Head Coach Brian Daboll
Q: I wanted to ask you about a report yesterday that (wide receiver) Odell Beckham Jr. will be visiting you guys at some point after Thanksgiving. Can you confirm that and provide any information on when that would happen or anything else?
A: Not at this time I can't.
Q: Do you have updates on yesterday's injuries starting with (cornerback) Adoree' Jackson and (wide receiver) Wan'Dale Robinson?
A: Some of these guys are still getting tests this morning. I will say with Wan'Dale, he has an ACL.
Q: His season's over?
Q: You guys have gone through a bunch of receivers here. What's the next step with Wan'Dale out, and maybe it even ties into (the) first question about Odell?
A: We have plenty of receivers on the roster, as you know. So, it's a short week. We'll get the guys ready to go, and we'll revisit things like we always do each week and see where it goes.
Q: They're naming this game after John Madden. They're celebrating John Madden on Thanksgiving. Did you ever have any run-ins or experiences with him? Or can you just talk about what he means to the game?
A: I have never met Coach Madden. You think football, you think Madden really with everything from coaching at the Raiders and how successful he was to announcing to the video game that all the young guys like to play. Just a great ambassador for the National Football League and a great tribute to him.
Q: Just to clarify on the injuries – so, is Wan'Dale the only one of the guys that you do have an update for us today?
A: Yeah. Most of these other guys are still getting looked at here – almost all of them.
Q: The other thing I want to ask you about is just in terms of the week's schedule. It seems like with these Thursday games, there's kind of a trend away from actual practices. I guess you guys are not having a traditional practice this week. What goes into that calculation about handling it that way versus going out there Tuesday and having a real practice.
A: These guys are pretty sore after games. So, what you try to do is you sit down with the training staff, sports science, and you come up with the best schedule you can for your team to make sure they're getting rehabbed and they're taking advantage of all the treatments after the walkthroughs. We'll set it up similar. We won't be out there running around, but we'll do some walkthroughs. We'll have a little break. Then we'll go out there and do some more walkthroughs. Obviously, it's a big mental week for us and then just getting your body right to play a game on such a quick turnaround.
Q: Is there any chance on the injury front to maybe have some good news with (tight end Daniel) Bellinger, (tackle Evan) Neal and (outside linebacker) Azeez (Ojulari)?
A: I'd say they're coming along. I think they're improving. Whether or not they'll be ready this week, (it's) too early to give you an answer to that.
Q: I asked you this question last week, and now it's pertinent: Does this week make it harder for them to come back because of the circumstances of such a short week and so little practice?
A: We've definitely had discussions about that. One, it'll be as we go along if the medical people say they're ready to play. And it is a short week; there's no question about that. That goes into play in discussions.
Q: Obviously, they're probably never going to do away with Thanksgiving games. But do you feel like Thursday games are a lot to ask for these guys? You just pointed out, especially when you have a tough week like you just had injury-wise, do you think it's something that needs to be discussed among the league where, 'Hey. Why do we have to play these Thursday games?'
A: Well, they're on the schedule. So, we just get ready to play them and try to come up with the best schedule and process that we can to make sure that we're ready to go.
Q: You mentioned yesterday, obviously there are ebbs and flows to every season. You're hitting something now with these two games back-to-back coming off a tough loss with all these injuries. Do you feel at some point you're going to have to, as the head coach, just talk to the team at some point about not 'woe is me,'? (It's a) tough situation. You've never had this many injuries this season. (It's a short week and you're playing) against a team that just scored 40 points in Minnesota. Is that kind of like in the manual at some point in the next few days?
A: Yeah. I've tried to do that since I've gotten here. We're not about excuses – never will be. We have people on our roster that are going to be ready to play. And that's our job as a coaching staff is to get these guys ready to play. Again, you're always going to hit adversity – whether it's in a game, whether it's in a season. We've talked about that since April. I don't think that's something you all of a sudden talk about. You have to teach it, and you have to try to learn from it. And that's everybody – it's myself, it's the coaches, it's the players, it's the support staff. You have to believe in your process. You have to go out there and try to execute the best you can. And if you do those things, you live with the results. And you move onto the next week.
Q: Is this one of those times when you see what you've built? You see what you've built and see there is always a fence. Is there a weak point where you kind of look and see now and say, 'Okay. We can talk about handling adversity. Now that maybe we're hitting it, let's see if everything we've put in place is going to hold up here'?
A: Yeah. You do that from the get-go. It wasn't our first loss. You come in after a loss; you don't feel great. You feel very disappointed. You put a lot of work into it during the week, and you don't get the results you want. You should be disappointed, but you can't let it linger. In this particular case, it's such a quick turnaround. You've got to move on quickly. That's something that we've stressed really since we've gotten here: Take it day-by-day. Learn from the things you can learn from. You're going to hit bumps in the road. Whether that's a practice or a game, a play, a call, a decision, those things are going to happen. And you move on from them.
Q: You talked about your other receivers after Wan'Dale. How encouraged were you from what you saw from (wide receiver) Kenny Golladay on Sunday? And can he be part of the solution here over the next few weeks?
A: Kenny did his job. (He) made a couple of plays when the ball was thrown to him. I'd say the receivers in general – obviously, Wan'Dale had a good game. He was really trending in the right direction. (He) really felt healthy and had quickness. I think Slay (wide receiver Darius Slayton) made some good plays. I think (wide receiver) Isaiah (Hodgins) had a couple (plays) called back. He made some good plays. I know he fumbled that ball. He was very disappointed in that of himself. But those guys know what to do. And we'll go out there and put a plan together to utilize anybody who's going to be active.
Q: With where you're at on wide receiver, would you like to add any pieces to the picture? Not necessarily saying it has to be, obviously, Odell. But do you feel like you need to add something here later in the season?
A: I think that's something that (general manager) Joe (Schoen) and I will talk about. Just like all the spots, this will be another discussion that we'll have. And we'll see where it goes.
Q: What did you see when you went back and looked at the film? What stood out to you about that loss?
A: Pretty much what I thought after the game: There was some good things in there. But it's hard to win a game when it's 3-0 in the turnover battle. The percentages don't favor you very much. There was definitely some good things to take from it, and then (there) were things that weren't as good. We didn't win the line of scrimmage. We didn't rush for a lot of yards. I'd say they rushed for 160 (yards). I thought we executed fairly well in the red zone. Offensively, they were four-of-five. Defensively, third downs were kind of a wash. But again, those turnovers (are detrimental). We've had – in our three losses – six turnovers, and (they're) directly related to 24 points. Conversely, in the seven wins, we've had five turnovers, and those led to six points. So, turnovers are huge; they always are. And we've got to keep working on that.
Q: You mentioned 'win the line of scrimmage' and not being able to run the ball. Was that just guys getting beat (in their) individual effort? Or did you see something outstanding that you thought maybe you guys need to clean up?
A: I'd say it's a collective effort. It's really everything. It was everything yesterday in the run game. They (the Detroit Lions) did a good job. Give them credit, too.
Q: (Punter) Jamie Gillan – he's a had a few punts this year that were short. What are you seeing from him? Would you like a little more consistency out of him? And can you talk about the special teams overall?
A: Well, we missed those two kicks; one was blocked, and one was almost blocked. I'd say we need to do better in that area all the way around. (Kicker) Graham (Gano) has been really consistent kicking the ball. Jamie's had a couple that I know he'd like to have back, but he's working at it. We just need to do a little bit better in that area.
Q: Along the lines of putting this game behind you, you mentioned how the schedule obviously helps in that regard. But do you guys do your full review as you normally would in a week with the players and everything else? Or do you kind of condense that? And does that almost help that you're not even focused on yesterday?
A: That's part of it on a short week. As a coaching staff, we watched it last night. I watched it at my house. And the coordinators watched it. The position coaches watched it. So, I had conversations with them yesterday about it. And you really got to come in and get going on Dallas. You only have so many hours in a day, and that's what you have to do on these Thursday games.
Q: I wanted to ask you about the offensive line. You had a few injuries on that offensive line. I know you don't know the status of these guys yet, but that being said, is there a concern with the continuity and the chemistry with having guys coming in and out – especially on this short week – in case you don't have (center) Jon (Feliciano) or if (tackle) Tyre (Phillips) can't go or whoever might not be able to go?
A: I think what you do is those guys get tons of reps during the week. And all the guys that we have have been here. There's good communication with really all of them. I think (offensive line coach) Bobby (Johnson) has done a good job of mixing those guys throughout practices, too, and giving them reps so that different guys are working with different guys. And that's really no different than really wherever else I've been. Obviously, you would love to have the same five guys out there. But usually, that's not the case. You're going to have to adjust and make sure those guys are doing a good job of communicating with one another.
Defensive Lineman Leonard Williams
Q: Obviously, coming off a tough loss like that, aside from the injury factor, do you think it helps to have the short week and also to have an opponent like the one you're facing on national television, a big divisional game? Does it make it easier to bounce back quickly?
A: Mentally, I think it makes it easier because we have no choice but to quickly move on to the next opponent. Regardless of win or lose, every week we talk about flushing the last game and moving on to the next one. I think physically is where we have to be pros and take care of our body and focus more mentally than physically this week.
Q: What do you think when, obviously, you were busy not watching the Cowboys game yesterday. But when you see that score against a big team like that, what is your first thought?
A: I definitely respect the team we're about to play. I respect every team in this league, to be honest. On any given Sunday, if you sleep on any given opponent, they have a chance to beat you. I think that's why we focus so much on the process and the process will lead us to the results that we want. Last week, we didn't get the results we wanted, but we have a short week to fix it and clean it up and go into the game prepared.
Q: You guys always talk about when someone gets hurt, 'the next name up. The next guy's got to come in.' You kind of don't waiver with that. But all the rash of injuries certainly yesterday and that have been going on, at some point, does 'next man up' become almost the challenge in itself because the depth gets so depleted with all these injuries?
A: I mean, it's definitely a challenge, and having injuries is tough on any team. When you're losing starters to injuries, that's going to be tough on any team. We have confidence in the guys who are going to step up in those positions, and we're going to do our best to let them know that we're confident in them so that they're confident on game day.
Q: You see what's going on in the defensive backfield, right? Backups are going in for backups who are going in for backups. How tough of a situation is it back there?
A: Like I said, it's tough on any team to deal with injuries. Nobody is preparing for injuries, but it's obviously a part of the game. We know that in a way that even though we don't prepare to get injured, every team has to have that 'next man up' mentality because it is a part of the game, and it happens. Like I said, we just have to do our best to let the man next up know that we're confident in him.
Q: You talked about the process leading to the results that you want, but on a short week like this, we know what the coaches are going to do to try to get you guys prepared. As players, do you guys alter the process and kind of get together – whether it's putting in a little extra time in the film room because you're not out on the field? How do you guys adjust to that to make sure you're ready, and you stick to the process that you use to find success this year?
A: I think that's the most important part: just sticking to the process. We can't let one loss turn into multiple and get away from the process because of one loss. And this is the type of week where we have to put in more mentally, knowing that the coaches are going to take care of our body physically on the field, to get ready for a short week on Thursday. This is a type of week where we have to be even more of a pro and put in the extra time. I'm basically going to treat today like a double day, mentally. I'm going to go home and take a nap. When I wake up, I'm going to treat it like a new day and watch film and kind of just restudy my opponent like on the back end of today.
Q: Would you normally do that on a Monday, Tuesday? On a Tuesday, Wednesday? What part of the week is that for you to do that double day?
A: So, I would basically after I wake up from my nap, treat that like a Tuesday. Tuesday would be the day when I open up my iPad and I dial in on my opponent on that Tuesday, off day, after we watch our opponent on Monday and flush that away. Tuesday would be the start of my week and when I dial in on the next opponent. That's pretty much what I'm going to do after I wake up from my nap today.
Q: Most of the time when you play a team a second time in a year, you're pretty prepared for them. As a defense, do they change now that (Dallas Cowboys quarterback Cooper) Rush is out and (Dallas Cowboys quarterback) Dak (Prescott) is back?
A: That's what I still have to watch film on to make sure how much has changed. I'm sure there have been slight differences, and I think an important thing to watch is the game against us, to be honest. Wherever they found success against us last game is probably something that they're going to try to come back to this week. That's something I'm going to try to study and prepare for and watch a lot of what happened to us last game.
Q: It seems in the losses, you're not getting turnovers. How key is that to winning?
A: That's major. We talk about turnover battles a lot in this league, and if one team is going to get a lot more takeaways than the other team, that's going to be a huge impact on the game. That's something we're putting an emphasis on, we try to put an emphasis on each week as a defense. And we talk about not being satisfied with just getting a tackle or just getting a sack but trying to get the ball off of him in the process. It's a huge game changer, momentum shift, field position, it changes a lot in the game when turnovers happen.
Q: You and (defensive lineman) Dexter (Lawrence) have been getting good pressure in the pocket in the interior. What is your sense of what is going on, on the edges, it does not seem like that pressure is consistent from the edges at all. What can you do better maybe to help that and what do you see going on out there?
A: It's a young room, there's been a lot of injuries going on in that room as well. We haven't had (outside linebacker) Azeez (Ojulari) for the majority of the year. I know how it was being a young player, sometimes it takes a while to adapt and adjust to new NFL speed and schemes and all types of stuff like that. We're still confident in those guys and confident that they're going to come along. For the most part, I feel like we've been doing a good enough job with them.
Q: Did you sense that with (outside linebacker) Kayvon (Thibodeaux) specifically because he's the one constant who's been out there after missing a couple of games? Some of the things that maybe that worked in college are not quite working now, would you advise him on maybe changing up or doing things differently?
A: To be honest maybe I could do a better job of focusing on what's going on, on the edges. I have a lot I have to learn after each game as well and a lot of times after a game I'm focusing on the interior and what's going on in my position group and I don't really have too much time to focus on what's happening in those positions. But as a leader, as a vet, and someone who's been through the process, I probably could do a little bit better job of seeing what's going on and trying to help Kayvon where I can. I haven't really seen anything specific so I can't really point out anything specific. Overall, I think he's definitely a hard worker and I'm sure whatever he's having success at it is going to grow and whatever he's struggling with is going to get better.
Q: Maybe you have to make it a triple day, right? Two ? make it like a Tuesday, Wednesday. Just keep on working straight throughout, right?
A: That's how it is man, it's that time of year.
Offensive Lineman Nick Gates
Q: Obviously you've taken snaps at the position in practice but what was it like for you to get back out in the game at center in real-time?
A: It was definitely good to be out there with the team and actually take offensive line snaps this week. It felt good. Definitely good to be back out there with the team.
Q: Obviously (Center) Jon (Feliciano) had some neck problems yesterday, if you have to play an expanded role, how difficult is that challenge at this point and how well do you feel like you can be the guy calling the signals? Is that something you would embrace at this point?
A: What do you mean an expanded role? Just playing center?
Q: Yes, if you had to start because Jon couldn't play. How big of a challenge is that?
A: I'm fine with that, I've got about 20 starts at center so I feel comfortable getting in there and doing it. It's almost like riding a bike I feel like.
Q: It's a different offense, but you've had plenty of time to look at it, are there challenges in that way?
A: Here and there, there are little things, but I've been here with the staff and learning the offense for I think, what is it, eight months now at this point? So, if I don't know what I'm doing at this point I probably shouldn't be playing.
Q: How much would you embrace the opportunity to be a starter again?
A: It's awesome, it's what you always dream about and want to do when you're in the NFL. So, it's definitely nice to get back out there, and play for the start.
Q: What would you say the greatest challenge has been as far as coming back to play? Is it conditioning, getting your strength back, shaking off rust, getting in sync with the guys around you? What has been the toughest thing coming back and actually getting snaps?
A: I'd probably say getting in sync with the guys. I haven't gotten as many reps as Jon and stuff like that with the guys on the inside, but probably just that. Just being able to get fits on double-teams or in the run game, just how those guys play. You can watch it, but time on task is definitely going to help you out in that. I feel pretty comfortable with the guys, we do indy (individuals) and stuff like that. It's not too much, but the first couple snaps (and) first couple of series will be nice to get in there and be with those guys.
Q: This is the longest stretch you have played since you've been back, 25 snaps or something straight at one spot. How did you come out of that after those 25?
A: Yeah, that was the first time I played offensive line snaps since I got back from being hurt. It was good. Definitely the conditioning, you can run all you want, you can do half gassers after the practice and stuff but until you're in the middle of the game and you're going almost 10 to 15 play drives it's a little different. Your conditioning, got to get back up to that.
Q: The fact that in this game there was a lot of pass pro, this was a lot of hustling, you guys are behind and you're not in a position to just run the ball. Was that even more difficult, you know snap after snap after snap late in this game?
A: No, I think you probably get more tired in the run game. Just trying to enforce your will at people which makes you more tired. I always play hard, no matter if it's pass or run. I try to finish blocks and get down the field and I think that helps get my conditioning up.
Q: It would be easy to look at this game and you can see you guys are banged up, they're coming off a big win, you have to go down there. Is there a sense of nobody's giving us a chance, let's rally together?
A: We all just try to focus on each other, the team in the building, and try to stay inside the building and just try to win the week. That's what we preach here, go 1-0 every week and just try to win that week. You can't focus on the outside and what people are saying. Heck, nobody's given us a chance all year, so it is what it is.
Q: Have you been given any indication that you are going to start? You might know more than we do about Jon at this point. Have you been given any indication to be ready?
A: No, not yet but I'm going to keep preparing like I am and like I do every week. I've got to be ready no matter what – if I'm starting or not starting. Even if I'm not – Jon, I don't really know what's going on with him right now – but even if he starts and gets banged up, I've still got to be ready to go in.
Q: I know it might sound a little cliché or corny, but the fact that it's Thanksgiving and for what you've gone through the idea that you'll be out there on the field in whatever spot, do you take an extra moment on Thursday to kind of appreciate even moreso what your journey has been like?
A: Yeah, I always appreciate stepping on the field now coming back from injury because I never had an injury like that, or I've never had a big injury before in the game. Every chance I get to step on the football field in practice, games, I appreciate every single moment and try to just enjoy it. I had that first game where I kind of took it all in and I'm like, 'Oh I'm back,' but now it's on to the next thing. My leg feels good, doesn't hurt, so just onto the next game basically.
Q: You obviously didn't play in the first game, but you were there and in the meetings. Playing that Dallas defensive front, when you watch the film what kind of challenges do they present and how does that challenge you guys on Thursday, in a short week especially?
A: That front seven of theirs is really good. They've got a guy, number 11 (Cowboys Linebacker Micah Parsons), he can rush the passer and he's pretty damn good at it. All those guys are really good at it, so you've just got to be firm, make sure communication is good, and have everybody on the same page and try to get the ball out pretty quick.
Q: If Jon comes back and he says, 'I'm ready to go,' and they say Jon's starting at center, if they came to you and then said, 'Do you want to play guard,' would you jump on it?
A: Yeah, I'm all for playing whatever they need me to. I feel like that's always been my role from the get-go, I'm comfortable moving around, playing different positions. Whatever helps out the team. I still feel like I'm the undrafted guy that's got to do that, I've still got to prove myself every single play and every single week, (day) in and day out. I'm fine with whatever they decide and whatever they want me to do.