Head Coach Pat Shurmur
Opening Remarks: Good practice, I think we got a lot done. It was very competitive. I’ll try to take your questions.
Q: It looked like Olivier Vernon got carted off at one point, what happened there?
A: Yeah, he kind of just went inside the block and got his feet tangled up. I think it’s his ankle. He’s being evaluated. I don’t have much right now.
Q: In terms of the cart, people overreact. Is it anything serious, do you think?
A: I don’t know yet, I’ll find out when I go in there. He’s being evaluated. I’ll figure out more when I get inside. I’m sure word will spread.
Q: Just seeing a guy of that magnitude go down must be concerning, right?
A: Yeah, you don’t want anybody getting hurt. You want guys to be able to practice and stay healthy. We’ll just see. At this point, I don’t have any information.
Q: You guys made a trade today. Is that because (Jon Halapio) had secured the job and (John Greco) had convinced you he could be the backup?
A: No, I think the trade was good for both (Minnesota and us). We got a pick in return for Brett Jones. He’s one of my favorite guys and he’s going to a really good place. With their situation in the offensive line, he’s going to have a chance to compete to maybe be their starter. I’m pretty familiar with their situation and he’s going to a very good place, so I’m happy for him, because he’s a real likeable guy. He works hard, he’s tough, and I feel like if he can’t be here – I tell the players all the time, we want you all to be here; if you can’t be here, we want you to be somewhere good, and that’s a good place.
Q: Obviously, general managers work out that kind of thing, but did you talk to Mike Zimmer? Were you involved in where he went?
A: Yes, but you’re right. General Managers deal with it. There’s obviously conversation as we go. We talked about it.
Q: What was it about Jon Halapio that you liked over Brett that you decided to go in that direction with him as your starter?
A: At this point, the story is we traded Jonesy. We like what Halapio has been doing. We just like the way he’s played.
Q: How unique is that to pull a guy off the practice field and trade him like that?
A: It’s happened before. At that point, because we made a deal, we wanted to get him out so that he doesn’t get banged up. I don’t know if it’s common, but it has happened before.
Q: You said how much you like Brett. People thought he had a shot to be the starting center and that he could be valuable in even a backup role. What made you guys want to move him?
A: We feel like we’re going to make decisions based on what’s best for our team. Again, I like all the players that we have out here and I want them all to have success, and I want them all to be on the team. We just felt like this was part of doing business.
Q: I know this isn’t exactly your lane, but how much was his salary apart of that? He obviously got paid more than most backups.
A: I’m not worried about that.
Q: How much does having a guy like Greco make this more palatable?
A: Yeah, you want to have centers in the building. We do have other guys that can play center in a backup role.
Q: Was it encouraging to see (Evan Engram) out there and running around a little?
A: Yeah, very encouraging. As we know, he’s in the (concussion) protocol, so I don’t have much to add. He’s working his way through.
Q: What do you like about Jerell Adams? He’s getting some first team reps now with Evan down and in the game when Ellison went down. What do you like about (him)?
A: He’s got good size. I think he’s a good blocker as well as a pass receiver, so he’s a guy that can do both. I do think he’s made some good improvements through the spring and now training camp.
Q: Is there a concern at all with the way the running game is going right now, or do you know fully well that it’s going to improve once (Saquon Barkley) is able to play on a regular basis?
A: Certainly when you run the ball well, it’s a team thing. When you don’t run the ball, at least early in the game, that’s really the narrative right now. Early in the game, we haven’t run the ball as well as we want to. Regardless of who’s in there playing, we’ve found a way to move the ball as the game goes along. It’s a team thing and we’re working on it to improve those early game runs and I think that’s the important piece.
Q: You expressed confidence that (Jonathan Stewart) is going to be able to (produce). How do you do that? How do you know when a player has come to the end of their productivity?
A: You never totally know, but I know he’s a pro and I know the history behind how offseason training has gone for him. We have intimate knowledge about him as a player as he goes through the years. Again, we trust Jonathan and we trust that he’ll be productive.
Q: Where do things stand with (Connor Barwin) as far as his progress?
A: He’s day to day. He’s making good progress.
Q: He hasn’t been on the field a lot for you, do you need to see more?
A: He’s day to day.
Q: What’s your plan for Thursday? Do you see the starters playing at all?
A: We’ll kind of announce that as we go. We’ll figure it out as we go. There will probably be some players that don’t play this week.
Q: Josh Mauro is an interesting guy. I think you gave him some first team reps and then obviously he can’t play the first four games, so how have you handled his practice workload knowing that he can’t play the first four games?
A: We’re training him as much as we can until he’s going to leave us for a month, so to speak. It doesn’t need to sound weird, he’s just not going to be here for a month, so we’re going to try to get as much training as we can until he’s not with us.
Center Jon Halapio
Q: When did you hear about the Brett Jones trade?
A: In the middle of practice, we heard.
Q: What’s your reaction, you guys were very close?
A: I’m happy for him, it sucks to see my friend go. That’s the tough part about this business, you build relationships like this, but you know that sometimes it doesn’t go that way for us to be together forever, it’s not a marriage. I’m happy for him, it’s closer to home for him and he gets an opportunity to go out there and play and display his talents and what he brings to the game, he’s a good player.
Q: What does it mean to you with all the routes that have you have taken in your career, it now looks like you will be the starting center on opening day?
A: It still doesn’t cross my mind. I’m still competing like I’m not the starter. I’m just going to keep approaching it that way until Week 1 and focus on trying to get everyone on the same page and get this running game going. Just try to improve one day at a time.
Q: Have you had a chance to talk to Brett?
A: No, hopefully I can after this.
Q: Have you ever seen anything like that, where a guy gets pulled off the practice field?
A: Yeah, my rookie year when I was with the Patriots, they traded Logan Mankins.
Q: What do you think the number one reason is that the coaches have confidence in you for this job?
A: I would like to think that I am improving every day. I would like to think that I’m ascending as a player. Ultimately, that’s a better question for coach Shurmur. I’m just trying to control what I can control and that’s trying to be on the same page as the other four offensive linemen.
Q: How much credit do you give to Brett for helping you learn the position?
A: I give a lot of credit to him. Like I said before, when I first started playing center, he has helped me through snapping, helped me understand the game. Hats off to Brett and I always thank him. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be in this position.
Q: Are you surprised at where you are? This time last year, did imagine yourself being the starting center?
A: I’m surprised I’m a center, but I’m not surprised I’m still playing here. Ultimately, that’s what I kept working for, I knew eventually my time will come. I just had to keep training and keep working for it, so I’m not surprised I’m still playing but I am surprised I’m playing center.
Q: To have veterans like Greco and Jerry on the second team offensive line, what does that do you for you guys as far as depth and having a known commodity?
A: Those guys are veteran players, they have a lot of game starts under their belts. It feels good that we have veteran leadership and depth in our room.
Q: How does it feel to now know you are the guy?
A: I’m just excited to keep playing, with the road I have taken to get here. In that aspect of me, just continuing playing, that’s what I’m happy for, that I’m still able to play. I feel like it won’t hit me until Week 1. We are still in training camp trying to compete, trying to get better. We are not a finished product, there is nothing to be proud of. We didn’t win a Super Bowl or anything like that.
RB Jonathan Stewart
Q: Obviously a lot has been made about your numbers in the preseason games. What makes you confident that’s not a reflection of what you’ll be able to bring to this team?
A: I think this is a time, obviously, where you have an opportunity to work on your craft whether it’s practice, preseason games. Getting to gel with the first teams, whatever teams you’re a part of, making the most of your opportunities. Also learn how not to dwell on certain things. At the end of day, goldfish memory because once something bad goes wrong, you have to learn how to bounce back and more forward to the next play because time is going to continue to tick.
Q: The play that everyone saw the other day was the fumble. What happened on the play?
A: I just didn’t hold on to the ball. Just a minor error, major mess up. That’s our job as an offense, to hold on to the ball and make the right reads. Something out there, just chalk it up and wait for the next down.
Q: Do you feel at all that you have to fight for a position here or do you know fully well that you’ve been in this league for quite a long period of time and the game is eventually going to come for you?
A: Age has its lows, but it also has its strengths. Every year you’re working for a spot, no matter how old you are, no matter if you’re a rookie, you’re always working for a spot because everyone is working.
Q: Do you need to have success on the field Thursday, assuming you’ll play, just for your own peace of mind going forward?
A: Every time I’m on the field, I’m just trying to put my best foot forward, so no matter what happens if I’m out there, I’m going to try to give it my all.
Q: How do you self-scout your own summer? Not just talking about the preseason, but including the training camp…
A: I think it has been good. A lot of my practice reps, a lot of things that I’ve been putting out on film for preseason, I felt like I’ve been doing everything I’ve supposed to have been doing. Again, it’s still time to learn the chemistry of our whole offense as a whole and there’s a lot of things that we’re working on during practice and the walk-throughs and the meeting rooms. All that stuff is – it’s the time to work out those kinks and be ready for week one.
Q: How close do you feel you are to be ready for the opening game?
A: I think as a whole offense, I think if we had to play next week or this coming week, I think we’ll be ready. The guys on our team, their work ethic is very heavy. You see guys like Odell (Beckham Jr.), (Sterling) Shep, Evan (Engram), they’re always out there catching balls after practice, guys like the running backs getting our extra conditioning in. We’re preparing every week like it’s a game every week because I think preseason games are games.
Q: What’s your reaction when you look at the numbers? I know it’s the preseason, they don’t matter, but when you look at your numbers this preseason.
A: Like I said, you can’t dwell on the past, you just got to learn to move forward. Everything is not going to go your way perfectly and you’re going to have good days and you’re going to have bad days. You’re going to have a couple good reps here and there and things aren’t going to go your way because you’re playing against professional athletes on that side of the ball.
Q: Physically, how do you feel?
A: I feel good. Health-wise, I’m maintained pretty well. It’s been a good offseason for me. I’ve just been working on my health, staying active and staying in shape.
Q: What do you see when you watch (Saquon) Barkley in practice and in workouts? Do you sit there and say ‘wow, that’s a real special talent?’ Does that make you work harder now because he’s going to taking away some snaps?
A: Oh, for sure. He’s a very talented guy, physical specimen. Of course, we have a guy with that caliber and with his youth and just with all the guys in the backfield, they’re all great and have good talents of their own. You’re always trying to learn and you’re always trying to better yourself and trying to mimic certain things that other guys are doing to add to your repertoire.
Q: That kid (Barkley), especially, is he something you have never seen in the NFL?
Q: How tricky are hamstrings for running backs? Perhaps maybe even more so than most positions? To see him back out there practicing and looking quick is obviously a good sign.
A: Yeah, it’s a great sign. He’s a workaholic. A lot of people don’t see the behind the scenes stuff that goes on and that kid, since the moment he got hurt, it was almost kind of like he was working to get back immediately, so he’s recovered pretty well.