Denver Broncos head coach John Fox spoke Thursday morning during the maddening machine gun number of pressers at the NFL Combine. Here's the transcript of Fox's press conference.
Can Ronnie Hillman be a No. 1 back
"Obviously Ronnie is very talented and I thought he had a great rookie year. (He’s) very explosive and like any first-year player he’s got a lot of room for improvement. I thought he finished the season very strong, we had to lean on him a little more in the game against Baltimore – I thought he had one of his better outings. I think he’s capable, we’ll see. It takes time to grow into the NFL, these guys coming out of college, I call it developing a pro body. A full offseason … I think we’re anticipating he’ll be much improved and be able to play more extended time."
"Our draft class did fantastic, Derek probably played as much as any rookie in the league, defense I know. He plays a spot (in the Broncos’ defense) that’s very important against the run and it probably isn’t as advantageous rushing the passer from that position. But I thought he had a superb year and is going to be a great young player moving forward."
Getting over playoff loss
"The reality is once the season is over everybody is 0-0, everybody’s undefeated, however you want to put it. Any loss kind of sticks with you, those scars, I would say, but you’ve got to spit it out, you’ve got to get on to the next season and you can’t let it affect your preparation into the next season."
Free agency approach
"There are a lot of guidelines, everybody’s under contract right now, so none of those things can actually happen. We’re in that process of trying to improve our football team, whether it’s the college guys that we’re going to have a good look at this week or whether it’s on the pro side. The process is starting, the gun hasn’t gone off yet … we’re just trying to improve our team the best we can."
Can Nate Irving be a starter at LB
"I don’t know that yet. A lot will depend on Nate, he’s definitely capable, he’ll be given an opportunity. We’ve got some young players who need to graduate into more playing time and I feel confident they’ll do that."
"A lot was made of the neck, the surgeries and all those things. The reality is it’s a nerve situation and it takes time for nerves to grow. He’s getting better every day so I think, health-wise, he be better than this year."
Need help at WR
"We’re going to try to improve our roster. This is our third go at it and we’ve made good progress in the first two seasons … we’re going to do whatever it takes to improve our roster on the college side or pro side."
"First and foremost you look at their college tape, their body of work at their university. There are not very many tests that we don’t give him. At the end of the day you’re trying to find football players, the bigger, stronger, faster ones go earlier than the other ones. It’s not rocket science … you do the best you can."
"It’s like the 40, the 40 doesn’t make you a football player, it’s not track. Guys come out with great football intelligence, but maybe not great book intelligence. At the end of the day you’re trying to evaluate a football player."
On AFC West
"Obviously I have great respect for Andy Reid and competed against him for a long time in the NFC East. He’s a great hire. Every year you’re going to have changes. A year ago we lost our defensive coordinator to be the head coach with the Raiders, this year Mike McCoy left to become the head coach in San Diego. At the end of the day you’re going to have changes, whether it be in that team room, looking up into those cathedral seats, or on your staff. There’s going to changes, adjustments."
One-year free agents, specifically Koppen
"Our personnel department did a great job, Dan stepped right in, he was a big reason why we were able to get on that run. When J.D. went down we didn’t have a dropoff. He did a fantastic job and I’ve got a lot of respect for him."
Working with Elway and Matt Russell
"John’s smart, he probably understands what a football player looks like, probably better than anybody. I think Matt having played, come up through the ranks, they’re well organized, they do a terrific job evaluating. A lot of this is about people and those two guys are about as good as they get."