HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
"We had a chance to watch the video, and not a lot has changed. A lot of things we thought happened on both sides of the ball, some things we have to clean up, obviously, starting with the penalties. Good things that came out from the game, whenever you can get through a preseason game without any serious injuries, that's a good thing, also. Some of your questions you're going to ask: how much will certain guys play this week? We don't know that. How we're handling this week is we have preseason games, but still in a training camp mode for us. We're not going to start game planning the Rams until a little bit later on. Tomorrow we have a typical training camp, offense, defense, good-on-good day, and excited about that. There's a lot of things that, as I said earlier, that we need to get accomplished. I'll take your questions."
Do you view these last few preseason games as regular season mode?
"Yeah, I think it's a little early to talk about that. We have a plan, I'll say that, on how we're going to play our guys. But right now, we're kind of still in training camp mode a little bit. You know, our guys will be playing for the season, most of them will get extensive amount of time with one of the games."
Where do you think DB Eric Murray and DB Jonathan Owens are in their progression after watching tape?
"You said Eric Murray and Jonathan Owens? I'll talk about them individually. Eric has been around here. He's played a lot of ball. He's been watching practices. He's been working with our second unit for the most part. Jonathan Owens has been working with our one unit for the most part. There's a reason why we have them in those positions. We like both of them. Both of them bring something a little bit different to the table. I feel like we have some other guys, Terrence Brooks has stood out in training camp practice at the safety position, too, and of course we talk quite a bit about (Jalen) Pitre."
What do you recall about DB Jalen Pitre that allowed him to establish himself early on?
"A few things. You start talking to him, right away, knowledge of the game. You do, when you have young players coming in, new players coming in, you look at their history and some of the things that he's done. You want to confirm some of your thoughts. We were able to do that early on. Again, every day we've been out there with him, there's something he's gotten that we like. For our young players, though, if you talk to Jalen (Pitre), what he's going to tell you, is that wrapping up on some of the tackles. We have young players that's never really done anything live yet. You kind of anticipate that a little bit. But he should take another jump, we think in the secondary."
How do you feel the team executed the defensive scheme on Saturday?
"I think okay for the most part, you know, things we put an emphasis on. We put an emphasis on takeaways. We have a goal of three each game. We were able to get that. We didn't score a touchdown. 3rd downs were not as good as we would have liked, but I thought the guys played hard, throughout too, with effort, which we were looking for, and the situational football, two-minute, we had to get them stopped at the end to get the ball back for our offense. Defensively we were able to do that. Pass rush, when you have certain guys that get reps that haven't played a lot, of course Obo (Ogbonnia Okoronkwo). We traded for him and he's been a good football player in the league. But Derek Rivers, I liked some of the pressure we were able to get with our defensive line."
What are you seeing from DB Tremon Smith and his development at corner?
"Opportunities that he got last year in those situations, I thought he kind of stepped up a little bit. But he will be our returner. That along with being able to do something else gives us flexibility. You still want to see guys make plays. We know when he gets the ball, he knows what to do with it, so it's good to see him handle that. Same thing with Desmond King. As you look at what he's able to do, punt returner. He can play the nickel position, play the corner position. You need a few guys on your roster that can do multiple things."
Are there things that you'd like to see the first team do with QB Davis Mills and pushing the ball downfield?
"Well, for some positions that's the case. For some others, that's not the case. The plan that we had for (Davis) Mills last week was the plan that we wanted him to have, what we got from that. As you're putting your roster together, if you knew that all the guys at the one position would play that way all year, that would be great. But that's not the case. So you're developing your entire roster, and you use these preseason games to do that. I like exactly how that turned out. To get your third-team guys listed at third team and your third-team quarterback all of those reps. We'll get Davis (Mills) his reps, he'll be fine."
Did you see what you wanted to from DL Jonathan Greenard his first football game back?
"Yes, Jonathan finished the season injured, and he's healthy. So we wanted to get him a few reps. That's the case for our guys that we feel pretty comfortable with and we know what their role will be. I don't have to see them all throughout the preseason to feel comfortable. We don't have to see that to feel comfortable with that. Jonathan may get a few more plays this week like a couple of our other players."
How comfortable is that unit on the defensive line making it for you to cut down to who you want?
"You want that to happen. In fact, too, like Derek Rivers, guys that haven't gotten a lot of reps, when the lights come on, they really perform that way. But on the defensive line, we need a lot of guys. We need about 10 that we feel comfortable with this time right now, 10 or 11. The more the better. We know that Jonathan (Greenard) would be one of those players, Jerry Hughes. I could give you a few of the guys, but Maliek Collins and some of them, but again, we're still trying to develop that 53. No, we're trying to develop that 69. No, we've got an international player, right? How about that 70-man roster is what we're trying to develop."
Does that help knowing that you can have DL Adedayo Odeleye as a bonus?
"It does. Talking about Dayo (Adedayo Odeleye), everybody in here know how to pronounce his name? I can answer it right now. But think about No. 75, right? About 25 seconds left to go in the game, where was he? Who was watching the game? Where was Dayo? He was on the kickoff team that ran down, that forced that action inside of the 20-yard line. And then of course we got a sack after that. These are the things that you love that I'm looking for from training camp, players. Most of us don't know their names, and they're making plays, and we're seeing improvement from them."
With one less preseason game, do you stress the importance of these games to some of the guys on the bubble?
"I don't think we have to. The guys aren't surprised about anything that we do. That's what I'm going to say. Thursday we gave them a printout of everything that we're going to do, how we're going to do it, so that's not a surprise. Players know that we have 91 players right now on our roster. They realize exactly what they need to do with all of their reps. There's no surprises on what they need to do daily as they come into the building, competing for a job throughout, and that's what we've seen from the guys."
How likely is it that DB Derek Stingley Jr. will play in this preseason game coming up?
"How likely? Like 35 or 36, 59 or 60 (percent)? Help me out a little bit. I understand you. I'm just messing with you a little bit. Derek (Stingley Jr.) needs to play this preseason, true enough. But a little bit later on, like after Tuesday's practice, we get a little closer to LA, we'll talk about who's going to play then. Right now, I know that Derek is going to scrimmage tomorrow, and we're excited about seeing him continue to get better daily, which he's doing. Getting more and more comfortable each day, but a little bit later on in the week, we'll let you know our ideas, our plans for how we're going to play our guys the second preseason game."
What's stood out most to you about DL Derek Rivers?
"Well, I wouldn't say that he's changed that much. I'll go back to the Jacksonville game last year. We had a lot of injuries, and Derek stepped up, and we liked what -- he's got excellent speed. You look at him, he's our profile that we're looking for on the outside. If you put defensive end behind your name, you need to be able to rush the passer here. He showed up throughout. That's what he's been doing in training camp. Again, you cannot ever have too many pass rushers."
With there being one less game, does your philosophy change on how many reps you give the starters or how many you're going to play in a quarter?
"No, it doesn't change. As we went into preseason, we had a plan that we're going with on how we were going to play everybody and how many reps for the most part they were going to get. Injuries are the only thing that kind of knocked us off track a little bit with that. That's not really knocking us off track because you get a chance to see somebody that maybe wasn't in those plans. Again, keep in mind, practices, preseason games, it's all a part of the plan to get ready for the regular season. You look throughout the league, some players aren't going to play any. So maybe some of ours. We have a few players that may not play any throughout, so it's just not a given. I'm not saying everybody on our roster is going to play this preseason. That may not be the case. We'll keep you posted as it goes along. Fair enough? Thank you."
WR JALEN CAMP
Can you take us through your touchdown and what went through your mind as you were celebrating afterwards?
"Yeah, so I think that was definitely my first play in the game, so I was anxious, waiting to get in the game the whole time. They called my number, I went in the game, and the first play call was actually a fade, so I knew the opportunity was there. Quarterback (Jeff Driskel) threw a great ball, and I just tried to make a play for him. Then afterwards, I think all the guys in the receiving room decided that the very first touchdown that we had was going to be the crane celebration for (John) Metchie for everything that he's going through and just pay homage."
Did WR John Metchie III give you any feedback on the celebration?
"Yes, sir, it was all good feedback. We talked after the game, and he was just appreciative, and we're obviously appreciative of him and everything he's done these past couple months and the fight that he has going on right now."
Was it kind of a spur-of-the-moment thing?
"The celebration? It was actually -- all the receivers actually planned it this past week, that the very first receiver to score a touchdown was going to do that celebration to pay respects."
What did WR John Metchie III say? Did you do it right? Was it up to his standards?
"He didn't critique it. I think that -- I don't think I did it as well as he does it, but I think he was definitely appreciative of it. I think we exchanged words on Instagram and text message, as well."
Is this something the receivers are going to keep doing to honor John Metchie III?
"I believe so. I believe so, yes, sir."
What were some of the things that you worked on in the offseason coming into training camp?
"I would say probably just getting more in depth in the playbook, of course. Once you know the playbook in and out, you'll be able to play faster, so that was one of the things I wanted to do. I don't think you can ever get fast enough, so speed was another thing that I wanted to work on, route running, and just the basic ball skills."
How would you evaluate your first game?
"How would I evaluate it? I think it was pretty good. I think it was a pretty good game. I think that they always say it's never as good as you think it is, and it's never as bad as you think it is. So just after watching the film yesterday on the off day, I think there were some things that definitely need to be cleaned up. I think I did some good things and I think there was also some things that I need to clean up for sure."
What's that like with different skill sets and how do you guys work together?
"I think the room is awesome with our leader B-Cooks (Brandin Cooks) and (Chris) Conley. I think our veteran leadership that we have in there is awesome, definitely for young guys like me, just looking up to them. Those guys are always doing the right thing, so you have great guys to look up to and how to maneuver throughout this training camp, OTAs, all this kind of thing. I think they're all kind of different in a certain aspect of it, so looking at each person and picking little things off and trying to turn them into your thing."
What are the things that you take most from your journey on the practice squad up to this point? What do you reflect on?
"Reflect on? Probably just taking it day by day, honestly. Not getting too far in the future and definitely not looking in the past. Just focusing on each day and each opportunity that you have in front of you and trying to make the most of it. It's definitely a tough business to be in, but you can't look at those things because those things get you sidetracked, so just taking every day as an opportunity to get better."
Would you say that your versatility is one of your biggest assets?
"Yes, I try to be as versatile as possible. I think speed is definitely one of my assets, but whether that be blocking, running routes, deep threat, whatever it is, for a guy like me, I'm just trying to showcase everything that I have to showcase."
Does having familiarity with WR Brandin Cooks and Wide Receivers coach Ben McDaniels give you an advantage?
"Yes, I would say so. Just having familiar faces in the room, knowing how every guy works, knowing how Ben (McDaniels) works and knowing what he expects of you I think helps a lot. So you kind of know what's required of you every day once you step out there on that field."
Why do you think it was important to honor WR John Metchie III?
"I think just the obvious. It's just about everything that he's going through right now, coming off the injury last season and finally working his way to be able to play with us and then getting diagnosed with the cancer. I think that we all realized that what he's going through and what he's dealing with is kind of bigger than everything that we're doing. We're out here playing football and he's dealing with something way bigger than this, so for us to just do that little celebration was big for us to do."
Day-to-day, how do you try to keep involved with a teammate that's going through something like that?
"We just keep him in our prayers every day and just reach out periodically and just check in on him, make sure he still feels as a part of this team, that he is still a part of this team. So just little things like that, and then of course the celebration helped, as well, and we'll definitely try to continue to do that just to pay homage for him because he's definitely still on our team and still with us."
Did WR John Metchie III get a chance to watch the game?
"I believe so. I believe so. I think he enjoyed it. To be able to have that win, definitely huge for us, as well, and for him, as well."
DB TREMON SMITH
Can you talk us through your interception on Saturday?
"Lovie (Smith) preaches eyes on the quarterback, vision on the quarterback. I got my good read route on the No. 1 and was able to get my eyes back, and I saw the ball pop up, and I was just breaking towards the ball as he preached."
HC Lovie Smith said that you're the ultimate returner. What do you think about that?
"That just gives me a lot of confidence coming from the head guy. Just Lovie (Smith), I'd run through a brick wall for Lovie. He's a great coach and just a great guy in general."
How much do you enjoy being on kick return?
"I love it. That's what I pride myself on, one of the things I pride myself on is kick return, trying to jump start the offense anytime you can get some points on the board and play hard for Frankie (Frank Ross)."
How did you feel about the punt return as well?
"It was good. I felt like I could have set it up a little better, but I know just keep on practicing and my guys continue blocking as hard as they do, I'll get in the end zone soon."
HC Lovie Smith was saying the interception should get in the end zone and that you'll have to work on that?
"Oh, yeah, he's going to be on me in meetings, I know that. He's going to tell me to start reversing fields and everything."
Did you know HC Lovie Smith was going to say something when you were reversing that?
"Yeah, you know, I thought about it. I heard him in the back of my head screaming stay near the sideline. Yeah, he definitely clicked in my head."
As a corner how do you feel like you've improved?
"Just confidence in my game, patience, and just the second year being in the system, understanding what the defensive coordinator/head coach wants, that helped my confidence rise a lot."
Can you talk about at the end of the game after the turnover, you all were able to stop them on defense and get the ball back in order to produce the game-winning drive?
"You know, that's big time. Anytime they take score you want to win, so we just pride ourselves on winning, and we know stacking these preseason games will lead into the regular season, so we just want a good jump start on the season."
How do you take advantage of getting more reps at cornerback?
"Like I said earlier, just the patience and just being in the scheme for the second year, I'm just real comfortable with the scheme. It's just I don't have to think about the little things as much anymore, even though I detail the little things. I know everything he wants, and that's what we want from a corner on this defense."
How do you manage keeping your eyes on the quarterback and being able to grab an interception?
"You know, it's hard. It's not easy, and a lot of coaches don't preach this, but just being in this scheme, this zone scheme, it helps a lot just because he (Lovie Smith) wants everybody breaking towards the ball, have more people towards the ball. It's hard to work through, but like I said, going into my second year I'm very comfortable with doing it."
Are you surprised at what you've seen from rookie DB Jalen Pitre, especially his pursuit on the ball?
"Not at all. I knew him since the day he came in, and I watched his Baylor film and knew that he was going to be a walk-in day one starter just because the way he -- his work ethic, he's very smart. You think he's going into year three and four, how smart he is in the playbook. He's just really advanced to be a rookie."
Corner was a position HC Lovie Smith highlighted in the off-season to improve on. How did you respond to that seeing how they wanted to do that?
"I liked it a lot, just -- we got (Derek) Stingley, we got a good corner out of it. I mean, it's competition in the room. Like all of us can play going now from the first to the last corner, we all can play ball out there, so it's just competition really."
After watching the tape, what were some of the improvements you feel like you can make going into the second preseason game?
"Just be a little more physical on my read routes and just be more supportive in the run game."
You talked about having more familiarity in year two. How does it translate for the remainder of the defense knowing that most of the defensive staff is back and not much has changed in terms of formation?
"It's real good for us because we all understand each other. Like I said, the little things earlier, we all understand those little things that the coaches want, just to be tight on it, it works out well for us."
HC Lovie Smith has a history of at least one player per year having a takeaway for a touchdown. Have you guys talked about who that is and is there a prize?
"Yeah, we for sure got a couple prizes. We argue about it each week, me, Tavierre (Thomas), Des (Desmond) King. We all say we're going to get the first turnover for the touchdown, so it's real good competition, friendly competition, so I love it."
What's the prize?
"To be continued. Can't tell you yet."
You talked about running through a wall for HC Lovie Smith. Is there an interaction that you had with him that got you to where you are with him?
"It's just I really believe in what he preaches because he's been around a bunch of Hall of Famer guys. It lets me know that he put up probably 10 to 12 Hall of Fame players he's been around. So if he's been around that, he knows what it takes, so whatever he says, I know he won't steer me the wrong direction, and like I said, I will run through a wall for Lovie."
What did it mean to you and your teammates to see WR Jalen Camp and the receivers celebrate the touchdown in honor of WR John Metchie III?
"It was heartwarming. I felt for him. I just feel bad for (John) Metchie. I wish he was out there playing with us because he would have been a big part of this season this year. But as long as it's -- he'll be fine. I heard it's the most curable, so I just pray for him."
John Metchie III had only been here a couple of months but seems like the reaction is everyone is very close and tight knit. What does that say about the culture of the team for a player like that to make such an impact in the short-term?
"Just shows how close we are, how we've been grinding together, and just us grinding together, we just wanted to stay close and that's one thing Lovie (Smith) preaches is we've got to do things together as a team, so we just try to stay close as possible and just do outside activities with each other, if it's going to eat dinner or just going to the coach's house."
How competitive are all of you as far as defensive backs are concerned?
"Oh, we're so competitive. We talk about our hands each day, like just over anything, playing Madden, when we get home. We compete at every and anything, even go down to ping-pong. Very competitive."
Who's the best Madden player?
"I might have to give it to TT, Tavierre (Thomas)."
Who's the worst?
"Jalen Pitre I heard so far. I'm the best at ping-pong though."
LB BLAKE CASHMAN
How do you feel about your performance on Saturday?
"I was happy with how I played. Of course, after evaluating the film there's things that clean up, but I think if you looked at how the defense played, including myself and all the guys out there, it wasn't always perfect in terms of our assignments or technique, but everyone was flying around, getting to the ball. I think that's a defense you want to play for is a tenacious defense because that's what's going to help you win football games."
What does that mean to you when HC Lovie Smith says you fit the profile of the linebacker that he's looking for?
"It's always good to hear your head coach say good things about you. I like what he said about never getting too high or never getting too low. It's also something that Miles (Smith) says, as well, linebacker coach, his son, and it's something you've got to carry yourself with through training camp and the preseason because there's so much work to be done no matter how well you're playing or not-so-good performances. They're doing a great job of getting me coached up, teaching me a new defensive system that I was pretty new to and unfamiliar with. But I'm having a lot of fun with this defense. I think there's a lot of opportunities for players to make plays just because it allows guys to have quick keys and honestly play aggressive, which I think fits my strengths and skill sets."
Was pass coverage something you wanted to work on more in the off-season?
"Yeah, and honestly to get more specific with that question, something we've been working on just route recognition, especially at the Mike linebacker spot in this defense. You've got to be able to jump routes, read three-step or five-step on the quarterback's drop. That's something that I took a lot of ownership in because watching the film from guys that were here last year in practice or games, they were able to get their hands on a lot of balls or make plays by just understanding the quarterback's drop and then the release of a receiver or tight end. That would kind of give them an idea of what kind of route combination would be ran. Makes it a lot of fun to play in the defense when you can get quick reads."
What does it mean for you to be learning underneath someone like HC Lovie Smith?
"Yeah, Tremon (Smith) is right. I think when you have a great head coach, the team kind of takes the personality of its head coach. Lovie has done an awesome job with me, with our team. I think just based off conversations I've had with people, I feel like there's a lot of great new energy in the building, and it's an honor to be coached by someone because in my eyes he's a legend. He's had a lot of great success. It's not only an honor but a privilege, as well."
What is the attitude like in the defensive room and as a whole because the team is going through a rebuilding phase?
"Win now. I think the word 'rebuild', it's obviously something that people throw out there, and our team has been labeled with, but we're a hungry group. I think there's a lot of experience on this football team, and it's guys that want to win. My first day here walking in this locker room I was honestly blown away by how professional everyone was and how bought-in this team was. That's everyone in this building. You know you've got a good thing started when you kind of have that culture forming and forming early, when you've got a 'rebuild' or a new head coach. I'm excited to see what this football team can be and how the season will turn out."
What did it mean to you and your teammates to see WR Jalen Camp when he scored and the celebration in honor of WR John Metchie III?
"I thought that was really cool. It was a special thing to do to honor him. I didn't even catch that until after the game. But I said something to him, just I think that just shows how close this group is and how much we appreciate each other in this locker room."
Do you feel healthy mentally and physically?
"I feel great. I've got a lot of confidence in my body and how I can perform and with this organization. Something when I first came in to the building is the performance staff working with me every day, getting to know my body, getting to know how I work, how I operate, and just building a plan for me specifically because everyone's body responds to things differently, recovers differently. I give a lot of credit to them because my body has felt awesome since being here. I've done a lot of different things since being here, and they kind of took an outside approach on how to handle like the soft tissue injuries. It's been great, and like I said, I've got a lot of confidence in how they can help me going forward through the season."
During Saturday's game, what did it mean to the defensive unit to be able to stop the New Orleans Saints and give the ball back to your offense who put together a game-winning drive?
"That's what it's all about. Just because it's a preseason game doesn't mean we don't want to win. To be able to get the win and celebrate with your teammates after all the work we've put in this off-season, all the work we've put in through training camp. We've got a lot of new faces, a lot of rookies. It's exciting and it's always good to start the preseason off like that. That's what football is about. It's how you finish a game right there. There was no quit, no one was losing energy, and everyone kept playing, like I said, being tenacious, getting to the ball. Everyone was taking advantage of opportunities to make plays."
Have you noticed any changes in this defense compared to where you played last year?
"I mean, there's a lot of big differences, just based off how they fit the runs here, even matching up route concepts and zone coverage. But like I said earlier, I think it fits me really well, fits my strengths well. The biggest thing is it gives a lot of opportunity for guys to make plays. That's what every player wants. Everyone wants that opportunity to make the splash play, make the play that's on ESPN, and help change the game, be an X-factor. It's a great system, and I think with how much every player on this defense is bought into it, I think it can help us win games this season."
What impressions do you have of LB Christian Harris that you've seen so far?
"Great kid, smart player. He's a champion on and off the field, honestly. It's easy to say he's a good athlete, good football player, but he's a guy that's hungry and wants to win, wants to learn, wants to be a better football player. From day one, he was acting like a second- or third-year vet in the league. Like he's been here, done that. I think that's impressed a lot of people, and it's going to help him have a long, great career."