“Everything you do in the off season is to get ready to go to camp,” Turner said. “I think all of our guys—Brandon (Weeden), all our guys—have done a good job preparing to go to camp. I think we’ve built a good foundation, I was impressed the three days that the rookies and the quarterbacks were here that there was good recall. I thought they retained the stuff that we did, now we gotta go to work.”
Turner inherits an offense with a lot of youth at the skill positions, including first or second year starters at quarterback, running back, wide recevier and tight end. Between all these young players and installing a new offensive system, it would be easy to imagine camp being a nightmare for the offensive coordinator. Turner is aware of the question marks surrounding his offensive unit, and what it is going to take to be ready when the season opens.
“I know that there is a lot of talk about the group of guys we have, we have a lot of young players that can be very good football players but we just have a ton of work to do,” he said. “We’re behind everyone else in our division because they have been together for a long time so we have a lot of work to do as an offensive group.”
Brandon Weeden worked on his mechanics, and specifically his footwork in the off-season, which Rob Chudzinski said was designed to help him get the ball out of his hand faster. Turner downplayed any big changes to his mechanics, but did say that Weeden is making progress in the latter.
“His basic mechanics aren’t going to change a big deal,” he said, “but I think he has more of a sense of urgency and I think he’s playing faster than he has and that comes with doing the same things over and over again and that comes with having a better understanding of what we want.”
Second-year receiver Josh Gordon answered questions yesterday for the first time since his suspension was announced. That two game suspension means Gordon can participate in camp activities, but won’t be available for the first two regular season games. Turner spoke about how that suspension will affect Gordon’s training camp.
“You get so many reps in training camp I don’t think that is a factor in what we’ll do,” Turner said of Gordon. “You always get the guys you have ready, and whether we have five receivers active or six receivers active you have to get them all ready to play. We’ve all been in situations where a guy turns an ankle Friday before your opening game and you don’t have them available, and you don’t call the game off. So we’ve got enough guys to get ready to play, and he’ll be ready when he comes back.”
Another question mark for the team concerns the use of a fullback. According to Turner, the team will carry a traditional fullback, but how they use him is another story.
“The beauty of this offense I think is that it is versatile enough that you have success with the players you have,” said Turner. “We use a variety of different styles of fullback and have been very productive. We’re going to take the guys we have and find out what they do best, and give them a chance to do that. I believe we’ll end up with a traditional fullback in our offense, how much we use them will depend on the style of offense we end up running.”
A staple of Norv Turner’s offense has been a dynamic tight end. Jordan Cameron was drafted for his athleticism. He is the style of tight end that should thrive under the offense of Chudzinski and Norv Turner.
“I look at what you hope that they can become,” said Turner. “I don’t control that. Sometimes they don’t control that, but they have a hell of a lot better control of it that than I do. We’re going to give them the opportunity. We’re going to give Jordan an opportunity to be that guy. Now let’s put it in his hands. Is he capable of being that guy? That’s why you go to camp. That’s why you go play the games.
“The game is still played on the field. Guys compete in practice to get an opportunity to play in the games and then we get to find out how they match up and do against pretty good competition.”
Turner said he expects Brandon Weeden to play at a high level.
“This system is really a quarterback friendly system,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of quarterbacks play at an awfully high level, and we’ve had some guys not have great years in this system because that’s part of this league. I think the system is proven, I think our players have bought into it and I think our fans will enjoy watching what we do. We want to be productive, we want to be explosive and we want to score points. That’s why you come to games.”
The players begin earning their chance to play in Turner’s offense on Thursday.