*Transcriptions from Wednesday's Practice *
Head Coach Ben McAdoo
Opening Statement: Alright, Denver is 3-1. They're coming off a bye week. They're deep. They have a healthy roster. They're going to be a tremendous challenge for us on Sunday night. Offensively – they're physical with the run game. They do a good job with their play-action passes – getting it to (Demaryius) Thomas and (Emmanuel) Sanders. Very explosive offensively. They do a good job on third down. They're ranked high there. Defensively – they're tough. They're physical and they're fast on all three levels. They're No. 1 versus the rush. They're good situationally and they've won 31 in a row when winning the turnover battle, so we have to take care of The Duke. Special teams – they're creative with their special teams. They're aggressive with the fakes. (Riley) Dixon was a high school quarterback and he can throw it on a rope. (Brandon) McManus, as we know, has a strong leg. Tremendous challenge for us on Sunday night and we're looking forward to it. Let's open it up.
Q: What's going on with CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie?
A: DRC came in yesterday. We had a conversation that was personal upstairs and he came in today. Decided to leave. We will suspend him.
Q: Is this something that came out of nowhere?
A: We had a conversation yesterday. He came into the building this morning. Decided to leave and we will put him on suspension.
Q: Does the suspension have anything to do with what happened last Sunday during the game?
A: That's all I have for you right now.
Q: How long is the suspension for?
A: That's all I have for you right now.
Q: Why wouldn't you just release him?
A: That's all the information I have for you on the situation.
Q: Is the suspension paid?
A: That's all the information I have for you at this point.
Q: Can you say whether the suspension is related to something personal in his life or to the team?
A: That's all I have to offer at this point.
Q: Does keeping the locker room together concern you?
A: We had a tremendous practice today. The guys are looking forward to the challenge. They know we have a huge challenge coming up on Sunday night. We have a great big stage to go out and show that we can perform at a high level and we look forward to the challenge.
Q: Are you disappointed that CB Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie decided to leave?
A: That's all I have to offer at this point.
Q: How does this affect what you do in the secondary?
A: We have a lot of confidence in the players on our roster in the secondary and in the second level that we can go out and perform at a high level and play good, quality defense and great defense.
Q: Is there going to be a roster move?
Q: What sort of conversations have you had with WR Ed Eagan and WR Travis Rudolph as they make their NFL debuts this Sunday?
A: Just give us the best version of yourself. They've gone out, they know what they're doing on offense and on special teams. They have a great opportunity to go out and prove what they can do and that they belong in this league and they can play in this league. We have a lot of confidence in them. They just need to stay within themselves, trust the system and be the best version of themselves.
Q: How have you altered the playbook based on their experiences during the preseason?
A: They know the playbook.
Q: Did CB Eli Apple show anything on Sunday to help your confidence in him?
A: Yeah. Eli responded in a positive manner.
Q: Did you address the CB Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie situation with the team today?
A: That's all I have to offer at this point.
Q: Have you seen traces of a 'woe-is-me' attitude amongst the team?
A: Zero. No. We had a quality practice. It was high-energy. All three phases competed to get better. You have an opportunity for guys to go out and showcase who normally wouldn't be able to showcase their abilities and they're chomping at the bit and that lifts the energy of the players around them.
Q: Will CB Janoris Jenkins start on Sunday?
A: He's our starting corner. Yes.
Q: The perception is that you have lost the team. What would you say to that?
A: Not concerned about perception. Concerned about reality.
Q: Is it not the reality in your mind that you lost your team?
A: These guys are out there. We had a great practice today. We're looking forward to a great one tomorrow. We're going to go in, take a look at the tape, get ready to go compete against Denver.
Q: When you drafted T Ereck Flowers, you assumed he would have to block guys like Von Miller. Is he capable of doing that this week?
A: Von Miller is tough for anybody in this league to block one-on-one. You have to pick your spots to do it. He has as good of a first step as anybody that I've seen play. He'll be a tremendous challenge for our tackles to block him one-on-one. It is for every tackle to block him one-on-one, especially up there. I have confidence that we'll go out and compete at a high level. Again, we'll have to pick our spots in the pass game, especially dropping back, and we'll have to give a little bit of help, for sure.
Q: What prompted the interest in Branden Albert?
A: Branden Albert? I'm focused on coaching our football team.
Q: Do you feel like you need to upgrade your tackle position?
A: Again, I'm focused on coaching a football team. I'm not in personnel.
Q: What will your offensive line look like on Sunday?
A: They're going to go out. They're going to compete and they're going to play their tail off.
Q: Will Bobby Hart stay at right tackle?
A: We'll see how this week of practice goes.
Q: What can you say about what G Justin Pugh has done for the team this year?
A: Yeah, Justin is a guy who is a team player first. He goes out, he works hard, he brings his lunch pail, and he'll play any position that you ask him to play and won't bat an eye.
Q: Has TE Evan Engram's role widened with the injuries?
A: He's a young player who's learning to play the pro game. He practiced well and he's going to have opportunities in games to get his hands on some footballs and to block, to play special teams, and that won't change.
Q: Will TE Evan Engram play different spots on the field than he has been?
A: He's played pretty much every spot on the field to this point, so we'll move him around. We'll see what he can handle. Evan is a talented player, but he's still a young player, learning.
G Justin Pugh
Opening Statement: I'll just say as a start – I'm not talking about the DRC (Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie) situation. I don't know enough about it, so I'm not going to even comment on it. So, don't even ask me about it.
Q: As a veteran leader, do you dispute the perception that you're losing the locker room?
A: Yeah. Definitely. I mean, everyone is still here right? I don't know exactly what went on in the situation. So, I can't tell you how he feels or what's going on.
Q: Talk about losing a player in general and does that make you lose the locker room?
A: I don't think so. I think it happens with every team. Things like that happen sometimes. I've been on teams that were winning where guys have been suspended on it. That's just jumping to a conclusion, I would say.
Q: How is the locker room at 0-5?
A: As good as you can be being 0-5. I mean, I think we've gotten tighter. I can speak just specifically for the offensive line. Hasn't been the easiest year. I've been through something like this before and you just have to stick together and keep working and good things will eventually start to go our way.
Q: Is this losing streak a different feeling than the 0-6 one you had back when you were younger?
A: I just know how hard it is to win in the NFL. A lot of guys probably will come in as a young guy, just I thought we would win. We were the New York Giants. They won a Super Bowl two years previously. I thought we were just going to go out there and that was just going to happen and you realize how quickly – we're having a lot of the same games we had last year. It's just we're not pulling them out in the fourth quarter. I mean, if you look at it, we've had leads in the fourth quarter in the past three games and legitimately probably thought in each game that we were going to win it and then we lost. So, I mean, that's the NFL. It humbles you real quick and it's doing it to a lot of people in here and we have to learn how to win the close games now. Soon. This week.
Q: Did the reality of the injuries at wide receiver hit home today when you were out on the practice field?
A: It hit home while we were in a two-minute drive and I looked around and we had no one in the huddle. Hats off to the tight ends for going out there and stepping up and going and probably running some routes they haven't ran ever. We have guys playing the No. 1 receiver that's normally a blocking tight end. Hats off to those guys. They went in and they competed. As an offensive line, we did some good things. We did some bad things. I don't know. You guys probably won't ask me if we're going to run the ball this week, I guess. That's one positive, but we have to protect the quarterback and do a better job there. So, I don't even know how I went on that tangent.
Q: Does the run game become more important with so many new receivers on the roster?
A: Yeah. Definitely. I think it's just important with those receivers in there. You run the ball successfully, you can open up some holes for those guys and that's what we have to do. It's obviously going to be more of a challenge now and even more of a challenge when you're going against the No. 1 defense in the NFL in their stadium on a Sunday Night Football game. So, we're looking forward to a hostile environment. We know what we're getting ourselves into. Just have to go out there and play detailed football.
Q: What have you seen from guys who have been thrust into a new role?
A: This is the NFL. I mean, I think Coach Mac (Ben McAdoo) said – gives a quote today that was like, 'Everybody was nobody before they became somebody,' or something like that. Where it's just like at one point no one knew Odell Beckham was going to be a superstar. So, that gives these guys an opportunity to go out there and do some good things. You look back last year and we had a game against the Redskins in Week 17 and TK (Tavarres King) came up with a huge play. So, I know those guys can play. We've seen it in the preseason. So, I'm excited for these guys to get an opportunity and showcase what they can do.
Q: As far as the altitude in Denver, what have you heard about the challenges of that?
A: Well, Weston Richburg played at Colorado State, which is right around there – a little bit north of Denver and said it didn't really affect him too much. But, obviously everyone is like a point in case. You just don't know how it's going to affect you. I haven't played there personally and just making sure I'm really taking care of my body this week, extra hydration. We had Pratik Patel, our nutritionist, made sure to give us the guidelines of what you need to make sure you're putting into your body this week to be ready.
Q: Are you doing anything differently this week because of the Denver altitude?
A: No. I mean, it's the normal stuff. You have to make sure you're eating right. Staying hydrated is one of the biggest things. Obviously with the flight, too, you have to make sure you stay hydrated. But, nothing out of the ordinary.
CB Eli Apple
*Q: What do you know about the situation with cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and what are your thoughts on it? *
A: I just heard about it just now, so I know just as much as you know, honestly.
Q: You just heard about it when you came into the locker room now?
Q: What did you see going on before halftime on the sideline during Sunday's game?
A: I don't even know, I was on the field before halftime.
Q: Did Head Coach Ben McAdoo tell the team about Rodgers-Cromartie's suspension before practice or at a meeting?
A: No, he just told us to go hard in practice.
Q: Did you realize Rodgers-Cromartie wasn't there in practice?
A: Yeah, I guess. I was just, like, looking around and I didn't see 41.
Q: Are you disappointed?
A: I'm not disappointed at all. We're just going to play as hard as we can with whoever's out there.
Q: Do you feel that the team is off the rails?
A: I don't think so. I think the leaders on this team, they're not going to let anything like that happen. And it's just about us going out on the field and competing hard.
Q: Is it shocking to hear that a teammate has walked away from the team and been suspended?
A: A little bit. But it is what it is. I don't understand everybody's situation. Everybody's going through a little something. But you just do your part and do whatever they tell you to do, just try to do it to the best of your ability.
Q: Was there any indication that Rodgers-Cromartie was going to leave the team?
A: I just try to stay in my lane, man, that's all I do. I didn't even know, I was just staying in my lane.
Q: Did you get any sense that Rodgers-Cromartie was frustrated with his role?
A: I don't think it was anything like that. You'll have to talk to him to find that out.
Q: Do you feel like there is a little more certainty with your situation on the team now?
A: I just stay in my lane, that's all I do.
Q: Do you expect to start this week?
A: I expect to just go hard when I'm out there on the field.
Q: Have you heard much about playing in Denver and the altitude there?
A: Yeah, you've just got to make sure you control your breathing.
Q: Do you think this team has some fight left in them?
A: Oh, for sure. As long as there are players out there, we're going to always have fight.