HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
"We can all probably feel that it's been a short night. We're still evaluating the video right now. A lot goes into these next days. We've seen the players in a lot of different situations, now three games also. You ask guys to make plays and make us make hard decisions, which is where we are. Since last night's game, not much has changed since the end. We liked a lot of the things we did. Whenever you can get a shutout and see so many positive things on the offensive side of the football and special teams, that you like, that's the position you want to be in. That's where we are."
Have you had the chance to look at the film and look at OL Kenyon Green?
"I thought he did some good things. He's missed a little bit of time but there's some flash plays that he had. Kenyon Green is a good football player. Injuries kind of knocked him back a little bit but when he's been out there practicing, we've seen these types of plays that you're talking about. For you to bring him up, everyone kind of noticed some of the blocks he made. He's right on schedule, progressing the way we would like for him to."
Looking at the offensive line, how many guys do you keep on the roster and what goes into those decisions?
"I think you look at most positions, whenever you can do a couple things, its important. Interior, if you can snap the ball and play guard too, that's a pretty big deal. If you can play both safety positions, if you're a nickelback that can punt return, a cornerback that can be the kickoff returner, the more things you do the more it helps you. Back to the offensive line, we've been able to see someone of those things that a few of the guys can do."
What does the timeline look like for starting to cut down the roster?
"That's kind of flexible, kind of fluid. We haven't completely finished watching the video together. I'm getting ready to go back with the offense right now, but we have time. Last night told us a lot, but we'll take our time, too. We want to make decisions, let guys know, but we want to make good, informed decisions. As far as the timeline, that will keep going, talk a lot today, talk a lot tomorrow. Daily communication is what we'll be having."
What have you thought of OL Scott Quessenberry?
"We like Scott (Quessenberry). Scott has done some good things. We brought him here for that reason. Whenever you can snap the football, that's a good start. We talked about how much we've kept Justin Britt out, but Scott has stepped in and done a good job. The offense has continued to move along with him in there. He's played in the league for a while, he has history."
How does the importance of special teams impact your final roster decision?
"The more things you can do, playing multiple positions, for a lot of the positions, special teams are just as important. Linebacker position, the back seven, wide receiver, tight end, even the running back position. We expect a lot of those guys that will be on the 48-man roster on game day to be able to help us on special teams. That will be a big part in it."
Are you hesitant to put rookies in a starting role and what's your overall opinion of the rookie class?
"I like veteran players a lot more than rookies. I'm going to like these rookie players a lot more when they are not a rookie anymore. I don't get into that. To me, it's the best player. There are rookies, there are older players that have been around for a while, doesn't matter at all really. We're going to go with the guys that we see can help us right now. So happens with our football team right now, there are quite a few of the rookies we feel like can do that. We won't hesitate to play them at all."
How have the players responded to your coaching style?
"I think they've done everything we've asked them to do throughout, and they like doing it. There's not a dictatorship. There's a certain way we're going to do things, that we believe in, that we know work. The players ask, 'what do I need to do coach?'. That's the approach everyone has taken from the moment I've been in this role. As a coaching staff, that's what we're dealing with daily and we don't expect it to change."
Why is it important that players feel like they can go up and talk to you?
"I think when you're a football team, you say you're in this together. I love it when a player is so invested that they know what to ask and want it to be explained. There's a reason why we do everything. There's a reason why we fine guys if they're late. There's a reason why we tap guys on the back if they make a good play. There's a reason why we ask our quarterbacks to do certain things. There's a reason why we play man technique a certain way. If they are invested in that, they'll feel like it's theirs. I think it helps you get to a point when you keep asking guys to do something. They want to see themselves have some success doing it. That's when they really buy in. That's where we are right now. We're growing, learning all that, the guys have bought into how we want to do things."
How would you describe the connection between QB Davis Mills and WR Brandin Cooks?
"Before we display it in front of everyone, I'd say it's good. The excitement that I have about where we are offensively is that we made the decision to not play Brandin (Cooks), not to play LT (Laremy Tunsil), not to play Justin (Britt), Pharaoh Brown and some of our offensive guys. The chemistry that I've seen throughout has been really good. They like playing together and that's going to lead to positive results."
Is the identity of the offense closer to where you want it to be?
"Absolutely. We want to be a tough football team that loves to run the football and I think that's what we have been trying to establish throughout the preseason. That should open up things. And by saying that, that doesn't mean we don't want to be a good passing team. Our practices we have nine-on-seven, where the defense knows the offense is running the ball and they need to do something about it. Yes, we want that to be our personnel. Pro-I leads, maybe one of my favorite plays last night. It's a lead with Troy (Hairston) leading as the fullback and Dameon (Pierce) carried the ball for 9 yards. One of my favorite plays from the game."
DL Derek Rivers went down last night. Do you have a status on him?
"Whenever you come out you're concerned and we are still. We're evaluating him right now. Hopefully, we'll be finding out something in the near future. To talk about his play, every game I think we've talked about how Derek (Rivers) has played. He has been force outside rushing the passer. Just love everything he's done so it's just unfortunate that he went down with an injury. We'll let you know when we have a little bit more."
How do you handle players battling injuries and cutting the roster down to 53?
"I think you need to take in all the information you have into making those decisions. Antony (Auclair), we have history with Antony. When you have history with someone, you know how they perform in certain situations. You take that into consideration. You also have to see where you are right now, currently. And how players got an opportunity to play and how they've played. We have some of those situations, there will be some injured players on our roster, we know that. We'll just have to keep managing it. Normally it works itself out. It does seem like this year some of these decisions are about as hard as they've ever been, and as a coach you want to be in these situations."
How much of what you saw last night makes it easier or harder about making cuts?
"I think every time you let guys play and prove who they are, it makes it easier. You want the players to get every opportunity, as many opportunities as possible, for us to see exactly who they are. So last night, the more games you play and the more situations you put the players in, the better decisions you can make, and that's where we are right now."
How do you look at the call you have to make at fullback?
"Tough call. I can go down about seven or eight other positions where I could say tough call, too. And that's the beauty of where we've been with training camp. You have a couple of guys at every position that want to be on the roster, playing time. But in the end, I don't think there are really hard decisions. I say there's hard decisions, but in the end if you just start looking at everything that's happened, your gut will tell you which direction you should go at all positions. So you mentioned the fullback position, there have been at least a couple of good guys we have liked at that position and we'll make a good decision."
When did you know QB Davis Mills had a chance to be the guy for you guys?
"I'm going to go all the way back. I'm coming from college, so I knew a little bit about who Davis (Mills) was after I got here. Just him running the look squad against the No. 1 defense, saw good things then. You know, getting to know him, I think after he started playing and we started watching all of the quarterbacks around, he started playing and that's when I said 'hey, this guy's in the mix with the rest of the first year signal callers that I think will be good football players in the league.' That confidence in him has only grown, every step along the way right up until the first drive of the second half last night. He's our starting quarterback, did I say that? You guys can ask about starting quarterbacks. Davis Mills is our starting quarterback, and I love what he is going to be able to do leading us."