation. But I don't envision that happening, no.
Just to follow up, so you and Riley had to decide together for him to come back; is that accurate?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, when he felt comfortable in the situation and when he could come back, yes.
And you had to too?
COACH KELLY: Yeah.
How did you determine your comfort level?
COACH KELLY: I spoke with Riley.
You said you were going to make a decision after Wednesday on how first-team rotations at quarterback will be split for the game, is that still set for later today heading into tomorrow?
COACH KELLY: No, we're going to practice for two days with these guys and see where we are.
Oh, after Wednesday, I'm sorry?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, today's Tuesday.
But on Thursday will that be held to repetitions being split?
COACH KELLY: On Thursday?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, there is not a lot of repetition on Thursday. It's the day before the game. We're doing a lot of kicking work with the Patriots. We may do some seven-on-seven, but I'm trying to figure the schedule in my head. I don't think we have a team session at all on Thursday with those guys. We just felt like maybe we could get another red zone seven-on-seven in, and get a lot of kicking work, which is what you normally do the day before the game.
What were some of the most encouraging things you saw from you guys in the practice round?
COACH KELLY: Today? I think I liked how we competed. I liked our effort in terms of how we were playing. I think we're on track from both defensive and offensive systems from the communication standpoint. I don't think there were many mental errors where guys didn't know what they were doing or didn't know what the call was. From a technique standpoint and things like that, fundamental standpoint, you can improve and work on those.
What do you think of the efficiency of the practice overall, working with the other team?
COACH KELLY: I liked it. It's probably at the right time too. We've been going against each other for a while now. It's good to see some different looks. It gives you an opportunity to gauge yourself because you know the talent level on their team and where we are at this point in time. But I think it was a really good thing. We'd like to continue it. I think when you get someone like Coach Belichick, we spend a lot of time putting it together and he talked to me about it at the combine, so I think it worked out perfectly what he wanted to get out of it and what we wanted to get out of it.
In Riley's situation similar to LeGarrette Blount's situation at Oregon?
COACH KELLY: I don't really see any comparisons. I think it was two different circumstances. But I think everybody goes back to the experiences they've been through in terms of dealing with players. But good thing for me was LG was here today. I had a chance to give him a big hug, and I'm very proud of him. Very, very proud of him.
I told him he shouldn't be defined by an incident that happened on September 3rd, 2009, because that's not the type of person LG is. So I think from that standpoint it's different. One was a fight. So there are some differences from that standpoint. But I'm proud of where LG is right now. I think I would say there could be, but I think to paint it all with one brush is difficult.
Just out of curiosity, why was there no music at practice?
COACH KELLY: We just wanted to get practice in, so I'm not dealing with distractions. Had a lot of situations where we're calling things out, where is the ball, what group is in and all those things. So I think our players are used to it. It doesn't sound like they do it. So not to cause confusion, we just wanted to practice against each other and get a lot of good work in.
I think when you first notice it or do it can be distracting the first couple of times you're out there, and that wasn't what we wanted to get accomplished. We just wanted to go out there and practice against a really good football team.
How much did you want in terms of the offensive play? You've shown too much as opposed to giving them some looks and giving your guys looks themselves?
COACH KELLY: Yeah. I don't think we thought about showing whatever, because we don't play them. I think if we were going to play them during the regular season, I think maybe if we play them during the regular season, we may not have practiced against each other. We weren't thinking, 'Hey, if we show them this, then they're going to know.' So that wasn't a big discussion. I think the only ‑‑ I would say the only way we're going to play each other is if we're both playing in February next year, and I don't think we both go back to watch this tape to try to see what we do, because we'd have 19 games to go off of.
So in terms of showing things and not showing things, I don't think that was a concern. One of the things when we first got together is that we aren't playing each other during the regular season, so this is a great opportunity for us. So you don't have to think back on August 6, we ran this one play. I think you can do a lot of mental gymnastics killing yourself thinking like that so.