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Transcripts: 8-31-2021 Press Conferences 


How important is it when you want to run the ball as much as you do that you keep more running backs than usual especially with the veterans that you have?

"It's very important because of the durability. You know we kind of want our physicality and to be a power running team as well as a zone running team and we are fortunate to have guys on our team that fit that mold and its very important."

Would you expect over 17 games for the first time for giving a guy a day of just because of the durability factor?

"I wouldn't say giving a Sunday off but I've gone through where during the season, during practice time where you give a guy off to make sure he is ready for Sunday but as far as on a gameday, no."

Is it about matchups with opponent as much as it about who you want to play with the running backs?

"No I think it's about running back by committee for us just like we did in this past ball game is kind of how we see it happening and dependent on the follow of the game of what guys is in there is the guy we will have in there that we feel gives us the best chance."

On the run game, with more decisions today with full backs and tight ends, could you share a little more on what else plans are there?

"That's going to go all the way up the deadline on making that decision on who is here and who's not here. It's an ongoing process right now and it's going to keep on going till we have to make those decisions and as of right now Nick (Caserio) is sitting down talking to guys, talking to people and basically when it's time to make those decisions we will have those made." 

Do you expect OL Laremy Tunsil to be available for game one?

"We expect him to."

Do you except OL Marcus Cannon and OL Lane Taylor to remain on the Physically Unable to Perform list?

"Well, we are not really sure yet, but I do know that Marcus is going to practice today. He is with a limited basis. Lane is not there yet. We are taking it day by day with them, but Marcus will be out there today."

Do you like where your team is overall with the regular season fast approaching?

"I like where we are from the standpoint of, I like our effort and with what we have been trying to get done. I have to go back to our last preseason game and I did not like where we were offensively from the standpoint of turning the ball over and I say that because statistics through the years have said that winning teams are always up there in the top 10 in the league in turnover differential and this particular game, we lost the game because we turned the ball over too much and the games that we won, we didn't do that and we got them. That is so important for us moving forward and that's the kind of football team we will have to be to be successful."

Did you expect by this point that QB Deshaun Watson would be on the exempt list?

"I have nothing to say on that at this point."

Has the NFL offered an explanation between you guys about where that would be and why he is not there?

"We've had no conversations." 

When you were in Baltimore you ran the ball a lot, Lamar Jackson ran the ball a lot, what was the philosophy about how you used each of your backs there and will that carry over to here?

"Well we are a little bit differently here than they are up there when I was with them. Obviously, Mark (Ingram) fits what we are trying to do, that's why we got him. I think David (Johnson) is similar to our third down backup there and in where he's a guy throughout his career has been very good at coming out of the backfield and what we did find out in this past game is that he is very good at carrying the football which gives us some versatility there and with Phillip (Lindsay) and those guys we feel we are very versatile back there and we can do whatever we need to do depending on during the game what they allow us to do and we are not afraid to have any of those guys in the ball game at any time."

When you have talent in one spot, for example the defensive line, is that consideration of having more people at that position?

"That does become a factor when you are making decisions with other positions when you have guys like that on the team that are going to give you depth, not only depth but give you quality playing time. That is a factor when Nick (Caserio) is sitting down deciding and we talk as a staff that sometimes the depth at one position, another position may not have the guy there that probably warrants being on the team but because of the good depth there you have to make the decision to keep one position over another."

In Baltimore you guys were the leaders in 21 personnel on a per play basis, here last season Offensive Coordinator Tim Kelly was the leader in 12 personnel. What is kind of the balance there in terms of do you think if you want to have an extra tight end on the field or more of those full backs?

"Because of our tight end situation, it's more about using a tight end in those situations than a full back. We are loaded more in that position than having those fullback type guys here. It just makes sense to use those guys and we have done that during the preseason."


What is a day like today like for your team with so many different things going on?

"It's a part of the business, we all know that, this is a veteran locker room so a lot of us have had many years of this day coming and all that stuff. It's definitely a sad thing but its reality and you kind of just move through it." 

What's the difference now that you guys are starting to see the players as well as everyone else for the season to start?

"I think obviously getting out of training camp is fun because training camp is a grind and actually getting into the real season and being able to game plan and getting into the meat and potatoes of the defense and the offense actually does is a fun time for sure. 

What do you think about you guys getting more hyped up for the first game?

"Yeah definitely, it's the first game, it's opening season, it's the opening of the NFL again. You wait eight months after January/February hits for this day so it's very exciting." 

In practice, it seems like there is a list for swipes, turnovers, things like that with leaderboards and such, how much did you feel that throughout training camp?

"You know Lovie (Smith) had a little leaderboard of sacks and turnovers and fumbles and all that stuff. It's just a little thing throughout camp to keep everyone inspired and have some incentives to make plays." 

What about when you signed here did you like about the opportunity?

"I really loved the opportunity to come and play under a system that I think fits me best. It really allows me to be the player I've dreamed of being and you know I'm living the dream right now." 

What is it about that you think fits your skill set?

"Just being able to attack the ball and being able to run and how aggressive we play, our coverages and different philosophies they have in the defense is really awesome."

As the team is settling into what it is going to be, what do you think about the group?

"Obviously we had to let some of the guys go that we got pretty close to and I think our room specifically as linebackers we had starters in my opinion, from top down. We had guys that can play at a high level from the top guy to the bottom guy all throughout camp. So, it was a very hard room to be like dang, you never know how the room is going to shake out. But whoever we got going forward, we got a good group and I'm excited for that."

How have you seen Head Coach David Culley kind of progress to get ready for this first game?

"Today was the last day of cuts so we haven't really got to that. The first game is in two weeks. Upstairs is kind of just finishing the final pieces of the team and whoever the roster is and I think that's going to continue over the next couple of days but you know we did some game planning last week and just try to get us back into motion and have some familiarity with that. I think they did a great job, the way they run everything here, I love it here like I really do. From the way the top runs it, the way the locker room is, I love it."


Can you talk about the defensive line, how you guys have played overall and what you expect from the line starting with the Jaguars?

"I feel like we had some good times in the D-line room. We saw a lot of guys making good plays, a lot of guys making plays in the backfield, a lot of guys setting good edges and allowing for some other teammates to make plays, but there's also things we have to fix. A lot of it doesn't get seen on the outside looking in, but we've got some things we got to clean up on and just be technically sound and be 100% all locked in so we don't have any 'fubars' come the Jacksonville game. Overall, I'd say I'm proud of how the guys worked and made it through this training camp."

What do you think about all the sacks coming from the line?

"That's honestly a great feeling to have when it's all coming from your room, seeing them make those plays and getting excited. It almost makes you want to – you want to keep that trend going and you want to be greedy about it and just try to have everyone go out there and keep it that way moving forward and just be selfish about it. We want to be the guys that make the play, to be the playmakers when the time comes. We want to be the ones making it."

What has this time been like for you and your teammates watch teammates become ex-teammates during the cutdown? What's this whole time like for you guys?

"It's definitely stressful. You never know who you're talking to one day, when you're talking to a guy two minutes ago and the next second you check your phone and he's gone or ended up getting traded somewhere else. I'd have to say this is probably one of the most stressful days out of the year for players and coaches in general. Honestly this whole three, four-day period is just probably one of the most stressful days about this business."

After today, how are you going to approach this new team not that it's solidified?

"Mentally, I was thinking about that as well going into the post-practice meetings. Now is the time where some of the stuff that we got away with or we let people get away with before, all that stuff is out the window and now it's time to rev it up to the next gear and be more focused about your work and holding everybody to the same standard."

You mentioned how it's the most stressful day. Has that come down yet for you today?

"In the walk it took from the position room to here, yes, because this took my mind off of it for a little bit. But it's still there a little bit because you're still wanting to go and call and check on some of the guys, because you made relationships, you made bonds with a lot of the guys that have been on the team, a lot of the guys that get traded, a lot of the guys that aren't here. You just want to check on them and just see how everyone is doing and just check on your friends."

Are you eager like the fans are now that you start game planning to see what all Associate Head Coach / Defensive Coordinator Lovie Smith has got up his sleeve? You've seen it but you haven't utilized it in games. Are players getting pumped about that too?

"Yeah, that's something that I give Lovie his credit there. He doesn't want to show a lot, didn't want to show a lot during the preseason. He definitely has a bag of tricks that he can open up. It's going to be quite interesting, and from what I've heard from other coaches and from seeing some of the teams he's had in the past, there's a lot of stuff he hadn't even put in yet that I'm pretty excited for."

Players say that Associate Head Coach / Defensive Coordinator Lovie Smith emphasizes turnovers all the time, but compared to other coaches you've played for, is there anything he actually does in practice that kind of makes that happen?

"Honestly, I can say that him and (former New York Jets Defensive Coordinator) Gregg Williams probably are two of the most turnover-focused defensive coaches I've had, and I definitely have to give Lovie the crown because we ask for a lot of turnovers in practice, a lot of strip attempts and things of that nature. He wants the defense to be – when you think of the Texans defense, he wants turnovers to be the first thing that people think about."

Why does Associate Head Coach / Defensive Coordinator Lovie Smith get the edge over Gregg Williams?

"I remember in one practice there was a thing that said we needed at least 50 strip attempts in the practice. And I'm just sitting there thinking about all the plays on the play chart, I said 'That's almost like 15 strip attempts a play.' But that's the standard that he wants and I applaud him for it. He wants a high standard for the defense and a high standard for the guys on this team, and there's a method behind it. You put an outrageous number, you put 100 strip attempts in there, then it starts becoming second nature for guys so when you're out there you don't think about, 'Oh hey, when I'm in on this tackle, let me just do it.' It just naturally happens and it spreads like a disease, almost. It's that infectious that everybody is going to be going for the ball and going for strip attempts any time we get a chance to make a tackle."

Do you guys track that in your defensive line reports, like a leaderboard or something?

"Oh, yes sir. Yes, sir."

Who led after camp?

"Actually, we haven't updated it to see. But everything actually goes into that, like strip attempts, interceptions, batted balls and everything. I got to give a crack at Chuck (Charles Omenihu), because Chuck is darn near seven-foot so it's almost cheating with him getting all the batted balls, but he definitely was high up there."

Gregg Williams is all about the blitz, Associate Head Coach / Defensive Coordinator Lovie Smith is opposite. Is that the big difference you see between the two of them?

"In a sense I could agree with that. Going through some of the calls and some of the things that both coaches favor, they both favor a lot of the same coverages and a manner of speaking on it, how to play the run out of those coverages. Almost similar with like a minute small change here and there, but I can agree with that statement for sure."


What is this day like for you, for your teammates, going through so many cuts and guys losing their jobs, getting traded and a lot of turnover. What is this like in general?

"Yeah, it's always a tough time of the year. It's the reality of our business. I think every time this moment comes around, I just think back to when I was drafted and the opportunity that I was given, just trying to make the best of the opportunity. I think that's how you've got to approach each and every training camp, obviously with the mindset of getting better each and every day but also reflecting on the opportunity that you have. A lot of us played this game as a young, young kid so to be able to make it this far is definitely a blessing and you want to continue to further that into a long career. So, each training camp in itself is a blessing, but unfortunately not everyone is able to make the final cut."

What do you think of the team that you guys have put together and the camaraderie of the group?

"I think management, the coaches have done a great job of piecing together a bunch of great talent. It's up to us go out and execute week-in and week-out, but I think the competition – not I think, but I know the competition was at an all-time high all throughout training camp and the spring. That was something we talked about in our first meeting, was competing and bringing the best out in each position, and the guys went out and did that each and every day. I think management has done a great job of putting together a complete team and it's up to us to take it one day at a time and continue to keep getting better and win ballgames."

After all of the reporting about QB Deshaun Watson getting traded, now that he's on the roster are you surprised he's still there? How do you feel having him on the roster with you and QB Davis Mills?

"I've said from day one that Deshaun is a part of this team and we'll continue to handle business accordingly. Like I said, he's a friend of mine and he's a teammate of mine and we're all in it to put our best foot forward and to do whatever it takes to help the team win. That shows and that comes in different roles on this team and we'll all do our part to make sure that everyone's on board."

How do you feel about where the passing game is right now as you approach the Jacksonville game?

"I feel good about it. There's always room to grow. Chemistry I think over the course of the year continues to strengthen, but I feel good about it. The guys are doing a great job of executing things coaches are putting us in position to do and things that they've been coached to do. I think that we've taken great strides in that area and we're just going to keep progressing in it."

Even though it seems obvious, have they officially told you that you'll start in Week 1?

"I haven't been told that officially, but I've never necessarily looked for that confirmation. My mindset doesn't change and it hasn't changed since I've been drafted. Ever since I've started playing football, it's to prepare as a starter, lead like a starter and let the coaches make the decisions that they make."

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