OPENING REMARKS: “We had another good day out there this morning. Like I said yesterday, this was a little more in-season type schedule as far as timing, as far as our schedule, our routine goes, this would be a little more like a Friday before a regular Sunday game. So that’s the way we tried to treat it and get the guys in that mode. This season, obviously there won’t be a lot of choices as far as pads but one of the key things I’ve been talking to our guys about is the ability to go from pads into the shells like we were today and have productive practices. It’s going to be very important to our team’s success. Overall I thought today, we’ve been in shells a few times lately, but I thought they did a good job. Overall as this thing’s winding down heading into this last game, I feel like we had a good idea of how we wanted to do things through training camp and through the first three preseason games as far as during the week and in the games, as far as practice, meetings and our strength and conditioning program, I feel like we’ve been able to stay on course as far as that all goes and I believe that will carry into this game and our preparation for September 11 and the regular season. I feel good about that. This was a big day today and I think Thursday night will be a big night for our team as far as one of the last real chances to see a bunch of things that we need to see in a bunch of different areas to feel like we’re ready to make the decisions that we have to make and to be ready to go.”
Q: Your number ones got more work in practice today. Was that part of the plan for this week or was this maybe a response for what you want to get done on Thursday night?
HALEY: “Like I just said, I really feel like we’ve been able to stay on schedule as far as how we wanted to do things. I’ve fought the urge to be reactionary and do things that maybe we hadn’t really planned on doing, other than some little schedule changes and things like that and like I said, that’ll continue into this week. We’ve been practicing that way here for a couple of weeks, as far as the (number) ones. We’ve had the developmental sessions at the end of practice. Today, on just a short week, we didn’t want to push it too far. When you’re running cards, everybody’s getting a number of reps. I really feel like we’re on schedule as far as the things we wanted to get done and accomplished and now the next big step for us will be Thursday and then we’ll have some decisions to make and have to get ready for the regular season.”
Q: What’s the plan for the game as far as how much work the number one players get?
HALEY: “We have a plan. I’d rather not get into it fully, but I would say our core guys will have a good amount of playing time, according to how we laid things out this year, it may not be the same it’s always been.”
Q: More than the typical fourth preseason game?
HALEY: “I’d say we’ve done it a number of different ways through the years in the fourth game and a lot of people do it one way and through the years we’ve done it different ways so I don’t know that I can say that it’ll be a ton different for us.”
Q: Do you think it’s important to get your guys a taste of success Thursday night just so they realize they can do it?
HALEY: “I said that when the last game ended, that I’d like us to feel like we’re making progress, but that being said, this week I felt like across the board was one of our best weeks, even though it was a short week – really just a Sunday and a Monday heavy practice and today obviously in shells, but still a very productive practice in my mind – so those are successful days. This started out with 47 days. We’re winding down and every day to me was just as important as the next when you have that amount of time to really be ready to go. So that’s kind of how we structured things and yeah, I’d like to go make sure we’re making improvements. I feel like we’ve made improvements all the way through the training and the preseason and now I feel like we need to do that again and I think if we feel like we’ve made progress then I’ll feel good.”
Q: What do you like best about your team through the preseason?
HALEY: “I like the way we’ve worked. Like I said, everybody’s not privy to the workouts, but I told them today we’ve had 38 big workouts, not practices, workouts. Our offseason is usually based off 40 workouts. Like I said, we’re never going to make up lost time, we’re just dealing with the variables and the situation that we have and every other team in the NFL has. That makes me feel good as the head coach that we’ve got 39 workouts in less days than that – that’s been lifts and runs – and we’ve had some really productive practices. That’s kinds of the balance that’s been on here that like I said, we as a staff have fought the urge to react too much one way or the other over certain days, so to speak. Progress is the key and the fact that this team has worked hard, they’re tired right now. This feels like training camp. They’re tired right now but I told them ‘you’re not going to feel a lot better than you feel right now, no matter how things go the rest of the way because that’s just the NFL.’ We’ll have some time to recover here leading into September 11. They know that and I think they’ve responded well to what’s been asked of them.”
Q: Were the games considered workouts?
HALEY: “No, no, no. I’m talking workouts. I’m talking lifting, running, sit-ups, push-ups, that kind of thing. Those are workouts. Practice is practice, games are games.”
Q: Does this game become more important for evaluations for guys who you still have questions about?
HALEY: “I don’t know if more important is the word. I do think though that we have more to go on at this point. As you get into the third, fourth game and these late practices, we know so much more about the players. Again, coming back to that being good on the evaluations, we know some of these players a lot better than we know other players. So, that’s the balance of trying to do what’s best for your team, knowing that you’re going to need young guys, you’re going to need veteran guys, you’re going to need in between guys to be successful. One thing I forgot to add – the email might have just gone out as I came up – but we put Ryan O’Callaghan on injured reserve and
Q: How close are you to finding the 53? Are there guys that go into this game where it’s make-or-break for the final few spots?
HALEY: “I never put it just on the game, but I made it pretty clear to all of them at the start of the week that there was still a lot of competition going on in a number of different areas. And some of those areas [are] in the front line, some of those areas [are] in the second core and some of them even into the third. So, they’re well aware of that, so guys I think are working accordingly. And like I said, we’re going to have some tough decisions to make and to me, this year is going to be tougher than either of the previous two years.”
Q: Without O’Callaghan as a backup now, are you comfortable with where you are at those two tackle spots?
HALEY: “I’ve been comfortable with Barry [Richardson] and Branden [Albert]. I’m getting more and more comfortable with Jared [Gaither] as he’s come along physically. He’s getting up to speed now. He made big progress this week. Like I told you, in the last game I was happy he was even in there for kind of the plan we had for him. And now this week, he’s been able to build on it. I think we’re all liking some things we’re seeing out of him, so that’s good.”
Q: If that’s how you go into the regular season at those positions, you’re okay with that?
HALEY: “Yeah, I reserve the right – as we always do – that if there’s guys we think that fit with what we’re trying to do and can create competition, we’ll be on it. And again, that’s not discounting the guys that are here. Again, just as far as I’m thinking – tackles – I think some of our younger guys are more inside guys.”
Q: Can Gaither play both sides?
HALEY: “Yeah, he’s done that so that’s the good thing we have. We have three guys, and those three that have shown very good position flexibility. Again, it is what it is right now, I’m just excited that [No.] 71 is making progress and getting better and getting up to speed.”
Q: Do you have any concerns about
HALEY: “You’re trying to lull me to sleep over there. Let’s talk about the guys that are out there. Those guys are working hard that aren’t to be out there as fast as they can. Nobody wants to be Wally Pipp.”