The team held another scrimmage today and Eddie Erdelatz said the results were “not bad.” He pointed out that many of the players were still out of shape and that, as expected, the defense was looking better than the offense, partly because the coaching staff had placed much of their emphasis on that side of the ball following last year’s poor showing.
The defense finished seventh in yards allowed last year, ahead of only the Broncos, and Erdelatz said, “I was embarrassed, even humiliated, because defense has always been an important part of my coaching. I had been away from pro ball for ten years, didn’t realize how much had changed, and depended too much on other people’s opinions and coaching theories. I discovered that the style of covering on forward passes was new to me. I didn’t do much actual coaching with the defense, figuring I’d get my bearings, see what was going on, and then try to figure our best moves.”
This year, he was making a number of changes, but said they “will be new to pro football, so I don’t think I want to elaborate,” except to say they were designed to improve the pass rush.
“I don’t care how great a defensive halfback is,” he continued, “he can’t handle a good receiver by himself if the passer has enough time to let the receiver make a lot of fakes. Pass defense is the toughest part of this game and we’re trying to give those guys back there all the help we can.”
Regarding today’s scrimmage, he said, “The defense figures to be a bit ahead at this state of the going. Then, too, our offense was handicapped because they didn’t have blocking assignments for some of the new defenses. We’ll be able to tell much more from the movies. Today, I devoted most of my attention to the defense because we’re installing new stuff. The movies will give me a chance to look at the offense more thoroughly.”
He did add that the offense was largely in the hands of assistants Marty Feldman and Tommy Kalmanir, saying, “We had a fine attack last year and Kalmanir and Feldman can handle their end without trouble.”
There was some special teams work getting done too, with incumbent Wayne Crow working on his punting, along with possible competitors Nick Papac, Herm Urenda, and Larry Barnes. Barnes, who had a rough 1960 kicking field goals was working on that side of his game as well, with Dave Williams as another placekicking possibility.
At this early stage, the staff was focusing on the positives and nearly every participant received some good words from their coaches.
That professional attitude
When asked he if wished he were back in college ball coaching Navy, Erdelatz said, “No. The players have the same attitude which I found in college, an attitude as good as any team I’ve been associated with.”
Guard Wayne Hawkins suffered a mild knee injury during the scrimmage while rookie linemate Jim Green dislocated a shoulder, though apparently this was a recurring problem for him, and he was expected to be back on the field in a couple of days.
At the table
The “World of Women” page of today’s Tribune included a primer from Raider trainer George Anderson on how the team’s wives can help keep their husbands’ weight under control. According to Anderson, those players who put on a few (or a bunch of) extra pounds over the winter would benefit from the following guidelines: “plenty of protein, light on the starches, no sweets, and no in-between meal ‘soul soothers.’ Trim all fat from meat, (serve) lots of plain vegetables, and (replace) the sugar bowl with artificial sweetener.”
At the team’s so-called “Fat Man’s Table” in training camp, the following meals were offered:
7 ounces orange juice
2 eggs, not fried
1 piece of dry whole wheat toast
Cup of soup
Cold plate with scoop of cottage cheese
Slice of roast beef, ham, or turkey
Slice of cheese
Iced tea or coffee
12-ounce broiled beef steak
Iced tea or coffee
1 scoop sherbet
On game day, the team would offer to all players a meal of an eight-ounce steak with either scrambled eggs and toast or vegetables and potatoes with orange juice. The meal would be offered four hours before the game, with no eating after that until after the game. According to Anderson, players play better “when they’re a little hungry.”