Head Coach Joe Judge
Q: Just a little injury cleanup from yesterday. Golden Tate, Blake Martinez, RJ McIntosh, Montre Hartage, not sure if I left anybody out, but I just wanted to see if there are any updates?
A: We're expecting all of them except for Golden to practice today. Golden's going to go ahead and stay behind with the trainers, kind of get a look at a little something. We'll see where he is. He's really kind of day to day right now. But the other guys, they should be out there and ready to roll today.
Q: You bring in Logan Ryan, known as a high character guy. Talk about him as far as on the field and off the field. You're obviously very familiar with him from New England. He's been through it all. What is he going to bring to this team?
A: I think Logan's a guy who comes to work every day with the right demeanor. He's a smart guy that plays tough on the field. He's a player that I noticed through my time with him and then also my time away competing against him that he's a guy that really improves from year to year. He really works on his craft. He's not just a guy who's out there, kind of 'this is what I am.' He's always looking to work on maybe something that hurt him the year before and he's looking to always go ahead and improve on his strengths. Look, he brings a lot of versatility. He's a smart, tough football player. We're glad to have him. We have had a lot of guys in the defensive backfield make a lot of improvements every day. It'll be good to get him in the mix with all of those guys.
Q: Was (Xavier) McKinney kind of the straw that broke the camel's back there in terms of wanting to add a defensive back? Obviously, Logan has been available for a long time, but when you guys lost McKinney, did that add the urgency?
A: We're always evaluating our roster, we're always looking at who's out there. We had talks previously with Logan. I don't want to go into too much detail, but this wasn't the first round of talks we had with him. I'm glad it worked out and I'm glad he's on his way up here.
Q: You mentioned you had conversations with Logan and his representatives before. How much was this eye-opening to you, this whole waiting game as a head coach? You know the player, you like the player, you have to wait, you have to talk to Dave (Gettleman), you have to talk to Kevin (Abrams). This is kind of the first time as a head coach you've had to play this waiting game.
A: As you said, obviously, this is the first time as a head coach I've had to do this waiting game. But it's not the first time we've gone through this. You're always in dealings as an assistant and coordinator with the head coach, knowing what the personnel moves may or may not be. I'd say there's a little bit more foot-tapping when you're the assistant or the coordinator and you don't have every piece of information going on at the time. Sometimes you feel like you're in the dark. But when there's something you need to know, you get informed.
Q: Is he a cornerback or a safety?
A: He's going to play a variety of roles for us, so if I gave you one answer right there, I'd be lying. Logan, one of his strengths really is versatility. We're going to play him in different packages all over the field. Really, having a guy like that allows you to play other guys in fewer positions because he can handle a lot of the multiples while these guys are learning the system.
Q: Given your past experience with Logan in New England, how active were you in the role of kind of scouting and having the conversations of bringing him in here? What about his skillset maybe separated him from some of the other guys who were available?
A: I'd say past experiences are only part of it. These are obviously discussions we've had with the coaching and the personnel staff throughout the course of the offseason, knowing who's out there, who's available and what needs we're looking to fill. We worked together across the building making sure we're all on the same page. We're very open. There's a lot of synergy in how we're working right now, so that's been very positive. I'd say in terms of skillset, as I mentioned a minute ago, really the versatility within his skillset is probably the greatest strength. He does a lot of things really well. His ability to do more than one thing makes him a big strength to the team.
Q: Jumping off that a little bit, I know you were there when Logan was drafted by the Patriots. You were there when he first arrived. Do you have any memories of when he first came to the organization? I know he first started out playing a lot of special teams for you, so I'm sure you got a lot of time with him. I'm just curious if you have memories of that time?
A: Yeah, I have a ton of memories with Logan. Obviously, like you said, I was there early on. It was only my second year in the league when we drafted Logan. We kind of learned a lot of stuff together, to be honest with you. As you get working, I was working with him as a gunner, a vice player and a core special teamer for us, and obviously, he was growing within his defensive role. I think the thing that stands out to me the most about Logan is the improvement I watched him make from year one to year two. The thing you noticed was he was a guy when the season was over, he hung behind. He wasn't in a hurry to get out of there. Him and Duron Harmon were actually two Rutgers teammates. They hung around the building the entire offseason and you could physically see the transformation in their bodies. You could see the work and evidence in how they changed how they looked, and it transferred over on to the field in how they played.
Q: How valuable is it bringing in a veteran like that, especially someone who's been around so many winning organizations? He's won Super Bowls and he's made the playoffs. How valuable is it to bring in a guy like that, especially for a young group?
A: To me, it's valuable to bring in good football players, no matter what age they are. Again, I've referenced before, it doesn't matter what year you are in the league. If you're a good player, you'll help us. It's our job as coaches to make sure everyone knows how to play, what their responsibilities are, and make sure they know what the expectations and the culture are. We're excited to have Logan on his way.
Q: How do you sort of balance your desire to develop the young guys with having a veteran in here who's probably going to take up a lot of the snaps and keep some of those young guys off the field?
A: I don't think it's a conflict at all. Like I said earlier, he's going to play a variety of roles, so it's going to allow other guys to really develop in what they do. We're going to play a lot of defensive backs by game plan and package situation in different roles, so everyone has to develop all the way. We're looking to play guys on defense, the kicking game, as well as the offensive guys on the offense and the kicking game. Look, we're looking to develop the entire roster. Whether that shakes out to be the 53, the practice squad, whatever it may be, our job as coaches is to keep the team developing throughout the course of the year so that we have a better product at the end of the season than we do at the beginning.
Q: What's the perfect timeline for getting him actually out there on the field? Is that actually even going to happen before Thursday or do you have to wait probably until next week?
A: No. With the protocols in place, we won't see him before Thursday.
Q: You brought in a couple of other cornerbacks a couple days ago. You haven't really been asked about those guys. What did you like about those guys, Brandon (Williams) and KeiVarae (Russell)? With this many new faces, how difficult is it to put a secondary together this quickly?
A: You just have to be very purposeful in how you instruct them and what you ask them to do. You can't load them with all of the information in one day. When you get guys, whether it's later in training camp, middle of the season, it used to be you sign a guy on a Tuesday after a workout and you get him ready for Wednesday's practice. You have to make sure you give them what they need to know at that moment, and then let them build and expand on it as you go through different situations in practice. With all the guys we've added, obviously, they all have the physical skillset that can add to what we're doing defensively package wise. I like their demeanor and play. These are guys that have good focus in the classroom. They have the right kind of personality to fit our culture. We're letting them out there right now, they compete with everybody else. We've already seen them show up on tape in different instances. We're excited about the opportunity to work with them for another week, and we'll see how it all shakes out.
Q: It seems like (Jabrill) Peppers has cramped up quite a bit during practices. I'm sure that's not something you want to have happen on Sundays. What does he need to do differently to prevent that?
A: I think he's already doing a good job of hydrating. We test our players' hydration levels when they come in the building in the morning to make sure they're ready to go on the practice field. We don't want to put anybody out there on the field who's not ready to practice hydration-wise because that's the number one factor in soft tissue injuries. He's done a great job of as far as staying ahead in the hydration and replenishing of fluids. We weigh these guys in, we weigh them out to make sure we can monitor what their bodies have done throughout the course of a practice so we can go ahead and treat them the best way through fluids and nutrition and rest, and to make sure we're on the right track. He's done everything we've asked him to do. He plays with a high motor. Some guys sweat more than others. There are opportunities in games where you can give IVs at halftime, or there are extra opportunities to kind of give different salt pills and fluids. Right now at practice, he's a guy that just goes 100 miles per hour. Sometimes you need to remind those guys to drink a little bit extra.
Re: face shields
A: We actually wear those for every walkthrough we do. During the acclimation period, we would go in the stadium for a nightly walkthrough. They would have to wear a facemask and the clear plastic shield over top. We explained to them that we're going to put you in close quarters at times. We're going to make sure we're as safe as possible. There were different scenarios within meetings itself where maybe we did a walkthrough inside. We did the same thing. Anytime that we were close to each other, they had the face shields on along with a mask.
Q: What have you seen from Corey Ballentine so far?
A: I've seen a lot of improvement. He's obviously an athletic guy. He has good top speed that can really run with anybody on the field. It's really patience within the technique. I've seen a lot of improvement with him as far as trusting his speed, trusting the technique, not overreacting at the top of the route. Some of the things we ask these guys to do, especially early in camp, are foreign to them. It takes a little bit of time to play the technique to where we're demanding to, and I've seen daily improvement from Corey.
Q: How much confidence is there that he could be a starter on the outside in this league? I know last year, maybe it was by necessity, but he played on the inside a lot.
A: Whether it's inside or outside, anyone we put on the field, we have confidence in our guys. I can't look at the other 10 guys on the field or the other 52 in the locker room and put somebody out there that we don't have confidence in. If there's someone who we're not 100 percent sure on, then it's our job as coaches to find another way to match the opponent without using that person. Everyone we put on the field we have confidence in.
Outside Linebacker Markus Golden
Q: I just wanted to get your take on the end of practice there. That's not a drill we've seen too often. It looked like that was a lot of fun. Can you explain what was going on there?
A: Yeah, it was a ball security drill. Just making sure everybody knows how to cover the ball, but mixed with a little bit of fun. Had the water running, had the mud out there. It was pretty exciting. That was my first time seeing something like that. I was hyped up and excited to watch it. Had all the rookies go, and then we ended it with Coach Judge. That was big time. Coach Judge, he knows how to do it. He's coaching us about ball security and he proved that what he does works because he got out there and did it himself.
Q: It sounded like you guys were encouraging him to get out there, too. Were you happy to see him step up and do it?
A: Of course. Yeah, of course. It was fun just to see him actually get out there and do it, too. It's fun. It shows you that football is hard work, but there's nothing wrong mixing a little fun into it. That was really exciting. Everybody got excited. It was fun. It was a fun way to end practice.
Q: The whole team can sort of see the finish line here to when training camp is over and the regular season starts. None of you have been through this kind of preparation before. Can you believe that the regular season is less than two weeks away, and how ready do you think you and the team are for this?
A: Yes, I can believe it. We had a lot of craziness going on with COVID and everything, but we've been keeping safe. Everybody in the organization has been doing all of the right things to stay safe and put the best schedule together, plus out there working hard and just having camp like it always is. Camp is always a lot of hard work. We just got out there, it brought us more together and we were able to work hard and really put a lot of work in. The season is coming up. We have a couple more weeks, so of course, we need to finish this week strong and keep it going. But of course, we're looking forward to the season starting. That's the best part. Everybody loves to get to the season and get playing in games and everything. That's where the fun starts again, of course. We're excited. A lot of hard work has been put in, and now it's time to start getting out there and really competing.
Q: I want to go back to the first question. You were smiling from ear to ear talking about how much fun you had with that drill. What are some other things that you can maybe talk about that has been fun and different for you in this particular camp under Coach Judge?
A: Camp is always hard work. I'm not the guy to go into camp looking for fun. I go into camp looking for the hard work and looking forward to working hard. But I would say just being able to be back with the team has been fun. There are a lot of good people in the organization on the staff. But you have to make it fun no matter what. Being out there at practice, you have to have fun. But to end the day with a drill like that and actually see your head coach actually slide through the mud and recover the ball, it doesn't get more fun than that. I have to give it to him. That was the most fun part right there, what we got to see today.
Q: Obviously, you guys added Logan Ryan here to this defense. What do you know about him from your time in the league? What kind of impact do you think he can have on this defense?
A: Yeah, I've heard of Logan Ryan. I haven't really gotten to watch him like that, but from what I know, I know he's a good player that's made a lot of plays in this league and has been playing in the league for a while. You have to respect that. Anytime you can add a player like that that has that type of background, you're excited to have him because you always want to get players to make the team better. That's what I'm about. I'm excited just to be able to play with him when he gets here.
Q: Just to follow up, obviously as a pass rusher, they talk about the pass rush and coverage going hand in hand. When you have a secondary that can lock down, guys who can be effective, a corner who can lock guys down, what does that do for you guys as pass rushers?
A: It does a lot. Like you said, it works hand in hand. If you want to be able to cover guys, if you want to be able to not have to cover them all the time, you want the rushers to be able to rush. As rushers, you want to be able to have time to get after the quarterback. It works together. Anytime you have guys working together like that, it's usually successful. That's what we've been doing in practice, trying to work together. Everyone has been working hard. That's all we're going to do, is keep working and let it play out. I feel like we've been doing it, taking it step by step each week.
Linebacker Blake Martinez
Q: You guys added Logan Ryan to this defense. What do you know about him from your time in the league? What can he bring to the back end here?
A: I've never met him. Obviously, I've heard a lot of great things throughout the league from guys that have known him. Nate Ebner for one, obviously, he's on our team now, talks really highly, really highly of him. I'm just excited for him to get here and get to work with him.
Q: You mentioned Nate and other guys who have kind of talked highly of him. What do they say? What do they kind of mention about his physicality, his cerebral style? What is it that they talk highly about?
A: Just he's a player that has a non-stop motor. Someone that's versatile that can kind of do a lot of things. I think that's kind of the main stuff. We didn't spend too much time talking about it. But for the most part, that's kind of the gist that I've gotten so far.
Q: Just wondering how you're feeling? We see you during live drills. You've kind of been on the side the last couple of days. What has this last week been like for you?
A: it's good, I'm good. We don't discuss injuries and things here. I have to push that to Coach Judge. But for the most part, I'm doing well. Just doing what I can do and getting ready every day.
Q: If you had a game, do you feel good enough that you could go out on the field, you could play football and do what you have to do?
A: Yeah. I'm always ready to go. Always ready to go.
Q: As a former Packer living in Wisconsin, what's your take on what happened in Kenosha? Have you talked to your former teammates? Have you been involved at all in kind of those discussions?
A: As a team, we've had a lot of discussions on it. I know we obviously put a statement out before our scrimmage. We've had certain team meetings, leadership meetings about it. Us as a team, even in general, we've been doing a lot in the community. We have a bunch of different groups working in different areas in New Jersey and New York, just fighting for social justice and things like that. I haven't talked too much to old players from the Packers, old teammates and things like that. But overall, it's just a tragedy. It's something that you kind of try to take the positives from it, where it can push things even more forward and more in the right direction to make sure this doesn't happen and doesn't continually happen.
Q: Coach Judge ran what sounds like a really fun drill at the end of practice. I'm just kind of wondering have you ever gone through something like that? Can you just talk about some of the things that Coach Judge has been doing to make it fun for you when training camp is usually so much hard work?
A: I think Coach Judge is always about efficiency, but he adds the fun aspect to it. I think that was one of those types of moments where we're working on ball security and recovering fumbles, but making it a lot of fun for everyone around and a lot of fun for the guys who are doing it. Whether it's adding in water, adding in that type of aspect, it brings that kid feeling where you're on a slip n' slide. It just made it a great way to end practice.
Q: Have you ever had a practice like that where they worked in some drills to bring back the old childhood memories, I guess?
A: No, this was the first time. I've done other things where it's competition, but it's more like oh we do an egg toss or something random outside of the football realm. But this was the first time that I've had a football type aspect like that.
Q: With the season less than two weeks away, in other seasons you might have pulled preseason games to get a hint of what other teams might be doing. How do you prepare going into this season?
A: It's a little different obviously with not having preseason games to see, like you said, little bits and pieces. But overall, pretty much every year, the first four games of the season are kind of a crapshoot in general with what teams are going to do, whether it's new offensive coordinators or a new type of philosophy offense wise. But I think going into this year, we talk about it a bunch, is it's just going to come down to our overall kind of knowledge of football, whether it's situations, fundamentals for each position. As long as we have those things down, you can kind of have the ability to adjust on the fly and see the certain things that teams are doing to either start the game and make those adjustments as the game goes on.
Q: Does the crapshoot work the other way too with people not knowing what you're going to do?
A: Oh yeah, 100 percent. I think that's the big component where you try to make it an advantage instead of a disadvantage. Where all of a sudden, you're out there, you're able to have those, like I said, situations and fundamentals down that other teams don't have. Now they're scrambling to fix those instead of having the time to adjust to what we're doing.