Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale
Alright, here we go. We're counting down to—yesterday was Practice 14. I like where we're at defensively. A lot of things to improve on and we still have a lot of great competition.
With that, I'll open it up for questions.
Q. How many cases of Pepto do you order for yourself when you start to contemplate putting two rookies at cornerback?
A: None at all. I mean, you've got to play the best guys. That's just, like I said, there's still a lot of competition going on out there. But it just so happens, they're both playing really well right now and they deserve the reps with the 1s. That's what this league is all about. That's what our organization, and Dabs (head coach Brian Daboll) and (general manager) Joe (Schoen) are all about. We're excited to see their growth. Every day is a new day for them as far as there's something else they find out, there's a different kind of shift, there's a different kind of movement. The faster that can become just natural to them instead of thinking while they're doing it, the faster you'll see them make more plays, and it's fun to watch.
Q. Is this something you've had in mind as early as draft weekend?
A: No, I think it all happens—I mean, I knew the player that (cornerback) Deonte (Banks) was, and I just didn't know the level where (cornerback) Tre (Hawkins III) was at. He's stepped up to every challenge that we've given him and he's playing well right now.
Q. How would you assess how both of those guys played in the game? You got them a lot of work.
A: Right. I think that when the lights came on in a real game, they both played very well. Very well. That was fun to watch. I think that the practices on Tuesday and Wednesday helped them with their confidence going into the game, the unknown fear of, 'What's this going to be like going against somebody else?' So, I thought that was really good for them.
Q. From the outside looking in, it looks like (Jason) Pinnock is really seizing his opportunity at safety. It looks like you're also trying to find ways to get (safety) Dane (Belton) on the field. What would you call that role?
A: I think that there's times, I've said before standing up here, that the NFL is a matchup game now. There were times last year we played with four safeties on the field. So, depending on the opponent, depending on the health of everyone and everything else, there's great competition there at safety too. Because I think (safety) Bobby McCain is showing up, and he showed up in the game as well. A veteran that knows what he's doing. So, there's those four and then you saw the progression of G.O. (safety Gervarrius Owens) and A.C. (safety Alex Cook) there in the second half. I thought they both played really well. So, it's great competition in that room.
Q. We've seen (defensive tackle) Jordon Riley get a lot of reps just because of the injuries on the D-line. What have you seen from him?
A: I don't classify it as just because of the injuries on the D-line, I think that he was going to get those kinds of reps anyway going into the game. Dre (defensive line coach Andre Patterson) and B-Cox (assistant defensive line coach Bryan Cox) have done a great job with him, and he's progressed every day.
As long as he keeps with that progression… It's something like I told (defensive lineman) D.J. (Davidson) yesterday in front of the whole defense, it's a different landscape up front for us. You guys can see it, just physically see the difference in our D-line. Just like I talked about the safeties, there's great competition in the D-line room led by (defensive lineman) Dex(ter Lawrence II) and (defensive lineman) Leo(nard Williams).
Q. Another place that you have competition is that second inside linebacker spot. How would you assess what you're seeing from (inside linebacker Darrian) Beavers and (inside linebacker Micah) McFadden?
A: I'll tell you, I thought Micah played really well in the game. He did a lot of good things. I think that this is truly Beavers' rookie year because of the ACL, and he's missed so many practices that Micah's got a year under his belt. It's a good competition and Micah is definitely leading right now. So, we'll see where that goes and where that takes it.
Q. Are you open to adding, say, (linebacker) Anthony Barr?
A: I'm open to adding anybody that Joe and Dabs think that we need.
Q. What's your comfort level with the two? They're both pretty young. You mentioned one guy's a rookie and one guy was a rookie last year. So, what's your comfort level with those two if you roll into the year with them?
A: Well, you always want, as a coach and a coordinator, as many good players as you can get. So, like I said, I wouldn't say no to anything. But, once again, I sound like a broken record, there's good competition there, but I definitely would say that Micah is leading it right now.
Q. We've seen (cornerback) Adoree' (Jackson) in the slot a bunch. Would you consider doing that full-time, for lack of a better term? Is that something that you're at least contemplating at this point?
A: You know me. You saw some different things out there that you're like, 'What is he doing?' I mean, we consider everything. With the matchups that you would have, that gives you great versatility. We'll see where that goes.
Q. How's he doing at it?
A: He's good.
Q. What makes him good at it?
A: Just because of his coverage skills, number one, his speed, his athleticism. Everything that made him our No. 1 corner last year, he still has. I think when you go into these games, in any sub package, you want to play your three best corners. Right now, those are our three best corners. There's nothing set in stone yet, you know what I mean? We'll see how it works out.
Q. Why do you think Tre Hawkins wasn't drafted till the sixth round?
A: I have no idea. That whole thing, the whole draft process, I think that Joe took Tre on his traits that he has. He's big, he's long, he's fast. There's lots of guys that didn't get drafted till later rounds, starting with (quarterback) Tom Brady. I'm not saying he's the Tom Brady of corners, don't get me wrong. But I'm just saying I can't tell you why. It's just that's where he fell in the draft.
Q. Do you see a huge difference between him and your first-round pick in terms of their learning on the field, and their acclimating to the NFL game?
A: I think that they're different in all kinds of ways. I think that it's great competition for both of them – they're both rookies – to try to compete. Once you get here – this is one of the things I love with Joe and Dabs – it doesn't matter how you got here. I'm sure you've heard Dabs say this before, we're going to play the best 11 that you can play that day. That's what is exciting during training camp for coaches. I would think it'd be exciting for the players because they all get treated equally, all 90 of them coming in that building.
Q. With Belton, last year for the most part from the outside, he was compromised physically with that clavicle for most of the year. Are we seeing him now, the plays that he's made, especially in the last week or so, that he feels like he's back 100 percent to what you need?
A: I hope so. I think that he was making those plays last year before the injury. He's one of those guys that the ball finds him, and he finds the ball. That's a great trait to have when you're in the secondary in the National Football League. So, I'm really happy for him. He is healthy, and I'm seeing the Dane that I thought that I would see being healthy.
Q. One of the first few plays on defense, Pinnock had the interception but (outside linebacker Tomon) Fox seemed to get the hit. How has he played?
A: I think Tomon has done a nice job. Tomon, undrafted free agent from North Carolina, knows how he made the team last year, and he has to keep that mindset, which he has, every day the rest of his career. Those late, undrafted free agents, the late-round draft choices, they have a chip on their shoulder, and they should, because they know they belong at this level. That was one of his better pass rushes I've seen since he's been here, and it obviously caused a big play on the first play of the game.
Q. With Riley in that defensive line room, when you look around and you see Dex and Leo and Nacho (defensive lineman Rakeem Nuñez-Roches) and (defensive lineman) A'Shawn (Robinson), some guys who come in as a seventh-round pick might shrink from that and say maybe it's not their turn to kind of step up. He seems to have gone the opposite. He actually said yesterday that he is pretty comfortable asking those guys. Do you see that? What is it about him as a person or a player that allows him to do that?
A: Well, if you looked at Jordon, that might be one of the first times they talked about Jordon Riley and 'shrink.' He's a large man, and he's very confident. Now he's green, and he's got a great room, Dex and Leo, A'Shawn and Nacho. Players know players, and they know he can help us, and they're helping him every day. They help everybody in the room, but I see them always talking to him on the field. I think that that's just fantastic, because when you think about it, it's like you training another reporter to take your job. I think that's what's great about that room is that they know what we need to win. I'm excited for the kid.
Q. What do you think of (outside linebacker) Kayvon (Thibodeaux)'s camp and particularly just how he did in the joint practices in Detroit?
A: I thought that in Detroit, on Tuesday and Wednesday, I think he caused two fumbles and recovered two fumbles. I expect him to be at the top of everything, and so do we. I've talked to him about his practice. I think that he heard me clearly. I talked to him in front of the entire defense. So, Kayvon is going to be fine, first of all. Like I said, he caused two fumbles, and he recovered two fumbles. In the two days, we had, like, eight takeaways against, what were they, a top five offense last year, which gave us confidence in ourselves and the way we competed there.
Q. What do you mean you talked to him about his practice in front of the defense? You didn't think he was practicing intensely enough?
A: No. I do a 'keep it real' with everybody on where they're at and why they're there, because the last thing I want as a coach is for a player to drive in this parking lot and not know where they stand, especially this time of year. Because I think that we build our relationships, we build our foundation on trust and honesty. I tell them what I think and where they stand, and where the competition is, where the line is. I talk about all that. So, like I said, we had a great week in Detroit. I'm sure you haven't heard that quote very often. But it was it was a great week, and I'm excited to take this next step.
Offensive Coordinator Mike Kafka
Q. What did you think of (quarterback) Tommy DeVito's performance on Friday?
A: I thought he did a really nice job in there. Gutsy, played tough, I think he did all the things we asked him to do from an execution standpoint. He's growing each and every day.
Q. We saw (center) John Michael (Schmitz Jr.) get a lot of snaps in the first half. How'd you see him adjust?
A: It was good. That's really – training camp, preseason is really for those young players and it's good for the young players to get in there and get in the mix on how the speed of an NFL game shows up, and it comes on you fast. I thought that those young guys did well, JMS (John Michael Schmitz Jr.), like you said I thought was one of those guys who – he got in there, he played hard and there's obviously a bunch of things that we can get better at and that's where we're working to improve on.
Q. Where does the competition on the interior stand in your mind at this point?
A: I'm not going to probably get into the depth chart stuff. I'll let (Head Coach Brian Daboll) Dabs talk on that.
Q. How do you assess (wide receiver) Jalin Hyatt's performance in the game?
A: Yeah, Jalin? Yeah, Jalin did some nice things. He didn't have a bunch of targets, but he was in the right spot and where we wanted him to be. Again, those young guys are just growing and continuing to get better, and we'll get them in our mix as we keep on going through the preseason.
Q. What do you look for out of veteran guys like (wide receiver Jamison) Crowder and (wide receiver Cole) Beasley in a camp like this?
A: It's a competitive deal so all those guys are in the mix, right? So, you try to put them in the best spot to show what they're about and give themselves an opportunity to make some plays. I think as a player – being a former player, that's all you really want is an opportunity. So, with the preseason, the training camp, kind of the whole scope of body of your work, that's really what goes on through the evaluation process. Then you get into the preseason games, and you get the opportunity to do it in front of our fans and in front of the whole organization.
Q. When they've done it their whole career against one's and then they go against two's, do you expect them to show up like they did the other night?
A: I'd say the level of execution is high for anybody. First, second year, eight-year vets. The level of execution for us is really high.
Q. What have you seen (wide receiver Sterling Shepard) Shep coming off those injuries?
A: Shep's continuing to put together really good days of work. He's growing within the system; he's doing a good job with his rehab and prehab and running around. He looked really clean out there yesterday, so we'll just keep on working with him and as the week goes on, make a decision.
Q. When you look at the offense that Jalin played in at Tennessee last year, it's a lot more spread out. There are a lot more stack formations than in the NFL. Are there things that you pulled from Tennessee to make that transition easier for him?
A: Yeah, when we went through the scouting process with him and identifying things that we think he does well. So, just putting him in those positions rather it's inside, outside – all the different various areas of the offense that we can insert him into so he's one of those players, again, just growing, developing a role for himself and trying to make the best for him.
Q. Daboll can be explosive at practice and games. What do you think of that as somebody working under him as his offensive coordinator?
A: My interaction with Dabs has been awesome. We have a great relationship, we talk a lot, we're able to communicate at a high level. I think at the end of the day, that's what it's about. Everyone has their own personality; everyone has their own way of demanding what they want and getting what they want. With him being the head coach, that's part of my job is to make sure that I'm presenting that to the rest of my staff and the players on offense and portraying his vision of the team.
Q. The evaluation process is different for every player but a player like DeVito, how clear is the vision on how you develop a guy like that behind two established guys?
A: I'd say in my experience with the quarterback room is those young guys, you're trying to put them in a position where they understand – like they're going through their checklist. So, you're looking at the shot clock, you're looking at the guys in the huddle, you're looking at the personnel groupings that's in your own huddle, what's on the other side of the football, you're evaluating who's on what side of the ball. You're looking at corner, you're looking at linebacker, you're looking at matchups. Then all of a sudden you break the huddle and you've got a million things you've got to check out. Who the mike is, who the protection responsibilities are, making sure our guys are aligned in the right spot, then you're checking the clock again. So like there's a whole checklist and a thought process. That's really even before the snap, so all those things are happening. So, for a young player, you try to break it down for them so that they can do it simply, easy and allow them to play fast. For a guy like Tommy, he's going through that process, each and every day. It's not always perfect but you're seeing the growth and you're seeing the development and then you go see him execute in a game like that, do some nice things, throw a touchdown and have some success and that does nothing but just build his confidence.
Q. What are you seeing development wise and performance wise from (offensive linemen) Ben (Bredeson) and Josh (Ezeudu)?
A: I'm seeing a great competition. I'm seeing two or three tough kids – four tough guys that are really going after it in that core so they're doing a nice job and we're mixing them around and trying to give them as many different looks. In the run game, in the pass game, they're seeing a bunch of different looks from (Defensive Coordinator Don Martindale) Wink's defense as far as pressure. So, all of those things and you go all the way back, really to the spring, you evaluate that part of it then you take the whole body of work and now you can get a clean picture of how he fits into your offense.
Q. When you look at a quarterback and DeVito was under a lot of pressure, does that help you evaluate him?
A: I'd probably say we're looking to eliminate that pressure off the quarterback. We certainly don't want the quarterback having to throw with guys in their face, so we've got to work to improve all those things. It's not just the o-line, it's an 11-man operation and every group has a piece of it. Quarterback, the o-line, the running backs in protection, the receivers with their routes. Everyone has a piece to it, it's not just always one group although sometimes it may look like that.
Q. If the season started today, do you think that you could trust (offensive lineman) Josh Ezeudu to be your left guard? Do you think he has shown that he can handle that?
A: Yeah, I have trust in all those guys.
Q. Now that he's healed from the injury, where do you think he's going to play?
A: Josh is a really athletic guy. He's really athletic, he can recover and he's aggressive. We're working him through our – again, like every young player, we work through that mental checklist. Going through that process, continuing to work on his fundamentals and techniques, just like everybody. We're talking to Josh the same way we're talking to (offensive tackle Andrew Thomas) AT about the same fundamentals and techniques, so all those guys are working to improve on it and Josh is right on pace.
Q. What are the pros and cons of the offensive line rotation you did a year ago? Would you be averse to that again?
A: I think whatever way Dabs wants to handle it, that's how we'll handle it. I don't think that's set in stone right now so we'll just kind of play it by ear and as the competition develops and expresses itself, and then we'll make a decision.
Q. You did it for seven games last year, do you think it worked well?
A: Yeah, I think that's last year. Not to go too far back but just injuries and you're rotating guys in, so I think that's a part of that but ideally I think you'd like to have a core group. Again, you just want to find the best five.
Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
Alright, let's just address the 700-pound gorilla in the room, right? We all know Dabs (Head Coach Brian Daboll) is intense and on game day, that's just him. It's not a big deal, it's happened before. That's just part of the game. He's an intense guy, we have no issues. That's just part of football, it's an intense game.
Q: How about the 400-pound gorilla, why were there only 10 men on the field?
A: Well, I mean, this is the process of the preseason, this happens in every game around the league. This is not new; this is something that just happens. When you have guys, say for example, a guy that was a starting running back in college, alright? He's used to on every down, he's running the football, he's catching, he's running the football and then on third down or fourth down, he comes off the field. He's not on the punt team. So, a lot of times when these kids, these young guys, when they get into these competitive environments, muscle memory kicks in. He's used to on third down, if they don't make the first down, what does he do? He's used to going to the bench. Well, it's not like that anymore. Okay, you are on the punt team now. Now you have to go out there and go cover a punt and protect it. That's just part of the maturation process of all these young guys, they have to understand that they are not in college anymore, they are not starters, a lot of them are not starters anymore so when there is a fourth-down play, you don't run off the field, you stay on the field and that's just the reality.
Q: Was that (safety Xavier McKinney) X who came running on the field?
A: No, no it wasn't.
Q: On the (running back Eric) Gray return, a nice return, when you got back and looked at the film, did you see a penalty?
A: Yeah, and it was probably 20 yards away from the ball and it wasn't necessary. Again, another young guy who is used to; if you go back and you look at college football, they don't call holding on returns. It's a free for all. I've never seen anything like it in my life, but they are used to playing that way, so they think it's normal. When you get to this level, even though you might have a guy in a dominating position and you are in a good spot, you can't take them to the ground. Anytime in our league, on any return, you take a guy to the ground, they are throwing a flag. In college football, it's not like that. Again, that's just part of the maturation process, these guys learning how the game is played on this level and it's a little bit different.
Q: Did Daboll approach you either after the game or on the bus ride home about that because obviously it was seen on TV, like on the sideline?
A: As far as?
Q: Was it something you guys talked about or no?
A: No, it's football (laughs). I mean, it happens. It is what it is. It's an intense game, it's not that big of a deal. I promise you if you look at my face sometimes during the course of a game, you are going to see some crazy stuff too. That's just what it is. You will see some stares and glares because that's just the game.
Q: (Punter) Jamie (Gillan) hit that punt 67 yards. Now in golf, when you hit a lag putt, you are trying to hit a target area like three feet from the hole or whatever that is. Is there a target area for a punt and what kind of problems does it cause if you don't hit it?
A: Mainly, we want the hang to match the distance. What does that mean? So, if we have a 48-yard punt, we want at least 4.6, 4.7 or more hang time. So, what happens is when the hang to distance doesn't match, that's when you get in trouble. If we have a 70-yard punt and a 4.5 hang, the hang to distance doesn't match. So, when that guy catches the ball and the coverage is 30 yards away from him, we are going to have some issues. You let the guy get a full head of steam running at guys in space and it's tough. So, we always want the hang to distance to match up.
Q: Is that compounded by guys who are probably on the punt coverage team for the first time at this level and the idea now that now all of the sudden, they are at a coverage disadvantage and is that what you saw from that return?
A: Absolutely and you can't miss tackles. I mean you look at (Lions wide receiver) Maurice Alexander, he's a pretty good little returner. Obviously, you saw the actual talent and skill. You have got to be able to make plays in space and make tackles in space, but it is compounded by the distance. If it's a little closer and the guy doesn't have time to build up the speed, then it's a little easier but when he gets a chance to build up that speed and he can make his cuts at full speed and he already has really good short area quickness, it's tough.
Q: Do you think (wide receiver) Jamison Crowder can still be an effective returner, he's gone through a lot, but he returned it a lot last year in a short amount of time he was healthy.
A: Yeah, I mean I think Jamison is very capable. I think we have about three or four guys on our roster that are very capable. When you look at all of them, most of them have all done it in this league. (Wide receiver Kalil Pimpleton) Pimp's a young guy that has an opportunity. (Wide receiver) Jaydon (Mickens) has done it in this league for a long time, Jamison, (wide receiver) Cole (Beasley). We have a bunch of different guys with a bunch of different options, but we want to see what Eric can do right now and he's done a pretty good job and he's very diligent.
Q: What did you see from Eric on Friday night?
A: He did a good job of fielding the ball. He's a typical young returner, they have to understand situational football, as far as being able to protect himself with a fair catch like that last punt as he is running laterally. He probably should have just fair caught the ball, as opposed to trying to catch it and just trying to make a play. You have just got to be smart because the most important thing is the ball. Eric has great power, quickness, really good short area quickness and he runs tough and he's a good kid.
Q: How much do you rely on veterans who have special teams experience to kind of lead some of the younger players?
A: You have to have that veteran leadership in your room. It is paramount to our success as a unit and as a group because I can't answer all the questions. (Assistant Special Teams Coach Mike Adams) Pops can't answer all the questions, (Assistant Special Teams Coach Stephen Thomas) Steve can't answer all the questions, but if you have a veteran guy that's done it before and they are sitting in the locker room and a lot of times these younger guys don't want to ask us because they don't want to feel like they don't know what they are doing but they will ask a veteran guy about a technique or a scheme or whatever it is and they can do it right in the comfort of the locker room or they are sitting at the lunch table or they are in the players' lounge. Whatever it is, they can ask but that's extremely important to our success.
Q: You mentioned Pimpleton, can he be a returner in this league and how hard is it for a kid like that to make it as primarily a returner the way the rules are?
A: Yeah, it's tough, it really is. It's tough but you know most of the guys that make it in this league, it's tough for them but Pimp has the ability. He's a tough little player, he's very diligent in what he does, he has really good short area quickness. He has all the tools that you really want in a good returner, he just needs an opportunity. Hopefully he will get that in the next couple of weeks to where he can show everybody what he can do.
Q: You talk about experience with Eric Gray, how much does that make you want to give him most of the reps going forward here, this week and again next week, is that sort of where he is headed?
A: You have got to ramp him up quick and the unfortunate part is, there is not a ton of opportunity to go around, especially if you get into a game to where you don't get a lot of punt opportunities or the opportunities that you get are plus-area punts where the ball is going to be fair caught inside the 10. It's tough. We are going to ramp him up quickly, but again what we do out here is important. What we did in Detroit was important as far as the practices are concerned. Those things have to take care of themselves, but you are right, it's something that we all have got to work to ensure that we understand what we are getting and those guys get their opportunities at the same time.
Q: With the shape that (kicker) Graham (Gano) is in and the way he kicks the ball, can he kick as long as he wants?
A: I was just talking about this with Stephen. We try our best…Graham does a great job of managing himself. He understands his in-game and his offseason work is extremely important to his in-season work. What I mean by that is, he takes care of himself in the offseason. He doesn't do a ton of kicking, he will take some time off to be with his kids and he will start to ramp it up around April, May. He doesn't do a ton of kicking in the offseason but once he starts getting into camp, he starts to ramp it up a little bit and he does a phenomenal job of keeping himself in shape as far as just the prehab stuff, the rolling out and then just managing himself during the course of the week. He can kick as long as he wants, as long as he keeps making them, he will be able to kick as long as he wants.
Quarterback Daniel Jones
Q. Is there something special about playing a team from your hometown?
A: Yeah, a little bit. I grew up a Panthers fan growing up in Charlotte and watching those teams when I was a kid, so yeah, there's something a little bit special playing the hometown team. I'm excited. I think we're all getting ready for the opportunity.
Q. Did you ever think about playing for them when you were young?
A: I think as a kid, yeah. You dream about playing for your favorite team. I think that's definitely something I dreamed about.
Q. You said on the radio yesterday that you turned down the Netflix show, right? You turned it down?
A: Yeah, that's what I said.
Q. Why is it something you didn't want to do?
A: I don't know, I think they did a great job with the show. I thought it was interesting watching those guys and watching each of their stories. I thought they did a really good job with the show. Just not necessarily for me.
Q. Would you tell us if you were on it?
A: Yeah (laughs).
Q. You mentioned about playing in the preseason. Do you expect to? (Head coach Brian) Daboll said they'd like to get you guys in at some point. Do you have a preference, whether it be this week or next week? Does it make any difference to you?
A: I'm always preparing to play. That's obviously Dabs' call. I think we're all preparing to play, and he'll make a decision on that. Like you said, he's told us we're going to play in the preseason, so to prepare and get ready to do that.
Q. Daboll told the story yesterday about you wanting to get into the Lions facility on the day off to get some work in with receivers and everything. I think he stopped short of saying how that worked out. Did you get to go out there? Why was that something you were so interested in doing?
A: This was before the game. We didn't actually get in or be able to get over there, but we worked out on the field pregame. We were just trying to make sure we had an opportunity to get what we needed to get done, done.
Q. What have you seen from (running back) Saquon (Barkley) in this camp?
A: I think he's done a great job. He's been impressive in all the ways he usually is on the field with his ability, and he's been impressive just with his demeanor, his leadership, his attitude. I think he's been big in the passing game for us in space and running routes, getting open, making explosive plays that way, too. He's had a great camp.
Q. Did you make a concerted effort to work on off-platform throws and different arm angles this season?
A: I think that's part of my training and stuff I focus on every offseason. I think, yeah, maybe a couple more opportunities to do it and a couple newer drills I've tried to incorporate. But I'd say that's probably part of my training every offseason.
Q. You spent last season with (center) Jon Feliciano and now you've got (center) John Michael (Schmitz Jr.) and (offensive lineman) Ben (Bredeson) both snapping. Is a snap a snap, or do you have to adjust to them? Or they have to adjust to you?
A: I think there's a little bit of adjustment initially, early on, and then kind of once you're into it, and you build a chemistry and a rapport with someone, you're used to it and it's not really something you think about. I think we're at the point now in camp where we've built that. We've had plenty of reps together, and I feel very comfortable with both those guys.
Q: He talked about last week improving his communication and focusing on being loud in practice. How did you see that on the sidelines?
A: I think he did a good job. Yeah, I think he did a good job. That's a big responsibility of a center, to make a lot of those calls and get everybody on the same page and communicate. As a young guy, learning the system and then having to communicate all that can be tough sometimes, but I think he's done a really good job with it.
Q: You mentioned rapport. You've now had an extended stretch to work with (tight end) Darren Waller who's obviously going to be a big part of the offense. How strong is your rapport with him now?
A: Good, it's been good working with him. I feel like we're in a good spot. I think there are still some things we need to iron out and work on and we'll continue to do that. He's done a really good job. He's a big target so that's always a little bit easier when you've got a guy like that who can create as much separation as he can and run like he can.
Q: How important is it to you to have different types of receivers that all compliment Darren's skillset?
A: Yeah, I think that's important. I think we've got a variety of guys who do different things and I think Dabs and (offensive coordinator Mike) Kaf(ka) and our whole offensive staff do a really good job kind of building what we're doing to our guys' skill set and what they're good at. We did that last year and we've done that this year as well so far. I think that's important.
Q: What did you say to (quarterback Tommy) DeVito after the game and how do you think he did?
A: I thought he did well, I thought he did well. I think anytime your first game out there in live action and operating, trying to get everyone on the same page and executing on offense can be tough, but I thought he did a really good job kind of handling it all. He was composed and made a lot of good decisions, a lot of good plays. He's been practicing well, playing really well in practice too. I thought it was impressive.
Q: Are you interested at all to see how the slot thing shakes out? You've got three veteran guys with (wide receiver Sterling) Shep(ard), (wide receiver Jamison) Crowder and (wide receiver Cole) Beasley who all have had success in this. Are you interested at all to see how that ends up?
A: Yeah, I think all those guys have done a really good job and made plays and shown up in a lot of spots. They're all extremely talented players, they're smart players, instinctive guys, guys you like having in that kind of spot to uncover the zone and kind of see the defense as the quarterback sees it. They've done a great job and we've got a lot of good players in that group.
Cornerback Adoree' Jackson
Q. We talked to you a couple of weeks ago about playing inside and it's still continuing to trend that way. Do you feel comfortable in there? Have they talked to you about it?
A: Yeah, just working on being versatile. What's great about this group is having (cornerback) Darnay (Holmes), (cornerback Cor'Dale) Flott, and (cornerback) Zyon (Gilbert) to be able to talk to and help me out while I'm in there and just trying to push each other to be better. So, it makes me comfortable, and then at the end of the day, just playing football, studying, seeing different splits, reading your different keys and different things like that. Just to try to slow the game down. We always talk about communication and just one person seeing something can help out everybody on the defense, vice versa with the linebackers and safeties, whoever it may be, so I just think that's helpful as well.
Q. What do you think about the idea of playing slot full time?
A: I said this like two weeks ago, it kind of makes me feel like Logan Ryan in a sense. Being able to play outside, then play inside and do different things. If it comes to that understanding or whatever it is to help the team to help the team and be selfless but at the same time just thrive in the role that I'm given.
Q. In the base you're going to still be playing outside. What are the challenges of playing those spots during the course of the same game?
A: Probably just breathing, just resetting. Understanding that you're not at corner, you're at nickel or vice versa. I think that's all it is but as I was saying earlier, just communication. Going out there and telling them 'This way' or 'that way' or I've got the linebackers or the safeties, we're all on the same page, talking, or we meet early throughout the week or throughout the day to help ourselves be able to play faster. I think that's really the biggest key, communication and just being on the same page with everybody on the defense.
Q. What do you see in both of the young corners individually?
A: (Cornerback) Tre (Hawkins III), I'm going to start with him. I just like his tenacity, how calm he is, how willing and eager he is to learn. He asks a lot of questions, very respectable and works hard. You can see a guy that probably didn't get drafted as high as he probably wanted to or as he planned or should've but goes out there and does his job and keeps doing it at a high level. Then with (cornerback Deonte) Banks, just respectable as well. Both of them are genuine guys. I think that just the talent – athleticism that he has is crazy to be able to see and watch him play. He has a lot of great tangibles, and I feel like both of them with their tangibles have the ability to do something great, but it's just up to them. You know, how they want to do it so we're just taking it a day at a time and I'm just happy to see them progress and get better each day. Coming in and wanting to learn asking questions and being respectable in a sense to where they obviously could come in thinking that you know it all because you make a bunch of plays but still trying to learn and still trying to get better, so I appreciate that a lot out of both of them.
Q. Is it surprising when you guys come out on the field and they're on the outside and you're in the slot?
A: I don't think it's surprising. You know about this league, it's all about competition and raising the level of competition. I was actually excited to see people push each other to try to be better and want to be better and then letting us be able to do different things on defense. To be able to see them come in and compete and play the way that they've been playing. I'm not going to lie, I tell them I feel like their uncle, and I'm just proud every time I go out there and see them play, see them work and just see them do different things. It's one of those things like when I was rookie, how would I want the vets to treat me? So now, it's me paying that forward to them. I just want to see them do things better than I did and not make the mistakes that I made so at the end of the day, I'm excited for them. I'm glad that they're doing great things because I want to see them be the best that they can be.
Q. You mentioned them being competition to you. How are they pushing you?
A: They have some tangibles that I don't have. Obviously, they're taller, longer frame corners, great in press and I really look at them to – obviously, I think it just levels my play. In a sense where I see them do great things like 'okay, I want to compete with them as well.' It's more of a you see them do something, so it's like 'okay, I just want to show that I can do it, too, or I'm still doing it.' I think they appreciate that a lot. It's not like we're coming in just loafing. Just trying to set the standard and show them it's not just one day. So, everyday you've got to come in and keep working, keep working. I think that's how they push me to show that at the end of the day, I am the oldest corner in the room and to be able to show them different things and show them how to do it, how to be a pro and then how to be able to keep doing it for as long as I have, which is going on year seven, to keep playing at this level.
Q. You know how it is to be a rookie playing that position. What do you think the process of having two rookies out there at the same time learning on the fly?
A: I don't really have any concerns about it at all. Like I said, they always ask a lot of questions, they always communicate, and they're always willing and wanting to learn. At the end of the day, we meet as a group throughout the week, throughout the day to be able to try to be able to go through different looks and disguises and different things like that. Then obviously, with this offense that we have, it helps us out a lot at getting different looks. Not even looks as in plays, formations but different types of receivers, different body types and skillsets so being able to see all those different things, it helps us out a lot. At the end of the day, they know how to play ball. The other thing is they've got effort. You've got to teach some of those things, and the things that you can't teach, they have already, so they things that you can teach, you can live with that and just keep going day by day.
Q. How much different is it playing the run when you're inside like that?
A: I don't think it's too much different for the fact that I know how to play to my help. Sometimes you've got to set the edge, sometimes you've got to be in the box, do different things. But just talking to the linebackers, Bobby (Okereke), Micah (McFadden), the safeties, X (Xavier McKinney) and JP (Jason Pinnock) when I'm out there to be able to help me or even Darnay and Flott, or (cornerback) Z (Zyon Gilbert). Asking them like 'how would they have done this, or if it was like this, what would you do?' It just always goes off communication. I think it's always going to be a learning scheme, and everybody fits and plays and runs differently. It's going to be how do I like to do it and what I'm comfortable with but at the same time doing it the way that (Defensive Coordinator Don Martindale) Wink and (Defensive Backs Coach Jerome Henderson) Rome, Mike (Safeties Coach) Michael Treier and Pop (Assistant Special Teams Coach Mike Adams) sees it.
Q. How much did the additions of (defensive lineman Rakeem Nuñez-Roches) Nacho, (defensive lineman A'Shawn Robinson) A-Rob and (inside linebacker) Bobby (Okereke) help the defensive backs?
A: A lot. I feel like you think of a lot of great defenses, and you think of the d-lineman that they have to be able to affect the quarterback and then obviously stop the run. Then you think of the DBs who are able to be successful and make plays on the ball, they always have a lot of great help (from) d-lineman or linebackers. It's always a credit. No matter where your success comes from it's always someone on the team that you've got to pay it forward to and I think for those guys in addition, it's going to be helpful.
Q. What are you seeing for the wide receivers?
A: Like I was saying, the difference skillsets. I think it helps us to understand our strengths and things that we need to work on so I'm thankful for that – to be able to have those guys. Then be able to go against the tight ends as well to be able to change up different things and give you different looks so when it comes game time you've already practiced it, and you've did a lot of repetition. Then doing the walkthroughs and then just talking to them as well. I think that's one of the greatest things, not being selfish and not trying to hold back information and everybody just trying to get better this way or that way, or however they may see it. Iron sharpens iron.
Q. Have you given any thought to a contract extension here? How has the front office influenced playing here long term?
A: No, I'm just taking it a day at a time. I know it's been talks about it, but at the end of the day, God took care of it before, and he'll do it again, so I'm not really worried about what's going on. Just control what I can control, that's my attitude. How I show up to work and how I go out there and compete every day, I know everything will fall into place.
Q. When you say talks, are you talking about your agent and the team or from us?
A: No, not y'all. From my agent and the team.
Catch up on all the action from Tuesday's training camp practice at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.