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Quotes (9/21): Shurmur, Tolbert, Anarumo

Head Coach Pat Shurmur

Q: How big a loss is it not to have (Eli Apple) and (Olivier Vernon)?

A: Certainly any time your first line players go down, but we’ve got guys that we trust and we’re going to put them in there and we trust that they’re going to go out there and play well.

Q: How big of a challenge is it for (B.W. Webb) or (Donte Deayon), whoever you’ve got there?

A: I think they have fine receivers, so anybody that we put out there, it’s going to be a challenge, but we’ve got a good plan, we’re confident, and we feel like they’re going to play well.  

Q: You’ve played them both inside and outside, but do you have a preference to keep Deayon in one of those two spots if you can?

A: I think he has ability to play in and out, and so wherever he ends up, dependent on the defense that’s called, we feel confident he can play both in and out.  

Q: What stands out with Deayon with his size, or lack thereof – how is he able to overcome that?

A: He’s a good cover guy and he has a good knack for getting his hands on the ball. Even though he hasn’t secured some of the interceptions, he’s at least getting his hands on the ball. We’ve just got to finish those with picks. That’s really his strong suit, is being able to cover.   

Q: After (Dak Prescott) had some runs against you, how much of the focus is on preventing (Deshaun Watson) from doing the same things?

A: The zone read is part of the NFL game now, especially for quarterbacks that can move around, and so certainly every team watches what the previous teams have done against a defense or an offense. I’m sure we’re going to see some form of the zone read and they’re going to test and see if we’ve corrected the mistakes.   

Q: What specific things did you or didn’t you do last Sunday that you have to do this week?

A: That’s tactical, certainly, so I wouldn’t share that.

Q: (DeAndre Hopkins) and (Will Fuller) have been on the injury report all week. Do you have a separate plan if they’re out?

A: No, I think we’re going to play it the same way. This time of year, there’s a lot of players on the injury report that tend to play, so we don’t over-evaluate that.  Typically, if you have a guy like we have like OV or somebody like that, but guys that played last week and didn’t really go out with an injury and are somewhat limited, we plan on playing them.  

Q: (Jadeveon Clowney) seems to be one of those guys, it looks like he’s going to play. What kind of challenge does he present for your line, and that whole front in general?

A: I think the whole front, obviously, we’ve talked about it all week, the marquee players on that front are the linebackers, both inside and out, and so it’s a challenge. We’ve just got to go block them.

Q: Without Eli (Apple) there, do you have to change some of the way you play defensively, maybe blitz less and protect the back more?  

A: Again, that’s a tactics question, so we’ll just have to see how it plays out, but we have the ability to help corners, regardless of who they are, and we have the ability to sort of leave them on an island and you make them cover their guy.  

Q: So you have confidence?

A: Sure, we have confidence he’ll be able to execute the plan.  

Q: What’s the general focus been of the players this week and trying not to put too much pressure, must-win and all that?

A: I think the important thing is just go through the process. The message today was to make today the best Friday and keep going, keep moving. We feel good about the plan we put in place, now we’ve just got to go out and execute it.

Q: Players have said you’ve stayed calm. You said the same. There’s a bunch of different approaches you can take, you can turn up the heat on them, why is that the approach you’ve taken?

A: They tend to tell you when I stay calm, they don’t tell you when I act another way, so good for them.  

Q: Are you saying you have been sterner on them at times?

A: No, I think my personality is such where I tell them what I think and when I add emotion to it, that’s my business and that’s their business, that’s not your business. That’s the way I handled it. Don’t misunderstand the calm, I guess. I think what’s important is that our guys understand, and I tell them straight up how I feel. I just don’t share it with the world.

Wide Receivers Coach Tyke Tolbert

Q: What’s the challenge for your group now two games in, we know what we’ve talked about in terms of the struggles of the offense. What do you tell your guys as far as what their jobs need to be to turn this thing around?

A: It’s just a matter of doing your job. I preach to my guys every day about being the best wide receiver you can be with and without the ball, meaning there are times – a lot of times – when you don’t have the ball, but you still have to go ahead and play hard for your teammates, whether it’s in the run game, or carrying out some pattern for your other teammates to get the ball. Everybody has a job to do and that’s what I’ve been emphasizing with my guys. Everybody do their job.

Q: When Odell is not able to get involved, he wasn’t really on Sunday, do you have to change anything? Do you look back and see there were opportunities for him?

A: Sometimes you can game plan things for guys to be the primary receiver in the pass pattern, but sometimes the defense -- they get paid, too -- and they did a good job of taking some things away. It’s up to us as coaches to find what we can do to counteract what they were doing so we can get guys open and get them to be the primary receiver.

Q: How do you manage on the sidelines in-game and during the week the frustrations of not getting into the end zone and reassuring guys that what you’re doing is going to hit?

A: I have a phrase in my room that I tell guys: keep playing hard, keep getting open, you will get the ball, because everybody has a job to do and you can’t snap the ball yourself, you can’t block yourself, you can’t throw the ball yourself. You can’t do everything, so all you have to do is your job, keep getting open and we will find you the ball.

Q: Cody (Latimer) had the deep catch the other night and in the preseason, what makes him a good deep threat?

A: Cody has size, he has good speed, he has really strong hands, and last week we actually emphasized that particular route about three or four times that he and Eli picked up on the deep ball, so I’m glad to see it has come to fruition.  

Q: On Odell’s attitude – What sense do you get being around him?

A: His attitude has been really good. He’s a positive guy, he’s one of the hardest practicing guys I’ve ever been around. I mean, he practices hard. You have to pull him back sometimes because he likes go, he’s like a little energizer bunny. He just goes and goes and goes. His attitude has been good. Obviously all great players like him probably want the ball as much as they can get it, and when they don’t get it as much sometimes, frustration may creep in a little bit, but not as much because he knows what we’re trying to do. He knows he can’t control everything, he can only control what he can control. Again, our phrase -- just keep getting open, we will find you the ball.  

Q: When you practice the Philly Special, do you coach Odell how to throw that, or is that Mike Shula?

A: We don’t practice Philly Special. I don’t know what you’re talking about. (Laughter)

Q: When there are opportunities to get Odell the ball deep, because we heard that a lot this week that opportunities were there, and the ball doesn’t wind up going in that direction, how do you keep him dialed in? How do you keep him energized?

A: I think Odell realizes that every time you’re open, the ball is not going to come your way. Again, my stress to him is keep getting open, we will find you the ball. Sometimes, it doesn’t always work out the way we want it to. Sometimes it may not work out, sometimes it may work out two or three times in a game, or you’ll have a huge game and a lot of touchdowns were scored, a lot of points, and win a lot of games; but at some point in time, it’s going to click for all of us on offense, and when it does, it’s going to be something special to watch.  

Q: (Pat Shurmur) talked about needing to get the ball in his hands early this week. Does that also include early in the down, earlier in the progression, get the ball out quicker?

A: I would say early and often, that’s what I would say. He’s a special player, he’s a one of a kind type player, generational type player. Guys like him, we want to get them the ball as much as you can and if he has the ball a lot of times, good things happen for our offense, quite frankly.  

Q: (Sterling Shepard) has been kind of quiet. What are you seeing from him? He’s had a couple of drops, kind of uncharacteristic. What are you seeing from him?

A: I told my guys early on in camp – if I had to go into a fight with one of you guys in the room, Sterling would be the one I would take with me. He is a football playing Jesse, as they would say in the south. He’s tough, he’s smart, he’s feisty, it means something to him. He’s a good player when he gets the chance to play with the ball in his hands, but he’s really a good player without the ball. He has a lot of good blocks, a lot of good crack blocks on the safeties. I’m very happy with Sterling Shepard right now. Jerry Rice dropped passes, too, so I’m not concerned so much until dropped passes become a habit, but my focus is really on guys playing hard and playing as a team and playing for each other. Once we do that, good things will happen for us.  

Q: You said you’re telling your guys to get open. Through the first two games, are you seeing guys getting open enough to your liking, that the opportunities are there?

A: There are obviously things we can do a whole lot better. I’m pleased for the most part with what we’re doing, but there’s things obviously we can work on to get better. No one is perfect, there is no perfect person. No one’s walking on water. We’ve just got to continue to play hard, play fast, play smart, play tough, be physical, and again, this is our first season together. There’s a whole new staff and everything, so we’re still learning, going through the learning process, learning curve, but I think each week we always see on tape, there’s a play here or a play there, missed opportunity here or missed opportunity there, for us to have a really good offense, really good game and come out with a victory. I think we’re on the brink of that, I really do.

Q: You might not know him well, but what does (Stacy Coley) bring?

A: One thing he brings is knowledge about this offense. He was in Minnesota with Coach Shurmur, so a lot of stuff we’re doing offensively, he already knows. He came in yesterday and he remembered a lot of the terminology that we use and what to do. He brings some speed, I remember watching him coming out of college, out of Miami – he’s a 4.4 guy, so he brings some speed, brings some versatility, he plays multiple positions as well, which is good for us on offense, because you have to be that multiple guy, especially when you get under the ball no-huddle. He brings knowledge of the offense, that’s the one thing he brings that stands out right now.

Secondary Coach Lou Anarumo

Q: How’s Eli Apple been?

A: He’s been good so far, small sample size - only two games, but not only Eli, all of our guys are just striving for consistency and so far he’s done that.

Q: How big of a void will it be if he’s not able to play on Sunday?

A: That’s this league, right? The next man up principle and if he’s not ready to go the next guy will step up and go play.

Q: How much of a stress does that (Texans) wide receivers core put on the secondary? You got (Will) Fuller who can go deep, you got (DeAndre) Hopkins obviously, (Deshaun) Watson is a mobile quarterback.

A: Yeah, they have two really special receivers and as you mention, Hopkins is one of the most targeted guys in the league over the last few years and certainly a great player, and the other guy can really take the top off the coverage so we’ll be aware of where both those guys are and it seems every week in this league you’re going to get different challenges from guys that are really elite at that position. We’re fortunate we get to defend guys like that everyday so that helps us.

Q: Watching their game last week against the Titans, it seemed like any chance they got to attack vertically - they’re not bashful about going up the field. Does that change anything philosophically when you’re going against a team that wants to attack you vertically all the time?

A: Yeah I think it puts stress on the different coverages that you’re trying to do and you have to make sure, obviously, that you’re accountable for that and we do every week and we’re aware of it, but it adds to it when you got receivers of that caliber that are doing those type of routes so we want to make sure that hey, 15 (Fuller), he’s going deep and certainly 10 (Hopkins) is great at the point of attack with the ball. We’re aware of it.

Q: Janoris Jenkins has been beat on a couple of deep balls. Anything that you see there, a common thread?

A: Well you’re right, a couple is two. I think that if you ask him and would it be one or two things at the line of scrimmage that he could’ve done better and I think that’s what kind of got him in a bad spot. You saw last week he stumbled out of his break and then really in the Jacksonville game was just more of an alignment issue so we’ve talked about it with him and worked on it. He’s a guy that has had great success in this league and is a very competitive guy. He doesn’t want to give up anything so we’ve been working hard on that and he has and I think it won’t be an issue going forward.

Q: When a player is dealing with anything personal, how do you as a coach help them lock back in?

A: I think always as a coach, I think you always try to build relationships with the guys so that when times get hard, both on the field and in life, whether it be the coaches or the players that are going through something, that they know that I have their back and it’s not just about what’s going on on the grass, it’s about what’s going on in their lives. I think that if they feel that and they believe that then it’s going to be a better relationship. Again when things are rocky both on and off the field and that’s kind of what I’ve always done. If somebody’s going through something, it’s going to be important to me because we spend more time as a staff with these guys than we do with our own families so I want it to be a relationship where they can trust and believe I care about what’s going on with them on and off the field.

Q: Was it a challenge to get him back up for that game coming off a tough day?

A: No, Janoris is a professional and I think that he knows that when he steps out on the grass it’s time to play football and we all have things we have to deal with, but when we go and its time to turn on the lights, I think he knows, hey, it’s go time. He did a good job with that.

Q: Philosophically, how do you feel about your best cornerback traveling verses just staying straight up in your scheme?

A: I think there’ll be, not talking specifically about schemes, I think over the years with guys that I’ve had, you can do both. There’s merit to doing both. It’s not something that you’re going to say, ‘hey this is what we’re doing this week’, but I think there’s merit to both where you have a guy travel and whether they just play left or right, so we’ll kind of vary that by game plan.

Q: This is our first time talking to you since you added a few guys after camp. What have you seen from (Antonio) Hamilton and (Mike) Jordan?

A: Just competitive guys. As you said, they just got here so we’re still kind of getting a feel for what they can and can’t do, but hard working guys. They stay around extra, kind of catching them up to speed with what our scheme is and those type of things. So far so good and I like what I’ve seen from them.

What did you say to Donte Deayon after that play in the end zone?

A: Catch the ball.

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