Join the general manager and head coach as they make the rounds with the media in Indianapolis.
General Manager Tom Telesco and Head Coach Anthony Lynn were in the spotlight Thursday morning at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Here are some of the top takeaways from their 30 minute session with the national media:
1. Allen on Track – Keenan Allen hasn't seen the field since suffering a season-ending knee injury early in the 2016 season opener. However, he's been at the facility rehabbing nearly every day this offseason and is on track in his recovery. Telesco wouldn't give a firm timetable on when he would be back when asked if it would be for start of OTAs or the preseason, but provided an encouraging update:
"He is on track for where he should be. He has been in the building rehabbing and he is on track where he should be with his knee injury…. (Whether) OTAs and preseason, that's a pretty big range. So he will be somewhere in there. We will have a better feel probably in early April as far as a timetable on where he is. But he is on track for where he should be which is good news."
2. Woodhead Return Remains Possible – Danny Woodhead is scheduled to hit the open market when free agency begins on March 9. The popular running back has enjoyed a successful stint with the Bolts, and Telesco is "hopeful" it can continue to be that way:
"We are hopeful. He is a valuable part of our offense. (In) his four years for us he has been a very productive player, a great person, great teammate and is someone we would like to keep here long-term. We have been in discussions with them on that."
3. Balanced Offense a Priority– Even though Lynn is known for pounding the rock, his goal is to be balanced on offense. He doesn't want to be known as a team who will only grind it out or just sling it through the air. For him, the key is keeping the opposition on their heels guessing while remaining unpredictable:
"We're going to take whatever they give us. I want to be balanced in personnel in run (and) in pass. I want to be balanced. If you want to stack the box, we definitely have a quarterback that can throw it. If you want to play coverage, we definitely have a running game that can run it. I want to be balanced. You never know. If I have to throw it 50 times to win, I'll do it. If you have to run it 50 times to win, I'll do that, too."
4. More Work to Do on Ingram – Placing the franchise tag on Melvin Ingram doesn't mean the Bolts are done trying to strike a long-term deal. The team has until July 15 to reach a multi-year contract extension, and Telesco explained they will work toward that goal:
"Sure that is the hope, we will keep working with his representatives on it. We know Melvin was a priority for us this offseason as a player, the position he plays (and) what he has done for us. Pass rushers are very important in this league, and if we didn't have Melvin Ingram we have a pretty big hole as a pass rusher so it was important to get him back with us. We put the franchise tag on him now and we will continue to talk with him. We still have time until July 15 to work out a long-term deal."
5. Tyrell's Evolution – One Charger receiving a lot of buzz at the Combine is a player who didn't even participate in it as a prospect two years ago. Tyrell Williams burst onto the scene after attending Western Oregon. After a limited role as a rookie, he broke out last season to top 1,000 receiving yards. Telesco outlined Williams' evolution while giving him a ton of credit:
"He took a big jump for us and did a tremendous job coming from a Division II school. He came in and made our team two years ago mainly as a special teamer, a gunner, and he did a tremendous job with that. Then showed he's got some receiving skills too, and we saw that more this year. He is tall (with) long arms and has really, really excellent speed to get vertical for us. (On) crossing routes to get away from people; his route running has really improved. He has done a lot of work with that. He is physically gifted, but he works really hard at it. With the Keenan injury, which was such a downer for us, the one positive fact was that it got Tyrell a little accelerated and got him some more catches. I think we see what we have there."
6. Expect Gordon to Share the Load – Lynn has established himself as one of the top running back gurus in the NFL. In fact, the Bills led the NFL in rushing the past two years as he was in charge of the ground attack. Now, Lynn gets to work with a talented young running back in Melvin Gordon. However, the head coach explained his philosophy to split carries, so you can expect a rotation at the position that will feature Gordon as the lead dog:
"Running backs are extremely important in today's game. I don't think you're ever going to win that trophy without one and a running game. I like to use a couple. If you only use a couple of backs, sometimes it's better to look in the middle or late rounds and find them that way."
7. Bolts Not Locked in on Player or Position – Two months remain before the draft kicks off on April 27, and the draft board is still a work in progress. While the Bolts have a good idea on how they rank each prospect, much tinkering will still be down according to the GM:
"I think to have a top ten pick is not great because that means you didn't have a very good season the year before. But, we have top ten pick and with our roster right now (that we need to take advantage of). Honestly, there is not a spot on our team where we couldn't use a guy. So that makes having a top ten pick pretty fun. Not only a top ten pick, but a high pick in each round. At this point in the process you don't narrow in on a position yet. We are still pretty broad based and we will start to narrow it when we get to April. We still have a lot of information here to compile (at the Combine), but no, we certainly haven't even come close to narrowing in on a position or players yet."
8. O-Line Must Improve… – Both Telesco and Lynn have been frank in their assessment of last year's offensive line. While they will naturally look to reinforce it, Lynn also knows they simply must get better play out of the guys currently under contract:
"Right now, we're counting on everybody who is under contract on the offensive line. Make no mistake about it; I think we can play better on the offensive line. And, we will. I think there are some things we can do differently as a coaching staff that's going to help those guys, and we're looking to upgrade the positon if possible."
9. …But O-Line is Not this Draft's Strength– It's no secret that pundits believe this is one of the weaker offensive line crops in recent drafts. Telesco doesn't dispute that notion either, but also believes there are useful players at that position ripe for the picking:
"All the positions each year, there are ebbs and flows to it. Sometimes it is a strong year; sometimes it's weak. I think the offensive line in general is not as strong as it has been in other years, but there are some other position groups that are very strong (like) defensive line (and) tight ends just to name a couple right there. For us it is all relative to what you are looking for. What your traits are at certain positions whether it is tackle, guard or center. I know we have guys that we like. I haven't really compared it to last year's number yet, but I would say in general, yes. it is not as strong as other years."
10. Lynn Thanks Rex– While it was a whirlwind ascension for Lynn to go from running backs coach to offensive coordinator to interim head coach in Buffalo before landing the Bolts' head coach job, he paid special thanks to his former boss for helping him prepare. Lynn spent a number of years with the Jets and Bills under Rex Ryan. The past two years saw him serve as assistant head coach, which he credits most for getting him ready to lead the Bolts:
"Rex always treated me like a head coach, and that's what I like about Rex. He didn't just give me the assistant head coach title. He actually gave me the responsibilities of the assistant head coach. If Rex Ryan didn't feel like doing something, I did it. If he was sick and couldn't make it, I did it and I stepped in. I went to all the off-site meetings with him, all the salary cap meetings, all the administrative meetings. I went to all those. Rex Ryan helped me see the big picture and how to run an organization."