Transcripts: 12-1-2021 Press Conferences 

HEAD COACH DAVID CULLEY

Can you tell us what's going on at the facility and why we're on Zoom?

"We've got a few players that are under the weather right now a little sick. Our medical team just felt like it would be best for us, for precautionary reasons, to keep them home. We'll be back business as usual tomorrow."

Has anybody tested positive for COVID-19?

"No, no COVID positive tests. No." 

Have you decided if DB Justin Reid will play on Sunday?

"He'll play on Sunday. We're moving forward, back to business as usual."

How did that meeting with DB Justin Reid go?

"It really wasn't a meeting. We just said we're back business as usual, we're ready to go. He served his time and we're moving on." 

How tough is it to stop Jonathan Taylor and the Colts running game?

"It's very important when you're playing him, obviously. We saw a stat this morning that when he rushes for 100 yards this year, they've won every game. When he hasn't rushed for 100 yards, they've lost. Obviously, it's very important for our defense to have gap control, especially run gap control. Stay in our gaps more so than any time this year, not that it's not as important as always, but obviously, this guy's playing very well right now. Their offense is playing very well, they're running the ball really well. Carson (Wentz)'s doing very well at the quarterback position. He's having a great year. They're doing a very good job right now."

What do you think will be the key to getting your offense to be more consistent?

"Just better execution. We had some situations in the game where we got behind the sticks because of a miss here, a miss there. We've just got to be more consistent. If we are, just like we were in the first half, we'll be okay. But we've got to make sure that, starting the second half, that we are getting that good start and that we're all not having those mental lapses that we've been having to cause some of those things to happen."

Earlier in the season you said using three tight ends was your best personnel grouping, but you really haven't done that much in recent weeks. What's changed in that regard?

"Well, because again, after coming out of the bye week, we felt like the way we needed to go was to go in the direction that we're going right now, and I think it's worked better for us. Having Brevin (Jordan) in there right now, it changes things a little bit. It gives us a little bit more versatility in the pass game, so we've just kind of moved in that direction."

Can you talk about the Colts defense and what you are seeing from them?

"They're leading the league right now in takeaways. Not only that, their linebacker is leading the league in causing fumbles. They've been playing very, very good team defense, the way you want to play team defense. They're playing 11-on-11 defense all the time. They're not giving up a bunch of big plays. They're playing consistently all over the field, and it's a tough duty. When you're playing teams like that, you've got to do things the right way. You've got to make sure you take care of the ball, more so because this team right here, whether it's causing a fumble or getting a takeaway in the pass game, they've been as good as anybody in the league this year. As a matter of fact, they're the best in the league right now in doing that."

What has been the difference in being able to stop long passes since the last Colts game?

"The big thing is making sure you're deeper than the deepest. We've had a couple of times early in the year where when that happened, we were kind of seeing things and trying to make plays outside of the framework of what we needed to be doing in the defense. I think we've gotten much better at that now, and that's why you're seeing those things eliminated. Usually, when you see one happen like that, it usually happens simply because somebody's got his eyes in the wrong place instead of playing the defense the way it should be played. When you do that, people take advantage of that. We've been very fortunate to not give up those kinds of things lately, and hopefully they continue that."

With the defense creating more takeaways lately, such as DB Tavierre Thomas getting his first interception, is that something you can build on?

"I think the reason he (Tavierre Thomas) was able to get that interception is because defensively at that point, our defense was playing, as I've mentioned what the Colts have been doing, they play 11-on-11 defense. Guys are in the right spot, quarterback thought he could get the ball in there. Guy tipped the ball, Tavierre is right there where he should be, makes a play. That's what happens, that's how they come. They come when you're playing team defense. They're created by you doing what you should be doing defensively, and being in your position and doing your job. When a quarterback makes a mistake, especially when you're in zone coverage the way we have been a bunch, then those things happen."

How unique is OL Tytus Howard's ability to play different positions?

"First of all, he's (Tytus Howard) got really, really good football instincts. Here's the thing I remember, I keep forgetting this: the guy was a quarterback in high school. Nobody would ever think that, but he was the quarterback in high school and obviously outgrew that. But he's got great football knowledge. He loves to play, he knows all those spots, and he's very fortunate that he has the physical skills to be able to go inside and go outside because of that."

When you see a running back like Jonathan Taylor consistently having long runs, is it mostly because of him? Is it bad defense, or how much of a role does his offensive line play?

"Well, the offensive line has a lot to do with that. You're speaking of the long runs, obviously he had one against us, he had one last week against Tampa Bay. I think it was 78 yards, or something like that. Basically, they blocked the play very well. They had some guys in the secondary that are obviously because they have been running the ball very well. They had guys up at the line of scrimmage, they blocked it very well. They had a guy out of the gap, which we talked about. You've got to have gap security. When you don't, guys like that will end up making you pay, and he's done a really good job. That's why it's so important for us to play gap control, just be consistent in what we're doing, and make them go the long way and not to give up those big plays. But when you get out of your gap against this guy and against this team with the way they run the football, those things will happen."

WR NICO COLLINS

How do you feel you are developing as a rookie? How is your confidence?

"My confidence is getting better. I feel like I am getting more confident in my game, understanding the game and the speed of it. I still feel there is room for me to work on my game, work on the things I feel I need to improve on most. I feel like I need to study defenses more, anything I feel I can up my game on. There is always room for improvement."

As a rookie class, what is the camaraderie like as you encourage each other to perform and keep growing on the job?

"The rookie class, we came in together. We are always leaning on each other, always be there for each other. Seeing Brevin (Jordan) come in learning the game and him going out there and making plays. Davis (Mills), Roy (Lopez), (Garret) Wallow, just seeing everybody out there playing and having huge roles on our team. It means a lot. As the season goes on it may get tired mentally but we all lean on each other, be there for each and always say to each other, 'Let's keep going, let's get better.' It's great opportunity for us. We just can't take things for granted because a lot of people want to be in our spots. That's what I feel like we are improving in."

You were targeted down the field against the Jets. Would you liked to showcase your downfield abilities more?

"We just didn't connect on it. Felt could have kept my ankle just a little more higher coming out that break, but it's a rep. We rep all the time in practice and connect. I feel like it's something I can improve on. Just seeing where I am at on the field, just doing things like that because I feel like if I got a little more height it would have been a touchdown. But you live and you learn from it and I feel that's what I did."

What are some of the ways that you've seen the offense evolve?

"I feel like we haven't changed, we are sticking to a script. It comes down to going out there and doing our job. Make sure you take care of the ball and build the momentum and being there as an offensive unit. When your number is called, go out there and make a play. I feel like there is room for improvement. There is always room to get better no matter what. I feel like as an offensive unit that's what we are doing, getting better."

How much did going virtual through the pandemic in college help prepare you for situations like today?

"I'm used to it because we did a lot of it during the COVID. It's the same thing. It's virtual, but you still have to lock in mentally just like as you are in there in the meeting room. I've been doing it virtual for a while, it's nothing new, the same thing. We are back on it today, back in the building tomorrow. Just got to lock in mentally, that's what we've been doing."

Did it help you learn how to stay mentally disciplined and make all this work?

"Yeah, no doubt, because at home you have a lot of distractions. You got the TV, you look at the TV, you got your phone, but it really tests your mental part, just for anybody. It really makes you lock in, focus on what you have to focus on. We got a game coming up this week, you don't need to be on your phone, the same as if you were in the meeting room. So why do it now because you are not there? I feel like that's something you shouldn't be doing. So, it's time to lock in."

How have you improved your route running and ball skills throughout the season?

"I feel like I have improved a lot in my route running, understanding coverages and things like that. But I still feel like there is room for improvement. That comes with experience and seeing the way defensive backs plays. It just comes from experience. That's where I am going right now. I am growing and that's one main thing I feel like I need to do."

If P Cameron Johnston was at the facility today, would you have him wearing Michigan gear?

"No, he wouldn't. I wouldn't do that to him, but he saw what we (Michigan) did to him (Ohio State) Saturday. We came to play. I'm glad we came out with that win. I'm proud of Michigan right now, made me happy we finally beat the Buckeyes. I am just proud of them. But no, I didn't tell Cam he had to wear Michigan, at all. Maybe next year. I might tell him next year he has to wear a jersey or a t-shirt."

Have you seen OL Tytus Howard throw the ball 75 yards?

"Oh yeah, I see Tytus throw the ball all the time. After practice when they are just messing around, walking off the field, he gets the ball and just throws it, a tight spiral. It might be a duck every now and then, but you can see the potential he had back in the day."

Did OL Tytus Howard throw the ball to you?

"No, he just throws it. We play catch. I'm just seeing him throw it."

How much from the on-field experience have you learned about yourself since Week 1?

"A lot. It just comes from experience. Just watching week to week, I feel like I find something new out every week. A different way the DBs run or a different way to run this route, that route. It really just comes from the guys in my room. I really appreciate them always being there for me and whatever questions I have. They are a part of that just helping me break down film, what to look for. Things like that because they have experience and they know what it takes, and I am new to it, so I lean on them for whatever I have. I give props to them for helping me out through my first year being in the league, my first year of not knowing what to expect on Sunday. So I give props to them for having me prepared whenever I need anything, learning curve, a new route, they are always there for me. I am always picking their brains. They've been helping me put a lot and grow."

DL ROY LOPEZ

What's it like going virtual today, especially as a rookie?

"We've all done it before even though I wasn't at the NFL level doing it. It was still the same thing for college. You've just got to be professional about the situation and make sure you still take notes, watch more film, and it's a mental preparation day. You've still got to continue to be ready to play on Sundays."

As a defensive line group, what's the friendly competition like as far as everybody trying to chase the quarterback? Is it a lot of fun?

"It is fun. We make it fun. Like you said, it's a friendly competition, but we're all happy for each other when that time comes. Whether we can get it one-on-one or we can do it with the game up front and help each other get the sack, we all strive to be great. We all worked real hard in the offseason and it's coming to fruition, that we kind of just keep leaning on each other and try to chase the goal."

What's the key to keeping Jonathan Taylor from having a long run like he did in the first game, and what's the overall key to containing him?

"He's a powerful runner with top-end speed that can change direction and everything. We've just got to be gap-sound. You've got to take control of your gap and lean on each other and do your part. Be one of the 11 on the defense and make sure you've got your gap, and make the play when it comes to you."

What have you seen from TE Brevin Jordan and WR Nico Collins as you spend time with each other as rookies?

"We meet frequently. We just continue to grow, and really, that's the main thing. We all just want to keep growing and share each other's ideas and experiences, and kind of laugh and joke, and kind of reflect on how far we came (from) when we first got here, because when we first got here it was just us. To be part of the team now and just full-flow a little more than halfway through the season, we're able to look back and reflect on past ideas that we had and how we're doing. It's always great to see Nico (Collins) catch the ball or Brevin (Jordan) score, because you know all those guys outside of football. You know their character, so it's awesome to see all the rookies do great. It's fun."

Is there anything in particular you've learned about the other rookies?

"I'll give you one about Brevin (Jordan). He's always the guy that smiles in the room. That man's a great teammate to be around."

What is it about your game that allowed you to become an immediate contributor, and what about your game do you want to see yourself take the next step in?

"Me playing early, it just showed how much trust my teammates had in me and the D-line had in me, the coaches had in me. Just the whole process has been such a crazy learning process. When people ask, 'where do you want to grow,' or stuff like that, there are a lot of things where I need to grow. That's something that throughout this past season, it's been fun to do. Show up every day and kind of watch film or reflect. This is going to be fun to play a team for the second time. This is my first time playing a team twice in a season. It just shows the trust that the D-line had in me. We continue to grow. They didn't see me as a rookie stepping in, they just understood that the job's got to get done."

Having been through a similar virtual situation in college last year, what have you learned about staying focused in times like this?

"Like you said, the mental sharpness is huge. You've got to be mentally disciplined. It just takes everything around you that you've got to focus. You've got to put time aside and make sure that you're getting everything you need to do like you would if you were inside the facility. Get treatment on your body, watching film and moving around, you just can't be inside all day, just kind of tucked away, hiding away. It teaches you a lot about yourself. Thankfully it's just one day right now, so we'll be back tomorrow."

Can you talk about your cause for 'My Cause, My Cleats', the background on it and how you chose it?

"I have not seen my cleats. I'm looking forward to it. I can't wait to share them with everybody, but my cause was the LPOA: the Latino Police Officers Association. Really, my family's very involved in it throughout the Phoenix branch. When I heard about it, I was like, 'Man, I've got to do it. I've got to do it.' I was able to get my family's badge numbers on my right cleat. On my left cleat, I was also able to represent the Houston branch for the LPOA. We put 'GAC, LPOA' on the left cleat for Houston. I'm excited to see them. I'm excited with everybody, and they're going to be pretty cool."

What does it mean to you to know Pro Football Focus has you listed as the second-highest graded rookie interior defensive lineman?

"PFF is highly respected, so they grade every play. But at the same time, every week's a new week, and you learn that in the NFL. That's something that's been something I need to embrace. I'm thankful to be ranked that high, but we still got six weeks to go. I'm excited. Like I said, it's a week-to-week-based league."

Which of your family members are police officers?

"My mom is a police officer, both of my uncles are police officers and my grandpa is a police officer. They will be the ones represented on my cleat with their badge numbers."

DL JACOB MARTIN

What are your thoughts about going virtual today, and the fact that you're not able to work like normal for your preparation for Sunday?

"I think we've had so much practice at this that whether you're virtual or in-person meetings, that doesn't really matter. Guys that have played the COVID season last year, we have a pretty good understanding of what needs to be done in terms of routine on Wednesdays and things like that, which would typically be a full-padded run day for us. Now it's just time to really dive in and take a closer look at our opponents and focus on the film that we had from when we played them, and really be dialed into those small details so we can get ready for Thursday's practice tomorrow."

Does this take away from your preparation?

"No, I don't think so. If anything, it allows us to understand the mental aspects and give your body a rest and be ready and fresh on Sunday."

Can you describe Jonathan Taylor as a running back, and what do you guys need to do to contain him?

"J.T. (Jonathan Taylor)'s been balling, and props to that guy. He's been running his tail off all year. I think for us to be successful on defense, it comes to us playing gap-sound defense and limiting those big yards in the run game and those big shots on the play-action. I think us staying sound in the run game will lead us to playing their play-actions well, and trying to make the Colts as one-dimensional as possible."

How would you evaluate your season so far and the ways you can improve to make more of an impact on the game?

"I'd say just staying true. Staying true to my techniques and what I'm good at. I'm getting better week in and week out. Trusting the players around me and trusting the players on the team and trusting the coaches out there on the field with me. Just try and get better every week. It was a little bit of an adjustment getting back to my natural position, defensive end. Obviously, I'm playing a lot more comfortable in that position and in that role now. I do think there's a giant step I can take as well. This is my first year starting in the league, so there are some growing pains with that. As I get more and more comfortable taking 50, 60 snaps a game, you kind of get into a rhythm. I feel like I'm in that rhythm and I'm flowing pretty good right now."

Was the sack on Sunday just a result of you being faster than the other guy?

"I saw the guard pull, and I took an opportunity, took a shot right there and won on that one."

How often do you find yourself going against OL Tytus Howard in practice, and what is that like? Can you believe that he played quarterback in high school?

"Yeah, I've seen Tytus (Howard) throw a ball 75 yards, so I wouldn't put it past the guy, playing quarterback in high school. I knew he went into college as a tight end and became a massive human in college. But yeah, I try to rush against Tytus as much as I can, whether he's at left tackle, if he's at left guard, right guard, right tackle, wherever they put him, I try to get my one-on-ones against him. He's playing well, played a heck of a game at left tackle."

When did OL Tytus Howard throw it 75 yards?

"I want to say I've seen him do it twice, my first year in 2019 and then this past training camp."

What areas have you taken the next step in to get better as a pass rusher?

"I would say just really understanding the relationship between your rush angles and dictating how you want that tackle to set, and showing different things that you may not do to get them guessing to go back to what you're good at. I'm just sprinkling in those changeups to kind of abuse situations in terms of third-and-longs and obviously passing downs, and things like that."

Is there a fun competition within the group, including DL Jonathan Greenard, in terms of who's going to succeed in pass rush?

"For sure, for sure. It's always been a race to the quarterback, whether it's D-Walk (DeMarcus Walker) in there, whether it's Maliek (Collins), whether it's Jon (Jonathan Greenard), Jordan Jenkins, D-Riv (Derek Rivers), whoever it is, we understand that the room is very competitive, and it's been competitive since day one when they put this room together. Every opportunity to go out there and rush, you're trying to win. It's an obvious race, especially when you have a guy like Jonathan Greenard on the other side causing havoc himself."

What do you see in DL Jonathan Greenard's game, and do you bounce a lot of communication off each other?

"For sure. Me and Jon (Jonathan Greenard) are talking all the time, whether that's in game, in practice, in between plays, during the play. We're always in constant communication in terms of what he's thinking or what moves he's thrown on guys, how he goes about being in certain situations or how he plays six-technique, or how I play six-I. We lean on each other in terms of what looks the other person is getting on the other side, and then just trusting that, like 'Okay, I know that Jon will keep contain if I'm rushing high or if he's going under.' Just having that unspoken chemistry between us, I think that helps us work pretty well."

What is your view on DB Justin Reid's situation, and how good is it to have him back for Sunday?

"It's great. It's great to have him back there. Looking forward to putting in that work this week and getting better. Taking the right steps to do things we need to do to put our best foot forward on defense to play as a total unit."

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