Head Coach Joe Judge
Q: Obviously, we all saw you didn't seem too thrilled with the fight at the end of practice. Just curious about your reaction and if there is going to be any additional punishment doled out for everything that went down.
A: Well, we'll keep all that stuff between the team. I'd say in terms of what happened in practice yesterday is it's important that we learn from it, that we can't do anything that's going to cost our team in a game. We coach on all aspects of the game to eliminate penalties, whether that's enforcing holdings on one-on-ones between receivers and DBs, offsides on offense or defense, false starts, whatever it may be. Listen, the result of having something like that happen is going to be 15-yard penalties, ejections from the game and, for players and coaches specifically, fines. We have to understand that for everything you do there's a consequence and we have to understand that our job is to put ourselves in a position to win football games, that's our job. And we don't want to do anything that goes ahead and puts us in a position that takes away the opportunity to win games. What happened yesterday at practice would have taken away an opportunity to win a game based on the actions on the field, so there needs to be consequences, there needs to be a lesson learned and we need to move forward as a team and not repeat the mistake.
Q: Hey Joe, at one point we saw (Quarterback) Daniel Jones at the bottom of the pile, which I imagine is not something that you want to see. I'm just curious if you saw that while it was happening, your message to Daniel after the fact. I imagine you don't really want him around when that kind of thing is going on, but what are your thoughts about that part of it?
A: Yeah, the message to the team was consistent for every player, so we don't want any player at the bottom of a pile, we don't want any player jumping in the way they did and that's why we took action immediately the way we did.
Q: You've seen a lot of fighting happen in camp and things like that. Sometimes it's a bunch of over-aggressive young guys who don't really know the flow. The fact that this was triggered by a bunch of veterans – (Defensive Back) Logan Ryan, (Tight End) Evan Engram – does that make it more of a teaching point that you can't have your leaders do stuff like that?
A: It's a teaching point no matter how it happens. To be honest with you, my message to the team is the reason it happened is insignificant, the result of what happened is what the consequence is going to be and we can't have that. We can't coach that. Listen, they're in pads for the first day, so there's obviously an elevated intensity, urgency, chippy-ness, but that can't carry over to having penalties and issues like that on the field. One thing I'll say is that the offense and defense have been competing very hard now for over a week against each other. This time of training camp, guys do get a little bit chippy with each other, but I'd say that stays on the field. When all our players walked off the field yesterday, we had no issues carry over to the locker room, the cafeteria, the training room, anywhere else. Our guys are in here and I'm not saying we're laughing off the situation, but they understand that we're all one team and we can't do that to each other. And the most important part of that lesson we have to learn is ultimately we have to eliminate bad football. Penalties are bad football. The lesson has to be we're not doing anything that's going to get our team in a position to be penalized.
Q: We saw, obviously, there was a lot of running and push-ups that went along with it. Can you explain why when they have to suffer consequences that's the route you take? There's a lot of people that say, 'That's college stuff, that's high school stuff. That's not going to fly here at the NFL level.'
A: Yeah, listen, there's a lot of different ways to approach things. In terms of fights, to be honest with you, my policy has been to get guys out of practice, so that happened involving the entire team, I threw the entire team out of practice. We had more ball to go. We had two more periods left in practice, we had things we had to accomplish. Those were things yesterday that robbed us of an opportunity to keep preparing, that robbed other players of reps to go out there and compete, so generally we just basically ended practice at that point. We're going to go ahead and got our conditioning in. We had things planned for conditioning anyway; however, when something happens there needs to be feedback. I've talked about this before, I know a lot of people out there are questioning why we're doing this or that. Yeah, I get it. I explain to my players all the time, when you get a 15-yard penalty, you've got to run that much further on the field to score. When you have a consequence of that where you have to run right away, that reinforces that, 'Hey, listen, I can't afford to make that mistake.' When there's an issue with ball-handling, substitution, lack of focus, whatever it may be, there needs to be some kind of reinforcement right away. It's not always running, sometimes it is, you know.
Q: Joe, I wanted to ask you about two receivers, (Wide Receiver) Kenny (Golladay) and his hamstring and how (Wide Receiver) Kadarius (Toney) looked to you in his first kind of football activity there?
A: I'd say like any of our players it has been the same with KT, you know we're going to bring them along slowly to make sure that he's moving at the right pace. We've had great communication with our trainers and strength staff along with him. He's definitely out there. He's doing everything we ask. Very pleased with the progress he's making. You can definitely see the passion. I know he's champing at the bit to do more and more and more and we'll keep bringing him along each day doing a little more for him and see where his conditioning's at. But I was very pleased with how he's started off. I'm very pleased with how he worked with our trainers in the process to get ready for it. In terms of Kenny, he's actually seeing a doctor this morning. We just broke meetings a second ago. I'll find out a little bit more about it. I would say, in terms of a worse-case scenario, I think we've kind of avoided that in terms of dealing with it, but we'll see what the timetable looks like. And again, injuries are different for every player based on what they are, so we'll have to see how his body responds and make sure we do right by him.
Q: Joe, two quick ones if you don't mind, one about the brawl. Did you have a problem with the Logan Ryan-specific hit? It just seemed like, obviously pushing and shoving happens, but hitting a guy in the back or in the back of the neck like that, is that a scary situation?
A: I would just say, every time we teach our team in terms of what is or is not acceptable, we always bring it back to football. We'll always bring it back to the parameters of the game. If we have a specific tempo in practice, we're going to make sure all the players are practicing that tempo. That was basically what a violation of it was yesterday at that point of practice that led to an issue that became a bigger issue. In terms of the specific hit, instead of going through and trying to say, 'this one is this, this one not as bad,' and trying to dissect it down, real simple, that would have been a penalty in a game. I have a problem with penalties. We go through it every day with the players. I just got done watching holdings from one-on-one. I got done watching offsides penalties, illegal formations. We're going to go through it every day with the players to make sure they understand. So instead of trying to take each player on a different basis of his hit wasn't that bad, this guy's hit was maybe a little bit worse – real simple, if it was a penalty, we have an issue with it.
Q: And just a real quick follow, Daniel Jones and the offense really seemed to have a strong day yesterday, what's your review of how they performed and how Daniel performed?
A: Look, I'm pleased with how the offense is working right now and they have made consistent improvement and obviously, there was a lot of plays they made yesterday. I told you the other day, there's always going to be days where the offense gets the better of the defense and some days the defense gets the better of the offense. That naturally happens through training camp. There's things that happen through adjustments and installs. Some guys just come to play certain days more than other guys, but we've got to make sure that on all three sides of the ball, we've consistently improved. In terms of how they performed yesterday as a unit, yeah, that's what we expect of these guys, keep making improvements right there. One thing about these guys is you know, look, they do compete and they play as a unit and they play hard. I think that's something that as long as we keep on doing that, we clean up the execution, we eliminate bad football, they'll put themselves in a position that we can have success as a team.
Q: I noticed (Linebacker) Cam Brown playing inside more than, at least, I expected. Was that something you guys had planned or was it due to the numbers? How do you think he's done in there?
A: For one, I think he's making a lot of progress. I'm really pleased with the way he's playing right now in there. That's not a completely foreign position for him. He's had some experience in the past, but in terms of our system, it is new for him. But, that came up as an offseason decision. This wasn't anything as a result of numbers. We made the decision in the offseason to really work Cam with some inside stack and have some flex go to the edge for some pass rush situations. He's a guy that's got a good skill set. He's got some length, he is athletic. He can really run in space, so we're going to try and find him a home based on the packages. We don't want to limit him that he can only do one thing and then we're stuck that we can't get him on the field as much as we want to. So, by cross-training right now on the edge and the stack, that'll free us up as the season goes, as the packages change, the game plans change, that we have more people that are available to help us.
Q: Two quick things: one, did everybody come out of the brawl okay yesterday? Did anybody get hurt during that?
A: All healthy.
Q: Obviously, there's a lot of outside handwringing when people see your language, they see you running guys like that. It's a little unusual in this modern day. Are you convinced that your players respond to you the right way? What does their response tell you about them?
A: Listen, we've had a great experience with our players. We have guys in this program now for about a year and a half. We constantly communicate with these guys, we're very transparent, we explain why we do what we do. They understand that there's a goal at hand, what it's supposed to look like, and how we're supposed to get there. I think by doing that it kind of makes the path clear and easier to understand. You referenced modern day football. I've said before, I'm a little bit old school and how I believe. Coaches have really influenced me. The one thing I've really learned from some great coaches that I had the opportunity to play or coach under is they really reaffirmed everything I learned young in the game as a player. That's really about fundamentals and foundation. It's about discipline, it's about culture. So, in terms of the modern day, I know a lot of people have different ways of doing things. I know there's a proven way that works, and we're going to stick to the base fundamentals that we believe in.
Wide Receiver Sterling Shepard
Q: Hey Sterling, you've been around a bunch of training camps, fights, altercations, fisticuffs. I don't know if you've been around one where there's so much running and push-ups afterwards. What'd you make of yesterday and how do you think the team came out of it?
A: I think it was yesterday. Kind of got to move on and focus on getting better today. This is training camp, man, emotions are going to run high, guys are fighting for jobs, we're going to be competing, so with that level of competition, things are going to get heated. It boiled over a little yesterday, but you learn from it and you keep on pushing and keep on moving on, and that's what we're focused on doing today.
Q: The boiling over probably didn't surprise you, but did the running and the push-up surprise you a little bit?
A: No, I expected that. I mean, there are consequences for your actions, and I suspected that's what we were going to be doing is some type of conditioning.
Q: Hey Shep, (Head Coach) Joe (Judge) told us in the spring that after they drafted (Wide Receiver) Kadarius (Toney) he called you and just wanted to let you know they didn't draft this guy to take your job. Just curious, what was your reaction to that phone call?
A: I mean, we were just adding another playmaker was kind of my thought process, but I respected the call. Grown man to grown man, I felt like that was the right way to go about it and felt good about the call. He just reassured me and, yeah, that's what I thought about it.
Q: How do you approach that relationship with Kadarius? Maybe it's similar to when you came in and Victor (Cruz) was the veteran and you were the rookie. How do you approach having a guy coming in under your wing?
A: Just like I approach everybody else who comes in. Whatever help they need getting adjusted, try to help them the best way I can. I have all the confidence in the world in my ability and what I can bring to the table and that's what I stand on. I'm going to walk in this building and be the same person that I am, no matter what happens.
Q: You said you expected the running and all, but do guys have a problem with it? You see some guys, older guys chirping in from outside the building saying this is what other Belichick guys did, veterans hated it, it wore us down. Is that something you sense at all in the locker room?
A: No, not at all. That's kind of the standard that we've set here in this building and as a team, and I think guys have bought in and know what to expect whenever you step on the field and when you're playing under a guy like Coach Judge. If you don't like it, then you're welcome to leave. But that's the way that we do things around here and everybody is standing by that, and I'm all for it. I mean, it's a little different for us because we're receivers, we've got to be able to run all day, but I don't mind it.
Q: Shep, do you ever worry that somebody is going to get hurt if this gets out of hand? When you have a scrum like that?
A: Yeah, but at the end of the day, we're all teammates. I don't really worry about that too much and really I'm not focused on that anymore. I'm focused on today and moving past that.
Q: Hey Shep, I know it's only one week, but do you feel as dialed in as maybe you've looked to a lot of us so far this camp?
A: I mean, I feel great. I worked my tail off this offseason to come in the best shape. I think that was one of the things that Coach Judge and I had a conversation about right before I left for OTAs, just coming in shape and being able to be on the field at all times and being able to run around and move to these different positions and being versatile. That's the mentality that I had going into the offseason and I can say that I'm in some of the best shape of my life right now. I've been feeling good and just gotta keep stacking the days and continue to improve.
Q: I'm curious, what's your assessment of the offense's performance so far early in camp?
A: At the beginning, we were kind of going back and forth with the defense. Yesterday, I felt like we made a really good stride. I mean, we were on fire yesterday. Today, I mean, that's what I'm focused on is us coming out with the same mentality as we had yesterday. I've been around the league a little while now and from time to time you'll have a good day and then the defense will come back and destroy you the next day just because they've gotten an earful from their coach. So, I'm excited to see how the guys are going to respond today and even myself, being a leader, trying to keep the guys' energy high and just trying to be dominant every day.
Q: Shep, does (Cornerback) Darnay (Holmes) have to run a lap for you undressing him like that? Is there a punishment for that or is it just the embarrassment of it happening in front of people?
A: I mean, that's a part of the game and I'm here to help Darnay. Like, after those reps and the times that we go against each other, my job is to make him better, so I want to be the hardest guy that he has to guard all year. That's my mentality and whatever I've got to do to help him and his game is what I'm going to do. I pull him aside after every single route and tell him how he can be better on different stuff, so that's just a part of the game and he's going to be great for us, I feel like. His mentality is something that I really respect about him and the way he's able to forget about what happened last time and come back last time and still be a scrappy DB, I respect that about him.
Cornerback James Bradberry
Q: What do you think of (Cornerback) Rodarius Williams? The rookie corner looks like he's getting some meaningful snaps and doing some good stuff.
A: I think he has a lot of skill. Now, it's just him getting adjusted to the speed of the NFL and also learning the system. Once he learns the system, I think he'll be able to play even faster.
Q: I know (Cornerback Aaron) Robinson is not on the field, but what have you learned about him from the mental side and just as a player so far?
A: He doesn't talk a whole lot. Of course, when he's in the meeting rooms, he doesn't talk a lot because he's doing a whole lot of listening. I feel like he's very attentive, he listens a lot. He doesn't really talk a lot honestly, so it's hard to get a good read on him.
Q: We hear all the time about when the pads come on, what kind of work it's going to be with the offensive and defensive linemen, and how that's going to really help them. For someone like you who's trying to perfect this craft, once the pads come on, how does it change for you as a cornerback, and does it give you better work?
A: It really hasn't changed a whole lot. Beforehand when we didn't have pads, I still had to guard the receiver. Of course, the game is a lot less physical on the outside when you're guarding receivers. It's more about learning route concepts and also just trying to correct your technique and whatnot. So once the pads get on, it really doesn't change a whole lot for a DB.
Q: Back to Aaron Robinson for a second and Rodarius, I mean he's on the field, but you've been a rookie in this league. How important and how much does it hurt a guy like Aaron that he's not on the field? He's coming off surgery. He's not on the field in training camp, and for a rookie, you would think that this is a really important time.
A: I feel like it definitely puts him behind the 8-ball a little bit because he's not on the field getting actual visual reps, but it all depends on how he learns as well. If he learns very quickly, it's not going to be a struggle for him at all. It's just depending on like how attentive he is and how much he's willing to learn.
Q: What do you remember about your rookie year training camp?
A: Man, it's really a blur because I was trying to keep up with the speed of the game while also learning the defense. I was also with the ones, so the speed of the game and everybody out there knew what they were doing. I was kind of dependent on them to get me the call and kind of put me in the right location and stuff, so it was a big blur. Honestly, I was just doing a whole lot of running around. Then as I learned the system, it started to slow down for me.
Q: When was that? When did you consider that it slowed down and you learned the system?
A: It started slowing down for me like the end of my second year or third year. It took a minute.
Q: Have you been on a little bit of a pitch count the last couple days? Is that just to get other guys more reps because they know who and what you are, or what's the plan there?
A: It's just a lot of DB's and it's hard to get everyone an equal amount of reps. So, somebody has got to lose reps, whether that's the first group, second group, or third group, or the fourth group. Someone has to lose reps and I guess it's just me right now.
Q: Do you not mind a lighter workload? Are you the kind of guy who just always wants to be out there?
A: Even when I have a light workload, I'm still working when it comes to special teams and individuals, so I'm still getting my reps in. If it's not physical, it's going to be mental and I'm cool with either one. It just depends on whatever coach wants me to do.
Q: I wanted to ask you about what you think of yesterday's running and the punishment after the brawl? How do you think the players are responding to it?
A: When you do something that's going to harm the team, especially like during the game, it's going to provoke a penalty, there's going to be consequences behind that. I just saw it as that was our consequence. Our consequence was to run and do push-ups. And of course, like the physical part, that happens. It's football, it's a physical game, so sometimes that happens.
Q: I know the cornerbacks and defensive backs are usually pretty competitive amongst each other, whether it's who's the fastest, or who's the strongest, or who has the most interceptions? I'm wondering if you guys compete to see who's the smartest. It seems like this defense takes a lot of mental power to get a handle on. Do you guys keep track of who's answering the most questions? Who seems to have the biggest grip on the playbook?
A: It's hard to kind of judge who's the smartest when you're in a room like that. But you can just kind of tell how guys go about their business, especially when they're on the field, like when they know what spots they're supposed to be in, and they know like what routes are going to come. You know that guy knows what he's doing, and he's pretty smart. So, I wouldn't say it's a competition, but you definitely start asking the smarter guys around the room a lot more questions.
Q: Are you one of the guys that the other players come to now that you're in your second year in this system?
A: Yeah, I think so. Just me being in my sixth year in the league, young guys are coming in asking questions all the time, so I try to give them the best feedback as possible.
Offensive Tackle Nate Solder
Q: Hey Nate, I was wondering how you view the competition with (Tackle) Matt (Peart) there at right tackle? It looks like a competition between you two. Obviously a big difference with your experiences but how do you go into this situation?
A: You know, I don't think the competition is just between the two of us. I think it's a team competition. I think that they want the best 11 football players out there and I'm working to, if not be one of those, make those guys the best, you know what I mean? So that's my job, my role is just to go out there every day and be the best that I can be and help make others that way, too.
Q: What have you seen from him? What did you see from him last year when you were not with the team and what have you seen from him so far in a couple of days that he's been on the field?
A: Yeah, it's early. But it's been great to play with him and all the other guys. I think we have a long ways to go, but hard-working guys. Guys that care, smart, tough and we're going to develop who we are and what we're all about.
Q: One of the things we heard when you didn't play last year, maybe sitting a year out, getting your body to rest is a good thing. Looking back at that and now being out there, first time in pads yesterday, has it been a good thing? Do you feel younger, fresher, stronger, all those things?
A: I don't feel younger, but I do feel great. My body feels recovered, healthy. I think there is a cumulative toll that playing every season takes on you, so actually having that time to let some of those bumps and bruises kind of heal up has been a good thing.
Q: Hey Nate, obviously you knew (Head Coach) Joe (Judge) before he came here and had a little time last spring and this spring, but this is your first time really working with him. Has he been like what you expected as a head coach?
A: The great thing about Joe, and I have tremendous respect for him and what he's all about, he's the same guy that I've always known. I don't think that he's trying to put on airs. I don't think he's trying to be anything that he's not. He's exactly who he says he is and that's just his integrity and I think that's shown through in the last week that I've been here.
Q: I'm curious, you've been in a bunch of offensive line rooms, including in New England, where they had some interesting setups with the coaching staff in that specific room. You have a lot of coaches this year in your room and I was wondering what do you think of that and have you ever been in a room with this many coaches sitting in one position group?
A: I mean, it's excellent to have the resources. I knew (Assistant Offensive Line Coach) Ben (Wilkerson) from before. I'm getting to know (Offensive Line) Coach (Rob) Sale and Coach Flats (Offensive/Defensive Consultant Pat Flaherty). Coach Flats and me sit down from time to time and I can just hear so much of his experience and when Coach Sale goes through it, he's clear and knowledgeable and he helps us get on the same page. The biggest thing with any o-line, it's important that you know what you're doing, but it's also important that we're working together. I think that's been through the coaching staff all the way through to the players, so that's been a great group.
Q: Hey Nate, does that t-shirt say 'fight'?
A: Yes, it does. Yes, it does.
Q: Did you pull it out of the closet after yesterday?
A: No. This is about a mentality, it's not about an activity.
Q: What was your take on what happened yesterday at practice and the aftermath of it?
A: Well, I think a couple things. I think that it's a good thing that we have competitive guys, guys that care, guys that are willing to be scrappy. But I think it's also important what the coaches say, too, is we have to be disciplined and intelligent and smart and make good decisions. So I think it's both and we're always walking that fine line on the football field at all times. We want to be tough, but it's got to be within the rules, and we got to do it at a high level.
Q: And then real quick, did you have a chance to talk to (Offensive Lineman) Joe Looney before he made his decision or after he made his decision and left?
A: I didn't get a chance to talk to him in depth. I was not aware till this morning when it was announced to the team that he retired, but he's had a fantastic career and I know he's making the best decisions for his family. He's a man of Christ like myself and we had an immediate unity and so I know God's fighting for him and loves him and he's going to have great things in his future.
Q: Do you think that the running and everything from last night had anything to do with his decision?
A: No. No, I don't think so. He's got his own thing going on. He's a longtime veteran and I don't think one time of exercise would change his decision, no.