Todd Grantham Talks About the Defense After Wednesday’s Practice

Photo: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports
Photo: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Videos from Howie Lindsey of

Transcribed by me, which takes forever.

On Position Battles

First of all, whether you’re battling or not, you are still trying to get better everyday. I don’t care how long you’ve been here, your goal is to get better and try to perfect your craft. But just looking at it, the corners are battling pretty good. They are competing. I’ve seen them do some solid things at times and we have to continue to develop those guys.

The safeties, when you look at Chucky (Williams), Zack (Zykiesis Cannon?), even Josh (Harvey-Clemons) back there…are working on their play to be consistent and that is critical. Even some of the young defensive linemen like (Johnny Richardson) even though he played a little bit last year, he’s battling. You look at (Kyle) Shortridge, (Drew) Bailey…trying to get in there and get some snaps. Personally, I think that they all need to be battling. Everyday you are working, you are working to get better. If you’re not doing that, then somebody is going to pass you.

On Sheldon Rankins

First of all, we’ve got a lot of respect for Sheldon and what he’s done. He’s one of the leaders on defense. He comes to work everyday and he’s one of the guys I’ve kind of talked about from the standpoint of he works to try to perfect his craft everyday. And that’s how you become an elite player and a difference maker. Not only are you battling the other people around you for playing time, you’re also battling to make yourself the best player possible. If everybody does that, then our team has a chance to be better. So that’s really more important to me than anything.

On the Cornerbacks

Trumaine (Washington) is a guy that played a little bit for us last year. He had a nice pick in the scrimmage. Jaire (Alexander) is a guy who has done a solid job for us. (De’Eric) Culver is a guy that has shown flashes. So I think it’s kind of nip and tuck honestly, with all of them. They show flashes of what they can do. I think the key thing is we’ve just got to continue to be consistent. We’re not there yet, but we’re working. We’ve just got to keep our focus and continue to compete.

On losing all four starters in the secondary

It’s tough because basically you are starting over again. I think having Jaire here mid-year has helped tremendously. It’s kind of like you have to go make plays. We grade every practice on your production, from effort to making plays to maybe not making plays. Because at the end of the day, it’s about making plays on the ball, it’s about tackling the guy, it’s about when the ball is thrown to your guy. You know, going up and defending the deep ball or defending the ball in general.

So we’re really grading every position from that standpoint everyday to let them see where they are from a play-making standpoint and from a production standpoint. Because the only way you get better is you compete, and that’s what we want to do.

On the progression of the defense in general

I think we’ve done a solid job. I think we’ve got to continue to work and understand that by no means are we where we need to be. We are working, we do improve. I thought there were some solid things in the scrimmage on Saturday. We’ve just got to make sure we take that workman’s approach everyday and continue to get better because in this game, there’s going to be some competitive teams you face. And if you want to reach the goals we want to reach, you’ve got to be on top of your game. And the only way to get better is to work everyday so that’s what we’re going to do.

On the Linebackers

They obviously played well for us this past year. We’re looking for those guys to be our leaders and that does come with some ownership of the defense and the team. We’re kind of expecting that and they have done a good job so far. I think as far as where they want to stand (with being the best unit on defense), they do work that way. They do have pride in themselves and their work. I think it’s fine to want to do that. The key is going to be to continue to put the work in so that when fall gets here, you can go out and showcase your work. So I’ve been pleased with it.

On moving Keith Brown to Outside Linebacker

I’ve always been a guy that’s wanted to rank the players. When you rank your top 11 guys that you have athletically, if you can’t get your top 11 on the field, then how do you do that? He’s a guy that’s got some speed at the edge on the tight ends. He’s got some pass rush skills to him, so the combination of those guys makes our team better and defense is about putting guys in position to make one on one plays. You try to create mismatches whether it’s in the run game or pass game. So the move of Keith to outside was really one to allow us to get the best players that we have on the field at once. And I’ve been pleased with it so far.

On Rankins and DeAngelo Brown

Anytime you’ve got guys up front that can win the one on one blocks, it’s going to force guys to stay on them a little longer which frees up the linebackers. If they come off to block the linebackers, then those guys are going to make plays. I think anytime you can be disruptive up front with your front guys, it makes your whole team better. It makes your run defense better. It makes your pass defense better. We kind of lean on those guys to be that kind of front. They do work hard. I am pleased with where they are. We just have to continue to work.

On big testing numbers translating to the field

It varies. When you look at football movements, you know power clean, broad jump, vertical jump, those are things that are explosive in nature. Defensive line is about suddenness and quickness, getting off the ball. I think when you start looking at squats and bench press, those are brute strength kind of things, so like when you are engaged on a guy in the trenches, you have the ability to separate with your bench press or the ability to anchor on the double team because of your squat. So those numbers do add value too. And the thing about those guys, they play to their numbers. A lot of times, guys may have numbers but it doesn’t become functional strength. But those guys have functional strength and apply their numbers to the field in what they do.

Did the big numbers impress him?

I was pleased with their progress because they continued to work from last year. That’s the biggest things I saw, is guys that continued to work and grind and get better from last year, which is big for me.

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