Detroit Lions: Jim Caldwell’s Comments to Open Training Camp

Oct 30, 2015; Chandler
Oct 30, 2015; Chandler /

Did you miss JIm Caldwell’s opening press conference as the Detroit Lions reported for training camp? Here is what he had to say.

Jim Caldwell met with the media for a report day press conference as the Detroit Lions convened for training camp yesterday. Here is what he had to say.

On if the three players on PUP are long term injuries: “You know, it just depends. Everybody is a little bit different. We’ll kind of see how that works itself out.”

On what WR Anquan Boldin will add to the offense:  “He’s more obviously a guy that gives you a tremendous amount of experience along with great leadership and he’s maybe one of the best competitors I’ve ever been around in terms of just flat out competing against individuals on game day. He’s just had a knack of setting a great tone. He fights for the ball. He makes tough catches. He does all the little things right. He’s also obviously a guy that’s going to get after you on the block. He’s going to add a few things to it. We’re going to kind of move him around a little bit. He may play some inside, some outside but we’ll kind of work it out and get him fit within the system.”

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On young players in the receiving corps stepping up with WR Calvin Johnson gone: “It’s really a very, very competitive situation. Obviously, Marvin (Jones) and Golden (Tate) within that crew and we just talked about Anquan (Boldin) but also, TJ Jones has done a great job during the course of the spring. There are a number of guys out there that’s going to be able to step up and I think do a real good job for us. (Ryan) Spadola had a really good spring. Andre Caldwell’s a guy that has had some experience and background. So I think between all of those guys, there’s some names obviously I didn’t mention, but one of the things we are going to have is real good, solid, healthy competition at every single positon. It’s going to be a lot of fun out there in terms of letting this thing kind of play itself out given the fact that it is going to be so competitive.”

On if everyone has moved on from Johnson’s retirement: “Every year, obviously you’re going to have some change just in terms of your team is going to change somewhat in April about 30 percent. Some of it’s going to be easy transitions and some of it’s going to be difficult. But our job is to overcome any tough situations that we may face. Right now I think we have a good, solid group of guys who got have their focus on trying to get better each and every day and can’t wait to get out there to begin that process.”

On his confidence in the offensive line: “Yeah, one of the things you’re going to notice is that we’re bigger and stronger. It’s going to be more competitive. We have a couple spots we’re going to be fairly young. But I think in the grand scheme of things if we can keep them all healthy, keep them battled and fighting, we’re going to come out of there with a really big unit up front. I’m certainly convinced of that.”

On what can be done to accelerate the chemistry of a young offensive line: “You know, we have to use the time we’ve been allotted. You know the league mandates that we utilize a number of days and so many hours in a day, etcetera, so much time on the field, and we’re going to use every single minute of every single day  that we’re allotted to try to make certain that every position, not just our offensive line, is going to improve. We’re committed to that. I think our guys are as well. I think we have good leadership in that room. I think we have a lot of competitors in that room. I think it’s going to be fun.”

On if T Taylor Decker will stay at left tackle during camp: “He may play either one, right or left, but he’s at left right now. We won’t get into any depth chart issues until we get later on, when we approach the games and things of that nature. But the spot he’s in right now is left and he certainly can play some place else.”

On if this is QB Matthew Stafford’s team now: “I think he’s been the same in the sense of leadership. He’s always been out front. He’s always been one of those guys that’s kind of the take-charge guy. He’s certainly been elevating his play year in and year out with us. I think you’re going to continue to see him do the same. He’s a very, very strong leader. He’s one of our members of our leadership counsel. And without question there’s a sense of responsibility that he’s taken upon his shoulders and I think you can see it in the way in which he’s preparing. Even though it’s not any different than the way he has in the past, but I just sense he’s relishing his role that he has and doesn’t shy away from it.”

On specific examples Stafford has shown of embracing his role: “That’s what I said, he’s not any different than he’s been in terms of how he works because he’s always worked. He’s always done little extra things with the guys, working out after practice. Any time that they’ve had to work together he finds a way to get together with those guys. He’s more vocal in terms of making sure certain guys are in the right spots doing the things they’re supposed to do. I think he’s sensed a lot of things in that regard that he’s coming along.”

On his appreciation for offseason commitment and participation from the team compared to other years: “It’s been no different. The guys have really worked extremely hard. They’ve been diligent. That’s the great thing I think about this group is that we have good people who want to win and want to be good at what they do. When you have that kind of attitude and involvement everything else will kind of fall in place.”

Jan 3, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) during the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 3, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) during the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports /

On if the bar has been raised statistically for Stafford after his 2015 season finish: “I think it’s important that you understand that we raise it in every single category all the way across the board. So no one is certainly excluded from that. The quarterback position is no different. So you want better play than we had last year. The key is to keep getting better in every single phase and some areas we have got to make two steps forward rather than one. But I think as I said numerous times about him, that he’s just going to keep continuing to climb and get better. And also you have to understand that the system which we’re running is new. Midseason we put it in, spring we had a chance to kind of go through it and work with it. There’s always little nuances and it takes awhile to get it down pat, but he is moving extremely fast within the system and getting better all the time.”

On the health of RB Ameer Abdullah after shoulder surgery: “Well, obviously he’s not on PUP (Physically Unable to Perform List) so that’ll tell you one thing right there, right. So, he’s come along good, I’ll see how it goes.”

On any lingering issues with Abdullah’s shoulder: “You know we typically don’t talk about anything normally with injuries and things of that nature and we’re certainly going to continue that particular mode of operation here for the remainder of the year as well. ”

On if RB Joique Bell left an opening for a short yardage back to fill: “I can say this, we have a lot of candidates. Every guy we have I think is a guy who can certainly take care of business in that area, who can get their shoulders squared, get downhill, find a crack and get in it. And we work all of them at that phase. We’ll just kind of make a determination on who is the guy we can do that more often with, but everybody has to do it. And every back that we have has got to certainly be capable in that particular area.

On how things have changed under Executive Vice President and General Manager Bob Quinn’s management: “Certainly, there’s a lot of things that have changed, just in terms of our approach to things from a personnel standpoint, and things of that nature. You know, it’s been outstanding. He’s been in this system for 16 years and has had as much success as anybody in the National Football League. So, I think there are a lot of things that are different in that particular area, and for the better, there’s no question about it. We certainly benefit from it.”

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On the NFL’s new concussion protocol: “You’re making me feel old when you say that, I’m just kidding. You know I think the league has always been concerned about the health, welfare and safety of our players. Each and every year they look at it thoroughly, they make recommendations or changes, there have been several rule changes to kind of help in that area, and they’ll continue to move in that area until we get it to the point where obviously, you know, it’s where we want it. I think that’s first and foremost extremely important—and it’s always been important. It’s not something that just all of the sudden happened, it’s always been important and it continues to be such.”

On the idea of eliminating kickoffs for safety purposes: “I know there’s times where you guys like to get into hypothesis and look off into the horizon, my focus is on this football team and where we are. We got a set of rules to work with, you know what I mean, and we’re going to work with those rules. I think often times people get distracted about so many other things that really, at this point in time, we can’t do anything about. We talk a lot in the spring when the season’s over. We know there’s a lot of smart men involved doing all the research behind the pros and cons, and we get a chance to weigh in at the end when the season’s over and at that time we’ll discuss it. Whatever the rules are, we’re going to play by them.”

On one key NFC North opponent this year: “Absolutely, you just named them (Chicago, Green Bay, Minnesota) and when you look at it, that’s the way it is. You know, they’re all teams that have very, very fine defenses. They do a great job—all of them have a very good quarterback, they can run the ball at you. They can do so many things extremely well, so yeah, that’s our challenge. I mean, every single game in our division is tough. That’s what makes it so special.”

On his job security under Quinn: “And you probably know my answer to that too. I’ll go back and I’m going to tell you once again, since 1978 when I first started coaching, way back whenever it was, coaches only had a one year contract. That’s what I worked on for 24 years. I’ve been trained to look at that—you know, your job is secure as the last game. And I’m not going to change that philosophy. So, that’s the way I’ve always looked at it and it doesn’t matter what’s been said, what you think, you know that whole process. My focus is strictly on our football team. I’m not worried about that stuff.”

On his expectations for the Lions this year: “We’re going to be back. That’s the realistic expectation. We’re going to be a better football team. We have to be. But I think we had certainly the prospects of a win-total, because of the fact that we have a real good competition at every spot. I think we have real fine leadership as well. So, if we add those two things together, talent and leadership, that’s what I think we’ve got to work through.”

On the defensive line depth: “We’re kind of young in some spots, but we have talent. Tough and hard-nosed rugged guys. Were excited about getting our team and getting some of these guys in pads. We’ve still got a couple days here where we’re running around in shorts, when we have the opportunity to put the pads on things will start to settle down. There’s always going to be some that you think that were maybe so-so without pads. They really rise to the top and you’ll find that some are just the opposite, so we’re excited about that opportunity.”

On a specific position competition he’s most excited about: “Take a look at our roster. You’ll see that every single spot has really good competition. Sometimes it may not be the first-string guy, but the guys that are lined up behind them, there’s competition in some cases. But in most cases it’s all the way across the board. It’s a good, healthy situation. Any time you have this kind of depth that we have, it makes for a real good foundation to be built. Just determine the guys that know the system, understand its function, the rhythm. It forces their brethren to be much, much better day in and day out.”

On the developing connection between QB Matthew Stafford and Offensive Coordinator  Jim Bob Cooter: “Sure, I think I do see obviously a lot of improvements to be made. Getting very, very familiar with the system of which we’re running, I do know one thing, it’s not something that just happens overnight. The two of them have I think a pretty unique synergy, and I think Brian Callahan comes in with the same type. You can tell those three guys have worked really well together. He has appropriate knowledge and background of the system as well, so I think you’ll see them continue to improve. I think Matthew (Stafford) is better than he was at the end of last year right now. I continue to say that I think he’s certainly going to continue to improve.”

On the precautions taken to protect players from the heat: “We obviously look at those days. There’s going to be some hot days, but I think that’s good. You have to make certain that you do all the necessary things, make sure the guys are hydrated, take care of the bodies, those kinds of things. The weather, I think you have to get acclimated this time of year. I love hot camps. We haven’t had very hot camps here the last couple years, I think we’ve had maybe six days total that have been above 90 degrees, somewhere in that area in the last two camps. So hopefully we’ll have a few more of those, and the reason why we need them is because certainly if we end up playing a game where it’s very, very warm and we certainly don’t want to get acclimated during game time. So we’ll have an opportunity to get out there and work. That’s why we also practice most of the time, not every time, but most of the time, we practice at three o’clock in the afternoon. Usually between three or four it’s the hottest time of the day.  If they can function and practice in that kind of weather then they can function and practice any place, anywhere, any time.”

On the progression he’s seen so far in Stafford: “The offense, he’s (reporter) kind of asking me about the synergy between me and Jim Bob (Cooter) and (Brian) Callahan kind of in that mix. That’s the first indication you hear, how quickly he’s able to register what he sees, and function and react to it. Every day I see him get better and better and better. We had a chance last week with quarterbacks and we had some rookies in to see him operate and throw. You can see it’s a bit more comfortable. We’re still adding new things as we go along, this is an offense that has a wide breadth to it. So that will certainly be going on all through training camp.”

On whether Stafford is more comfortable with last season or this season’s offense: “I can’t make that comment. All I know is he’s a very smart guy.  He adapts quickly and he takes on great challenges. You can ask him that question, I think he’ll be around here shortly. I wouldn’t think he’d make a comparison between the two, but if he does, you can discuss that with him.”

On if the team is deeper than in the past: “Well, we haven’t gotten to the 53 (man roster) yet. When we get to that 53 then that’s a pertinent question and I’ll answer accordingly. But until then we have a lot of work to do. We have 90 out there now, guys on the roster. We’ve got a lot of work to do. Like I said, there’s going to be some guys will rise, some guys will sink a little bit when we add the pads on to it. It’s tough to make those kind of determinations. You can say, yeah, you have depth. You can see the numbers up there, but when I talk about football depth, you don’t really get a sense of that until you get the pads on and you start playing.”

On making changes to his approach on the exhibition play: “Obviously, we’re doing something a little bit different. We have a scrimmage against Pittsburgh that will certainly give us an opportunity to put some guys to the test and get a little bit more work. In terms of our preseason games, we’ll look at those depending upon what happens during that scrimmage, week to week we’ll make a determination. There may be some changes by position, but overall philosophy probably not.”

On handling players recently cleared from injury: “Everybody’s different. Not everybody is exactly the same in terms of where they are from a physical standpoint. We take those things case by case.”

On Quinn bringing him back as Head Coach: “I can just tell you, I love working. I think I’ve mentioned before, certainly I don’t take it for granted because more
often than not a change occurs in that situation. I’m appreciative of it, but also I’m going to earn it. I’ll take advantage of it. We’re excited about an opportunity to keep going. I’m still a young man, you know. I ain’t lookin for my successor. I remember, matter of fact, there was a time during college football where everybody had these coaches in waiting and so it was kind of a common. I think Texas had done it and so many other teams had done it. Jimbo (Fisher) had done it down at Florida State and all these guys had coaches in waiting. And somebody asked Coach Paterno, they said, ‘Hey, when are you going to place your successor there?’ and his response was in his way of talking was, ‘My successor hasn’t been born yet.’ So saying his successor hasn’t been born yet, in my particular case let’s not count me out yet. I got some good years ahead of me.”

On if Boldin has gotten better with age: “He’s a rare guy. There’s no question about that. There’s not many guys that still can be able to put up the same numbers that he can year in and year out. But I think that also says a lot about him in terms of how he takes care of his body. He’s one of those guys that’s forever been in just peak condition, worked at it consistently. He’s got a narrow focus. Obviously, he’s worked within the community, his family and does a great job in taking care of the things he needs to do from a football standpoint to keep him in peak condition. A good guy, there’s a lot to him. He’s a quiet man. I think you guys are going to get an opportunity to talk with him in the next day or so.”

On how his previous relationship with Boldin influenced him to sign with Lions: “I think it really boils down to the guys look at the entire situation. Obviously, contracts are big for them in terms of making a decision and I think they look at everything. I wouldn’t say he weighed that any more than any other coaches he’d be dealing with. They’re all good coaches, all good people. I believe he may have had some relationship with maybe some guys on the staffs. But we’re happy he’s here, let me put it that way.”

On if he pays attention to preseason predictions: “I haven’t yet, don’t think I’m going to start now.”

On if he’ll go for two-point conversion earlier in games: “I think it just kind of depends on the situation. If we think we have some really, really good play in the situation that we know has a great chance of scoring we may do so as well. I think everyone in the League has began to expand their two point play package. Typically you go into a game you may have two, I think now people are going into a game with five and six because of the fact we just talked about. There are going to be more people going for two in different situations. So even if you are the team, you want to play conservatively, your opposition could force you to. If they go for two and they make it then the score differential is going to force you to make a decision in that regard. So yeah, we all have to be ready for increased activity in that area.”

On if there’s a set number in mind for receivers who make the 53-man roster: “I think you look at your entire roster and just sometimes who knows who that guy is going to be, and I think oftentimes what position that’s going to be. You want to be able to keep as many good football players as you possibly can. So we kind of weigh that out as we get down the stretch.”

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On if the conditioning tests have been conducted: “We have some, yes.”

On if he was pleased with the shape players have come back in: “You can tell our guys have been working. Let me put it that way. They’ve been working.”

*All quotes provided by the Detroit Lions.