Offensive Coordinator Tim Kelly
Are you here to tell us that QB Tyrod Taylor is going to start?
"No, I'm not."
If QB Tyrod Taylor plays, what do you expect from him?
"I expect whoever is out there to go out there and execute the game plan. The expectation doesn't change based upon who's out there, whether they played last week, or they didn't play however many weeks it's been. Their job is still to come out there and execute the game plan and put us in a position to go out there and score points."
If QB Tyrod Taylor does come back, do you have to watch him a little bit or do you just call it normally because you've seen what you need to see in practice?
"I think it's probably a little bit of both. For anybody who's out there, you are going throughout the week with an idea as to how you kind of want to attack the team that you are playing. You're going to make judgements based upon what plays you're going to call, based upon on how things have looked throughout the week. Like I said that part of it doesn't really change based upon who is under center for us.
What do you see for roles of RB David Johnson, RB Phillip Lindsay and RB Scottie Phillips with Mark Ingram being traded?
"Throw Rex (Burkhead) in there too. All those guys have to do a good job of picking it up. Just due to numbers, there is going to be more carries for those guys, more opportunities to be able to go out there and make plays. We've got a good room, still got a good room there. With guys who still have different skill sets. It's our job to find different ways to get the ball to them and to put them in a spot to help us move the football and score points."
How does Aaron Donald affect play calling?
"He's as disruptive of a player as we've seen. They do a really good job of moving him around so you can't really pinpoint exactly where he is going to be on every play. Have to be able to kind of build in some safeguards there. You're expecting him to be in a certain spot and if he's not, what are you going to do to prevent him from making game wrecking play. On every snap he's got the ability to do that."
As the trade deadline approaches, how do you approach preparing to shift around your offense to fill in pieces?
"We got the guys who are in the meeting room right now and we are getting ready to go out there and win a football game. Not really giving much thought to that."
Do you have to prepare the quarterbacks differently for Rams DL Aaron Donald, with one being a rookie and one being a veteran?
"Not really, because again, whoever is out there, they are going to have the same job. It's not like he's (Aaron Donald) going to take it easy on a rookie. We've got to make sure they are both as prepared as they can be when they step out on the field to handle anything that they may throw at us."
What kind of challenges does Rams DB Jalen Ramsey present?
"He's big, he's long, he's strong, he's fast, he's got really great ball skills, he's very instinctive. They're using him more as a blitzer probably than what we saw when he was in Jacksonville. He's a really good player. Obviously, he plays further away from the ball than (Aaron) Donald does, but he's got the ability to change the game on every snap, also. He's a very good football player, and we have to take a look at him and make sure we know where he's at, and understand how we want to attack him and how we want to play the game with him on the field. Because again, similar to (Aaron) Donald, they move him around. Sometimes he's to the field, sometimes he's in the slot, he's all over the place. We've got to make sure we're doing a really good job being aware as to where those two guys are."
Would you like to have another wide receiver emerge as a true No. 2, or are you fine with having WR Brandin Cooks and then everybody else together?
"We're always looking for those guys to take the next step. They've all made big plays for us. Looking at Danny (Amendola) when he was here that first week, going out there. He was here for what, three days? He went out and had a couple first down catches and a touchdown. You look at Nico (Collins) the first play of the Cleveland game, he ended up having the explosive play that put us in a position there to get the drive going. You look at Chris (Conley), made some really big plays against New England a couple weeks ago. Chris Moore did the same thing. They've all done a good job of making plays. We're just looking for someone to be able to do that throughout the entire game, and I think they've all taken steps in that direction throughout the past couple weeks."
With practice times being shortened over the years, does that make it more difficult to fix mental mistakes?
"Yeah, if we had it our way, we'd be practicing forever, but we can't do anything about the rules. Obviously, the most important thing is having our guys fresh and feeling good and getting their bodies right while still learning the game plan and being able to execute the game plan. We're going to continue to work with the M.A.'s and with the different fundamentals, and things along those lines, and make sure we're really stressing fundamentals. At the end of the day, that's what it's come down to."
With the time allotted, how do you try to drill out the mental errors?
"You have a plan for practice, you understand what you're going to do for the game plan, what skills you're going to end up using, what skills you're going to be focusing on throughout that week. It's different for each game, it's different for each position. Then making sure you're going out there and drilling it like you're saying throughout a different variety of drills for each position. Focusing on the things that we need to focus on here in order to improve on those areas."
What are you hoping for from RB David Johnson with RB Mark Ingram II out of the equation?
"He's a guy that's obviously a really good runner. He's got a different skillset when it comes to the pass game. He provides us opportunities to take advantage of different matchups, and he did a good job winning those the other day. One on the slant on the outside on one of the third downs that we converted on, and he makes himself available to the quarterback. He's done a great job earning the quarterback's trust throughout however many weeks we've been together since the beginning of training camp. He's out there every day. With that paired with his ability to run the football, it provides us opportunities to give him the ball."
Working with a rookie quarterback, is there a trade-off between trying to get him to protect the ball and going for more explosive plays?
"Sure. I think that's part of the learning process, and making sure that ultimately, he understands his No. 1 job is to protect the football. His No. 2 job is to score as many points. So, yeah, it's possible. No matter who's back there, we never want to put them in a position to where they're compromising the football or making poor decisions or feel like they have to try to jam the ball down the field. I would say probably with everybody that there's a little bit of that that goes on. But ultimately, the quarterback's got to do a great job protecting the ball, and then he's got to do a great job leading the offense down the field and finishing in the end zone. So, it's kind of a double-edged sword with that."
Special Teams Coordinator Frank Ross
Why were the punt returns were so much better this past week?
"I think similar to when other opportunities arose, I think guys focused on their job individually. Who is my assignment? How am I executing that assignment? And then how am I finishing with detail, with technique at the point of attack? When you see things like proper leverage for the return side, those show up and they produce results. Simple as that."
What kind of job do you think you did?
"I think I did a good job. Try and create tough coaching. Try and create the level expectation, the standards always going to be high. I think I did a good job but there is always room for improvement. There's always room to say, 'Hey, pads down here. Better ball security here. Could I have finished on this block on the low hip here?' So on and so forth. Good job of course but always looking to be better."
Are you guys feeling good with K Ka'imi Fairbairn?
"I think that even when there is a missed kick early in the season or whenever those things happen. Look, I trust number seven (Ka'imi Fairbairn) and I trust those guys in the operation, the snap, the hold. From the time we got together in the spring, through preseason, working through a game like Green Bay in the preseason where he is kicking a bunch of field goals, everything is true and straight. Pre games, practice, we are always looking for improvement. We are always working on our craft as specialists. You expect to go out there and make those kicks. I don't think there is any waiver from that. Whether it was a good kick that goes through or an average kick that goes through. It was good to see him go out there and hit a big kick, of course. But those are the standards and expectations and he's all over that."
Associate Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Lovie Smith
What is Rams QB Matthew Stafford doing now that's making him so effective?
"It seemed like my entire time I was up north, he was the quarterback with Detroit, so I got a chance to see him play twice a year. He was an outstanding quarterback then, and of course, he's on a better football team now that's kind of highlighting a few of the things that he can do well. Every throw, he can make. He has a strong arm and (he's) tough. He fought through injuries, always mobile enough. He's not a running quarterback, but he's mobile enough to buy time to get the ball (out). I'm talking about intermediate passes, deep balls, everything I know about him is good."
How big is pre-snap communication when it comes to covering Rams WR Cooper Kupp?
"What causes you the most trouble, their offense is kind of based on a lot of pre-snap motions, movements, shifts to kind of get you run game-wise, even though they're not a running football team. They'll get you out of a gap, and that's how their runs have been effective. Once you start moving people around, it can cause some indecision. Just him lining up in the stable spot gives you trouble as it is. Receiver-wise, tough matchups, of course. You talk about Cooper Kupp, but (Robert) Woods, (DeSean) Jackson has been in the league for a long period of time. They use their tight end well. It's one of those games, we played a similar team last week, that I would say is a passing football team that causes a lot of trouble. It'll be the same this week."
What was working with the defensive line group last week, and is that the group you want to see going forward?
"As you know, we've used a lot of different combinations. We've let a lot of guys play. Once you get to this time of the year, the players kind of tell you who they are. We like some of the things happening. It was big getting Ross Blacklock back up last week to give us an additional athletic inside man. I thought Maliek Collins played his best game last week. But what our ends have done, especially Jonathan Greenard, he's played the run well. He can really rush the passer outside. Jacob Martin got good pressure, too. We got Chuck (Charles) Omenihu involved last week. But that combination, it's not like we get off of the plane blitzing. So, we rely on our four-man pressure quite a bit. They'll need to do the same thing this week, and we believe they can."
What did DL Charles Omenihu show you in practice and throughout the Cardinals game that made you confident to have him play that much?
"Well, practice, good play throughout. Each week, it's a different combination that you're going with. Sometimes the numbers, we keep track of the plays. If you dress, we want you to get about—all players get about the same amount of plays. The situation kind of dictated a little bit. But Chuck (Charles Omenihu) has been doing a good job. It's just the numbers hadn't allowed him to play. It worked out that way for him this week, but our entire defensive line played pretty good last week."
How have you seen DL Jonathan Greenard improve in practice and meetings since you first started coaching him?
"What we've seen is that, he had an injury early and that knocked him back a little bit. He didn't dress a few games, I don't know how many, five or so games he's played in. But what we've seen from him, he comes to work every day and he plays hard. He's coachable and he's a young player that's developing his game still. I'm anxious to see how far he can go with it."
What are you seeing from how opposing offenses attacking you guys in the middle of the field and along the sidelines, and how are you guys defending those areas?
"Well, last week, probably the worst thing, one area that we have to make improvements on is the big play. You mentioned the sideline, was it third-and-2,000 yards it seemed like? Third-and-eight, whatever it was. You just can't have those. You can't give up those types of plays. As far as attacking us down, we play Cover Two. If you're a Cover Two football team, you're going to get attacked down the middle of the field. That can be a benefit to us, also, of knowing that. But again, coverages up front, making the quarterback get the ball out, and then from there, as I see it, people are attacking us in those areas, I see it as an opportunity for us to get more interceptions, is how we look at it. They'll continue to do that, and we'll need to play the ball better, and we will."
Do you think LB Christian Kirksey can play through his thumb injury? What have you seen from LB Kamu Grugier-Hill?
"Talking about Christian (Kirksey), we hope he can. He's the quarterback of our defense. Everything goes through Christian Kirksey. He's a good football player and he's played outstanding ball for us. We hope that'll be the case. You talk about Kamu Grugier-Hill, he's played a lot of spots for us. Special teams, he's played our Will, our Sam position, our two outside linebacker positions. He's moved into the lead guy in nickel situations for us. He can do an awful lot, and he's a player that's also growing. I'm anxious to see him take another step."
Will LB Kamu Grugier-Hill get the communication device if LB Christian Kirksey can't play?
"That is an option, yes. Typically, the guys who get the helmet would be the ones, our Mike linebackers, per se. Neville Hewitt of course has one, and we'll see on that next one."
How much do you believe in disguising what you do before the snap? How do you determine the right amount to do of that?
"The only way a disguise works, if people assume you're going to be in a certain thing when you're pre-snap, give that. Base part of what we do is that. It's not like we just line up in Cover Two and play Cover Two. We'll show single-high, play two, we'll show two-deep, play single-high. We have all of that as a base part of what we do each week."
What are you seeing from DB Lonnie Johnson Jr. in terms of his growth?
"If you're a safety with three interceptions, that's a pretty good amount. Our safeties have an opportunity to make plays. Any of the deep balls that we've talked about, when you're a zone football team, as I see it, it's an opportunity to make plays. Our safeties should have interceptions. They both have some. Of course, they'll say that there's some we've left out there on the football field. When you're a young football player, we just expect you to get better and better each week, especially when you're playing passing football teams. But it's just not playing the pass, as we look at our safeties. It's playing the run. We've had a few missed tackles we've got to clean up, and some things like that."
Do you see teams focusing on DL Jonathan Greenard more? If they haven't yet, how do you tell him to do deal with a different plan of attack?
"That's a compliment when teams start looking at you that way. For the most part, Jonathan (Greenard) plays to our three-technique side. So, he'll be with our three-technique with Maliek (Collins). It's hard, so we feel like one of them will get a favorable matchup in passing situations. And if that does happen, now it's about the other side. Eventually, you only have so many guys that could dictate double protection, or something like that. That should open up some opportunities for Jacob Martin and guys like that."
You mentioned that DL Maliek Collins had his best game last week. Why is that?
"I don't know exactly why. When I say his best, he kind of showed up. Maliek (Collins) didn't have a sack until last week. That's a big thing for a lineman to get a sack. But Maliek Collins has played well throughout. He's been disruptive, and a lot of times our three-technique is the one that garners a little bit of double coverage, double protection and stuff that offenses do. He plays hard every down, big part of what we're doing. I'm pleased with how he's done, and he's a guy that can take another step. I mentioned Ross Blacklock, too, athletic, big man. That combination of that group of eight guys, we feel good about."
The Rams offensive line has only given up seven sacks this season. What do you see from OL Andrew Whitworth and the rest of that unit?
"Andrew (Whitworth) has been around a while. There's a reason why he's a National Football (League) player. But we can't go in looking at it like that. They know what we're going. We have to be able to get pressure. If they're getting the ball out quickly, we have to see it and be able to react quickly. If they're holding the football, that's time where we're going to have an opportunity to not only get pressure, but to get sacks and things like that, which will hopefully lead to more takeaways that we need to get."
LB KAMU GRUGIER-HILL
How do you feel about this week going into the game against the Rams?
"Good. I think we have a pretty good game plan. We've watched a lot of, obviously, their film and what they've done. I can only speak defensively we are confident going into the game for sure."
How much different is what they do offensively now with Matthew Stafford versus when they had Jared Goff?
"I don't actually think it's too much different. I think that it's just a different talent. Matt Stafford is really, really, not that (Jared) Goff isn't good, but Matt Stafford is an elite player for sure. I think that's the biggest difference. He can make some crazy throws."
What do you think you bring as a linebacker in pass coverage situations that allows Associate Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Lovie Smith to trust you there?
"It's something I've always kind of had an knack for and maybe taken a little more pride in. It's just understanding different concepts. I just feel really comfortable being able to read the quarterback. A lot of systems I've played before it was a lot of pattern match where here he (Lovie Smith) kind of asks you to play off the quarterbacks eyes. I feel very comfortable doing that. That's probably a big part of it."
If LB Christian Kirksey does not play, how do you feel you guys will play in his place and how those roles might change?
"In our room alone, we have starters throughout the whole room. You put any guys throughout the depth on other teams, I think they are starting. You can rotate us and do all the stuff and I think they are going to be productive guys. I do think Nev (Neville Hewitt) is a great player. Christian's hard too. What he brings to our team right now is super important and I'm glad he's to be out there for sure."
Have you ever played with a cast?
"I have actually. I've been giving him a lot of advice about it and we've just been talking through it. It's a different injury. I think his is more like his wrist where mine was my thumb. But yeah, I had to do that before."
What's hard about playing with a cast?
"You've just got a big club on your hand. You're not really able to grab. It just makes it a little difficult, but you can do it."
Could you use the cast to your advantage at all?
"Yeah, we told him he better have some punch-outs. He better have some strip attempts this game. We'll see."
Could you sense from LB Christian Kirksey that he didn't want his injury to keep him off the field?
"Yeah. I think when we play football, it's your hand. If you're not a receiver, we really don't have to catch too much. He'll be fine."
RB DAVID JOHNSON
What was your reaction to RB Mark Ingram II being traded?
"It's just part of the business. That's how I felt. Especially with the trade deadline coming up, and a lot of injuries going on to the running backs as a whole in the league. That's how I felt, it's part of the business."
Are you anticipating a higher volume role moving forward?
"Yeah, obviously when we lose Mark (Ingram II) to a different team, I've got to prepare to run the ball more. I was already used as a third down and as a receiving back, but now it's just getting more carries."
How do you expect the rest of the running back group to fill in?
"Just doing their job. Whenever their number is called, be ready to make the most of their opportunities."
M*ark Ingram II was a person who came in with a lot of leadership. What does the team lose with a guy like him?*
"I think, like you said, leadership, the voice. He was always talking, getting everyone pumped. I think now the other guys, including myself, are going to have to step up and just try to get our morale back and lead this team. We've got a lot of vets on the team, so from that aspect, I feel like we've got vets, and they know how this business is. In the NFL, guys get traded, you lose guys. Guys are going to step up."
Has Head Coach David Culley addressed the team about not letting the loss of a leader like Mark Ingram II pull the team apart?
"Honestly, he hasn't really addressed Mark (Ingram II) getting traded. I think he just knows, everyone knows with us being such a veteran-led team that it is part of the NFL, especially with the trade deadline coming up, like I said. It happens."
What do you have to do to be effective against Rams DL Aaron Donald?
"Get as many bodies on him as possible, get as many guys blocking him as possible. He's a disruptor, for sure. I played against him twice a year back in Arizona. I think the biggest thing is you never know what you're going to expect with him. He's so fast. He's shorter, so he's quicker, and his center of gravity is really good. I think the biggest thing is just trying to get as many guys blocking him, or in front of him, or disrupting him, trying to confuse him as much as possible."
Does it change anything for the running backs whether it's QB Tyrod Taylor or QB Davis Mills playing this week?
"No, not really. Especially me as a running back, doing my best whoever is calling the plays, trying to block for him, give him time to throw it and make him, whether it's Tyrod (Taylor) or it's Davis (Mills). Just try to get them comfortable in the pocket and give them time to throw."
What have you seen from RB Scottie Phillips?
"I feel like Scottie (Phillips) is always ready, man. He showed out really well in the preseason. I think he just needs his opportunity, and I think he's going to do well for us when he does have the chance to run the ball, or catch the ball or pass pro. I think he's a good player."
LB CHRISTIAN KIRKSEY
How's your thumb?
"Thumb's feeling good. Running around, moving, making plays. So, I feel fine."
Are you planning to play through it?
"Yeah, it's football. Part of the game."
How does wearing the cast affect you during a game?
"Honestly, I don't even pay attention to it. It's one of those things where it's a mindset. You just go out there and continue to play ball."
Where you able to pinpoint which play you hurt your thumb?
"It was in the second quarter last game. Just tried to make tackle. End up hitting it wrong and the rest was history. Things happen, you got to keep playing, it's part of the game and you just got to push through it."
Head Coach David Culley said you may have fractured it?
"I got to take it to the doctors to see exactly what it is."
Do you think you will have to have it repaired after the season?
"We'll handle it once it gets to that time. Right now, it feels fine. Right now, I feel good and able to do my job. As long as it doesn't affect that I don't have any complaints."
How have you approached the pass game the past couple of weeks and how you guys can fix that?
"Just tighten down on some coverages, everybody do their job, everybody be at the right place at the right time. Just things that we need to see as a unit better and that's some that we are working on this week. We're going to get better at it."
What's it like playing with LB Kamu Grugier-Hill?
"It's good to play with a guy that is very versatile, plays well in space. A guy that can run just as well as safeties, but he understands how to play linebacker. So, it's definitely good when you have somebody next to you that can run around the field and make plays."
What made you talk to the team a couple of weeks ago and what did you say to the team?
"Just me being in the role that I am in, I thought it was a good time to talk to the guys as a brother, as a leader. Just keeping everybody on the right path and staying focused. Those guys are doing a tremendous job. Everybody is policing each other. It wasn't just me. We all talk to each other throughout the week. Bunch of different guys had things to say. It's just keeping positive and staying in it."
Have you ever played with a club before?
What are somethings you may have to modify about how you play with it?
"I guess we will see Sunday. It's my first time. But this week I've been moving well with it. It's not a concern to me."