June 13, 2019

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Opening Statement: “We had a transaction this morning. We traded Michael Roberts this morning. Again, roster movement is something that’s pretty common at this time of year. We’re always going to try to do what’s in the best interest of the team for us, both the short-term and the long-term, to try to make us as competitive as possible. Obviously, with the tight end position, kind of in conversation here—we have a good competition in the room right now. We had an opportunity to move on from Mike and hopefully, potentially, get something in the future for it. So, it was a good opportunity for us as a team to do that and to build our team long term. There are always situations too, sometimes when roster movement happens, there’s other positions that may affect the overall total number. We are currently at 89 – we are not at 90. So we do have an open roster spot at the moment. That’s really kind of it on that topic. It happens a lot. Roster movement happens every day. With that being said, today will be our last OTA practice. Really looking forward to try and pull some things together here. We’re in the fourth week of OTAs. Finished up mini-camp last week, as we were talking about before. Working through different situations of the game, getting closer to trying to play more realistic-type football situations through the course of practice by down-and-distance, field position, game situations, things like that. So, it’ll be a little bit more of a practice where you will see a lot of that kind of movement in and out between offense, defense, special teams, things that correlate maybe more to game-type situations, communication, execution and basic awareness of the situation. Should be a pretty good day, we’ll see what the weather looks like, but that’s all right, we’re going to go outside and get some practice in.”

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On what he has seen now that he has TE Logan Thomas for a few weeks practicing: “Obviously, some of it learning here as we go through the spring. Really smart guy, I think his background as a quarterback helps him from an overall concept understanding of different positions. A guy that can do a lot of things out there on the field. Certainly, spring evaluations are always one thing, and we’ll see what it looks like when we get the pads on. As far as a guy that comes in every single day does what he’s asked to do, works really hard, has learned the playbook very quickly from an information standpoint. His execution has been really good, from that aspect of it, so far through the spring. A guy we’re excited about, and we’ll just kind of see how it goes as we progress through, just like all the guys in that room in that situation.”

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On if the possibility of trading TE Michael Roberts happened after drafting TE T.J. Hockenson: “No, I wouldn’t say you go immediately into that mode because you don’t really know how things are going to go through the course of the spring. You obviously always want to try to evaluate your players as much as you can and try to keep as many good players as you can and evaluate them as you go through. Sometimes opportunities come up in different facets, and maybe the direction of the team might change, things might change from a schematic standpoint or points of emphasis might change as you work through the last four weeks. It’s a good opportunity here to evaluate everybody over four weeks and see what we have on that side of the ball and all sides of the ball, in the position room. Like I said with the roster, sometimes movement on a roster, in general, can be affected – not only by that position room, but also other positions out on the field. Whether those are positions that we say we need to add some extra guys, or as we gear towards training camp, what does our practice depth look like in order to get through practice, and some of the things we need to do based on guys’ availability. We’ll have better answers as we get towards training camp, and at the start of training camp, to see what that all looks like. In general, I don’t mind going into this time of year with 89 (players) on the roster and having an extra roster spot available, just because there will be some sort of movement here by all teams over the course of the next couple weeks. I think in general, it gets a little difficult as you go on break, and you’re not around the facility, and you don’t have an opportunity to get ahold of guys and actually explain what’s going on. Sometimes it’s an OK philosophy to go in with 89, and if you’re adding somebody, you’re just adding someone at that point. You’re not releasing anybody also.”

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On if his philosophy for having 89 on the roster is due to flexibility or a desire to fulfill as specific personnel needs: “Both. It’s definitely, from just a general philosophy standpoint, it’s good to have the flexibility in that position because you know there’s going to be movement coming up in the next couple weeks. But we will always evaluate our roster, and we are in a position where we’re saying, ‘Alright, do we want to add someone in this position?’ Or, ‘Do we want to add another player in this position?’ We’ll take the next couple weeks to look at it and see if there’s somebody out there that we do want to add.”

On if there are any challenges of rebuilding the entire tight end corps: “I think there probably are in certain situations. I guess for us right now, we’re just trying to get the best players we can in each position. I would say on the offensive side of the ball, everything has kind of been start anew with the addition of (Offensive Coordinator) Darrell Bevell and a new system. At this point, it’s all kind of start over from that aspect of it. We’re just progressing from the last four weeks, doing our evaluations and then moving forward. Nothing unusual as far as that.”

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On how you designate the remaining spots at wide receiver, and how WR Andy Jones fits: “At this time of year, it’s hard to get through final separation until we go through training camp and see evaluation of what everyone looks like as we get towards – we get the pads on, and we get to camp, and we evaluate. I think Andy, in general, is obviously someone that has been around here and has worked extremely hard. He’s been very adaptable to a lot of different positions that he’s been asked to play. He’s a guy that goes in multiple different facets of the game on offense, special teams is a big part also which is a big contribution to what he does. He’s a big guy; he’s strong, powerful. He’s tough; he’s smart. Those are all good attributes that will allow him to go in and compete. We’ll see how it all plays itself out. He’s certainly doing everything he can to increase his value on our team, absolutely.”

On what has CB Rashaan Melvin brought to the cornerback competition: “Another guy that I’ve had familiarity with from before. He’s a big, long corner. He’s a guy that’s familiar with the different techniques and fundamentals that we’ve played through the course of the year. He’s a guy that naturally falls into some of the scheme things that we do and some of the stuff that we do on the field. Tough guy, another guy that works extremely hard every single day. You want as much competition as possible out there. I think the corner position is always an interesting one, especially (because) it correlates hand-in-hand with the wide receiver position. As we’ve all seen through the course of the years, some big, fast, strong, wide receivers that keep coming out of college and are producing in the League. Certainly, you want to have the best match-up possible when you can at the corner position on those guys. It doesn’t always mean that the physical stats are the same. Obviously, however, they play and compete at that position is most important. But he’s just another guy that gives us a great opportunity to go out there and compete at that position.”

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On his expectations of CB Darius Slay and DT Damon Harrison Sr. being present at training camp: “Again, I think I’ve addressed that issue. I think I’m really going to focus on the guys that are here, as far as that’s concerned, and talk about them. Whatever communication we have with players in those situations are kept private between us and the player. So when we get back for training camp, we always expect everybody to be where they’re supposed to be when they’re there. We deal with it, and we go from there. But don’t really look into that too much.”

On if he could explain what the past two OTA days looked like: “A little bit philosophy-wise, and we do things a little bit different where we do our mandatory (mini-camp) the previous week. A lot of teams do it the last week, and a lot of teams through the course of OTAs will change up a last day in the spring or do something along those lines. I always felt that it’s better to do that with an OTA day based on the rules and everything that you’re restricted by, as opposed to a mandatory mini-camp day where we have the maximum amount of time with the players out on the field and try to utilize all that time. So we do that the third week.  As you get into the fourth week, as you do decide to maybe change pace or see how we are as far as on-schedule, not-on-schedule with your installation, development, where the players are, where the health of your team is at that point of the year. You try to analyze what’s best, and if you want to change things up – it’s OK, you’re just utilizing or moving an OTA day. You’re also by rule allowed to schedule an OTA day – four within the last week. So we’re always maximizing that time from a scheduling standpoint, and then just be ready to monitor and adjust based on what the team needs, what it looks like, what it feels like, or whether opportunities come up that we think are good for the team from that standpoint. Just having the flexibility, I guess, is the best thing for us, to be able to have everything not so set in stone, where we can move things around based on what’s best.”

On if the team confirmed joint practices with the Patriots and Texans: “Again, we’re waiting on some information as we push through the spring here. We’re just working through some of those situations and possibilities right now.”

On his sense of relief when the Lions were not announced for “Hard Knocks”: “My sense of relief when we didn’t get ‘Hard Knocks’? Again, I think I’ve talked about ‘Hard Knocks.’ I think everybody at NFL Films does a great job. Those guys are one of the reasons that I fell in love with the game. There’s a great video that came out a long time ago called ‘Crunch Course,’ and it’s one of the ones I remember most. I love the history of that, and the message of it was awesome at the time. For us, we’re just focused on exactly what affects us right now, and right now, it’s finishing off the spring well and getting ready for training camp.”

On ways this team is better than this time last year: “It’s a great question. I don’t know. It’s hard to compare, right? I don’t really know where we were last year compared to where we were this year because it really doesn’t matter until what the end results are. For us, we’re working in a good direction. I feel good about where we are. I feel good about practice and what we have been able to accomplish form that standpoint. You always feel better the second year than you do the first year. So I would hope and like to say that we’re ahead of where we were last year, but really, in the end, we’ll find out when we get to the fall.”

On how he approaches the next four weeks: “It’s kind of hard, right? You like the downtime, family time is the most important thing, but you’re also about to step into a very high-speed world when you get back to training camp. So it’s a delicate balance, but family is most important.”

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