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HEAD COACH TODD HALEY - OTA #11 Q&A HIGHLIGHTS - JUNE 8, 2010

Posted Jun 8, 2010

OPENING REMARKS: “Good afternoon ladies, gentlemen. Got through today, the second time we’ve had to go inside which is pretty good for this area from what I’ve seen so far in two years. We went in there, it’s always a little bit of a worry when you change the turf, but I thought overall the guys handled it very well. That was something that was very important to me, that when we do have to go inside around here we do have to be able to be productive and I thought overall they did a good job of looking out for each other, but yet still getting a lot out of practice.

“The defense yesterday clearly got the better of it. Today I was a little interested to see how both sides would respond. The offense I thought showed some signs of life and bounced back and yet the defense was able to kind of build on what they did yesterday. It was a good day. We’ve got one more OTA and then moving into the weekend, which will be a couple of two-a-days, which I think will be good for this group. We pared down the running a little bit in an effort to have them fresh for this weekend and we’ll probably do a little more of the same tomorrow.”

Q: Did you ever get a ruling on S Jarrad Page’s situation, will he be here? Does he have to be here for mandatory mini-camp even if he hasn’t signed his tender?

HALEY: “I did not and I apologize. I’ll keep it to guys that are here and the guys that working their backsides off. Just right when you said that, it made me think of LB Tamba Hali. He’s a guy that I don’t hear a lot about, but this is an impressive guy who has really, in my opinion, bought in to what is going on around here, wants to be a special player and wants to be part of a really good team. He is a passionate guy that I think has put everything he has into the off-season once again, like he did last year. I think he’ll start to see some more of those rewards here as he continues to become a big-time player.”

Q: Watching him take some pass drops it’s like a completely different person out there as opposed to last year.

HALEY: “That’s what I should have really said when I started talking about him, but I hadn’t planned on it until I thought about some of the guys that are here and really, really investing. That’s a good word for what these guys are doing right now, they’re investing, investing in their future and in the team’s future. Tamba had a very difficult transition, a lot of speculation on it last year at this time and I think he made it through that initial whitewater and now he’s really starting to make strides in becoming an outside backer that obviously has a real good skill and that being rushing the passer and if he can continue to improve in those other areas that he has to, he’s got the chance to be a real good outside backer to a premier outside backer – I think the sky’s the limit.”

Q: In terms of practicing against the 3-4, is it validating the defense to see the offense struggle a little bit, and how important is it for the offense to get reps against the 3-4?

HALEY: “Last year we really laid the foundation for the 3-4, what you’re seeing now. I feel like that was a big part of last year defensively. Guys like Tamba, transition guys like LB Andy Studebaker really had their work cut out for them. As far as me being an offensive coach, there hasn’t been a doubt in my mind of the way I want to play defense as a head coach and that’s just one of the problems it presents, one of the many problems. Now you have to be able to play it and it’s not easy to play and guys have got to understand their role, so that’s where we’re at right now, trying to get the 11 that are out there at that time to understand how important their role is within the defense. Again, in early June, I think we’re making good progress.”

Q: How is WR Dexter McCluster fitting into his role offensively?

HALEY: “I think Dexter, much like the rest of these young guys, and I know I’ve said it a billion times, but he’s got a chance. It’s a long road, like I said yesterday, we can’t put any of these guys in Canton at this time, it’s obviously way too early. But, he’s come in here, he’s shown a bunch of the things he’s showed to us on his college tape and validated a lot of what the scouts, when they brought him to us as a guy they really like, validated a lot of what they’ve said about him and that’s a good sign.”

Q: Would it be safe to say that so far he is kind of on a ‘Jamaal Charles path’ as far as your guys’ conception of how much he can do because he is out there a lot?

HALEY: “Yeah, and I think that, as I’ve told my coaches, that falls on me. I think that and that’s why I want to be the head coach. Some of these things now start to clarify role-wise as far as us as a staff and those are things I’ve got to be paying attention to. Are you making him do too much? Are you putting too much on his shoulders? Are we giving this kid the best chance to succeed and the best chance to help us? That’s something I’m really excited about and I’ll stay on and monitor and if you think I’m way out of whack, Bob, just let me know.”

Q: You had a moment today with one of the receivers where you walked off three or four yards outside the numbers, was it four that he needed to make? What if he’s three, what happens?

HALEY: “Really after yesterday, that’s another good point you’re making, because after yesterday the defense did some real good things, but they also allowed some runs in passing situations when you’re playing a lot of man as a defense, the front four or five, whoever those rushers are, they have to understand that everybody else out there at that time has their back turned to the ball. I think even though we did a real good job in coverage, some of those runs that came out were going to be big runs. We have to stop the run, we know that. If we learned one thing last year, we’ve got to stop the run. I think yesterday was a great chance to coach on both sides of the ball on the details and the little awareness things. On offense, there when we’re talking about receiver splits, spacing in the passing game is so critical to your success and some of these guys were still in the process of them really understanding that and the great receivers understand the areas of the field that are being defensed and then where they have to be in order to maximize your opportunity. Splits are just one of those factors that are very critical and guys cannot let those little things, this is the time of year where you can make real progress on some of that and that’s what we’re trying to do…and I walk a perfect yard. I learned that from our special teams coach Mike Sweatman, a military guy that I was with for a long time in New York and Chicago. He could walk a perfect yard, so I watched him and I believe I walk a perfect yard or stride a perfect yard.”

Q: Reminds me of a story you told about walking off a perfect yard while drawing up play cards for Bill Belichick…

HALEY: “Exactly. And at that time I had no idea, I said ‘Why is this guy being a jerk to me? I’m trying my best.’ Now I understand. We’re just trying to pass that along.”

Q: Where do you stand with LB Jovan Belcher so far?

HALEY: “Jovan is one of these guys that is a first-year or second-year player that there wasn’t a lot known about him by anybody, an undrafted free agent and you’re really excited when a guy like that comes in and is able to contribute the way he did in a first year. Now that’s behind him. That feel-good story is over and Jovan has taken another step, no different than all those guys we’re talking about – those second-year, third-year guys that have to develop. He falls in that pack, and it’s a big pack, and I mean that and I’ve said it to him. That was a nice story but we won four games and that’s not what our expectations are and those guys have to develop and he’s one of them.”

Q: Has he developed and what have you seen from him?

HALEY: “We’re in June in shorts and shirts. I would say he’s in the process of developing, as last was part of that development. Time will tell, but he’s got his work cut out for him, but he’s got to be a guy that takes a step for us.”

Q: What have you seen from DL Jeffrey Fitzgerald so far?

HALEY: “He’s a good size player that can run. I know you guys don’t always get to see them run, I might try to change because it’s good to watch. He can run. I’ve been taught that any smart defensive linemen that have good size and can run and are smart, they don’t grow on trees so you find a way, even if you think there’s no chance or you think there’s a great chance, you have to find a way to make sure you don’t discard any of those guys. He’s a young guy, like you said, free agent that had a good college career – had some ups and downs but he’s here and he’s going to try stay here as long as he can.”

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