A: Ankle right now, but it’s obviously bothering him, so he’s getting checked out. Must have stepped on- they step on each other’s feet. It’s like a rebound drill… they step on each other’s feet. Honestly I didn’t see it until I looked over and he was sitting down.
Q: So he’ll probably get an MRI on that?
A: I’m sure he’ll get everything, yeah.
Q: I know you don’t have the results yet but do you have an indication whether it’s something serious or just something?
A: I’m telling you what I know. The guy got up and left the field and that’s all I know.
A: No, he’s got a little soreness and so we just held him. Hopefully it’ll be quick.
Q: On the flip side, it looked like
A: He got the green light to have more snaps and he did. And he seemed to do okay with it, too. So hopefully that’ll give him some confidence, he’ll take some more. It’s time for all these guys that have been in this other category to get moving. I was telling the coaches this morning and the players that as of this morning we had nine practices left before the regular season. Can you imagine that? Nine practices. It’s ridiculous.
A: Seemed to do well. Seemed to have no issues. And (Ryan) Torain as well. Torain practiced. The guy we’re obviously trying to move along here is Brewer, get Brewer back so we can get him in on some of these preseason opportunities.
A: No, he has a contusion of his shoulder. And I think he’s probably day to day, but he’s sore, he’s sore.
Q: How about getting
A: Yeah, he’s back out at practice.
Q: Can you talk about the maturity that Damontre Moore has shown thus far in going about his job and how that’s helped him?
A: This is where you see it the most is right here on the field. He obviously enjoys playing and he plays hard, which is a tribute to him and his coaches. But he works on special teams, he covered kicks the other night well, he blocked a punt, he obviously played well in the game. Some of the mental errors that happened we have to eliminate, but he’s worked hard.
Q: I know you’ve addressed this in the past but with Pugh and the amount of time he had to stay inactive, just in your overview of how long you’ve been around the league, just how much that protocol has changed and how much more patience you have to show and how different it would have been maybe when you first came in the league?
A: Well, the first day that it happened I was asked a question if it was ‘one of those.’ No, it wasn’t an iffy thing. He had a headache and he was a little bit nauseous, so that was the direction he was headed in. There wasn’t any question. So whether it was back in the 80s or now, those symptoms like that would have been recognized and the player would have been out. Now, did we have all these protocols? I don’t know. You’ll have to ask the medical people. But we didn’t get him back until those things cleared, even back in those days. The sun bothering them, the headaches, the light issues, the balance issues; when a guy was free from those types of things, then he was back on the field. But today there’s a very rigid protocol and they have to pass it all. If it lingers, there’s other things that have to be stressed. There’s always a possibility of another doctor being involved. So it’s a very sound precaution for people that have had that. The one thing that bothers us in this is that when you look at something that doesn’t look violent, and you have those kinds of symptoms. It scares the heck out of you as a coach. These things happen. They happen in the most unusual of ways sometimes.
Q: I think I read that the first day he got hurt he had been taking some snaps with the first team.
A: Well I don’t remember that.
Q: But obviously he’s going to have to work back to that level.
A: Today he played with the seconds and the thirds.
Q: With the lack of tackling, do you think it takes the run-defense a little longer to get where it needs to be?
A: There weren’t a lot of aspects of the game the other night that we looked like we didn’t tackle well. Our special teams tackled pretty well. It’s not just the tackling. It’s timing, it’s getting off the ball, it’s your quickness, it’s your ability to avoid the blocker or at least know where the head is headed and get yourself in position; it’s a lot of things. And it happens at game speed. We’re trying to speed it up out here to get to that. And now that they’ve played a game, I hope that that’s going to take place. But it’s a reality. It’s faster. The game is faster than practice. It just is.
Q: Despite what happened with Rolle, do you like the depth that you have at safety behind him?
A: Well, I would much rather have him. Hopefully it’s an ankle and he’s coming right back. That’s all.
Q: You plugged in
A: Yes. He’s a good, sound player.
Q: You also used
A: …the corners end up at center field.
Q: So he’s still at cornerback, just moved more inside?
A: There wasn’t a position change. Just a defensive scheme. Safeties down closer, corners playing coverage.
OC Kevin Gilbride
Q: Your impressions with the first week?
A: I think as a coach, you’re never happy. There were a few more mental errors than I had really expected, even though I know schematically they’re moving around, they’re blitzing, and they certainly did an excessive amount of that. I thought that we would handle it more consistently than we did. We were very inconsistent. It wasn’t that they didn’t know who to block, it was that when they started moving, we didn’t react nearly as quickly as you need to, to be an efficient, consistent offense. That was disappointing and I shared that with our team today. That is something we’ve got to advance if we’re going to become the offense that we hope to become. There were some good things. We obviously made a couple of big plays. I thought the fact for our backs, having to block live for the first time, I thought they did a terrific job in chipping. The few times that he had to step up, I thought David (Wilson) did a tremendous job the first time, he missed the second time, but he was very physical on the other ones. That was very, very encouraging. Andre did a nice job. Next week we will see a little bit more with the first. It seemed like we just got the two drives in. One was right away, I don’t think we were ready for the red zone and they stuffed us. The next drive was obviously good.
Q: … four quarterbacks is not easy.
A: Yeah, it’s not, but it wasn’t a problem. It was nice for the first game because you play them each a quarter essentially. We had our plays that we wanted to get. Numerically we’d like to get about this amount for Eli, this amount and pretty much you play it out that way. Next week is where it’s challenging because you want to play the young quarterback as much as you can and yet you still have to split the time between David and Curtis and you’re going to extend Eli’s time. It starts to become more of a challenge, there’s no question, in the next couple weeks.
Q: How did Nassib do?
A: I mean, I think he’s played pretty well. He actually did a nice thing. He didn’t get as much protection as some of the other guys got, but I thought he hung in there and I thought he was throwing the ball to the right spot. When he had the time, he made some good throws.
Q: Do you see the backup job as a competition?
A: I think there’s no question, it’s a legitimate competition.
Q: Your offense is known to be kind of complicated for wide receivers, especially as they’re trying to pick it up. How quickly has
A: We teach guys to get open. That’s where the complication comes, where sometimes they have guys run a twelve-yard curl and that’s what they have to do in other systems. We give them some flexibility to react to the way the defensive technique is being employed. With that flexibility comes the responsibility that, A., do it in a way that the quarterback can interpret and that’s why we meet every practice as a group and I go on to speak so that everybody sees things the same way. And, two, that not only does your body indicate what you’re doing, but that you make the right decision. In that sense it takes a little bit of time. I think, as you see, most of the receivers think it’s the greatest thing that ever happened to them. The challenge really falls on making sure that he and the quarterback see it the same way. That’s why we meet together as a group every day.
Q: It’s not necessarily just memorizing plays? It’s understanding the concept as well?
A: No, it’s really kind of really simplistic in terms of the number of plays, it’s probably less than many offenses would have. In terms of the latitude that they’re granted on most plays, that’s where the sophistication comes in.
Q: How’s Louis doing with that so far?
A: Good. Doing well. Doing well.
Q: What’s your thinking between keeping two quarterbacks as opposed to three?
A: Well you know, most places do keep three. We’ve been kind of a rarity and we’ve kind of rolled the dice. We’ve done it because of Eli, knock on wood if there’s any wood here, and that he’s stayed healthy, so we’ve been able to get another position player. You certainly gamble and there’s no question about it, but now when you go with a young guy, which you would expect to do, drafted him to keep him, who knows what’s going to happen, but that’s what you would think would happen. Is he far enough along at the end of preseason camp that you’re saying, he can be number two. That’s a long way from being decided and if it’s not, then that will probably determine what the numbers are that we keep. We’ll keep three instead of two.
Q: You’ve been here to see a lot of your receivers have seasons when they really emerged and exploded, Victor, Hakeem, all these guys. Can you tell whether or not Rueben is showing signs of doing that this season?
A: He’s definitely … there’s no question about it. He’s light years from where he was last year. Not that there wasn’t some physical ability that I think was easily discerned by everybody, but the consistency of performance, the thing we were just talking about, reacting the right way on all the different looks that you get, in the professional ranks. That wasn’t at the level that you needed, but in terms of his work ethic, his leadership has been phenomenal, and he’s always had great hands. He’s always been a smooth route runner, he’s always going up and gotten any throw that was close. I think he shows good body control and that kind of stuff. Just in terms of making the right decisions off the coverages, he’s not being fooled. The way he picked up that blitz. That was a tremendously well disguised blitz. Usually the quarterback does a great job, Eli does a great job seeing it. We’ll adjust the blocking scheme to take it up. There was no way in the world you were going to see that one coming, no problem. Because it was disguised so well the guy was a little bit slow getting over there. He made the first guy miss, he made the second guy miss. I think for guys who have been here watching practice, that’s been almost a daily occurrence… I mean who knows what’s going to happen, but I’ll be very surprised if he doesn’t continue to play at a high level.
Q: And as he goes into his third year, Jernigan, what do you need to see out of him?
A: Just what we saw Saturday night. I thought he was excellent. I thought he did a lot of good things, if the quarterback had a few more counts. He ran a hook and up that he was wide open. He ran a corner route where he was wide open. Just couldn’t get him the ball. Biggest thing is he’s got to stay healthy. Sure enough, he’s got to stay out there, do it on a consistent basis. I think he’s always shown glimpses, he’s always shown flashes. As a coach, that’s what’s frustrating because you see it there and you want to get it out on a play-in play-out, day-in day-out basis. I thought he played really well Saturday night, so hopefully that will continue.
Q: With all your receivers that you have, plus you throw in Myers, Robinson, and Pascoe, is it like you sit there and go, wow. do we have a lot of options this year?
A: You know what, I never look at it that way. I look at it and wish we had a few more. No, I’m happy with the guys we have. I think we have good players. I think they’re working hard. They’re good kids. It’s important for them to do well, so I’m encouraging. You just hope you stay healthy and anybody that’s coming back from injury comes back all the way. If we do that, we should have a good group.
Q: You said earlier that Pittsburgh was throwing different schemes at you. Are you comfortable with the depth of the offensive line?
A: The young guys…the first time out, it’s always the game’s moving a lot faster than they’re ready to react the way you have to. They stunted a lot more than they had shown the last three or four games of last year when we broke them down. They blitzed like crazy. Did our young guys react as quickly as they need to? No. But is that abnormal? No. That’s kind of the norm. I think we did see when they knew who to block, they were physical and they looked like they had the physical ability to be effective down the road for us.
Q: Did you like what you saw the little time you were out there?
A: Yeah, I thought we did some good things. We had some good plays, had some third down conversions, you know and obviously there’s going to be things we can work on and that’s the point of preseason. Do some things well but it should get better. Your best game of the year is not supposed to be that first preseason game. There’s going to be a lot of areas where you have new guys, things you can improve on.
Q: It had to be good to know with Victor missing so much time in the offseason that the connection was still there.
A: Yeah, it was good to obviously get a big play and a third down conversion and get a touchdown, so that’s always nice to get one of your top receivers a catch in the game and still know that he has the playmaking ability that he has had the last couple years.
Q: What are you looking to accomplish the second preseason game coming up?
A: Just obviously have some more drives, have a couple more series, just being sharper overall and our execution; sometimes, you know it’s not exactly where the ball’s going but the backside and different routes and make sure everybody’s doing the right assignments and doing it well so we’ll just continue to work on that and play at a faster level.
Q: Is it unusual to you that there’s four quarterbacks. Usually it’s three. Most of your camps you’ve had three not four, right?
A: Maybe so. It’s no different for me. I’m still getting the same amount of reps that I always do and so it hasn’t changed anything.
Q: So just one extra person in the meeting room?
A: Yeah exactly, one extra person in the room and so sometimes that’s good. During the regular season, a lot of times we only have two quarterbacks, so it can be a quiet room at times so it’s good to get an extra guy and liven it up a little bit.
Q: Did you know
A: I had met Curtis over the years when he was at Indianapolis. He came down to our Manning Passing Academy one year to help coach and so I met him over the years.
Q: What do you think of how
A: I thought Ryan made some good plays. He was in a couple of tough circumstances and made the best out of them, didn't force the ball, didn't turn the ball over, had some pressure, had some good movement in the pocket, protected the ball, so that first preseason game you’re in there with a lot of guys in their first preseason game, so it’s not going to be always smooth sailing. There are going to be some bad plays but I think it’s a great learning experience and I thought he made some good decisions and good plays.
Q: Saturday night you looked sharp. How’d you feel?
A: I felt good. It felt good to get back out there in the swing of things. We got some real action against some real opponents; somebody not wearing blue. It felt good to get back out there and continue to do some good things.
Q: Do you feel like you’re at the speed and synced the way you want to be at this point in camp or did the OTA stuff affect you at all?
A: No, I feel good right now. I think me and Eli are just continuing to work. We’re working on our timing and I’ve been working on my routes, crisp and clean. That was just another step towards that. But I feel good, I feel confident right now and I just want to continue to build on that.
Q: If Hakeem’s healthy and able to play the way he’s played in the past, how good do you think your receiving corps is?
A: I think we could be really good. I think as long as we come together and understand each other’s roles—I play the slot, outside, and Hakeem—if everybody could just understand each other’s roles and just compete to the best of their ability, I think we’ll be just fine. We’re a talented bunch in that receiving room and I think the sky’s the limit for us.
Q: When you’re out on the practice field, do you ever look out at MetLife Stadium with the mindset that that’s the goal for this year?
A: Sometimes, but any year, any time, no matter where the Super Bowl is played, that’s our goal at the end of the day. It just so happens that it’s being played right in our backyard. It’s obviously some added motivation that we want to play in it, but we want to play in every Super Bowl. We definitely look over there sometimes and we understand how monumental that is, but we understand that we’ve got to take it one game at a time.
Q: Is there any different feeling on the field having your contract in hand?
A: Not really. It’s the same thing. It’s just me playing with the guys. When I’m out there I’m not thinking about my contract or how much money I’m making. I’m just out there playing football with the guys that I love and that I see every day; that I hang out with. There’s really nothing different for me out there.
Q: We spend a lot of time out here asking you about the Big 3, you, Rueben, and Hakeem. What about the 4? What do you see from Louis Murphy?
A: Louis is extremely fast. He has a good ability to separate from the defender. He just has to continue to grow in the offense. I think he’s taken huge steps since I met him down in North Carolina with Eli. He really understands and he’s building off that. I think he has tremendous talent and he’s definitely a burner on the outside.
Q: It’s been a few years since you’ve had to learn the offense, but what’s the burden like for him trying to learn what a receiver is expected to do here?
A: It’s tough. It’s definitely a huge learning curve for him, not just understanding what you do, but the terminology and the vernacular that we use that’s different from where he was previously. It’s tough, but we help him. He talks to us all the time. I talk to him in and out of the huddle, even if it’s a run play or a pass play. I just remind him, even if he knows what he’s doing, I just remind him of what he’s doing. Things like that. It’s definitely a work in progress, but he’s getting there. He’s a quick learner.
Q: If you had any complaints about your own game last year, what did you do to correct that?
A: Just concentration. I think even out here on the practice field I’ve been training myself to look the ball all the way in, whether I’m in traffic or getting to the ball late or see it late. I’m just looking it all the way into my hands and then making the move later. I think a lot of my drops were me trying to make a move before I actually caught the football. Now I just want to focus on catching the ball first, looking it all the way in, and then taking it from there.
Tackle Justin Pugh
Q: How are you feeling?
A: I feel good, I feel great. I mean I got cleared by all the doctors, I went through all the protocol, so I’m good to go, practicing today.
Q: Is it scary?
A: First time I ever had a concussion, so I didn’t really know what it was all about. The doctors here did a great job handling everything and I’m symptom-free so it’s been good for me now.
Q: How did it happen?
A: It was on a hit. I was pulling around and I hit someone head to head, it was the first time I ever experienced that kind of headache so I knew something was up and went through the proper protocol for that.
Q: How bad was it?
A: The headaches were pretty bad and it was a little nausea, it got better each day. You have to go through a variety of different steps once it happens; I wasn’t really aware of it. The medical staff did a great job of helping me out, going to be back to 100%.
Q: Do you talk to a guy like
A: Yeah, they all say you basically have to wait till the headache goes away, there’s nothing really you can do. You can’t really go out there and workout or rehab it. It’s just kind of resting it, and it’s something where they told me to keep my head up. I don’t really worry about it. Obviously I wanted to still be in there in the meetings, and once I was able to, I was sitting in the meetings, so it worked out, it worked out well, and I’m back today and couldn't be happier.
Q: When you miss time like that, obviously if it’s a leg, or an arm or something like that, you can still be sharp in the meetings, but when it’s your head and you can’t really focus… how do you keep up and not fall too far behind on the classroom stuff?
A: You know, just getting back in there now, getting ready to get after it. I only missed, I think, two days in the meeting room and I was able to come back in and get that stuff working. So obviously you lose out on two days of film which is crucial but to get back in there and spend a little extra time now to get back to where you should be.
Q: Was it a knee to head or-
A: No, it was a head to head. I pulled around; I forgot who I hit.
Q: Headaches and nausea were the two main symptoms?
A: Yeah, I mean you have some sensitivity to noise and light but that kind of subsided after the first couple of days.
Q: How much do you think this did set you back (…)
A: Obviously missing the reps, that’s something that’s big. I wish I could get those back but right now I’ve just got to go out there and play. I really can’t control that now.
Q: Missing the game hurt, I imagine?
A: Oh yeah definitely, I mean when I had to sit home and I couldn’t even travel with the team and had to watch, that was definitely something that definitely hurt me but getting back out there today, I’ve got a big smile on my face. I’m ready to go.
Q: When you have an injury like that, in the back of your mind does it kind of force you to adjust your technique so that it doesn't happen again or is it just one of those things?
A: You know it’s something that’s part of the game, you’ve got to keep your head out of it and play heads up football, so it’s something where I know when I go out there, make sure you’re conscious using your hands and when you’re going down field and going after guys in the secondary where there is a lot more room for that, you’ve got to make sure you’re using the proper technique.
Q: Do you feel like you can make up the time pretty quickly?
A: Yeah definitely.
Q: In what ways?
A: We’ve done things with the veterans, helping us out and then taking some quizzes and stuff and getting extra work in; every day we stay a little bit extra in our meeting rooms, the younger guys, to make sure we’re where we need to be, and then going out there today and getting those reps. I know we’ve got some other guys banged up so I’ll be able to get more reps today than I would have normally.
Q: When you woke up this morning, just describe what your state of mind was, knowing, when you came to the facility, you were going to be working?
A: I mean I was excited, I was excited to get back in here and be with the guys because sometimes when you’re injured, you don’t get to do everything with the offensive line and you’ll be sitting on the side or riding the bikes, so it’ll be good today to go out there and actually be in the drills with my teammates.
Q: That was a crazy day, that was like the first day you took first team reps too, right?
A: Yeah, it was the first day, first day I was able to go out there, so obviously that hurt but definitely I’m past that now. I’m ready to get back out there and be with my teammates.
Q: Did you have to kind of go through a period of frustration or anger that something set you back because you’re so excited as a rookie to take advantage of being their top pick. Was there a period of frustration that you had to manage?
A: Definitely those first couple days when I couldn't even be in the facility, I had to be back at the hotel, you kind of are like, I feel like I’m letting everyone down by being out, but it’s the right thing and I know the way the NFL is handling concussions now you have to make sure that you’re held accountable and you tell somebody because it’s a major thing.
DE Damontre Moore
Q: How many times have you seen the replay of the punt block?
A: I’ve seen it maybe once.
Q: That’s it?
A: Yeah, once. I haven’t really been watching ESPN, I’ve been sleeping.
Q: What kind of feeling is it to make that type of play in your first NFL game?
A: I was happy. It was a great experience for me, for it to be my first game and to have a big impact on the play. I was just overwhelmed with joy.
Q: There were a lot of plays where you were really close. Do you sit there and think “wow, had I been an inch closer…”
A: Yeah, watching film there were a lot of places where I was really close. I think that’s what motivates me more to get there and make the play. It doesn’t do anything but aggravate me more to know that I was that close and didn’t make the play. So it was my motivation.
Q: Guys talk about the speed of the game being a lot faster in the NFL versus college. Did you find that on Saturday night, or did it feel like a comfortable pace for you?
A: I was pretty comfortable. I could tell the difference. It was a little bit faster, but at the same time we ran a fast paced offense back in college and that’s the tempo that we practice at. It wasn’t too big of a change in speed.
Q: After that play what type of confidence does that give you?
A: It gave me a lot of confidence, to let me know that I can come out here and I can make plays and do things. But at the same time, it gave me more motivation because I don’t want to feel that experience just once. I want to feel it multiple times. And to see that I helped put my team in a great situation, there’s not a better feeling I could have. I use that as motivation to keep making it happen.
Q: When you look back on that film, what do you look at and say “I didn’t do this well, I need to get better at it”?
A: Watching film, I’d say containing the edge and not just being so one track minded; really focusing on my assignment and not just looking at the ball. Like, if it’s my assignment to go…a puller or keep the tight end. Just honing in and being more focused on my assignment and not just looking at the ball trying to find it.