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Hickey: "We're Looking To Get The Best 53-man Roster"

Posted May 24, 2014

GM Dennis Hickey speaks with reporters and discusses the importance of versatility for the players as they look to earn spots on the final 2014 roster.

(Opening Statement) – “Appreciate it. Everyone braving the warm weather. It’s rookie mini-camp so it’s a very exciting time. Obviously with moving the Draft back, it kind of changed our time table in that our rookies have been able to be integrated with our veterans over the last two weeks and have actually had eight practices with us. So it’s kind of altered Rookie Mini-Camp a little bit but we feel like we got some really good work in today. And we have a lot of players, they’re getting the opportunity, they have played from all over the country and that are not currently signed but this is an opportunity for them to showcase their skills for our coaching staff, for our scouting staff on our field. Executing our offense and it’s a great opportunity for us just to evaluate a lot more players. So we’ve been really happy with our draft picks and our signed free agents leading up to this. They are working hard. They’re in the weight room. They’re hitting the practice field and getting integrated with our veterans into our system and it’s been a really positive last couple of weeks. So with that I’ll open up to questions.”

(On when he will know the rookies are ready to contend for starting jobs) – “Well, they have to earn the trust of their teammate next to them first. These guys are working really and it’s been really exciting to see our veterans, guys like Mike Pouncey, Brandon Albert, you know mentor a lot these young guys and kind of show them the way. Just whether it would be with technical things or just walking around the building and those types of things. So that’s been real positive to see the leadership and our veterans interacting and these young players being integrated into our system. So obviously they have to play. Obviously it’s very early in the process as we go through training camp. Those things play itself out.”

(On Coach Philbin’s absence) – “He’s just taking care of a family situation.”

(On signing the draft picks) – “We’re slowly working through that. Dawn Aponte and Ryan Herman are doing an outstanding job with that. We’re excited. Each one that get more exciting and getting them all signed up and ready to go.”

(On if having two rookie starters on the offensive line makes him nervous) – “Well, I know those guys are talented players. And through our research we felt like they had the makeup that could contribute and help our team. And so obviously that’s why we drafted them. They play a lot of football. They’re both smart and they’re both tough and we’re exciting to have them. They’ve done an outstanding job so far.”

(On Billy Turner’s demeanor) – “It’s one of the first things you notice. Just the nasty, what we call it nasty demeanor. And the desire to finish blocks and finish his plays. So that was definitely … It’s a tough, tough game and you’ve got to be able to match that. We really liked his demeanor. That’s one of his strong suits.”

(On how a general manager or scouts looks past a bad Combine 40 time when evaluating a player) – “Well, like with anything, obviously we go to the Combine and we time guys. And if it doesn’t match up to their playing speed that we thought they had, then what we do is go back to tape and how fast did he play. That is the important thing to us. It is not a number on the stopwatch. It’s how fast they played with a helmet, shoulder pads and with other guys trying to cover him. That was Jarvis (Landry’s) case in that he always made plays, got open, had separation and made great catches. And that’s what he’s been doing out here for the last two weeks.”

(On if there a player Jarvis Landry reminds him of) – “These guys are their own commodities. I’m hesitant. These guys haven’t actually played a snap yet, so they are still working through that and making their own brand for themselves.”

(On if Jarvis Landry is a guy who ideally plays inside, outside and on special teams) – “Yeah, we feel like he brings that to the table: a versatile skillset to play both inside the slot and on the outside. We feel like he’s definitely going to help us on special teams.”

(On what the tryout players can show him) – “The first thing is taking what is being taught by our coaches in the classroom and translating to the field, playing fast, making plays, being coachable out here. Those are the things, obviously showing up and demonstrating a skillset that can translate to the next level. It’s a great opportunity for those guys. I know they worked really hard out here today, and we look forward to the rest of this weekend with these guys.”

(On if he might still get a veteran linebacker through free agency) – “For all positions, we’re always looking for players that can help us. We always talk about building the best 53-man roster, and it’s a non-stop process all the way through the summer, through training camp, through the first cuts, even as teams cut through the season or establish their practice squads. We’re always looking to get the best 53-man roster.”

(On how the players drafted from smaller colleges look and how they are making the adjustment to the pro level) – “Yeah, and again when we evaluate these guys we evaluate them in a vacuum. We evaluate the individual player and not the individual school. They’ve done a good job of translating. Obviously, for all of these rookies, the pro tempo, there’s a lot of adjustment adjusting to the NFL. But they’ve done an outstanding job and we’ve been really pleased with their progress so far.”

(On if the rookie camp looked a little smoother today than previous camps he has seen) – “It looked about the same. A lot of these guys got here about 24 hours ago and they had a couple of meetings. Now they are out running a very basic offense. But they’re doing a really good job. That’s a credit to them, that’s a credit to our coaching staff getting these guys up to speed and to be able to execute like that.”

(On how important it is for a rookie to have success in specific roles such as special teams) – “It is important. We always talk about earning the hat to be able to dress on gameday. That’s playing a versatile role, being able to help on special teams or playing a role whether you are a starter or key backup. Always competing for those roles, and those are hard to earn. That’s what our rookies have to do. That’s what all of the players on our 90-man roster are competing right now to do. That’s what we want, the competitive environment, competing to earn those hats to dress on Sunday.”

(On Arthur Lynch and if he is more of a blocking or route-running tight end) – “He can do both. Obviously, that’s one of the things we like about him that he can block but he can also run routes, catch the ball. He’s a really smart player, has had good production there at Georgia, and he’s done a good job out here. We feel like he brings both to the table. Really in our offense and most NFL offenses, you have to bring both to the table to be a significant contributor.”

(On how Arthur Lynch will work within the new offense) – “He’ll be doing both. He’ll be running routes, playing a role on third downs, playing a role in rundowns, but you’ve got to be able to do both.”

(On if Jordan Tripp working at middle linebacker is where he envisions Tripp playing or if that is just where he playing this camp) – “Obviously with a lot of our players this is the time to experiment. Jordie has experimented at a couple of different positions. You are talking about a guy who is really passionate about football. He’s been meeting, catching up, learning the defense and learning multiple positions, which is a credit to him. The more you can do in this league, the better you are and the more roles you can play.”

(On which of the draftees have return skills or intrigues him as a returner) – “There are a lot of guys that have those skills, and that’s what we’re out here doing. And just kind of further investigating. It’s one thing to do it at the college level. It’s another thing to do it at the NFL level. That’s what our coaches are working with these guys. There’s been multiple opportunities, but again these guys will have opportunities as we go through the preseason.”

(On if Jarvis Landry can return on punts and kickoffs) – “Yes.”

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