Q&A with Todd Haley 8/15

Posted Aug 15, 2011

OPENING REMARKS: “So, staying inside this morning with the rain; little bit of thunder out there, still not sure what we’re going to do this afternoon; potentially out on the turf outside. Again, lightning will take precedence or take priority. I thought yesterday’s practice was probably our most spirited to- date. We’re getting more and more guys up to where we kind of feel like they need to be, or a little closer to where they need to be and I thought it was real good work for the entire team – much-needed work. Today, again, depending on where we are, that may determine a little bit of what we do, but this is another big practice for us. In addition, we’ll have a bunch of military people out there that we’re excited about. Again, hoping that the rain clears out of here and they’ll be able to enjoy practice, because obviously, everything that they do for all of us means a lot to everyone in this building, I know that. So, looking forward to that, and like I said, just trying to get a little better each day.”

Q: Does WR Keary Colbert have an opportunity to make this club?

HALEY: “Yeah, I think everybody at that receiver position; there’s good competition going on, and like I said, he was a guy that I knew a lot of, coming out I really was interested in him, had a couple of swings and misses here through the last few years, and got him out here. He looks to be in really good condition, well rested obviously. I think sometimes when you have a year or two like he did, you’ll definitely see the hunger to go out and play the game that he loves. He’s competing. He’s trying to learn the offense as fast as he can, so he knows what to do so he can go out there and compete, and I think yesterday you saw a couple of flashes of it. He’s right in the competition and I think that’s going on all over the field, which has me excited.”

Q: Are you trying to stock up on receivers based on what happened last year?

HALEY: “No, I just think we’re trying to get better. The more competition, the better, and the better the competition is, the better [for the team]. It appears to me though, a couple of potentially good players will have a hard time making it, and that’s a good thing for us. Generally, what we say to all the players is, if you can play, somebody will know. There are some rare cases where it takes a little longer, but that’s a good thing for us.”

Q: Is Keary Colbert a better player now than he was when he last played in the league?

HALEY: “I don’t know. Without getting into it too personally, I think he’s a guy that came out and came on like gangbusters; had a real good early part of his career, then really as you kind of analyze it and go through it and hear some of his side of it, there were some circumstances that made it a little tougher to maybe keep at that level. So all of a sudden then it’s like being too good too fast. You kind of lose your value so to speak. He’s an experienced player that appears to be in real good physical condition and he definitely had skill coming out, so I don’t know where he compares to the last few years, or four years, or three years, I just know that what I see right now looks like he can be in the mix.”

Q: Is his experience coaching at USC a good thing?

HALEY: “Yeah, I think it definitely is a good thing. He was coaching a position that he hadn’t played, so he had to learn some things that maybe he had not paid much attention to that really do help you. The more you understand defense, the better I think, and at receiver there are so many adjustments going on in a short amount of time, the quicker you can figure that out, the better. To me, it has to be a little bit of an advantage.”

Q: Can you tell us the length of T Jared Gaither’s contract?

HALEY: “Again, I’d prefer to stay out of that. I’m worried about coaching these guys and I’m excited to have him on the team. Again, I think that much like we were just talking about, he brings competition and the more the better. I think it just makes everybody better and may the best man win.”

Q: If (Gaither) is the man at left tackle, could T Branden Albert move to right tackle?

HALEY: “Again, I wouldn’t pigeon-hole Jared Gaither to begin with. Branden’s our left tackle. He’s earned that right through his play here last year, and some of the things we did, and he’s come in this year and he’s working hard and it appears he’s getting better. Again, on the Jared deal, I think we have him over there to try to increase his comfort level as much as anything else. He’s a guy though that has played both sides. You have a number of different options with some of those guys and that’s a good thing as far as I’m concerned, because last year we played most of the year feeling like if something happened to Branden that Barry Richardson would go over there and then we’d plug in who we thought had the best chance to be the best right tackle – Ryan O’Callaghan much of the year. We weren’t as comfortable with Ryan going to left. The ideal situation if anything happens to either your starting right or left tackle, you just plug in a guy and then you have less moving parts at the spot that’s missing. Again, we’re trying to sort that out to see exactly where we are. Like I’ve said though, in the process, if somebody’s a standout player that we know can help us, then across the board, we’d find away to get them in there.”

Q: Is it just a coincidence that you guys have signed three players from Baltimore this offseason?

HALEY: “Yeah, I think it’s a coincidence. Now again, if you’re able to acquire players that you think can fit with what you’re doing and they’re coming from teams that are winning type teams, I think that’s a good thing, whether that had much influence or not, I wouldn’t put too much weight on it. Yeah, I think coincidence. I’m happy to have them all in here competing and just trying again to get everybody up to speed so they can show us everything they have.”

Q: There wasn’t any kind of mentality you were trying to bring from Baltimore here?

HALEY: “No. If they were a divisional opponent, I might think deeper into it.”

Q: What did you see out of LB Justin Houston Friday night?

HALEY: “I think for where he started, he’s progressed nicely. That doesn’t mean that he’s caught up by any means. I don’t think the game is necessarily a great judge of it. I thought he did some good things and he did some not so good things. The biggest thing to me was for a guy that hadn’t been around, that we hadn’t had our hands on much at all, he was able to go out there and play a bunch of snaps and hold up. That was a good sign and to me, that’s what I feel best about right now is, despite being a young guy on his own for the last two or three months or more really, he’s done a good job having himself physically in a position to have a chance to compete. It’s just getting better now. There’s a lot swimming through everybody’s head, his included and that’s the evaluation part that I’m talking about. We have to resist the urge to give these guys too much, too early, because we’ll miss an evaluation or two I’m sure. Just off strictly somebody being a little behind, trying to sort things out and then not playing at their ability. So, just trying to keep it fairly simple for all these guys and get a good, accurate reading on where they are.”

Q: How is Houston’s conditioning now?

HALEY: “That’s what I mean. I think that physically he’s done a pretty good job and it’s getting better pretty quickly and that’s a good sign. It means that he hasn’t let himself go.”

Q: What did you think about DL Jerrell Powe running down Josh Johnson Friday night?

HALEY: “He actually got out of position on that play, but you can make a wrong a right by coming back, and like we said, that quarterback felt that hit and the ball almost came out. Good things happen because he didn’t get caught up on, ‘oh, I did this wrong,’ and then you start worrying about it. He ran hard. There were a bunch of plays like that that were encouraging across the board for us.”

Q: Is Powe’s strength his athleticism and his weakness maybe needing to gain NFL strength?

HALEY: “This guy is strong. I think it’s more technique and it goes back again to those fundamentals. Being a two-gapping nose is no different than good tacking technique. If you do it right, if you do it the way you’re supposed to and the way you’re being coached to, you should have a chance to make most tackles and the same up front. Strength isn’t the issue. It’s technique and discipline and just trusting your technique; fighting the urge to chase the ball or movement, things like that. Those guys have a disciplined job. They have to hunker in and hold their ground and then still be able to get off blocks at the right time.”

Q: Was yesterday’s practice being spirited part of the plan, or was that the result of Friday night’s game?

HALEY: “No, that had nothing to do with Friday, but I can’t say it was the plan because I’ve stuck with and continue to stick with this one-day-at-a-time mentality. Again, we just have to take each day by day and not be afraid to adjust the schedule in any way, shape or form, or what we’re doing within the schedule. Again, coming off a day of rest, the way they worked in the morning, it wasn’t really decided until really we were into the afternoon what exactly we were going to do and how long we were going to stay in pads. Again, that’s not hap-hazard; it’s just trying to make sure we get it right each day. Like I said, we had a real good lift and work yesterday morning. The guys, you could tell that the day off had got them feeling good. We were outside, we were on the grass and we pushed it a little bit.”

Q: How did you come up with your plan?

HALEY: “Like I said, that’s where I’ m really grateful to have a bunch of really good coaches around me and we had some free time where normally maybe we didn’t. Like I said, we were even able to throw passes against each other, but a lot of discussion and talk of scenarios and different things and what we felt was important; past history and things that I’ve learned from certain coaches through the years. Again, it comes down to the bottom line, arguably one of the biggest contributors to our success last year has been the offseason and conditioning program the first two years. To me that was a variable that then was missing and I just don’t feel like that was something we could leave to chance, so we’ve put more of a focus early especially on trying to get this team to, you’re never going to make it up, but trying to now use the time that you have to get your baseline overall strength and conditioning level as high as you can get it. Again, it’s a long season and I know our team with some depth issues again, just like last year, we can’t afford to have certain things happen and be as competitive as we’d like, I don’t think. That’s our focus. That’s been our focus, it goes way back into the winter really and just trying to make sure we do what we think is best for our group.”

Q: Are your players at the physical level you would want them to be in now?

HALEY: “No, we’re behind like I said. I don’t know that there’s a right or wrong. I think you have to believe in what you’re doing and we’ve got to just kind of take it step by step and it may go into the season where we’re not to where we want to be. I do know that if we’re well-conditioned and strong and our guys know what do to, we’ll have a chance to compete.”

Q: How far behind are you compared to the rest of the league?

HALEY: “I’m just worried about us. I don’t know who’s right or wrong around the league. It sounds like a lot of people are doing a lot of different things. What I’m trying to stay focused on is what we’re doing and not really get caught up in anything that anybody else is doing because right now, that’s what we have. We have a number of days that we have to do everything we can to be ready to play on September 11.”

Q: Did your guys do enough on their own in the offseason?

HALEY: “Like I said, we have a good, conscientious group. I think it’s become pretty clear that the majority of the group was working. That being said, I do not believe you can replicate what you do with 60 or 70 guys in the offseason when you’re in there pushing each other. Even if you have a trainer, there’s no way to really replicate the work done especially with a true pro like coach (Mike) Clark and coach (Brent) Salazar. I think they do a tremendous job and you don’t just find them off the street either I don’t think.”

Q: Are you just cautioning the fans?

HALEY: “No, you asked the question, I’m just answering it the best I can. I think that we’re worried about us and what we’re doing and just trying to [get ready], knowing that there’s a date coming up here that counts. We have to be ready for it as best we can. There can be injuries, anything can happen. You have to adjust and you have to be able to find the solution. Like I say to the players all the time, ‘don’t complain, don’t explain, find solutions.’ We have a situation, we have to find solutions.”

Q: Is there anyone that you feel really good about?

HALEY: “I feel good about the whole team; I really do. I think we have a good group of guys that love football, that are passionate about what their job is and that makes it fun to coach. They’re coachable. I feel good about our entire team. We’re assimilating some new guys into it; young and older and to me that’s good stuff. That’s what I feel good about. I feel good about our team; we just have a lot of work to do.”

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