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Quotes: Coach Brian Daboll, WR Sterling Shepard, OLB Kayvon Thibodeaux

Head Coach Brian Daboll

Q: Do you expect wide receiver (Cole) Beasley back out there today?

A: Yes, I'll give you these right now. So, wide receiver Jamison (Crowder) will be joining us today. Shep (Sterling Shepard) will be coming off PUP. Beasley will be back out there. Nacho (Rakeem Nunez-Roches) will be out there. And G.O. (Gervarrius Owens) will be back out there.

Q: Dabs, you said (Sterling) Shepard is coming off PUP today?

A: He is. He'll be off, and (Jamison) Crowder will be off NFI. 

Q: Other than the PUP guys, anybody else who won't practice?

A: Ryan Jones, the young tight end, we're going to give him a day. He had a little knee. Then, we are going to give outside linebacker Haddy (Jihad Ward) a day. 

Q: What are you expecting to see from (Sterling) Shepard and how do you handle him this summer? This is two straight years with significant injuries.

A: We will limit him, relative to the amount of reps and just kind of bring him along. He has done a good job in the rehab process. So, he was ready to get taken off. 

Q: Haddy, he didn't do a lot the second practice, either. Is he dealing with something?

A: He's got a little bit of something. But it's not anything long-term.

Q: When you guys brought Jamison Crowder in, what were you looking at? He has been bouncing around but been productive.

A: Yeah, been a good player in this league. Trying to improve the competition, particularly on the inside part of the field. We thought he would be a good addition.

Q: How do you look at having like nine guys who have been most productive in their careers in the slot? Now that (Sterling) Shepard and (Jamison) Crowder are back, (Cole) Beasley, Wan'Dale (Robinson) when he comes back. They all move around, but that's where they've been most comfortable.

A: Good competition. 

Q: What are you specifically looking for in that competition? What are you watching that stands out to you?

A: Whoever does the best. That's what competition is, that's what training camp is. Try to bring as many good players as you can in and let them compete it out. The better the competition. Competition is good for everybody.

Q: How much do you care about the slot perception in your offense and how you move guys around?

A: We just do what we think is going to help us. Guys that can create separation and make some plays. We will see how it all sorts out.

Q: So much was made of wide receiver (Jalin) Hyatt's vertical speed in college. Watching him in some of these drills it seems his short-area quickness is, I don't want to use the word elite, but very high level. Have you seen that and does that help him move around, instead of just being a vertical guy?

A: I would say we got to bring those guys along. Whenever they're ready to do other things, if they can do them, we try to put them in there. He's worked really hard. He's an athletic young man who has long speed and short-space quickness. He's done a good job since he's been here. He's got a long way to go, but we're just trying to bring him along day-by-day and maybe keep adding a little bit more to his plate each day, if he can handle it.

Q: I think we asked you in the spring about moving cornerback Nick McCloud to safety. What do you see his role as?

A: I would say he's been a very flexible player, not just here, but in Buffalo. He has played safety, he has played the nickel, he has played corner. He has been a special teams player. So, again, it goes back to the more you can do. He's kind of moved all around. I'd probably expect similar throughout camp. But he's a smart player. It's a benefit when you can have a guy who can move in a lot of different spots. 

Q: When you look at quarterback (Daniel Jones) DJ in his second year with you, it was a significant jump that quarterback Josh Allen made in the second go-around with you. Are there some similarities there in terms of, not necessarily their style, but being in that system in the second year?

A: I understand the question. I would say that every guy is different. He's in his second year and we have added some new pieces, we're trying a lot of different things out. Time will tell. 

Q: Do you have a feel of how much better he can be now that he's got a year behind him?

A: I'd say we are taking it day-by-day. We're trying to get better; we got a lot of work to do to figure out what we got with all these players. I know that continual improvement is on everybody's mind.

Q: What do you think of how cornerback Deonte Banks has done the last few days?

A: He's done a good job. He's been out there competing his tail off. He's athletic, has good change of direction. Short-space quickness, long speed. Has done a nice job.

Q: What did the film or your eyes tell you about outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux's rookie year that maybe the box score doesn't say?

A: You know me, I'm focused on this year. I think he's a good player for us. A lot to work on. Tireless worker, but I think he's a good football player. 

Q: Following up on that with Kayvon. Anything you saw that maybe you're really honing in on this practice?

A: No, it's just like the DJ (Daniel Jones) question. You've got to try to improve your craft in every area. Every year is a new season. He's out there working with Drew (Wilkins), smart player for us. It will be good to get the pads on here in a couple days.

Q: What does Kayvon have to do to take the next step?

A: Just be him. Take it day-by-day, get better each day and just focus on one step at a time.

Q: Friday afternoon, what got you barking at the defense so much or was it one player in particular?

A: Friday afternoon, I'm not sure which one you're talking about. I bark a lot.

Q: I mean it looked like defensive lineman (Dexter Lawrence) miffed you a little bit.

A: I can't even remember. I'm yelling a lot out there.

Q: Were you impressed with how tackle Evan Neal came back to camp and the shape he was in?

A: Yeah, I asked him for some tips. He's a young guy who cares and has worked really hard. Worked hard all last year, worked hard in the off season. It's important to him, he puts the time in. 

Q: I don't mean to insinuate in any way what happened to safety Xavier McKinney had a bright side, but you got to see a lot of safeties Jordan Pinnock and Dane Belton because of it. When Julian Love leaves in free agency, does that make you more comfortable with, 'I've seen a lot of these guys last year'?

A: Yeah, I think those two guys, when they had their opportunities, did a nice job, both on defense and the kicking game. Young players that I think are improving and have the right mindset. Good competition.

Q: Do you think you'll settle on one guy in that spot, or do you see it will be week-to-week depending on the matchups?

A: I think time will tell. We use a lot of players on defense. There's always a lot of discussion on matchups and how we are going to play a particular opponent, so I think they all have to be ready to-go.

Q: From my perspective, you see Darren Waller making these catches and you're like 'wow, that looks different'. How similar is the line of thinking when you see him and go watch film of him?

A: I'd say he's done a good job. I've said this the last couple days. He has done a good job since he's been here. We are trying him on some new things, he's been a productive player. He's had a good start to OTAs and a good start to these three days, now fourth hopefully.

Q: What do you mean by trying some new things?

A: Just different routes. He's run a lot of different routes in his career, he's had a lot of different coaches. You can only run so many routes. I think there's good give and take of how you run them, nuances to them. Body language for Daniel (Jones) to read him. We'll keep on grinding away at that.

Q: How much does it change offensively for you guys when you can take him as the one guy when you go 3-by-1? Just personnel wise.

A: It just depends on how the defense is going to play you, too. We have used him in a variety of spots, and he has been used in a variety of spots throughout his career. How defenses are playing you, what personnel groups they want to use, relative to what the offense has in the game. I think that's all the chess match that goes along with it.

Q: To that point, how does the defense in general deal with having Darren split out wide, going in motion, what does that do to a defense as a whole?

A: I'd say a lot of teams do that nowadays. There's a lot of tight ends or H-back type players that have moved all around. It's not really anything new. So, we just try to do the best we can with what he is and what we think his skillset is.

Q: You mentioned the competition at receiver. When you are determining reps and who gets what reps, how do you go about that? Is it a reward system that you have in place? Do you let the guys know, do you not want them to know?

A: I think they all know that it's a competition. I think every player on our team knows that they are all competing. Our philosophy, Joe (Schoen) and my philosophy, is to bring them in and let them compete it out. Whoever we think is the best one, at the end of the day, that's the guys who are going to play. They all have to earn it. They all understand that. They have to work hard, do the right thing, be where they are supposed to be. Then, ultimately make the plays, whatever position it is, that comes your way.

Q: At linebacker, if Bobby Okereke ends up being your Mike, are you okay with that or would you rather him be on the weak side?

A: I'd say whoever the two best guys are when the two guys are out there. Whether it's Mike, Will, whatever it may be, that's what this time of year is for.

Q: What did you think of the late practice? Did it have its intended result?

A: It was good. Guys got a little bit more rest, came out okay with it. Weather was good. It has cooled down a little bit here.

Q: That's what you're looking for? The difference between the rests?

A: I'd say there's more to it than just that, but that's definitely something we talked about.

Wide Receiver Sterling Shepard

Q. How does it feel to be back?

A: It feels great, man. Just to be back out there with the guys and actually going against somebody. I've been sitting over there for months, running routes by myself and just trying to visualize somebody there. To actually have somebody it honestly was 10 times better. I wasn't even thinking about my planting or anything like that. I felt great. It was good to back out there with the guys.

Q. What was it that said you were ready now?

A: Just me mentally and then they wanted to see a couple of things physically. Talked to a couple of doctors and see how they felt about it and they came in today, this morning, so everything looks good. I think it was the perfect timing for it.

Q. You've been through this so many times with different injuries. Do you have to do anything different? Or are you just going about it the way you always go about it and hope this isn't an injury year?

A: No, I'm going to go about it a little different. I've got to be smarter myself in what I allow myself to do and not really push back, because I'm one of those guys that likes to keep going and going and going and I know that I've got to take my time this time. Do things a bit different than I have in the past and just be patient. I think that's my main thing because I get antsy a lot of the times. I want to get in there three reps in a row – I may have to take one rep (and then) take a rep off, that's just the way it's got to go. I just think I've got to hold myself back sometimes.

Q. Do you think you pushed yourself too much last year when you came back?

A: Oh, 100 percent. Did I push myself too much? Yeah, there's only so much that they can do. They tell me what I need to do and try to save me from myself but last year I felt like – I'm one of those guys where I'll be like, 'I'm out here on the field and somebody's trying to come sub me. Get back, I'm about to go another rep.' But I just feel like this time around I've got to play it a little bit smarter and really listen to those guys because they know best, and they have my best interest. That's where my focus is.

Q. When (wide receiver) Golden Tate was here, you both played the slot and other positions. How does that help you with this new group of receivers, having that versatility?

A: Just the experience of being able to play outside? I mean Tate – even before that I was playing a little bit of outside. I've always had that versatility, but I mean, it's great having that experience being outside and knowing that I can win outside (and) I'm not just banked as a slot receiver. Especially when you've got guys like (Jamison) Crowder and (Cole) Beasley who've done it for many years at a high level, you want to be able to have that versatility. It's the easiest way on the field and you know those guys work magic in there, so you want to have those guys in there. The more playmakers that you can have on the field – I mean, we've got a lot of guys that could flat out go, so I enjoy that out there.

Q. You know Saquon as well as anybody. Do you think he was able to clean the slate when he walked back in here? How does Saquon Barkley look to you?

A: Of course, that's just what type of guy he is, that's just what type of teammate he is. I knew that he was going to be here just knowing that part of it. He's coming in here with a positive attitude and everybody's approached him the same way that they always have. He's in here working and that's what we wanted. I'm just happy to have him back. It's different when you have two-six in the building.

Q. Any feelings about how it worked out for him?

A: No, I mean, I stay in my own lane, boss. You know what I mean? I stay in my lane, baby. I'm just glad I got my boy back here with me and I get to see him every day.

Q. Do you and Saquon Barkley have conversations about everything that's been going on? You've had your conversations too, not with the tag, but you had to take a pay cut.

A: Yeah, we had conversations and that's something that I'll keep private. But yeah, we had conversations about everything that was going on. For sure, that's my best buddy.

Q. You were the young guy, now you're the veteran, you were the draft pick, then you had last year's pay cut – now you're really fighting for a spot. Talking about what you said with being smart and being patient, how does that go against you as a competitor that knows you've got something to earn?

A: It is what it is. I control what I can control and that's staying on the field – and when I'm on the field, doing something. However it shakes out, I believe in God and I believe that he has something planned for me regardless of however it shakes out. So, I control what I can control and that's being healthy and staying on the field. Then when I'm on the field and I get an opportunity – to show (my worth).  

Q. How much is the running back value topic talked about in the locker room?

A: That's not in any of the conversations that I've been in. That is what it is. It's unfortunate but that's just the business side of it. It is what it is but as far as conversations in the locker room and stuff, hasn't been much. At least in my circle.

Q. You guys made the playoffs last year. Does that make you guys more optimistic this year about what you can do this year?

A: No, you've got to leave last year as last year. You can't bring it over into this season, everybody has a new team. You've got to start from zero and we've got to work our way to get back to a playoff team but that's not ultimately the goal for us. Our ultimate goal is to put a banner up here so yeah, it was great making the playoffs. It's been a while; it's been since I was a rookie that we've made the playoffs, so it was a great accomplishment but ultimately that's not what we're setting out to do when the season starts. Last year was a wash for us and we're a completely different team. I'm looking forward to what we've got.

Q. Is the banner what Head Coach Brian Daboll talks about? Is he setting that kind of expectation and tone internally?

A: Yeah, he tells us that every day. Exactly what I just told you is what he tells us. That's what our goal is. It's not to make the playoffs, it's to put a banner up here. Everybody knows that and that's the reason why we play this game. It's pretty clear.

Q. You've played with guys that are considered freaks of nature before. Where does (tight end Darren) Waller compare?

A: That boy (laughs), that boy's something special. I was telling people today, I don't even like for people to be on (Darren Waller) Wall's back. Like they've got tight coverage and they want to make a breakup but don't jump on my man's back. That boy's a monster. Did you see him go up and get that ball the other day? I was telling DJ (Daniel Jones), I was like, 'Man look, that thing would've been sailing over my head.' That boy Wall came out of nowhere! He looks good though. He's a freak.

Q. You're not guaranteed anything this year. What's your mindset and how do you approach that?

A: I told you, I'm just the type of guy – I don't worry about other stuff. I don't worry about how it's going to shake out. I don't worry about it. I just worry about where my feet are right now. What can I do to get better? Whatever the training staff has me do, how can I get better if they're going to have me sit out today? That's the situation I'm in right there. I'm going to listen to them but when I'm on the field, that's my job. I'm supposed to get open, catch the ball, that's what I'm focused on. Whatever decision or however it shakes out, that's just the way it shakes out. It isn't anything that I can do about it but do what I do, so that's the way that I approach it. Every day.

Outside Linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux

Q. How are you feeling coming back for year two?

A: Man, year two. I mean, it's amazing. I feel great. I'm healthy, and I'm just excited, man. I'm excited.  

Q. How different does it feel? Does it feel different on the field knowing that you're not new and kind of just learning on the fly?

A: Yeah, for fall camp—I guess you could say fall camp is college, but training camp, it definitely feels a little bit different. Now I'm working on different things, just really understanding the game and kind of getting those gears going.

Q. We never really got to see much of you and (linebacker) Azeez (Ojulari); he was hurt so much that we never really got to see the full potential of you two together. Do you think about at all what it would be like for you two to play side-by-side for 17 games?

A: It's going to be exciting. For him on paper, you know how many sacks he had to how many plays he had, so just knowing that, I mean, if you can get him 17 games, who knows how many sacks you'll get. Yeah, he's definitely one of the most talented pass rushers I've ever played with. So yeah, I'm excited to really get it going.

Q. Looking at sacks for you guys, obviously you probably didn't have as many as you would've hoped last year. Can you talk about the good things that you did last year that maybe weren't stat worthy, so to speak?

A: It's so funny when you talk about what you've done. You ever hear Giannis Antetokounmpo's speech? I think it was in the playoffs; he talked about the past, and what you did and the future and what you're going to do, and humility is in the moment. For me, I mean, I didn't reach the goals that I wanted to reach last year, but we did well as a team. I gave myself a platform to continue to grow, and in the offseason, I put that work in, and now we're here continuing sharpening iron. I'm excited for what's to come as far as the growth of my game.

Q. What did you do specifically in the offseason to help you grow?

A: I mean, I worked. I don't want to give up the secrets. People pay for those. But definitely working out every day. I did, like, three workouts a day on average with recovery, with film study, with everything else. So, just never putting it down. A lot of times when you're going through life, you think about football season, right? Or offseason. There really is no offseason when you do it as a professional. So, understanding that and being able to really start making my lifestyle about the game and about growth.

Q. Those sprints that you're doing in between when you're not on, is that something you've always done?

A: No, man. In college, yeah, but when I came to the league, we run so much that you think you're going to be prepared, but nothing can prepare you for what's to come on Sunday. I'm just trying to give myself every advantage to be better. I played a lot of snaps last year, and I feel like if I was more prepared for the number of snaps I was going to play, I could have had more production. So, I'm just trying to give myself any advantage I can.

Q. When you look at last year's film, do you feel you left some sacks on the field?

A: Definitely. I think every time you look back at a play, you feel like you could have ate a little bit more. Last year's film kind of disgusts me a little bit when I look at myself. I get a little cringe feeling. But it definitely is, like I said, a platform to continue to grow. 

Q. Why cringe?

A: Anytime you look at your younger self, you always see how you've evolved and matured. So, now it's me understanding who I was and who I am now and who I'm consistently growing to be. 

Q. Do you have more of an individual plan for camp this year knowing what you need to get accomplished for yourself or you want to get accomplished by certain landmarks, preseason games, that kind of thing?

A: I would definitely say, when you talk about goals for myself, it would just be routine. Understanding what I need to recover, understanding what my body likes, and what it doesn't like, as far as my nutrition, as far as my recovery. Even when it comes to lifting weights, or stretching and doing things like that, just understanding – and I've been doing that from the offseason to now – what it's going to take for me to be my best self.

Q. What would you say were a couple of the most eye-opening things that you learned last year, it being your first go around in the league?

A: A couple of the most eye opening? That chemistry is everything. When you play this game, and you've got 11 guys out there, you can't do it by yourself, so you would say the teams with the most chemistry have the most success. Really being accountable and selfless. There are a lot of teams who have great players, and they have a lot of talent, but not a lot of humility, not a lot of selflessness. When it comes to big games, when it comes to big plays or tough plays and having to rebound, the truth will always rise.

Q. Getting back to that kind of thing a little bit, in college, at that level it's easier for a player of your talent to have a bigger impact individually. Is that now how it is at this level? Is that a fair point?

A: Guys make plays. You look at (defensive tackle) Dexter Lawrence (II), he's a guy who, every game, he's wrecked it. So, you are able to have impacting games, impacting plays in every game. It's just about how often and how consistent you can do it, and that comes to your conditioning, that comes to your film study, that comes to the chemistry among your teammates and understanding that every team you play is going to be different, and you have to kind of tailor what you do as a player to combat that.

Q. What can you speak to as far as the DBs and the young core you guys have? How do they allow you to play so freely, and what trust do you guys have for them on the back end?

A: Communication. Communication. Communication. Communication. I repeat that because a loud defense is a good defense. When you see how gelled they are and how together they are, you can understand that it's easy to communicate, it's easy to hold each other accountable. That translates from the back end all the way to the guys up front. We kind of continue to keep that camaraderie among us and really just be together. When we are on the field, we understand that we move as one.

Q: We were in here the other day with (tackle) Andrew Thomas, and he said closing the gap on the Eagles starts with the lines, basically. The offensive line feels it because the Eagles have been good on their offensive line for a decade. Does the defensive line feel the same, that to close the gap, we have to do it because we have a core now and they have had their (Eagles defensive tackle) Fletcher Cox and (Eagles defensive end) Brandon Graham core forever?

A: When you talk about the older guys as far as (defensive tackle) Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence, they've done it for a while now. They're kind of reaching that level where they need guys to come with them. Luckily, they have guys like me and Azeez, who don't have egos, who are willing to soak up the game, who are willing to put in the work and the time. Now it's about just continually growing together, continuously just getting better, and learning how to rush as a unit and learning how to move as a unit. I think we're all excited. I think that we have a big challenge ahead of us with the rest of camp and continuing to grow, but I think it's going to be good.

Q: When you look at this team, do you say we're a playoff team or do you say that was last year, we've got to do it all over again?

A: When I look at this team, I think I'm willing to fight in an alley with any of them. I say that because these are guys who have no quit, these are guys who want to be better. It's a thing to have talent and to be okay with it. It's a thing to make it the NFL and cruise through, but when you have a bunch of guys who consistently make it their point and effort to get better and to grow, the sky is the limit.

Q: With your personal goals, are you somebody that keeps those to yourself or are you comfortable stating what your goals are?

A: That's my thing. Last year I had so many goals and I had so many numbers and statistics on what I wanted to be. I just want to be great. I want to help my team win. I want to be a guy who can make plays and make the plays when they count. I'm not really too fixated on numbers, I'm just fixated on really having an impact every game and being available every game.

View photos from Sunday's training camp practice at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.



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