Saturday, May 13, 2006

Reggie Bush's New Orleans Press Conference Reveals How USC Prepared Him For The NFL

What's fascinating to me is the degree to which college football is -- at it's highest levels -- just like pro football in practice, preparation, and schemes. The idea that the NFL is "a whole 'nother level' is fading somewhat, as former NFL coaches from Bill Walsh when he was at Stanford, to Pete Carroll at USC and Bill Callahan and Charlie Weis at Nebraska and Notre Dame are bringing the pro game to the NCAA.

Much of the results of that evolution are evident in this May 13th New Orleans Saints Press Conference, after Bush's first rookie mini-camp.

May 13, 2006,
May 13, 2006 – 8:07 pm

Q: Was it your groin that you tweaked today in the first practice?

A: "No it was my hamstring. It is all right. I just tweaked it a little bit stretching, ironically. It will be fine with a couple of days of good rehabbing. It will be fine it is nothing major."

Q: Will you be able to do something tomorrow?

A: "I hope so. I am looking forward to it. I have to talk to the trainers and the coaches and see how they feel and if they want me to or if they don't want me to. As far as I am concerned I am ready to go."

Q: Have you had problems with your hamstring before?

A: "No, not at all."

Q: You did it stretching today?

A: "Yeah I was stretching today and just tweaked it stretching. It was a little weird."

Q: Was it frustrating not being able to go?

A: "Yeah it was it was frustrating sitting out there. I couldn't be in there and I wanted to be in there and just learning."

Q: In the time you were out there practicing. What did you think?

A: "It felt good. I was real happy to be there. I was just happy to be back to football. It has been a while and I was excited to be out there playing football again and it felt good. I was a little rusty but it will come with time."

Q: What do the think the biggest adjustment will be from college football to the NFL?

A: "I don't think there is a major adjustment other than just adjusting to the whole NFL experience. The level and obviously the game play and game speed are different. I think adjusting to that and other than that I think that is it. Just adjusting to that and just preparing myself for the different mentality."

Q: Having won the Heisman Trophy and all of the success at USC and being the number two pick in the draft. Do you think the coaches are going out of their way to make you feel like you are just another rookie?

A: "As far as I am concerned I am just another player. I am just another guy trying to prove myself again. That is the type of person that I am. I always feel like I have something to prove no matter what level it is and no matter what I have accomplished. I am always going to feel like I have something to prove and I think that is where it helps me be successful just keeping that mentality."

Q: What was your impression of how Coach Payton runs practices after going through today?

A: "A lot similar to what Coach Carroll use to do with the way we ran practices at USC. Obviously, Coach Carroll is a former NFL head coach so he has a lot of experience with that. For me it was nothing different it was very similar to the way we ran practices at USC."

Q: Do you think that is an advantage for you?

A: "I think so. Yeah. It is funny you said that because I was thinking it. I feel I had an advantage just being familiar with the way practice was run and the style and the tempo of practice."

Q: How important to you is it to have your contact done and be there for the first day of training camp?

A: "Very important. I told my agent I wanted to be here in camp on time and whatever it takes I want to be in camp on time. I don't want to get caught up in holdouts and things like that. I think it is important to start off on a good foot and a good note and not only with the team but with the city."

Q: How different is the terminology between here and what you had at USC?

A: "It is similar in certain respects in some of the plays and some of the ways they run their schemes are similar, very similar. Obviously some of the terminology is different but I think the scheme and the way they call plays are similar to what we were use to at USC."

Q: What do you think will be the most effective way to use you in this offense?

A: "Coach Payton and I have had a chance to talk and they are planning on using me in similar ways to how I was used at USC, giving me the opportunity to make plays from the receiver position, running back, and returning punts and kicks."

Q: If the league does not allow you to wear number five. Have you chosen another number?

A: "I haven't chosen a number but I am looking forward to it. Obviously I would love to be able to wear number five but if I don't I understand. I know there has been a rule for years before I got to this point and gotten here. It is something that I would like to happen but if it doesn't there is no loss and no worries."

Q: Do you have fall back number or a leader in the clubhouse?

A: "No, not right now."

Q: Is getting a player with your ability more of a challenge for the coaching staff?

A: "I don't think it will be that challenging. Just put me out there and let me make plays. I don't know as far as I am concerned I know the coaching staff is very excited to have me here as well as I am excited to be here and be able to help this team turn this program around and be able to make plays from different spots on the football field."

Q: Today was mostly rudimentary and you were mostly in a one-back set. Do you think that is just the start and they have not even scratched the surface to what they can do with you?

A: "Yeah, definitely we have not even scratched the surface yet with what the coaches are going to do with me in the offense. We are just getting started it is only day one today of minicamp. It is still early, still very early and we still have a lot of stuff to learn and a lot plays to learn and all of the different terminology to learn. It is still early."

Q: What do you make of all of the attention you have received in New Orleans already and do you enjoy it?

A: "I do enjoy it and the way the city has embraced me and welcomed me has been crazy for me. To be here, and like I said I am so excited to be here, from day one since I got here the city and the coaching staff and the player have welcomed me with open arms."

Q: Have you spoken with Deuce McAllister yet? And how do you envision the two of you sharing the ball?

A: "I haven't had a chance to directly speak with him. I know most of the players will be here starting Monday with workouts so I am pretty sure we will get a chance to sit down. I am looking forward to playing with Deuce. I hear he is a great person and a great running back. I have seen him play and I know what he is capable of and like I said I think I can help take some of the pressure off of his shoulders and bring some more fire power to this offense."

Q: Have you spoken to the Hornets Chris Paul? Do you think with the two of you up and comers in each of your leagues help bring some attention to this community?

A: "I haven't had a chance to talk to him but I know a lot about him. I watched him in college and he is a great player and I am a big fan of his."

Q: Is there a ballpark number you are telling your agent to ask for in order to sign a deal?

A: "No, nope, not at all. I haven't told him a particular number. We want to see if we can get the best deal obviously but I know the Saints are more than happy to have me here and we are looking forward to working together and not working against each other."

Q: How deeply involved are you in the negotiations?

A: "We talk very often about the negotiations and how the process is going. The past couple of days I haven't had a chance to talk to him because I have been kind of busy but we talk often about it."

Q: Has there been any progress?

A: "Yeah, I am confident that we will get this contract done on time and as soon as possible and be in camp on time."

Q: Have you had a chance to grasp what you really mean to this city and the rebuilding process? One fan described it as a divine intervention it that a little weird to you?

A: "Yeah, it is a little weird but it is something that I am looking forward to doing. I am looking forward to helping turn this city around and bring something exciting back to this city. Obviously I am aware of all of the devastation that took place here in the last year or so. I am excited about the opportunity to be able to turn this city around and like I said bring some happiness back to the city."

Q: Do you think you have a chance to establish a connection with the city that not a lot of rookies do?

A: "Yeah I do. We are already taking part in community service projects. We are helping put back together a football field. I forget the name of the field but it is one of the oldest fields here and we are going to put Astroturf on it so it gives the teams a chance to play on it. We are also adopting an autistic school which was going to be shut down and we are going to help donate money through adidas and through the NFL and we are going to donate some money to keep the school open."

Q: Have you had a chance to go tour the area?

A: "I did. When I got drafted and flew down here we had a chance to go tour the ninth ward where the hurricane hit. It is pretty devastating and it gave me a sense of what I was playing for and not just football team but a city that was looking for us to bring some happiness back."

Q: What did you see?

A: "Just complete destruction. It looked like a war zone. I saw trucks flipped over, houses on top of other houses, just all kinds of chaos. I can just envision what happened and what they were going through. For me I think it was good to see that and good to know what ultimately this team is playing for."

Q: After the way everything has played out over the last couple of months was it good to just get back out there?

A: "Yeah it was. Like I said I was excited to be here today and get back to football and just doing what I do best. I love playing football and it felt good to be back on a team and back around other football players and coaches and the smell of the grass and all of that. It was good to be back on the football field today and I am looking forward to it."

Q: Do you think you will get a lot of opportunities as a kick returner?

A: "I don't know. I hope to get as much opportunity as I would like and as available but I don't know and it is up to the coaches. It is still very early on in day one of minicamp so we haven't even gone through the official training camp yet so we will see as time goes on. We will see how much my role will play on this offense and on this team."

Q: Is the heat a little different here instead of California?

A: "Yeah I am already aware of that part but today was beautiful and it reminded me a lot of southern California. I am aware of the humidity and all of that but that is not going to effect me at all."

Q: Did Pete Carroll give you any advice heading into the pro game?

A: "Coach Carroll really just talked to us about how similar it is to the way we did things at USC like I said before. Our practices and a lot of the things we did are very similar to the NFL level. He said that it is a business and you have to have that mentality and there a lot of things done different at the NFL level than from the college level. The game is faster and there is more responsibility placed on your shoulders so a lot things like that."

Oakland Raiders QB Kerry Collins Remains Unemployed As Of This Date - CBS Sportsline's Clark Judge

According to Clark Judge over at CBS Sportsline, Kerry Collins' best days may be behind him. He's still an unaquired free agent. He counted $12 million against the Raiders salary cap, and it's unlikely, given the flood of younger quarterbacks on the market, that a veteran with only a strong arm and a habit of making turnovers in important situations will be selected.

That written, Collins unfortunate disadvantage is that he's not played in a short, ball control offense. He's been the victim of coaches who were 1) in love with his arm, and 2) not the most innovative play designers.

Mobilty is not really his problem. He's perceived as "immobile" by the fans of the teams who place him in "old-school," Sid Gilman-drop-back passing offenses.

Nothing against that foundation of the modern game, but it's easy to instruct a defense to stop it.

Lions trade QB Joey Harrington to Miami Dolphins - NFL and AP

Lions trade QB Harrington to Dolphins wire reports

DETROIT (May 12, 2006) -- The Miami Dolphins acquired quarterback Joey Harrington from Detroit for an undisclosed conditional draft pick, giving the Dolphins a fallback position if new starter Daunte Culpepper isn't ready for the season's first snap.

"We're pleased to have Joey Harrington join the Dolphins," head coach Nick Saban said in a statement. "We will work with him to get him acclimated to our system as quickly as possible."

The Dolphins had been searching for a backup to Culpepper and targeted Harrington, the former No. 3 overall pick who didn't live up to expectations in four years as the Lions' starter. Harrington had expressed his desire to play with the Dolphins.

The Lions released a statement announcing the move.

Culpepper, acquired from Minnesota this offseason, is recovering from a serious knee injury and may not be ready for the Dolphins' first regular-season game -- at Pittsburgh on Sept. 7.

The other two quarterbacks on the Miami roster, Brock Berlin and Cleo Lemon, are young and untested.

Harrington went 18-37 as a starter with the Lions. He threw 60 touchdown passes and 62 interceptions, and his career passer rating is a modest 68.1.

Detroit had been expected to cut ties with Harrington before June 15, when he was due a lucrative roster bonus. He'll likely be replaced by Jon Kitna or Josh McCown, both former starters for other teams who agreed to terms with Detroit this offseason.

The Associated Press News Service