Aside from the drama surrounding former Miami Dolphins wide receiver Chad Johnson, this week’s edition of “Hard Knocks” was noteworthy for some blistering critiques of players by coaches.
Rookie tight end Michael Egnew heard it from offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, while wide receiver Roberto Wallace was nicknamed “Ankle Weights” by the coaches.
Players hear that stuff all the time “inside the building,” but it’s not usually seen on a television show. Plus, there are also good things said, but those often don’t make for a good show. It’s up to the players to find a way not to take it personally.
Wallace told the Miami Herald, “At the end of the day it’s a show. That’s what they’ll do. Obviously they pointed out all of the negatives which is part of the show. People like drama more than anything. They did it to Vontae (Davis) last week. I try to come out here and try to get better.
“Whatever criticism the coaches have, I can’t control that. What I can control is my effort and my attitude. So I come out here with a positive attitude every day and leave it at that.”
Egnew was asked if he heard from friends or family after the show, and said, “I shut my phone off. I guarantee any player can tell you the experience. It’s one of those things that happens a lot because he (coach) wants the best out of his players. It just so happens that mine made the episode and it’s OK.”
Head coach Joe Philbin said he communicated with the players what to expect from the show. When asked if is concerned that players might get upset with the criticism, Philbin had a long answer but an enlightening one when he said, “I didn’t specifically address it yesterday in the team meeting, but before the first show, when we first did this in June, I discussed the situation with the players, and then before the first show started I talked with them openly and honestly in the team meeting that ‘Guys, I don’t know what’s on the show.’ I did not preview the show, nor did I preview last night’s show, nor did I watch either of them. But I said part of the evaluation process, let’s get in on the table here, is that we have 12 receivers, and we may end with five, six, four, seven; I don’t know how many we are going to end up with. Coaches compare, and there’s going to be comments that are going to be made. I hope you understand that this happens, it’s real, and don’t take any of this stuff personal. It’s not meant that way. You may not hear the whole thing; there may be comments that were made in your favor. But usually there are strengths and weaknesses of individuals. We have them as coaches and I told them that.
“We’re not perfect either, and I said to them, what I’ll say to you, and I may have said it before; when we had agreed to do Hard Knocks, part of it was that they wanted access to the inside of a training camp, and we agreed to do that. We said, ‘Look the only things we want to show is respect to our players, and not compromise our relationship with our players. And again, I have faith that our staff has developed outstanding relationships with these players and these men. I think that since April 10 when they walked in the building, the proof is in the pudding. If they don’t have respect for us then they may take the comment the wrong way and think, ‘Oh Philbin is an idiot,’ or whoever their position coach or coordinator is. Could that happen? Yeah I guess it could happen, but I am confident in the rapport that we have with these players that they understand that this is a business.
“You know there are other tough businesses out there; this isn’t the only hard business, NFL Football. Sometimes I think that, coaches included, some of us, all of us, think that football is the only competitive business out there. Hopefully they will go on and do other things with their lives, and they will realize that if you don’t do your job, they’re going to look for someone else too that can do it better. So, I have faith that our relationships are strong, that our players believe in what we’re doing, and I don’t think it’s going to be an issue. I also told them, and I mean it, ‘Guys if you have an issue, you have a problem, I like to think that I am approachable, the coaches are approachable, come on and let’s get it on the table.’ I respect people that want to come talk to me and tell me ‘hey look,’ and I have enough, hopefully, faith in what I’m doing and the direction we’re headed that we can talk about it.
“I haven’t had anybody come and see me. I don’t know if that means…there could be guys that are unhappy and I don’t know that. I’m confident in the staff and the relationships that we have and I’m confident in these players that they know we have their (backs). I told the players in the first letter that I ever wrote to them that we were going to hire a staff that had their beast interests in mind, and I believe that, I believe this staff does. So, are we perfect? No, but I think our relationships are good.”
Philbin was also asked if he gives any thought to how he is viewed on the show by a national audience. He said, “Not really. Again I am most concerned and most focused on these 90 players that we have, doing a good job helping them reach their potential, having a good training camp environment, showing development as a football team. I’m not overly concerned with the national audience and what they think of me. I haven’t really even thought of it. That’s why I haven’t watched the show, I’m not going to watch the show, and it’s nothing against the show. I have too many other things to do right now. You know I was watching one-on-one pass rush last night during Hard Knocks.”
Happy Birthday, Gary
Wednesday was Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak’s 51st birthday, but he spent it like he usually does: in training camp on a football field.
When asked how this one compares to other birthdays, he matter-of-factly said, “I don’t know. These birthdays aren’t what they used to be. I spent 29 of them in this league and at training camp so they’re just another day.”
He also had some fun with other questions:
On the team singing happy birthday: “I’m 51 today so that was my present. It wasn’t much of a present.”
On if the team dumped Gatorade on him for his birthday: “They tried and missed. (Quarterback Matt) Schaub had another incompletion for the morning.”
Finally, asked if he had a birthday wish, Kubiak surprised no one when he said, “If this football team stays healthy and keeps going, that would be my wish.”
*With running back Adrian Peterson back at practice, his teammates know that hitting him is taboo. Safety Jamarca Sanford joked (we think) when he said, “The rules are simple. Do not touch 28. If you touch him, you’re cut.” Coach Leslie Frazier noted that after talking to the defense about the kid-gloves approach to Peterson, some players mentioned that Peterson is so strong that they wanted Frazier to also tell Peterson not to run defenders down. Concluded Frazier, “Now we have to adhere to it. But one of the things they told me was, ‘Coach, you know how he runs. What about protecting us?’”
*While he is still unsigned and not in training camp, Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace is living in the Orlando, Fla., home of Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor so he can work out with trainer Tom Shaw. Taylor said Wallace will be ready to play when he reports to the team. “He’s working out,” Taylor said. “He’s working hard. Whenever he gets back, we’re going to welcome him back with open arms. Mike is taking care of Mike right now. As long as he is working out and getting in football shape, that’s all that matters.”
*Quarterback Jake Locker is getting closer to being the Titans’ starting quarterback. When coach Mike Munchak was asked Wednesday what Locker has to do to be named the starter, Munchak said, “I think Jake Locker just has to do what he has been doing out here. He needs to do what he did last week, but finish the drives as an offense. He finished and got the field goal on one of his drives. His one drive we didn’t get a touchdown, so it would be nice to see him, even though he isn’t going to get as much time as he’d like, out of 20 or 25 plays, get at least two drives where we do something positive with points. We’d like to see us go up by 10 points, move the ball, stay on the field and find a way to make plays. Those are the things you want to see.”
Downplaying Locker’s lack of experience, Munchak said, “I don’t think it’s a big deal. I think it’s just something he needs to do and it’s helpful in the process for any player to go out there and get a chance to play. When I was playing, I didn’t go out there and start any preseason games, but then I started in the first regular-season game. Guys do it all the time.”
*Bears cornerback Charles Tillman didn’t understand what all the fuss was about after it was learned this week that linebacker Brian Urlacher had undergone knee surgery. Tillman and his teammates are totally convinced Urlacher will be available for the season opener. “I don’t know, man,” he said. “The dude is going to be there. I said it like 32 times, but I’ll say it 33 times: He’s going to be there. The dude is going to be cool. There is no concern. The dude is going to be cool — quote me. What did he tell you? Did he tell you he’s going to be good? What did coach (Lovie) Smith tell you all? Smith said he’s going to be good. The man said he’s going to be good, right? So he’s going to be good.” That settles that.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on whether it’s harder to push through training camp at the age of 35: “You know I feel pretty good. I try to come out here every day and do what I’ve always done and be a good leader and set a good example. There’s nothing better than playing football. To think we get paid to do this is a pretty good gig.”