Lions mini camp transcripts from Sarge, Joe Barry and Kitna!

Allen Park, Mich. - The Lions held their first two practice sessions of the team's mandatory mini-camp today. The following are transcripts from Lions Head Coach Rod Marinelli, QB Jon Kitna and Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry's media sessions following the practice.

Lions Head Coach Rod Marinelli
On if the defensive has improved in terms of play recognition: “Oh yeah, and with coach (Mike) Martz he gives you everything known to man. You couldn’t ask for a better situation for a defense with all the shifts, movements and resets to get our defensive aligned. And then (there is) the amount of movements and angles in terms of blocking. The work we are getting is incredible. We are pushing the pace pretty good.”

On the offensive line rotation: “We’re going to work guys around. He (Damien Woody) has a chance to be a good left guard. We have guys down right now, so we just have to shift guys around.”

On other injuries: “We’ve got a group of guys that I just want to be smart with right now. They are getting their drill work and foot work, all those things.”

On the offensive line as a unit: “I think we’ve really had a great off-season of work. We’ve got a blend of some real veterans who have really played in this game and the young guys we have last year that had to play last year – three, four or five of those guys. So now it’s starting to mold into, I think, a very good group. There is some real good veteran savvy to it and some real good youth coming, along with our draft pick (Manuel Ramirez).”

On T.J. Duckett: “He’s a big man. Boy, he’s a load. He’s strong, powerful and picking the system up well. He, unintentionally, ran over one of our defenders today. He’s a big, strong man and he’s got a lot of talent. We’re fortunate to have him here.”

On Edwin Mulitalo: “He’s got just a triceps tear. We just want to be smart. They are all cleared June 1, so we are at the point where I just want to be smart. We’ll get in all their work, their footwork and learning in the class room. Now they just have to finish up the last month until camp.”

On Dan Campbell: “Same thing. It’s his elbow. He had surgery on it right at the end of the year. These guys can probably go, but I just want to be smart with them right now.”

On Woody’s weight loss: “I know he has certain goals he wants to get to. He’s done a remarkable job so far.”

On Kevin Jones running on the sidelines: “Well everybody feels right now that progress is moving well, but that’s just words. Just wait until we get to camp and see where we’re at. It’s a day-to-day process and anything I tell you, I’d probably be wrong.”

On if Kevin Jones is on schedule with his injury: “Yeah and a little bit ahead of schedule I think. We’ll see as we go.”

On how his expectations have changed since last season: “I told them this morning, I want them to start to get comfortable with my expectations. I have very high expectations for them. I want them to be comfortable with those expectations. I just think it’s a very good football team. With saying that, now we have to put those great career-years together. Those guys have to come out and have great years. You can see practice with the tempo and the pace and all those things. The fundamentals, the speed that I want, the energy, their playing level--that’s what I’m looking for. With that said, I think we have a heck of a chance to build a team. Without that, for me, it’s a struggle building.”

On the improvement of the receivers: “No question. We have two guys who proved it last year. Proved it–one (Roy Williams) went to the Pro Bowl, the other led the NFC in receptions (Mike Furrey). It’s not our status from where they were at before, it’s not about status. They did it and it is on film. Those two guys come in and we’ve added some youth to it, so we’re excited about that. We’ve added a couple veteran free agents that have done it. Everything is about what they’ve done. The young guy (Calvin Johnson) has to get up and go and put his on tape too.”

On the punt and kickoff returner competition: “We have a bunch of guys who we’ve brought in now that have some background in that. So what that does is up the ante for those spots.”

On if he feels pressure to win with success of other Detroit teams: “When you look at things that way, you allow somebody else to influence you and I’m not going to do that. We have expectations that are very high. I’m excited about what our teams are doing in Detroit – all the teams. I’m excited, but it’s about what we do. I put enough pressure on these guys and I’m going to apply more. And I am going to apply it.”

On if the backup quarterbacks will see the majority of work in training camp: “I think once we get to fall camp all those things will work out. The guys that need the preseason work are going to get the work. Right now, we’re just learning our system. Dan (Orlovsky) has been here for three years, so we feel that this is his time too. With Drew (Stanton) coming in, he’s been stepping up and trying to get up to the tempo, pace, and speed of our receivers.”

On the possibility of playing a 17th regular season game: “If they put it in there, I’d play it and if they didn’t I wouldn’t. Whatever I think, it doesn’t matter. Whatever they put in front of me, we’ll saw it down.”

Lions QB Jon Kitna
On receiver Calvin Johnson’s progress
: “It’s so hard to tell right now, just with our system and those things. But the great thing is he breaks the huddle and doesn’t have that quizzical look on his face. That’s the great thing right now. You know that he’s going to be ahead of the curve at some point, and right now, as quarterbacks we’re just kind of going through the reads and not trying to search a guy out. But certainly, he’s going to be used to the fullest this year I would imagine.

On whether Johnson has ‘done his homework’ since rookie camp: “Yeah, like I said, he doesn’t have a quizzical look on his face. Coming out of the huddle, bam, he’s out there. You see guys who’ve been in it for a year and they still have got that kind of ‘I’m not quite sure what I’m supposed to do’ look, but he doesn’t have that so he’s either fooling us or he knows what he’s doing.”

On what the media should be looking for in the mini-camp: “Well, as an offense, you’re trying to execute whatever the play call is calling for. To me it’s like a game. This is my game right now. The only thing that is not happening is that I’m not getting hit. But it’s a game, it is game speed. You’re playing against a Tampa 2 defense, which the majority of teams run in this league now so it’s the hardest thing to throw against. So it gives us a great opportunity to work on our timing, work on the fundamentals of the game, because once the season starts, once training camp starts, you don’t have as much time to work on the fundamentals. And then you’re really critiquing hard the practice film.”

On the offensive line: “You know what’s awesome with them? You can just see the confidence in their eyes. You bring in George Foster, you’ve got Stephen Peterman, who played last year and came off his injury. I believe he was a second round draft pick, so he’s a good player, and then Damien’s back. You can see the confidence that he has, that he feels good about himself. And then you add that to Dom and Jeff and you have the young guys who played last year tough coming off of injuries. We feel pretty good about our guys right now, in terms of just the confidence in that top 12 guys we have.”

On the potential of the offense: “It’s what you want as a quarterback. You want to feel like you have the answers around you, that you don’t have to do everything. You just get the ball in their hands and do what coach asked you to do. And it’s going to be exciting to watch this thing grow. I mean we’re really just hitting our off-season program right now, this is the start of it—for the next four, five weeks, going through this, going through OTAs, and then take a little break before we get to training camp. But I would imagine that by the middle of June, this thing is going to be running pretty well.”

On running back T.J. Duckett: “T.J.? What a hard worker. He’s come in, and he’s been a leader in running drills and the off-season program. Then out here, every time he gets the ball he takes it to the end zone, 70 yards or whatever it is. He just kind of puts his head down and goes. He’s a Marinelli guy, I would imagine.”

On what Johnson can do with his talent, while he learns the system: “I think that’s the great thing. He’s coming into a situation where we’re not asking him to be our number one receiver. He’s not going to have to learn three different spots and all that stuff. He’s going to have a package of plays that gets added to each week. I imagine Coach Martz would be able to answer that question better than I. But all he does is stretch the field more for us, both in the passing game, but I think more importantly in the running game.”

On quarterback Drew Stanton: “My whole thought process was that, with Drew, you’ve got to bring a young guy in. I mean, it’s not a secret, I’m not 24, so you always have to have guys you’re developing. They knew they were going to trade Josh [McCown], and so you’re always trying to develop guys. So the best way to do it is, especially in this system, to bring them in where they don’t have to play right away because this system is so complex.”

On having two backups without many snaps in the league: “I think you guys should have a little longer leash on me this year, though.”

On the upgraded speed on both sides of the ball: “That’s what Rod wanted to do. That’s the first thing he said when we came in here for our workouts. He said ‘The thing that we’re going to do is, we’re going to upgrade three areas: our speed, our toughness, and our character.’ And those are people he went and got.”

On his relationship with Johnson: “Today was the first day I’ve seen him, really. I talked to him a little bit last week, I came down to watch practice, but nothing dramatic. You don’t want to just jump all over a guy and all that stuff. We’ll grow into a good relationship, I’m sure.”

Lions Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry
On Shaun Rogers: “He’s not participating because he’s still rehabbing. He’s out here, he’s in the huddle and he’s going through stretch with the team. Just having his presence around the building and around his teammates – that’s big. It’s good for us.”

On if Rogers is rehabbing his knee or shoulder: “Well it’s both. He’s had procedures done on both. Now I don’t know what he’s doing more of, but he did have procedures on his shoulder and his knee. He is in the process of rehabbing both of them.”

On Rogers’ return date: “You know what, I don’t know. I don’t want to say a date. I’d like to get something out of him before we go to (training) camp. I’d like to get something out of him this off-season, whether it’s one of the OTA days, even if it’s not until June. But I’d like to get something out of him. Like I said, just having him here, having him working, having him in the building, lifting, running – predominantly most of the work he is doing is in the weight room – but like I said, having him here, having him in the locker room and having him in the meetings is a plus to me.”

On the changes in Rogers’ personality: “Like I said, I’ve told you guys before, I live in the now. I only know the happy Shaun Rogers. So, I don’t know anything about him from the past. I don’t care. My job right now is to make sure Shaun Rogers has his best season of his career in 2007, and that’s all we’re worried about.”

On the tandem of Rogers and Cory Redding: “I call it a trio when you throw Shaun Cody in the mix. I would like to say there is not a better trio in the National Football League. If those three guys are healthy and playing well for us – it all starts up front. You’ve been hearing Rod (Marinelli) say that for a year. Those are three great guys to start with. We’re very excited about those three guys and I’ll be very excited once they start working on a regular basis.”

On Teddy Lehman: “I think we may have talked about this after the OTA days. Just to have Teddy practicing, just to have Teddy getting reps every day, that’s something he needs. He had a lot of rust on his body. He didn’t do anything this time of year last year. He didn’t do anything through training camp and the first seven or eight weeks. Just having him here—going through individual (drills), getting reps in 9-on-7, getting reps in 7-on-7, getting reps in team--that’s a plus for Teddy this time of year. So, he’s doing good. He has a million miles to go, but just for the simple fact that he’s working everyday and getting reps is a plus for Teddy.”

On if Lehman’s health factored in draft plans: “That’s the one good thing about the way coach Marinelli did it. We had those three OTAs before the draft, so we kind of got a feel, not only for the guys who were potentially injured like Teddy, but everyone. It kind of gave me a good idea of where we were. I’d be lying to you if I said it wasn’t factored in.”

On what he is looking for in mini-camp: “The same thing we’re always looking for. We’re not going to ask our defense to do a lot, but play hard, play fast and finish. We worked on those three things the last three OTAs and we’re going to continue to work on that now. It’s a daily routine that we’re in. We have to show up every day and work, play hard, play fast and finish. If we accomplish that, we’ll accomplish something.”

On the Mike linebacker position: “I’m excited. I’m telling you what, Paris Lenon is going to burst onto the scene this year. He is everything that this system needs in a Mike linebacker. He has it all. He’s smart, he’s fast and he’s physical. If you can do those three things, you can play Mike linebacker in this system. I promise you. Now of course everyone asks about Brian Urlacher in Chicago. He’s a very unique human being, no matter what system he is in or what defense he played in. Teddy Lehman and Paris Lenon will be great in our system, I promise you, and they have everything we need.”

On Paris Lenon: “He is solely going to be our Mike linebacker. He has everything we need, like I said. He’s smart, I trust him, he can run the defense, be the quarterback out there, he can run the show, he’s fast, he’s physical – he can do it all. I feel very good with Paris Lenon.”

On if he is amazed at how far Lenon has come: “If you’re in this league long enough, there is amazing stories. The great players aren’t all just first round draft picks. There are guys who weren’t drafted, there are guys who were drafted in the seventh round, there are guys who have come from the Canadian Football League and so it’s a great story, but it doesn’t shock me at all. He’s a great kid, he’s a hard worker, football means something to him, he works his butt off at it every day and he’s got the physical tools. He’s got everything that we need for our Mike linebacker.”

On if there will be competition at the Mike position: “Oh sure. Paris is our starter and Teddy is our backup. There is competition every single day that we walk out on that field. No matter what position it is, no matter who it is, no matter if it’s an eight year veteran, or second year pro. There is competition every single day. The way you keep your job is if you do a good job at your job. I hope to get to the point where the backups are constantly biting at the heels of those starters. Yeah Paris is our starter and Teddy is the backup and if Teddy wants to become the starter then (he should) do something.”


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