COACH JACK DEL RIO NEWS CONFERENCE
SATURDAY, JULY 29, 2006
"I'm very happy to have all our guys signed and here on time. I think Paul Vance has done a great job working with the agents in getting deals done and we're happy to have everybody here. As a head coach to go into camp with a full roster, everybody signed, here on time, that's a good way to do business. It's a great way to start camp. For us training camp has to be, and I think every team in the league approaches it pretty similarly, about building a foundation. You're going to get here for three weeks to a month and you're going to work in an atmosphere where you're not game-planning for the opponent, where you're just really working on yourself, so this time of year is vital for us to build on that foundation. Plays and things that we want to have in our system, that we want to be good at throughout the course of the season, that's what this time is about for us and that's why having everybody here is so important and that's why it is such a big thing.
"One point I want to bring up, when I talk about true competition to make roster spots, I think the clearest example I can give you is the last three years we've had two undrafted rookie free agents make our team. To me there is no clearer example of legitimate competition for roster spots taking place than that. I've talked about creating a competitive atmosphere where guys get a legitimate chance to come in and either make the roster or become a starter and that's how we approach it. So you're talking about things we want to do foundation-wise through the year but you're also talking about an opportunity for us to select the best 53 men going forward. So, a very valuable time for us."
(with a strong training camp roster you may have to cut some good players who will play elsewhere in the NFL) "It's never easy. That time is never easy as a coach. Certainly when you have the depth that we do, some of the position battles, I'm sure, will come down the very end."
(what message did you share with your team during last night's meeting?) "The biggest thing is I think there is great excitement in the area. I think we can all see that and feel that. I think for us, though, we want to just take it as two thoughts, that I want our guys to have is humility and hard work. We want to come in humble and understand it's really a tremendous honor and a privilege for us to be doing what we do for a living and we want to respect that and then we want to go to work. I really believe this time of year it's crucial that an NFL team come into camp and establish and build a foundation that we're going to use for the whole season. We have a lot of work to do. We can't get there in one morning. It's going to take time, effort and a lot of energy and so I've asked our guys to concentrate on those two things."
(what did going into the playoffs last year do for you in terms of going forward this year?) "It gave us a little taste; I think it whetted our appetites a little. Certainly winning 12 games, qualifying for the playoffs, getting a playoff game was great. I think it whetted our appetites for more."
(on Fred Taylor tweaking his hamstring) "He tweaked a hamstring just a little bit but he'll be fine. He actually did it in the conditioning test the other day. It's not major enough to where he can't practice at all. We're going to kind of get him through a few days or a few practices until he's feeling like really opening it up. He was able to practice a little bit. We asked him to not try and sprint 50 yards top speed at this point. We'll continue to bring him along. We're not in a big rush there. He's ready to roll."
(on Mike Williams returning 40 pounds lighter and seeming to handle this morning's heat well. What does this do for your hope in the contribution he can make to the team?) "What we said when we signed him in the off-season was that we would give him an opportunity. It's really up to him to make the most of the opportunity. I think by him doing the things he's done up to this point to give him an opportunity to come into camp in shape enough to compete, I think that gives you hope, it gives him hope. So we'll just see from here. Anything he gets is an opportunity."
(are there more night practices this year than in the past?) "This is really the same schedule we've had since we got the lights. Wednesday afternoons we practice with pads on in the heat and every morning we go and then try to avoid the afternoon lightning storms and rains that you typically get in this part of the country."
(how do you think the wide receiver group looked?) "A good start. I thought right off the bat Matt (Jones) showed you he can do some things. The group has worked hard. It's a young, talented group that's worked hard. It'll be important for us. That will be a fun group to watch and as camp goes how they develop and how the chemistry goes between the quarterbacks and the wide-outs and all that. So that's definitely on the top of my watch list."
(on having Brad Meester and Donovin Darius back) "Both of them have completed their rehab and they are back practicing full-go with the team. In both cases we'll be smart. We're going to have some prescribed rest of our own doing just to be smart. I'm really glad to have them back. They're both great leaders. They're both the right kind of guys."
Donovin Darius sits down with JagNation's Robb Chamberlain and answers the questions we'd all love…