Can you give us an update on LB Stephen Tulloch? Is he going to practice today?
JIM SCHWARTZ: He's in the building, but there's a lot of administration stuff that needs to happen: from physical, to the actual signing of the contract, to getting his uniform and helmet fit, and all that different stuff. So that's the plan, but hopefully that will happen. If not, it's not a setback.
What do you envision his role being on this team?
JIM SCHWARTZ: We'll see. We're a merit-based defense. We don't go in with a whole lot of preconceived notions. He's not here to replace anybody. He's here to add to our group. I think that as coaches, our job is to find out what guys do the best and what guys bring to the party. Everybody has something different they bring to the party, and we embrace that and try to find a role for all of those guys. But what role he's going to play is yet to be determined.
What does Tulloch 'bring to the party'?
JIM SCHWARTZ: He's a very experienced player. He's played at a high level of production. [He] plays with a lot of spirit. He's heavy in the run game. He has natural leverage. That's a kind way of saying he's short; but he's really powerful. He understands blocking schemes, and he has good understanding of pass games. He's got a little bit of experience on the defense. I don't know if that means a whole lot. He's a good player that stands on his own. He's done it in different schemes.
How much stock do you put into what you see in preseason games? Defense has obviously played well the first two games. Have you ever been fooled by something you saw in preseason when you got to the regular season?
JIM SCHWARTZ: I don't know if you say fooled by it, but you can get a skewed version or skewed vision of it. For a long time I was [with the] Tennessee [Titans] and our biggest division rival was the [Indianapolis] Colts. And every year the Colts would go 0-4 in the preseason. And if you said, 'Oh they're going to be down this year', you were on the wrong boat. They were a veteran team. They were getting through. Peyton [former Colts QB Peyton Manning] didn't play a whole lot. Every year they were Super Bowl contenders. And another part of it, before I got to Detroit, was the year that [the Lions] went 0-16 and they were 4-0 in the preseason. So take it for what it is. So you can read a little bit.
Here's what I think is important: to see how well we're executing the scheme and to see individual -- I don't want to say effort -- but individual production within the scheme. Can you make the plays that should come to you? One of the things I liked about the game on Thursday was that long drive, that 16-play drive. That's very, very difficult for a defense. They were going 3 yards, 4 yards, 5 yards, and they kept sort of moving the chains. That's a difficult situation. Usually in those 16 plays, somebody breaks down, somebody misses a tackle, somebody blows an assignment, somebody gets frustrated and tries to make a play they shouldn't make and then you end up with a touchdown. What I was proud of the defense in that case is that nobody panicked. They just kept playing. Everybody did their assignment and we ended up with a turnover that came off of it. I think you're looking for those things in the preseason.
What about S Jaylen Watkins? What has he shown you, especially in the two preseason games?
JIM SCHWARTZ: Jaylen has a skill-set of corner-safety. [He] played both at Florida. We've moved him to safety to try to take advantage of that. His challenge had always been tackling and run game. Last year if you watched a little bit of him, that's where he broke down a little bit, and early in camp this year, that's where he broke down. I think he's worked very hard and the coaches worked very hard with him to address that. And you're seeing the results of that. He's playing more aggressively in the run game. And there are times that safeties can play aggressively and there's times where they can't.
When you're the last line of defense, you've got to get that guy on the ground however you can. But sometimes when there's leverage or holes to fill, you need to be a missile and you need to go fill it. He needs to do a good job of that. He's on the right track. We need to keep seeing improvement from him. I'm very proud of him. He's done a really good job. It's easy to work on your strengths. He's really shown that he's willing to work on his weaknesses and it's shown on the field.
Have you ever rotated at linebacker? Having more than three specializing?
JIM SCHWARTZ: Yeah.
Would you feel comfortable rotating this group and having Tulloch in there on running downs?
JIM SCHWARTZ: Yeah, I think I go back to it's yet to be seen. But I think that falls into my terrible analogy that 'everybody brings something to the party.' If everybody brought the same thing, it would be a crappy party. Or it might be a really good party. [laughter] Maybe you look at it that way, maybe it's a really good one. But if everybody brings the same thing, you know, you've got to accentuate each guy's strengths. We talk about that a lot as a defensive line with rolling guys through. We do it as a secondary. There's nickels, there's dimes, there's things like that. There's no reason you can't do that as linebackers.
What did you see from CB Nolan Carroll in Thursday's preseason game against the Steelers?
JIM SCHWARTZ: Same thing we saw from him last year. He's a veteran player. Before he got hurt last year, he was playing [well]. Right off the bat, we were in a run-stop defense and they were in a run-set; the quarterback checked to a pass and Nolan just went up. I thought that was really the tone setter for the day because they tried to take a shot right away, he's in great position and knocks the ball away. He's not even breaking a sweat. That set up his interception later on, too. [He's] very reliable. He's a pro. [I've] been very pleased with him. He's done a really good job of managing his body as he's come off of that injury.
DE Marcus Smith and DE Steven Means seemed like they were pretty active in the preseason game against the Steelers. What have you seen from them so far?
JIM SCHWARTZ: Same stuff we've seen from those guys in training camp just about every day. You guys were probably on Steven Means before anybody else because you saw the same things we saw. And Marcus was doing really well. He just had a setback with the concussion and missed time. But he sort of picked up right where he left off.
The thing I'm most proud about with Marcus is that he's done a good job in the run game. It's a little bit like talking about Jaylen Watkins; he's [Smith] a very skilled athlete. He's fast and he's smooth. I think he was a quarterback when he first went to Louisville. I mean, that stuff shows. Where he's really making good improvement is setting the edge of our defense [and] attacking tackles. He did that against a physical group from Pittsburgh. That was a great sign.
How do you view the dichotomy between playing to win right now – as you mentioned it's a merit-based defense – versus growing and developing young talent on the deep end of the roster?
JIM SCHWARTZ: You always want to develop. I think you can do both. Why do they have to be mutually exclusive? There's ways to develop talent and still have an approach that you're going to win. I think we owe it to the locker room. We're going to try our very best to win every single game. And there's never been a word of any difference in this building. We're going to try everything we can to win every game that we play. So developing players in that, I don't know that you can't do both.
How much did DT Mike Martin miss by being out? And is he still considered one of the top, back-up, interior lineman?
JIM SCHWARTZ: He was doing very well before he missed that time. He fits the defense. He was making life hard on the offensive line though, which is what you want from those guys. He did have a setback as far as missed time. Hopefully we can get him back on the field. And just like a guy like Marcus [Smith] -- or even [CB] Jalen Mills or Nolan Carroll, any of those guys that have missed time -- he can step back in and pick up where he left off. He was playing at a high level before he missed the time.
WR Dorial Green-Beckham hasn't been here for very long, but in general, what kind of challenges does a 6'5" receiver that runs a 4.4, 40-yard dash present?
JIM SCHWARTZ: I'll just try to stay on the defensive side. You can ask those questions to the offensive guys. Those big basketball wide receivers.
With Tulloch, do you have a sense of his fitness? For an older guy who hasn't been in training camp, how do you approach him in practice about that kind of thing?
JIM SCHWARTZ: I did have a conversation with him and he said he had been training twice a day. He knows. He's a veteran player and he's been through it. I think this is 11 years for him -- might be 12. Other than the ACL – and maybe since I left – I know when I was with him in Detroit, we tried to give him a vet day off in training camp and told the trainers, 'Hey, Tully will be down today,' and he came in my office mad as a hornet and was ready to practice. And I'm like, 'Hey, look, you're starting to get up a little bit. Let's be smart with this.' He was like, 'You're ruining my streak.' I'm like, 'What are you talking about?' He said, 'Coach, I've never missed a practice.' [He] never missed a game, but he had never missed a practice and I think he said [that dated] back to high school. That's going back to N.C. State, high school and eight years in the NFL that he had never missed a practice in the NFL. So guys like that, they know how to get themselves ready. He's not coming in here with his eyes shut not knowing what he's getting into. He's done it before so he will be able to do that. I'd be very surprised if it was a different case.
So did you still make him sit out that practice in Detroit?
JIM SCHWARTZ: Oh no, he ran out there at practice. We cut his reps a little bit, but he still went out. I respect that. I respect guys that what to [practice]. I had the same thing with [former Lions WR] Calvin Johnson and the same thing with [former Titans and Lions DE] Kyle Vanden Bosch. We have some guys here that don't like that; they want to be out there with their teammates. Even if they're not taking their full regiment of reps, they feel like their presence on the field helps and it does.
Yeah, we cut his reps a little bit. We compromised a little bit. I'm not a big compromiser, but I respect guys that have played a long time. I have tremendous respect for guys that get 10 years in the NFL because you can't make 10 years on talent alone and you can't make 10 years by being a try-hard guy. You have to have a great combination of things. Also in 10 years, let's face it, you're going to be working with different coaching staff in 10 years. You have to have the ability to work in different schemes, whether you're an offensive player or defensive player. I'll bow down to guys that play 10 years in this league because that's tough business.
Is the third preseason game the most important game in your mind? Do you put extra stock in it and is it important that you go against Colts QB Andrew Luck for an extended period, especially after you didn't face Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger last week?
JIM SCHWARTZ: We play whoever they put out there. Doesn't matter if it's regular season or preseason; we can't control that. So I don't know if I want to read too much into that. Every game is important. There's competition for jobs. There's competition for roster spots. There are some guys trying to make a good impression to hopefully make the practice squad. That's important enough for our guys, without putting anything to do with the Colts.
In S Malcolm Jenkins' case, he wants to play the slot and that's something he has discussed. Is that a role you see him fitting on this team?
JIM SCHWARTZ: Well, he does. Both he and [S] Rodney [McLeod] have to do it in our base defense. And having those guys give you the ability to not have to go to a nickel personnel when teams run three wide receivers. The profile of safeties has changed over the years. That big in the box safety that was an extra linebacker; that's a tough guy to hide because the offense can personnel you and things like that. But it's a security blanket for the coordinator and for the coach to know that if they do give you a third wide receiver or if they give you a set that you've got to have a match-up -- a blitz or whatever it is -- that you have guys that can do that. I mean, if you're in nickel and you want to run a blitz, one of your safeties is going to have to cover a wide receiver. So he does do that in our scheme and it's very valuable. It might be on first-and-10. It might not be what you think of playing the slot, but it might be coming out of our base package. It doesn't make it any less important. He's a very valuable guy. And I'd say Rodney in that same vein. Both of those guys have corner in their background and that was part of the profile of us bringing them here.