OPENING REMARKS: “Good afternoon everybody. (We) got our first OTA in, always a good, exciting day to start to kind of get into some football. Again, I’ve made clear to everybody, these last couple months have been all strength, conditioning, getting their bodies into position to compete. Now you get to start to integrate some football into what’s still the off-season program. We’re still lifting, running, we ran after practice today pretty good, so overall I thought it was a productive day and a good start.”
Q: You had a really good turnout for the first day of OTAs today. Guys who usually aren’t OTA-type guys were there like G
HALEY: “Kent, the commitment has been here. With both those guys, I think I’ve said in here a couple times, obviously [we’re] in a very good place with both of them. We’re on the same page with where we were and again, this whole off-season has been a really good sign of commitment by everybody involved. This isn’t just about today, it’s really the last few months where these guys are really working and working together, and now we’ve got a chance to take another step towards the goals we’re trying to reach. I think it was a good day overall and the guys worked hard again.”
Q: It seems like this means that those guys have bought in. That is something that you didn’t necessarily have last year. Now it doesn’t seem like you have to worry about that?
HALEY: “A year under our belt, Kent, goes a long way. That was a big year last year to lay the foundation for what the expectations were, and are going to be year-in and year-out. I just think, as I said, the off-season has been better just because of the year under the belt – everybody knows what to expect and how we want it done. And again, those guys are in here and that’s a good sign. But I was on the same page with them from day one.”
Q: Do you expect to see S
HALEY: “I’ll talk about the guys that are here and that’s the way I’ll stay with that.”
Q: That being said, when you’re trying to build the team atmosphere, how do you handle someone who isn’t coming in for workouts as a staff?
HALEY: “That’s their prerogative. This is about accomplishing goals that have been set and doing it the right way all the time. I’ll say, as a whole, this group is doing it the way it needs to be done to have a chance to compete and be a good team in this league.”
Q: With the core of your veterans, what are you hoping to see out of them during these OTAs?
HALEY: “With such a young team to begin with, I’m not looking at it as much like that as much as we’ve laid the foundation for what’s expected. The guys have definitely turned it up a notch just from the standpoint that guys came in much better shape than they did last year at this time. That’s all we can go by, where we were last year to where we are now and we’re making progress. And that’s the name of the game, continue to make progress, continue to develop players, develop young players, which we have a lot of. That will be a key to being a successful team. From a veteran standpoint, one of their jobs is to mentor these young guys that are now being integrated into this team and that’s a big part of what good teams do is those veterans take charge in that role and play a big part in it.”
Q: Is TE
HALEY: “He just has something that should not be a big deal. He should be out there soon.”
Q: How are the young guys keeping up?
HALEY: “It looks like the majority of them listened to what was told to them, that they had to get to work. It’s the first day. It looked like some of them did a little better job than others just from the conditioning standpoint. Overall, they didn’t stand out too much in a bad way and I saw some of the young guys make some plays.”
Q: With the players being in better shape than they were a year ago, does that accelerate what you’re trying to do because you’re not having them drop weight?
HALEY: “Without a doubt. If you spend all of this time just trying to get back to baseline, which is what last year for a lot of guys was, just trying to get into a position, weight, condition, strength that you need to be to compete, then you’ve got a long road ahead of you. When you’re already ahead of the game, and just what I said when the season ended last year, it was critical that we didn’t take a step back, and there isn’t anybody that I feel took a step back. Everybody at least stayed where they were or even got a little better from a physical standpoint to now continue to work and gain ground. Again, this is still the off-season program that’s going to run all the way into June. All these workouts count and all of them are critical.”
Q: When it comes to young players in these OTAs, how much of what you do is evaluation and how much of it is just trying to teach them the systems and what you want them to learn?
HALEY: “A little bit of both. The key thing is getting these guys acclimated to how we’re going to do things on a full-time basis, that’s number one. They’ve got to know how we practice so we don’t have injuries, so we don’t have people on the ground doing things that end up causing injuries, that’s an important part of it. Seeing how much they can learn and understand is another part of it. So it’s two-fold for us. We’re trying to get multiple things done with the young guys.”
Q: There was a lot of turnover last year. Is it easier now when you bring guys in because you still have a core group of guys that were around last year? Does that make it easier for the new guys to mesh with the guys who have been here?
HALEY: “I think that comes back to having a year under our belt. We’ve got a lot of guys that were out there today that were here last year and went through everything that we had to go through to lay that foundation and although not always a lot of fun, it got done. Now with those guys, they’re part of the foundation and they’ll be part of teaching the new guys. From the standpoint of everybody has a year under their belt, that makes the transition a little easier, I’d agree.”
Q: How much different is your offense going to be next year?
HALEY: “One of the key reasons for Coach (Charlie) Weis being the guy, was there were a lot of tie-ins through the years with he and I. So what we had to go through as an offense last year and learn really on the fly missed a training camp of learning, the critical thing was now not to go back and start over. It’ll be our playbook so-to-speak and it’s our system that goes back way before me and it’s just what I learned, what Charlie learned and how we do things. I would say it’s going to be a nice transition for the players.”
Q: With some of the offensive components like Charlie (Weis), RB
HALEY: “Yeah, I think without a doubt. He’s going to fall under the one-year rule. He’s got a year under his belt after a very difficult year. Coming from a different place to a new place, different teammates and at the quarterback position, that’s even more difficult probably than most other positions. When you throw in the system, all the things he had to go through, it was a difficult year, but he survived it and that’s what I’m really excited about. He’s a tough-minded guy. He’s fired up; he’s working his backside off and is putting himself in the best position to be successful.”
HALEY: “I’m not going to judge anything off this day. These guys have all been here and they’ve been working hard. I’m getting a lot of good feedback from guys that I know have been around and I just feel good about where we are as a group and I feel good about where we are to this point. Now what’s important is that we continue to improve in all areas and then the next step will be mini-camp and then training camp.”
Q: The start of the season is a long ways off, but the fact that S
HALEY: “Yeah, I would say that does. He’s a guy that we got late in the year last year that we were excited about being able to pick up. He’s at the top of the list of guys working as hard as they can to put themselves in a position to succeed. All these guys know that they all have great opportunity because anything they learn from last year, for the guys that were around here, the guy that gives us the best chance of winning will play. When guys hear that and know that, they’re excited and it gives them hope and then it’s just up to them to take advantage of the opportunity given.”
Q: What dimension do you see RB Thomas Jones adding to this offense and how do you envision the rotation with two 1,000-yard backs in the backfield?
HALEY: “The more good players we can have, the better. We’re in the off-season portion of the year and that’s really what it’s about. You’re going to see a lot of different people in a lot of different places – I wouldn’t put too much into any of that right now. This is about getting the guys acclimated into how we’re doing it, what we’re doing and just trying to improve our technique in all those areas.”
Q: What is the biggest thing you need QB Matt Cassel to work on this off-season?
HALEY: “I don’t think I want to go into details of all that right now. The biggest thing I want him to do is have another great off-season, which he did last year, he really did. He got in here and was clearly a leader of the team in there and he’s brought it even more this year. I think the guys see that, the coaches see that, he’s willing to do whatever’s asked of him and generally when you have a player like that that’s got ability, things are going to work out the right way for him. I think he understands that. He’s all ears and he’s at work right now – he’s had some things that could’ve been distractions and you wouldn’t know it.”
Q: How do you feel about the safety position. It’s still early, but it was a point of weakness last year, you addressed it in the off-season, but how do you feel about it now that you’ve hit the first day of OTAs?
HALEY: “I think we brought in a bunch of competition, Reshard (Langford) being one coming in late last year, two young guys that we drafted. We were able to bring in competition to the position which again, I think is the secret to having success. You can’t do everything at once, but I do feel at that particular position we’ve brought in good competition to push everybody to be the best they can be and the best guys will play and we’ll be better for it.”
Q: How much potential is there for movement on the depth chart after what you saw on the field?
HALEY: “Again, this is all part of the evaluation. No more than what they can make in there in the weight room. Again, we have to remember we are not in pads, we are in shorts and T-shirts and we are trying to learn the system on each side of the ball, learn the way we want to practice and those things. If you make a lot of big decisions this time of the year, at least what I have learned, end up not being good decisions.
“You have to just be patient and continue to work and know you are doing the right things. As we get into training camp and pads go on, you can really start to see where things are playing out.”
Q: With all the changes on the offensive line, how much better do you think this team will be?
HALEY: “I’m not going to get into guessing anything, but I know we brought in good competition, good guys, high football character guys. We kind of stayed with the M.O. we have been sticking with and I am excited about both the guys we got in free agency, Casey (Wiegmann) and Ryan (Lilja) and I am excited about the guys we got in the draft as well as some of the free agents. We have better competition than we had last year at this point and that is the bottom line. The more competition you can bring in at each spot, the better team you have a chance to be.”