08 August 2010
The media had a moment to meet with players after the coaches' press conference this morning. The players were brought out to the North End Zone and interviewed by the assembled sweaty horde.
Here's what my view looked like. Yes, those are glorious new HD video boards in the corners. There are two just like them in the corners behind me.
I had the opportunity to chat with several players about a variety of topics. Get those details after the jump.
DJ Fluker told us that he'd lost around 75 pounds in his year on campus. He began his career "around 400" and is now at 325. He hopes to be in 330 range when the season starts.
His weight loss means he's lighter on his size-22 feet. He said he'd been working hard with Barrett Jones to improve his footwork and technique.
Trent Richardson looked in good shape and talked about the possibility of being on the field at the same time as Mark Ingram - something Jim McElwain talked about in the press conference. Richardson said he totally trusted the coaches' judgement on that. He also talked about how he felt safe when he was in DJ Fluker's wide berth - quickly adding that the entire line gave him the same feeling.
Dont'a Hightower (as I mentioned earlier) metioned that he was "feeling great". I asked specifically about the knee, and Hightower told me it was 100%. He is still playing himself back into shape (Hightower was nearly immobilized for a long time after surgery), but looked in great shape and said he could see a real difference when he was watching film after practice.
Greg McElroy was asked about AJ McCarron's progress and was quick to include Phillip Sims in the list of quarterbacks who've matured rapidly with him. He's been working hard with them both to help them grow into the role.
McElroy was asked about the most impressive folks in the secondary, and was quick to single out Dequan Menzie, who according to McElroy, doesn't look only 4 months removed from Achilles surgery. He said in video study Menzie had looked every bit as fluid as the completely healthy backs around him when breaking on a ball.
Mark Barron noted that he felt very comfortable with Dont'a Hightower moving into Rolondo McClain's old "defensive QB" role. He noted that calling plays and making the adjustments seemed to come easily to him, and had no problems with confidence in him.
Speaking of confidence, Dre Kirkpatrick's is - according to him - "very high". He noted that he had very high expectations for himself and that meant he was working extra hard and that translated into confidence. Kirkpatrick said that he enjoyed getting physical with receivers more than anything else in coverage, and felt like prepping with America's most physical receiver - Julio Jones - helped him to get ready to face anyone.
I didn't get a chance to chat with him, but it's easy to see why Michael Williams will be a popular target for McElroy. He towered above his peers - all of them. This is a very tall kid and looks very athletic.
Marcell Dareus wasn't made available to the media, but he was around for the team photo, and appeared to be in good spirits - goofing around during the prep for the photo.
I'm headed to the field now to get some photos and watch the practice. More coming later this afternoon.
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