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Ron Rivera Presser: When Terry McLaurin talks, everybody listens

Ron Rivera speaks to the media before practice

Ron Rivera changed the schedule up a little today and answered questions from the media before practice instead of after. The seventh day of training camp had one of the longer practice sessions, almost 2 1/2 hours in front of another big crowd of fans. They also had some guests today, with a full crew of refs on the field to go over the rules with players and coaches. Terry McLaurin has been a leader on this team, but Rivera said he is stepping up even more this year, and he commands the respect of his peers.


I like where we’re headed. I really do. I mean, we’ve seen some really good things and again, one of the things that we talked about in bringing Eric Bieniemy here was getting the ball to our playmakers in space. I don’t know if you guys have noticed, but there’s been several balls that have gone quicker to Terry and in certain areas to Jahan, to Curtis with the occasional shot going vertical. Getting the ball into the tight ends hands, utilizing them even more, expanding their role.

And then also not just handing the ball off to the running backs. I mean, yesterday we had an extended nine on seven period, run period. It went along very well. Some really good things that we saw. But also using them as a receiving weapon. Again, getting the ball in their hands in space, whether it’s coming out of the backfield or running a swing route, we’ve got to get the ball into the playmakers hands quickly and so we can get the explosives.

How Bieniemy’s scheme can affect Curtis Samuel:

Oh, I think it fits in very well. Go back and get an opportunity to look at the stuff that they did in Kansas City and look at how creative and inventive they have been over the years with the receivers that they’ve had. Everything from running the jet sweeps to going vertical to working underneath, and the coverages against the coverages.

You know, it’s about getting the ball into the hands as quick as possible in as much space as possible. Allowing these guys to make plays. You know, one of the things that they’ve been noted for over the years, it’s always been their yards after catch. Once the player has taken possession how explosive have they been?

No game-planning:

How others should look at QB Sam Howell:

Well, I think to me it’s right now, this is all the growth and development opportunity. This is a chance to learn the base fundamentals of our offense. And he’s been doing it since OTA’s and minicamp. Now we’re in training camp, we’re in our eighth day now. So all these things are coming together.

What you really need to look for is when we get on the field, when we do gameplan, when we do prepare. I know it’s just preseason games, but those are going to be paramount to telling everybody where he is, what’s his growth.

Howell's processing and decision making:

That’s one of the things that’s been really cool is to watch him when you see him recognize it and process it. Part of it though is his timing has to get a little bit better when he does see it and get to it. And one of the things that I’m always looking for is as he goes through his progressions, where is that ball placement when he gets to his second or third progression. If that ball is slightly ahead right where it needs to be then you know he’s processing on time. When it starts getting to that back shoulder and there’s no defender here, then you know he’s late. If there’s a defender here, it should be on the back shoulder. But when you see it, when there’s no reason for it to be there, then you know he’s seeing it, but he’s gotta process it faster.

So, we’re looking for those kind of hints as we’re watching him on tape. Every one of his throws, I sit there and watch it and try to see how long it took for him to get to where he needs to. It’s not just him going through it, but also getting to that point where he gets to his setup, is his footwork good? That’s one of the things we talked about last year and it was one of the points that we always try to make about him was is his footwork where it needs to be?

One of the things that Tavita talked about is that for the most part, it’s been really good until he gets near the end. He does get a little tired, a little lazy with it, and he’s gotta push himself through that and it’s early in camp.

Jacoby Brissett:

And at the same time as I’ve said a couple times, don’t sleep on Jacoby, he’s done a nice job as well. I mean, we got some really good quarterback play going on right now. We’ve got a real good quarterback room. We’re very happy with what we’ve got right now. And again, we just want to continue to see the growth.

So now when we go into those meetings, and I listen to Eric and I listen to Tavita talk about what he’s doing, how he’s doing it. And listen to Luke and his opinion, and Kenny Zampese, I mean, we got four guys really dedicated to the development of the one position. I think that’s a good start for us. And I think it’s been a good start for him in camp.

Darrick Forrest:

Well, I think you started to see it with his playmaking ability first and foremost early on. You know, he gets the big interception in the first game. You just knew this young man had a little something to him and then you see how fast he plays. One of the things in talking with Jack is you gotta get the speed on the field and guys like him that are explosive, that can run and are dynamic, you want on the field. You know, another young guy to keep an eye on is Percy. You know, Percy’s a guy that runs very well and plays very fast. So, you’ve gotta find ways to get those type of players on the field.

Terry McLaurin:

Change from McLaurin in the past two years behind closed doors:

Not just behind closed doors, but I think out in the public too. When I have seen some of the clips of him going out and getting into the community, but just kind of watching the way he has stepped up as a leader and being more vocal. I mean, when I first got here, he was a leader more by example, less by what he was saying. Now you see him not just by example but adding his two cents and he is one of those guys, kind of like E.F. Hutton, when he talks, everybody listens.

Trackers players wear in practice:

They’re putting more steps than usual. And one of the things that the reason we put it on is to find out just how much they’re getting. They’re putting in a lot more movement, a lot more steps. They’re covering a lot more ground. And this is all part of the conditioning aspect as well, but they’re in shorter burst too, if you’ve noticed. We’ve spent more time around the red zone. So instead of running long vertical routes, the routes are shortened right now. They’re working on the quickness and the efficiency of the route running. And as we track it though, and you look at where these guys are. Instead of three, four, five guys that are in the higher ranges, we’re getting eight to 10 more guys in the higher ranges. So, a lot more guys are getting quality work, and that’s a result of the way we’re practicing. It’s a little bit different, a little bit out of our comfort zone, but we are getting to it.

Eric Bieniemy's changes to the practice scripts:

Well, I think one of the things that we’ve done more than anything else is instead of having as many periods we’ve had, we’ve limited some days where we’ve only had four action periods. You know, today we’ll have six. But we’ve had some where we’ve only gone four, but we’ve spent more time.

When we did nine on seven yesterday, we spent more time on specifically nine on seven. Sometimes when we get into the seven-on-seven stuff, we’ll spend more time on third down situations. Whether third-and-short, third-and-medium, third-and-long, instead of just going through and getting 10, we’ll focus in on that 15 or 20 minutes would be dedicated specifically to that, instead of bouncing from one to the other.

Like today we’ll do a few more. We’ll add a couple extra action periods as opposed to just having four because there are some things that he just wants to touch on. So those are things that we’ve talked about in terms of the way he’s structured practice.