Defensive coordinator Billy Davis met the media Sunday, and was asked about linebacker Brandon Graham's prediction that he would get two sacks per game. Davis said he loves Graham's enthusiasm, and will be rooting for him to get that sack record.
"I love confidence," Davis said. "I think it's awesome. I'm not a big fan of predictions and calling the shot. But everybody gets to be who they are, and Brandon wants to go for ‑‑ what did he say?"
Reporter: 32 sacks.
Davis: "So he's going to shatter the record. I'm excited to see that, trust me."
Here are some other noteworthy comments from Davis:
Kiko Alonso's injury
Kiko's fine. Kiko's fine. Just one of those things. I've been coaching linebackers my whole career. It's just part of that position, when it sneaks up on you nowadays, we have great protocol. It's not an issue. Kiko’s doing great. He won't miss a beat.
Depth at linebacker
You know we really are deep. I don't think I've been through a training camp as a linebacker coach where the inside backer doesn't get thin at some point in training camp. I don't know what it is about training camps, that happens. It's nice to have the depth we have.
We also have a nice little pattern going of swinging inside and outside backers. So wherever we might get a little light, we can just move a guy for a practice or two. So the linebacker coaches [outside linebackers coach Bill] McGovern and [inside linebackers coach] Rick [Minter] have done a great job of kind of cross-training those guys. And having depth on top of that makes training camp much more easier.
The progression of the defensive line
In year three with [assistant head coach/defensive line] coach [Jerry] Azz[inaro] and what [assistant defensive line] coach [Mike] Daws[on] do out there, I don't know if you guys notice them wearing those sleds out. I've never been part of a group that hits the sleds and gets as much out of that as they do. The starters are taking big steps.
It's the third year in a system which is always a really nice place to be. I'm excited. And I think the young guys haven’t gotten as much press as you would think because the conversation goes to the secondary but our young defensive linemen and our second year defensive linemen are really taking some big strides.
I'm anxious to see them Sunday against the Colts and see how they fair and I think we will see good things out of the d‑line.
Evaluating the players in the secondary
I think one of the main things that I've always said ‑‑ my philosophy in the preseason is that is really the only time in the NFL we can truly grow the young guys; that they actually get your defensive reps, they get to be active and they get to communicate with each other and then the regular season starts. In your week of practice, those second and thirds really are all scout team. They don't even get your defensive reps because you have to give your ones the defensive reps.And then, all of a sudden, somewhere in week eight, nine or 10, injuries pile up, and that young guy, the last time he really played was in preseason, and if he didn't have enough of a chunk in the preseason, then it's tougher for him to shine or at least fill in a hole to get you through a couple games that you need to win to get you to where you want to go.
The preseason is so valuable for the growth of your young [players] and the bottom of your roster. We get a lot of reps in practice and we play them, we play those young guys a lot in all the preseason games. That's how we grow them.
How not tackling in camp effects evaluations
You've gone back and forth and sometimes you're in a place where you want to actually practice tackling on the ground. And remember the first year here when we really were struggling with tackling, if you really feel that you're in a place that you need to get that done, then you go ahead and you get some real structured tackling drills. We do it in individual live and we have a couple periods for tackling set aside. We stress heavy the two‑hand tag below the waist in practice. You see a runner or receiver run by our guys. But we are in a position to two‑hand tag below the waist; we are also in a position to make a tackle. If you can't get two hands, you only get one, then you're probably missing an arm tackle. That's how we evaluate the body part of it, the come into balance part.
The actual tackle to the ground, it doesn't take long into a season where you have got a lot of tackles under your belt already through the preseason. You go back and forth. It's really where you are as a team and where you think you are. If you have to tackle to the ground, then you do it, and the last two years, we haven't felt we had to.
Nolan Carroll II's progression
It's his second year in the system. When he came in, there was ‑‑ we were competing. You have to make the call. You have to choose. I chose [cornerback Bradley] Fletcher and [cornerback] Cary [Williams] over him last year like we do at all positions. You have to pick one at the end of the day. It was a close battle. I love the acquisition of Nolan a year ago just like I love it now and I've said this, I believe last week, that maybe I should have in hindsight probably got him in there more.
But Nolan Carroll took a huge step. It's almost like everybody that comes into our program, year one – this is different than other places. This is different. And everyone kind of checks it out, and then they dive in. And Nolan has been, like I said last week, he's probably had the best offseason I've been around. He is completely in, leading the way, saying, ‘Guys, this way, follow me’ and it's been neat to watch.
He's made huge progress. I liked him last year and I like him this year. He did a great job learning the dime position and I'm excited to see what he does at the corner spot.