HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
"Wednesday practice, big game in the state against the Cowboys, so that has to get your fired up. As most of you know, as Aaron (Wilson) reported, good reporting I might add by you, our quarterback this week will be Davis Mills. Some of your questions, you're going to ask reasons why, we don't give out lifetime jobs. It's about performance each week. Didn't feel like the performance last week warranted another start. When Davis was a starter, sometimes you need a relief pitcher to come in, and that's what it was. Sometimes you bring a relief pitcher in and he's doing well, you stay that course. But that's not the case, so Davis will start for us this week. We expect the two weeks of watching from the sideline to help. There are so many other things that we can do to help the quarterback position. It's a lot more than just it. Injury-wise, you probably saw a couple of the guys that didn't practice. Nico (Collins) didn't do an awful lot. He's limited. Had a couple guys that started to practice with us, Grayland Arnold and Jonathan Greenard. It's always good to get them back. We have some other guys, bumps and bruises. Wednesday, we have some of the veterans on a snap count, where we've normally held them out of most of the work. Just the Cowboys, one of the best teams in our league right now, playing at a high level. Whenever you put over 50 points on the score board, that has to really get your attention. I think they're good in all three phases. Special teams, they have an excellent punt returner (KaVontae Turpin). We know a lot about the punter (Bryan Anger). Defensively, just a lot of good athletes, play hard, productive, rush the passer well. They take the ball away as well as anyone. There's a commitment to the running game on the offensive side."
What have you seen from QB Davis Mills on the sideline that he worked to get better on?
"As far as things you work on, to me, when you're in that role, you're going to do a lot of observing. That's what you're going to do as much as anything. He's going through all of those drills like all of our quarterbacks do. It's just looking at it from a different perspective, situation from the sideline. Normally observing can help instead of you being the guy that's always under the gun. I know how he handled it. He was a pro about it. He switched roles with Kyle (Allen) and did whatever he could to help as a backup quarterback. I know he's excited about another opportunity."
Do you worry about QB Davis Mills' confidence?
"No, not really. We were real about why we made the move and the reasons why. Going back to that statement, we don't give out permanent jobs. It's about how you play each week, and we put a lot into your last performance. Davis (Mills) moved into a different role. He continued to be our captain and do all the things that he was doing before. I think the second time around, you kind of appreciate the position you're in a little bit better. I know that's the case."
Do you think there's similarities QB Davis Mills can take from last year when he was benched and returned?
"I think that's a good point, yes. When you've had an opportunity to play, sit back and then come back, we're hoping that's the case. When he came back the next time last year, the second time, he played a lot better. If you're a competitor, when you're not playing your best ball, I keep going back to the baseball comparison, sometimes you don't have it, and you need to just take a step back. I know most of the time when guys come back, we're going to get their best. That's what we need right now. It's just not about the quarterback position, but there's something, starting off with ball security. We're losing too many games just based on giving them the ball. It starts with that position."
What's the challenge of facing the Cowboys front?
"It seems like each week we've talked about a dominant defensive line that we're playing, and that's definitely the case. They're active. It does start outside with (Micah) Parsons. I think he's as good as there is in the league wherever they put him. I think his best position is where they've been playing him the most lately, and that's on the edge or wherever across the line. That's what we have to deal with. Yeah, it's about the quarterback position, getting our running game going, but it always starts up front, and we need to do a better job."
With QB Davis Mills coming back in, will you observe the quarterback position on a week-by-week basis?
"With all of our players we look at it on a week-by-week basis. We evaluate and if we think a move is warranted, we go with that. Our players know that, and it's just not lip service. That's exactly how we do it."
How do you feel about playing the Cowboys after growing up in Texas and this being kind of a rivalry?
"That's a good point because for me, coming here lately, I just assume – what I've known, and I have a few more years on me than you, that a team in Dallas and a team in Houston, a professional football team, has been around for a long period of time and have played good football. The games they've always had , I know a team left, but there is a Houston franchise now, and I don't know exactly how they look at it, but I know it's special for us, especially where we are right now in our season. It's great to play a team in your state. But for us, I'd say the Cowboys are going to be one of the teams to have a chance to win it all. I think we're getting better on a lot of things. Here's another opportunity to take another step, big step."
With DL Jonathan Greenard coming back to practice, where does he factor in and how soon do you think he can contribute?
"We'll always find a spot for a good defensive lineman. It's not like when you're the starter – our number eight lineman has probably gotten over 30 plays every game, so we'll find a way to get him into the mix once he's ready to go. We're not necessarily saying that (he will play). He has started the process. Today was the first day he has actually practiced with us. Wasn't a whole lot of hitting and things like that, a little lighter practice today."
Has there been any thought to putting DB Derek Stingley Jr. on IR?
"I wouldn't say it was a more significant injury than anticipated. Whenever there's a hamstring, if a guy legitimately pulls a hamstring, it's going to take a while. Mild, really pull it, whenever you pull a hamstring, I know from experience, it takes a while, and especially for a young player that pulled it for the first time in his life. Have to be patience with him, we have to be. Eventually he'll be back out there. Again, few weeks ago he was up in the press box. We didn't have him on the sideline because we didn't know if he could get out of the way. This week, he's down on the sideline. He's making progress. I will say that."
That was the Atlanta Falcons training camp for you, coming from your experience with pulling muscles?
"Pretty impressive. YouTube, you can find out a lot of things right now when you go online. To go back further, I pulled my muscle for the first time as a junior, two years before the state track meet if you want me to be in detail on exactly when it happened. A year later, the same Tuesday before the state track meet I pulled it again. So hamstrings – 'hey, just play through it.' Just think about a torn muscle. It's hard to really kind of work through those, and especially at some positions. An offensive lineman can handle an injured hamstring a lot better than a guy that has to be all out full speed every snap he's on the football field."