On what he thinks he has with special teams as the first game approaches: "That's why we go out and play, and we're excited about finding out. Right now though, we've got some experience coming back, and it looks like we'll have a couple of good returners there, and we're interested in seeing what they have at game tempo."
On whether it's been easier to get groups ready this season as opposed to last year: "Last year we had a lot of young guys, and we were really uncertain about where those guys were going to fill in. This year, having some older guys, we kind of know where they stand on the roster, so we feel a little more confident in knowing who we're going to have out there the first game."
On whether the wedge was an offseason objective: "With the wedge, not necessarily. We're a fairly athletic wedge, and it's just a matter of knowing how to sort things out. Last year we had some young guys even on the wedge. We had (DE) Victor (Abiamiri) back there. (TE) Brent Celek was back there, so we had a couple of young guys who didn't quite understand the concept, whether it was the inside-out position or outside-in position. But they've learned it, and we're excited about getting those guys back out and picking up where we left off."
On how he builds camaraderie: "A lot of that has to do with the leadership from the older guys. Again, having a lot of young guys last year, they were just all kind of learning their way through. Having the older guys out there to be able to provide the example for them, whether it be practice tempo, whether it be knowing how to work on certain fits and certain reads and things. Then the older guys teaching the younger guys; I think having that leadership helps bring them all together."
On whether it has been difficult to get the younger guys to buy into the system: "I don't think so. It's just more of a learning curve than anything else. Being that they've never been on it, just learning how to set up for blocks even. Something as simple as that on kick return, for example, knowing inside-out positions, outside-in positions, just knowing where they need to be on the block to be successful and also knowing the type of opponent they have to block and different types of techniques to get it done."
On whether K David Akers has more range this year than last year: "He's showing really good leg strength right now. He's hit them in warm-ups. He's hit them during our team reps. He's looking really strong at this point, hopefully he can carry that through the rest of the season."
On WR DeSean Jackson taking reps on the kickoff return team: "Yeah, DeSean is taking some reps for us right now. We've got several options back there. Booker is doing a great job. (S) Quintin Demps is a guy. We've still got (S) J.R. (Reed) and (RB Correll) Buckhalter there as well, so we have a few different guys that bring some different things to the table. We're excited about sorting that out and seeing how that unfolds behind (RB Lorenzo) Booker."
On why it is so different for DeSean to field kickoffs rather than punts: "Fielding the ball (today) was a little bit different because of the wind. We were having to drive the kicks down there, and there was some movement on the ball. He's usually pretty good with that as far as fielding the ball. The only difference there is really, he's more of an open field type, using his space. Same thing with wide receiver; same reason why he doesn't play running back. He's not a point of attack guy where you're going to just try and ram him up inside. He's a guy that you're going to utilize the field and try and spread him out some. Again, he brings something to the table in terms of kick return as well, but right now we feel really good with what Booker's got."
On what Booker brings to the kickoff return team: "He's a guy that has great speed, great speed and great vision. Very similar to the running back position, he knows where the reads are, he knows where to break off of those reads. One thing that we were questioning there was whether or not he would be able to break the tackles, and he's shown out here during the some live practice sessions that he is capable of breaking tackles. It's obviously a little bit different on the kick return aspect of it, you've got guys flying around coming downhill at him, but we feel like he could definitely get the job done here."
On who the leaders are among the older guys: "We've got a lot of returners from last year, but some of the free agent guys we've brought in. (LB) Rocky Boiman's been out there and (LB/DE) Chris Clemons. Some of the guys who have been in the fire and kind of understand what it takes to get the job done, they've gone through that learning curve and made some mistakes and now they can teach some of the younger guys. (S) Quintin Mikell has been a guy that's gotten back out here and taken a little bit more of a leadership role for us as well. (LB) Omar Gaither, just some of those other guys who have been on the field and they've taken those reps, and now they're teaching the younger guys how to do it as well."
On how much of a difference it makes to have older guys on special teams: "It's just like on offense and defense. If you have five rookies on your offense, you're going to have some offensive mistakes there, and it's going to cost you at some point or another. Same thing that we ran into with special teams last year, we had some great athletes on the field but one guy would make a mistake and it would look like the whole scheme was busted. It's just one of those situations where now we've got some older guys. Again, they've been there, they understand how to set up on certain things and they can teach the younger guys the same thing as well."
On whether he changes his punt return plan based on the player: "Each game is different. Yeah, that does have a little bit to do with it there. When you've got a little bit slower of a returner, not as explosive of a returner, you have to be a little bit more complicated in your schemes. You try to disguise things a little bit better and do what that returner can do, maybe a straight ahead approach, catch the ball and get up field and try to get positive yardage. With DeSean we have the ability to stretch the field a little bit, hopefully get teams to overplay and hopefully get some seams there."
On whether he thinks that inexperience was the biggest thing that held the return team back last year: "One of the things we did during the season was we continued to improve. I think, obviously, the mistakes that we made early in the season did cost us there. But we did a nice job of improving each week, and guys kind of understood the system a little bit better as we went through. Just understanding the basic concepts there and understanding how to make specific blocks, I think helped us as the season went along."
On whether he coordinates with offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg on how many reps DeSean gets on special teams: "Not necessarily. We do keep tabs on how many reps guys are taking on offensive and defensive sides, and obviously, that has a factor on how many reps they take on special teams. Right now he's a guy that we feel like can help us on offense obviously, and on special teams for as many reps as we need from him at this point. So we'll see how that progresses during the course of the season and go from there."
On how he came up with the slogan "Pride" on this year's T-shirt: "It's just taking pride in their work, and with each individual 'I have to do my part.' That's basically the general concept of it. Even from the older guys that are starters on offense or defense and may not necessarily be starting on special teams, they still have to take that role and take it upon themselves to provide that leadership. A lot of the guys have been on special teams, they've been special teamers so to speak, so that's kind of where it came from. It's just 'I've got to do my part to help us be successful'."
On how long he's been doing the T-shirts: "We've had them for several years now. I'd say it changes as we go along, but that was the new one for this year."
On how he came up with the slogan: "That was just something I felt coming out of last season. Leadership was a big part of it, and having each person doing their job whether it be starting on teams or just providing that leadership role and teaching some of the younger guys. But I felt like that was something that we needed to focus on this year."
On what he thinks will make special teams better this year: "The experience factor there. Again, it's a lot easier for guys that have been out there, that have been in the battles, to understand the little concepts of the game, even a center trying to pick out and trying to rub a guy off. Celek, for example, did a nice job as the season went along, but he didn't understand how to stay out of the pick there earlier in the season between the center and the guard. It's just little things that we can progress on, and that experience factor, all of a sudden those guys have been exposed to it in game type situations and they have a better feel for it and a better position up on certain blocks."