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April 22, 2017

Steve Addazio

Boston, Massachusetts

STEVE ADDAZIO: Just great to come out of there healthy. It was great, and had a little fun at the end. We started mixing and matching jerseys so much, just wouldn't let the other team score and let them kick it and wanted everybody to feel great about what they were doing. I couldn't keep track of who was on what team anymore by the end, so I thought it was a good way to close it out. Moved the ball around a little bit, did some good things on defense, and guys played hard throughout the first half, did some good game mechanics and operation, closed off spring, just had a really fantastic, positive spring. Got a lot of work done all spring long and really like the work ethic of this football team, like the direction of the football team, like the attitude, passion for the game. It's a great group of guys we have here right now, and really looking forward to a tremendous off-season and getting ready for the year.

Q. Just talk about targeting the running backs and tight ends, especially early.
STEVE ADDAZIO: We just wanted to get the ball to the tight ends, throw the ball around a little bit. We did a lot of different stuff today. You probably saw that, one back, two back, empty, and just did a lot of different stuff. You know, that eclectic, sprinkling the ball around, something we really wanted to get done, and I thought we did. Moved the ball pretty well around the field.

I think we're pretty excited about what we've got. We actually had two good hard practice days this week, which is a little uncharacteristic. We had that time off at Easter, so we came back and had two really hard practices on Tuesday and Thursday and got a lot done there, as well, so it was pretty productive.

Q. Can you just talk about how far Sweeney has come from last year?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Yeah, I mean, I thought Tom took a big jump last year in his productivity, and then again for us this spring took another step forward, which was really great. I think we have a really strong unit there, and obviously we're missing Chris Garrison right now and Jake Burt, both out. They'll add back into this mix, as well, so that's a pretty strong, balanced unit of guys with a lot of depth. So that's a good thing, because we're going to -- you know, we play with at least two about every snap, and they can block and they can catch and they can do a lot of things. It's good.

Q. Of the quarterbacks today, who stood out to you?
STEVE ADDAZIO: I thought kind of like the whole spring, I thought that they both had a pretty consistent spring. Like everything else, certain days, certain guys perform a little better, but I thought they've all done a good job. I thought Darius moved the ball up and down the field pretty well today. But you can see the ability to throw the ball with these guys is pretty good, and both of them had a really great spring and have been very, very productive. I was excited to see those guys making some plays.

You know, I think we had a couple of fade balls that we probably didn't give enough opportunities for those guys to catch the balls down the sidelines there, and that's something we definitely need to work on are those deep balls. There was a lot of productivity by the quarterbacks, and it was good.

Q. Elijah Johnson and (indiscernible). What players do you see stepping up in those roles?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Well, I mean, you've got Kevin Bletzer and Sharrieff Grice playing that outside backer spot, and Sharrieff has been out for a couple weeks, a week, and he didn't play today, so Kevin Bletzer is getting a lot of those reps, and of course we have a pretty deep, talented linebacker corps, so that's not to say that we also don't have depth from within the interior corps. They all run really, really well. In the back end, Lukas Denis and Mehdi El Attrach have been getting a lot of work next to Will Harris at safety. Very, very talented. I think our back end is going to be really good. Kamrin Moore was out this spring, so coming back from an injury, but he's good. He's actually cleared now, and we've got experience back there, and I think this is a really good group.

We lost a really good player, but I really think we have really good players back there. We lost a really good player in Matt, but I think the linebacker corps is pretty deep because we actually -- I think the biggest concern I have is the depth interiorly up front. I've said that before. I'd say that's what we've got to really develop some really young guys right there. But some of those young guys have shown some real promise, but that would be where -- right now today I would say the depth piece of that is something we can -- we didn't play Ray Smith today, but the depth piece of it interiorly, we've got to develop the young guys.

Q. (Indiscernible).
STEVE ADDAZIO: That's part of what we do. We're going to put the ball down the field, and both those guys can throw that ball down the field, and they've thrown it well all spring. Like I said, I think today, I think a couple of those deep fade balls, we kind of threw them out of bounds a little bit, which really all spring we've been pretty good with that. So today we didn't connect on as many as I thought we would I would like to see us connect on. But we've been good with that. Those guys are accurate, accurate throwers.

You know, we've got to keep working and keep dishing the ball around and keep balancing it out. But I thought there was a lot going on on the field today in terms of styles of throws and runs. Pretty good.

Q. (Indiscernible).
STEVE ADDAZIO: They do. They both do. And we didn't work this -- we did more this spring than we've ever done just in terms of we did a lot. A lot of different things, like I said, from one back, two back to empty to throw to run to play action, you know, we just did a lot more. I thought that was -- that's a reflection of having more depth, more guys, quarterback play, et cetera. So I thought we saw a lot of that today, which was good. We ran -- each offense had to run 50 plays -- well, just about 50 plays in a half, which is a fair amount, you know? And then once we were in the second half I reduced the quarter length and the running time, and I just kind of said, you know what, I've seen enough. I mean, like I said, we did a lot of plays on Thursday, just a couple days ago. I felt like that was enough.

And at the end of the day, you're trying to get most -- real setting, kind of in the stadium and everything and trying to get some of that work done, but the body of work for the spring I thought was fantastic. And we made it a fun deal. We purposely didn't want to be like tackling out there. That's always hard to officiate and it's hard to determine when a guy is really stopped and when he's not, and being on the goal line is really hard. But that's fine. It's all part of it. Big picture, it's all big picture.

Q. Talk about the punt return. Is it Thadd Smith on the other side ^ check?
STEVE ADDAZIO: It was Hamp and Taj Torres, and of course we had Davon Jones and Mike Walker. Mike has been out for spring. Davon has taken a bunch. We didn't have him take any today. And Jeff Smith. Jeff and Davon didn't do any punt return activity today. Taj and Hamp did today, and Taj took a lot of the kickoff returns today, but certainly Mike Walker and ham also are guys that have the ability to return.

And what we did with punt today was all fair catch, no return. And on kickoff return, what I told everybody was just kind of thud and set the ball where I wanted to. It was just about getting a couple of full-speed reps, right. Kind of choked that off after a while because it just becomes a lot of running. Punt covers and kickoffs and you've got the teams split up like that, it becomes a little bit a lot of running when you're running as many plays as we're running, too. I just thought that I'd seen enough of that activity for today, so I kind of stopped that there for a bit once I felt like we had it.

Q. (Indiscernible).
STEVE ADDAZIO: Yeah, yeah, we've got some real -- we have a lot of -- we've got some really fast, explosive guys. We have a lot of speed. And Taj is a legitimate bona fide sprinter. Mike Walker we all know is extremely fast. Jeff Smith is probably the fastest guy on the team. We have speed. So miles did a great job, but Mike the year before did a phenomenal job. So we're going to have some veteran leadership.

The punt return, you know, I thought Tyler did an exceptional job last year, and while we feel we're very talented, no one really has any live experience in that, but these are the guys that -- I thought it was great today to see some of that. We had one inside the 10 that should have been fielded, and good learning experience, and that's what happens sometimes. A little bit more of a kind of gamelike, competitive -- maybe not making as good a decisions when you don't have a ton of experience there, so I thought that was good that that showed up, and we'll coach about that a little bit.

Q. (Indiscernible).
STEVE ADDAZIO: It was all right. We call it two step, which means that the other side is not coming live because that's such a hard thing. It's a high injury rate deal when guys are on guys' legs, so we call it two step. So you know, there's not really -- you don't really feel a rush, so it's hard to evaluate that. So it was okay, you know. I'd put it okay. I don't know that really today was a fair assessment of the competitive nature of that, you know, because I still think it matters when you're going live, you can really feel penetration, feel rush, feel pressure, and I think it has a little more effect. I just at the end tried to fire one off at the end there just to let those guys yell at each other a little bit, so it was pretty fun out there. I think that fell short or something. That was on the 35, I think. I had it on the 35, so that's a pretty long field goal right there. It was accurate, but it was short. I was worried what was going to happen there.

Q. Three backs reached the end zone today. Do you plan in the future to have one feature back or maybe split up the carries more?
STEVE ADDAZIO: I mean, I'm not going to split them up that much. Jon Hilliman had a phenomenal, phenomenal spring. I mean, he had the best spring he's had since he's been here. They all did a great job. Davon had a lot of productivity, Rich Wilson, and then the young Travis. I mean, he's (indiscernible). We need them all. What you learn in this conference is you need all those backs, you know, but to play all of them like equally or something like that, I wouldn't say that would be our intent. But it'll work itself out. In the course of a game, you need to play with a few, not necessarily equally distributed, but you need a few. But in the course of a season, I mean, you know, it's a rough game, rough conference. Those guys get dinged up and really quickly. We've all seen it over the years. All of a sudden there's years when you don't have much, then the next year, next thing you know you've got two out or something. It just happens so fast on you. But I think it's encouraging that we lost two really great guys, but we were able to have -- I think you can get a good look at some guys that can be very productive.

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