HEAD COACH BILL O'BRIEN**
How was practice against the New Orleans Saints today?
"Good work. A lot of work. Great team to work with. Really good coaching staff. I thought we timed it up really well. Got a lot of film to watch. It was really good work."
How important will RB Lamar Miller be to the offense?
"Keep him healthy until Week 1. That's the key. Keep him healthy, get him some work, make sure he gets some good work. To be truthful with you, he was a little under the weather today. That says a lot about him to come out here. He had a little head cold and fought through it. That says a lot about him and what a pro he is. I tell those guys up front, let's not allow any penetration and let's give this guy some room to run, and he'll make some yards. He's showing that."
Do you have an update on C Nick Martin?
"We just came off. I don't think it's serious. It's not a knee, so I think he'll be all right."
OLB Jadeveon Clowney looked very active today.
"I didn't watch the defense. I'll watch the tape. But I'm sure there was some good and some things we need to correct over there with everybody."
You obviously have some time left, but do you worry about the health of the offensive line right now?
"There's nothing more important than the health of the team. There's no doubt about that. That's for every team in the league. But I also look at the positive of it, that we're getting a lot of guys opportunities that will probably have to play a lot of football for us this year, whether it's (Kendall) Lamm, or Chris Clark, or (Greg) Mancz at center, Bergie (Tony Bergstrom) at center. I look at the positives that way, but eventually we want to have all five that are going to start working together, but we don't have that right now so these guys need to keep taking advantage of their opportunities."
Now that you've gotten to see QB Brock Osweiler against a couple different teams, how would you evaluate where he is right now?
"I like where he's at. I thought he's done a nice job in two-minute drills, he's had some good team periods. It's very difficult to come in here as a quarterback, both sides, and not really game plan, not really know what you're going to see and have to react to it on the fly. I think Brock's done a good job of that."
What's something you thought you did well today?
"I thought that there were some decent moments of running the ball today. I thought we had some decent runs. I thought we started slow. I think we have to get back to understanding that we have to start fast in practice, in games, things like that. But I thought there were some good things running the ball. I think the passing game got better as the day went on, but we need a lot of work in the passing game."
What were you doing in the running game that pleased you?
"I thought the backs were running hard for the most part. Lamar (Miller) was seeing the cut. I thought Kenny (Hilliard) had a couple good runs in there. I think there's some good things going on in the running game. I think the guys blocked pretty well for the most part. There were probably 100-some-odd plays today so it's hard to be perfect on every play, but I think there were some good things."
Is the performance of the running backs making it difficult to choose who makes the 53-man roster?
"That'll be a very difficult decision. The decision on how many to keep and who to keep and things like that. That's going to be a difficult decision."
How much does it help your secondary to line up against Saints WR Brandin Cooks?
"Any time you have a great player like Cooks on the other side, same thing for them against (DeAndre) Hopkins, it really tests your secondary. It tests your man-to-man coverage. It tests a lot of things and they don't just have Cooks. They have a number of other players, we have a number of other players so I thought it was really good work for both secondary's."
Do you know who your backup quarterback is?
"I would say right now it's Tom Savage, I think he's number two right now. But that's not to say that (Brandon) Weeden hasn't done a good job. I think Weeden has really improved. Tom has been in our system for three years, Weeden's only been in it for about eight months or close to a year. Tom's a little bit ahead in that regard but both guys, what stands out to me about both guys as backup players is that they really throw the ball very, very well. They spin the ball very nicely."
With a new quarterback, new receivers, and injuries on the offensive line, will you run the ball more until things get settled?
"I think it's more dictated by who we're playing and how we see that first game. But I think we, as an offensive staff and as an offensive team, we have to be able to run the football. I think the determining factor on being a good football team is how well you can run the ball basically when you have to run it and how well you can stop the run when you know they're going to run it and how well you cover kicks. I think those three things really develop and talk to you about the toughness of your team and I think we're getting better and better in those areas."
How as a coaching staff do you keep focused and use the tunnel vision you've always talked about?
"I don't even know what you're talking about, I'll be honest with you. We're in caves. We're in a cave, we're concentrating on our team. We're coaching the heck out of our team, our team's really working hard. I really like this team. I'm not a genie, you know, I can't predict anything but all I know is that I really enjoy coaching this football team. We've got a lot of good guys, a lot of good guys in the locker room that love to play, have a passion for it and I know you guys have a job to do and obviously you guys know that I respect your job but I just try to concentrate on my job, let you guys do your job."
What do you think about DE Alex Carrington so far?
"Very solid player, very tough player. A guy that (Defensive Line Coach) Anthony Weaver had experience coaching in Buffalo so that helped us. Came in here in the work out and was in really good shape, that stood out. It's really important for him to be in shape knowing that he may get picked up, that really says a lot about him. So far it's been good."
WR DEANDRE HOPKINS
What did you think of today's practice?
"It was a good practice, very competitive. The Saints came out, we knew it was going to be like it was. They came out here and gave us all they had."
How did this experience compare to going out and practicing with the 49ers? Did it help in any way?
"That was my first time against the 49ers really going against other competition in pads and just being physical. So that definitely helped. Going against those guys and coming out here we kind of knew they play the same kind of football, up in your face, so going up against the 49ers helped for sure."
Was it good to against that 'up in your face' style of play?
"Always because our guys aren't going to play defense like that every time so just seeing a different style of cornerbacks helps a lot."
Head Coach Bill O'Brien said you guys made progress during the workout, do you feel that the offense made progress today?
"Yeah. It's practice, we make mistakes as we go. But we get on the sideline and correct them as practice goes on."
What added benefit do you get going up against other cornerbacks in practice as opposed to a game?
"You don't have time to study those guys in practice. You just have to go out there and play off your instincts. If you've got a couple of days to study those guys, you know their tendencies, you kind of know what they're going to do when they line up. But in practice, you just go out there and play."
Do you think the chemistry on offense is starting to click a little bit more?
"It's definitely a lot better than where we started in the spring. A lot of guys are putting more time in the film room and on their own, just trying to master this offense."
You went against Saints CB Delvin Breaux a few times today, what makes him a tough matchup?
"He's very physical, a very physical guy. You wouldn't think he's a corner if you look at him, which I like when guys come up and get in my face because it's only going to make me better."
Did you go up against Saints DB De'Vante Harris at all today?
"I don't think I went up against him."
How does practicing against another team help you guys prepare for the regular season?
"Going up against other competition is always good for us because we can't gameplan, you just have to go out there and run your offense. You don't have time to study the other opponent. You just have to go out there and make what you have work."
You were talking to Saints WR Michael Thomas at one point during practice today, how do you two know each other?
"Since he's been in college at Ohio State, he would always text me and just ask me questions about things he can do to help his hands, help his route running, so I've kind of been a mentor to him since he's been in college."
How did you and Saints WR Michael Thomas connect in the first place?
"From me playing good football and him liking it, I guess."
QB BROCK OSWEILER
How much does it help to practice against the New Orleans Saints when you don't game plan for practice?
"The best part is the constant unscouted looks that you're seeing. It really tests your knowledge of your offensive system. If you know the defensive look that you're going to get in practice, we're probably going to talk about it the night before and say, 'Okay, Brock, in this protection, if these guys blitz, you're hot, if this guy blitzes, you're hot, here's where your MIKE (linebacker) point should be.' Where today, we can out here and we had a general idea of what the Saints would do because of their tape from last season, but we saw two or three different fronts that we had no idea were going to come at us today. I think the best part about it was no one blinked an eye, we pointed our hots, we signaled out some routes, we checked to a run, we got some positive yards and we moved on to the next play."
How do you handle the media, fans, talk radio and that stuff? Do you tune it all out? What's your approach to all that?
"Please don't take this as disrespect. Obviously, what you guys do is a tremendous deal and it's huge for our sport. But I don't read a single thing, I don't watch a single thing. Twitter is only on my phone because of all the false accounts that were out there, so I slide that in the back of my phone and I don't look at it. Because, really, a coach once told me, 'Only focus on the things you can control.' I can't control what you guys write, what you guys say. I'm going to keep my focus where it needs to be, and that's getting better every single day, trying to be a great teammate and just being the best football player I can be."
Did your offense make progress today?
"Absolutely. I think any time we step foot on the field we're making progress as an offensive unit. Every single guy is coming out here, working extremely hard, they're studying at night, they're knowing their plays. This is a long process, especially when you run an expansive offense like we do here. It's going to take time to perfect it, but we're working and we're striving every single day for perfection."