Head Coach Scott Linehan
Monday, August 7

(On today’s practice) “It was good. We finished every period early, which is a good sign of our tempo. You really want to see that. You don’t want to have a hangover after the scrimmage. I think they realize that we have a game here soon and it’s time to pick it up a little bit. I was really happy with the intensity of practice. There were things out there that were good, things out there that we still have to work on, but I was very happy with the way we approached practice today.”

(On MLB Will Witherspoon) “Well first of all, he’s great player. He does his job and makes the plays he’s asked to make. He has great range. He’s played primarily weakside linebacker most of his career, but he filled in and played some middle linebacker; when Dan Morgan was out he was very affective there. He’s also a very durable player. He’s missed one game the last four years and it was against us in Miami last year. I told him there was a reason I thought we beat them and it’s because he wasn’t in there. He’s a quiet leader who does his job by example. He doesn’t need to be a ‘rah-rah’ guy, he just needs to go out and play at a super fast, high level. He’s an ‘everybody gets on his back’ type of guy. That’s what I think separates him from a lot of players in this league right now.”

(On the uncharacteristic dropped balls in today’s practice) “I was pretty upset with that. I addressed it right away with the team and said, ‘Until we get the little things right, our alignments, snap count and things like that, look the ball in before you run with it.’ That was our nemesis today. It really hurts the flow of practice because you can’t move the chains offensively to get it down. It’s always a good reminder; you come out one day and think you have it, and then you start putting the ball on the ground. That’s another thing we have to make sure we shore up before they start keeping score.”

(On how he plans to divide the playing time in Thursday’s game) “We haven’t decided that yet. I’m sure the ones will get a certain amount of snaps in the first quarter on both sides and special teams. Then we’ll work our twos and our threes in for the remainder of that. How much that is depends on play number, sort of like a pitch count in baseball, so to speak. We just keep an eye on how many plays they’ve got in and once we get there and are happy with the amount of we get in, we’ll move to the next group.”

(On how much he plans to look at Gus Frerotte on Thursday) “He’s going to play some. I obviously know him, but he’s no different from other players in that he has to go out and get in the game, play at game speed, drive the team down the field and do those things and get comfortable with it. He’s playing with new players, too. It’s not like he’s been here with the same players for years and years, so he needs to get a certain level of comfort there. I think we’ll give the first and second quarterback a certain number of plays, then let Ryan (Fitzpatrick) and Dave (Ragone) get a lot of the snaps, especially after the first half.”

(On how Fitzpatrick and Ragone will split time on Thursday) “We’ll probably do it by half. That’s probably the best way to do it instead of switching between punts. Just let one have one half of the game and one have the other.”

(On whether or not everybody is ready for the game) “I certainly think we are. We’re all ready to hit somebody else; it gets old. Another reason our tempers are flaring is that we’re just tired of hitting each other. I think we need to go out and take our aggression out on another football team and start coming together as a team. We’re at that time in training camp were it’s time to play somebody.”

(On how well Fitzpatrick and Ragone are responding to the competition for a roster spot) “No doubt. Ryan’s certainly playing much better than he did in the offseason program. Dave is at a little bit of a disadvantage coming in here without being here for 25 practices that we had, but he’s working very hard to get there. Between the two of them, they’re making a lot of progress. That’s what happens when you have a real healthy competitive situation. Both players usually, if they’re players like these, are going to respond to the competition and they certainly have.”

(On the third and fourth string players vying for playing time against the Colts) “Every play of every practice is important the way I look at it. We look at every play. We evaluate the progress from one day to the next. We’ve got to see a marked improvement to from one day to the next to justify a certain number of reps for whoever you go with, twos or threes, whoever that is. I don’t think there is ever a play that’s not important, whether it’s in the game or in practice. We’re keeping an eye on that pretty close, especially with the backup-type players right now.”

(On changing players regularly at the offensive guard position) “We want the competition there to be very good and very healthy. I think it is. I think every player, whether it’s the starters, current starters or backups, have responded to it and taken advantage of their opportunities. I think every one of those guys in some way, shape or form, has improved dramatically in some part of their game. That’s what happens. You have to come out and perform at a high level but you have to show improvement and it doesn’t matter if you are a 10-year veteran or a first-year, free agent rookie. You’ve got to approach the game the same way. I think they’ve all done it and I think the older guys have accepted the challenge and the young guys have certainly hung in there and battled. We’ll see. There are a lot of practices and games ahead before we make a decision there.”

(On RB Steven Jackson’s condition/walking around with his shoe off) “He kind of strained his achilles. It bothered him last week. He’s been taping it since. In one of the drills, one of our special category periods, he strained it. It was just precautionary to keep him out. We’ve got another practice tonight, so we’ll see where he is.”

(On DE Anthony Hargrove’s potential and how effective he can be) “First of all, he came in at a size that you’re looking for at the end. He’s a legitimate defensive end that can play both the run and the pass because he has the bulk and size to do both, and the speed. He’s not a guy that you have to pull out of the game on third down. He’s an every down defensive end who plays at a high level with great intensity, a great approach to the game. I’ve been very happy with him. He’s playing at a very high level up front. I think he’s certainly getting himself ready to have a great year.”

(On G Richie Incognito’s fiery attitude) “You like to have those types of guys. He’s certainly had to prove a lot since he was drafted by us. [There were] a lot of questions in his past and his youth. He’s grown up a bunch as far as I’m concerned. That’s one thing we said to the whole team when our staff got here. [We said] ‘everybody has a clean slate.’ But your past is your past and you’ve got to be responsible for it and accountable for it and if you’ve got things you need to correct, you need to make sure that doesn’t become an issue again. He [Incognito] has done a great job of that. He comes to work every day. He competes hard. He’s very coachable. He’s really improved and he’s certainly a guy that’s in the mix there right now.”

(On the difficulty for the younger wide receivers to get playing time) “It’s difficult in that they’re not going to be working with Marc [Bulger]. Some of them get in and work with Gus [Frerotte] and then they get a lot of work with Ryan [Fitzpatrick] and Dave [Ragone]. You never say never for a player because they have an opportunity to come out here and separate themselves just by making plays or going into a game and show up in a critical situation. I’ve seen things play out just like you planned them and I’ve seen things take a big turn right in the middle of training camp when one player steps in there and opens everybody’s eyes. I think a great example is Gus Frerotte. He was a seventh-round draft pick his rookie year in Washington. They drafted Heath Shuler as the number two pick and a good friend of mine, John Friesz, was a high-priced free agent they brought in, and by the end of training camp Gus was the starting quarterback for them. Heath Shuler was the inactive quarterback and John was the backup. There’s a lot of football to be played before now and the 10th [of September].”

(On the condition of RB Madison Hedgecock) “[He hurt] his ankle. He hurt it in the scrimmage. He stayed in there but it swelled up pretty good and it was pretty painful so he went on a limited basis today.”

(On Saturday’s scrimmage) “I liked the way our ones went about their business. I think both sides made some plays. It was nice to see, for our defense, Fish [Travis Fisher] makes that play in the endzone. It was nice to see us offensively go into the redzone and put the ball in the endzone. There are still some things; we had a pre-snap penalty and that stuff just absolutely irritates the heck out of me. We’re working on that and we’re much better than we were when we started camp. I thought our efficiency level, coming out as a group and operating, for the most part was good. We still have to work on staying in for a number of plays; more than four or five or six plays in a row. We are going to start adding plays in our team period so our guys start conditioning for those longer drives. There are a lot of good things out there but we certainly showed we’ve got some areas that we need to work on.”

(On RB Fred Russell’s progression) “He’s got a knack. He’s good when he has the ball in his hands. He’s a very good runner. Little guys like that tend to be, potentially, a liability in pass protection but that’s nothing that he will be able to correct today. His size can be an issue but I think we use it as a strength. He’s a very good one-back runner. It’s hard to find him back there so he slips and finds holds that bigger backs don’t normally find. He just has a good knack there and he’s certainly made some noise around here as far as getting yards as a back that’s going to be competing for a spot somewhere down the line.”

(On what he’s looking for in Thursday’s preseason game versus Indianapolis) “How we operate. There’s an art to going out and working that first unit, the second unit, third unit; who’s going. My biggest thing is that we go out and do the little things well. You always are able to see improvement in your team when you go out and take care of the fundamental part of the game. We’re going to play to win the game, no doubt. We’re all going to compete to win. The key is to show improvement in the areas that we’ve talked about as a team and continue to work on those.”