ML: “Saturday, Sunday and Monday were good, hard days. Yesterday, the players had a day off to rejuvenate, recharge a little bit. Now we’ll kind of round more into making sure we’re working toward getting them emotionally and physically ready to play a football game on Saturday evening. But we had three good, hard days of work. The temperature was great, and the humidity. We came out of it in pretty good shape. We’ll push forward now, and we should gain some players back to practice, which would be good, as we move into this next preseason game.
“Looking at the Titans, the thing that will be great is that they are a very effective team running the football. They seem athletic, and they execute well in the offensive front group. They obviously have a great back, in Chris Johnson. Their quarterback will move and extend plays, so that will be great work for us. Looking at the defensive front group, it’s a strong group, explosive and athletic. It’ll be a great challenge for us. So we’re looking forward to going out and having our guys play fundamentally sound and really go through and execute the things that are important to us.”
Do you gameplan for these preseason games?
ML: “No. I give the coaches a plan of what I want to do, back in June. ‘This is what I want to do the first week, this is what I want to do the second week ...’ And then we go forward so their insertion follows that plan. So we really don’t gameplan for any preseason games, but we just follow a plan of insertion and make sure these things are out there. We may practice and never run the particular offensive, defensive or special teams snap in the game, but we do go through and want to practice things that way. We want the young guys to be able to go out there and play and not have to worry about ‘what ifs.’ ”
How far along are you, from an installation standpoint?
ML: “(Laughs, addressing Bengals radio analyst Dave Lapham) Football has probably changed a lot since you were involved, Dave. If it’s one day at practice, we’re good. If it’s two days, we’re good. That’s all we’re worried about. We don’t go any further than that. Every day is a new day, and that’s the way it is. They’re not handed a playbook and told, ‘Learn this.’ They’re handed the installation each and every day, and that’s what you go forward with.”
Tomorrow is the end of the training camp period that is open to the public. Does that signal the end/beginning of anything that you do on the field? Is there a shift in what you’ll do after that portion ends?
ML: “The end of training camp for the football team is really the end of your preseason. So I don’t think it makes it any difference in that sense.”
Hasn’t that always been the message to your team, even dating back to the days that camp was held at Georgetown College? It seems like you’ve always said to the team that, even though that portion has ended, the team is still in training camp:
ML: “Right. We’ve not changed. The schedule may change a little bit. Sometimes where a guy sleeps at night may be a little different. It’s still training camp, and that’s part of the preparation process.”
After spending a long week in Atlanta last week, how nice will it be to be back in front of the home fans this weekend?
ML: “Yeah, it will be great to be at home to kick the season off here at Paul Brown Stadium. Hopefully we’ve got a great night. If it’s anything like the last couple nights, it will be a wonderful night of weather and a lot of fun. We’re getting the opportunity to play at home, and the guys are getting excited about that. We’re looking forward to going out and executing our things on offense, defense and special teams.”
Will the QB rotation and snap counts on Saturday remain about the same, or might you flip
ML: “We’ll have different combinations of people, yes.”
You mentioned Tennessee’s ability up front on offense, as well as their ability to pound the running game. Is there anything else schematically that you’re looking forward to having the chance to go against?
ML: “You see more pressures and things like that. This is a team that’s growing. They’ve got a lot of young guys, a lot of young talent, and they’re trying to figure out their own personality that way. We have to continue to just be ourselves and do what’s important for us to do, and play our style of game and our style of football. It’s a great challenge, particularly for that defensive front group right away, and our 11 guys on defense, with the 15 or 16 guys that are going to play for the majority of the football for us throughout the season. It’s a good challenge for us in this football game.”
Now with OTAs and minicamps, football being almost a year-round deal, how do you now balance evaluating guys as opposed to evaluating schematics?
ML: “I don’t think we’re evaluating the schematics of it as much as we’re evaluating the player. There may be revisions that you may like, but you get a pretty good feel for that on the practice field most of the time. It’s a matter of execution and technique. If you’re supposed to step with that inside hand and foot, let’s make sure that we get that hand and foot down the way we want to do it. Conversely on defense, if you’re supposed to be at a particular leverage, let’s make sure we get to that leverage point and get that executed that way.”
Did anybody in the Atlanta game in a second or third-string situation warrant a look against different personnel packages going into a second preseason game?
ML: “You always have some guys that did it against guys that may not be there in September, so let’s elevate him a bit and see him play against some other guys and see him play more with our regular group of players. There’s always a guy or two that you want to push up a little bit more and get him some more snaps. When we go back through after the game and look at the number of snaps each player played, we’ll identify someone. ‘This guy only played 10 snaps, let’s make sure he gets 25-30 this week.’ There’s a lot of that always.”
I know it’s a preseason game, but is it safe to say guys who weren’t available for Monday’s practice would be iffy for action in this game?
ML: “It’s probably more of an individual basis. Monday was a long time ago for me. Our point for the week after we came back from Atlanta was that today was a day that we pointed to getting guys back out on the field. With an off-day yesterday we wanted to withhold them through yesterday, and we would have a good opportunity to have some more time, particularly if it’s a soft tissue muscle or a soft tissue injury or something like that.”
ML: “A.J.’s doing great. He’s doing well.”
How is the fullback battle between
ML: “It’s good competition, really good competition.”
You guys are going up to Dayton on Monday. What do you like about doing that type of operation?
ML: “That’s one of your days when you come back and practice after you play a preseason game. You have to get the energy back up, so it’s good to take the show on the road to get the energy up with new people. It’s great for the fans up in that area to get out and get an opportunity to see a professional football team practice. It’s good for our guys to have to adjust and move on. We’ll go, we’ll practice, we’ll sign autographs and go home. That’s a good day for us.”
Are there any challenges with something like that?
ML: “No it’s pretty simple. The operations people kind of take care of everything. We’ll get on the busses here and get off the busses there, and go.”
Is there any reason why Orson only played like eight snaps on Thursday? Was there an area where he was struggling?
ML: “You’re off a couple (snaps), but that’s good counting. (Laughs). You’re doing your homework. I like that. He wasn’t struggling at all, it was just the timing of the game. John (Conner) got to play a lot more because at the end of the game we were in different personnel then we were when Orson was up and going. It’s just a matter of the way the snaps unfolded. It’s hard for me to keep track of 74 guys and the snaps they play. But I try. I know if not, you’ll catch me up on it.”