HEAD COACH DAVID CULLEY
Do you have an update on OL Laremy Tunsil?
"No, he's still doing the protocol right now. He's feeling better and doing well, and he will not play."
He will not play?
"No, he will not play."
Do you have any idea when he'll be back?
"We're not sure yet. We are taking it day-by-day."
What needs to happen for him to come back?
"The protocol, when he's feeling better. You know, right now he's just kind of reconditioning because he's been away for a while. We're not going to put him back out on the field again until we feel like he's conditioning-wise ready to play."
Do you have an update on when OL Marcus Cannon and OL Lane Taylor might be back?
"No, but they are progressing right through their rehab."
Considering you all are going up against Buccaneers QB Tom Brady for at least a half, are you eager to see the defense go up against him?
"Yeah, I'm just eager to see them go against the defending Super Bowl champions, which is a good test for us, seeing their frontline guys against our frontline guys. Looking forward to that."
With this being the last preseason game, is it more important to put some starters out there or is it more important to get that final evaluation of players who could be cut?
"The final evaluation is the most important, but it is important for us to also take those guys that hadn't played a whole bunch this preseason to be able to get them at least through a half and maybe the start of the third quarter to where they at least know what it feels like to go through at least a half and a quarter, coming out for halftime adjustments. And we'll try to do that."
What do you want to see from your offense after the way they struggled in the last game?
"Handling the blitz better, and also the third downs. Basically, as we went back and looked at the video on that, I mean, it was mental errors that we had. It had nothing to do with them blitzing us more than what we had seen. Again, on the third downs, it wasn't always the blitz that got us. It was the fact that we had some mental errors, which we've worked on this week to make sure that doesn't happen. And it was more us than it was them."
Since you last talked about QB Deshaun Watson, he's been working out on that side field. Is he still not injured?
"Nothing changed on that."
For the players who could be facing cuts, could having a big game on Saturday make an impact on your final evaluation?
"What will to make it clear for us is that some of those guys we haven't had a lot of reps with that we feel like we need to get more reps to make that decision will definitely get more reps Saturday. They will get more reps. We have a rep count for guys and hopefully as the flow of the game goes, hopefully they get those rep counts in, and we get an evaluation."
Back to playing guys into the third quarter, will you expand your offensive playbook?
"No, we're just going to continue to do to this point what we've put in and what we've installed, basically as our training camp installation has always gone through the end of training camp, and we're just going to go as we've started."
How important would it be to finish the preseason undefeated?
"Haven't thought anything about that. I think the big thing we want to do is finish consistently the things we haven't done very well, which I mentioned before. To get better at those things. I think that's the most important thing."
Will CB Rasul Douglas play on Saturday?
"Could possibly play."
What do you like about the two defensive backs? What do you hope they bring to the competition?
"One of our defensive back coaches, Dino Vasso, has had experience with him before in Philly. So we know about him. Basically between now and then, if nothing happens physically, we hope to see them play some in the game."
Do you like how you picked practice squad again?
"Oh, yes, for sure, especially with the COVID situation that we have now, with the way the game is, as far as what that has done, being able to have those guys there with the big practice squad like that gives us some options that we didn't have in the past."
What's it been like for you to watch the coaching father and son duo of Lovie and Miles Smith?
"Well, I haven't noticed it much because I don't even think it about being father and son when they're out there. I just look at them being the linebacker coach and the defensive coordinator, but it seems to be going fine. I know he never calls him dad. He always calls him coach. So that's how I look at it."
How much does Cannon and Taylor's time out there influence whether OT Tytus Howard remains at guard?
"That has nothing to do with it at all. We have just been trying to find the right combination without those guys here. Obviously Tytus being a versatile guy, and if they were here we would still do the same thing."
They are both pretty experienced guys. Once they are healthy, how much time do you think you'll need to be confident in putting them back out there?
"More than anything, the time, is they just need some practice. Depending on when they're back ready to go, we will not put them in a game back out on the field again until we see how they can handle the practice."
Does CB Bradley Roby have to be on the 53 when you make the initial cuts?
"I'm not sure what the rule is on that, but I do know as we get closer to it, the suspension will come up, and he will have to serve the suspension. I'll just have to see. That's something Nick can answer."
DB JUSTIN REID
How do you feel going up against QB Tom Brady and what kind of test will it be for the secondary?
"Oh, this is the best test you can have. I mean we're going against the defending Super Bowl champs, Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time, so this is the people you want to play. I still have yet to pick him off, even though I should have. I wish I could have some of those back, so this will be a fun game to play against him."
You've gone against QB Tom Brady your first two years, not last year. What do you want to see -- not just against Brady, but their offense -- what do you want to accomplish in this last game?
"Yeah, they've got a couple of real good receivers over there in Mike Evans and (Chris) Godwin, so matching up against those guys, especially being a DB, making sure we take away the deep ball, and then also just playing the run physically. We want to just be solid across the board, not beat ourselves, and just play sound fundamental football."
Is the confidence overall in the defense, is it way up?
"Yeah, the confidence is high on the defensive side of the ball. I feel like we've been playing solid so far. We haven't had a test against a starting quarterback yet, so this will be exciting for us to actually do that."
Does it add – it's a preseason game, I know that – any extra spice with QB Tom Brady, Tampa Bay, that kind of thing?
"Yeah, I mean every football game is exciting to go to, but especially when you're going against the greatest of all time and the defending Super Bowl champs. It makes it a little bit more exciting. It's our first home game of the season, too. We are going to have a good crowd come out, so we want to defend the home turf."
How cool will that be to see fans here?
"Oh, man, incredible. I feel like it's been two years since we had a crowd in here. So it's going to be a really sick experience to have the fans back in the crowd and be able to feed off the energy that they bring to the home field."
How much do you see a guy like DL Maliek Collins affect things for you in the back end?
"Yeah, Maliek Collins? Man, he's doing awesome, bro. He makes my life a whole lot easier. When you're able to have pressure up front, everything on the defensive side of the ball works together. When you have pressure up front, that creates opportunities for us to get turnovers on the back end when the quarterback has somebody in his face so he has to speed up his throw quicker than he wants to. It makes it easier for us on the back end to read those throws and to create turnover opportunities than if he's just sitting back there all day. So Maliek has been getting after the ball, man. When we watch film we see it up front. We got all the credit in the world that a lot of those interceptions came from our defensive line, creating pressure on the quarterback."
People call it a 4-3, obviously DB Desmond King II is out in the field with you guys. How does that work communication-wise with him? How do y'all work together, you and Desmond?
"Desmond King? Yeah, I mean, Desmond is a little bit in each of those, right? Sometimes he's going to be in coverage, sometimes he's going to be blitzing. We really just have to be alert for when we have a front change on where our defensive guys -- our defensive line is what gaps they're fitting into, so we know what gaps we have to fit behind them. So for the most part, it's a lot of independence, but in certain scenarios we do have to pay attention to what gaps those guys are in so we know what gaps we got to fill behind them."
K Ka'imi Fairbairn is an accomplished kicker. Do you have an extra point in you in the preseason?
"I hope so, man. I hope so. I hope I never have to in the sense that Ka'imi is always there, because he's clearly the best kicker on the team. But it would be a dream of mine to actually kick an extra point."
What do they say when you lobby? Are they just like, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah,' or what?
"Oh, yeah. They humor me a little bit and say, 'Maybe one day.'"
Who do you think would be the best two-way player on this team?
"The best two-way player on the team…Well, speaking with how Desmond (King II) has been returning each ball he caught for about 25-plus, I say he'll be a mean slot receiver too if they put him on the offensive side of the ball."
What have you learned about this team, going all the way through camp?
"Oh, man, just the resilience and the toughness. I mean, this team just feels more fundamentally sound and solid across the board. The details feel a little bit more crisp. The emphasis on turnovers, going after the ball, everybody running to the ball. We have team meetings where we meet as an entire defensive group, and the defensive coach, the coordinator, is going through where each person did a good job or messed up, so everybody on the field knows what's happening and what went wrong on the play. So there's a higher level of accountability with that in the sense that you're going to be told in front of everybody what you did good or what you did wrong."
As we get closer to the start of the season, what has Associate Head Coach / Defensive Coordinator Lovie Smith been like?
"He's just constantly in my ear. Yesterday he even told me before we went to practice, it's like, '20, have you been to practice the last couple days?' As in saying like I haven't made any big plays in practice. So I had to go and get three for him to make that up. But he's just a guy who constantly preaches the details. He will coach you up. We'll restart the play if you're a foot off in your alignment at the start of the play. It's like, 'No, it's not here, it's here.' So those details matter, and it shows up."
You've known that DB Bradley Roby isn't going to be there for the first game for a long time. Based on what Roby has done, what he means, what's it going to be like opening the season without him?
"He's an awesome corner who has great man coverage ability, so we're going to hate to miss him, but that's going to be a big opportunity for Vern (Hargreaves III) and the next guy up to step up and be able to take that role and play. We're playing against a rookie quarterback who has been talented so far in the preseason, so it's going to be an exciting opportunity for everybody on the field to play that game."
How have you seen DB Vernon Hargreaves III step up with increased competition?
"Vern is a very team guy. He's excited to be on the field. You see him focus on his details. His man coverage, he feels a lot more confident from what I got from just watching him play. He's playing with a lot more confidence, so that's major. Playing the cornerback position, I mean, you know Deion Sanders, all those guys in there got the most confidence in the world, so you have to have that to be a successful corner."
DL VINCENT TAYLOR
You play the champs. Does that mean anything to you guys?
"It's going to be a good test for our team. It's another pre-season game. We've just got to go out there and execute. Do our job. It's just another game."
When you think about going through the preseason, how do you feel about where the defense is at right now?
"We always got room for improvement. It's good that we're getting turnovers. I think each preseason game we had got turnovers. That's one thing Coach Lovie Smith preaches, so we just got to keep getting turnovers. Like I said, there is always room for improvement."
How do you feel about where the run defense is right now?
"Good. You know, like I said, another thing, always room for improvement. I think this week will be a big test for us like he just mentioned playing the defending champ. That's one thing that we got to just keep focusing on, the run defense, and then forcing turnovers."
What have you noticed for yourself? Are there things you are focusing more on this training camp?
"I think I'm playing with a lot more confidence, learning the scheme, knowing it's a tap front, that's the scheme that I like to play. So, for me, it's just confidence. I think I'm playing with confidence. I'm trying to do what the coaches ask me to do."
Is there a main thing seeing more starters playing, things like that, do you feel like there is more of a test there?
"Nah, I just -- we, not me, we as a defense. We just got to go out there and do our job. Don't try to do too much. Just try to do with the coaches ask us to do, execute the game plan no matter whether the starters are playing or the backups playing. At the end of the day, it's another preseason game. We get to go out there and execute."