Head Coach Joe Judge
Q: (Tight End) Evan Engram showed up on the injury report yesterday.
A: He'll be out here practicing today. We've got to put every little thing on the injury report. A lot of things get thrown on there, but he'll be out there today.
Q: Is it maintenance for the injury that he had previously or is it new?
A: It's just a normal nick and bump coming off some games. I think it's a little aggravated in practice from the games. Yesterday was a day we had to limit him a little bit.
Q: How about (Wide Receiver) Sterling Shepard? He wasn't on the other day and then he was on yesterday as limited.
A: Yeah, so he'll be out here today. We'll kind of move him around and see where he's at today. Again, some things that kind of accumulated throughout the course of a season. We'll see where he's at going into the game.
Q: Did he have a setback or anything like that?
A: I'm not going into any specifics of it in terms of anything from anything previous. It is what it is right now.
Q: Do you expect (Wide Receiver) Darius (Slayton) back this week?
A: We'll see how he moves around today. He's made progress continuously. He was close last week. We've done some things with him in practice this week. He's made some progress. I think it's fair to say that based on how he comes out of practice today and maybe if there's a workout Sunday morning, we'll know then, but I'm optimistic about it.
Q: Fair to say that (Wide Receiver) Kenny (Golladay), (Running Back) Saquon (Barkley) and (Wide Receiver) Kadarius (Toney) aren't going to make it this week?
A: They really haven't done much to this point. Again, we'll give them one more chance today to kind of move around and see if they can do anything and see if it's worth getting them on the field with the team or with the trainers right now. In terms of the official report and the rule outs and questionable and stuff, we'll do that later today. We'll kind of hold it until we go ahead and do the official report.
Q: You guys have a lot of stats from last year and how you guys didn't have a lot of soft tissue injuries. Do you have to look at anything or evaluate since there's an uptick this year?
A: Yeah, we're always looking at that continuously and seeing what we're doing. There's a number of things that factor into that. We're making sure that we account for everything that goes into it. There's been some injuries you just can't avoid and some other ones you've got to look internally at what you're doing in terms of players throughout the course of the season and how you've got to handle things differently.
Q: Do you think your players still enjoy playing in front of this home crowd? They've been kind of hostile to you guys. You have more wins on the road than you do at home.
A: Yeah, absolutely. The location has nothing to do with it. It's about how you go out there and you produce for 60 minutes and how you compete. In terms of playing at home, absolutely. It's our home stadium, it's our home crowd. You enjoy being there.
Q: Returning seems like a skill that should translate from college to the NFL pretty easily. (Wide Receiver) Dante Pettis was like an all-time college returner. Why has he not been in the NFL?
A: I can't speak on anything previously, but from his time here, he works with us at a returner, kickoff return and punt return. Obviously, he had a lot of accomplishments in college from his skillset and what he's able to do and produce out there. He's someone that I was very aware of coming out and his skillset and what he did production wise. He's a guy that we work with and he's included in the rotation as well. I couldn't say anything before he got here about where he is. Obviously, we've gone with some different guys who have been in that role for us and been very productive in terms of the punt returns. (Safety Jabrill Peppers) Pepp's been one of the most productive guys in the league. You can't control – punt returns are one of those things you can't control every opportunity. There's a lot of things that factor into it based on field position, what scheme you have called, the punt itself. There's a lot of things that can factor in and line up. To me, it's about when the opportunity comes your way of being productive. I'm very pleased with what Pepp has done with it, (Sterling Shepard) Shep's a guy that stays active with us, Toney, Pettis, a number of guys, Slayton stands back there catching punts routinely for us. Whoever we have to put back there, we have confidence in. Obviously, (Wide Receiver) C.J. Board was a key part for us when he was injured.
Q: How do you manage (Quarterback) Daniel (Jones) and trying to prevent him from trying to do too much? It seemed like on Sunday, he was pressing and trying to make more of a difference. You need him to make those big plays, but how do you coach that?
A: The message we give our players is the impact comes from when you just do your job. You make the routine plays, you do what you're supposed to do and those big things just happen. We talk to our players a lot about taking the profit. As a quarterback, you have to understand that there is a shot and there's a time in the game you've got to press something, but there's also a time you just have to go out and take the profit. We've talked about that a lot of times, it may be long yardage situations. If they drop back taking the sticks and they want to give the underneath throw, there's a time to take the underneath throw and let that guy do something with his legs as well. There's a time you're going to see opportunities in the game, whether it's off a play-action fake or a certain kind of coverage. You have something schemed up and lined up that you can get to and go ahead and take that shot down the field. That all falls within just doing your job within the plan and execute as a team. You've got to trust the other 10 on the field and you have to trust the other two phases on the team to do their jobs as well. We can't go out there and try to do somebody else's job. You can't go out there and try to win the game by yourself. It's the ultimate team sport. Everyone's relying on the man next to them to do everything to have success. Whether it's Daniel specifically, or any other player on our team, the message is always the same. Just do what you're responsible to do on that play with the right technique, the right effort and everything will happen positive.
Q: When you see a young guy like (Tackle) Matt Peart go through the competition in year two to win a spot in the starting lineup, the other guy wins that spot but is still competing for opportunities. How much do you watch how he's handling himself on and off the field in terms of waiting for that next chance? Some guys wait for their number to be called and need that tap on the shoulder.
A: I think Matt has done a great job. Matt had some setbacks health-wise early in camp, but I think (Tackle) Nate (Solder) did a great job in camp in terms of how he competed and how he played. Both guys had some health issues throughout the duration of that. We intend on playing all of our guys and here it is that Matt's playing now and he's doing a good job for us. We challenge our players all the time to be prepared. That's something that's a theme for us that obviously you guys ask all the time about the injuries and how do we respond to that. The answer is we prepare all of our guys all the time. Everyone should be getting ready to play every game. I don't care if you're on practice squad, I don't care if you're coming off an injury, I don't care where you are in your career, everybody has to be ready to play every week. So, when your number does get called, you're prepared. In terms of the approach he takes, on and off the field specifically about Matt, he's done a great job. He's very intent in meetings, he's very good as far as communication and asking questions, making sure he's on the same page. He does a really good job whether he's in one-on-one drills, two-on-two drills, the offensive line, defensive line, working our schemes and our offense or if he has to go over and take reps as all of our players do with the scout team at times to go ahead and simulate the other team's reps. He takes every opportunity to go ahead and get better. He's made strides for us and I'm pleased with the way he's working, the way he's going to come out and compete on Sunday. I have a lot of confidence in him because I have seen him work this week. In terms of all of our players, I'm always evaluating how they do everything. We tell them from the very beginning, everything is evaluated, everything. How you are in the building, how you are with the training staff, how you are with the equipment guys, how you are with the ladies in the cafeteria. Everything's evaluated. How you sit in meetings, how you come out and prepare your body to go to practice, how you practice, how you produce in the games. Everything is evaluated, all the time. Every coach, every player, everything is evaluated.
Q: With your injuries to your skill position players, how big a priority is it for you to get more out of your tight ends in the passing game?
A: Well, they're already a key part of what we plan every week. They really are already. In terms of trying to get more out of someone because of somebody else, like I'll defer back right now to the skill players we're going to have available, I have a lot of confidence in, and they've got to step up and they have to make plays. In addition, our tight ends obviously have to step up as well, as do our running backs. I don't think you go into a game and say, 'OK, we don't have so and so available, now this position group has to carry the load.' That's not realistic because what happens is the opponent knows that as well. They may look at your injury report or kind of see your inactives on gameday and say, 'OK, they don't have A, B or C, we're going to focus on this group right here and really take them away.' Well, then the other groups have got to step up and make plays as well. Going back to what I said a second ago, you've got to go ahead and take the profit, keep moving the ball, be productive and be consistent within a game. You can't lean on any one player or any one position group. You've got to make sure everybody steps up and does their job.
Q: I'm thinking also you have the balance of you need some people to make plays, but at the same time, your offensive line is pretty beat up. You've been using your tight ends to a degree to help out in that regard as well. The balance there, how fine is that?
A: Well, there's always a balance to that. I know what you're referring to, a lot of times whether it's a run-action pass or the tight ends staying in a little bit more or maybe it's a third down where we chip and go ahead and get out. Those are all deigned by scheme and we have to understand that when someone's maybe immediately into a route, how it factors in. When someone may have to chip or be a late add into a route, the availability of what they're going to do and what that's going to be presented for the opportunity for us to get them the ball. If they take away everything deep, something's available underneath. If they're squeezing press at the line, something may be available down the field, so we've got to go ahead and just see what they're presenting to us and make sure we make the right decisions. But it's fair to ask, I understand what you're saying. It's fair to ask, 'OK, there's injuries on the team, who's got to step up and take that role?' To me, the message to the team every day is everyone's got to step up. Everyone's got to step up. When your number is called, you've got to make the play and there's not a player that's sits in that meeting room that's wasn't the best player on his high school team, the best player on his college team. You're in the National Football League for a reason. You're an accomplished athlete. You're a good player, so we expect everyone in there to give us production.
Q: You signed (Linebacker Benardrick) McKinney to the practice squad. What are you hoping he can give you?
A: Well, I thought it was an opportunity to just get a good player in here. Obviously, he's very accomplished in this league. His reputation in this league in terms of being just a straight dude, in terms of just being prepared, loving ball, good communicator, physical presence, good run-stopping linebacker. He's a guy that I've competed against as far as going against teams when he was down there in Houston. You obviously knew about him. I remember evaluating this guy coming out. He was one of the top guys coming out for us in certain positions. So, a lot of respect for him in the league and how he plays. Hopefully, he just adds to our ability to get more players on the field and we're giving him an opportunity through this week of learning the system a little bit. He's played in similar systems. I can't say it's the same, but there's carryover from Houston to his time in Miami to here in terms of the structure of the defense and a lot of the verbiage he'll hear. He's done a good job so far in a couple of days being on the field with us, good job in the meetings communicating. You can see it in his eyes, he's got a very good approach to the game in terms of how he comes to work and the meetings every day and what he does on the field. It's been encouraging having him out here. We'll see where he goes, but we're going to give him an opportunity to come out here and compete with us. And he went to Mississippi State, so he kind of gets the leg up on a lot of people that way, too (laughs).
Q: Has (Offensive Lineman) Isaiah Wilson been in the building at all this week?
A: He's back with us today. In fact, he's somewhere out there, so he'll be practicing out here today with us. Again, he had a stomach bug this week. When someone has that or something we think may be contagious, we just keep them away from the team. We don't want that stuff spreading through the building like wildfire. He was engaged with our guys, he met with some of the guys on Zoom, QCs and stuff, throughout the week staying on top of installs and materials and things of that nature, but he's back today. He'll work today. Saturday, tomorrow, those guys will all come in. The guys that aren't going to be active in the game or are on the practice squad will get an extra-long hard workout with (Director of Strength and Performance Craig) Fitz (Fitzgerald) to make sure they use that opportunity to go ahead and get better. He'll be part of that program tomorrow, as well. We call it our 'devo' program – developmental players – so he'll part of that as well tomorrow.
Q: Do you do that every Saturday?
A: We do it every Saturday, yes. There are some guys that may be kind of on that fringe line of are they going to play or are they not? Are they going to get elevated? Then we'll push back a little bit in terms of not frying out their legs or doing whatever Fitz is going to do with them and get them ready for the game. If we decide at some point that we're not going to elevate them or we know they're not going to be active, then we'll make sure they get that same workout with us whether it's later on Saturday or early Sunday.
Wide Receiver Darius Slayton
Q: This time you're ready?
A: Yeah, I feel good.
Q: Anything you're still working out or do you feel like you can go 100-percent at this point pretty much?
A: Just kind of been taking it day by day, trying to come out here and put together a couple days of practice. I feel good and just getting myself ready for the game.
Q: Looked like last week you did a pretty intense workout before the game. How close were you?
A: Yeah, I did a little workout before the game. Felt pretty good, but there was still probably a decent amount of risk in playing and trying to play a full four quarters, so just decided to wait another week.
Q: Was it longer than you thought?
A: The recovery time?
A: No, because I'd never really dealt with something exactly like this before, so it was kind of hard to know, to be honest.
Q: When you look at the injury report and it's literally every player on the offense, what goes through your mind? Is that training room jinxed or something?
A: I definitely hate that for my teammates. I know they want to play. Obviously, I want to have them all out there with me, but the guys that we have that are going to play Sunday are going to step up and make it happen.
Q: How much more important does that make it for you to come back this week? They're down a whole bunch of guys.
A: I think it definitely helps. Obviously – I just lost my train of thought, wow. Repeat the question again.
Q: How important is it for you to come back now knowing that everyone else is out?
A: I would just say I think it just helps. Obviously, the guys you carried through camp, you get a lot of reps with those guys. Fortunately, our room has pretty much stayed together, but obviously guys like (Wide Receiver Sterling) Shep (Shepard), (Wide Receiver) KG (Kenny Golladay), (Wide Receiver) KT (Kadarius Toney), all guys that we rely on, obviously you want to have them out there. But, like I said earlier, all these guys were for the most part with us through camp except for maybe one or two, so still got a lot of reps with them and they'll do well.
Q: You and Shep both got the hamstring within a couple plays of each other. Did you figure out what was going on that week or why that happened to you guys?
A: I don't know, a sniper in the stands or something (laughs). I don't know, but it kind of was what it was.
Q: In these last few weeks, Kenny would get the number one corner obviously and Kenny's not playing this week. Last year, you got a fair amount of having to go up against the number one corner, so how did that experience kind of help you, considering that could be the case again this week?
A: I think it helps a lot. Obviously, everybody's got really good players, so whether it's the one, the two, whoever it is, whoever lines up across from me, I'm going to try to beat them.
Q: What did you see from (Wide Receiver) Dante Pettis or what have you seen? Last week he got 11 targets, so I assume he must have done something right in practice.
A: Yeah, I mean that shows you right there, he's a reliable guy. Real wiggly, tends to shake guys, kind of has a different little body motion. He's a really good player, a talented player and I'm excited to be able to play with him.
Q: How tough has it been for you to – I guess you sat out the Saints game and the last couple games. How tough has it been to be a spectator these last couple of weeks?
A: It's brutal because you get so used to being out there and playing, especially pregame – you're used to getting ready, getting warmed up, they've got the music and the hype videos and everything going, your blood gets pumping and then it's like, 'and now I sit.' It's been a good time to reflect though. I got a chance to step back from the game, see the game from a bigger view than just the tunnel-vision I have when I'm playing. It's been good and bad in different ways.
Q: You said you're seeing the game from a different view. What particular things did you take from that?
A: Just kind of getting to see the ebbs and flow of the game, key moments, third downs, fourth downs, in the red zone, touchdown plays, what makes this play go (versus what makes) that play go. Just trying to see the game from a holistic view.
Safety Xavier McKinney
Q: What sticks with you more, the two interceptions you got last week or the one you dropped?
A: The one I dropped. I work on that every day. It's something I should catch, so it's something that I will catch next time. It's one that I dropped.
Q: Did you feel that it was just a matter of time because you were getting opportunities, right? You were getting close, and it just wasn't happening for you and then all of a sudden, you got a couple. Is that just sort of the way it goes? Did you see that coming?
A: I trust in my preparation. I trust in my work level, what I do to go out there on Sundays and go out there and produce. I trust what I do out here on the field with my teammates. I trust what the coaches want me to do. I trust how they coach me. That's just kind of the standard that I go by. I try to go out there and make plays. If they come, they come. I've just got to make them. That's it.
Q: Two in a game is pretty impressive, it's not seven in six games like (Cowboys Cornerback) Trevon Diggs. What do you think of what he's doing in the NFL?
A: Hey, he's doing great, man. I always had a lot of belief in him. Obviously, that's one of my close, close friends. We played together at Bama, so I always knew he would be that way. I know how he works, so I'm not surprised.
Q: Obviously the fans have been pretty hostile to this team in the last couple weeks. Do you guys still enjoy playing at home or is it not a surprise that your best performances are on the road?
A: We enjoy playing, period. That's just whether we're getting booed or whether they're cheering. Obviously, we know we've got to play better, but we enjoy playing the game no matter what. Like I said before, we trust in everybody in this organization. We trust in all the players that are around us. We trust in the guys that are out there with us and we're sticking to the plan. We're just going to keep working and keep trying to improve and win games.
Q: It's been a rough start for the defense this year and a rough few games in particular. How would you sort of rate or describe the frustration level on that unit right now?
A: It's frustrating to lose games, period, but I think it's the NFL. That's something that I've grown to see. You even see some of the best teams from last year having rough starts. Everybody's got rough starts, so it all just depends on how you can come back from that rough start. It's all about how you come out here and challenge yourself every day out there on the field, out there in the meetings, to try to improve to get better and be able to win those games. It's frustrating, but we know what we've got to do to be better. A lot of times we shoot ourselves in the foot, but we'll fix it, we'll correct it, and we'll get it done.
Q: It seems like it's pretty mellow and levelheaded, even though there have been ups and downs this year. How have you guys been able to stay that way? Is there somebody driving that? Is it (Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator) Patrick Graham and the way he kind of leads you guys? Why would you say that's the case?
A: I think that's what we show you guys. Like I said, we're losing, we know we're losing. We're not happy, nobody is happy. Like I said, we know what we've got to fix. We'll keep that stuff in house. We've voiced our frustrations, but like I said, we'll get it done however it may be.
Q: The expectations were pretty high externally for your defense considering what you did last year, so how far off of your guys' internal expectations have you been? I mean, the defense has not performed well, so how far below your expectations has it been?
A: I don't know. We didn't really set – I don't know, man. Like I said before, we started off rough, so that kind of is what it is. We know what we've got to improve on, and we've just got to go get it done. We can't really talk about it. I can't sit up here and tell you what the expectations were. We've got to just go out there and get the job done and win the game.
Q: One of the things that people see is that you guys are trying not to give up the big play. At the same time, people are just sitting down in front of the defense and just catching passes. How do you make that work in the sense of prevent the big play but not giving the easy catch?
A: I don't really know how to answer that. I don't know what you're asking for real. I just think we've got to go out there and execute. That's it.
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