Transcripts: 10-20-2021 Press Conferences 

HEAD COACH DAVID CULLEY

Opening Statement

"First of all, before I get started, I know Cal (McNair) has made a statement on Whitney (Mercilus), and Nick (Caserio) has also made a statement on Whitney. I'd just like to say, too, the same thing that they said about him. There are very few guys in this franchise that have had the kind of impact that he's had with this franchise on the field and off the field. The one thing I remember most is when I first became head coach here, the first guy that reached out to me was Whitney Mercilus. I told him I remember that and I appreciate that from him, and I appreciate everything he's done for this organization."

What went into DL Whitney Mercilus' release?

"Well, it was a mutual thing. That position he plays, we've got as much depth there as any position on our team. We've got some young guys there. Ross (Blacklock) is coming back, and basically it became being able to see those guys, and those guys have done well. Those young guys are starting to play, and it gives us a chance to be able to look at them and also give him a chance to be able to continue on and play and find a team that fits him and move on with his career."

Will QB Davis Mills start on Sunday?

"Yes."

Can you give us an update on QB Tyrod Taylor's hamstring? Do you think he will be ready for the following week?

"We hope so. I'm not really sure yet. We're just kind of taking it week by week. Hopefully, we'll try to get him a little bit of practice this week and kind of see how it is." 

When you have a quarterback who likes to run as much as QB Tyrod Taylor, do you have to be more careful bringing him back from injury?

"Well, you do, simply because that's part of his game. Obviously, with a hamstring, until that thing is completely right, when you play the game the way he plays the game, there's always that chance of happening. We have methods and have ways to look and see how strong it is and where he's at. When he gets to that point where we know that it's right, we'll have him back out on the field. Right now, it's not that time."

Are the releases of DL Whitney Mercilus and WR Andre Roberts reflective of the team prioritizing young guys?

"No. I think that the case with Andre (Roberts) is for the fact that basically, we weren't getting the production there that we felt like we needed to get there at that point. It wasn't just him, but we weren't getting the production there at all. I know during preseason we had some guys that we also used at that situation, Desmond (King II) and Tavierre (Thomas), those guys. We just felt like at this point, because the production hadn't been there, that we need to go ahead and see and make a move, and it allowed us to make that move to do that."

Is QB Tyrod Taylor still your starter when healthy?

"Yes, he is." 

Have you addressed the team about the cuts, and what's the message to the team?

"No, they understand that. We come in every day, they read and they hear, and they know, and they talk. That's part of the business, and they know that happens. Basically, when those kinds of things happen, all we do as a team in our team meetings is the guys that are coming in that are becoming additions to our football team, those are the guys that we sit and talk about in our meetings. And all the other stuff, we just move on to the next opponent."

Will DL Ross Blacklock play this week?

"He'll be back. I hope he'll be playing. We'll see how it goes this week in practice, but he is back."

Will you designate QB Tyrod Taylor for return this week?

"Not sure yet what we're going to do with that situation."

Will DL Charles Omenihu be up now since DL Whitney Mercilus is gone?

"That depends on practice. We always base those decisions based on how guys practice. We usually do that on Friday, and from that point we'll see what happens."

Will we see younger guys getting the chance to play at other positions?

"Well we don't have as much depth as we do at the defensive line and the way those guys were playing, that position, you usually play seven, eight guys a game at that position. We don't do that other positions, not able to do that because of the depth. Basically, those decisions are made based on production and basically if guys are doing what they need to do then we are going to go business as usual and play the guys we feel give us the best chance to win."

What do you think it will be like for WR DeAndre Hopkins and DE J.J. Watt going up against the Texans this week?

"I think when you are 6-0 like they are and one of the best teams in football, I would look at it like we are the next opponent. They are looking at the big picture of being a playoff team and moving on and we happen to be the next opponent in the way, although those guys have been here. You're talking about two other guys who have been apart of this franchise just like Whitney (Mercilus) has, but I don't think that will be a factor at all. I think they are pros and are looking at it as the next opponent and we will go from there."

Can you talk about some of the challenges that the Cardinals present to your team?

"Offensively, they got a lot of fire power. They have one of the best quarterbacks in the game, they have one of the best receivers in the game, they have a running game that is pretty good. They're pretty good. Defensively, they got some good pass rushers, obviously J.J. (Watt) being one of those. It's a very good football team, overall, I don't see any weaknesses in that football team. But here's how we look at it each week, they are 6-0. Even if they were 0-6 right now, we're playing them, we wouldn't look at them any differently. We do understand who are playing. We do understand what they are and how they've been, but they are next team in the way. We're 1-5 and we are just trying to get a win and whoever that is we'll play it the same way."

When losses start piling up and cuts start being made, how do you communicate that there isn't an intent to get younger?

"We don't feel that way on our football team, that there is sense that way."

What do you want to see from DL Jonathan Greenard and DL Jacob Martin now that DL Whitney Mercilus has been released?

"I don't think that affects how they are playing right now. I do know this they will miss having him around because of his mentorship and leadership that he has given. I think what they will do right now is take that and move on, and the other guys who haven't been playing as much because Whitney was in that role, they will get an opportunity to do the same thing. I think what's going to happen is you're going to see those guys, having had Whitney here, go and do the things that they've learned from him and become better football players because of him being here."

Do you see WR Danny Amendola playing this week?

"We hope so. Again, we are taking it day to day with him. I anticipate him being full go and we will see how it goes in practice."

What type of impact do you see this team going through with not having DL Whitney Mercilus in the locker room as a leader?

"When you lose somebody like that, other guys have to step up. That's part of it, just like when a guy goes down and gets injured, the next man has to come in and do it. They understand that. I think we had him here and those young guys had him here long enough to understand, this is the business, this is how it is. I mean, it could happen to any of them, the same thing that happened to him and we just move on."

How do you judge the tradeoff between DL Whitney Mercilus' leadership and moving on from him and giving the younger guys opportunities?

"Depending on how the guys that have been playing and have been progressing is how we will it affect moving forward. Basically, the guys that would affect him being gone have actually been getting better and anticipate them to continue to get better because of his presence being here and what they have learned from him."

Do you think OL Lane Taylor will be a factor on the offensive line?

"He's always going to be a factor there, that's why we had him up. Basically, he's there at this point because of backup and to help us because he can play a couple of positions. He's there for that reason."

Is signing OL Jimmy Morrissey a sign that you are worried about OL Justin Britt? How did OL Justin McCray play?

"(Justin) McCray played well. Again, the injury with (Justin) Britt is always concern and obviously we needed to get some more depth in here incase he doesn't progress like we need him to progress to play. But yes, that's the reason we brought him in."

Do you feel that the culture is where you want it to be and everybody is bought in? How do you navigate that on and off the field?

"That's a good question. When you are 1-5, there is a tendency to question where you are going but we're staying the course. The culture is there, the wins aren't there but the culture is there. It's a process and it takes time, the process, but we are going to stay the course. We know the process works and we feel good about where we are going right now."

DL ROY LOPEZ

How do you feel you are continuing to develop as a starter?

"I feel like I grow every week. It's just a comfortability thing. Just keeping improving on things that you learn every single game, sometimes you get a new look, but sometimes you get the same look. In the NFL, it's an unforgiving league. If one team sees something, they're going to try to do the same thing. It's been great. I've been embraced by the whole defense and everybody shows love. We just look to improve every week."

How much do the rotations on the defensive line reinforce the message to perform each week?

"We have a lot of talented guys on our d-line. So, the rotation is to be expect when our room is as deep as it is. Those guys deserve the right to play, just as we do. We don't feel any sort of bad toward the rotation, we love it. We love to see each other perform and thrive. If you see us when somebody makes a play or a sack, when you see JG (Jonathan Greenard) get a sack, you look at the d-line on the sideline we are all going crazy, us on the field, we're going crazy. It's nothing but love in the d-line room. That's something that I'm very grateful to be apart of, to learn from and to keep growing from."

What does DL Ross Blacklock being back add to the unit?

"Add speed, strength, size. Everything that he brings to the table. It's good to get Ross back. He brings energy to the room. He's part of our brotherhood. It's kind of something that we've built on. He brings a smile every day. That's something we enjoy, and we all bring it too."

How much of a challenge is QB Kyler Murray's mobility in the pocket?

"Being from Arizona, I've seen Kyler play. He's a great quarterback. He's mobile. He's got a great arm. Obviously, he's a ball player. Defensively we just got to keep that in mind and play our keys. Every single down is a new down. Just keep attacking."

How hard do you think it's going to be to get the pressure to keep QB Kyler Murray inside the pocket and from going outside the pocket?

"We got to rush smart. We got to that in mind when we come free that he's going to keep the play alive. He's not just going to go down. He's not going to give us any freebies and let us celebrate. He has the same mindset of every down is a new down. He's going to come up on second and 8 and he's going to look at it and he's going to try to score. He tries to get out. He's allusive. He's smart, he's a smart football player. We're just going to get after him, but at the same time do it with a smart mindset. Keep in mind that he looks to extend plays and keep his team in good positions."

As players continue to get moved, what has the message from Head Coach David Culley and General Manager Nick Caserio been to you?

"Like I said, every week's a new week, every play's a new play. We just try to show up Wednesday, get the game plan and try to improve on it every single day. We show up at practice and we know what the job is, go out there and try to get it done. As the week goes on try to make improvements so that way Sunday, we're tight and ready to go."

QB DAVIS MILLS

When you look at the Arizona defense, what are some challenges?

"Obviously, a lot of talent on that side of the football. I think from seeing film, they make some plays, but they've also let some stuff up. We're just trying to find those spaces, those voids, and try to attack that."

As you go week to week, how do you process being the starter?

"It's another week, another challenge ahead of me. Just got to be consistent in my work during the week and go out there and try to be better than last week."  

Have you ever lost five games in a row before this?

"I don't think I have. No."

How do you process these shortcomings?

"It's just piecing it all together. It's tough to win football games in the NFL. Every week is a challenge. Unfortunately, we've, like you said, have lost five in a row at this point. We're just kind of going at it with the mindset of attacking each week like we're trying to go 1-0.

Do you feel like you've made a lot of progress since when you first went in against Cleveland? Do you feel like every week it's getting easier and easier for you?

"I wouldn't necessarily say easy because it's a challenge every week. But I've definitely seen progress. It's a challenge every week but I've tried to acknowledge the mistakes I've made and learn from them and continue to grow as a better player." 

Y*ou talked about patience in the Colts game. After watching the tape, what else have you learned?*

"Patience is one. One of them too is not having to call shot plays to take shots down the field. I feel like there are organic we can find it within our offense to make big plays, try to take advantage of those. As my job kind of lead the offense the best I can and make sure we're in the right spot to go out there and play against the defense."

How do you build on what you did last week with the run game?

"I thought last week we ran the ball better than we had in previous weeks. So, continue to use similar schemes and obviously game plan for Arizona's defense to see what schemes have been working against them in the past and try to utilize those. Make sure we're together as an offense, working together to run the ball well this week."

By organic ways, do you mean kind of letting the offense do its job?

"Exactly. Yeah. Just kind of utilize some of the alerts within the offense, the things that are already built into the scheme. Just take advantage of those."

Is it hard having the new players on the offensive line?

"I don't think it's too hard. I think the guys who have stepped up have done a really great job of making it seamless to where I don't even notice that somebody else is in. I mean specifically, J Mac (Justin McCray) stepping in at center this past week. We did a really good job communicating back and forth, making sure everybody is on the same page. I thought we handled it well."

Do you think the ball game out of your hands late on the Darius Leonard interception?

"I don't know if I was late on that. On that given route, we don't really have anyone as a flat influence and I kind of came back and predetermined I was going to get the ball to Nico (Collins). He was kind of waiting for the ball in that spot and I didn't even see him until right as I was throwing it and it was too late at that point. So, we got to be smarter with that and obviously anticipate what the defense is giving based off what we are showing on offense."

As players continue to move as the season goes on, is there a message to you that comes to you whenever you see things around you and the team?

"I think the message that we've all bought into is we are going to try to win with whatever we have. We're going to attack each week the best we can and go out there with the guys we got. We have a lot of talent in the room. We just got to play the best we can with what we have."

*Was it good having WR Nico Collins back last week?        *

"Definitely. Nico's a great guy to be around. Really talented out there on the field. He makes it tough on defenses to cover him because he can do a lot, both vertically and in the intermediate routes and short routes. He's a good target to have out there."

Why does it feel like you and WR Nico Collins have been able to build up chemistry so easily?

"I think it kind of goes back to rookie minicamp and OTAs. We've kind of been working together for a while now and have built some of that chemistry. We're kind of just picking up where we left off."

Is the amount of power you have to make adjustments any different now from what it was in your first start?

"No. As the starting quarterback, you have the role of controlling the offense, making calls at the line of scrimmage. As a starter, they trust you. The offensive coaches and Coach Culley trust you to make sure you're getting to the right looks and the right calls. So, I don't think it's really changed."

Is that what you meant by taking shots deep and making checks?

"What I kind of meant by that, we have shots down the field. We have play-action stuff where we're really trying to get behind the defense, and then there's other ways with a quick gain where we can convert a route versus a certain look, and we can get behind them in that way, too. Things like that."

What is the mood around the team in terms of trying to rally together?

"I feel we do a really good job as a team, kind of rallying together. Continuing to emphasize that we have each other's backs, and we've got to be a really good team to win games, because individuals don't win games. I think everyone's really bought into that, so we're just trying to keep moving forward and get a win each week."

When you're playing an undefeated team, is there extra motivation that boosts the spirit of the team?

"I think we can treat this week just as we treat every other week. I don't think a team's record matters too much when we're preparing for them. We're just trying to do what we can to go out there and play our best football on Sunday."

When you said that it's never as bad as it seems, it's never as good as it seems, does that get tested after every week?

"I think that saying kind of still holds true. This past Sunday, I think there were good and bad things to learn from, but also things we can carry with us into the coming weeks. It's the same week to week. Winning football in the NFL is hard, but I think we're fully capable of doing that, and this week's just another challenge."

DB TREMON SMITH

With WR Andre Roberts being released, how confident are you in your return skills?

"Even when Andre (Roberts) was here, I was very confident in my return skills. I always knew I could do it. I started off in the league doing it in 2018, so that's just something I stayed confident in doing. I actually learned a lot from Andre, as to be a professional, how to take care of yourself, take care of your body, the little things. It was a pleasure having Dre (Andre Roberts) here. It's part of the business in the NFL, you never know with this business. So, I thank Andre for everything I learned from him."

How would you describe your return style?

"I would say aggressive, just fast and physical. I try to finish every run falling forward and try to just get the most yards I can to help set up the offense in any way I can."

As a secondary, what challenges are there to containing WR DeAndre Hopkins?

"We know this will be a big game for him coming back to his old—well, not coming back, but us going to his new home. We just try to contain him the best we can. We know what type of player he is, what type of players they have and the quarterback they have. Just really focusing on ourselves and just doing our assignments, and that should seal that up."

How hard is it to go against a quarterback like Kyler Murray who can extend plays like he can?

"It's tough. It reminds me of all the guys that you see in the league now that played quarterback in high school, just running around Lamar Jackson-like, can make any throw on the field and he can just wow you any time. So, we've got to just keep him bottled in and just control his big plays, and I think we'll be perfectly fine."

With as much change as there has been in the secondary, how do you approach finding your spot?

"We still are going to stick to what we do. We still have faith in what we do, and we're going to live by that, live and die by that. We've just got to tighten up on some things here and there, and I feel like that'll help the passing game a lot, help us control the passing game."

Do you expect an opportunity for yourself?

"I always start the week as I'm the starter, end the week as I'm a starter, even if it comes down to no playing time or whatever the case of my role is, just special teams. I just try to be ready and let the coaches see it and know that I'm ready so they can trust me and throw me in the game at any time."

How hard is it to prepare for a player like Cardinals TE Zach Ertz, who hasn't played for the Cardinals yet?

"We know he'll have his certain plays. You know he can't go in there and learn the playbook too fast. So, we'll know the plays he's in there. I feel like they'll try to not force him, but kind of feed him the ball and try to get him open on a few routes. Once he's in there, we've just got to be on high alert just know the ball will be going toward him."

Is the return tandem between you and DB Desmond King II a strength, and do you feel a shared confidence?

"Yeah, I feel like we showed a few glimpses this preseason with the returns. I know he had a couple big returns, bigger than mine, of course. I'm working on it. But yeah, I feel like he's a good returner. Whoever's number Coach calls, when it comes Sunday, we'll be ready. No matter who's on this roster, we'll be ready for sure."

Does directional punting close to the boundary make it difficult as a returner?

"No, I felt like they were doing that just because they knew the type of returner, how good of a returner Andre Roberts was. I feel like they'll try to keep that same mindset just to limit the big plays on special teams, as far as special teams-wise. Just know if one of our returners gets a hole, we'll be looking forward to returning it and just setting up anything positive for the offense."

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