Talk about David’s [Long] play. He’s really seemed to pick it up.
“Yeah, David, from week to week, really from day to day, is just getting better. Really he’s working at his craft. It means something to him. It’s really good to see. I’m really happy for him.”
Any update on Lavert [Hill] or is that just a wait-and-see kind of thing?
“I think that’s a wait-and-see kind of thing. Know he’s in the protocol right now, so we’ll wait and see.”
What does that mean, ‘the protocol’?
“That means that he has to see a doctor every day, and certain symptoms have to go away or if they stay then certain things happen.”
How are you preparing to go without him if he can’t go?
“Oh, we’re fine. We’ll be fine. I have all the confidence in B-Wat and certainly David. Those guys are true starters anyway, and then Ben St. Juste behind them and Ambry [Thomas], he’s been playing, so we’re good. Then Jaylen Kelly-Powell, he’s been kind of working the nickel corner mode too, so we’ve got enough. We’re in good shape.”
Speaking of Jaylen, we saw him against Maryland actually on the defense and not just on special teams. What has he shown you?
“Well, he’s shown that he can cover. He’s pretty—he’s like a little magnet. He’s able to get in the slot and cover very well, and that’s why we had confidence to put him in there. He’s been doing well. Really well. What’s great about Jaylen is he can do a lot of different things. He’s a freshman; we’ve asked him to play safety, we’ve asked him to play corner, and now nickel. So those are—it’s not an easy thing to do and he’s done it and he’s done it well.”
[After THE JUMP: Kelly-Powell’s long-term fit, Ben St. Juste’s progress, when they need a decision on Hill, and intercepting the China concept]
Is there a particular position there that you think he’s more destined to future-wise?
“I think he’s definitely a nickel in the future. He certainly could play outside, and he’s physical as far as the safety part of it, too. I think nickel would be a really good fit for him.”
You say you feel comfortable even if Lavert can’t go. What does that say about the growth of Brandon [Watson] and David over the past eight or nine weeks?
“Yeah, like we were just talking about, I think David daily has been getting better. B-Wat doing the same. You can actually see from two weeks ago had to get on him a little bit about some of his technique work that kind of diminished, went away a little bit. What’s great about it is they’re taking the coaching, it means something to them, and you can tell by the performance and their technique.”
Is this a different challenge than you’ve seen this year in run support for your group?
“No, we had it last year. Same defense, same thing. Run support with all the trapping we do and the Eagle concepts, yeah, it’s all the same and they’ve adjusted to it well.”
What challenges does Hornibrook and those receivers give you?
”Well, they’re such a run-heavy team, we can’t afford to fall asleep on the back end. And he’s got a hell of an arm. Now, he’s at a little bit of a disadvantage because two of his receivers—I guess the best one is out, but the guys that are stepping in have done a pretty good job and he’s got the tight end that he throws to all the time, a really good tight end who’s back from last year, so you’ve got some weapons over there, and he’s got a hell of an arm, too. We’ve got to be focused in. We can’t just fall asleep on the run game because they’ll just pound it, pound it, pound it, then all of a sudden [/claps] they’re play action or rolling out naked, so you’ve got to be ready for that.”
MGoQuestion: On David’s interception, it looked like he was in man and then kind of came off his guy as he tracked where the ball was going to go. Is that something you can teach in practice or is that just a corner going on his instincts?
“Well, it’s kind of a two-way thing there. We talk about getting control of your man, once you get control of your man looking through the receiver to the quarterback, and in that instance it was really the perfect route for him to be able to get control of his man and then look through the quarterback because we practiced that route all week. Call it a China route: got two ins and then the third guy’s running the corner route. Once he had control, I mean, it was a very smart, headsy play on his part. Really was.”
Should he have stayed outside on the return?
“Yeah, he should. If he just stayed right there he would have had—and he’s a returner! What the hell is he doing!? He’s back there catching punts in practice and you’re like, okay, he’s got this, and he cuts in. And he knew it, too. He knew it.”
Did you say anything to him?
“Oh yeah, everybody did. Everybody did. ‘Stay outside, David! Stay outside!’ For sure.”
Is there a day that you would like to have Lavert cleared by to feel comfortable putting him in or is he so experienced that he can kind of go to the last day and do that?
“I’m good with that. I don’t know how coach Harbaugh would feel about that, but Vert is a smart kid. He’s a really smart, very instinctive football player. As far as not practicing and understanding the game, he would get that. But I don’t know, we’ll have to wait and see if he comes out to play.”
Is he doing any activity right now?
“No, nope. Nope.”
I think Don Brown said that Ben St. Juste made a play a couple weeks ago that just blew him away.
“Yeah, Ben, he’s really, really improved. He really is. He had a period there at the end of camp where everything was just kind of going haywire, so we kind of just put him on ice a little bit, let him cool down, let him on the scout team, let him just get his feet back on the ground, and since then he has taken off. He really has. He’s done very well. Have no issue putting him in the ballgame.”
What do you mean things went haywire? In terms of technique?
“Well, yeah, his technique. Everything he had learned from spring on just seemed to go out the door and his mind was racing. Instead of just being calm, cool, and collected at the line of scrimmage, everything was racing and then once the route started it really started racing and he just wasn’t in control of the routes all the time [inaudible].”
Is Ambry a guy you’d feel comfortable putting in there?
“Yeah, Ambry, shoot, he’s been going in all season. Yeah, so he’s another guy, absolutely.”
What do you like about where he is now compared to where he was a couple months ago?
“Same kind of deal. He’s just getting more comfortable with his footwork, understanding certain releases and certain footwork techniques and body positioning. He’s starting to figure all that out and again, just making improvements week after week.”
He broke the news that he was going to be taking some snaps on offense. How would you feel about sharing him?
“Hey, the team, the team, the team. I’m all in, man. I’m all in. It’s all good, right? He’d be good at it. He’d be real good at it.”
You haven’t seen him practice?
I mean on offense.
“I haven’t. Has he? [/laughs] I don’t know. I haven’t seen it yet. I don’t know.”
Do you think he’d be good as a receiver? We’ve seen him play in high school—
“Well, he can certainly run. I would imagine he’d be a hell of a threat downfield. Yeah. How about you?”
I think he’d be great.