Dirk Koetter: "Best Practice of the Year"

Head coach Dirk Koetter spoke to the media during Training Camp about Monday being one of the best practices of the year

(On having cornerback Brent Grimes back on the field)

“Well, we want Brent Grimes out there. He’s our best cover guy, so it’s great to have Brent out there.”

(On the fight that broke out in practice today)

“Yeah, we had a fight. Big deal. I mean, it’s football. That was one of our best practices of the year right there. It just didn’t end on a positive note from the fight standpoint, but you’re dreaming if you think that stuff’s not going to happen in football. I don’t think twice about that. It’s over and what happened, happened. It’s going to happen again sometime. That’s just the way it is.”

(On if there will be rules and regulations for practices with the Titans)

“Yeah, we have a whole list of them. [Tennessee] Coach [Mike] Vrabe and I have talked about them just like [Jacksonville Coach Doug] Marrone and I did last year. You know when you’ve got 180 guys on two fields, their tempers are going to flair. These guys are competing against each other. They’re competing for jobs. Our general policy is that we send guys in if they fight and we were close to the end today, so we didn’t have too many plays left. That was just the way it ended. Like I said, that was one of our best practices of the year right there.”

(On what Koetter liked about today’s practice)

‘We had unbelievable energy on both sides. Coming off a day off sometimes these guys come out here and drag. The weather might have helped a little, but I thought our energy was excellent all day. You’re always going to coach execution when you’re working with this many guys, but if they have good energy and they’re talking and communicating with each other, it’s going to help our team get better.”

(On the red zone pass drills)

“Any drill where there’s no pass rush should lean to the offense and we did it as a half line when it was down on this end and then we did it 7-on-7 at the other end. The offense got the better of it down here. The 7-on-7 I’d say probably the defense got the better of it. When we did it in 11-on-11 I would say the defense probably got the better. We had a lot of inside-the-10 work today in the red zone. Good work – both sides good work.”

(On if  tackle Demar Dotson’s injury was worse than what they thought)

“No, he’s right on track. He could’ve played last week if we needed him to. We don’t need a guy that’s in his 10th or 11th year to play in preseason. Look around the league, there were a lot of veteran players that didn’t play in preseason one.”

(On if he knows if Dotson will play on Saturday)

“Yeah, I do know, but I’ll let you in on that a little later. Dot’s progressing fine. We’re easing him in as I said. He’s going in 11-on-11. He’s out there right  in the middle of it. I’m very confident that Dot’s good to go.”

(On the competition at right guard)

“It’s ongoing just like battles for a lot of positions are ongoing. They’re both working hard, and we’ll see how it goes.”

(On safety Justin Evans practicing in the nickel position)

“What happens a lot of times is guys have to move by necessity of injuries and that’s the case. Once you get to the point where we’re down multiple corners right now in practice and we’re down two nickels – two of our three nickels are out of practice right now so no one feels sorry for you. You’ve got to adjust. It gives Justin a chance to play a new position which will only help him understand the entire defense more. Also, we think Justin’s a playmaker and that gets him closer to the action. He got a lot of snaps at nickel and since we’re working with Tennessee this week, he may be playing some nickel down in Tennessee.”

(On how much the offensive line has improved with the addition of center Ryan Jensen)

“Well he’s picking up everything great. How much better we are? We won’t be able to judge that until we get to the real season. We like how he’s working. He’s picking it up fine. He likes to be out front. It lets us get Ali [Marpet] back at guard. Ali and Donovan [Smith] are working well on that left side. Much like the question about Dot, I’ll say it’s where it should be and not behind, not ahead – just where it should be for where we’re at right now.”

(On which running back throughout training camp has shown the most improvement)

“Probably the most improvement, I would say from Dare [Ogunbowale] number 44. We had him for a week on the practice squad last year. He wasn’t with us in OTAs and he’s only been with us for a couple of weeks. From an improvement standpoint, I’m really impressed with how he’s picked it up, how he does at running back, and how he plays on special teams. All of those guys are doing fine.”

(On if the team will play with a mix of running backs or play with one main running back)

“We’ll see how it works out. We’re not really leaning in any direction right now. We’ll see how it works out. Peyton’s [Barber] our starter, and we’re going to definitely use Ronald Jones and take advantage of what he can do. We do have the two veteran backs behind him. Again, we have three more preseason games. Let’s just let it sort out a little bit more. We could go either of those ways though. We’ll see how it sorts out.”

(On Barber becoming a “complete” running back)

Peyton could be a three-down player if we asked him to. The reason you don’t see a whole lot of three-down backs in the NFL is because it’s hard on them. It’s hard.  They get tired. They take a pounding. I don’t think any position gets hit more and gets hit harder than running back in the NFL. Lineman of course, are hitting each other every play, but usually when those backs get hurt, usually somebody’s got a 10- yard running start when they hit them. I do not think that we will be going with a three-down back just because I think it’s very hard to do. I think Those guys that are that in the league are really on an elite status.”

(On the addition of cornerback De’Vante Harris)

“Well you’re always looking to improve your roster any way you can. When he became available… We have a need at corner right now. We had signed two the day before, and we just traded them out because on paper, a better guy became available, and Jason [Licht] went and got him.”

(On the importance of offensive lineman Evan Smith)

“Evan is like an offensive line coach on the field. He helps all of the young guys. When we do our two-field work, he’s over there with the second and third group. The fact that he can play all three inside spots and play them well, we’re fortunate to have Evan. I think a lot of teams look for that guy that’s like a sixth man in basketball that can play multiple spots. Right now, Evan is that guy for us but if Evan was in there starting at any of the three inside, we would be fine.”

(On if there is a message he must send to his players about fighting)

Yes. Don’t fight.”

(On if that is the only message about fighting)

“Do I need to be any clearer than that?”

(On if he has a policy to remove players from practice if they fight)

“That’s correct.”

(On his confidence in short-yardage situations)

“We had a few third-and-one plays out there today. We actually were adding our short yardage package. We worked on it in the helmets off period, and we had a couple worked in practice. It only comes up about one percent of all your play calls, but obviously that one percent is very important. Ask me again in two weeks when we get a chance to get it all put together.”

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