LIONS HEAD COACH ROD MARINELLI
Opening statement: "Well obviously we're here to kick off the season.Â I'm excited about it. I'll open up questions in a little bit, but I'm excited. It's been a good offseason for us, but I want to deal with and touch on the Caleb (Campbell) situation first."(I) had a chance to talk to West Point again today, and this is the information I got. I'll just kind of read it. Just today we received information that the Department of Defense reversed its alternative service policy, which means Caleb Campbell is no longer eligible to play for the Detroit Lions. So I just came off that today, and I found out today. Obviously nobody likes surprises, but, just gotta move on and go from there. But we checked recently as last week, and we were assured everything was fine, but that was the deal and, so we'll move on from there. I feel bad for the player. I had a chance to visit with him, but he's a heck of a guy and he's going to follow orders and do what he's supposed to do.
"Other than that, it's been a great offseason, and summer's been good with these guys. I'm looking forward to seeing them all coming in. We have a 6:20 team meeting tonight. The guys that I've seen - the thing I want is a lean, fast football team and right now everybody I've seen looks like we're on course for that and look forward to getting started tomorrow and I'll just open up for questions."
On whether Campbell could join the NFL as a coach instead of assuming traditional military duties: "I couldn't answer that. I just got their release and that's all I was told."
On whether the Lions shared the news about Campbell with NFL officials: "Matt (Millen), I believe had a chance to talk with the commissioner this morning - I believe - he had mentioned that to me. So it's really out of our hands. You just have got to move forward."
On whether Campbell had signed his contract with the Lions before the military's announcement: "I don't believe he signed his contract yet. He hadn't signed it. That's what he had told me. That he's got it; he just hadn't signed it yet."
On if the Lions would retain rights to Campbell if he had signed a contract: "I would think we would. Tom (Lewand) will be around. Right now it's a little bit of gray for us, and I'm working through it."
On if the team had spoken with the military: "Matt (Millen) called them last week because you know there was some buzz going on in one of the papers, and so we wanted to make sure. We talked to West Point and we were assured everything was fine."
On if the Lions had any idea beforehand that Campbell would not be eligible to play: "No, here's the thing I looked at, you go to combine, who goes there? Draft eligible players. Draft eligible players go to the combine. So when you go there you evaluate the talent that's there. I like him, and I think he's a real good talent; bright, physical and what I had to see so far, so I go to that combine to evaluate draft eligible players."
On Campbell's reaction to the news: "I think Matt (Millen) saw him first, and he did not know.Â I believe. I mean, obviously he's disappointed, but I know what he's about and he got his orders and he's ready to report and go."
On whether the Lions would have drafted Campbell if they knew he was not eligible: "You know, if you're going out to draft a guy and he's not there this year, no I wouldn't. You want a guy you draft to hopefully be ready for you this year because in two years from now you don't know the issues."
On whether Campbell has a future in the league after his military service: "Guys' priorities change too, they can.Â It's hard, but he has the type of character, he'd stay with it and work at it and all those things. Right now it's just he's just got to get himself turned around and ready to go into his next profession."
On where Campbell goes next:Â "I don't know. I just know he's going back to West Point to be reassigned."
On whether the league will compensate the Lions in some way in the next draft: "I wouldn't think so. I don't know that off the top, but I wouldn't think so."
On the status of the rest of the draft picks: "At this point they're still not signed. Tom (Lewand) has been working at it and he's felt good.Â He will be around later just so he can update you a little bit more. He's been optimistic all week that we'll be ready to go, but you know how that goes."
On the status of injured players: "You know for sure we'll look at Daniel (Bullocks). It gives you an opportunity to really go out and work him hard. You know cut and then see him respond in a day or so if there's any swelling. He felt good, he feels really good right now, but it's a chance to really go test him. Then we just got some guys that we may just go in the morning just to test them a little bit then get them ready to go in the afternoon. We'll make that decision probably at seven in the morning with the trainer.
"We've got to look at Dan Campbell, see where he's at, but I think we just want to get a feel. It's not going to be any long-term thing."
On whether the Lions had any discussions with the Packers about QB Brett Favre: "No."
On whether the Lions drafted players that better fit Marinelli's style:Â "You know, I guess, and that's a great question.Â The thing I do feel good about is how they've responded in our offseason work, and that's where I think you know, you're going into these 80 numbers this year, first time ever, but we put so much work in our offseason with such a good turnout. That really helps you going into camp and it's a great reflection when I see them all. You don't have to say a word, you just see what condition they look like, and that's something I stressed with them. I wanted them leaner and faster.Â But I do feel good. I feel very good. As you know I'm optimistic anytime I go after something I feel good about it. Especially when I get this type of the effort that I've gotten in the offseason.
On how he'll handle having the reduced 80-man roster to start training camp: "The one thing, and I was going to talk to the players a little bit about this tonight too, we'll go pads in the morning and it will be with helmets in the afternoon. The one thing that I've adjusted is maybe two or three of our time blocks in the morning - instead of a 20-minute period, it's a 15-minute period; maybe a 7-on-7 (period) from 20 to 15 (minutes), just a little bit there. Really, the starters will not lose any reps. They'll be getting exactly the same reps they did a year ago. We're going to have to cut back a little bit maybe with some of the second and thirds. I'll be smart with that. One thing, we'll be smart. They earned that. They've earned that with how well they practiced in the offseason and their understanding of how to practice. I think that will be my monitor. What I prefer not to do is: take the pads off in the morning. What I prefer to do is shorten it and still get the crisp hitting that I want to get done. With the periods, you've got to shorten the blocks down."
On how the transition has gone with the change in offensive philosophy throughout the offseason: "I've got a great deal of confidence in our offensive staff. You know Jim (Colletto), I feel great; Kip (Brown), has done a heck of a job with it. We simplified some things and got a ton of reps in the offseason. So we just go right back in and get the work in pads - I just feel very good about it and what we're doing. It's going to allow our players to really execute."
On not having any real question marks with players' weights going into camp as opposed to previous camps: "I feel good. You get guys doing the things you want them to do. I have to repeat it and our staff does, but when you go in and you've got a guy who's in shape, wired in and you've got few problems - you're always going to have problems, they're there. When you deal with a problem, you just adjust and move on, correct it and go. But I do feel good about that. There are very few problems right now for us."
On whether dealing with some of those past player problems took away from his focus on the entire football team: "No doubt. I think, for myself, when you're dealing with issues - and we've had them since I've been here, no doubt about it - when I deal with an issue, I want to deal with it right and correct. I've got to get things exactly right. That's just who I am. So I put a lot of energy into something like that; time and energy into a player or an issue and it does take away from football. That's when you've got to really count on your staff. When that staff is together and functioning as a unit and you have a great deal of trust, which I do, that helps me."
On the team's top two draft choices having off-the-field issues: "Well, we knew about Gozder (Cherilus). We felt very comfortable with that before the draft. We did not know about Jordan (Dizon). Like I said, I don't like surprises and I was surprised. I think there's a real issue in terms of: he's not a bad guy. There's a difference between a bad guy and a guy that's made a mistake. The one thing he did that really impressed me is he called me at home immediately and we had a nice long talk. I'll tell you what, I stand side-by-side with him because he's got football character, he loves this stuff and he made a mistake. Now we just got to move on."
On whether good effort and attitude can 'trump' talent: "For me it always has and I've said that from Day 1. I know there's individual talent (which) you need, but there's something about the game of football that's about chemistry and a group of men working together and believing in and everybody being in condition; everybody pulling on the same rope; everybody understanding exactly what they're doing; accountability in the room about knowing your job, hustling, all those things. That's what the game of football always has been. There are penalties, turnovers and those things come big when you're trying to play that type of game. They understand that and are willing to work at that. I think we're going to be fine."
On what he knows about being a head coach that he didn't know two years ago: "I just felt that when I took this job that I was really prepared. I just really do. I've kept my same vision. I know since then to now, exactly what I want, what I'm looking for in players. I think we've grown somewhat on offense - you know expanded. I thought the toughest thing has always been about the assistants, looking for good coaches. Finding coaches that fit and fit me."
On whether there is one area on this team that he wants to improve in this camp more than any other: "We want to run the ball. I think the system that we're using, in terms of our zone - we've run the zone before, but the amount of time we spent at it. When you just rep something and go over it, it fits the guys we've got; the quickness coming off the ball; the good pad level; we've got athletic offensive linemen, we really do. I think that's going to help them and the boot game is going to help them; it's going to take some pressure off them. I think that, the attempts and I know we'll do that, and if we can be effective in that area, I think that is big.
"Then just to continue discipline on defense - to play in our system you have to be disciplined. You have to do your job and trust the other man is going to do his job. You be where you be and he's got to be where he's supposed to be and the defense works and you get guys in great shape with speed and you've got to tackle well and do those things. To me, it's still those things that we've got to keep installing."
On whether he feels that this team is more talented than a year ago: "I would say some of our talent is growing up. We've got Calvin (Johnson) in his second year, who I think is a great talent. Shaun Rogers was a great talent, no doubt about it and he had a good year - I'll still say that he had a heck of a year for us. But I'm looking for guys who can come in and really be consistent. I think that is as important as anything for us but we do have some very talented players. Like Ernie Sims going into his third year, that talent is rising. We've got a young running back coming in (Kevin Smith) and we'll see what he's got. We'll get pads on him, because he's looked great in the offseason. Tatum (Bell) is a good talented guy. We've got to go out and look at it. We've brought some veterans in.
"I know we've really helped our secondary, there's no doubt in my mind, we've really added to that part. If that thing is in shape and guys are detailed, disciplined and now we add to the rush - the rush has got to keep coming. It's got to be consistent every week. If we knock out the run, then we've got a chance to really rush. It's tough to rush play action all of the time."
On whether he's seen RB Tatum Bell and what kind of shape he's in: "Yeah, he looks really good. I mean, he looks lean."
On whether he anticipates having to fine any players for weight issues: "I don't."
On how he feels about QBs Dan Orlovsky and Drew Stanton heading into camp: "Scot (Loeffler), our quarterback coach, he's excellent. He really is. You guys will get the chance to see him work. He has worked very diligently with these guys. The big thing is they're so willing, to work at it. All of the drill work they did (in the offseason), now comes in. Let's go to camp and get a chance to see where we're at a little bit and then we'll get into the preseason games and see where we're going."
On what he likes about Orlovsky and Stanton: "They've both got nice arms and they move well; they're bright guys. It's more about: let's get them in, let's go see where we're at. Put it on tape."
On how he will manage QB Jon Kitna and whether he will give him days off: "Not so much off, but we'll do kind of like we did in our OTAs. We've got to make sure those guys (Orlovsky and Stanton) are getting enough reps to compete for that second job."
On if he's embarrassed by the conduct of players in the offseason and if he feels he has to give a message to the team about it: "That message has been sent every day in the offseason. That message has been sent every day since I've been here. I send that message every Thursday before they go on a weekend - every week. There are about four or five things that I think are important that you have to make sure to stay out of trouble. Am I embarrassed? No. Because 'Goz' (Gosder Cherilus), we knew everything about that. Like I said at the beginning, we knew every issue of that; we researched it as well as we could."
On Cherilus being forced to pay medical expenses for someone who suffered a broken neck: "But we knew it before we took the whole thing. We did our research on him; the type of person (he is), all those things. Jordan's thing - I'm surprised. I don't like to be caught by surprise. I don't know how. There's no way on that one we could have known that. Two days before the draft we did a complete background check again (to see) if anything popped up - nothing popped. It is what it is on that. Kalvin (Pearson), we'll just wait and see. Let's not jump to conclusions."
On the Lions' video policy during training camp: "One thing I'm in charge of is not directing a TV show. I don't do that. What I do is coach football and what I'm excited about is our fans having a chance; we're going to triple the (number) of fans we get to come out and watch us. That's what's important to me. I couldn't be more excited. There are three things that happen: one, we owe it to them. I just can't wait. Someday we may have more availability - get everybody in this. I love it. I think that is so awesome. There's nothing better than a fan bringing their children to football. I mean, summer football camp. Wouldn't that crank you up if you were a little kid? I hope so. So you get out there and see guys playing football - professional football - awesome. We owe that to our fans. Second, it cranks our players up. It's exciting for our players, I think, when we see those fans because they're very bright fans. They're very smart fans. They understand football. That's why I like them to come to practice. They get to see what we're doing; nobody tells them what we're doing. They see it for themselves. So we put on display what we are. The third thing: those two then come together at Ford Field. It becomes a relationship between a football team and fans. They helped us last year. We had a chance to really have a heck of a home-stand last year and we didn't do our part in two of the games. But they were a big factor in that. So I'm excited about that."
On if it is 'fair' to have a blackout during the regular season with a team that hasn't done much in the last few years: "All I'm going to tell you is: I respect our fans. When they come out here, it's unbelievable. We've got to go out and play great football. One: I want to show them what we are in practice; what we're trying to do. And instead of saying it to you guys (the media) for you to write it to them - come out and see it with your own eyes. See our tempo, see our pace, see our speed, see what we're trying to accomplish with your own eyes. I feel very confident and very good about what we're doing - very good. So I'm very proud to put it on display."
On whether he will try to do anything to re-connect with Campbell throughout the year: "You know, myself - and that's a great point. That's something worth looking into. It really is. For me, I would give that to somebody and let them run with it. But that's a great point. We have some more people that work with our players very closely. But that's a great point."
On if he feels cheated that they don't have an opportunity to get that extra person in camp: "Well, we're hustling right now to get another linebacker."
On if he feels cheated out of a draft pick: "I don't feel cheated. I made a decision and I live with it. I don't feel cheated. That was the rules. Rules were one thing and rules got adjusted - I adjust. The worst thing is you hang your head and feel like you got cheated; 'woe is me.' I'm not into that. Just, here we go. Next guy up."
On if he thinks politics got involved after heated debates following the draft: "What I'd really like to see is you research it for me and tell me. Would you do that? Because I would really â€¦ then with the people that you talk to, you're going to get - I'm just giving you what my reaction would be and I don't know. You could find out for me and I'd appreciate it."
On if there is anything on free agent LB Takeo Spikes: "Nothing yet. We had him in and I really liked him. I had really a heck of a visit with him. He's a real pro. I'm very impressed with the guy; he's in shape, smart, he's been in the system. We spent - a couple weeks ago - a whole day with him. Our defensive staff came in and visited with him and every guy was just extremely impressed with him. I'm hoping and I know Tom's working at it and hopefully we can get something going with the guy. I really like him a lot. He's got some stuff left to him to."
On where they would play Spikes: "SAM (strong side linebacker). And let him also compete for some nickel work because the SAM is the backer who comes off on third down."
On, if he could pinpoint a tangible reason why this team is moving in the right direction, what it would be: "I think, what I believe in football is attitude, effort, work - I think they're going to compete. I think they're a close-knit group of guys. It's a great locker room. You guys will go in there, you'll feel it. You'll see what I'm saying. So, to me, is you get a bunch of guys working very hard and who are committed; like the defensive front. Nobody says there's a star up there but who's to say? How can you say? You don't know. We'll say after the season. But I've got eight, nine guys in there who will all be in shape, all work, all play, all contribute. So you get guys like that and that's what I feel good (about). I know the game is about hitting, it's about being physical, it's about not turning the ball over, it's eliminating penalties and it's being physical and having a great special teams. Flawless execution in our special teams - superior punting. That's what I'm looking for."
On it not looking like he has a lot of stars: "Yeah. Like I said, let's wait until the end of the season. Then (whether) it will be a concern or not."