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DeMeco Drops: 'We have resilient young men who will go out and perform to the best of their ability'


Head Coach DeMeco Ryans

On what went into the decision of starting QB C.J. Stroud for Thursday's game

"As of right now for this game coming up, this preseason game against the Patriots, C.J. [Stroud] will go out first, Davis [Mills] will play as well. That's the decision that we made."

On what it is about QB C.J. Stroud's play that makes him excited

"It's a preseason game here and it was my decision for him to go out first. He's been working with our first team for the past couple of days – continuing to stay on the same track."

On if there is a possibility that T Tytus Howard is ready by the first or second regular season game

"We'll see. We will. I mean, we're far away from the first game. There's a lot of things that can happen – a lot of things can transpire from between now and the first game. We'll take care of that once we get there. For right now, the focus for us is going out and playing a great game on Thursday night. That's our focus. That's where everything is – we want to see our guys go out and improve, get better and showcase all of the things they worked on here in training camp, OTAs. Can they go do it when the lights are on? And that's what we want to see. That's our main focus right now."

On what he hopes to see from QB C.J. Stroud in his first NFL game

"Yeah, as C.J. [Stroud] goes out in his first game, as with all our rookies – what do I want to see from those guys? I just want to see those guys not blink. I want to see them go out and continue to do what they've done in practice, not try to make too many big plays or try to put the team – it's just about them focusing on their craft and what they're doing. It's nothing – I want to see guys go out there and not make it too big. I want to see that the game isn't too big for guys. I want to see guys operate efficiently – guys fly around, have some fun playing the game."

On how much this first preseason game will factor into the overall quarterback competition

"Right now, my decision is for this week that C.J. [Stroud] is going out as our first quarterback to open the game."

On when the decision was made with offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik to start QB C.J. Stroud on Thursday

"Yeah, we've talked about it. This has been an ongoing process. There's no rash decision that was made. This process has been going on for a long time. And again, it's the first preseason game and that's where we're going. We'll see – you guys will see guys play in this game, that's not to say – you guys will see a lot of guys play in this game."

On the attention that DE Will Anderson Jr. has garnered and how he handles that

"When we look at attention, being in our profession, being in the NFL, that's what it is. It's not a big deal for our guys. These guys have played in major college football games, they're playing in the NFL. It's nothing new for these guys – the attention is nothing new for these guys. They can handle it. That's why we selected the guys that we selected. We know that they can function under pressure situations because at the end of the day, no one puts more pressure on themselves than the player themselves. So, it's not about outside noise, outside attention. We have resilient young men who will go out and perform to the best of their ability."

On wanting teammates to be involved and cheer each other on

"Well, today on the defense, the energy just wasn't there. That's not who we are going to be on defense. That's not our style of football. If it's not there and nobody else is going to say anything, I'm going to let the guys know how we play defense and what's our style of defense. We're going to play with enthusiasm. We're going to be excited when our brother makes a play. That's what I want to see every single time we're out here on the field because there's a lot that goes into making a play. When you see a guy make a play on the ball, attacking the ball, doing what we ask him to do, I want to see guys excited about that."

On what he's most looking forward to about seeing the rookies take the field for their first preseason game

"As my first time going out as a head coach in this game, what I'm looking forward to most and what I'm excited about most is seeing young guys show up. Every preseason game, there are a few young guys who stick out, right, and they showcase their talent to the world. So, I'm just excited for these young men to have the opportunity to go out and play to the best of their ability and not so much is the focus about me. I've been in many games, many times. The focus is on the players and seeing them go play really well."

On the defense's lack of energy during today's practice

"When I talk about our defense and how we want to play on defense, we want to play with precision, effort, physicality, and most of all, we want to play with enthusiasm. We want to feed off of each other – playing with great effort. Teams have to feel our energy. We want to overwhelm them with our style of play."

On his philosophy when it comes to playing starters during the preseason

"Playing starters in the preseason game, it varies depending on that guy. Where are guys with their bodies? How healthy are guys when we come to the preseason game, right? Each guy is different. There's not just one blanket statement on all starters playing or – that's not how I operate. It'll be on an individual basis."

On if T Laremy Tunsil or RB Dameon Pierce will play against New England

"We'll see. We'll see."

On what factors into how many reps players will get in the preseason

"Yeah, when it comes to the preseason games, you guys will see who all will be out there in games. I won't give a report on who's playing [and] who's not playing."

On if the offense has caught up to the defense at this point during training camp

"Offense is doing really good. These past couple of days, they've been running the ball very effectively, so I'm excited to see the way that we're reestablishing the line of scrimmage from the offensive line and doing a really good job. Our backs are hitting it downhill, having some really nice runs, so [I'm] really excited with how our offense is coming together. They're moving the ball efficiently and it's exciting to see."

On what he's seen from T George Fant so far

"Yeah, what I've seen from George Fant is that he's come in and instantly – like [a] true veteran, professional, attacking each day exactly how you would expect. He's a guy who seems like you can rely on him – a lot. He's working back into shape, but we're very pleased about adding George to our team. I think it was a very important move and happy that we have him on our team."

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