The start of the 2017 season is just a few weeks away for the Knights. Defensive coordinator Erik Chinander talked with the media on Thursday about what he has seen from the team so far.
Q: What were your overall thoughts on Wednesday’s scrimmage?
A: Happy with the tackling. The ones and twos tackled really well. I was really pleased. We only had a couple of misses and those misses… other guys got there, so that’s a major positive. The three group needs to get the tackling down a little bit.
Q: How comfortable do you feel with the front seven only two weeks away from the season opener?
A: I feel very comfortable. I really feel comfortable with either the ones or the twos, whoever has to come in. I think there’s as much depth as we could ever hope for and I feel great about that front seven.
Q: What are your thoughts on the cornerback position?
A: At corner, we had some people do some good things yesterday. I know [Brandon] Moore really showed that he could tackle yesterday. Rashard Causey had a pick, Chris Johnson did some nice things, Bryon Brown did some nice things, Keenan Johnson moved around in the nickel and corner and he did some good things. That thing is starting to work itself out a little bit. There’s still going to be two weeks of competition, but I felt much better about those guys after yesterday.
Q: With Alabama transfer Shawn Burgess-Becker moving to outside linebacker, what have you seen from him during camp?
A: He’s done a great job. At the beginning, you saw a lot of flash plays and then you saw a lot of plays where he had no idea what he was doing, as expected. He’s just gotten better and better with knowledge, especially running with the ones and the twos. When he was with that third group to start it off, it’s hard when the linebacker or safety is not giving you the call and you don’t know exactly what you’re doing. Then, [we] put him up with the twos and the ones and he looks like he’s been there for years. He’s a special player talent-wise, and I really think he’s going to help us.
Q: What went into the decision of moving him from safety to linebacker?
A: There’s a lot of factors. No. 1 is our job is to put the best players on the field. Right now, we’re pretty good at safety. We’re pretty much two-deep (four safeties) that we can put into the game, so where’s the spot for him? Where’s the spot where he can make the most impact on the team? That was a spot, at outside linebacker, that we didn’t feel great about having a second player there. Obviously, Shaquem [Griffin] is really good, but we all know he can’t take every rep. The offense actually played [Becker] there on scout team last year and they were saying he was ruining the practice sometimes because he was making so many plays. And, he’d gotten a lot bigger after he’s been in our strength program, and the physicality he plays with, I knew if we moved him down a level, that wasn’t going to be an issue. Sometimes, you move a safety and you’re like ‘will he put his face in there, will he set the edge, will he take on blocks?’ That’s not the case with Shawn. I knew if he could figure it out, it would be a good move for him and he’s done a tremendous job of accepting the new role and growing in the new role.