Head Coach Joe Judge
Q: I believe Will (Hernandez), the first day he's eligible to come off the Reserve/COVID-19 list is tomorrow. You correct me if that's wrong. I just want to see if there is any update on where he stands in that process?
A: I talked very briefly with Ronnie (Barnes) this morning, just in terms of the whole COVID situation with not only him, but the rest of the team and the protocols we're following. I think you're about right with that. I have to double check the exact dates. There are still more steps once he gets back in the building, though. You can't just throw him right on the practice field. We have to make sure we do a number of tests with him and make sure he's fit to go out there. We'll make sure we take all the steps to make sure it's in his best interest and the best interest of the team before we put him on the field.
Q: Has he been participating in meetings virtually? How has that been working?
A: Yeah, he has. A number of our players if they haven't been in the building have been doing the virtual meetings. We did the entire team yesterday as a virtual day, both for our install and our cleanup on the tape on the backend. That's worked out really well for us. I think the jumpstart we got in the spring really prepared us as a team for what we're doing right now. I think it prepared our coaches for handling that medium for teaching. I think it prepared our players for staying engaged and how to be interactive, although being virtual and in different locations. Look, I've really seen good attention to detail and good practices as a result of the days we've gone virtual. We're going to talk through this whole process. Obviously, there's a spike nationally, there's a spike throughout the league right now. We're going to make sure that we take every precaution to keep this team healthy and on the field. I wouldn't be too surprised if this ends up being somewhat of a regular occurrence, at least as part of the week. When I talk through with the captains and kind of get their opinion on it, see how they like it in terms of players. But I know as coaches, we've seen some good responses from them.
Q: Related to COVID, how are you guys traveling to Washington? Any differently than you would normally? Are you going by train? By plane? How are you doing it?
A: We're going to do it on the train. What we've worked out early in the year, we talked about this back in the summer, they've actually arranged to have the train in the station early so that our crew can go in there and deep clean it and sanitize it for our players. We're then going to ride the train. The players are always assigned which bus they're going to be on. We try to stagger the personnel, whether it's coaches or players, by positions, by groupings to make sure that we don't have, for example, all of the offensive line on one bus together, something happens and they all go ahead and get pinged. We try to stagger and spread out the personnel as it is. We'll do the same thing with the trains. The players will have a bus assignment and a train car assignment when they go down to Washington. I'd say the biggest thing with the train, obviously with trains, you can flip the seats around, you can stay there, you can talk and hang out and play cards. We have to make those adjustments now going to Washington. We can't do that. It'll be very much like riding on the bus. We're going to have to make sure we close off certain seating locations to make sure we're spaced out. You have to take into account the tracers that we're wearing to make sure we're that six feet apart, as well as just spacing for the health of everybody. Really our trainers are going to handle that part of it, of walking car to car and making sure before we take off that everyone is in the right seating, we have the right spacing and that everyone is kind of fit to go down there. Look, it's a three-hour trip. Ultimately, it's nice to be able to take a train instead of having to get on a plane and wait to take off. It's a pretty smooth traveling deal. We're looking forward to it. It helps us, you can always work on it. Part of the delay when you want to work on the plane is you get on the plane, there's the loading and unloading process, the taking off kind of delays you. On the train, you can just jump on, pop the laptop open and watch some tape, or players watch their iPads, and get going pretty fast with it.
Q: Just wanted to follow up, one more thing on Golden Tate from this week. I know that you said that any punishment or discipline would be handled internally. Is there any plan or any thought to not starting him Sunday or sitting him for a series or a quarter?
A: We still have an entire day of practice to go through today. We'll evaluate everything and make decisions on the back end of today of what we're going to do going through the weekend.
Q: Is being inactive a possibility for Golden Tate or not?
A: I'm going to discuss a lot of possibilities today after practice.
Q: Alfred Morris, what made him attractive to you guys? Obviously, running back is kind of a young man's game. What made him attractive for you when you guys signed him? How did you think he ran? Those were his first carries in like 16 months?
A: When we brought him in for the tryout, I thought he moved well. You could see he hadn't been in a training camp, so there's always a difference there in terms of how guys move. You could see he wasn't too far away from being what we call game shape. We got him in, he practiced very hard for us, he's very effective. He's got familiarity with the offense from being down in Dallas with Jason previously. It gave him kind of the learning curve in his favor. He's practiced hard for us when he gets his opportunities. I'm pleased with how he's working. I'm pleased with how he's able to perform and get in there and give us some production last week.
Q: Going back to Golden Tate for a second. Yesterday, it looked like he was practicing with the scout team. Is that something that's going to continue today? How do you plan to use him in practice?
A: All of our players play with the scout team at some point or another. We have limited numbers, so everyone rotates on through. In addition to that, we have practice squad players that work in with our ones as well. With limited numbers out there, we roll guys as much as possible. Especially on a day like Thursday, which is a heavy passing day for us. It's third down, it's some red area, it's two-minute. We roll all of our skill players equally on both sides.
Q: You've talked about breaking the season up into four-game stretches. You are here now in the second half of the season. What are you trying to accomplish, what's your goal of what you want to accomplish now in the second half of the season? Or this third quadrant?
A: I just want improvement. I want to see better coaching, better playing, better execution and that should lead to tangible results. For me, it's always about evaluating the team and seeing constant improvement across the board. The number one goal when you start the season is being an improved team in Week 16. How good of a team can you be after that 16th game? How much improvement can you make? We know as a team that most teams make a significant amount of improvement between game one and game two. This year was a little bit different in terms of what we dealt with on the front end of training camp. I've seen our team make a lot of strides going through this season. I'm pleased with that progress. Nothing changes for the second half of the season. I want to see marked improvement across the board from everyone, myself included.
Cornerback James Bradberry
Q: Tell me what you think of the job [Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator] Patrick Graham has done. It seems like you guys played man early, now you play so much zone. It's hard for us to even figure out what defense you're playing week to week. Everyone says they're multiple. Every coach likes to say that. It's like a sexy term. How multiple are you guys and what kind of job has he done doing that week to week?
A: I think you just explained it. It's hard for people to break down if we're in man or a zone. He changes it up with the corners coming over sometimes in zone or in man. Very multiple, I would say. Like you said, it's hard for teams to break down what we're in. I think he's doing a good job of changing it up and keeping the offense on their toes from time to time.
Q: From your experience playing under other coordinators or just from talking to buddies around the league, is he more multiple than most guys, or is that just because I see him the most?
A: I would say he's more multiple. He changes it up every week. We're not sure if we're going to be playing a whole lot more man this week or zone. We just find out when we come in Monday or Wednesday, and then we go from there.
Q: Along those lines, why does it work for you guys? Why has this worked so far for eight weeks in terms of the amount of changes that you do game plan wise, the personnel? Is there something that you can point to and say 'this is why we're able to make it work every week'?
A: I would say it starts off with the guys in the room. That's up front, linebackers and backend. I feel like we're a smart group, so we're able to take things on the fly and execute them when we get on the field in practice and in the game. With Coach Graham, when he's mixing it up, teams are game planning based off what you did previous weeks. If you keep changing it up, it's hard for them to know what you're going to be in on certain downs and in certain situations. Changing it up, it's hard for the quarterback to diagnose it when he drops back and he's looking, and also when he's breaking down film before the game. Just keeping it versatile, keeping it multiple, keep them on their toes.
Q: When you play a team for the second time, do you expect that to kind of change up again? I think, correct me if I'm wrong, but did you travel with [Terry] McLaurin much the first matchup, and do you kind of expect that to change going into this weekend?
A: I did a little bit in the second half. We're going to see once we get to the game. We haven't figured out what exactly we're going to do as far as me traveling with him or not. But we've been practicing for different situations.
Q: What is the biggest challenge a guy like that represents?
A: He's a good receiver. He runs great routes. I think the one thing that comes off the film when I watch him is his speed. He's a deep threat, explosive, has good hands and he has a good quarterback in Kyle Allen to get him the ball.
Q: What was it like seeing a veteran like Golden Tate serving as Terry McLaurin at practice?
A: It was good. He gave me a good example of what I'm going to see on Sunday. Golden, he's a veteran guy, runs good routes, just that veteran savviness to him. He knows how to get open.
Q: Is that rare though to see a veteran in his position in this league, at least for what he's done, sort of be in that role?
A: It's a little different.
Q: Coach (Judge) said he's thinking of doing more virtual meetings. How did you guys like those this week? Also, going into that train travel this week, how comfortable do you feel with that, safety wise?
A: As far as the train, this will be my first time taking a train, so I'm kind of excited for it. I don't think it'll be too different. Well of course it'll be different as far as physically being in the air versus on the ground. But I'm probably just going to go to sleep on the train.
Q: But safety wise you feel fine with it?
A: Yeah, I feel fine with it. Then what was the first question you asked again?
Q: Coach said maybe more virtual meetings. How do those compare to actual, in-person meetings?
A: I think they were good. As long as the players are locked in, and I think we were locked in. We took the install from the film and then we applied it during practice. I think it went well. It gave us more time in the morning to get more sleep in, get some more recovery in, so I liked it.
Offensive Lineman Shane Lemieux
Q: Take us through the spike and what that was like for you? That whole play, kind of getting your responsibility done and being able to celebrate in your first NFL start.
A: It was a good called run right there at the end zone. It's one of my first touchdowns, we had one before that but that was our first running play touchdown. We were all pretty juiced. I was pretty juiced. Wayne (Gallman) handed me the ball and I didn't really know what to do with it. I was like, you know what spike it, so I did. That's what happened and everyone is kind of giving me a little bit of hell for it because it was a bad spike. I was just so juiced and excited to be in the moment. I just wanted to celebrate with my team, and I thought that was pretty cool.
Q: I see people calling you 'the big ox'. Is that your nickname or something?
A: Yeah, back in Oregon that was a nickname they gave me.
Q: What was it like finally getting out there? Did you feel like you had a welcome to the NFL moment that stands out from that game?
A: Obviously, it's a lot different. My adrenaline was rushing pretty good. I felt like I was prepared. I felt like I was ready to handle the task. I didn't let the moment get too big and I just played. I think every play, even at practice we see some really good D-linemen. Nothing really shocked me. It is the NFL so every single play the guy you are going against is really good.
Q: It sounded like the coaching staff had been planning to kind of get you in there at some point. Even before Will had to be sidelined. Was that something you prepared for in the recent weeks?
A: I prepare every single day, every single week like I'm going to start. If you keep preparing, you prepare every single day, you don't have to get ready. If you stay ready, you don't have to get ready. I think I had that kind of mantra. I just want to be able to help the team however I can. Whenever my number is called, I want to be able to provide support wherever I'm put.
Q: What have you thought of Justin's (Herbert) first year in the league too? Have you been paying much attention to what he's been doing?
A: Yeah, he's been doing a heck of a job. I'm pretty good friends with Justin. He's putting up good numbers. I always thought he was a really good quarterback. I'm excited to watch him play. I'm happy for his success.
Q: In terms of you and your fellow rookies. Do you guys talk a lot about being rookies together and sort of going through this journey together? It seems like you're all on different time frames but on similar paths where you start to get a couple snaps and then you're integrated more into the game plans.
A: I think it's a tightknit group. We went over all offseason together doing virtual stuff. There was a time period here when we got with the Giants where it was just the rookies only together. I think we have a pretty good bond. This is a weird year so I think everybody is relying on vets for support. Relying on other rookies has really helped us. I'm really close with the other rookie O-linemen. I'm happy to have those guys, they're really good guys. I pick their brain and I'm sure they pick mine sometimes too. Growing together every single day.
Q: I think it was coach Judge who earlier this week talked about you and said about that whole 'welcome to the NFL' moment. That it was Ndamukong Suh who you see across from you. I know necessarily there may not be a play. As a rookie, is there a transition where you have to shake that off early? The idea that it's not about the reputation of the guy on the other side of the ball. It's just breaking down guys for who they are. Are you able to put their names and their reputations out of the picture. Is that a hard thing to do as a rookie early on?
A: As a rookie, it's a lot different than college. Every single week there's a star-studded defensive linemen. Every week there's not a drop-off. Whether it's Ndamukong Suh whether it's Jonathan Allen. Everybody in this league is good and you have to bring it every single week. That's definitely a transition. It's not like when I was back at Oregon and we were playing Southern Utah, it's almost like a bye week. Every single week you have to go because there's guys in this league on every single team that can play ball.
Q: Is there and awe factor though? Do you have to put it out of your mind so you're not treating it like, 'oh man it's Ndamukong Suh, what am I going to do here?' in my first career start?
A: Yeah, you just can't really think about that. You can't really think about that, I never try to think about that.
Q: Coach (Judge) has talk about possibly rotating the guards like he's done with the tackles and stuff. There's a school of thought that ideally you want to build continuity. You want to have the same guys in there for all the snaps. Can you just talk a little bit about why the rotation has kind of worked with the tackles and with the guards as well? What is it about the coaching or maybe it's the scheme, I don't know? What is it that's made the rotation seem less scary for you guys?
A: I really can't talk about it that much. I think it's keeping guys fresh. Obviously, coach Judge, coach Colombo and everybody has a plan and it's their decision. I think it probably helps keep us fresh. It's just getting guys more comfortable. Me getting out there, it made me more comfortable. I can't really speak to that.
Q: Before you started last game, you got a fullback snap. Were you demanding the ball in that huddle?
A: No, I was just happy to be out there.
Q: Had you every played fullback before?
A: Nope. Never.
Q: The word that Colombo and Judge keep using for you is nasty. Nasty attitude, he plays with some nasty. Where does that come from? Are you the younger brother who got beat up by your older brothers? Where does the nastiness come from?
A: I think I was always taught to play football that way. I think that's how offensive line should be played. Ever since I was younger and I started playing football, I was always taught if you make a mistake make it 100 percent. Go fly around and hit somebody. I feel like that mantra has kind of stuck with me. Even at Oregon, I was rumored as the physical guy. I like that part of the game and I kind of embrace it.
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