HEAD COACH BILL O'BRIEN
Was there any reason practice went longer today?
"We had to get a lot of things covered. We installed two-minute and had a number of different two-minute situations today. We installed some different defenses and some different things on offense, so it just took a little bit longer to get all that done. We'll go inside tomorrow and we'll have a good practice inside. We're just taking it one day at a time."
How did the team do practicing two-minute situations?
"You know what, I think overall there was some good there. I thought the first drive, the offense was able to move it. It was a field goal situation. We were able to get in field goal range and make the game-winning kick. I thought that was good. Defensively at the end there, we stepped up and did some decent things. I think both sides walked off the field today, some good and some bad, and just keep trying to get better every day."
Do you have any update on RB Lamar Miller and OLB Jadeveon Clowney missing practice today?
"Just a day off. Day off for both of those guys. Just trying to monitor how many reps they get and really just try to do that with a number of different guys. Different guys will get days off here and there and just try to monitor."
How much progress has OLB Whitney Mercilus made since you got here?
"Whitney is a self-made guy. He's made a ton of progress. He's a very hard worker, very diligent. You see him in here early every morning, watching tape, taking care of his body, doing different things to stretch out. He's in the weight room. He's in the cold tub after practice. He does a lot of different things for us on defense. He's really, going into our third year with him, a much improved player and a player that played very well for us last year. A very important player for us."
How has DE Devon Still been doing?
"Devon's had a good couple of days here. He works very hard. Typical Penn State guy. Good football player, tough guy, works extremely hard. I'm glad we have him."
What did you guys like about DE Devon Still when you brought him in?
"When he did play, he was productive. He did his job well. A high-character guy, obviously. Big guy, strong at the point of attack. We thought he could do a couple different things for us. We feel like we've got something to really work with there."
Has TE C.J. Fiedorowicz taken a step forward?
"Yeah, C.J. has gotten better. He's a good blocker. He's a very good blocker and he's actually improved a lot in the passing game and in the intermediate passing game. We've done some things down the field with him. He's in really good shape. He's healthy. He has made a lot of improvement."
It seems like TE C.J. Fiedorowicz is catching more balls this year.
"Sometimes it takes a while. It's different running routes in professional football then it is in college. There's a lot more matched coverage. There's a lot more man coverage in professional football then there is in college. Actually, guys that are comparable in size – I mean, not as big as C.J. but relative to C.J. – big safeties, guys you really have to run good routes against to get open in man-to-man coverage. He's made a lot of improvements there."
What's it like having a guy like P Shane Lechler on your team?
"He's one of our leaders. A true pro. One of the best punters there has been in this league. He's come back in great shape. He's punted very well this preseason."
Do you have to make any adjustments with such a young wide receivers group?
"I think you have to be careful, yeah. I think you have to be careful that you don't overload them. But we get so many reps out here in practice against a very good secondary. I truly believe that will get them ready to play. I think once we get to the games, preseason games and then obviously early season games, we can't ask these guys to know the whole playbook. They've got to be able to go out there on the field and not have to think too much. Be able to go out there and execute the play call. We are very mindful of that."
Will the kickers start to separate themselves during the games?
"I would say that's up to them. I would say that right now it's a very close battle. Both guys are working extremely hard. They both, relative to their careers, are both at different times in their career. One is a rookie. One is 34 years old. Nick (Novak) is competing very hard. (Ka'imi) Fairbairn is competing. They both have good demeanors. They're both very close right now in the competition."
OL JEFF ADAMS
It's kind of mix and match on the offensive line but you guys have taken great pride in doing your jobs out here.
"Yeah. For all of us it's kind of the 'next man up' mentality. So far in camp we've had a number of guys go down and it's just next man up. That's how you're successful as a team and as a group. The more we talk to each other, the more we work together and understand how guys are going to play each position, the better our offense is going to be."
How do you like working with QB Brock Osweiler?
"I love Brock. Brock's unbelievable. Great guy, great leader, loves being in there and just takes command of the huddle. Couldn't be happier."
How much of a difference will it make not having a revolving door at quarterback, barring injury?
"We're ready for anything. It gives you a lot of confidence going in with Brock (Osweiler) back there. He takes command. All the quarterbacks do. They step in there, they're ready to go, they're confident in their play call. You want to get out there, you want to be blocking for them and you just get excited running up to the ball out here. Every play you're looking for a big play."
S QUINTIN DEMPS
Have you found yourself teaching the younger guys about what you've gone through?
"Yeah. It's not that I know more than you, I've just messed up more than you. Trying to bring them along. Dre (Andre Hal), (Kurtis) Drummond, Corey Moore, Eddie Pleasant and those guys, trying to get them right."
How good can this defense be?
"I think we can be really good. I think we just have to continue to stay humble, of course, not be prideful, forget about last year, come out and prove out it every game. Start fast and finish stronger."
How ready are you to play that first preseason game?
"I'm excited, man. I'm excited to go against different people, a different team and different scheme. We'll see where we are."
Is this the most balanced team you've been on?
"Yeah, even with special teams too. I think (Larry) Izzo has brought a different vibe to special teams. I think we're going to be good."
TE C.J. FIEDOROWICZ
You seem to be catching more balls this season.
"I worked on it in the offseason. Catching balls every day, I think that's the biggest thing in the offseason. Guys that get all focused on working out, getting in shape and then they don't remember to catch the balls every day. I feel like I'm really seeing the ball well and me and Brock (Osweiler) got a good relationship."
That could pay huge dividends for this team.
"Absolutely, he's a great leader. He guides our team. He's everything we could ask for in a quarterback."
Executive Vice President of Football Ops and General Manager Rick Smith came over and talked to you after your good catch a couple days ago.
"Yeah he's just like, 'When did your separation get so fast at the top of the routes?' I was like, 'I was working hard this offseason on my hips and my hands and my flexibility' and that's huge."
Head Coach Bill O'Brien says sometimes it takes longer for big guys because it's so different in college?
"Yeah the game is so much faster, the linebackers are so much bigger. The second you catch the ball someone's hitting you, someone is trying to pop the ball loose. In college, where I went, we were more of a run offense so we always worked on the run game. But since I've been out here this year, I've been improving in the passing game and I'm proud of myself."
And blocking is still there for you.
"Yeah, if you want to play in this offense as a tight end, you've got to be able to block on the edge. Its front-side, back-side, whatever."
How excited to you get when you see the offense clicking downfield?
"Yeah, we've shown what we can do. Against Jacksonville last game we were moving the ball well. A couple of the teams in the conference, a couple games, we were putting up points. But there's times and there's games where we can't put up points. We just got to be consistent with the ball and try to get things going on that first play of the series."
Are you ready to hit a different team now?
"Absolutely, this is always the hardest part- training camp the first two weeks. You just hit the same guys every day and obviously it's hot. We're going to go out to San Fran in about 75 degrees and we're going to hit some other people."
Maybe you're more excited for that than hitting someone else?
"Honestly, probably. I'm from the Midwest so I'm not used to it, I don't care how long I've been here, it's hard to get used to this. When we go up there, the competition is going to be good."
TE RYAN GRIFFIN
What do you know now that you didn't know earlier in your career?
"Probably getting out two bags of IVs before you come out here and try to practice because it is hot. But other than that, it's really just about knowing the defense and where they're going to be at and that could help you play faster."
How tough was last year for you suffering some injuries?
"Yeah it was really the first time in my career where I was sidelined for an extended period of time. It was really tough because you're not even allowed on the fields. You're up in the booth watching the team play. I'm just taking every play out here one by one and not taking anything for granted."
How are you feeling?
"Doing great. Yeah, feel good. They've got me on a great program so I'm coming out here feeling fresh and it's a matter of keeping that up."
Is the biggest key for you at tight end versatility?
"Yeah, I mean they can put me wherever they need a fit. Whether it's Y or F or the move tight end. That's what I'm going to try to do. Whatever the coaches ask of me. Versatility is key. The more you can do out here, the more likely you'll be on the field."
Because of the personnel, do you think there's more things they can do with the offensive playbook?
"Yeah it certainly seems like that. We went out and got some speed on the offensive side of the ball. We're excited about the guys we have and we're just trying to get better every day."
Would you call yourself 100% healthy?
"I wouldn't call myself 100%. But after day one, nobody really is. I feel good at this point of the season and looking forward to just building on my health as we go forward."
How about the strides that TE C.J. Fiedorowicz has made?
"Yeah, absolutely. C.J., I can't talk enough about how great teammate he is. He comes from a great family and he's a great guy. He's really made some strides on the field as well and I'm proud of him."
Is it that time where you're ready to hit another team?
"Yeah it's about time we go to San Francisco and start hitting a different color. We're getting tired of Whitney (Mercilus) and (Jadeveon) Clowney. It's time to hit somebody else."
Are you looking forward more to hitting someone different or the weather change?
"A little bit of both, I would say. Yeah, it should be nice. Hopefully a nice, sunny 75 with a cool breeze. That's what I picture at least in my head so I'm hoping for that."
S ANDRE HAL
How have things been different for you this camp?
"I'm not going to say it's easier, but it's a little more simple for me. I've been in the system for three years now and it's come along for me."
The group you have to work with has stayed the same. How much does that help?
"It helps a lot. When you have the same guys from last year, previous years, Quintin Demps, I'm playing here for my second year, Johnathan Joseph, Kareem Jackson, all those guys are veterans, so they make my job a little bit easier when I have guys like that playing with me."
Does it still sound weird to hear 'safety' next to your name?
"Not really. I'm kind of getting used to playing safety now."
When did you realize safety was a position that could work for you?
"I realized when I first got there and the coaches started trusting me. I came in the Jacksonville game and had two interceptions and it kind of clicked after that."
How good can this defense be?
"We're looking real good. We'll get J.J. (Watt) back and then we'll be one of the top."
Do you see some differences between last year and this year in what you guys can do?
"Not really. Like I said, we have the same guys coming back. We just have to get better in our communication and we'll be fine."
How is the communication for you guys back there?
"It's pretty good right now, but we can get better. The start of training camp we were kind of rusty from coming off summer break, but I think we'll be fine."
S EDDIE PLEASANT
How much fun is it to grow with guys like CB Jonathan Joseph?
"It's a great thing. J-Jo (Jonathan Joseph) is probably one of the coolest dudes I've ever met, by the far the coolest on the team. It's a great thing to still see him out there in his eleventh or twelfth year and still be able to compete and make plays like he's 21 or 22. I'm just happy for him and hopefully I'll have a few more years with him before I retire."
What are some of the things that have gotten you from being undrafted free agent to where you are today?
"I've just had great coaching. When Kub (Gary Kubiak) was here, coach VJ (Vance Joseph) was here they gave me an opportunity and great coaching. When coach OB (Bill O'Brien) came and coach (John) Butler, they just took over. I have to give it all to the coaching. Being an undrafted free agent, you know you have to do a little extra, so my hard work takes a big part of it too. I have to give it out to the coaches for giving me an opportunity."
How good can this defense be?
"We all have to do our job and communicate. Everybody can't try to do somebody else's job. Trust each other. Trust is a big thing and I feel like we can do it."
LS JON WEEKS
Is it amazing that P Shane Lechler says he's still having fun playing this game at the age of 40?
"Absolutely. Any time you can last this long in this game and as long as he has. If he wanted to, he could keep going for as long as he wanted to. He's just that good. To be where he's at is absolutely incredible. I think it's something everyone on that team wishes and hopes they can accomplish."
I'm sure it meant a lot to him that you all decorated P Shane Lechler's locker.
"We had fun. Like I said, his wife had a lot to do with that. She got a hold of my wife, they gave me the supplies and the specialists group unit and we decorated it. I think we did a pretty good job, I was pretty impressed."
How much of a hard time did you give P Shane Lechler about turning 40?
"We give him such a hard time about his age every day, it's not any different. We're having some fun with him, we are."
Did you say that you decorated his locker?
"Me as well as my other two specialists Nick Novak and Mr. (Kai'mi) Fairbairn. Mostly me of course."
Did you get the reaction out of him you hoped for?
"Yeah, we definitely caught him by surprise. It was a good one. We had a good video tape of it, but that'll stay in the locker room."
How excited are you to work against another team in a few days?
"I think it's going to be fun. During training camp, you get tired of beating on each other for a while. When you get to go beat on somebody else for a little bit, it's a good time. It'll be nice to get out of the heat a little bit but I think it's something everyone is looking forward to."
Are you more looking forward to getting out of the heat or going up against someone different?
"I think I'm more looking forward to going up against another team and kind of seeing where we're at as a unit, especially the specialists unit. Coach (Larry) Izzo has been doing some great things so it's going to be nice to see how our guys are responding to it."
Special Teams Coordinator Larry Izzo really makes himself known out on the field. What's the biggest thing he brings to the table?
"I think the biggest thing Coach (Larry) Izzo brings is experience. You have a 14-year pro who played the positions. There's not too many things you can talk to him about that he hasn't experienced himself. That really helps. He can talk to us as a player and I think that's going to take us a long way."
Larry Izzo really seems to be detail-oriented.
"More the reason he's considered one of the greatest to do the position as a specialist. He's really dove in and is teaching us a lot of great fundamentals and I really think our team is really going to benefit from it."
Have you been seeing some continuity with the return of other specialists such as K Nick Novak?
"The continuity has been great. I've had the pleasure of snapping to Shane (Lechler) now for going on four years and we got a lot of good work in with Nick (Novak) last year. Things with Nick have been good and we're working the rookie (Kai'mi Fairbairn) in. Those two guys are competing hard with each other and we'll see what happens."