The Detroit Lions kicked off their mandatory minicamp today and head coach Jim Caldwell was made available to the media following practice.
He touched on a number of topics including minicamp progress, DeAndre Levy, Theo Riddick, Tahir Whitehead, offensive scheme, Rodney Austin, Darius Slay and Darryl Tapp. Here are the quotes as provided by the Detroit Lions.
On how pleased he is with the execution on the field so far: “You’re never completely satisfied. You know that. I think we’ve made a lot of good progress. I do think that they’ve really taken in and learned a lot of material. We threw it all at them, and that’s kind of what you do during this time of year. You start to, obviously, pair it down somewhat, but they’ve got a good grasp, I think, with the information, particularly the basic foundation of what we do in all of our schemes – offense, defense and kicking game. So, we’ve been pleased with it thus far.”
On LB DeAndre Levy: “I think he’s just kind of scratching the surface of what he can be. He’s a talented guy, he’s smart, he works hard. He’s got great respect for his teammates, but is extremely conscientious and he’s got talent, physically. I think you’re going to continue to see him grow and develop.”
On RB Theo Riddick: “He’s certainly done well. He’s had a very good spring. As a matter of fact, even in my preliminary evaluation just watching him in special teams last year, he jumps out at you. He’s eager, he’s hungry, he’s tough, he can run. He’s a very, very fine route-runner. He can catch the ball. He’s had a real fine spring, so I hope he continues to develop. We think he will.”
On LB Tahir Whitehead’s size for a middle linebacker: “He’s an explosive guy. He’s got punch and can run. Certainly, he can direct traffic in there. He’s got a real good feel for things. He’s a good football player. You see him close ground out there on the field. The guy can make plays. Obviously, Tully’s (Stephen Tulloch) a little bit bigger than he is in terms of weight and girth, not in terms of height. Nevertheless, I still think that he can function in there.”
On if the offense will be a blend of schemes from him and Lions Offensive Coordinator Joe Lombardi: “The best way to describe it to you is it’s going to be the Lions’ offense. That’s what it is. There are a lot of guys on the offense, if you take a look at who is on our staff, that have been around, have had great experience, have done some notable things in our game and have a lot of expertise and knowledge. We’re going to use every bit of intellectual knowledge that we have. All that intellectual property we have, we’re going to use it all to the best of our ability to make certain that it suits the guys that we have. So, I can’t tell you that it’s going to look like this team or look like that team. As a matter of fact, I don’t care. What I care about is making certain that it’s right for us and it’s right for the Lions. It’s the Lions’ offense, it’s the Lions’ defense, it’s the Lions’ special teams. That’s a blend of all of our guys that are involved in it.”
On G Rodney Austin working with the centers: “The thing about those guys on the inside is that they have to be able to play multiple positions. I think that is key because oftentimes, you end up dressing one guy who typically is a center, a guard, another backup tackle who can swing both sides, you know what I mean? When you go into ball games with seven guys, the versatility is imperative. To have a guy only play one spot in the interior, it doesn’t help you that much. Now, it happens sometimes, but usually you have to end up carrying an extra lineman sometimes in the ball game. You may not want to carry eight, so most of them we’re going to work in there. But let’s talk about Rodney. Rodney’s smart. Rodney’s tough. Rodney’s a good leader and he has skills and ability. (He is) a strong and powerful guy. He’s developing.”
On CB Darius Slay: “Obviously, we all know and realize that he does indeed have skill and ability. The guy can run. He can flat run, he can jump. He’s got all the physical tools that you’re looking for. He’s just lacking a little bit of experience. He got a lot of experience out there, obviously, working through our practice sessions that we’ve had thus far. It’s been a couple months now we’ve been working and he’s grown. He’s gotten a little bit better. He’s coming along. He’s more confident. It’s a new scheme, but he’s making good progress. We feel good about where he’s heading.”
On having energetic veteran players such as DE Darryl Tapp: “It’s extremely important I think. I think Darryl was a great addition for us because not only does he bring some enthusiasm and love the game, but he’s a professional and a consummate professional. I mean, he does everything right. He listens, he reinforces what he’s being taught, he knows and understands. He’s been with Jim (Washburn) before, so he knows him and knows the scheme. He has a real good feel for things. You can’t get enough of those kinds of guys that have been around, that have won, that understand what it takes and have been in the League awhile. He sets a great example for a number of young guys that we have in that room.”