Charlie Weis Previews Opener Against South Dakota

USA TODAY Sports

A recap from the Tuesday Kansas football press conference with Charlie Weis.

Head Coach Charlie Weis
Opening Statement...
"We are on to South Dakota. They played UC Davis last week. Coach Glenn returned to his alma mater last year, so this is his second year back there. They have a reputation of taking very good care of the football, they don't turn it over, they don't throw interceptions and they don't fumble the ball. They also do a very good job in their pass defense. You will see on their team that their two greatest strengths are their offensive line and their secondary.

"Their defense is run by Coach Patrino who is also entering his second year there. He is also in charge of their secondary as they like to play a 3-4 scheme. Somewhere you have all heard of the Buck position and their star at that, no pun intended, Tyler Star. He likes to play that position to the boundary but will often times play it to the field. And besides playing an odd configuration the will sometimes reduce weak sides. Last week, for example, they played over a third of the game in an under defense so they could reduce down and turn him free and let him pass rush. He's six-foot-five inches and can play on about any team in the country. On their defensive line Jacobs is their nose and Davis is one of their defensive ends. Their outside linebacker opposite of Star is Lage and their two inside guys are Guziec and Wessel. Their secondary they start four seniors: Knox, Bryant, Swift, and Taverna. Three of them are returning starters and in addition Knox also handles punt returning duties. So you can see how the strength of their defense would be their secondary.

"On their offense Coach Beschorner has actually been their longer than their head coach. He's been there for eight years, the last five as the offensive coordinator. Vander Maten is their quarterback, he started last year and has a lot of experience. With his experience you can see that they have added some things to their offense. The first game alone they added a pistol and now they have added some more quarterback runs because they have a more experienced quarterback. They also have two running backs that are almost like clones, Bouma and Roberts. They're both about the same size, five-foot-11 and about 210 pounds, both redshirt freshman, and both give production. In addition they are both kick returners and Bouma is also the long snapper. Both guys give them a lot of versatility. The two guys that are starting receivers, Terry is the shorter one and also the fastest guy. And the guy they also use on their formation sweeps is the bigger guy Graham. They also have two tight ends they use. Barkley has more girth to him and Wilhelm has more of the moves.

"All five on the offensive line either started last year or played a whole bunch. Huffer is 6-7 and 300 pounds, next to him is Murtha is 6-6 and 310 pounds, O'neil is 6-3 and 305 pounds, Schofield is 6-5 and 290 pounds, and Chancellor is 6-5 and 295 pounds. So if you're looking for a small offensive line you can forget it. Just like if you're looking for an inexperienced secondary you can forget that too. Both of those things are the strengths of their team.

"Their kicker, Miles Bergner, also kicked field goals, extra points, kickoffs, and he punted. He was also named the special team player of the week in their conference last week. He's a kind of do it all kind of guy."

On Victor Simmons at safety...
"What happened was we were happy with the play of both Victory Simmons and Courtney Arnick. We were shaky on what we felt was the depth at safety. So what we did was take a position of strength and we strengthened a position of weakness. So now we have Cassius Sendish and Isaiah Johnson starting and an experienced guy like Dexter Linton right behind him. It's not an incrimination of anyone it just goes to show how well Victory Simmons has been playing. We felt they were playing well enough where it gave us some flexibility where we could move Cassius back from safety." 

On using the Big 12 upsets as a learning tool...
"Well obviously it got their attention from Friday night right on through. And whether it was the Kansas State game or any other games that happened the two biggest teaching tools that you can have is that when anyone has an off season to get ready to play, you can't think that you have one up because they have a great deal of time to get ready for that game. And the other thing is that comes into play that can't be underrated is usually the biggest difference between a Division one team and an FBS team are the fact of the depth. We have more scholarships and more players but early in the year when no one is hurt that really doesn't play in. Everyone has their two deep intact. So really it doesn't become much of an issue until the season is underway when people have bumps and bruises."

On the current Injuries on the team...
"
We walked out of their and the only guy whos clearly not going is Marcus Jenkins-Moore. Now let's knock on wood, we haven't played a game yet. The appendix guys are back, the guys with hurt toes ankles and knees are all back and healthy as well."

On how Coach handles the excitement of new roles and first Division I games...
"Well it's interesting because the speed of the game changes so much when you go from one level to the next level. So they won't truly be able to experience everything that happens until they play and they see that the speed goes up. Even though you can talk about excitement and controlling excitement the first the thing you have to do is get used to playing with bigger faster stronger guys."

On how the Nickleback is so important going against these offenses...
"You need to be able to hang in there up front, be able to play the run, be able to blitz and still be able to cover. It's a lot easier said than done. To be able to do all of these things you need to be a different kind of person. In that position you need to be a jack-of-all-trades. The teams we play will sometimes put out four wide receivers, which make for more miss matches, and with that you need the nicklebacks to be able to defend the pass."

On other teams running the spread offense...
"It's the current trend until all these quarterbacks get knocked out. And it will be like that until that happens. You don't see it just in college you see it in high school as well. The one thing that I found in my experience is that once you start losing those quarterbacks, things start to change in a hurry."

On the new targeting rule...
"We have shown our players tapes about it and we have instructed them on how to handle it. But the bottom line is that it's good and bad. The good part of the rule is that the intent is very good. I think safety of the players should always be at the forefront. The bad part of the rule is that it's very subjective. I already saw it get over ruled once."

On Pat Lewandowski's move to center...
"I think the first week was like a fire drill. But it was also like that for the Quarterback. I think that after he got through the first week I think the arrows all pointed up every single day. So we are very pleased with where we are with Pat right now."

On the playbook being at his disposal...
"I'm looking forward to being able to be more balanced. I like to figure out what is the best way to get the ball in our hands with the players that we have. When your open to more things you can do it makes it a little bit easier."

On the Passing and running game of last year...
"I think if we didn't come out of last year getting good at something. Last year could have easily been a waste. So I decided we needed to come out of here with something.  At the end of the year there wasn't anyone in the league that couldn't say we didn't run the ball with toughness.  But for the other teams that let them put seven, eight, or nine guys up there because they knew our passing game was very efficient. But with a passing game now it makes us more balanced and the running game easier."

On the physicality of the receivers...
"We have some receivers that aren't afraid to mix it up. Now we also have some receivers that are afraid to mix it up and they won't get out there as fast as some of the other guys."

On Justin McCay...
"I think Justin is really anxious to get going. I think you'll be happy with what you end up seeing. But when it's all said and done, I don't know how each game is going to go, but I just know that, watching him day in and day out, there's a lot of attributes I've compared him to a guy in the past, that you heard me say before. And those attributes still look the same to me.  We're just going to have to see how it goes, but it's going to be a group effort. Is the quarterback going to put the ball on the money? Is the offensive line going to block long enough? Is he going to get some separation? There's a lot of things that come into play but I expect big things from Justin."

On Justin McCay and Jake Heap's chemistry from sitting out last season...
"I think he (Justin McCay) had a big jumpstart over everyone, because of that. Because Justin is never going to run a 4.3, that's not his deal. So when you're bigger, what you do is you find different ways to get open. Use your body presence and things like that. That's the relationship that he had with Jake, where he knew where he was going to be at what time and I think that's part of the chemistry between the quarterback and the wide receiver."

On what gave Samson Faifili the edge over other players...
"He's about 30 pounds bigger. When you run pretty much the same- I don't know how much bigger he really is, but he's a big man- he might be six-feet tall but I'll tell you what, put him and (Ben) Heeney next to each other in there, you say, 'Okay, now that's what I'm talking about.' And those two guys behind them, (Schyler) Miles and (Jake) Love? They're pretty good too and we finally got to the point where you could sit there and say that. You sit there and put up the two's and you hold your breath that the two's are out there. Because if you can only play one deep in this league, you have absolutely no chance."

On what Samson's sudden success says about himself...
"If we didn't think he was good enough, we wouldn't have been on him so hard. We only went after the guys that we really thought highly of. We expected him to challenge a starting inside linebacker, that's what we expected when we brought him in here. And Jake's not going away. But right now, he's just a bigger more physical presence when he's in there. He's a physical guy and when he plays, he plays with a lot of passion. I can't wait until someone pulls his hair from the back of his helmet. We'll look forward to that, and I'll say I told you so."

On the competitiveness of filling the defense...
"I think the secondary was a little slower in being competitive, because some of the guys weren't all in at the same time. I mean, like Kevin (Young) just getting in here. Kevin is probably as good a talent that we have, on the whole team. You come in late, and now you're just getting thrown into the mix. I think that taking a guy like Cassius(Sendish) and moving him back to safety- we were really concerned- not at nickel position, we felt good about the nickel position, but we were really concerned about the safety position. We didn't feel like we had any inherent depth that had any experience, and what we thought was Big 12 caliber football.

"I think that being able to watch Simmons and Arnick develop the way we thought they would, allowed us a little bit more flexibility. Now you can roll safeties through, now you can roll corners through. And you know as fast break as this is right here, you can't do that. And we always could always drop Cassius down to nickel. But if you don't practice, like the last two weeks, as soon as we got rid of you guys, he went right back to where I wanted him to be. He got right back to safety- because one of you would have reported what everyone was doing on every play, anyway. We're cross training him, at the time. We'll spend half the time with him at nickel and half the time with him at safety. And it was not based off his play at nickel, it was based off our concern at safety- not having enough guys, not having enough depth to go ahead and be able to play a whole game." 

On Jake Love cross-training at middle linebacker...
"He got some at mike linebacker when Schyler was out a little bit. It was a three-for-two at the time, where Jake played both will(weak side linebacker) and mike (middle linebacker). (Keon) Stowers also had a really nice camp too. He's probably the healthiest he's been since he's been here. He had a good camp and we're high on Schyler too. But when Schyler was banged up there a bit for a while, Jake was rolling at both positions."

On his confidence with kicking...
"I'm really confident with (Trevor) Pardula as both a punter and a kick-off guy. The other day, at the end of practice, I put the ball at the 40-yard-line to end practice and made a 57 yarder by about five yards. Now, he'll miss three of them from that distance too, but the fact that he can kick it that far- at least you know that if you have to try a field goal at the end of the game from a long distance, you know you have a guy who can make it from any distance. You know he can make it from 60 yards. He can miss it from 30 yards too, but he can make it from long range.

"The guy that was the most pleasant surprise was (Matthew) Wyman. The kid has only missed a couple kicks since he's been here. Every day that we go out there, he was running the fourth kicker, the he was the third kicker, then he was the second kicker, then he was the first kicker and he hasn't looked back. He hasn't turned back and that wasn't a name anyone was asking about, and we weren't telling. This kid won the competition and it wasn't even close. And we'll see what happens when the lights are on. But we've been very pleased in what we've seen of him.

"He has no problem in making it from 50 yards. The fact that when you have the ball on the 30 and he can kick it 47 yarder and not say that we have no chance and now you're not going for it on your own 30, and everyone is saying, 'That Weis is really stupid, why isn't he kicking a field goal?' This isn't the first time in my career I've heard how stupid I was for going for it from the 30 yard line. Usually you do it because you don't think you'll make the field goal, it isn't because you're being as risky as everyone thinks you are."

On the advantages and disadvantages of having an early bye week...
"The advantage for is us that we have so many guys that are new here and are in the mix. Either starter or are in the two-deep- so many of them. So, last week we got to go through, school has already started, here's your normal week. So now they had to go through Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, just like game week. Now the second week around, it makes it that much easier. Because now they know what the routine is. They know where there classes are, they know what their schedule is, they know when they're eating, they know when they have tutors, they know all those things, and there's a comfort zone on the football level because now everyone falls into a routine. And now on the negative, when school starts you want to play a game. It was awful. Saturday was awful. It may have been my least favorite day in the last six months. It ranks right there. Sitting there, watching these games, you think that's fun? 'Well let me watch a little of this game...' You just put a capital 'L' on your forehead. Because that's what I felt like, sitting here, watching all these games."

On Zach Fondal...
"He's the best pass-blocker we have, to start off with. Out of all of them, he's the best pass-blocker. He doesn't have as much girth as Aslam (Sterling) has right now. But one thing you need to be able to do is, you need to be able to do something really well and when you now have two tackles that you feel you can pass-block to on both sides, it makes it a little more comforting to know that you can go ahead and do that. I think he's getting better as a run-blocker every day, he's in the high 290s, it isn't like he's slight, he isn't dropping down from 397 like Aslam was either, he's probably never been that weight. But, he's very athletic, and I would imagine he'll eventually, a year from now, he'll end up being left tackle."

On counting on Zach Fondal to be left tackle...
"Oh we were counting on that, as a matter of fact, we weren't so sure if he wasn't going to be the starting left tackle. We weren't so sure of that, but Aslam really has done a nice job over there, and you see from that depth chart, if something happened to Aslam, Fondal would go over on the left side and we would put Beckman in first on the right side."

On approaching Saturday...
"We already know what we're doing and what we're not doing. Last year we came out struggling in the opener and won 31-17. And it was a struggle. And I'm not worrying about next week's game. We're not in the position where we are in the stepping stones to be saving a whole bunch to worry about the next game. But there are things we won't be doing until the appropriate time. So there are things we won't do in this game and doing in the next game, and the next game. It's just the natural progression. We need to play well this week."

On moving Young up and Marquel Combs to nose tackle...
"Marquel was more comfortable inside, and Kevin was playing way better. You just have to go by what you see and Kevin Young, to be honest with you, other than Keon (Stowers), Kevin Young might have had the second best camp of anyone. Marquel looks more comfortable inside and Kevin Young has been the most productive of the defensive ends. The best guy plays."

On Michael Mesh...
"He's where he belongs on the depth chart - not there right now. Once again, he had every opportunity to be the guy, and he clearly didn't kick as well as the other guys."

On Taylor Cox and the his new position and possibly sitting out...
"I immediately went to him, after Darrian (Miller) got on board. I went to him and said, 'Okay, it's your call, what do you want to do here?' I said James is going to be gone, you have a chance to compete to be the lead dog, you're not beating him out, you'll play but you're not beating him out. And you're not rooting for him to get hurt. So what do you want to do? And in Taylor's case he gave me a really good answer.

"He'd like to have a chance to play on Sundays. But he's older. And at the running back position, usually your shelf-life is very short. I think he might be 24 years-old or something like that. And his concern was that he was going to be too old by the time he was done playing and not have a chance to play past this. And I thought that logic was good, and I let him have an input, then I said okay. And we'll go through training camp as long as you have the right to be in this mix. And he's just had a great camp. We're worrying about this year, right now. We'll worry about next year, next year. We gave him the first say on this one right there, then I told him that, for example, if Darrian was playing way better than Taylor, and you were sitting there third, it's a totally different deal, but no one is playing way better than Taylor. Taylor is playing really good."

On his feelings of the team after camp...
"I've spent a lot of time talking to the coaching staff and the players over the last few days. I'll give you an example, one of the things that a lot of people have said to me in the last 48 hours was that South Dakota has a game under their belt and they're going to come in here, there's a lot of guys from Kansas that are playing and their going to be really excited. They're not going to be as excited as our guys are. It's been a long time since coming off the field listening to John Denver, trust me. I still can hear him in my ears. Okay, I can still hear it. It's been a long time, and everyone has been waiting. It's no 'Country Road' anymore."

On a team goal for the year...
"Let's look at this realistically now. I can answer the 'fan answer'; I can answer what everyone wants to hear. But I can tell you that every time we go into a game, we better be counting on winning. If we lose, we lose. I think that part of the problem when you're in an organization that gets used to losing, losing is okay, losing's accepted. If you play close to winning, it's okay. And that's a pile of garbage. It's an absolute losers mentality. So when you're going to go play a game, it shouldn't make a difference on who you're playing, and if their players are better than your players.

"The first thing you better do is change the mentality that you have as a team. And that is partially my responsibility. Not all my responsibility, but partially my responsibility. So if you go into a game thinking, 'Well, let's look at the record, let's look at the schedule! God, if we could win five...' If you think like that, you deserve to just get fired or quit. One or the other. You should never ever as a competitor think like that.

"So you want the answer? I want to beat South Dakota. Next week? I want to go beat Rice. Then I want to come home and beat Louisiana Tech. Then I want to go out and recruit the week after that, then I want to beat Texas Tech at homecoming. Then let's go to TCU and see what it's like if you're on a little streak and everyone's starting to get a little juice around here, that's what I want to do. And they better be thinking the same way. Now is it going to happen like that? I can't tell you that. I promise you, I have no idea if it's going to happen like that. But that's what I want to do. I'm counting on them thinking the same way."

On changing the current attitudes...
"We were 1-11 last year, we're 0-0 right now. That's something that has yet to be determined. I like to think that we've made major strides, I like to think that psychologically we've spent a lot of time working in that direction, but it really doesn't mean anything unless you've done something. Because realistically, what are you right now? You're just a team that's picked at the bottom of the pack that no one has any respect for. And until you start winning games, that's where you're going to stay."

On the possibility of changing attitudes through people leaving the program...
"There's only one way to change this, that's winning. It's not by who leaves and who goes and who comes. It's winning. That's the only thing that changes this. I've been involved in these before now. The only thing that changes is when you start winning. And all of a sudden those close games that you lose, you start winning a couple of those close games, and the light switch goes on and next thing you know is your team every week is expected to win those games, they're not waiting for something bad to happen. They're making some good happen when it's crunch time. And something good has to happen first. They have to get a taste of something good happening. And you can talk about psychologically all you want, but that's the only way it really plays out."

Kansas Associate Head Coach Dave Campo
On Cassius Sendish moving to safety...
"Well first of all it is cerebral position. Most of the changes that are made on defense, if you look at a corner, we play some coverages where we are doing some different things but in all honesty the key to playing corner is being able to line up one on one and cover somebody. Whereas the safety position all of the sudden has all of these different run fits, all the different things as far as changing coverages, changing coverages in the middle, those guys make all the decisions. Our two safeties, one safety handles one side of the secondary and the other safety handles the other side of the secondary. So, there's cerebral things involved in it. But one thing about Cassius though is when he first came in here he demonstrated right from the very beginning that he was capable of number one, playing two positions, but number two, understanding what we're trying to accomplish defensively.

"I think a lot of you guys heard me say this before, the one thing that the Big 12 forces you to do is to be relatively simple in what you do because everything is happening so quickly. So, all of the sudden you can't have 20 different coverages and a bunch of different things that would be more difficult. But Cassius has definitely shown us that he is capable of making that transition and he has skills to play the nickel position or the safety position. We didn't feel real comfortable about where we were at at safety and we felt that it was the right time to make that move."

On whether there are still questions about the secondary...
"There's going to be questions because of being relatively new. Especially a guy like Kevin Short, we love Kevin Short's talent, you can see he's listed on the depth chart a little lower because he's only been here for a short period of time. I think that some of our guys, Brandon Hollomon, a young corner from junior college, we feel we have made some progress there, but until we get out there and we see it with the game action I don't know that there are some questions."

On if he has ever had a defense with this much uncertainty...
"Well, very similar situation to when we first got to the Cowboys. Do you remember we were 1-15? So, we brought a bunch of new guys in there and for the first couple years when we were trying to turn that program around we had a similar feeling. Now, we ended up starting Larry Brown and Kevin Smith, two rookie corners, one after five games and one after eleven games. So, those guys proved relatively quickly that they were ready to go and we felt that we could go forward with it. There's nothing like having a veteran crew, but at the same time I feel good about the guys that we brought in here as far as athletic ability, number one. And before you start anywhere, you line up against the Oklahoma's, the Texas', the people of this league, you better have some guys that can run and are decent athletes back there and I think we've accomplished that part of it."

On Weis changing the mentality...
"From the day we've gotten here that's been a major, major issue with us. Starting from the fact that it's been a while since Kansas has won. Everybody in this organization, if we don't look at things from a positive standpoint at what direction we're headed, it won't happen. Because the players won't do it all themselves, the coaching staff has to be part of the process by feeling confident that the direction we're going is the right one and I don't think there's any question that coach Weis is the right mentality, the right idea going forward. We won't know until we get going here how much progress we've made here. We feel really good. I don't feel like there's any football game that we will go into this year that we automatically walk out onto the field thinking we're going to lose a football game. I don't think that that's in out mentality. I think that we got rid of some of the guys that looked at it that way. I think we have a group of guys now that feel very, very good that we're making progress and whether or not we win them all, I don't know that, but I know for sure that our guys will go into the ball game feeling like we've got a chance and that we're going forward in the direction we're going."

On upcoming opponent South Dakota...
"I think that they are very strong up front. I think that any football team that's strong in the offensive line, and I'm speaking strictly defensively, they have a chance because it allows them to control the football to a certain extent. I think they're a power football team. They're not going to come out throwing the ball all over the yard. I think they're going to come out and take advantage of a relatively veteran offensive line. That always concerns you just from a standpoint of if they hold on to the ball, and you're not able to control that, then that limits the amount of time the offense is on the field for you. I think this football team, they've got a veteran quarterback that has shown that he can make some things happen with his legs, he threw for over 50 percent last year, and they've got a couple of power running backs. I think they feel better about themselves than they did last year and that's going to be a challenge for us."

On what his learning experience was from last year...
"I really think this league is a learning experience for anybody. The game is different. The game is faster paced. It's not as technique oriented. It's more on defense in this league, you've got to learn how to survive. That's part of the reason that Coach Weis did what he did bringing in some junior college guys to where we could get more depth because to play in the league you can't run out of gas. I'll be honest with you, we ran out of gas in the fourth quarter a number of times last year on defense in my opinion. Part of that was because I was reluctant to play backup guys. I don't think that you can go through a season in this league and play starting eleven guys for 60 minutes a game. It won't happen, it's too fast, the stamina is a factor, you've got to be able to play some of your players and that's one of the things that I learned last year that we have to be able to put those guys out on the field and we have to have some guys that we feel confident with. So, when you look at our roster, there's a number of guys with some experience in the backup roles and we've got to play those guys. That's probably the biggest single thing that I've gotten out of the first year here. That's not that way in the NFL. You play your starting guys and that's it and you don't fool around with the other guys unless you have to."

On linebacker Samson Faifili...
"We're real pleased Samson and what he brings to the table. I think you've got more size there, he's a more physical player than we've had. He can rush the passer, he's got speed and he plays with an awful lot of passion. That's something that you can't put a number on as far as how important it is. Especially with a team that's just starting and trying to take the next step forward and Samson brings that to the table. I'll say that he's as passionate about the game of football and we want guys out that that love the game and love to play and are competitors and I think Samson brings that to the table."

On possibly being surprised by Faifili positive impact on the team...
"One thing I hope we did a good job with is when you go out and study guys and make a decision on the type of guy that you want in the program and you see some of the qualities that make your team better and remember this is a process of improving your position player by player. It's not that we have eleven new guys and all of the sudden you're going to go from 1-11 to 11-0, or 12-0. You have to improve by leaps and bounds and Samson we thought would bring that competitive spirit, excitement, and physical presence would help us at that position and I think that he's shown that since he's been here.

On comparing Sendish to a player that he's coached...
"I think he's a little bit unique. There's a size difference in some of the guys that I would compare him to. We had a guy, Darren Woodson, in Dallas that was our starting Safety and was also our starting nickel on third down. That's harder to do in the National Football League than it is here because of the numbers of snaps you have to take and the number of guys that are playing slot receiver up there. To have a 213 pound safety playing nickel and being able to run well enough and be athletic enough, that was a unique situation in itself. But Cassius has that ability, he's got corner ability, he's got safety smarts, and he's physical. You put those things together and that's the type of player he is. He can play a number of different positions and I think do it relatively easily because of his mental capacity."

On comparing Sendish to nickelback Victor Simmons...
"Victor's a different guy. First of all he went from a safety to a linebacker and now he's kind of a hybrid which is great. Victor has had an excellent camp in my opinion. I think the lights turned on for him that sometimes guys when they don't feel like they're going to have a chance to play a lot, it's just human nature that you don't get the most out of them. Unfortunately, you'd like to think that all of your guys have that ability to crank it up nobody where they are on the depth chart. But, Victor, since he's gotten a feel for where he's going to get some playing time, all of the sudden the lights turned on for him and he's a physical guy with speed. All of the sudden, he's more along the Woodson line from the size to cover guys, having been a safety, and now also being able to support the run which is really important in this league. He has shown that he has made strides, really good strides."

On JaCorey Shepherd moving from wide receiver to corner...
"I'm really pleased with JaCorey. I had some questions at the end of last year. We threw him in there in the middle of last season basically, towards the end. The mentality of a receiver, not every receiver but a lot of receivers, is not the same as a corner or a guy on defense with the hitting part of it. I didn't know for sure whether or not he had a true receiver mentality or whether or not he could make the transition. Really he has come back thinking more about playing DB than he did about whether or not he should have been a receiver or is he a DB or what he is. He has certainly made strides there and I'm pleased with him. He's an athlete that can run, until we get him out there, the experience part of it is a little of a concern still and really throwing him out there like we did last year, he did get a little bit of experience which has played to his advantage."

On Shepherd's knowledge of the receiver position helping him...
"It did a little bit in camp this year because he knew some of the routes ahead of time. But, when you play somebody else, I think he understands splits, and what guys are doing in certain splits, I think it gives him a little bit of an advantage because he knows what the receivers have been taught about how to get themselves into position to run certain routes and I think that's an advantage."

On having confidence at the nickel position and if that factored into moving Sendish to safety...
"I really think it's a combination. I don't know if we would have made the move necessarily if we didn't feel like Victor Simmons and Courtney Arnick had made an awful lot of improvement during camp. At the same time, we did not feel really good about our depth. Again, I just talked about the fact that I think you have to play a number of people and we didn't feel, safety, we didn't feel very strong there. We felt like it was a move that we could make. The safety position obviously, if we're not strong there it results in touchdowns. If we're not strong at nickel, it might keep us on the field a little longer, but it's not as big of a touchdown producing position. So, I think it was important for us to get a feel we were strong across the board with guys in the back end and it was really a combination. Especially we were pleased when Victor and Courtney started to come on."

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