HEAD COACH DAVID CULLEY
Is QB Tyrod Taylor going to start against the Dolphins?
"He's healthy and he's our starting quarterback."
Have you seen enough from QB Davis Mills where you are comfortable moving forward in the future?
"Well, as we move forward, we will see what happens."
What did you see from QB Tyrod Taylor this week to make the decision?
"There was no setbacks in the hamstring. He's been just fine. Hopefully he's that way today and tomorrow."
Are you looking forward to see what QB Tyrod Taylor does in his return after what he showed you in the first game and a half with him at quarterback?
"I hope so. "
Can you talk about QB Davis Mills in his first six starts from when he started to where he is now?
"It's been invaluable experience for him. He's grown from it. He's going to be better for it. It's going to help him in his future having gone through what he's gone through."
Did QB Tyrod Taylor help QB Davis Mills during that period?
"Tremendously. That's why we took Tyrod (Taylor) on every away game that we had, for him (Davis Mills)."
Earlier in the week you said QB Tyrod Taylor gives you the best chance to win and winning is important to a culture, how much does that weigh into a decision like this and why is that important?
"That's important but the thing is he (Tyrod Taylor) was our starting quarterback and he got hurt. He's back healthy now and he's starting. The fact that he's been our leader going into the year, will that help us? I hope so. We'll see."
As the season progresses, at what point do you think about prioritizing the future and development when assigning playing time versus competitiveness?
"My only worry is the next game against the Miami Dolphins. That's the only thing we are worried about right now."
What did QB Tyrod Taylor do well in the six quarters he played, and what are you expecting him to do now?
"Well, he did what a veteran quarterback's supposed to do. He executed our offense, he ran it well, he distributed the ball around. We were able to run the ball because of his ability to run. He got a bunch of off-schedule stuff for us, and hopefully, those same things start to happen."
What is your overall philosophy when you look at why winning is important to the team's culture? Are there things you can learn in the back end of a losing season that can help the future?
"Winning's a habit. That's part of good culture, is winning. Basically, we take it week to week, and what we do is we're going to use the best guys that give us the best chance to win. This week, Tyrod (Taylor) getting back gives us the best chance to win."
Is that a message that you want to send to the veteran players?
"Just to this football team in general, we play to win. Basically, our future is now, from that standpoint. This football team is looking to win the next game, and that's all that matters."
How much of a setback was QB Tyrod Taylor's injury?
"Any time you lose your starting quarterback, it becomes a setback. He's a starting quarterback for a reason. We lost our leader, we lost a guy that this football team believed in. He was actually doing his job to that point, of what we expect our quarterback to do. Hopefully, having him back, we can continue that moving forward."
Knowing DB Justin Reid is your emergency kicker, who is your emergency punter and holder?
"I forgot all about Justin (Reid) being our emergency kicker. Emergency punter, I'm not really sure who it would be right now. Emergency holder would be one of our quarterbacks."
What sort of growth have you seen from WR Nico Collins over the last four or five games?
"He is getting better and better. Obviously, we were a little concerned when he first came back about where he would be with the injury. He's come back and he's kind of gotten so much better just from watching Brandin (Cooks) and those guys in front of him. He's doing a really, really good job for us right now, and he's progressing very well."
What would it mean to the team to win this game and break the losing streak?
"Well, any time you win in this league is important. That's why we play the game, and that's our job, to win football games."
With the release of DB Vernon Hargreaves III, will DB Desmond King II play on Sunday?
"Desmond King has been practicing."
How will QB Tyrod Taylor's ability to improvise and keep plays alive help push the ball down the field?
"Any time you have a quarterback or you are playing against a quarterback, and we've played against some of those, that are mobile, that can keep drives alive and get plays off schedule and he's one of those guys. Defensive coordinators always realize that's an issue when you cover everybody and you got a guy back there that can keep it alive, keep things going and can produce big plays off of scheduled plays."
When you look at QB Tyrod Taylor's game history with the Dolphins, does that boost the feeling around here?
"That's important because you know he's going to take care of the ball. Like you said, he's taken care of his whole career. That's one of the reasons why we felt good about getting him here and starting what we are starting right here, right now is to have somebody you knew could come in and do the right things to help you win football games. That's the kind of quarterback he's been through his career."
RB REX BURKHEAD
What does it mean for you guys to have QB Tyrod Taylor back?
"It's huge. He's definitely a leader of this team, has done great things in this league for a while now. Just having his presence out there in practice, his command in the huddle, and just overall on the plays, it's great. I've always been a big fan of his from afar throughout the league. Just loved his consistency he's always played with. He's just a great leader, great quarterback, very humble guy, and a pleasure to go to work with every day."
What advantage do the running backs have when the defense has to worry about QB Tyrod Taylor on the perimeter?
"It's huge. It helps open up other things for us. They've got to concentrate on him taking off and running with the ball. When you have that, it usually helps out other things. It can be in the passing game, as well, but of course, as running backs, we love that, because the focus isn't always on us in the run game. It kind of goes to him, and his ability to make people miss, whether that may be a pass, dropping back, scrambling, or in the RPO zone read game."
What was it like losing a veteran presence in RB Mark Ingram II?
"Mark (Ingram II) is a great guy. Of course, I enjoyed coming to work with him every single day. I had always watched him growing up, of course, with his days at 'Bama, and then with the Saints, and of course, the Ravens, as well. His presence is definitely missed. He was a great player for us, and just his leadership every single day."
What does 'culture' mean to you, especially being here with this franchise?
"It's huge, it's everything. That's what we're really trying to establish here. It's a very unselfish culture that's about the team and about each other, improving every single day, having that positive mindset coming in. What (we can) do to go forward, and not make the same mistakes that we maybe have in the past or did previously. Really just trying to take it foot after foot, step after step to make progress."
Is it hard to establish that kind of culture when you are losing?
"I think the losing kind of shows what you're about with your mindset throughout that. In those losses, in those games, are you a teammates or players that have your head down, or are you guys that are going to keep your head up and keep fighting? What I've seen on this team, is we have a lot of guys that love to fight in those times of adversity. We're going to take that, keep going forward, giving our best foot every single day and work our tails off."
What is the game preparation like when going from QB Davis Mills to QB Tyrod Taylor?
"We try to keep it the same. You don't want to really get too far off one side or the other. Really, it's just working our tails off like we have, and focusing on the game plan each and every single day. Doing what we can, myself as a running back, whether it's special teams, the pass game, the run game, pass blocking, doing whatever I can to help the team out."
How important is it for veterans to make the best effort to win games?
"It's huge because you hope to establish that culture of winning. Yeah, we've had some losses, but you start winning some games and stuff, you start to make that shift. Start to switch that attitude, not just amongst yourself, but the culture around the whole organization. Yeah, it's definitely important. You want to always be going forward. As a veteran, a guy that's been in this league, on my ninth year now, that's where I try to instill the mindset of the younger guys, going to work every single day with the same mindset, still finishing plays in practice. Not be a guy who's just maybe getting down on himself or the team because we're not winning games, but really taking that approach of that winning mindset out on the practice field."
What's it like to come to work every day knowing you should win, like you did with the Patriots?
"You've got to expect that. It doesn't matter how the season is going. I feel like myself, and I'm sure a lot of people in this league, and coaches, I definitely know we've got some guys in this organization that feel that same way. You have to that approach, because if you don't, your season can go south in a hurry. Those thoughts of turning things around aren't going to be there. I think it's very important to establish a culture of winning and trying to win as much as you can. Every single day, having that mindset like, 'Okay, this is a day we're going to capture and improve upon, and progress going forward.'"
At any point in time, does it ever feel like you are a part of a rebuild process?
"No, I don't want to get into any of that. Like I said, I want to be a leader of this team going forward. I want to be a guy that younger guys can come to if they have any questions or want to pick my brain apart about things I've done in my past, or what I do every single day to put myself in a position to help the team."
DL JACOB MARTIN
What do you think of the Dolphins offense?
"They have some cool pieces, some interesting pieces with Tua (Tagovailoa), Myles Gaskin. They have a big, physical o-line. Obviously, every week I'm excited for the challenge. It's another week to compete."
In terms of training your eyes for an opponent, is there anything especially challenging about a left-handed quarterback?
"I don't really have to worry about the coverage piece of it, so nothing really looks different to me. The only that changes up in my game would be is now I'm rushing the blind side instead of his face side. Nothing really changes in my game plan. If I were playing in the secondary, I imagine seeing a ball come out of the left hand probably be a little strange, but other than that, just other quarterback."
What do you expect from Tua Tagovailoa and what have you seen on tape?
"He's a young player. He's an exciting player to watch. I watched him in college, I've watched him since he's been in the NFL. I know he's had a lot of questions about his future going forward there in Miami. I'd like to think that he is playing his best football. Obviously, he's a young guy, a young quarterback. How I think of it its being made into a bigger situation than what it really was, at least in my mind. I'd like to think that focusing on doing your own job, people are going to say, what they are going to say and compete at the highest level. He's rising to the challenge. I'm not sure what they are telling him in his building or anything like that, but just continue to ball."
How hard is that in the defensive line room losing teammates like Whitney Mercilus and Charles Omenihu?
"I mean, Whit (Whitney Mercilus) and Chuck (Charles Omenihu) those are my boys, man. Two of my closest friends here and we've been friends since I've been here for the past three seasons. It's interesting. It's just a part of the business. No one really talks about that side of it, but you know in this industry it's what we are used to. We are going to celebrate their successes from afar. I'm always going to be cheering them on. It helps the network build in terms of pass rushers around the league talking about whatever tackles we are going against that week. I'm rooting for those guys, love those guys and they will be missed for sure."
Is that part of the NFL that makes it so hard?
"Yeah. I think we are the only industry that has a day dedicated to transactions. So, understanding that this is a business, and I've been on the side of a trade before, you just got to be thankful for that new opportunity."
Speaking of opportunity, do you feel this is your first time getting the opportunity to play consecutive games and snaps?
"For sure. This is by far the most starts I've had in my career since college. There's growing pains with that as well but it's exciting. It's been fun."
Was it hard for you in to work your way up in the NFL after being a starting player in college?
"No, man. I'm always big, I'm a big team guy. I'm big on owning and learning my role, whatever that role is. I think the best teams in this league have guys that understand what their job is week in and week out. If you're being asked to play as a core special teamer, then you are a core special teamer that week. If you're being asked to start on defense or start on offense, then you are an offensive starter that week. You just can't get lost in the 'politics' of things. You're not in control of who names the starters, you're not in control of how much playing time you get. The only thing you can control is maximizing those opportunities and making sure you know and can do your job well when your numbers called."
QB TYROD TAYLOR
How does it feel to get back in the starting lineup compared to before when you've lost your job due to injury?
"Being back on the field doing something that I love to do, something that I've been doing since I was five years old, obviously that's a wonderful feeling. Just to be able to compete and be back around the guys, stepping back into the huddle last week and even more this week has just been a feeling that you can't necessarily describe. But I'm happy to be back."
What does it mean to you to have a coach that's stood behind you like David Culley has?
"It means a lot. From the players, from the coaching standpoint, upstairs, everyone was encouraging just throughout the process. Obviously, it was unfortunate, but to have everyone behind me and supporting me while I battle to get back on the field definitely means a lot to me."
How instrumental were you in helping QB Davis Mills through his rookie process?
"One day at a time. We talked about coverages. Talked about certain things that we've seen in the game, just film study. Just tried to help him as much as possible. Sometimes the best experience is actually going through it so something you have to learn from. That was more so my message to him was win, loss or draw make sure you learn from it. I was able to obviously watch my first four years in the league, watching Joe Flacco. The goods, the bads, the in betweens but I think I was able to learn from that to get me to the point that I am at today and even taking that to my first opportunity with Buffalo."
What was it like being the on the sideline that last six games?
"Obviously as a leader just out there to support. Still lead in my own way but from a personal standpoint it's obviously frustrating, you want to be out there playing. Somethings happen, you can't control it you just got to continue to keep working to get yourself back to where you feel like you can go out there and be yourself. Kind of had to balance that, the frustration, but also that I am a leader on this team and that the energy that I give and the support that I give matters."
What has this process been like for you being told you have to wait to get back out there?
"Definitely tough. Like I said, when you are a competitor and you're not able to do the things you want to do or you're not feeling healthy enough to do the things you want to do, it's definitely tough to watch. Ultimately, you have to use that time wisely. Obviously get back to yourself but be stronger when you come back. You can prevent those things from happening, but you can be a better player when you come back."
What were the conversations like week to week when trying to make your way back?
"I was on IR for three weeks, so we knew for three weeks I wasn't coming back. Initially the injury was anywhere between a four to six-week window and hamstrings are trickly. Typically, you feel good mentally before you actually feel better physically. So, you try to test it. You do as much as you can but at the same time, you also have to listen to your body and put yourself at a bigger risk coming back too early. A bunch of praying. A bunch of training just to get back to this point."
Can you take us through the injury? Did you know right away that you were hurt?
"Yeah, I knew when I got around the corner, if you watch that play closely, and I've watched it a number of times, you can actually see my left leg like I don't want to put too much pressure on it. The touchdown celebration, I'm not a guy to celebrate but it was kind of weird. A lot of people didn't understand it, but I knew I was injured at the time. Tried to jog of the field, was still in pain. Didn't necessarily know what it was, just knew something wasn't right with the hamstring. Went back on for the two-minute drive, got flushed out of the pocket one time and tried to accelerate and that's when I tried to get to the halftime and see what the doctor said. Obviously, I didn't want to come out. Coach made the decision, but it was best before I go out there and injury it more."
After another setback this year, how are you able to stay so positive after everything that has happened in your career?
"Times of adversity obviously they test our character, but they also test your faith. I'm a man of faith. I truly believe things happens for a reason whether you can understand it in that moment in time. But it's opportunity for you to be better moving forward. That's something that I hold near to my heart and I continue to stand on that. I think that this time in these six weeks has obviously made me a better player, got a chance to watch other guys throughout the league but it's also made me a better person mentally. It's made me a better leader. Like I said, things happen for a reason, just got to roll with the punches sometimes."
You say that but are you ever like, 'again?'
"That's the initial thought when it happened, maybe in Cleveland. But that thought hasn't necessarily resonated since then. Yeah, it was unfortunate that it happened, but at the time, I can't control it. Have to shift your mindset to getting back healthy and doing the things day in and day out so you stay on track so I can get back out and perform at a high level and do what I needed to do to help our team win and put us in winning situations.
What is the message to you when you are able to come back and be the starter?
"I'm thankful for the opportunity. I'm always thankful for the opportunity when I get a chance to lace up my cleats and compete, do what I love to do, what I've always done. Obviously, I was looking forward to coming back. Coach (David Culley) said early on that I would be the starter when healthy, and I'm thankful that he stood by that. I'm excited to lead the guys out this weekend, and excited to get back on the playing field and just compete."
What type of mindset do you have going into the huddle with different players than you had the last time you played?
"It's the nature of the business. I've been in the locker room and I've been around the guys for the past six weeks and seen, obviously, the roster, injuries, stuff changed. Hats off to the guys who've stepped up and went out and competed at a high level, but that's just the nature of the business. It's not necessarily a mindset. I'm comfortable and confident in the guys we're taking the field with this Sunday, and looking forward to each man to go out there and do their job."
Do you feel sharp in your throws?
"I feel sharp. It was one thing that I was able to do once we were back to on-the-field work, was continuing to keep throwing. I had throwing sessions, whether it was with Pep (Hamilton), whether it's with our trainers, but definitely had to stay on top of that throughout the time off. But yes, I feel sharp. Last week, getting back on the field with the guys in a group setting definitely allowed for time to build that, as well as this week. We're still building."
How do you relate your past experiences to this team, and how do you help the team with a 1-7 record going forward?
"Just take it one week at a time. Obviously, our record is what it is, and we can't change that. We can only focus on what's ahead of us. That's one day at a time, executing at practice, preparing at a high level, and going out and taking care of business on game day. Our record, it is what it is at this point. We've just got to be better moving forward, and we're definitely dedicated toward that, committed to doing the things that we need to do day in and day out, and looking forward to Sundays."
Can you talk about what the culture is like here?
"Obviously, we have a new group. Not necessarily new now, but when you look at the roster last year or years prior to this year, a lot of new faces. So, I think the culture throughout this year will continue to still be built around here. It's values and standards that Coach (David Culley) talks about in our teammeetings, as values and standards that we set man to man in the locker room, and we're going to continue to keep shifting it the way that we need to shift it. One thing I love about this group of guys is just the fight and competitor and each man. No one has laid down for anyone throughout this season, regardless of the score that's on the scoreboard. Each game, we've fought our tails off, and we're going to continue to keep doing that. Like I said, guys are looking forward to getting out on the field and playing Sunday and for the rest of this year."
When you've been out a while, does that make you appreciate football even more?
"Obviously, yes, it does. I appreciate it even more being able to watch, obviously, other teams play. But to be on the sideline, it's tough, frustrating. You miss it. You want to get back out there. The two weeks where I couldn't be on the field just felt weird, not being able to lace cleats up. Especially in season, not throwing for early on of the rehab, but you miss it. I think our trainer told me yesterday, I guess he read my numbers and was like, 'You must have been excited yesterday just to be back out there.' And I was like, 'Yeah, I felt like a little kid running around, and being able just to be myself.' You definitely miss it when you're not out there."