Allen Park, Mich. - The Lions held their fourth OTA practice session today. The following are transcripts from Lions Head Coach Rod Marinelli's media sessions following the practice.
LIONS HEAD COACH ROD MARINELLI
Opening Statement: "We've had a great turnout. You know, we had a hard week last week. We had our mini-camp on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. It worked out where they had the chance to have the weekend and then they came back to a new environment (outdoor fields). This is really good for us; you know just to come (outside). I thought they did a nice job; all of a sudden the speed they have (on natural grass) is not as fast (as FieldTurf). So you've got to adjust your feet and your cleats. It's different; the sun's out, the glare, all of those things."
On whether they're doing anything different in the OTAs than last week's mini-camp: "Everything is just a lot shorter; the periods are a lot shorter. We lose about three periods. So we get a 20 minute individual (period), usually get a ten minutes of kind of a blitz period, just blitz pickup; we kind of lay off the run drills, and then 7-on-7 in team (periods). Other than that it's all the same; we are getting the same kind of classroom work in the morning. We meet early; we use up all the time.
On the team's willingness to work: "They're carrying it. This team is carrying it, they are putting it on. They want to win. I mean who doesn't want to win I should say. They are doing some of the things I think are necessary to be a heck of a football team. They are carrying this attitude together, the work. They're just here all the time, they're working at it - that's all you can ask. The first rule of getting better: show up. The second rule: be ready to work."
On the team's willingness in the weight room: "We have really gained strength this off season. (A priority) in the off season, was to go get speed; I wanted edge speed and we got it. One thing with speed, you've got to go hunt it; you got to go find it and dig it out. Then it's our job to give them the endurance so they can play that fast the entire game. To have speed for the first ten plays and the last sixty plays it just doesn't make sense. So that's endurance. But now strength training you just tape up your hands, roll up your sleeves, get in the weight room and work. You know that's the beautiful thing about it. All these guys are in there together working as a unit, there's a lot of energy in there so that's good."
On his optimism for the team this season: "I've got very high expectations. I really like the speed we brought in, we're fast. I had a chance to see this team for a year and I can see that we have some dominant players at certain positions; they've got to go out and have career years for us. The work ethic that they are putting in to this off season has been very good, so I like that. We have a veteran quarterback coming (back) who has been in this system - and it's a tough system to learn. We've added speed to our running back corps, our wide receiver corps; we've got some nice veterans in the offensive line. That's encouraging but probably the most (important) thing is just how all of these men have come together and just worked in this off season. We don't have to hunt anybody down; I'm not looking for anybody. You want them here but they've got to want to be here because it's not mandatory. That's a big part of anything that you have a chance to be successful with. They take the first step; they do it. Once they get in the building then hopefully we do a good job of wanting to keep them here by helping develop them."
On the depth of the linebackers: "Well you know we've got eight deep right now. We're really two deep at every position that's played. We've got two roll backers; you know we've got Ernie (Sims) and (Anthony) Cannon. Cannon played a little bit last year on special teams. Our (strongside): with Boss (Bailey) and Alex (Lewis), who played a ton; our (middle) position, (Paris Lenon) who's played a ton. So we've got some good depth and then added some young players to it and so that's where you'd like it."
On measuring game strength: "I think it's hard because we don't just go out there and go for a bench-press strength. There's different ways they measure it. Maybe it's the poundage that they use on a certain exercise; its dangerous to me just to go out and just get a rep, you'll snap a shoulder and all that.
"Jason does a nice job with all of it; you know by all their different sets and you can see the gain. Here's the key thing though: it's developing the strength in the weight room and then the players understanding that your position coach helps you convert your weight room strength into power. Without technique, your weight room strength just doesn't matter. If you can't bend your knees, know how to place your hands inside, your leverage, your steps - those are all things that all work together. From the weight room, to the practice field to your position coach. It's all the body mechanics. You get strong in there and learn the body mechanics. That's why I love the first twenty or thirty minutes of practice, you see all the fundamental work. All the steps, assignments, drill work, knee bend, pad-level and then that helps to really convert our strength. To be strong without conversion doesn't make sense.
On RB T.J. Duckett running to the endzone after every running play in practice: "He's mentally training himself - I like him. He comes out everyday and he runs. Some of those things become contagious; guys see it and everybody else - they are just great habits.
On this being an important year for Duckett after only signing a one-year deal: "Hopefully, guys just come in and whether you have a 10-year contract or a one year contract, all you control is the snap your in. Hopefully that snap can run all the way downfield; get the right vision. So if you just kind of concentrate on where you're at and you keep doing those things, then good things are going to happen for you.
On whether he has a projected role for Duckett: "No. Right now we just want these guys to learn this. Right now in the off season, all of the stuff that we are doing, it's a teaching camp. How to learn the systems, you teach, you learn fundamentals, and then the hitting is when you put pads on, but it's about teaching."
On facing Duckett (Atlanta) while he was coaching for Tampa Bay: "He's very good. He was a load man. We had a few thigh bones in our jaws. The guy is a load man - playing against this guy. He is a physical back.
On the depth of the running back corps: "Then you have a guy like Tatum (Bell) who has great speed, and you've got Kevin (Jones) coming back who's a proven back, a great back. So you just keep looking at that. You know we've got (Brian) Calhoun coming back in, so it's good. All those areas are good and we've tried to add to it. And the speed and movement, you know hopefully it will all come together for us."Â