Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier
Sunday, July 29, 2018
Opening Statement: Kevin [Kearns] just informed me that it’s Christmas in July Day and (I’m wearing) the appropriate colors, so I appreciate that, Kevin. We’re back-to-back [practices using] pads, so I think all of our guys are looking forward to getting a chance to work today in pads. We’re going to go through some situations where it’ll be more game-like. I think everyone’s excited and we’re looking forward to a great day. The weather’s terrific; it’s a great day here at St. John Fisher College and we’re excited. It should be a good day.
Q: Coach, what is gone into the defensive end rotation if you will, or Trent Murphy getting the ones and Shaq [Lawson] being with the second team? What is the decision-making process and how that looks for you? Why is that?
A: Shaq was coming off an injury at the end of last season. We signed Trent; he was one of our big free agent acquisitions and we’re excited about watching him perform and seeing how he progresses. The rotation is fluid. Trent is our starter right now and he’s doing a really good job for us. Watching Shaq, he’s making progress, but we’ll see how things go. You want to always put the best 11 out there, but for the time being, Trent is our number one at left end.
Q: Leslie, Jerry Hughes, just some of your observations on where his game is going into this part of his career?
A: You know, just watching these last few days that we’ve been together, in particular, yesterday, his energy level throughout this offseason but even more-so at this training camp, his confidence level is extremely high. I just feel like he’s going to have a terrific season. At this stage of his career, he kind of knows what to kind of expect of opponents and how people are going to block him and the respect that teams have for him. He’s done a great job this offseason preparing to have the best season of his career. I think he’s on pace, he’s doing well. He just needs to stay healthy. With the addition of Trent and then Shaq coming on the way he is, it should take some of the attention away from Jerry, we think. So, we’ll see.
Q: In addition to that, the addition of Star [Lotulelei] and Harrison [Phillips], how much do they also play into Jerry’s success?
A: With both of those guys, anytime you can get an inside push, it makes the edge rusher’s job so much easier. We didn’t always get that a season ago, but the fact [is] that Star has the ability to be able to get an inside push for us, and we think Harrison will provide that as well. We know that Kyle [Williams] can get it done on occasion, so that should increase Jerry’s opportunities. The big thing is just having another presence as a pass rusher to take some of that pressure off of him.
Q: Leslie, how eager were you to see Tremaine Edmunds in pads for the first time and then what have your impressions been now that you’re three days into training camp?
A: Well we were obviously all excited about Tremaine and watching his maturation over time. To see him in pads the first time yesterday, he didn’t disappoint. It was definitely an adjustment. In the entire time we’ve had him, we’ve always been in shorts and t-shirts and to finally get the pads on him, and he’ll get another opportunity today, but he’s doing a good job. He’s played with pads before, so it’s nothing new; it’s just at a different level now and he’ll get better and better as time goes on.
Q: Coach, how’s he doing with getting the play call in, getting them called and lining people up? We’re only three days in here, but it’s a different form for him? How’s he doing with that?
A: He’s doing well. Just in talking with some of his teammates in the huddle, because that was one of our concerns: how would he handle this atmosphere? This is another part of the transition for him, but he’s doing very well with that. No problems as far as communication, taking command. He’s on target to do well, so we’ll see how he continues to progress.
Q: Is this where you can see him jump off the charts, really, now that you can be more physical and see him hit people in the pads? Is this the next step in that?
A: Part of it, I mean, there’s a lot that comes along with being the middle linebacker. You touched on it a moment ago: the communication with, not only getting things communicated to the rest of the defense, but [as a player] I’m also being able to make sure I’m where I’m supposed to be, because that also creates credibility with my teammates. There are a lot of factors that go into being the middle linebacker, leading a defense and doing things that are going to help you make an impact. It’ll happen in time for him.
Q: Leslie, you brought up Harrison a couple of answers ago. He’s mostly worked at one technique, correct me if I’m wrong, but it looks like he’s getting into the backfield. Is there any thought to flip him over to the three tech?
A: I think for now, if we can leave him at one position and let him progress and get some consistency and it’s so early in the process that that’ll be the best thing for him, and we’ll see how he develops over time. For right now, it’s probably better to leave him at that spot and that’s where he had a lot of success in college, as well. We’ll see how he progresses.
Q: Coach, no disrespect to E.J. [Gaines], he had a nice year last year when he was healthy, but does Vontae [Davis] maybe allow you to be more comfortable to be able to play some more man-to-man out there?
A: Vontae’s coming off a very serious injury from a season ago, so we still have to kind of see where he is. We have an idea, but we have a lot of football and a lot of snaps to be played before we can really get a feel for where he is and how far has he come and how close is he to where he used to be. It’s probably a little too early right now to say [that] we can play a little more man and zone based on Vontae.
Q: You signed John Hughes last week and there have been other reports of workouts for other defensive linemen, but is there a prototype that you’re looking for that you might be missing from that group up front that you’re kind of looking for when you brought in Hughes and maybe someone else?
A: Well, we do have a prototype at each position that we like to have, ideal size, height, weight. At this point of the year, you kind of take the best available, depending on what position you’re looking for. Some of it is due to where we are roster wise and the numbers that we have and what allows us to bring in one more guy at a certain position. For example, at defensive line, you like to come in with at least 15 guys, and I think we’re pretty close to that now. You don’t always get the idea of height, weight, size, girth, that you want this time of year.
Q: So, it’s not as if you’re looking for a particular type of person out there…
A: Well, we do look for a particular type of guy, but it’s just [that] they’re not always available at this point.
Q: Leslie, I’m half kidding, but what prototype does Tremaine Edmunds fit?
A: Tremaine, his height, his size, his speed, that is rare. He’s an anomaly in a lot of ways; you don’t see guys like him throughout the league, so we’re fortunate that we found a guy like that to be available for us at the pick that we had. He’s unusual in that regard and we expect him to play up to that.
Q: Levi Wallace, he’s a kid undrafted, he’s got a great story. He comes into this camp, probably a long shot, but give us some specs on this kid and what is he going to have to do to make this team?
A: Well his pedigree coming from the best team in college football definitely helps him. He’s a winner at heart and he competes. You’ve had a chance to watch him in practice; he may not be the fastest guy, that was kind of the knock on him coming out, but he’s got length, he’s shown the ability to play press coverage, and that’s his asset to be able to get his long arms on the receivers. [He’s going to] compete. The thing that gets him into a little bit of trouble sometimes is his speed, but he has ways of being able to compensate for that because he’s a smart player, really understands angles, and we’ll see. We’ll see what happens with him.
Q: Leslie, I know that you rotate defensive line a lot, but is Star a linchpin to what this defense wants to get accomplished?
A: We certainly hope so. He’s had a lot of success in the league. He’s been one of the top nose tackles in our league, so he definitely can be a stabilizer for us inside, which we need. We needed that. We needed a guy with some girth and some power and he’ll provide that for us. That was a big signing to be able to get him in the offseason. I think he’ll provide some stability inside.
Q: What does Adolphus [Washington] bring this year? There was talk about him last year of him maybe not even being around, and then he, I think he had the second most snaps of any defensive lineman on the team. Where is he right now?
A: He’s doing well. I was just talking to him yesterday about the consistency that he’s shown over the last few days and just to continue to do that. It’s a big year for him, and he knows that. He’s going into his third season, a lot of eyes on him, and we need his production. We don’t want to have to play Kyle an overabundance of snaps. We need a good rotation, and he can provide that for us and not have a big drop off when Kyle’s not in the game, because we want to have a system where we’re rotating our front, and he’s going to be a big part of our success. We need him to really be consistent and just keep rising and not have plateaus.
Q: Leslie, do you feel this is a ‘make-or-break’ year for Shaq Lawson?
A: I mean, Shaq is so young. To say this would be a ‘make-or-break’ year it would be hard to do. I think his best football is ahead of him, he just needs to stay healthy and keep improving. He came in in great shape, he’s off to a great start in camp, and much too young, too soon, to say this is a ‘make or break’ year for Shaq Lawson in my mind.
Q: He says it is.
A: Yeah, but we’ll see. He’s doing well so far.
Story topics: Leslie Frazier