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Transcript: Spielman, Rhodes, Bradford and Priefer Addressed the Media Sunday

Posted Jul 30, 2017

Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman

Just excited to get Xavier Rhodes signed, there’s no question about what he brings to us on the field, especially at that position. This is another strategic plan that we put in place this offseason, knowing how many young guys we want to keep. We want as many of these young core players together as we possibly can. Xavier was a high priority coming into this offseason, and wanted to make sure that we got him locked in to be a Minnesota Viking through most of his career, hopefully ending his career with us. I’d like to thank the Wilf family again and the ownership, just another example of giving us the resources that we need to do these type of deals. We still have a lot of work ahead of us, there are still some guys that we will be looking at to extend. I don’t know when or where those will take place, but we do have a strategic plan in place. His agent, Sunny Shah, did an outstanding job putting this together with Rob Brzezinski. It heated up over the last couple days, and we were able to finalize it late last night. Sunny flew in this morning and did some minor tweaks here and there, and then we were able to finalize it. The one thing I know is that reading the tweets, Xavier knows where that money bag emoji thing is, knows where that button is. Hopefully it’s the interception button he’s going to be pushing going forward from here. This is a great day for our organization, and I know it’s a great day for Xavier and his family. It’s well deserved for both parties.

Vikings Cornerback Xavier Rhodes

I would just like to thank the Wilf family for allowing me to play here and Rick Spielman for drafting me here. It was an honor. It’s an honor to be here playing for the Vikings, playing on this defense under Zim [Coach Mike Zimmer], allowing me to be the player that  I am, playing to my best ability. I’d just like to thank my agent Sunny Shah for getting this done for me and allowing me to play football and not think too much on the contract side of things and let me be able to go out there and play football. I would like to thank Zim, definitely Zim, for being on me the way he has been on me throughout my whole career since he’s been here. It’s been a great opportunity playing under him, and I would like to thank my teammates for believing in me, and the coaching staff for believing in me, too. I can go down the line with my mentor Terrell Buckley for teaching me everything, from how to press, teaching me from going from playing receiver in high school to going to play cornerback at college and teaching me the technique I need to know. My high school coach. There’s a list of people I can name that sat here and taught me everything I need to know now, but I definitely would like to thank everyone who all helped me.

Q: What emotions did you feel when you signed that deal?

A: I was speechless because it was a lifelong dream for me growing up a kid in Carol City, Florida, watching guys sign big deals. You always wanted that to be you. First of all, you wanted to take the first step in going to New York, stepping on the stage, going first round, I accomplished that. After that you have other goals, Super Bowl, Pro Bowl, you can go down the line, getting lifelong contracts, big time money to set your family up. I was able to accomplish that and there’s a few more I need to accomplish before I retire and do anything else.

Q: Now that your one of the highest paid cornerbacks in the NFL, does this put any extra pressure on you to be that shut down guy and prove you’re definitely one of the top NFL cornerbacks?

A: I always believe if it’s not broke, why fix it? What I was doing before, why change it? I’m going to continue to play my ball, be aggressive, be the guy to go out there and play at my best ability to lockdown the best receiver or whatever the coaches want me to do. That’s still my game plan, still my mindset.

Q: Where do you think you can get better in your game?

A: Just the mental aspect of the game, knowing the knowledge of it – the downs and distances. That‘s still something I believe that everyone needs to work on because in certain situations you tend to forget about certain things, so you need to know each angle of the game.

Q: Thinking back from your days in high school until now, what is it like thinking about how far you’ve come?

A: Man, flashback is really what has been happening. Playing receiver and running back in high school and then going to college and being converted to corner, I had that moment in my life that I thought I wasn’t going to be here, thought I wasn’t going to be standing in front of you guys, talking in front of you guys and ladies right now. It was a blessing that it happened. I was upset at first, but now I see that the coaches had seen something in me as a corner. I just trusted in them and believed in it, and now I’m here.

Q: Has it sunk in for you yet how much money 70 million dollars is?

A: I’m still trying to wrap it around my head as we speak, but it’s there, it’s happening, it happened. Me and my family, we’re happy right now, and like I told them, I’m going to do my best by them and leave a legacy. 

Q: Do you feel pressure already in practice knowing you’re now getting paid 70 million dollars?

A: Like I said, if it’s not broke why fix it? I always tell people when I go home or people ask me questions, the person that’s the leader of this defense is Harrison Smith. He’s always going to be the leader and I’m just going to follow behind him and play my role, try to play my game, listen to the coaches and be the aggressive player that I am.

Q: Have you talked to Patrick Peterson?

A: No, I haven’t talk to Patrick. We’ve worked out a few times, talked at a Pro Bowl or two. It’s nothing to compete about. Them guys, we compete against each other, we give each other knowledge each and every day every time we talk. So, more than likely he’s proud of me and happy for me.

Q: How much can you credit some of your teammates for their responsibility in your next level?

A: I will give you one now, Terence Newman. He’s been on me since day one, since he got here. Terence Newman been a guy that helped me understand the things I need to work on and that’s knowing the down and distance. He always told me that I have the athletic ability but it’s the knowledge part that I needed to gain. That’s what I’ve been working on since day one, since he’s been here, progressing it each year and last year was the year that it really clicked for me. This year I’m trying to take it to a whole new level. Harrison, Dejo [Andrew Sendejo], [Anthony] Barr and the whole defense, those guys look to me for making plays when they need to be made. I just love those guys.

Q: Do you have a first purchase lined up?

A: Yes, it will be diapers, a crib, a lot of baby stuff, you know, that’s basically all.

Q: What were you thinking in 2014 when Coach Zimmer first arrived and he was on you pretty good?

A: He needs to lay off and get off my back. It turned out great. He was on me each and every play. There were times we were in the red zone and I hear him in the back of my head, “Xavier back up. Xavier put your inside foo up” and I was like “Coach, the offense hasn’t lined up yet why you telling me to back up for?’ He’s always been on me, always believed in me and always told me “I’m going to work you hard so you can be the best corner in the league.” He trusted in me and to this day. I really thank him.

Q: Zimmer has a reputation for coaching up great corners, did you know that when he was hired?

A: Once he was here, he told me everything, he was there with Deion [Sanders] and coaching Deion. He had a whole list of great corners he coached. He was telling me his whole background. I was honored to have a coach like him behind me to teach me everything. As you know, he’s a great defensive minded coach. He knows every position on the field. I’m just happy to have him on my team.

Q: What does it mean to you to have the organization want to have you locked up long-term?

A: One, they trust in me. Two, they trust that I’ll go out on the field and do what I need to do to help this team win. I won’t hurt this team off the field. It means a lot, it means a lot. They trust in me as a person. I’m really thankful for that. Like I said, I thank the Wilf family and Spielman, [Rob] Brzezinski, everyone who did everything and trust me to be the guy that I am and not try to change me. Just go out there and be Xavier Rhodes.

Vikings Quarterback Sam Bradford

Q: Are you more comfortable now with a full offseason running this offense than you were last year?

A: Yeah, that goes without saying. Anytime you have the opportunity to go through the offseason, the spring, OTA’s, and the couple days we have had in training camp as opposed to coming in a week before the season started last year. Last year I was just trying to figure out how to call plays when I got to Minnesota. Now I feel very comfortable with what we’re doing and I think we are trying to fine tune what we do well and find new wrinkles that can help us.

Q: Does having a previous relationship with the play caller help as the offense evolves?

A: Yeah, I think so. Me and Pat Shurmur have a great relationship. Just being able to talk to him, bring up ideas and things that we have done together in the past and have had success with. I think it’s a lot easier to bring up an idea when someone else has experienced that play or has run that play before. Pat Shurmur is great about let’s put it in and try it, if it works, it works. If doesn’t, will get rid of it. Being able to experiment with things like that and put in new plays each day to figure out what works and doesn’t work. I think that’s the best way to effectively add plays to your offense.

Q: Does the offense feel similar to the several stops you have had with Pat Shurmur or do you think the offense is always moving in a new direction?

A: I think it’s constantly evolving. If you look at what we were doing in St. Louis it was similar in ways but much different than what we were doing in Philadelphia. What we were doing in Philadelphia was extremely different than what we were doing here last year when I first got here. Now I think if you looked at our playbook you would see a little bit of kind of each stop.  I think that’s what is great about Pat Shurmur. He’s not stuck in his ways. It’s not “these are my plays, this is my playbook, and were not going to add things to it.” He is constantly looking to add things that will make us better. I think with that mindset you’re constantly evolving.

Q: How much input do you have when it comes to offensive play design or trying to figure out a game plan?

A: I would say I have some. Obviously at the end of the day its Pat Shurmur’s offense though. Going back to our relationship and having that relationship with Pat Shurmur, I am extremely comfortable going up to him and telling him when I’m not comfortable with something and a certain play just doesn’t fit my eye or if there is something that I have seen on tape or something that I have done in the past that would be good that week verse the defense we are playing. I don’t hesitate to bring it up. Like I said, we might put it in during the week or we might try it out here in training camp to see what it looks like. If it looks good it might get added and if not we will scrap it and look for another one.

Q: How much work did you get with Laquon Treadwell last year and what have you learned this summer and offseason about him?

A: Not a lot of work with him last year. Just based on the guys we had in rotation. I think when you are not involved in the offseason, you’re not involved in training camp, that’s kind of one of the limitations of working in the season you really just kind of get the reps with your guys who you know are going to be out there running those plays on Sunday. I didn’t get a lot of work with him, but I think he’s come a long way just from what I’ve seen from when I got here last year to this point this year. Obviously, he’s big, he’s physical, he’s got strong hands. It seems like does a really good job at making contested catches when he has the opportunity. It’s nice to have a guy like that to put in the back side and know you can throw it into some tight windows and know he can come down with it.

Q: What do quarterbacks do to learn about specific receivers?

A: I think it’s just reps. I think it’s just getting out there in practice throwing routes on air. All those situations are great for quarterbacks and wide receivers chemistry. I think it’s just getting reps and figuring out what we do well together.

Q: Those two deep throws yesterday. It looked like Treadwell had to run underneath it. Is that something you all look back at and try to fix?

A: I think on both of those type of plays he did a great job getting behind the defense. It’s just me giving him an opportunity to make a catch. You know it’s one of those things working through those deeps balls, working through on the eight’s, the nine’s, everything down field. Just trying to figure out what trajectory those balls need to be on. I think it’s a little bit different with each guy and it’s just part of developing chemistry.

Q: How long does it take you to judge the speed?

A: That’s hard to say. I think obviously at quarterback you try to judge it on the fly when you’re out there. But the more time you have with someone, the more you kind of figure it out. I think it’s hard to put an exact time frame on that but hopefully it’s something that comes pretty quick.

Q: When you look at what has been added. Do you feel the team has given you the tools to really succeed?

A: Yeah. I think that we have a great group of guys in that offensive meeting room. I think we’ve got a lot of talent at a lot of positions. Like I said earlier this week, I thought we had a really good spring. I thought we took some steps forward in the spring and now is the time to build on it. I think we are a ways from where we need to be Week One, but I imagine every team is at this point in training camp. You just have to put days together, back to back to back and go out there and get better each day. I think with the guys we have in the room right now we have a chance to be a good offense. 

Q: The league is trending to hybrid player who can run and catch it. What kind of benefit is that to the quarterback?

A: Obviously, I think that’s huge with the trend in the league going to throwing the ball a bit more. I think if you have someone that can do it out of the backfield it really just adds a fifth target. You can create some mismatches, especially against linebackers, especially with a guy that is spread out and feel comfortable in empty and running routes from the outside. I think having a guy that catch from the backfield or from the running back position, whatever you want to call that. It’s just another dimension that really have to think about stopping.

Q: Are there any significant weaknesses from last year that you’ve worked on or emphasized as you were working through this offseason?

A: Yeah, I think just looking back at last year at some of the conversations I’ve had with Pat, you know, just trying to figure out a way to create more explosive plays, trying to figure out ways to maybe get the ball downfield a little bit more that way we’re not having to work so hard every drive. You know, 12, 13, 14 play scoring drives where you know if we can have some more explosive plays maybe we can have some shorter scoring drives that will help us.

Q: What made your pass to Rudolph yesterday so effective?

A: It was a pretty good play call, just the situation. We were backed up, it was 3rd-and-1. You know, I think the defense was expecting a run and then to come out with the play action, I think Pat just made a good call and Rudy sold it coming down on the block and got out behind them. It was a good design.

Q: What were you thinking when the defense want for the play action?

A: I mean, that’s what you have to expect because, you know, I would say most of the time in that situation. You’re up two late in the game and you’re inside your own 10 and 3rd-and-1 one and most teams are going to run it. That’s probably what we would do most of the time, you know, it helps with the play action a little bit when they’re expecting a run.

Q: What happen since last year when you said you needed more explosive plays to this year?

A: I can’t remember when I said that or what happened afterwards but I think even looking back regardless of when I said that or what happen afterwards. You look at the best offenses in this league and they’re constantly applying pressure on defenses down the field, taking shots whether it be with play action or just creating those downfield opportunities. I think that’s something going into this year will be more of an emphasis. Hopefully we can get into some more play action stuff and push the ball down the field.

Q: How much do you think is on the quarterback when it comes to pass protection?

A: You know, I think a lot of it is on the quarterback, just making sure the protection is the right way, making sure that it slid the right way or that we’re picking up the blitzers. Just knowing that if we got a shot downfield maybe it’s buying a little bit of extra time moving in the pocket, sliding, doing what I can to make sure that we have the opportunity to push the ball downfield.

Q: Does improvement on third down conversions also fall under the category of adding those explosive plays?

A: Yeah, I think that’s a point that’s been made this offseason. I don’t know if you watched our OTAs but a lot of it was third-down, a lot of it was red zone. A lot of critical situations that we feel like we need to better at. We spent a lot of time on third down this offseason, you know, it’s been something we realize to keep ourselves on the field, give ourselves more opportunities. The more third-downs we can convert the better we’re going to be. I think it’s been noted and something we’re working on. 

Q: How often are there times where you and Pat don’t agree on something?

A: I would say very rarely to be honest. I think Pat having been around me as much as he has he has a really good feel for what I see well and what I like. I would say there have been very few situations where he’s been adamant we run a play that I didn’t like or vice versa.

Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer

Good morning. I am happy to be back. The first thing I want to start off by saying, I say it every year and I mean it, is that I want to thank Mankato, the city of Mankato, the university here, the people that are involved in our training camp. This is a great to have camp. I have been at camp at many different places and this is my seventh year here, and I have really liked coming down here because it is a great campus and there are a lot of good people. We kind of have a captured audience with our players and it has been obviously a good week where we started with the rookies a few days early obviously, but at the end of the day it is a great place to have camp and I am excited to be back and we have about another week and a half to go.

Q: How much are kickoffs going to play into the kicker evaluation once you get into the preseason games?

A: I don’t think you ever want to sacrifice points for a great kickoff guy, so if the competition’s close, then it will come into play. It will be a factor. If say, Kai [Forbath], is way ahead of Marshall [Koehn] in field goals, then I think you have got to go with Kai, and Kai’s a way better kickoff guy then people give him credit for. He did a pretty good job for us last year. You always want a strong-legged guy, but again, Kai is better than he was a year ago in my opinion. Marshall is a strong-legged guy. Marshall, his task is to be more consistent on field goals, and Kai’s is continuing to be consistent on field goals and of course extra points for both of them and to be better on kickoffs as well.

Q: What do you see out of the punter competition right now?

A: Ryan [Quigley] has got a lot of games under his belt. He’s the veteran guy that has been in competition before. He’s won jobs. He’s lost jobs. His strength is his consistency and that is what he’s got to rely on and being a great directional punter, and Taylor (Symmank) comes in yesterday I think three of his four punts in the team period, were over five second hang time. Now sometimes he outkicks his coverage, but he has a big time leg. They’re each a little bit different. One is a little bit younger. One has got the veteran in him and he’s a little bit more consistent so that’s their strengths and weaknesses and obviously they want to work on their weaknesses and be consistent with their strengths in order to win the job.

Q: From the untrained eye it looks like Taylor Symmank is out punting Quigley a little bit. Do you see that?

A: A couple of things come in to play there. The first thing is directional punting. We played nine games indoors including Detroit and I think we need to have a better directional punting unit. I think we could be more effective in protecting punts and covering punts if we are better at direction so that’s going to be a big emphasis. You don’t always like the sixty-yard punt with a 4.4, 4.5 [second] hang time, those are when you outkick your coverage. Like me when I got married, I outkicked my coverage. My wife’s a lot better than me so that’s the comparison there. At the end of the day we are looking for net punt and if we can net 44, 45, 46 (yards) punts with a guy who can put it outside the numbers with great hang time, that’s what I am looking for. I am not looking for the 80 or 70-yard punt with a 4.5 hang time.

Q: How long Taylor Symmank’s punts at practice and how long was the hang time?

A: One was 57 [yards]. I think it was 4.8 [seconds], which is okay. The other was 57 [yards] with 5.1 [seconds]. That is a little bit better obviously. A little bit higher hang time. I am looking for 55.0 [yards], 45 [yards], 4.5 [seconds], somewhere in there outside the numbers.

Q: In terms of the punting battle, and also maybe you can add to the kicking battle, how are you going to handle that during the preseason games?

A: That is still in work and I have got to coach Zimmer about that. That is ultimately his decision, but what I have done in the past with guys that have had competitions is they just take turns. They have to be available, they have got to be alive, they have to be alive the whole game, so they alternate every kick, every field goal, every punt.

Q: Some guys would rather get in a rhythm, but you would rather handle the competition this way?

A: Well to me, you never know. You could kick a field goal or an extra point in the first quarter and not kick another one until the third quarter, and you could kick a punt in the second quarter and not again until the end of the game so to me in the NFL, you have to be ready all of the time, all sixty minutes.

Q: You’ve mentioned Taylor Symmank’s lack of experience. How much have you worked with him to try to improve things and how long does it typically take for a player to learn?

A: Any young kicker or punter wouldn’t be in this position if they didn’t have some ability or a lot of ability. With these guys I like to make suggestions about their technique and work on certain drills that brings out the things in their technique that they have to change or correct. Taylor has done a really nice job. He’s phenomenal as a holder compared to a year ago. In 2016 we had him in a rookie minicamp and he couldn’t hold, he had never done it before. So a lot of technique is involved there. But in terms of punting, I think we just make suggestions and kind of let him figure it out, because he’s ultimately got to believe in what he’s doing. The great thing about all these guys, including Kai [Forbath] and Ryan [Quigley] and even Kevin McDermott is that they’re all very coachable. They want to learn and get better. We tape them, you guys see the hand held camera with me all the time. If you guys pay attention when offense and defense is going on, the fun stuff is going on field three over here with the kicking and punting, trying to get better.

Q: In the past you were able to replace a first round kickoff returner (Percy Harvin) with another first round kickoff returner, and now you don’t really get that opportunity. How difficult is it going to be to replace Cordarrelle Patterson?

A: You know I’ve answered this question before, you don’t replace Cordarrelle Patterson. I think he’s one of the most unique athletes that I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with. What you do is you find a returner that’s going to be very, very good, whether it’s Jerick McKinnon, Rodney Adams, Marcus Sherels, Stacy Coley, or even Dalvin Cook. Coach teased me about that the other day because over the summer I mentioned that I would like to use him there. If he’s not running the ball a lot I’m going to jump up on the table for the guy. You want to use the best players that are available, and Dalvin’s got ability. But they all have ability, and we believe in what we teach technique wise with our front line and with our back line. We believe in our scheme of how we attack people. We’ve been successful there not only because we’ve had great athletes but because we have guys that believe that we’re going to be good on that unit, and they go out there and execute.

Q: Rodney Adams and Stacey Coley both have a lot of experience with kickoff returning in college, but it seems like early on they were struggling to catch punts. What is the difference between fielding a punt and fielding a kick?

A: I think on a normal day like today or even indoors it is much easier to catch kickoffs, especially the end over end type of kick. The thing with Rodney is that he had never caught punts. Stacey did it early in his career, so he struggled a bit, and then he got hurt so we didn’t see him most of the spring. But he’s really come along in the last week. Rodney has come a long way catching punts, he’s done a much better job since this spring. We were laughing yesterday, because we get that close up camera and talk about technique. All the punt returners and kick returners come early to my meeting at night for about 15 minutes and we go over that tape, just the finer points of tracking punts and kicks, tracking how to catch a kick going to your left or going to your right, all the different drills that we do, and tracking kicks and punts as well. Punts are much harder, much more difficult, because it doesn’t always turn over, sometimes the nose is coming down this way and sometimes the nose is coming down that way. Those are things that we have to work on.

Q: Do you see Adam Thielen’s role in special teams changing at all this season?

A: Well I tease him because he got paid he’s not going to play special teams any more. But he’s a guy that we can rely on, he’s been a very good special teams performer over the last few years. I told him yesterday that whenever I need him he’s got to be available. So he’s in all the meetings, he’s ready to go. When you dress 46 on game day, some of those guys that play a lot on offense and defense are still going to have to be available for us.

Q: How big of a challenge is it finding a holder when players are also competing for other positions?

A: That’s a good question. Again, it’s like the kicking situation. If the field goals are similar, we’re going to go with the stronger kickoff guy. With the punting, if the punting is similar or close we’re going to go with the better holder, if that makes sense. If we’re going to have a decent holder versus a great holder and the decent holder is a much better punter, then we got to get the decent holder better, if that makes sense. That’s my job to make sure that gets done, and the kid’s, whoever wins the job.

Q: Are the two punters the only holder candidates?

A: No, Adam Thielen can hold. The back up quarterbacks can hold. Case (Keenum) held before. Taylor (Heinicke), we've used him in practice before. They'll be trained as back up holders once the season starts.

Q: But your preference is using the punter as the holder?

A: Yes, because they work together all the time and they're both very good athletes. They should be be able to do it at a high-level and Ryan's been able to do it in his past. 

Q: How does their holding technique change when their working with two different kickers?

A: How you catch it, how you put it down, and how you turn it, is all the same. It's the tilt that's a little bit different. Each kicker has their own idiosyncrasies on how exactly they want it tilted. Marshall's a little bit more straight up-and-down and (Kai) a little bit more towards the holder. That's what they have to work on. When they look back they have to make sure it's either number one or number two. Whoever is back there that's something they have to change.

Q: How much has the kick return become marginalized because of the rules?

A: I think kick off and kick off return has changed obviously over the years because of the the last couple, three years, when they did change the rule we put a bigger emphasis on punt, punt return because of that. But there's still going to be opportunities. We go to Green Bay and the wind is bad and we go to Chicago and the wind is bad. We go to other places and maybe the kicker doesn't have a good enough a leg to put it out of the end zone. We're going to be very very aggressive like we always have been in returning kicks. But you know you're right, it's not as big of an emphasis as it was when they did kick off from the thirty. 

Q: A lot of times when Patterson was back there you had to worry about them kicking it short intentionally. So you put some other returners back on in the kick off, has that changed this year do you think?

A: No ,I don't think so. I think anytime you're good at what you do and we hope to be good again at kick off return. In fact, we were working on it again today. The different things that people do to us when they cover our kick off return, put safeties at different spots and run a twist and all that. We should be able to handle all that stuff because we work on it all the time. Do we put other guys in that can handle the ball back there, yeah sure. Our two halfbacks, both of them could be back up returners. You just have to be ready for any type of kick no matter what game you go into.

Q: Who is leading the kick return job?

A: It's too early to tell. Jerick's hurt right now. I'd like to give him an opportunity. Rodney is doing a good job, he's getting better. Marcus has told me is durable enough to do both. He's a very prideful young man. We'll see as the games get going. I think that's going to work itself out.

Q: If the rookies don’t work out, are you comfortable with Marcus Sherels as a backup kick returner?

A: I don’t think he’s a backup. For a lot of teams he’d be the starting kickoff returner. Over the years we’ve had Percy Harvin and we’ve had Cordarelle Patterson and Marcus has been their backup. Marcus can be the guy this year because he’s so talented. I don’t think he’s a NFL backup kick returner. I think he can be a starter in this league. 

Q: Is there any reason why you wouldn’t want a punt returner and kick returner being the same guy?

A: The only reason with him would be because of his size. I don’t want him to get beat up. Punt return you can take some shots, but with his vision he can see that. Kickoff returns sometimes you take some big shots in there. He’s a very valuable gunner, very valuable on kickoffs, so using Marcus a little bit too much would be my only fear with him. In terms like if it was Rodney Adams doing both or another guy that could do both, I’d feel comfortable doing that.  

Q: Some of younger guys like Cayleb Jones or Terrell Newby said they haven’t played a lot of special teams before, but that they have learned a lot so far. Does that make it difficult to teach or does that work in your advantage because you can kind of teach them how you want to?

A: I have taught guys that have been really good special teams players in college, that have been very well coached that are experienced and I’ve coached guys that had no idea when they came into the league. If they have the right attitude and they love the game of football, if they’re talented enough athletically, then we can utilize those skills and strengths. I love working with these young guys. It’s like that every year. Most of the time I’m prepared to work with a young man that has no experience with special teams and if he does have a little bit of experience, that’s even better.

Q: How hard it is to take offensive guys and teach them how to tackle and take proper angles on special teams?

A: You do a lot of drill work all week long. Today, I’m taking out a kickoff period and we’re putting in an eight minute tackling-circuit drill with everybody. All the core special teams players, defense and offense with the emphasis on offensive players. You’re exactly right. We need to work with those guys. We’ll do the same thing. Hopefully, it’ll go well today and we’ll do it again after the first preseason game. We’re just keep emphasizing and keep talking about it and drilling it. We’re going to make sure they know what a good tackler looks like in the NFL because that is hard. That is a challenge.