Well, we've finally gotten into some of the physical stuff at camp in terms of getting the pads on the last couple of days and that's been good. We feel like we get a crisper, cleaner analysis of where certain players at certain positions. So, that's one transition we look forward to each year and that has been good.
We're paying a lot of attention to the rookies and they look good. They've also made their blunders, but they've all bounced back and there are no regrets there. So far they've looked like the guys we scouted and thought they would be when we drafted them.
The defense will get off to a better start than the offense because there's a lot less thrown at them in terms of new plays and this is a defense that returns 11 incumbents - plus a couple of new guys are trying to find roles within that group. There are less moving parts and there is less stuff being thrown at them. The defense is really about refinement and tweaking certain things. There are some new defensive packages going in, but that's it.
There are so many new faces on offense ... they're still trying to get to square one. You throw in the fact we lost our two centers - Chris Spencer and Chris Gray - right off the bat, which is where everything starts, so it's been hard to get going. But it will come. Certainly when you analyze Steve Vallos playing center with the first team it's interesting. He started at tackle his senior year (at Wake Forest), but that was only because they had problems at that position. Ultimately down the road, who knows which position it will be? He was always guard, but we always thought he has the traits of a center - very smart guy, quick hands, and very strong. Give him credit. He's worked his tail off this season, more power to him - we'll see how it goes.
You see the impact that Mike Solari has made (coaching) on the offensive line, in terms of how things are run. That's just talk right now, but we believe it will manifest itself and we will see results on the line this season once the games start. Our team, for it to get better, we have to have better results in the running game than we had last year. That's the focal point. That will be the proof in the pudding for all of us and all the changes that we made, because the running game was the primary emphasis for everybody during the offseason.
It looks good overall. It feels good. You would expect it to follow its natural course. But this game isn't about expectations, it's about results, and until we do that, we'll just have to wait and see. Football has got a lot of moving parts and you just hope they all move together. We'll have to let it play out.
It's not hard to be patient. You're bringing in new players on one side of the ball or the other, or both every year. So that's why we as scouts and front office people try to hone in on the individual battles. We have to watch and discuss the individual battles for the guys who are fighting to make the team. That's what we focus in on ... the coaches are more concerned with the big picture right now. And it's not difficult for us to wait that out.
We've got plenty to do with who is going to make this team and how the young guys are developing, and where the battles are. We've got a long way to go.