Coach Pat Shurmur
Opening comment: First day of pads, so I'll try to answer your questions.
Q: Thoughts on Golden Tate's four-game suspension?
A: I think he's going to have an appeal. I think he released a statement, so I really have nothing to add to that. We'll just see what happens with it.
Q: How about the state of your wide receivers now, with your top two guys going down, plus Corey Coleman?
A: We'll just wait and see what happens with Golden and his appeal. You guys saw [Sterling] Shep running around yesterday out there. He's going to be fine. We've got other guys that are competing to make our team. We just keep moving.
Q: What's your confidence that [Golden] will be successful with his appeal?
A: I don't know, because I don't know much about it other than… All along, he's been very honest with us about… When this situation arose, he's been very honest with us. It's just getting to the point now where I think he's going to have his appeal.
Q: How long have you known about this situation?
A: We found out, it was certainly after we signed him.
Q: Do you plan on signing anybody that you worked out this morning?
A: Possibly. We'll let the transactions speak for themselves. The guys that we worked out this morning are finishing up their physicals. So there's a decent chance, if we can get that information relative to the physical, that they'll be out there today. So we'll have to make a couple of moves.
Q: Have you been assured that Golden's process will end in time for the regular season?
A: I don't know. I wish I could add to the statement. I really don't know much more about what was just released.
Q: He can continue to do everything, right?
A: Oh yeah. For him right now, it's business as usual. He's out there practicing and getting ready to play. This really is between him and the league at this point. As an organization, we'll deal with it as it comes down the road.
Q: There's no reason for you to operate any different than business as usual with Golden.
A: No. Gosh no. He's out there getting ready to play like the rest of the guys.
Q: You've talked about wanting to have an identity for the offensive line. What has [Kevin] Zeitler done for that?
A: He's a very physical, very focused guy. If you've been around him at all, that's one of the things striking about him. Super focused. He told me he caught a muskie this summer. I know enough about fishing where they say it takes 10,000 casts to catch a muskie. So that's a pretty focused guy. Yeah, I think that's part of his charm, is his focus. Really in every drill we do, whether it's a walk-thru or practice setting, he's into it. That's a good thing.
Q: You've kind of thrown out the depth chart. You've been mixing in some of the guys who would normally be second-team, third-team and you've been mixing them in with the first-team. With that approach, what are you worried about with this team and those guys in particular?
A: We feel like we've got front-line guys. There are some guys that are competing for positions that it's good when they're going good on good. I think everybody rotates throughout camp, trying to get guys looks with the first group. We do that pretty much with all of the groups.
Q: First day in pads. How important is that for your guys, especially your linemen?
A: For the linemen, obviously, that's where the focus will be. I think it's important that we practice smartly. You want to get better, but you want everybody to walk off the field together. Our guys know how to do that. We've got a lot of pros out here. We'll be out there banging around. But this is the first time for the o-line and the d-line, and really for the guys in the front seven, to be able to play what's almost like a game. We don't go to the ground. We don't low block. We don't tackle to the ground. I would say in most practice settings, it's almost or as close to being game-like as it can be.
Q: What have you seen with [Kevin] Zeitler and [Mike] Remmers on that right side? How have you seen them interacting and coming together, almost like the way Will [Hernandez] and Nate [Solder] had to do last year?
A: I think it's a solid, professional approach. These guys are pros. They've done it, and they've played winning football. They're accomplished guys. You see that focused professionalism from both of those guys. They've worked well together to this point. They communicate well.
Q: Is it easier when it's two veterans, as opposed to last year on the left side where there was a rookie and a veteran?
A: Yeah. I look at it, and I watch the way they're working together… Listen, guys get beat once in a while. But I know those guys are working together and they know how to work together. I think that's a good thing.
Q: Was that a predetermined thing to give Evan [Engram] some down days? Or was that in response to how he felt after the first day?
A: Yeah, we're going to manage all of the guys. You saw out there that [Nate] Solder and [Mike] Remmers are getting most of the reps, but we're rolling through. We want to be smart. I think we want to practice with the end in mind on some of these guys, so that we get them the work they need, and then also train some of the other guys.
Q: On Day Two, for him not to participate really at all in live drills…
A: Who's that? Evan? No, he was in live drills Day One.
Q: I'm saying in Day Two.
A: Yesterday he did. That was just our choice. As you, well maybe you didn't notice, but we had a much longer individual session yesterday where he got a lot of really good work. Because we did that, it's just… And we're going to do that. I don't think that should be alarming for any player that may get a day here, because we're not resting them. They're out there. We're just working the throttle a little bit.
Q: It just seems strange on Day Two to do that. Does it have anything to do with his hamstring? Is that something you particularly want to keep an eye on during camp?
A: No, I don't think it's strange, number one, because within all of that, if you're charting it, we're kind of moving guys around and getting guys the work they need. I don't feel like it's strange. But we'll keep doing what we can to be smart with the guys. I hope I answered your question there.
Q: Is there something with the hamstring that you need to keep an eye on moving forward?
A: We'll just watch him. He's coming back from an injury, so we're just going to be smart with him.
Q: Grant Haley limped off yesterday.
Q: Just cramps?
A: Oh yeah. Cramps. It was hot. He got cramped up. No concerns.
Q: Because Engram's workload was managed, that gave C.J. Conrad some first team reps. What did you see from CJ?
A: Yeah, he's done a good job. He's kind of caught our eye as a rookie. He's a tough, kind of gritty guy. I think the one thing about him, and you can say this about a lot of rookies, is he gets better with more reps. So he'll benefit [from that]. And he's a tough guy. He loves the reps. He benefits from it.
Q: Saquon [Barkley] seems a little more talkative just going through team drills this year. Is that something you noticed? Is that a good thing? What do you make of that?
A: I haven't noticed it, per se. He was into it and talkative a year ago. But now that you've mentioned it, I'll keep an eye on it.
Q: Dave [Gettleman] said you were going to have some guys in for a tryout today. Has it occurred yet?
A: It did. It happened this morning. The guys are finishing up their physicals. We're hopeful that it'll get finished up where we maybe make a move by this afternoon. So we'll see. And who those guys are, I'll let it reveal itself.
Q: Is it a situation where, with the workout this morning, that it's as much a numbers game as anything else, where you're not necessarily looking for guys that will immediately have a significant role at the top of the depth chart? Or can that be a possibility?
A: It can be. At this point, it's always a numbers game, because you want to be able to practice. But you want to bring in guys that belong on an NFL roster and have a chance to compete.
Q: What are your recollections of [Kevin] Zeitler coming out of college? Do you recall?
A: I remember he was a very accomplished player. I remember, at least going through the process, that he had that same kind of professional focus and approach to his work.
WR Sterling Shepard
Q: How important was it for you to get right back to it and be on the field yesterday after the fracture?
A: Its big, I want to be around the guys. I don't want to just sit there all through camp. My legs work perfectly fine, so I can do everything but catch the ball.
Q: What exactly happened?
A: I was running a curl route and the ball just hit the tip of my finger and I knew right away that I broke it. I have broken this thumb before, so I knew what it felt like.
Q: Did it come out?
A: No, just a little pain. At first, I thought I may have jammed it really bad, but I thought there was a possibility that it was broken.
Q: How fortunate is it that this seems to be the best case?
A: Yeah, it's the best case. If it's misplaced, you have to get surgery. I missed all that, so that's a good thing.
Q: How did you feel when you found out it wouldn't be that big of a deal?
A: I was pretty relieved. Now I give myself a shot to play week one and also I get to get out there and catch the ball, hopefully, in a couple weeks. I'm listening to the trainers and doing everything they have me doing.
Q: How do you the view the timeline of what you can do and when?
A: Hopefully in a couple weeks I get out of this deal (splint) and I will be able to catch the ball.
Q: You think in the preseason, or are you looking more towards the regular season?
A: I don't know, I'm listening to the trainers and whatever they have me doing. I haven't really asked them a specific timeline.
Q: What's the mood in the wide receiver room with your injury and Brittan Golden going down and Tate potentially being suspended?
A: In this league, it's a next man up mentality, that's what you have to have. This is the sport of football, injuries are going to happen. The next guy has to be ready. I like to see that, guys that don't get a shot usually, have a chance to step and be big. A lot of times you will get some dogs, I feel like we have dogs in our room and they have an opportunity of a lifetime.
Q: When did you break it previously?
A: I broke it twice before this. Once in high school and I broke it in the cast actually that same time.
Q: Do you have any doubt that come September 8*th* you will be able to play?
A: Like I said, I'm just doing what they tell me to do. I'm confident I will be able to make it.
Q: With Golden's impending suspension, can this offense function the way you guys want it to?
A: We will be fine. Like I said, we have guys that will step up. This is the NFL, everybody can play and they will have an opportunity to showcase their abilities.
Q: What have you observed about Golden on the field, is he similar to you, how is he different from you?
A: We are totally different people. He sets his routes up differently than I do. I would say we are similar in the way of size, but he plays pretty different.
Q: With the injury, does it amount to dealing with the pain after the splint comes off?
A: I really don't have any pain now. I can't imagine it will be too excruciating when I take this off. I will just deal with it when it happens.
Q: What was your reaction to the Tate news?
A: I just found out recently, but I don't know too much about it, so it's kind of hard for me to comment on. Praying for the best for him.
WR Russell Shepard
Q: What do you make it of it with Sterling's (Shepard) hand, Golden's (Tate) suspension, and Corey's (Coleman) knee?
A: New year, new story. This is something that we can take and turn the table, and change the narrative to make it out something positive. Things like this happen through the course of the year and we got a good group of guys that I think will make something good out of this situation.
Q: Have you ever seen something like this before with one position? Maybe not at receiver, but on a team you're on have one position group be hit 'bam, bam, bam'?
A: Yeah, I've seen it. I've seen it happen at different positions at different teams. I remember one particular team, one year in Carolina when (WR) Kelvin Benjamin got hurt and a few other receivers got hurt and they didn't give that group or team a chance, and then they went on to win 15 games. So, I've seen it happen time and time again, and I've seen some great things come out of these situations. It's the NFL, everybody is here for a reason, and everybody is just kind of waiting for their opportunity.
Q: Speaking of Kelvin Benjamin, did you see him around today?
A: I haven't. I haven't seen KB. He's a good guy, I hope everything works out the best for him.
Q: When did you find out about Golden (Tate) and when that whole situation came out?
A: When y'all found out. It's a private matter, he's handling it. He's appealing the process from what I was told. Hopefully it works out for the best for him.
Q: Can this receiver corps sustain not having Golden Tate?
A: We are definitely a better team with Golden Tate, but we definitely can. I remember one particular game last year, we went into the Redskins game, I forget which week it was, but we had a bunch of guys that nobody knew about. We went up 40-0 in the first half. You just have to put your minds together, put your hard hats on and go to work. Just show what you can do. Like I said, at the end of the day, we're all pros, we're here for a reason, and we can make this sort of a 'Cinderella story', as they say.
Q: As this has chronicled on social media around the country: Odell's (Beckham) not here, then Sterling (Shepard) goes out, Corey Coleman, and now Golden Tate possibly. Then you list the guys who are here, and the narrative is that they've got nothing:
A: Yeah, that's how we like it. We have nothing to lose, and that's what you want. You want people to doubt you at times, so you can prove them wrong. You want people to kind of give up on you. That's what this group of guys is going to do, we are going to go out and show why we deserve to be here, why we are going to be here, and why we're going to help this team win games come Sunday.
Q: Do you guys talk about that within the small groups when you're working?
A: We talk about it, we encourage each other. Iron sharpens iron. We have those conversations. It's kind of an understood thing. You know (being the) next man up. You're a professional, go out and do your job or they'll bring somebody else in.
Q: Is it a positive that it's not kids? I mean, it's you and Bennie (Fowler):
A: Yeah. You've got a couple guys in this room who have won Super Bowls. You have a couple guys in this room that have played at a high level, (and) that have started at multiple positions. So, if it's going to happen to one group on this team, the receiving group is one of the better groups for it to happen to. We are a veteran group, a seasoned group, and we are kind of diverse. We do a lot of different things with our skillsets.
A: You've talked in the past about the lessons you learn when you start looking at the depth chart on day one of training camp. How quickly you can go from a guy who may not be in the mix and focus on special (teams), then all of a sudden, you're running with the ones in a matter of 72 hours. What kind of message do you send as a guy who has lived that to some of the rookies that are now on this roster now trying to make their way?
Q: Prepare. Every day is an opportunity to prepare to be ready for that opportunity. Practice, that's what practice is for, to come in, to work on your craft, to harness your craft, and just to build it up. Then outside of the football field, preparation pre-practice, going over film, going over your notes. Be a pro's pro, so when that opportunity comes, like it's coming for a lot of young guys and a lot of guys who usually don't have these types of opportunities, you're ready.
Q: Do you go to some of the rookies, whether it's today before practice or yesterday, and kind of say, to a guy like (WR) Reggie White, 'you went from running with the threes and nobody's paying attention, but now all of a sudden you're getting reps'?
A: No, I don't go to him. I think he's seeing how it's going to be.
DL B.J. Hill
Q: Have you changed anything when you're training and coming off the rookie season and they say once you get through that rookie season it's an eye opener coming from the college game. Did you change anything to prepare you for your next season?
A: I wouldn't say I've changed anything. More of just keep on getting better at some things and just working harder. That's the main thing, you know, just help our team win.
Q: What's an example of something you felt you were lacking last year that you want to work on this year?
A: Just improving my pass rush and on my run game, too, just to help us win, put us in a better situation.
Q: In your mind, does training camp start today when the pads come on?
A: In shorts, you can't do too much, but today we'll go out there and have a little bit of fun and a little bit of contact.
Q: The first few days, you know the receivers and especially some of the running backs kind of have their fun and you know they're running and feeling free. Do you store that in the back of your head and say let's see what happens today?
A: Oh yeah, for sure, I'm always talking junk to them, in the locker room, on the field. So like you said, I'm excited. I'm excited.
Q: What is the balance between it's pads, but it's also your teammates?
A: Just keeping everybody safe and at the end of the day, we're all on the same team this season. So yeah, just keep everybody safe.
Q: Is it safe to say you look forward to today more than the last few days?
A: Oh for sure, I'm excited and I'm ready to go right now
Q: How's Dexter (Lawrence II) coming along?
A: He's coming along very well. I knew Dex (Dexter Lawrence II) for a little bit, because we were recruiting him at North Carolina State. So he's coming along, he's going to be good for our defense and he's going to help us win some games.
Q: Is there one guy on defense that you really look forward to playing with?
A: To be honest, everybody from the back end to the front end. From Pepp (Jabrill Peppers) being the safety coming in to AB (Antione Bethea) to Rabbit (Janoris Jenkins). Everybody, I'm excited for everybody.
Q: Did you guys give Antione (Bethea) any stuff knowing today was his birthday?
A: I just found out it was his birthday; he was actually taking a little nap, so I was like dang I didn't know it was his birthday!
Q: Do you know how old he is?
A: Ahh man, he's been in the league for a little minute. I'm going to say he's like 32? 33? 34? wait no 5? Yeah he's still young though. He's still got it in him.
Q: He played almost the most snaps in the league last year at age 34 obviously.
A: That's awesome, he's still got it too. I can see it out there on the field.
Q: Can you tell?
A: Oh yeah, out on the field, for sure. Yeah, he's still got it.
S Antione Bethea
Q: Happy birthday!
A: Thank you, thank you. I appreciate it.
Q: What have the first few days been like for you?
A: Been pretty good. Everybody's getting back out here, knock some of the dust off from being away for a little bit, but good to be back out here with the guys and get things rolling.
Q: What are your expectations?
A: For the defense? I think we could be one of the tops in the league. Obviously, the guys that have been here have been in their second year under the defense. Myself, along with some other guys, being the first year coming in, plugging in, and making it happen.
Q: You have kind of a front row seat to watch what's going on with that front—that young defensive line. What have you seen, or what do you like about how that unit has come together?
A: I think they're gelling together really well. Obviously, we have to wait until we get the pads on and get in front of some other teams, but so far, so good. They've taken everything in really well, and we'll have to wait and see.
Q: How has communication overall on the defense been, considering all the new guys and the young guys who are learning, making mistakes, correcting mistakes and all that stuff?
A: I think the communication has been great. For the first two days, all the camps I've been in, I can say that's been good. Obviously, you're going to make some mistakes as far as technique-wise, but as far as communication, I think we've been doing a good job so far.
Q: Do your teammates know it's your birthday today?
A: I don't think they—no, they didn't know until—obviously social media or whatever the case may be.
Q: Any kidding?
A: No, no kidding. I get enough of that when it's not my birthday (laughter).
Q: I'm sure they respect how long you've been in the league, but the young guys probably show respect in different ways? How?
A: They show respect. A little jab here and there, but it comes with it.
Q: As one of the veteran voices on the team, I know it's happening on the offense, but how do you prevent guys from finding excuses—depending on injuries, or a guy appealing a suspension—how do you make guys focus and not make excuses, like "We've had this tough start to camp?"
A: The way the league goes, it's next man up, whatever the situation is. Obviously, you don't want those things to happen. As far as injury-wise, we play a physical game, so that's going to happen. So, for the young guys, it's next man up. You've got to look at the positive side, it's an opportunity for somebody to come up and get seen. So, as a team, we have to come together, ride it together, and we're in it together.
Q: You weren't here last year obviously, but finishing was a big problem for this team last year, and it seems to be a point of emphasis so far this year. How do you teach a young team how to do that? What's the key to doing that?
A: Some of that is experience, but us older guys and leaders, we got to lead. One of the things, when I was a young guy, the coach used to always tell us was follow the older guys. So, being an older guy, I got to do all the right things so the young guys can see me do it, and they can follow in the same footsteps.
Q: Has there been any specific emphasis, though, on completing things, and going through to the end?
A: Yes, for sure. It started in the spring. Like you said, one of the main points of emphasis that coach had, and we're going to carry that throughout training camp, and throughout the season.
Q: How much is there an uptick now that the pads go on today? Does the mental switch kind of quicken ahead when things get "real," so to speak?
A: That's natural, but as a vet, my advice is try to keep the practice the same way. At the end of the day, you've got your pads on, you're going to bang a little bit more, and it's going to be a little bit more physical, but at the end of the day, we're still teammates, we still got to take care of one another. We've had enough injuries as it is, without pads, but you just got to be smart. At the end of the day, we got the pads on, it's human nature for us to get a little more physical when the pads come on.