DB TAVIERRE THOMAS
How did it feel to be back on the playing field?
"It felt great. I was happy to be back out there trying to help us get a win. Now I'll be back on defense a lot more. Hopefully I light a spark and everyone gets behind me and just go win."
How have you grown in the defense with head coach Lovie Smith in charge for a second year?
"Me and Lovie (Smith) are really close. We talk every day, all day. He teaches me stuff during football and outside of football with my family. I just listen to him, read my keys and play as hard as I can because if you play hard for Lovie, he's going to do a lot for you. That's the goal with me."
On his more personal relationship with Lovie Smith…
"(Lovie Smith) finally found out how to pronounce my name correctly. It never bothered me. He always used to say Tavierre. My grandma called me and my son Tavierre, so it was always that it didn't matter. But now every time I say Tavierre and every time he says Tavierre, he's like, 'You're not going to correct me?' So, I've been having to correct him on that. But me and him have been really close. I'm just happy with the relationship that we do have."
How did Lovie Smith find out how to pronounce your name correctly?
"It was me and Joe (Danna) the safeties coach. He was like, 'Is your name Tavierre or Tavierre? Because I hear you call your son Tavvy.' I said, 'Tavierre.' He was like, 'Why don't you say anything?' I said, 'I don't know. It's the same thing to me.' And then ever since that day, Lovie (Smith) comes up to me, 'Tav- I mean Tavierre.' It just went on from there. Now, everybody is saying it."
Were you able to knock off the rust in the game on Thursday night?
"Oh yeah, I knocked off a lot of rust. I had not tackled anybody since last year, so to get a tackle out there, I was hype, I was having fun. I'm mad we didn't get the win, but I'm happy I can be back out there to try and help us get the win."
Will you be able to use what you learned against previous talented running backs this season to help stop Giants RB Saquon Barkley?
"(Saquon Barkley) is one of the best in the league, so everyone just has to do their job. Stay in your gaps and everybody run to the football. When you run to the football, good things will happen. We have faced a lot of great backs. Probably the top three in the league so far, outside of Nick Chubb. I feel like we are battle tested for it, so now we just have to go out there and execute."
From a defensive back perspective, how difficult is it to prepare for an explosive runner who can also catch out of the backfield?
"I just read my keys and go out there and play. So, if he comes my way, I'm just trying to make a tackle. I think the other guys will do the same thing at (defensive back)."
What do you think this defense is missing?
"Physicality and running to the ball. No loafs. Just run to the ball, be all over the field and play physical. When other guys see you doing that, they want to do it. So, hopefully that lights a spark for everybody else, and we just go from there and get these wins."
How was it being out injured for an extended time?
"It was terrible, but Lovie (Smith), the coaching staff and the trainers got me right. They kept me involved with the team. I was on the sideline helping as much as I could. I was not at home while the game was playing, so I was happy about that. I was not out there physically, but I was out there mentally on the sideline."
Do you have the option to be at home during games and you chose to be there? How does that process work?
"I thought I could because some of the guys on IR were at home. Lovie (Smith) was like, 'No, you're going to the game. You're part of this thing. You've got to be there.' And I was just there. I was happy to be there and happy I could help. Like Des (Desmond King), Des has been playing really well, so I was helping him, and he was helping me. I was learning stuff mentally. I'm just happy I was a part of it."
How did you approach being a part of it even though you weren't playing?
"Just really talking to the guys when I'm seeing stuff on the sideline. The coaches are all the way high up in the press box, so just helping them if I see certain formations. Because I'm still watching film, I was seeing certain formations. I'll be on the sideline screaming, 'Des (Desmond King), charger, charger, charger!' Then he'll be on the charge getting PBUs (pass break ups). It's like I was mad I wasn't out there, but at the same time I learned a lot while being out."
Did you have a chance to see the Houston Astros World Series parade yesterday?
"I saw it. I was at the game, so I saw it firsthand when they won. So I was happy about that. It was my first game being a part of something like that, and they actually won. Shoutout to them."
What do you feel like the defense needs to do to get things turned around?
"I feel like we just need to finish. We start games strong. We start fast. Lovie (Smith) preaches start fast and finish. But I feel like we are starting fast, but we've got to finish. When we go to that second half, it's about doing your job. Like in the first half we were doing our job cleaner than the second half. So if we continue to just go out there and do our job, really do your job, stay in your gap, read your keys and run to the football, I feel like we will get over the hump."
Can you explain how your role in the defense will help slow down the run?
"(Lovie Smith) is with us a lot, but we have Coach Ilir (Emini) now. Coach Ilir, he's been with Lovie for the longest at Illinois and whatnot, so he knows what Lovie wants. What I can say about me and Des (Desmond King), with us being the nickel, you've got to have a nickel that wants to be in the run gaps. I feel like with us two, we will get the job done because we will be in the run fit, and we can cover slot receivers. I feel like if we continue to just read our keys and play fast, we'll make a lot of plays. Des has been making a lot of plays so far. Hopefully I come in and do the exact same thing."
What is it that you say to teammates when you are on the sideline during a game?
"With two-minute drives, I knew that-- We were playing Jacksonville, and I knew in two-minute they run a lot of Charger and Viking routes. Teams think we are going to be in cover-2 a lot. We were actually in cover-2. I saw the formation. It was the play I caught a pick on versus the Chargers. It was an Oakland route or Viking. I was on the sideline screaming, 'Charger, charger, charger!' Des (Desmond King) heard me and saw the play coming and had a PBU (pass break up). I was happy about that. Hopefully I incorporate that when I'm back out on the field."
WR CHRIS MOORE
How can you build off the confident passing attack from the first half of the Eagles game last week?
"Like I've been saying these last few weeks, for us, I feel like we have the connection and chemistry. We show it in practice and the first half of the game. It's just about carrying it over to the second half, executing and finishing games."
How did you guys prepare without having WR Brandin Cooks and WR Nico Collins against the Eagles?
"We've got a bunch of pros in the receiving room. Like you said, we didn't know what the situation was going to be. It's just the business of the NFL. We all just prepared for us to all to be ready to go and play every position. Between me Phil (Phillip Dorsett), Jalen Camp and Ty (Tyron Johnson), we were all just studying the plays, learning the playbook as much as we can just to be ready for anything."
How does Pep Hamilton attack the short routes as opposed to other coaches you've been around?
"I don't think it's too much different. Like you said, I've been in a bunch of different offenses. In the NFL no coaches really invent anything new. I just think it's a way to get Davis (Mills) going by throwing shorter passes. Getting quick reads for him to see the defense quick to get it out. I don't think there's anything special behind it besides that."
Do you think this team can accomplish what the New York Giants did within the next year or two?
"I don't see why not. Watching them, how they won those games, all of their games have been close. It been like what I've been saying, at the end of game, they've found a way to win. That's the situation we've been in every week. We just have to find a way for us to win. They've done it so I don't see why we can't do it either."
Are there opportunities when a team blitzes so much like the Giants do?
"Definitely. We've just got to execute what Pep (Hamilton) calls out there. I played with Wink (Don Martindale) back in Baltimore, so I'm familiar with the system a little bit. It's a very exotic system. He's got a lot of different blitzes, lot of different coverages. It's really about us recognizing it, picking it up the best we can and Davis (Mills) getting the ball out on a good read."
What will it take for you to turn the season around?
"Like I've been saying, at the end of the game, we've got to find a way to win. We've been in a lot of games where it could've went our way. We just failed to execute, failed to make that play to turn it our way. That's really all it takes. We're there in the third and fourth quarter almost every game. We've just got to find a way to win."
How much of making the quick read is on the wide receivers or on QB Davis Mills?
"It's on us too. I feel like film study, us getting out there and seeing defenses, understanding, especially when a defense like this blitzes a lot, us getting our eyes around for him. Maybe adjusting our route a little quicker just so he has the confidence that we're on the same page, we see the same defense, we're seeing the same thing, breaking those routes out a little quicker for him so he can open."
Just to help me understand, what are you looking for?
"For me personally, I play more in the slot, so I'm looking for a different safety or nickel pressures. When I see that, you can feel it. You can feel all the defense. For some reason there's nobody there where they're supposed to be in a zone coverage. So you feel something like that and you just try to get your eyes around quicker. Maybe in route just look back and see if he's ready, and if he's not, just continuing finishing your route."
What does it mean to have a running back like RB Dameon Pierce?
"It's exciting. He's an amazing, exciting player to watch on the field. Just being able to block for him, you definitely got to stay on your blocks with him because he's not going down with the first few tackles. As a receiver, especially because I'm more inside and more at the point of attack, I know I've got to finish my blocks and sustain them longer for him because he's going to go out there and make a big play for us."
It seems like all of you are seeing your own things and communicating, when does that all come together during the game?
"That doesn't start in the game. It's during the practice in the week. When we're watching film together and we're doing scout team looks in practice. It's us seeing and feeling that same thing and communicating throughout the week that, 'okay, we see and feel this, this is what we're going to do', so that when it comes to the game, it's not like we're trying to adjust on the fly. It should've already been addressed and taken care of throughout the week."
Can you talk about how important WR Brandin Cooks is in the locker room?
"He's our leader in our receiver room. It's very important. We love him. He's a great player, he's a great leader, he's a great man. When all that stuff happened, we all know or at least most of us because we've all been here (in the NFL) a while, that's just part of the business. You never know really what's going to happen and either way we're happy to have him back and see him in the building."
How do you get a new receiver up to speed with all the turnover at the position over the last few years?
"First off, Ben (McDaniels) does a really good job of preparing us. Our receiver coach, he makes sure that we're a group that knows our job and knows everybody else's job so that when he (Tyron Johnson) is out there, I can help him, Phil (Phillip Dorsett) can help him, anybody that's been in the system can help him get along. To learn an NFL playbook in a week or two is insane. It's a big ask for him (Tyron Johnson). For us to help him in anyway, that's what we try to do on the field."
OL A.J. CANN
Does it create opportunities when a defense blitzes a lot?
"We've already mentioned that as an offense, how they can send so many different things with their defense, their blitzes, disguises, their defense gets in so many different types of personnel. It's something we have to be ready for, and I'm pretty sure coach will put us in the right positions to be the best we can be in and make good plays."
What's it like to block for RB Dameon Pierce?
"He makes our job easy. We know he might make a few cats miss, but if we get a hat on a hat, he's going to find a hole and make a big positive play, strong running. That's what we look forward to. He's been putting it out there."
How do you approach handling both blitzes and straight defense and which do you need more growth in?
"I feel like there's always room for improvement. Some blitz is easy to see. When guys send one single linebacker, we know we've got the extra man, the running back. It can get complicated when a couple of guys from the weak side or away from the strong side. A blitz that we don't see we've got to scramble to pick up. Of course, the defense is going to make adjustments that they might get one here or there. It's still something we have to be able to protect the quarterback and get better at."
What does this team need to do to turn the season around?
"I know you guys are tired of hearing it. I know we preach it a lot. We have a chance to win so many games and put ourselves in position. I think us offensively, defensively, we've got to finish, and as a team because we did get a turnover in a good area of the field. We have to capitalize on it. I know the games old, last Thursday, we ended up getting a turnover, and they (Philadelphia) capitalized on it. Good teams capitalize on things like that. We've got to get better on capitalizing when we get the ball in scoring position."
As a veteran, are there things you see that you recognize or do you still see new things occurring on defense?
"There's going to be things that you see if you've been playing awhile, you'll see a certain defense or linebacker doing this, you can figure out what's coming, especially if you've got a coach like Hop (George Warhop) who's been in the game awhile. He's probably seen it all. If he hasn't, I don't know. I think he has. He can get us on the right track. He's very detailed, and I'm pretty sure he's going to be able to tell us everything that they have up front that they're going to deliver. That's the kind of coach he is."
OL Scott Quessenberry mentioned you've been playing similar defensive fronts. Is that what you've noticed too?
"They run a similar front that we've seen before, but once again, like I mentioned, they can get in a different type of personnel. They can be very unique with the stuff they do. We just have to be prepared for anything and more."
What have been your impressions of OL Laremy Tunsil and his leadership this season?
"First and foremost, he doesn't change. Laremy (Tunsil) is going to be Laremy. That's what we like about it. He doesn't change. He's going to come in. He's quiet, but he's going to work. I think that's the part that puts him in that leadership role. He comes to work every day, and that's what we respect about Laremy."
What does it mean to get WR Brandin Cooks back into the locker room?
"A lot. He's one of our biggest playmakers, if not the biggest. When B (Brandin) Cooks gets the ball in his hands, anything can happen. We miss him out there. That's somebody that we're excited to have back in this offensive unit."
Are you noticing a change in the defensive line's body type?
"Defenses do that. With passing situations, they put smaller guys up there who tend to move faster, move quicker. When it's obvious run-down situation, they get the bigger bodies in to try to stop the run. Defenses have kind of been doing that for awhile now. As an offensive line, you notice that, you prepare for all of it, and we study all of it. Defenses switch up a lot."
Have you had to adapt your approach because of that?
"Yeah. You've got to be prepared for that. That's part of the game throughout the week. We're looking at the run-downs and how they play the run. Then, we study third-down and their blitz packages. You have to see the other bodies that come in on third down. You have to be prepared for it."
Seeing a team like the New York Giants go through a similar rebuild and now have success, is that something you all look forward too?
"That happens every day in this league. You get a team who's trying to figure it out and put pieces together. The next thing you know, they're making plays and they are winning. People don't expect it and look where they're at. Teams go through a couple of bumps in the road and obviously we've hit a few this year, but that won't stop us from getting better and trying to compete and trying to finish."
Based on who's in front of you, are you changing your blocking techniques?
"You think about all those kind of things. It's got to be quick because you don't want to be out there thinking too much. Obviously, when we know it's third down your mind and your body adjust to what's coming up. When it's first and second down, we've got bigger bodies in, and we have to be able to do this and do that. It comes with different bodies and different players. It comes with different mindsets and the way you approach it."
Watching the Houston Astros win the World Series, is that something this team looks at and wants?
"Of course. This is my first time being in a city where there's multiple professional teams. It's pretty cool to be in a city where a team is consistently putting themselves in those positions and winning. It kind of gives you a boost of moral. Let's get it going, man. These guys turn it on for the city. We've got to do the same thing."