(opening statement) "We're excited to start training camp and the 2004 season.
We're headed into our third year. It's been a step-by-step process and we have
tried to improve through free agency and off-season training. What is encouraging
is that we had 100 percent participation in our off-season program and we had
nineteen good sessions to practice. Certainly, opinions change once the pads go
on. We've been happy thus far and we're anxious to see our team in pads.
"This year we have better competition and better depth. There is no doubt that we'll have better competition on our team. To me that is one of the ways to measure whether you are improving as a team. If you see better competition that usually leads to better depth on you team. There is no doubt in my mind we will have better competition. As you look around the league nowadays things change so much from one year to the next. I think there is about a 35 percent turnover from one year to the next on teams. The most important thing in my mind is focusing on our team and attempting to do everything we can to get our team as prepared and ready to go for a 16 game season. I feel we will have more players on our team with experience and really know what to expect.
"It's extremely difficult for a rookie to come in here on Friday for the first time. The rookies will be sitting here going through training camp for the first time. You get into the season, and it's a long season. There's a lot of demands. When you look at our offensive team we've played an awful lot of rookies these first two years. It's been part of our plan. And if things go as planned we probably wont have a rookie on the field on the offensive side of the ball, which is encouraging.
"If you look at how close things are in the league nowadays, and I look back at last year, we try to study and learn from history. Our five wins were by one, two, four, four, and four points. All five wins were extremely close. Then we had five losses, four of those we had leads in the last two minutes which we lost in the last two minutes. We lost by three in overtime, lost by three, three, four, five and seven. It points out how close this league is. We have to go into camp and mature fast. We play in an extremely tough division and we have one goal and that's to win. It's been that way since day one and we'll continue to do that. We have a lot of work to do, but I'm encouraged to this point for what we've been able to get done in the off-season. I'm encouraged by our players' attitudes and their approach to things. I think that is where everything starts. I know they understand we have a lot of hard work ahead of us. I know that they are excited to get started."
(on Seth Payne): "We'll start with Seth and start working him into some individual drills. We'll base how much he does on how he feels and he will not take part in any teamwork to begin with. It's going to be one of those deals where we go out on the field and work as an individual and see how he feels and that will determine how much he works the next day. Our goal, obviously, is to get Seth ready for the regular season. We're going to be cautious, we're going to be smart. We know we have a player in Seth who's going to do everything he can. He'll probably want to go out there and do more than we permit him to do.
(on goals and wins for the season) "Again I don't know how you put a number on wins, I really don't. From day one I'm not a guy that says 'hey you got a five year plan.' Our goal is to come in here everyday and get better and do the best we can and create that type of environment, and winning follows. You're consistently evaluating, are we better now than we were at the end of last season. I believe we are better now than we were at the end of last season. If we do things the right way we will win. Sometimes people look too far down the road. We have a lot of hard work to do, but if we do it right we'll figure out a way to win and that's our goal. I don't know how I could give you any number. Obviously there are a lot of variables and a lot of things change. If you look at our football team at the end of last season and compare it to the football team we started the season with there's two different teams. I think that we've grown. I think that we've learned some things from it. We've got an awful lot of hard work to do and I'm encouraged that we're heading in the right direction."
(on where the team is at) "I think you know your team better. I think that's one of the advantages of having 19 practices with this team. Here's what ends up happening to you when you look at it from a pure coaching standpoint. This is the fifth organization I've been with. When you go in on a basis, you really don't know you personnel as well. You know what you would like to do from an X and O standpoint, but you can't be hardheaded and say 'we're going to do this.' You've got to adapt to what your doing and to your personal and that changes a lot. What maybe worked in our training camp during our first year and the way we ended up might have been a lot different. You hope your second year that there is a little more correlation. Injuries- we were a lot different at the end of the year then we were at the start of the year because we had so many injuries. But, I do believe this, we keep a very close watch. Everything we did in the 19 practices this spring, the 20 practices before we have our opener here against the Cowboys; it's interesting to me to see the correlation. Are we using a wise investment in our time in terms of the things we are doing. We know our team a lot better, we know our capabilities of our players. We know what we are better. That's the challenge that you face. Hopefully you become more efficient, both as a coaching staff and as a team."
(On the coaching staff) "I feel very good about our coaching staff. I think we have a group of excellent teachers. We've had three new additions to our coaching staff and the rest of our staff has been together for three years now. I think your staff is somewhat like a team. We've spent the last two days in meetings going through every detail, responsibilities and approach and talking about every little thing. You'd probably be surprised about the things we spend time talking about. I think there is a comfort level when you know the guys have been together and you have references to refer to. Things you like to do, things you cant do, what your strengths are, what your weaknesses are, what your approach to teaching has to be because it's a game where you're so dependent on each other. You have to make sure to know what the players are capable of doing and not doing, whether it be mentally, physically and all the way around."
(on being happy with offense) "I think on both sides of the ball you have a lot to learn. You have to learn the system. I think that both of our young guys that we took in the first round this year, who have 19 practices under their belt, I would hate to think about going into training camp if they didn't. I think they have a handle on what to do, now they have to focus on how to do it. First you learn your assignments then you have to learn the technique. Once you know what to do then you have to learn how to do it. That's an ongoing process because it's so different when Dunta Robinson is lining every day with Andre Johnson, he's never done that before. That's the challenge of it. There's just so much for young guys to learn as I think we've witnessed over the past two years simply because we've played more rookies over the last two years than probably anybody in the national football league. We started five the first year then Andre and Dominack last year. I think their experience will be very beneficial to us being able to move forward offensively this year."