HEAD COACH BIILL O'BRIEN
Do you know when RB D'Onta Foreman will begin the 21-day window in his return from the Physically Unable to Perform list?
"Whenever we decide to – the phrase is 'ignite' the 21-day window on any of those type of players, let's just say D'Onta Foreman, that doesn't mean that he comes to the 53. That just gives us three weeks to kind of check out where he's at, type of shape he's in, where he's at relative to being able to even practice. I think we're probably going to do that pretty soon. I'm not sure when, but I would say sooner rather than later just to kind of see where he would be at, but again, he wouldn't be on the 53 at that point."
Do you expect RB D'Onta Foreman to play this season?
"If we ignite that 21-day window and we feel like after watching him practice for however long we think we need to watch him and he shows us that he's in decent shape, he's come back from the injury, then I don't see why he wouldn't have a chance to play at some point."
If RB D'Onta Foreman does play this season, what does he bring to the offense?
"Just what you saw last year. I think he's a – again, that's part of the evaluation. We would have to really look at what he's able to do relative to what he did last year – running the ball on first and second down, some of the different things he did in the passing game. He had a good year last year. That was a long time ago, so let's just kind of – when we do decide to bring him back, let's just see where he's at."
Does the success of the other teams in the AFC South help motivate the players to keep winning? Nothing is coming easy.
"Oh no, these players understand every week is a really challenging opponent. Washington is in first place in the NFC East. We're playing them on the road. They have 18 takeaways. I want to say they're plus 11 in that category because they didn't give the ball away last week. They have 18 takeaways and only seven giveaways from their offense. This is a team that's very well-coached. They've got a lot of good players. Our total focus is on the Washington Redskins and doing the best we can to try to go on the road and try to get a win."
What went into the decision to release RB Tyler Ervin?
"We evaluate guys all the time. Tyler did a lot of good things for us. Great guy, very coachable guy. Just felt like, at the end of the day, we try to make decisions in the best interest of the team and we felt like that was a good move for right now. Just like everything else, you never know. A lot of these guys, you end up seeing them back here at some point, but I thought it was a chance for us – Brian (Gaine) and I – we saw a guy out there on the wire, (DeAndre) Carter, that had had some success doing some of those things, so we decided to make that move."
Will WR DeAndre Carter be your punt returner?
"I would say probably, yes. There are several candidates to be the punt returner but I would say he would be the prime candidate."
What areas does the offense need to improve upon in the second half of the season?
"We have a lot of things that we need to improve upon. I talked to the team today about playing with better pad level, I talked to them about better communication, really owning their assignments, if that makes sense – knowing what to do so you can play fast. I talked to them about a lot of different things, tried to show it to them on film. Talked about some things that we did as a coaching staff we feel like, to improve, tried to give each player something that they can really work on to come back here and help us win. We've got a great group of guys, really work hard and so I think that gives us half a chance."
What is QB Deshaun Watson doing now that helped him throw eight touchdowns without an interception over the last three games?
"I think that he's made a ton of improvement just in his knowledge of the NFL, of how we want to play the game. I think he really understands, strategically, as basically the field general on offense out there on the field how the game's going, how we want to play the game. I think he has a very good feel for that. He really understands football. He's a very, very smart guy, has a great instinct for the game, and I think if he can continue to play that way – not force the issue, just kind of keep getting us into the right play, keep playing the game the way it needs to be played as the game plays out – I think that's something that he's done really well."
How does sticking with the run game help QB Deshaun Watson throughout the course of a game?
"I think in November and December, I don't think it's too much of a secret. I think you have to be able to run the ball. If you can't run the ball, then you have to find other ways to move the ball, but I think the running game is very important. I think our guys have bought into it. I don't think it was great the last time we played. I think a lot of that has to do with Denver. Denver, very good on defense and did an excellent job, but I think we have to figure out ways every week to run the football and try to be balanced."
Do you think there's potential in the offense to take it to the 'next level' during the second half of the season?
"I think that's all dependent on how the game goes. We go into every game with a certain amount of plays in each category, whether it's runs, play-action, shot plays, empty plays, red area plays, short-yardage, goal line, third down, two-minute, whatever the category is, we have a menu of plays. But then we have to be very cognizant of how the game's being played. How is your defense playing? How are you playing offensively? How's special team's playing? What's the weather like? We've got a lot of east coast games coming up, right here with Washington D.C. So, I don't think it's going to be like playing here indoors. I think we have to be very aware of that but we'll go into each game with our variety of plays that we have available to us and then we'll figure out as the game goes what's the best way to attack the defense."
How much potential do you see to be able to use WR Demaryius Thomas even more going forward?
"That's a great way to say it. We've got to be able to use him more, even more than we did. He had three catches. I think they were all basically almost on the first or second drive of the game. He's a very smart guy, excellent pro. He was in here last week, meeting extra on Thursday, Friday, trying to get some more of the offense down. Go out there today, have a lot of plays we ran in practice today, knew where to line up, change his position, change his identity by personnel, knew what to do. I think we're going to make a lot of strides with him from week to week."
Do you have a feel for WR Keke Coutee's situation?
"I do. I think Keke's trending upward. I think Keke's headed in the right direction."
Do you expect WR Keke Coutee to play this week?
What makes Redskins RB Adrian Peterson so difficult to stop?
"That's a pretty general question that has a lot of different answers to it. He's big, he's got great vision, still has great speed, he's got an excellent ability to cut, great balance, he catches balls out of the backfield. He's one of the best to ever play the game. He's one of the best running backs to ever play the game, if that kind of sums it up."
What was the key to shutting down Redskins RB Adrian Peterson last year?
"I think a lot of that has to do with playing good fundamental football. I think that this offense is different that they're running with him, and I think we better be ready to go because he has 600-plus yards rushing. Just like I said, he's big, he's fast, can cut, strong. If he gets into the secondary, you're in trouble, because that's like a train rolling down the tracks. He's one of the best to ever play the game so it's going to take everything that we have to have a chance to stop him."
Redskins RB Adrian Peterson expressed interest in playing for the Texans while he was a free agent. Did you ever consider trying to sign him?
"I know he lives here, I know he works out here. I've been around him a couple times, more than a couple. Great guy. We evaluate everybody, so if that answers to the effect that he had a chance to come here, sure, because we look at everybody. We talk about everybody over the years that are free agents, and he was one of the guys. Maybe the timing wasn't right. I think it's all about timing and fit, and maybe the timing wasn't right. It had nothing to do with anything other than that. He's a fantastic player."
What kind of boon would it be to get RB D'Onta Foreman back?
"I think that's the key, though. I think there's a lot of thought that goes into that for the player and for the team. He has not played football in a long time. He's a very young player. He's got a lot of talent. Everybody saw that last year. But let's see where he's at. Let's see where he's at before we start handing him the ball in big games. Let's make sure that we're all on the same page with where's he at and if he can help us. If we think he can, if we feel like he's in decent shape, feel like he take care of the rock, feel like he can run the ball downhill, then see what he can do. But, if not, probably not the best thing to do for our team."
Could CB Aaron Colvin and CB Johnathan Joseph play this week?
"Yeah, I think both of those guys are trending toward being able to help us right now for this week, so we'll see where they're at. It looked decent today. All those types of injuries are day to day. You kind of see – especially with veterans players, they're very honest with you. They'll tell you exactly where they're at and we'll see where they're at Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. But, it seems like they would be able to have chance to possibly be active."
How do you assess the performance of your rookies?
"I think it's been good. Look, I don't think anything's perfect. I think when you come out of the draft, you don't have a first or second round pick so you're picking your first picks in the third round, and many of those guys are playing for you in some way, shape or form. Obviously, you've got the Justin Reid's and the Jordan Thomas' that are playing a lot of football for you and are doing a pretty good job. Justin Reid, I think is playing pretty well. It needs to continue, obviously. But, then you have other guys like – maybe that go unnoticed, like Peter Kalambayi. He's made a few big tackles on special teams. Other guys that we've picked up along the way that are younger players – Buddy Howell's done a good job on special teams. Then you have, obviously, all the guys that you drafted that are contributing in some way, shape or form. So, I think that as a whole, the rookie class has done a good job through nine games. That's the one thing like I tell these guys all the time, it's only nine games. If you're college right now, you're headed into your – I was telling Jordan (Thomas) and (Martinas) Rankin, they're getting ready for the Egg Bowl. Well, OK, you got the Egg Bowl coming up, plus six or seven more games after that as a rookie in the NFL. So, this is a big time of year for rookies. They've got to learn where they're at physically, mentally and how can we help them climb that wall. That's going to be the big test for rookies moving forward."
Do you think ILB Zach Cunningham and ILB Dylan Cole could come back soon?
"Zach, I would put Zach in that same category as the other guys. I think he's trending toward being able to play. Possibly against the Redskins, but I would say definitely the following week, but possibly against the Redskins. Then, Dylan Cole, I definitely think has a chance to be back this year, but not this week."
S TYRANN MATHIEU
What do you think about Redskins RB Adrian Peterson?
"I spent some time with A.P. in Arizona last year. Obviously, he's a great running back. I think just his name alone speaks for itself. Obviously, I think what he's been able to do this season, really going into Washington and trying to give those guys an identity as far as running the football with their running back going down early in the year. He's doing a great job for those guys and we'll have a big challenge Sunday."
What makes Redskins RB Adrian Peterson hard to stop?
"Just his presence. He enjoys running the football, he loves contact and I think he feeds and gets better as a game goes on. So, we have to do a great job starting fast, getting hats on him and then finishing the game."
What can you say about the way the team played during the six-game winning streak?
"For one, I don't think we were perfect. Obviously, winning those six games felt great but there were a lot of things that could've gotten us beat. So, just things we're trying to fix, trying to harp on. Obviously, as a defense, really communicating, tackling better and then stopping those guys in the redzone. We've got a few things that we can actually work on as a group and get better at. So, we're conscious of it and we're trying to make an effort to get better at it."
What would it mean to get CB Johnathan Joseph and CB Aaron Colvin back from injury?
"I think it's just important to constantly build that chemistry, that continuity. Bad things happen in this league, guys have to step up, injuries may occur. I thought we did a great job of really just getting everybody prepared to play. I think everybody in our room has really seen some snaps on defense minus a couple guys, but I think everybody for the most part is prepared and ready to go."
Is it too soon to pay attention to what other teams in the AFC South are doing?
"Not really. I think we've put ourselves in a position to really be the frontrunners of the division. The Colts are playing really well, the Titans are playing really well. I think it's important for us to kind of realize where we're at but also keep our foot on the pedal. We haven't done anything. We haven't won the division. So, I think it's important to realize we haven't really accomplished anything."
Has S Mike Tyson shown you a lot?
"Yeah, like I just mentioned, his preparation, I think his want and his need to prove that he's ready if his number's called, I think that's really all you can ask out of guys, especially if they don't know if they're going to be playing or not. He's been a pro about it, especially coming from a young guy, you applaud that."
Does having other AFC South teams succeed help you keep the pedal down for the second half of the season?
"For the most part, I think every team in the NFL, they understand if they're going to make the playoffs or not. I think we've got a really good chance of getting into the dance at the end of the season. I think our focus really should be what we can do, how we can improve and then the other teams in our division, we'll play all of those guys again at home, so that will be fun."
How was the first practice after the bye?
"It was cool. It's always good to be back in the building, especially when you get away from football for a while. A lot of guys are excited. You didn't really see any guys not wanting to be here, so I think that's always a good sign going forward."