Position flexibility a big plus
Q. What did you like about first week of training camp?
A. I thought it was a good start. I think this team is in great shape, and that allowed us to get off to a good start. We have a ways to go with some technical things, as does
everybody. I’ve been pleased with our play-action pass pocket; it’s better than it was a year ago at this point. Defensively we’ve got some guys who can be contributors potentially, but of course they have to step inside stadiums and confirm that. But what we’ve seen to this point is that we have some young guys we can add to what we believe is already a good defense. I feel good about where we are.
Q. How would you evaluate Ike Taylor at this point?
A. Ike has shown great attention to detail from a technique standpoint, but those are really the same feelings I had about him last year. Ike is a professional. He’s a veteran
player, but he always comes out here looking for a winning edge. I like where he is. I expect big things from him.
Q. With Chris Kemoeatu on the physically unable to perform list, Trai Essex moved into the starting lineup at left guard. Can you talk about his performance?
A. Trai stepped in and he came here in excellent shape. He is a veteran player who came in great shape, he ran well and an opportunity presented itself to give him some
repetitions with the first unit at left guard. I thought that he took advantage of it and did well in the one-onone drills, but I will have to look at the tape in great detail to get a grade on his performance. We threw a bone to a man who came in great shape and ran well.
Q. You often talk about the position flexibility. Trai Essex had been playing guard, and then he was moved out to tackle when Marvel Smith missed a practice. What are your thoughts on how he’s doing at both of those spots?
A. Kudos to him. The lines are getting short because men are down. You know he played left guard, he played left tackle and he also played right guard. It’s part of his value. He’s a veteran player. He has great position flexibility, it’s a distinguishing characteristic. It’s one that we strive for in a lot of our men.
Q. LaMarr Woodley and Max Starks have been going hard after each other. Are you looking for consistency from them?
A. I am trying to get consistency out of 80 guys; wish me good luck with that. That’s what we are here for, and that’s what training camp is about. Those two guys were in a
great frame of mind to come here and do what it is we came to do. There will be more of that with other people.
Q. If Woodley goes down, who goes in for him at left outside linebacker?
A. When that happens, we move James Harrison over, and we put Lawrence Timmons in at right outside linebacker. I know you’ve heard the catch-phrase “position flexibility,”
and now you see why we do it is that we do. James Farrior misses a day, Larry Foote slides over, in comes Lawrence Timmons. Woodley misses a day, slide James Harrison
over, in comes Lawrence Timmons.
Q. Is Troy Polamalu’s injury a little bit more serious than you thought?
A. No, there is no hidden story there. He has a mild hamstring. He did it later in summer trying to train for camp. Of course he was well enough to run the conditioning test, but that didn’t include changes of direction and some of the short bursts that we all know he is capable of. We are going to deal with a little short-term misery to allow him to be
well. That is what we are in the process of doing.
Q. The loss of Daniel Sepulveda to a torn ACL seems to be a significant blow to your special teams. Can that be overcome?
A. You know the reality of it is that there are 32 teams in the league and 32 teams deal with issues like this. This is the National Football League and this is what it is about. The teams that are successful and rise in the end are the teams that are capable of dealing with distractions such as this. We make no bones about that.
Q. Did it disappoint you, this injury to him?
A. Briefly, but then you keep moving; that is what you do. I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t say that I was disappointed for us and for Daniel. You can’t spend a lot of time dwelling on it because we have a lot of work to do.
Q. What about Bruce Davis? How is he coming along?
A. He is, and we have a little focus on Bruce right now because he went to a quarter school at UCLA and he missed quite a bit of time in the offseason because of that. He
was not able to participate due to rules. He has to hurry up and catch up and he is in the process of doing that. That might require an extra repetition or two. He’s in great
shape, and he’s going to need it because he has some ground to make up.
Q. Can you talk about the atmosphere for the night practice at Latrobe Stadium?
A. It’s special. It takes you back to your high school days. I think guys really enjoy it. It’s great to come out and perform in front of our fans, and hopefully they had a good time tonight. Some guys, like Kyle Clement, this is the biggest crowd he’s ever played in front of. It was a good evening.