OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR DOUG PEDERSON
Q: What is Albert Wilson doing differently than other rookie free agents?
PEDERSON: “We had him all the way back at rookie camp, so he’s been in our system now for a few months. He’s a smart kid so he picks up the terminology really well and he understands really how to play the game. With being smart and understanding how to play, you can see him making plays on the field and that’s a great addition.”
Q: Camp is quick, how do you patchwork the offensive line quickly to become a cohesive group with some of the injuries?
PEDERSON: “Listen, we’re early in camp. The guys are kind of getting used to the pads now and injuries are going to happen early in camp. It’s good for some of those younger guys and some of the backup, free agent veteran type guys we have on our team to get in there because honestly you look at our season last year and we had moved guys around a little bit on the line and they did a nice job. They’ll continue to battle through whatever they have and as soon as we get them back on the field, whether it’s limited or not, they will be there.”
Q: What improvements have you seen from Frankie Hammond?
PEDERSON: “Frankie is again, a smart kid. He’s sharp, he’s very athletic. One thing we noticed this offseason was he got bigger, he got more physical at the line of scrimmage. Again, he showed enough last year running the service team, the look teams to say ‘hey, there’s a guy we can develop and bring in a young, talented receiver that is an enough size.”
Q: What did you think of that taunting call?
PEDERSON: “I think early in preseason and early in regular season you’re going to see those calls being made. I think, too, you get into the crunch time of the game and our officials are going to let you play a little bit. It is football. It’s a physical game. I think those plays are going to happen, they’re not going to be able to see them all, but it will be a point of emphasis from this point on.”
Q: Do you think Donald Stephenson looked back to normal today?
PEDERSON: “Yeah, it was, number one, good to get him back out here and get him working. He’s a tough kid. Physically, he’s going to be fine. Again, keep him limited, keep him coming along, but yes he did a nice job.”
Q: Is it tricky to manage those injuries?
PEDERSON: “In training camp it’s not because you’ve got so many guys and you can rotate and keep guys fresh and healthy and keep them limited.”
Q: First preseason game is in almost a week, is there anything you do differently in practice because of that?
PEDERSON: “Not really. We just keep going with our training camp schedule. We don’t deviate from that and we’re going to prepare just like a regular game and get the guys ready, but these first couple of games, we’re still evaluating our guys. We just want to see them play and it’s good for the young guys these first couple of preseason games to get them out there and on the field.”
Q: Andy doesn’t discourage a little contact with the offense. Jamaal Charles went down a few times. Do you hold your breath?
PEDERSON: “No. Listen, it’s a physical game and we’ve got to get Jamaal ready to play and he’s got to understand that he’s going to get hit and there’s a lot of these live periods. We don’t keep him in there that long obviously. As coaches, we’re smart about that. You’ve got to get him ready to go because this first preseason game he’s going to get hit and let him bounce back up.”
Q: De’Anthony Thomas had limited time in minicamp before this, what are you liking out of him so far?
PEDERSON: “He’s really worked at learning the offense. Just like you said, he was only at six practices in OTAs and then he was gone most of the time, but he’s put in the time, he’s stuck with the offense. Giving him plays, he understands. We’re not going to throw the whole book at him obviously, but use his skill set, use his talent and let him go play football.”
Q: Does he need the whole playbook with all the tricks and moves he can do?
PEDERSON: “Nobody needs the whole book honestly. Once we get to the regular season, everything becomes game-plan specific. If he can learn however many plays we want to give him, whatever it is. He learns them and can go play.”
Q: Are his unique skills a matter of figuring out what you can do with him or is he like any other player in that regard?
PEDERSON: “Well, this is the time. Training camp is the time to figure out what we can and can’t do with guys like that. You saw today some of the runs and different things that he had that are definitely special. We’re going to keep exploring that as part of the offensive staff, as a coordinator and put him in the best possible situation.”
QB ALEX SMITH
Q: What have you seen from De’Anthony Thomas so far?
SMITH: “I don’t want to get into comparing; he’s certainly his own guy. I think he’s done a great job coming in. It was a limited time – it was a tough offseason for him. It was hard, really only having a few days. He’s done a nice job coming in, we ask a lot of him – moving him around and doing a lot of different things with him. It was fun today to get to see him in live ball make some plays.”
Q: We’re a month away from the season, is there a part of you that wants to get the contract extension done so it won’t be a distraction?
SMITH: “I think you get to the point where, either way, you want it to stop being a distraction. You guys know how I feel about this and it’s the truth. You’re going to get to a point where – and I’m there – you’re going to cross the line where it’s just football from here on out. I’m done not only talking about it with you guys, but even behind the scenes as well. We talk about eliminating distractions and that’s a part of it, the focus needs to be on ball.”
Q: Have you settled on a date where you won’t talk about the contract anymore?
SMITH: “No, (there is) no hard line. At some point, mentally, it will come from me where it’s over and let’s just focus on the season.”
Q: What’s the biggest thing you are seeing in camp out of A.J. Jenkins and Kyle Williams?
SMITH: “I think they’ve both had a great camp so far, both had a good offseason. You’re talking about two guys with a ton of speed and ability and they’re making a lot of good use out of it. Our whole receiver crew I think has done an excellent job and had a great offseason. They’ve kept it going in camp with the pads on. Those guys come out and battle every single day. They get a lot of tough looks; they come out prepared and make a lot of plays.”
Q: Does it help having previous chemistry with Jenkins and Williams?
SMITH: “Yeah, in the sense that you get to know their body language, you get comfortable seeing what they’re doing. Having that history with them, especially Kyle for a few years there, it’s easy for him stepping in and seeing that stuff.”
Q: It’s been like musical chairs on the offensive line in camp; what do you do to help some of the guys along who have not seen game action?
SMITH: “I think it’s great work for those guys. To be totally honest, that’s usually how every season is. That’s the nature of playing offensive line in the NFL. It’s tough, it’s physical, guys get banged up and it is a little bit of musical chairs. Guys have to know different positions, guys have to be versatile. You can only have so many on the roster; you can only dress so many on gameday. Guys have to be able to play different positions. Injuries are going to happen, guys get banged up, it’s part of the deal. It’s good work for us and during camp it’s the same way. I think it’s only a good thing.”
Q: Is it too early to get a sense of how the offense feels?
SMITH: “It’s tough to even summarize, we’re still in early camp here, so we’re not even thinking about that. Coaches have thrown a lot at us as far as instillations go in volume and I think guys have done a great job of handling it. As the days go here in week two, things start to compound a lot. It will be important for guys to stay in it, stay in the details as the volume continues to increase.”
Q: Around week two or week three is where you will be able to figure where you are at?
SMITH: “Yes, and I don’t even know if that’s the mindset of camp. It’s literally just keep your head down and plug away. You kind of make the most of each day. I think once camp is done, the coaches can reflect and do all that stuff for us. It’s literally come out here and compete every day. I think right now is a little early.”
Q: What difference does a year make in the offense?
SMITH: “It’s tough to even answer in this amount of time. It’s not close. I don’t want to compare it. Last year was year one, we had a lot of new faces coming together for the first time. This year we obviously have a full year under our belts. There are some new faces, but we had a great offseason, especially from my perspective as a quarterback. It’s tough to even compare.”
OL DONALD STEPHENSON
Q: You’re one of the few people that can have your family come up at any point, how neat is it to be able to have your family here?
STEPHENSON: “It’s cool, especially after those tough days, you can come to the side and see them. My brother’s over there right now, so it’s a good feeling.”
Q: In years past, if Donald Stephenson got hurt, it might’ve not been a big deal; you’re starting this year, is it more of an emphasis for you to get healthy and get back on the field because this team needs you?
STEPHENSON: “Yea, I know my team needs me, so I did double treatment to get back on the field. I got back faster than I thought I would, and I’m proud of it.”
Q: You just got rolled up on, Donald? Is that what it was?
STEPHENSON: “Yea, I just got rolled up on.”
Q: Are you one hundred percent, eighty percent? Where would you say you are at?
STEPHENSON: “I’m feeling good.”
Q: Donald, how much of an impact has (LeCharles) Bentley’s academy had on you?
STEPHENSON: “A lot. A lot so far, I feel stronger, I’m playing with better leverage, I know the offense now so I can play quicker and faster.”
Q: What’s it like being the old man in this offensive line?
STEPHENSON: “Year three right? Really, we call Rodney (Hudson) the old man, but Jeff (Allen) and I have to take on that role as leaders, and if they need us to do it, we have to do it.”
Q: Is it one of those things where you blink and guys like BA (Branden Albert) and Geoff (Schwartz) leave, and suddenly, that’s how quick of a turnover it can be?
STEPHENSON: Yea, because they were the old vets last year, and they left, and now it’s me, Rodney (Hudson), and Jeff (Allen) are kind of the older guys, so we have to bring guys along. BA (Branden Albert) and Rodney (Hudson) did a good job of letting us know that me and Jeff (Allen) would have to step into that role.”
Q: What did they say to you to kind of pass the torch?
STEPHENSON: It was just kind of just unspoken. Me and Jeff (Allen) knew when BA (Branden Albert) left; we would just have to step it up a notch.”
RB/ST DE’ANTHONY THOMAS
Q: It seems like some guys are trying to get some hits on you, now. They’re trying to wipe you out, but you always bounce right back up, is that something you do consciously or what?
THOMAS: “Well, I feel like coming from Los Angeles, I always had a big heart, and that’s just going to stay with me, and I just love the game of football.”
Q: Is there a part of you that always wants to show those big guys that you don’t care if you’re 5-8?
THOMAS: “Like I said, it’s all about the heart, and just going out there and competing and just having confidence.”
Q: It seems like the coaches are starting to put a little more confidence in you, you’re getting more involved out there in the offense, are you starting to feel that a little bit?
THOMAS: “Yea, any opportunity I get out there to compete and perform, I just go out there and work hard.”
Q: You had a good day today, were you just feeling it?
THOMAS: “I’ve just been adapting, just getting used to the style of play in the NFL, and I’m just getting used to it every day.”
Q: Quarterbacks talk all the time about how difficult the verbiage is in this offense; for you, personally, is it a difficult offense to understand?
THOMAS: “There’s just a lot of details, you just have to know your assignments and be on the same page as the offense, as far as footwork with the quarterbacks and things like that; you just have to be on the same page and just be patient.”
Q: How are things going with Alex Smith?
THOMAS: “It’s going great. Alex is a great quarterback and a great leader for this team, and he’s my motivator right now. Just seeing him go out there and work hard just makes me want to work even harder.”
Q: Does he talk to you a lot, does he give you a lot of advice, what does he say to you out there?
THOMAS: “He just smiles, and he’ll notice when you’re working hard, and that’s my motivator.”
QB AARON MURRAY
Q: Is it better when you look and the film and nitpick before the coaches give it to you?
MURRAY: “Well, I look at different things. And this is why we get a little more time (off). When we are in meetings, we only have a certain amount of time to go through the film so sometimes we are rushed. So this way I can get in and make sure I can see everything as long as I need to and make sure I know what I am doing and just try to be perfect.”
Q: Are you ready for the first preseason game to show what you can do?
MURRAY: “Yeah, I feel great right now, I feel ready. I feel very comfortable with the playbook and I am excited – first time to get in Arrowhead Stadium and play. First NFL experience so I am looking forward to it.”
Q: Where would you say you are now compared to when you first started back in rookie camp?
MURRAY: “So much farther along. Just the ability to get into the huddle and be able to confidently call a play. That was the first test when I first got in. It is a very wordy offense so to get in there and call a play was challenging at first so just to be able to go in there right now. I have had really only a minor couple of times I’ve missed a play call. So that feels good.”
Q: How different is it calling plays in this offense as opposed to back in college?
MURRAY: “Very different. We were in no huddle my last two years so it was just call out the protection, and set hut and go. It is a lot different but it is just repetition.”
Q: How many words are in a wordy call?
MURRAY: “Anywhere from 15-20. Yeah, it is up there sometimes so it can get wordy, so you’ve just got to keep practicing.”
Q: How do you memorize that?
MURRAY: “You get better when you understand the concept of the play. At first I really didn’t understand the play, so I am just hearing the play from coach, I’m getting in the huddle and pretty much saying what he said to me. Just trying to memorize – if I give you the numbers, 5, 10, 25, you have to memorize them and say them back to me. That’s what I was doing. Now when I get the play from him, I can see the play in my head, visualize what is going on, and that way when I get in the huddle, it is not just memorizing, it is just resaying what is in my mind what I’m seeing in the plays so it makes it easier.”
Q: Are you worried the play clock will run out with the long play calls?
MURRAY: “No, we’ve been good so far. But it is continuing to work on them every day.”
Q: Can you give us an example?
MURRAY: “No, I can’t give away plays. It is a lot, just trust me, it is a lot. Maybe if we get mic’d up for a game you guys can see what it’s about.”
Q: What do you think of your weapons in this offense?
MURRAY: “They’ve been great so far. Especially I have been working a lot with the young guys and they have been willing to just work their tails off, compete every day in practice, and then after practice come out there and throw with me, and work with me, and making sure we are on the same time.”
Q: What about Frankie Hammond Jr.?
MURRAY: “He has been dominating. I think he is one of the top two or three guys so far this camp with the amount of catches he’s had. So he’s had a fabulous camp. I don’t think he really has dropped any balls and he definitely looks good out there. When we watch film as quarterbacks we look at the receivers and he is definitely one of the guys every day that stands out to us.”
Q: Who else has stood out?
MURRAY: “I can tell you a lot of them. De’Anthony is looking good. He had a really good day today. Number one, being able to move him around is pretty fun. Albert (Wilson) has been – I think Albert has been number one for catches in this whole camp. So Albert has had a tremendous camp. Just looks so smooth in his routes, able to really create some space for us and make some friendly throwing positions.”
Q: How about Mark Harrison?
MURRAY: “Great too. He is a big boy. Big, big, boy. I know I’ve gotten him a couple of fade balls one-on-one, just throw it up to him and he is able to use his size and his strength to go up there and catch the ball. So he has done a great job doing that so far?”
Q: Is there anyone in the secondary you are staying away from?
MURRAY: “No, I trust my guys, I trust my receivers that they are going to get in the right spots, and I have to trust myself that what I see out there on the field, I am going to go. If the safety is cheating one way, obviously I am not going to go to there. But maybe if I am going against the ones eventually, guys like Eric Berry back there at safety, I’d be a little worried about him.”
Q: What have you seen from Phillip Gaines so far?
MURRAY: “Great in space and just great overall athlete. His ability to just find the ball when the ball is in the air has been just tremendous. There’s a couple of plays where he’s one way and then suddenly just flips his hips and is able to get a fingertip on the ball or things like that. He works extremely well in space and is also another guy that has looked good so far.”
Q: Is this offense a lot about timing and rhythm right now?
MURRAY: “Oh yeah it is. It’s all about matching up your footwork with the routes, understanding what routes versus certain defenses. The more reps you get, the better you get. I’m not getting a ton of reps right now, but when I do, I have to take full advantage of them.”
Q: What’s the best advice a veteran has given you that you can apply out there?
MURRAY: “Just to learn and ask questions. I’m asking constantly. Asking Alex and Chase questions because those guys have been in the league a long time. They’ve seen a lot, been against a lot of defenses, very knowledgeable. So just asking them all the time, ‘why did you throw it here, what are you looking at, what do you think that defense was, what should I have done?’ So just continue to ask questions and just pick their brains a little bit.”
Q: The theme this year seems to be—finish games. You did that a lot in college. Do you think you can provide that for this team?
MURRAY: “Definitely, We played in the SEC, the majority of games are tight. They are very close there down to the end. We had three games last year that came down to the last second drive. That mentality we called ‘Georgia finishing the drill.’”
Q: Are you always carrying Chase’s pads there?
MURRAY: “They just started this a few days ago. It’s being a rookie, got to do that kind of stuff. It’s fine with me.”
Q: Is that the only thing as a rookie you’ve had to do for him?
MURRAY: “Pretty much. There’s really no hazing at all. Guys are pretty cool. Coach Reid’s not really down with all that craziness so he doesn’t really allow it to happen.”
Q: Have you talked to your brother at all?
MURRAY: “Yes, I have talked to my brother. I was waiting for that question. There it is. I missed the show Monday night because we were in meetings. So I still need to go get on iTunes or something and watch it. He’s excited. He’s very happy. It was fun watching him when I did get the opportunity to watch him on TV. I’ve got a new sister-in-law so I’m happy.”
Q: How long have you known?
MURRAY: “I’ve known for three months now. The finale happened the week of the draft. We knew that Friday of the draft. We were watching the game and we get a call from them, ‘hey she picked me and I proposed, we’re engaged.’ That was definitely an exciting weekend. He gets engaged and then the next day I get drafted. A lot of excitement going on in the Murray household.”