Training Camp Quotes: Day 4
Sunday, July 30, 2006

HEAD COACH SCOTT LINEHAN

“This was the hottest day I think, but it was the best day. I think we made the biggest strides as a team, being able to come out and work through it. Again, we pay attention to the heat but we make them play through it and they acknowledge it but they don’t complain about it and they worked and we got a lot of work done. I think probably everybody knows by now, I think we’ve come to terms with Tye Hill. I don’t know particulars, we’re going to get him here as soon as possible. I don’t know if we can get him here in town tonight but get him in here for meetings and that and get him started. He’s got to catch up, and those other guys have taken full advantage of their opportunity to get a head start. Tye’s going to have to spend some extra time but we’re certainly glad to get it done and we’re happy, both sides, we’re able to get that done and it’s on to football business with him.”

(On having a holdout as a first time head coach) “Yeah, it’s kind of been the norm. Those first five to 10 guys tend to be the biggest concern. I was never worried. Although, nothing is guaranteed, I thought it’d be done by the weekend and it was. We’re moving on to other things, more important things now.”

(On what CB Tye Hill has missed in the first six practices) “Well six installation periods, which is about what we put in during an entire OTA period, so there’s a lot of things. He’ll be aware of the defense and he’s a powerful kid, he’ll work hard to get there and I’m sure he’s been conditioning himself and all that. These holdouts tend to be kind of the norm these days and it’s put a lot of pressure on these young guys that come out here and get it right away. I have all the confidence in the world that Tye’s going to come in and bust his butt to catch up.”

(On what he means by an entire OTA) “Yeah, the whole offseason program. We’re putting the fine tuning on everything now and those things are valuable, but we’ve got to not miss any preseason games. He’ll be here for our first scrimmage and all those things so he’s going to get a lot of work in. We missed, at Miami, Ronnie Brown for the first, at least, first two, might be first three preseason games and that was pretty difficult for him. So he [Tye Hill] has a head start on a lot of holdout situations I’ve been around.”

(On if he means all the OTA’s and mini-camps) “Yeah, all the offseason stuff.”

(On the first four days being a reintroduction) “Yeah, mass reintroduction. We might put in, what we put in in one day here, we might touch on about 10 percent of that on an OTA practice in the offseason. It’s quite accelerated from there. His memory will be the pace we were at then.”

(On being finished with the installation period) “Oh no, no, we’ve got plenty. We’re in the middle of our install periods, which means, I think, we’ve got four or five pretty good ones left, and then we’ll start to cut back and start working on some specialty areas of the game.”

(On waiting for Hill to catch up with everyone else) “It’s on the player, and I’m sure Jim [Haslett] and Willy [Robinson] and Ronnie [Milus] will spend extra time with him, but it’s the experience of being out here and playing. This is still early and he’ll being on the crash course. He’ll catch up eventually.”

(On when he found out about Hill) “Jay came and let me know probably 15 minutes into practice.”

(On leaving the practice field a few times) “We just have to get the logistics of when we get him here and get the contract official and then get him his playbook and start going to work.”

(On Tye Hill’s situation taking longer than most others) “Again, I’ve really not paid that much attention to who was done. I knew guys were getting done, and I was told we should have something done by the weekend and we did so it’s kinda the norm, it seems these days, you get these mini-holdouts, I call them. I was involved in probably one of the rookie hold outs, we had Bryant McKinnie in Minnesota in 2002, he missed the first nine games. Now that’s a holdout. We’re glad to have him back.”

(On if WR Marques Higgins has to be a starting return player to make the team) “Well that’s a big part of it. Every player on our team has an opportunity to make a name for themselves, on the offensive or defensive side. We’re working him at receiver, Henry [Ellard] and I agree that he’s made great strides from where he was in the off season program. Now he looks much more comfortable there. I think it really helps that he’s able to work full time with the veterans and playing a position behind Torry [Holt] and he’s got these other guys like…It’s better to be able to watch Torry and Isaac [Bruce] work so you kind of get an idea of the offense and what you’ve got to do. It is different, he’s been playing quarterback through most of his career and although he has the ability to play receiver, it takes a while. He looks a lot more comfortable and is starting to show up at receiver too.”

(On RB Tony Fisher’s performance at running back) “He’s doing very good, he’s exactly what we talked about. He definitely has the ability to be the number two, and we knew that. We certainly like to use that as your back up number two plan because of all the special teams value but right now, I would have no problem with him going into the game as our number two. He’s got a great ability to get yards as a runner, he’s an excellent receiver in the back field, and has really good knowledge of our protection. It’s kind of what you’re looking for.”

(On continuing to look for a number two running back) “We’ll evaluate other possibilities, but like I said earlier, it’s not that easy at this time of year. People are feeling pretty comfortable having their depth at running back and aren’t just in the business to just give a guy away. I’m certain we’ll evaluate some of the guys and make some inquiries on some of these possible running backs but that’s one of those things that may not happen for a bit.”

(On working Hill at both cornerback and nickelback) “Well I would think the best thing would be to leave him in one place and then soon as he starts to get a little more comfortable with it moving him around. We feel really good about how [CB Travis] Fish[er] has been playing in there at the nickel and he’s done a great job so I think he’ll get some work, but I think he’s going to have to get a pretty good handle on that corner spot first before we start moving him out there.”

(On Tye Hill’s impressions and his improvements since off season) “He really improved I think. What I remember, he was pretty enamored with the fact that he made it, that he achieved his goal and he was here and was looking around and saw all these pro players he was now playing with and all those things. After about a week he looked like he fit in, and was starting to get more comfortable, and made a couple plays, a couple of nice plays on the ball here in the off season program. He was really starting to show up. He made great progress in the off season. Our biggest concern was if we had a lengthy hold up it was going to hamper that but I think he’ll catch up. It will take a while though.”

(On practicing in the extreme temperatures) “We had an extra break. We’re really pumping the fluids. We don’t condition, necessarily, after practice on an afternoon practice, we try to do it on our night practice. Just keep an eye on them, and if we get someone that’s getting overheated then they’re out of the drill and Jim [Anderson, head athletic trainer] and the guys take care of them and then as soon as they’re recovered, we get them back in there. The biggest thing is you watch their weight, and evaluate it. They’ve got to get their weight back up by the next practice or we don’t allow them to practice, just taking all the precautions we can. It was hot today, but it was manageable. We were able to get through it, you didn’t see people fall out or anything like that.”

(On the extreme temperatures) “The weather is pretty tough. I had my nine-year old out here today and he made it 15 minutes before he went up to the office, so it is tough, but I think it’s great for camp. You really kind of test your toughness and your ability to fight through things at this time of year, and it’s not always going to be like this, but these are the time where you figure out how you can get through things in the tough times and it’s been great as far as I’m concerned.”

(On this year’s weather compared to last year in Florida) “This is pretty similar. We had a little breeze, that’s the thing before is that you have that breeze coming off the ocean, even though we were a little inland. That’s one thing I didn’t feel last week before we started camp and that record heat we were getting there was no breeze out here. It was like you could just cut the air and you get concerned about that because that heat index starts to become a little dangerous, but it was okay. I ran at noon today and it was hot, but with the breeze it’s different. You can work through this. This is perfect weather as far as I’m concerned.”

(On if there is a player that’s surprised him so far in camp) “Again, it’s too early. I’ve really enjoyed watching the competitive positions, it’s interesting. We’re real young at tight end and we had a real tough practice last night. It’s fun to watch those guys respond to some tough coaching. It’s tough to come in here as a rookie and be asked to learn a whole new offense, come out and practice in the heat, get banged around and get yelled at for jumping off sides and have to jump in and still do the job on the next play and I think they did of working through it today. We still had a couple of miscues out there but it was a much better practice. The thing I enjoy is the thing guys that don’t have a good practice responding and coming back out and having another one. Especially the young players.”

(On Hill’s holdout effecting his playing) “Well it’s certainly made the job more complicated or more open. It’s too early to say who’s going to be starting when we play Denver. He’s got a long way to go to catch up with where the other guys are so it’s going to be a battle at that spot.”

(On the play of Travis Fisher) “[Travis] Fisher and JB [ CB Jerametrius Butler] had a couple good days so I’ve been impressed with all those guys. Fahkir’s [Brown] playing real real solid over there, but those other two have stepped and started to show up.”

(On having four guys battling for two cornerback spots) “Oh no doubt. Right now, no doubt. [Travis] Fish[er] is certainly the guy who’s really showing up as our nickel. He’s the guy that’s really getting a pretty good handle at that.”

President/Football Operations Jay Zygmunt

(On signing first round draft pick CB Tye Hill) “We were really excited on draft day when we got Tye. I think he’s a great addition to the team. He fills a real need on our defense. I just saw him upstairs and he’s awfully excited. An interesting thing I’d like to say that is kind of unique is that Tye’s been in town since Friday. We all know a lot of situations where sometimes a contract gets agreed to where suddenly the player starts packing and it takes two or three days. But it’s wonderful and he was excited and it says a lot about him how he was anxious to get in here. Like I said, it’s a real tribute to both Doug Henderson and Mike Sullivan at Octagon and it was important to have them in here and they really had him ready to go, so when we agreed this afternoon we were able to get the contract all worked out. He has signed.”

(On the last hurdle of the contract) “It wasn’t that difficult. There’s a lot of pressure on everybody, in particular right now, with the system they’ve got, what agents have to deal with, what clubs have to deal with. It wasn’t that difficult, we just had a few little things we had to deal with the past few days, so it was no big deal.”

(On the anticipation surrounding the signing) “It’s always like that. The reality of this business is that it’s difficult to get things done on both sides and you don’t always have the timing you’d like, but you try the best you can and we’re just really happy he’s here and I know coach is awfully excited to have him.”

(On the importance of Coach Linehan not having to deal with a prolonged holdout in his first season as a head coach) “It’s always important. You always want to get players signed and get them in as soon as you can, but sometimes for a variety of reasons you can’t get that accomplished. It’s always important for a coach and it’s always important for a football program, but I think the real key is when you’re putting in a new system, in particular on defense and coaches are trying to judge not only the new players, but the players that were here.”

(On part of the contract negotiations being a waiting game) “It’s always a part of it. I think it’s realistic with the competition everybody faces and agents, but there are a lot of different nuances in the last few years with the way the collective bargaining agreement keeps getting tinkered with and obviously the rookie pool is a cap within the whole salary cap. There are a lot of changes in proration of signing bonuses and there are always different little nuances that just become obstacles that you have to overcome, but they are things you still have to deal with.”

(On the length of the contract) “It’s a five-year deal. We’d always been talking about a five-year deal. When I was out in San Francisco, I believe around the 12th of July or something, and from the beginning we said we were willing to do a five year deal. So that was one piece we had agreed to pretty early on.”

(On now having everyone on the roster in training camp) “It’s always significant, it’s always important. It would have been nice to have him from the first day; that’s always your goal, but you have to be realistic with how things are, so if you can’t have him in the first day it’s important to get him in as soon as you can. Our defense needs a lot of work and we think he’s going to be an integral part of it, so the sooner he’s here, the better for him.

First Round Draft Pick CB Tye Hill

(On how it feels to finally be in camp) “I’m extremely happy. I knew it was going to get done sometime this weekend. It couldn’t have been better timing. I’m glad I was already here to cut the travel out of the way. I’m just ready to go at it.”

(On whether or not he feels he has a lot of catching up to do) “No, I don’t think I have a lot of catching up to do because what they were putting in during the first four days was basically what we were putting in through OTAs and minicamp. The thing for me right now is to just go in and be able to compete in this weather, because it’s hot. I’ve been running, but football shape is a little different. I just have to get back into football shape to be 100% like I was at the end of OTAs and minicamp.”

(On deciding to come to St. Louis before the deal was finished) “I knew we were close. I was already missing time and I didn’t want to miss anymore time due to travel. I felt it was very important for me to get into camp as soon as possible and as quick as possible, so I figured the quickest way to do that was just to be here and just wait around. It’s lucky I did, because if I didn’t, then I would have to wait until tomorrow to catch a plane and I’d miss at least one practice tomorrow and it would be a rush. I’d have to sign a contract and go get ready for practice.”

(On what held up the deal in his mind) “I think it was more what everyone else was doing. The first rounders were just starting to get done and I think all of that plays a part when it comes down to my deal. I’m just happy to get it done.”

(On getting what he wanted out of the deal) “It was a working relationship. The Rams got what they wanted and I got what I wanted. It’s a contract and I have to fulfill it.”

(On how active with his agents during negotiations) “My agent kept me up with everything that was going on; I knew everything that was going on. Me and my agent, we had a pretty good working relationship. I understand what his job is and I hired him for a reason. I let him handle the negotiations that needed to be handled and my job is to play football and make sure that he’s taking care of what’s supposed to be taken care of. So basically, I’m happy with everything he’s done and we’re working with the Rams.”

(On the potential harassment from teammates) “I got some calls last night just saying that when I get in, be ready to work. So I’m looking forward to it.”

(On being rich) “Rich? I’m not right yet. I have to go out there and play, but it feels good to be financially secure.”

(On whether or not there’s one big purchase he’d like to make) “Of course I want to take care of my family. I don’t know what that is yet. My family isn’t dirt poor, but we’re not rich. The material things aren’t really a big issue with me or my family because we never had to worry about that. As far as the money, I’m just glad it’s there.”

(On whether or not there was a set date past which he felt he would be playing catch up) “No, I didn’t think like that because I knew it wasn’t going to get that far. Coach Linehan was saying it would probably get done by this weekend, so I knew it was going to get done sometime soon. I didn’t think it would last this long to be honest with you. To be pushed this late on Sunday seemed pretty extreme to me. As far as getting too far out of the loop with everything, no, I didn’t think it would get that far.”

(On whether or not he kept up with the news surrounding his holdout) “I didn’t really want to look at the newspaper and see what everyone was saying because I know everyone’s not a big fan of holdouts. Once again, you’ve got to realize it’s a business.”

(On seeming more adamant than most about getting into camp on time and how that affected his agent selection process) “Well that was my number one goal. My agent doesn’t have a history of holdouts. That was his number goal when I signed with him, not being a holdout. We tried to speed up the process, getting negotiations started early in the year. You’ve got to realize that any draft is a slot system. Everybody likes to work a little different, everybody likes to wait until things get sorted out before they go and do what they have to do. So that was basically the case.”

(On how he’s been spending his time) “Running, resting, running and resting, and eating, a lot of eating.”

(On if he was recognized at the hotel) “Nope. That was the best thing about it.”

(On if he was tempted to come to Rams Park to watch practice) “I’ll tell you guys a secret: I was over here Friday, but only for a short period of time. I didn’t watch, I just came through, saw the people I saw and left.”