*Transcriptions from Wednesday's practice *
Head Coach Ben McAdoo
Opening Statement: Alright, getting ready for a good football team. Their film is better than their record. They've played in a lot of close football games. (Philip) Rivers leads the offense. He does a nice job distributing the ball to their perimeter. He has a quick release and knows how to play the game. They have very good size and length on the perimeter. (Keenan) Allen is a special player and Tyrell and Mike Williams are there with him, talented players. (Antonio) Gates is a future Hall of Famer who we all know and (Hunter) Henry and (Melvin) Gordon are coming into their own at the tight end and running back positions. Their offensive line is gaining confidence as they go. They're a group that is working well on their confidence and physicality. Defensively, they are well coordinated in the Seattle system of cover 3, they'll mix in some other coverages in there as well. (Melvin) Ingram and (Joey) Bosa are bookends on a good defensive line group who have some depth and (Jatavis) Brown is a fast run and hit linebacker. Does a good job tackling, he's the leading tackler in the National Football League. Spent some time with Casey Hayward. Talented player, very smart player, has good instincts and a nose for the football. Special teams wise, Travis Benjamin will put a lump in your throat as a returner, he's had a lot of success. Alright, let's open it up.
Q: What's going on with JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul)?
A: JPP has a shoulder that's bothering him.
*Q: Is that something that happened in the game? Did he play through it? *
A: It's something that crept up here over the last couple of days.
Q: Do you expect him out here at any point this week?
A: We'll take a look at him tomorrow. See how he responds tomorrow.
Q: How impressed were you with Wayne Gallman's debut?
A: Wayne's a young player who plays fast. I think you saw the speed when he jumped onto the field. He has electricity in his game. He's a talented, young player. He has a lot to learn, but he's very, very willing and works hard at it.
Q: Last week Bobby Hart was on the inactive list, but he was not on the injury report. Is that a coach's decision change at that spot?
A: I felt it was best to give Bobby a full week of practice and see how he does with a full week of practice this week.
*Q: Is he your right tackle this week? *
A: There's a chance. He's out there competing for the right tackle spot, yes. He had a good practice today.
Q: With promoting (Jon) Halapio, are you assuming (Weston) Richburg won't play on Sunday?
A: He's in the protocol.
Q: On Monday you talked about simplifying things. How do you get the players to simplify things and become more instinctive?
A: Just with the calls and the communication. It starts with the coaches. Just going back and detailing the fundamentals. You don't want to go back into a training camp mode, but you want to get pretty close. Just make it simple. Let players run, hit, tackle, block, catch, do what they do best.
*Q: Where do you stand with your running back rotation? *
A: We have very capable backs we have a lot of confidence in. (Paul) Perkins is obviously nicked up. He's a good back. We still believe in him, have a lot of confidence in him. You saw the energy that (Wayne) Gallman brought to the game. Orleans (Darkwa) is a guy we can throw in and be a big, productive runner for us. And Shane (Vereen) is going to play his role.
*Q: How much did Gallman help himself in that rotation with what he did on Sunday? *
A: He showed it wasn't too big for him.
Q: He had a nice blitz pickup. Is that one of the questions that you had on him, not the running but all of the other stuff that goes into it?
A: He's a guy that came in, there was a lot of new things for him. Pass protection was one of them and working through reads in pass protection is different the way you do, it whether it's a scan protection, whether it's an inside out protection or cross key type read form, he's grown there. He still has some work to do. He's come a long way as a striker as well. That's something that he spends a lot of time with, whether it's special teams and from the running back spot. Learning how to strike for a young back, that takes a little time. But again, he's a hard worker and he's willing.
Q: Would you ever go with the hot hand as a running back? Or do you believe guys have to have roles?
A: Every player has a role. They play their role going into game. If somebody gets hot, we'll ride him.
*Q: How much does it concern you that you guys haven't been able to score in the first quarter? *
A: We are studying it right now. We are taking a look at it. Putting time and effort to see what we can do to go out and start a little bit faster and get some confidence early in ballgames.
Q: Why do you think you guys have had trouble against tight ends?
A: I think our corners are good players. I think our safeties are good players. I think we've played some good tight ends that create matchup problems. Their yards per catch isn't outrageous, but they do have some completions against us. I think it's more than just targets, it's completions.
Q: What about touchdowns?
A: Some of it, they made a nice play last week obviously on the hide route, he got lost in the wash there. That's a good scheme. You have to give credit to the opponent. Sometimes matchup problems for tight ends, they create matchup problems for you. I think a lot of teams face it in the league today. You have to pick certain guys each week to play 'Where's Waldo?' You have to look at who you need to stop so they don't wreck a game. A lot of times tight ends don't wreck a game, but there are some other players that can and you have to make sure you have your priorities straight when you're going into a ballgame.
Q: Can you still play fast if you simplify things?
A: You can play faster. The more thinking you take out of the equation, the faster you can play.
*Q: What makes you confident in your tackles when they go up against Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa this week? *
A: Yeah, the tackles have a huge challenge this week, but it's not just the tackles. Whether it's the tight ends who are helping or the backs who are helping, the guard sliding to them. The quarterback in the pass game has to be tied to it. Everybody has to be on the same page. The tackles do have to play well this week.
Q: Can you help both sides?
A: There are times you can help both sides, there are times you can help one, there are times where tackles block ends in this league and that has to happen.
Q: You said that Bobby (Hart) is in the right tackle mix, is that a decision you have to make early in the week? Is that fair to keep bouncing Justin (Pugh) back and forth?
A: I have confidence in both Justin and Bobby. I am not going to stand up here and tell you who's playing tackle for us.
Q: But you know who's playing tackle?
A: I am not going to stand up here and tell you who's playing tackle for us.
*Q: Before when you said guys can play faster if you simplify things. There is a downside to that, too, right? The reason why you guys were so complicated on defense was to cause confusion. So, if you simply, guys might be able to run faster, but the opponent also might know what you're doing. *
A: I'm talking all three phases. All three phases, just getting back to the fundamentals, playing simple, fast football, and focusing on blocking, tackling, catching, punting, kicking.
*Q: What did you think of the free safety position the other day and how do you plan to move forward with that? *
A: We are going to play a variety of different guys. They have all earned opportunities, they've shown they're trustworthy. We need to tackle better at that spot, that's primary. Communication is a big part of it, too.
Q: Does it seem to you that other teams are attacking Eli Apple a little bit?
A: Early in the game, Eli is getting attacked.
Q: How is his confidence?
A: I haven't seen him flinch, I haven't seen him flinch. He's playing the ball better in the air. He needs to continue to compete at a high level. He needs to give it up on the practice field, that carries over to games.
Q: Has he done that?
A: He's improving as a practice player and he's improving in the games.
Q: Were Brandon (Marshall) and Odell (Beckham) both limited in practice?
A: They both did some work today.
*Q: How's Odell feeling? *
A: How's he feeling?
*Q: Yeah, he was banged up the other day. *
A: Yeah, he did some good practice today. He has some things that are ailing him.
WR Odell Beckham Jr.
Q: How are you feeling?
A: Football. Banged up. We had a tough game, a tough loss. But, got some days until Sunday to recover and get right. But, don't feel great.
Q: Talk more about how you feel right now when it comes to injury.
A: Losing record. 0-4. You can fight through all the pain in the world. Just losing games is not fun, so ankle, get it right. It's nothing. It's, you know, same old story.
Q: Is the ankle any better or worse?
Q: How do you explain the dropped passes?
A: I was talking to coach (Ben McAdoo) today and the routes that we're running and the DB's – I talked to them after the game. They were like, 'We know you're running a certain route.' So, it was just me putting extra onto a route, just trying to create more space and I kind of have to trust myself more in the sense that when I make my break, not everybody is going to be able to come out and close that little gap. So, there's a split second where you're like, 'Oh, they're coming on your back.' And, I told 10 (Eli Manning) the play before that, I caught the ball, ran on the sideline soaking wet, wiped my pants, gloves still soaked, wiped the jersey – soaked. I'm about to take them off, we're in hurry up. It's like there's no time. I was like, 'If this thing comes this way, I don't know what's going to happen.' It came that way. But, we went back in. We caught some passes after that, so drops don't really bother me. It's just something, my confidence is too high. You know, you drop the ball. It's definitely an accident. I didn't do it on purpose.
Q: The DBs told you they know what route you're running?
A: Yeah. I mean, they study film. I was talking to (Vernon) Hargreaves after the game and he was just like, 'You know, we know a lot of what you're doing.' But, it still just comes to the point where you have to trust it. We have to trust 10 to make the throw like he did, not put anything extra on (the route) because if I didn't put something extra on it, the timing probably would have been perfectly right. I didn't get my head around fast enough, but we'll be alright.
Q: Why hasn't this team been able to score more in the first quarter and how important will that be going forward?
A: I think we just came out slow. In these games, we've come out slow and really looking back on it, I remember the first two years I was here, we went 6-10, but we were losing games by 2-3 points and it's really that much of a difference. So, coming out and giving our defense energy by scoring, making them when they get on the field, you know, 'Alright, well, offense scored. It's time for us to get a stop.' It's a give and take. All three phases have to go – all have to function together.
Q: Can any one player put too much on his shoulders at 0-4?
A: I don't know. That's a good question. It's definitely a collective thing. It's all of us. Offense, defense, special teams, everybody's got to step it up. It was like we lost two games and everybody panicked and it made it seem like we're at a horrible spot. We lost two, blah, blah, blah. Come back the third game, put our best foot forward, come up short. Do it again the next week. Come up short. What do you do from there? I don't see myself tanking. I don't see myself giving in and honestly I feel like this was the breaking point for us. This is going to be the turnaround. This is going to be where things start to go our way. We start to make plays. We do all that. I'm fully confident in us doing what we have to do to get to where we need to be at. So, there's no real walking around here with your head down. There's none of that. Definitely not myself and I tell each and every one of my teammates, head up like a nose bleed. Keep it moving, stick together. Got 12 more games. What do you want to do in them? It's up to us.
Q: Is there a way to not to press and just go out and play the game?
A: Well, you know, when the story gets written that you're 0-3 and it's like, 'Oh, what are we doing?' and you hear a lot from the outside world – that's where a lot of press comes from. No matter what you want to do, you hear it, you feel it. So, I feel like it may have gotten to us the last two games, but it's got to come to an end. I know I'm going to go out and give my all Sunday and we won't come up short. That's the goal is to get a win and to start winning and it starts today with a good day of practice. It starts with communicating in every which way that you can and just building this team up, which we're doing.
Q: You are a confident guy. Are you sensing that your teammates are losing confidence?
A: Heads up like a nose bleed. Like I said, we're going to walk around here. You don't hang your head. For what? OK, you lost a couple games. You're a man. Adversity tests your manhood. So, let's see what kind of man you are. Are you going to fold, you going to break, you going to give in or you going to keep pushing? I know that we're going to keep pushing. I know that for sure. That's the goal is to get everybody in here to push each and every day.
Q: When Vernon Hargreaves told you that he knew what routes you were running, does that tell you that you should do things differently?
A: It's the system. It's our offense. We were 11-5 last year and we were running the same thing. So, is it really this or are we just not executing right? And, I don't think we're executing the way that we can, at a higher level. It wasn't a problem last year when we were winning games. So, it's just a matter of execution, really.
Q: Ben McAdoo was saying that you may need to simplify the offense to get things moving faster.
A: Be better than them. You know I'm running a slant. Beat me on a slant. Do it. I don't see you doing it. That's just what it has to be. That's the mentality you have to have. It has to be, 'Ok, cool. You know I'm running a slant. I'm going to beat you inside and I'm going to catch this ball and get 7 yards.' Whatever you're going to get. It just has to be that mentality. You have to have it. Now is the time you have to have it. It's not that we're pressing, but now is the time.
Q: Would you like to see more big plays?
A: What receiver doesn't want to catch a post and score the touchdown and make big plays. Like, yeah. We wish we could get those, but we take what we can get right now. We move the ball productively and effectively and we'll see where we go from there. Of course, everybody wants big plays, but we're taking what we can get right now.
G Justin Pugh
Q: Do you see things on film that shows you the Chargers are still figuring things out?
A: It's still early in the week. Obviously, if I saw anything, I probably wouldn't tell you anyways. So, we'll see.
Q: Coach Ben McAdoo said that he wants everyone to be more instinctive. Is he asking you to dumb it down or is he simply saying to just go out and play?
A: I think he's just trying to tell us not to press. When you get down into a hole at 0-4, you get down in a game, you start pressing. Everyone is trying to make that big play or that big block. Just go do your job. Keep it stupid simple. That's kind of like the old saying and that's what we're going to do.
Q: The Chargers have two great pass rushers in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. What challenges do they pose?
A: They both get after it. They're multiple. They do different things. They have a variety of rushes that they're very good at. It's probably good for us. We've gone against Olivier Vernon and JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul) during camp, so our tackles should be ready. Then, go out there and put a score on the board early is our goal.
Q: How do you feel about potentially going back to left guard with T Bobby Hart back out there?
A: I'm feeling comfortable at both spots right now. So, wherever they need me. Last week, I was getting ready if I had to go play center, I was going to go play center. So, it's just wherever the wind takes me.
Q: Does that work the same way with T Bobby Hart?
A: He's really never played guard. He played a little bit in the preseason last year. But, yeah, I mean I feel like he would be able to do that if he needed to. What do you think?
Q: Is it hard to flip sides on the offensive line?
A: Flipping sides is hard.
Q: Is it hard to flip positions?
A: I find it fun. It's like a new challenge. A lot of times going in and getting some center reps this week, too, it was like alright something totally different, something totally new. So, it's kind of interesting. It kind of keeps me on my toes. It helps me be a better guard eventually when I go back to my natural position because I know the struggle as a tackle and I know how to better communicate with Ereck (Flowers) and work with Ereck because I know the stresses in the protections and where he needs help. So, it's something that I think is going to make me a better player overall and then hopefully I'll be able to show it.
Q: Have you ever played center in a game?
A: Never in a game. No.
Q: Is the prep that much more difficult not knowing where you're going to play position-wise?
A: Yeah. I mean, obviously. What makes you a good player like from good to great, having a really good game and shutting the guy down, it's the little nuances of the position where I know I can cheat my set. Where I know I can kind of get a cut block or switch up my set on him and get a short set as opposed to just dropping back. Those are the things that are going to dictate and there's a big difference for me playing Detroit to playing last week. I was able to have a variety of things in my arsenal that I wasn't probably when I first got thrown in there. So, that's something that makes a big difference and getting the practice reps and seeing how it's going to unfold and going against those certain looks definitely helps you out.
Q: Talk about studying in terms of breaking down film when you don't know where you're going to play. Do you put double time in?
A: Sure. You have to. You have to. And, that's been the same way for the past three weeks. I knew everything about Gerald McCoy in case I was going to play guard last week. But, hey, wherever they need us to be, all five of us have to go play as a unit and play. I think we're getting better. I think that adversity has brought us closer and we're going to continue to build off that.
Q: Do Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram flip-flop?
Q: Do you take pride in the fact that you've played two games at tackle and QB Eli Manning hasn't been sacked?
A: I mean, that's a credit to everybody. We're getting some chips. We're getting the ball out quick. The receivers are making plays. We're running the ball a little bit better. It's still not where we need to be, but better and guys are helping out. (D.J.) Fluker had a great play where he came and cleaned up the D-end on one play and it's more of a – we talk about playing complementary football – the thing is complementary offensive line play where we know where the stress is on the protection and we help each other out there.
Q: Did RB Wayne Gallman give you a spark?
A: Yeah. Definitely. He did some good things. Scored a touchdown. That'll definitely get you going. I'm happy for him and seeing him get some touches. But, we have to continue to just keep doing our job up front and getting better and better every week.
Q: When did you start to do the double duties as far as game prep?
A: Going into that Detroit game, I knew there was a chance I might – I think I did half a practice. I never did a full-padded practice there, so I maybe got like 10 reps at right tackle before the Detroit game. Then at the Detroit game, I was solely right tackle. So, it was good to go out there and kind of knock some rust off of that position.
Q: How do you think the offensive line has responded to the criticism?
A: I think it's brought us closer. I think we've done, we're still not where we want to be, but we're just getting better and we're just playing more for each other. It's more of a complementary O-line play like I just said like where we know there's stress in the protection, we kind of get another guy out there to help whoever it is. Or, if we know we have a chip, to kind of play to that modifier – whatever the case may be.
Q: You had to adjust early with Gerald McCoy. It seemed like you had to plan B quickly in that game.
A: No. it's just guys going out there and a lot of guys are playing new positions for the first time. So, it was just kind of settling down and getting ready to go. There was some crazy weather to start that game, too, so it took us a couple drives. We got settled down and then we were good to go.
Q: How weird was it for you look around and only see T Ereck Flowers in his normal spot?
A: It was musical chairs, man. It was funny. Like I said, I'm enjoying it. I'm enjoying the chaos that's been the offensive line this year. It's been fun for me just to – we find out what you're made of when adversity strikes and you're 0-4 and then everybody's saying it's the O-line's fault and we're finding out some good things about myself and some good things about the character of the guys in the room.
CB Eli Apple
Q: What does the defense need to do to play better?
A: Just come together and get on the same page and communicate better.
Q: What has been missing with the defense?
A: Just the communication could be a lot better. The execution [could be better]. And understanding how offenses are going to attack us because they saw the way we played defense last year and I think they're trying to scheme us and we've just got to adjust better.
Q: What has been your reaction to the criticism the defense has taken the last couple of weeks?
A: I mean, that comes with the territory. That's why I love this game because that's how it is, the outside world, they go crazy. But we know ourselves and we know how we've got to fix things, it's just about executing it.
Q: How important is it for the team to stay together right now and has that been a message?
A: Yeah, it's been a message. But we just know how good we are and that's why so many people are so mad. We're just underachieving kind of. So, we know that and we just want to get it fixed.
Q: Do you see tentativeness on the defense?
A: A little bit. I think we're kind of thinking too much a little bit out there on the field, instead of just going out and playing like we did last year. And we've just got to try to just get the communication down, that's the main thing. If we don't get that down, we're not able to move fast out there.
Q: Is it surprising that communication has been such an issue?
A: Yeah, it's very surprising. It is, it's very surprising. But we've really been going hard in practice and we've been trying our best to fix it. But it's going to come together hopefully.
Q: Have you noticed that teams are going after you early in games?
A: It's not a matter of teams just coming at me early. And if that is the case, I welcome it, to be honest. But, it happens, you know? Anytime you're lined up against great receivers, like [Tampa Bay wide receiver] Mike Evans, he's going to get the best of you sometimes and it happens. I just wish I was able to stay on him more in the game, they kind of took me off of him and put me on [Tampa Bay wide receiver] DeSean Jackson. But, this is a learning curve, it's a learning lesson and that's how I take everything.
Q: Would you rather follow one receiver in a game?
A: Not follow him, but after that touchdown, they kind of just took me off of [Evans], you know what I mean? I just wish I had another crack at him because I feel like I'm a good enough corner to cover anybody, to be honest.
Q: Did you have a discussion with the coaches about wanting to stay with Evans?
A: No, it's just flow of the game, you know?
Q: How do you look back at Evans' touchdown against you last week?
A: You've just got to know the situation. Being left out on an island, you've just got to understand that you've got to know the tendencies of somebody like Mike Evans. The likelihood of him running a slant in that situation is slim, so you should expect him to do a fade. That's on me, awareness-wise. And then at the point of attack, you should know that he likes to push off, so I was thinking about just trying to stay off and split the difference between where the ball was and the goal line, but I just decided to press and I should've just sat back and gone on top and then look back. But with him, anytime you're on his hip, he's going to push off. So, it's just a learning thing. Just take it one game at a time and learn from each game, try to get better.
Q: Are you still confident, even after you give up a big play?
A: Yeah, because I know anytime something does happen, I take the approach that I didn't really give it up, kind of. It was just something that I did, that I made a mistake. It wasn't, the dude was just better than me. I never think that on the football field. I always think like, 'Dang, if I would've done this differently, I would've made the play.' So, anytime I line up on the football field, I have 100 percent confidence, no matter what.
Q: How do you eliminate those mistakes?
A: Once again, learn a lesson. So, you watch the film and you correct it and you just try not to make the same mistake twice. And if it does happen again, you just continue to learn from it, continue to rep it in practice. It's going to take time sometimes, but you've just got to continue to stay at it and keep grinding.
Q: What do you see as the biggest challenge with going up against Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers?
A: Just his receivers, Keenan Allen is really good, possession-wise, underneath on the slant routes. He probably has the best slant route out there, the way he sets up corners. And you have Travis Benjamin, who also is very fast in the slot. He can take the top off any defense. And then they have a couple other guys as well who you can't sleep on. So, they have receivers all across and their tight end is really good. So, it's another challenge and we're definitely looking forward to it.
Q: Did you play in the slot more than usual last weekend against Tampa Bay?
A: I don't believe so. No.
Q: Is it helpful to be able to assume that teams will try to attack your side more because you have a shutdown corner like Janoris Jenkins on the other side?
A: No, I never think about that at all. I just go out there, play my game, try to make the plays that come my way.
Q: Do you think that teams are attacking you early in games?
A: I mean, their approach is their approach. I know I'm playing my game anytime I'm out on the field.
Linebacker Mark Herzlich
A: Everybody is trying to get on the same page and be proactive about what's going on in this league. So, we are trying to work together to try to get a solution and see how we can help both sides.
Q: Were ideas exchanged?
A: Yup, there's ideas, there will be ongoing talks between the players and the owners about the next steps going forward and how we can be advocates for the players and for each other. The goal isn't to make division. We want to come together and bring unity into the locker rooms and into the stadiums. However that is best done, we'll continue to talk about it.
Q: The union and the league have had a lot of issues, what does it say that this is something they are willing to come together on?
A: Yeah, I don't think this is an issue that is union versus league. I think that everyone wants to be able to encourage players to use their platform in a positive way. We don't want to be divisive, the owners don't want to be divisive, we want to come together and see how we can get the message across that the players want to get across. It really is to end racism in this country and to bring unity.
Q: There was talk about equality month, is that any closer to happening?
A: There were a bunch of ideas and a bunch of talks and I know less than 24 hours from the meeting, we are still discussing a bunch of different things.
*Q: How are the players responding to the owners not wanting them to kneel for the anthem a week later? *
A: Well, I know from our talks we had yesterday, I don't think it's as much stand or kneel or sit or stand. It's about portraying the message clearly and getting the point across that the players would like to get the point across where it's not about anti-America, anti-flag. It's a more poignant message of unity and anti-racism. It's how can we get that message across clearly as players and as owners.
Q: Is the hope that the players union and the league come up with some sort of policy on the rules and regulations? Is that too simple to say?
A: The more simple we can make whatever the messages is, the better and the clearer it will be. So, I don't know exactly what that message is going to be right now and that's what we are continuing to talk about. I do know that we want to get whatever message that is out quickly because the kneeling has brought attention to this topic, which is a peaceful way of doing that. Now, let's figure out how we can take that next step. Whether it's looking at the legal system if there's a way we can make changes to help protect our citizens and our players or whatever that message is, we need to do it relatively soon.
Q: Is the problem that the fans who are somewhat alienated at times that we can't send out this message if it means they are thinking we are being disrespectful to the country?
A: Well, I think what you just said, having the message be viewed as disrespectful to the country has been something that has occurred and not intended. So, we need to make sure that that intent is displayed properly from our point of view as players and the owners are helping with that. So, the last thing we want to do as players is to offend our fans or let them think that we are disrespecting them in any way because that's not the purpose. So, however we can work together to get the message out clearly and respectively, that's the goal.
Q: Is it possible to put a pause on all protests until we can figure out how to proceed forward?
A: I don't know if that's possible or if that will be discussed, but we'll have to talk about that more and see what happens.