ANDERSON, Ind. – Things have begun to quiet down for Ted Monachino's defense.
While he tries to build defensive line depth, find a starting inside linebacker and look to new faces at the safety position, Monachino believes he's found an early surprise at Training Camp.
On Sunday, Monachino met the media and addressed his unit and personnel:On maximizing the pass rushing of Robert Mathis:
"Well, Robert is one of our best football players. We're going to have him on the football field as often as he can handle. We are going to continue to use him in both base and sub on first and second down and on third. So based on the situation, based on the rotation, based on the number of reps he has each game, we'll try to manage those guys because they deserve it, they've earned it. You can't run the wheels off of Robert Mathis because he wants to play at his best at all times. We are going to manage all three of those guys – he and Erik (Walden) and Trent (Cole). We aren't keeping Robert back and we aren't reigning him in in any way."
On T.Y. McGill taking advantage of opportunities with Henry Anderson and Arthur Jones not quite ready:
"Last night in our staff meeting I had mentioned that the pleasant surprise is some of those down-the-line and depth defensive line guys. I think they've done a great job of not necessarily playing to their dominant trait. We know what T.Y.'s dominant trait is – he's very quick and athletic and has a pass rush gene. But yes, I'm very pleased with him. I think that he and Zach Kerr, and we know what Arthur is, but even the two young guys and a couple of those veteran guys that are fighting like crazy to make this roster. We are seeing them buy into the technique. We are seeing them buy into the structure of the call. Really pleased with where they are, but I think as (Defensive Line Coach) Gary (Emanuel) continues to move forward with them in individual and from a technique standpoint, you'll only see that continue to improve."
On the development for fourth-round linebacker Antonio Morrison:
"Well, I think it's a big jump. I think that what college players tend to believe when they come into the league is that the speed of the game is so far greater than the college game and that they're going to have a hard time. What they realize after a few days is the speed of the game mentally is the difference. That's where the game is different. The game is played in feet and inches rather than in yards and 100 yards. That transition is going slowly but surely. He'll get better and better and he'll start to get a head start on some plays as soon as he starts paying really close attention to what (Linebackers) Coach (Jim) Herrmann is saying and to what DQ (D'Qwell Jackson) is doing."
On what Morrison has struggled with specifically:
"Specifically, I think just the volume of the system. I think he's got a really good feel for the language that we're talking. Sometimes I think though once you get out there on the field and you've got to put it all together with moving parts and motions and shifts and changes in calls I think that tends to catch up with young guys. But right where he is from a mental standpoint is probably where we would expect him to be after three days and going into the fourth."
On the job of Darius Butler having to slide back to safety with the injuries to Clayton Geathers and T.J. Green:
"Darius Butler is a football player defined. He's got great versatility. He's got a great mind for the game. He thinks football on and off the field. He leads from no matter what position he's playing. The safety position requires a little more communication than either the nickel or the corner position and he is a pro at that. He's very clear. He and Mike (Adams) work together very well. It doesn't matter who we put back there with Darius, we know it's going to be right and we know it's going to be communicated across the board. We know that if he has to be a thinking buddy for a young player he can handle that. So we're going to do everything that we can to make sure our best 11 (players) are on the field every situation for every down that we play."
On the progress of D'Joun Smith, last year's third-round pick:
"I think what you see out of D'Joun is you see him growing daily, you see with reps he gets better and better. You also see some rustiness because of his offseason and what he went through from an injury standpoint. But it's great to get those guys reps because we know that he's a good football player and we know that he's a good corner and we know he's an NFL-caliber corner that we can play winning football with. So all the reps we can get him, those are better. Every rep we get him moves him further down the road."
On Smith's confidence:
"I think he's a very confident kid. Sometimes I think that he gets a little bit too confident. But I keep telling him that we're going to reward some risk taking. If he plays well early in the down and takes a risk to make a play on a ball we're for that. But I also understand that he's still in a growing process. He's a guy that hasn't had a lot of reps and we need to get him more and more as we go and the more he gets the more comfortable he'll become and the slower the game will happen for him."
On the inside linebacker race between Sio Moore and Nate Irving likely starting next to D'Qwell Jackson:
"Well, we would all like to have a group of guys that we say, 'Those are our guys.' Fortunately, right now, we can say that all three of those guys are our guys. They are all playing at a starter's level. Sio and Nate each have different traits that we'll use when we can, like you said, from a matchup standpoint. One is better at one thing and the other is better at the other. But they are all renaissance football players that do a nice job at a lot of different things. So we're excited where those guys are and we have no reservations with either one of them whether they are either standing next to D'Qwell or whether they are standing out there side by side."
On his impressions of seventh-round pick Trevor Bates:
"Trevor is physical, he's explosive, he's smart, he's mature well beyond his years and he fits in the room. Yeah, sure I'm impressed with him. For a guy that was drafted in the position that he was drafted out of the University of Maine, absolutely I'm impressed with him. Now, that's not to say that he can trot out there on September 11th against the Detroit Lions and know what pro football is. We're going to have to move him forward as we go, but I think that he's going to be a fine football player in this system or in any system that he would end up in."
On the importance of corner play to allow the front seven to be able to do what they desire:
"Well, you've got to have reliable corner play. You've got to have physical corner play and both of those guys have those traits. They have a tendency, both of them, at times to go a little bit up and down and go in and out of each of those but both have dominant traits in coverage. You can't have a bunch of squat corners on your roster. Both these guys can play man, both can play zone, both can drive and break on the ball and both have excellent ball skills. So we're excited to have those two guys and there's also a great group of young guys behind them that's pushing them every day and learning from them every day. So we would hope that as we go through training camp that depth will develop into a place where they'll be a little bit interchangeable at times."