Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale
Martindale: Hey, awesome last night, (Yankee Outfielder) Aaron Judge. Awesome. I think the older you get, the more you really appreciate history and that was great. The coolest thing was watching he and his mom. I'm sure everybody saw that he gave his mom the ball. That was really cool, so congratulations to him. Briefly on Dallas, it was a tale of two halves. You come in at halftime only giving up six points and feeling pretty good about yourself. Then some things got away from us in the run game, as you all know and have noted. All 11 of us have to do better. It's simply put that way and we're going to have a great test this week because an elite running game is coming to town here at MetLife. We have to make sure we're on point every single play because they have two really good backs, and their quarterback is phenomenal with the ball in his hands as well. With that, I'll open it up to questions.
Q: What did go wrong with the run?
A: I wish I could just answer it with one answer, but there's little things here and there that one guy sees it different. The whole time we talk about having a growth mindset defensively. It's little things. Because it's still a new package and everybody's out there, there's different guys that have been playing in different spots that they're learning new things that somebody else who was playing it before already knew what was happening and what to look for. So, it's just one of those things that we know that we're going to appreciate and respect the process of building this defense and we're going to have some good results.
Q: What did you see from (Outside Linebacker) Kayvon (Thibodeaux) or (Outside Linebacker) Azeez (Ojulari) either individually or together? Did you see rust? Did you see any hesitation from their injuiries?
A: I think that for a rookie, there can't be rust. It's just new. He really hasn't practiced that much since the injury. He's done a lot of rehabbing and all that stuff, but he hasn't done a lot of 11 on 11 work, with Kayvon. As you know, and I think Brian (Daboll) noted, they were on a pitch count. Zeez drew two holding calls, so that tells me that he's doing things right. I think it's nowhere to go but up with those two and I'm excited to see it.
Q: How much did you see the explosion with Kayvon or is that something he kind of needs to work back up to as well?
A: I think it's going to continue to get better. I saw it in practice last week, but the week prior when we didn't play him, that's when I think he told you guys he was going to play that week, you didn't see it. I think it's just going to continue to build as he goes.
Q: When you're preparing for an offense like this when you look at the numbers, they make no secret about what they want to do, they want to run the ball. Then on the flip side you say you want to put pressure on them and hope for pass rush opportunities. How do you deal with that going into this weekend schematically for yourself?
A: I think that they're doing a nice job. One of the reasons why they're 2-1 is playing complementary football. They're running the football, trying to control the clock and playing good defense. The biggest thing is, I don't want to say you take away the runs, but you better limit the big runs, the explosive runs. So, that's what we're going to be focused on because there was a lot of runs Monday night where the guys were falling forward for four and five yards. We've got to get better knock back up front and play as a unit, all 11, and make sure we start moving piles backward that way. The passing game, like the Dallas game, I think the average was 2.3 seconds he held the ball. You're not going to get a whole lot of pass rushing when the quarterback's holding onto it. That's what they're doing right now because they know how we attack protections and everything else. I mean, a third and 12 toss, that was one of those plays I was telling you about. Just having some football awareness with the backs in the home position, which he never is on third and 12. We've got to see that and recognize that as a defense.
Q: Kayvon has a lot of swagger to him.
A: So do I.
Q: (Laughs) Did you find that he was at all humbled by his debut here?
A: I think Kayvon's Kayvon. I think that that's one of the reasons why I love him is because he's a confident young man, has some ambition to him and has goals and he's going to go after them. I'd take 11 of guys like that. You better stay humble in this game, period, win or lose because that's the way this league is. As soon as you lose your humility, it will come up and slap you right upside the head, the league will. So, I don't know. We didn't have that conversation, so I don't know. He doesn't seem like he's walking around with his lip out. I'm just expecting great things from him.
Q: What are you seeing from your inside linebackers and what do you need to see from that group?
A: We're still in the process of finding the right fits for who's going to play inside. I want guys who can run and hit and tackle. As a unit, as all 11, we need to tackle better. We had too many missed tackles. Like I said, going against this offense, it's going to be a great test for us to see how much we've improved from Monday to Sunday.
Q: Can a guy like (Linebacker) Jaylon Smith come in here and fit into what you're looking for at that spot?
A: Sure. We're going to play the best guy that we think is going to be available for us on Sunday.
Q: What can he give you? Jaylon Smith.
A: Just what I'm talking about. Run and hit, tackle. He's a little bit bigger than some of the guys we've had besides (Inside Linebacker) Tae (Crowder). So as long as they can run, because you know what I've already told you there, if you have a slow Mike, you have a slow defense. I think that we'll eventually at some time feed him in there.
Q: When you're facing a quarterback who's mobile, with legs like that. Does the aggression have to be tempered or controlled as far as blitzing? Or is it better to go after him and make him make quick decisions?
A: Yes. (Laughs) Really, it's one of those things that you've got to know where to attack and how to attack. I think that we'll work on that this week and try to give him some different looks, but he's big and strong and he can run. We've got our work cut out for us.
Q: The first week you were playing a guy who was like a (Fullback) Jim Brown. Second week you had an explosive guy, you had Dallas last week.
A: Yeah, and I didn't give you any names for Dallas. I need to make up a name. You're right because I'm not superstitious but I'm kind of 'stitious.'
Q: But this is like a no name group. Is this somebody you have to say to your team, 'wake up, we got these guys?'
A: I do not look at it that way. You want some names (Quarterback Justin). Fields could be, for the younger crowd, a (Quarterback) Cam Newton type or for us older guys, (Quarterback) Randall Cunningham type. And those backs are explosive backs who run hard, old school hard. That offensive line, they work well together, especially in the run game. They really work well together, so I don't think there's no names at all with that.
Q: You face a team that throws so little. How unique is it for a team to throw so little?
A: When we were back at Baltimore and (Quarterback) Lamar (Jackson) just first came into it, if y'all remember, it was similar type offense that challenges you in a different way. Like I said, it's just complementary football that they're believing in. That's their winning formula right now.
Offensive Coordinator Mike Kafka
Q: When you look at one touchdown in each of the past two games, what is your level of frustration with that? Not meeting the expectations?
A: I think we just got to do a better job starting off the game a little bit faster. The execution, preparation and all those things kind of tie in. That's what we're focusing on this week in practice.
Q: I know a lot goes into play calling but when you step back and look and (running back) Saquon (Barkley) has 14 carries the other night – do you need more of that? Not calling enough runs?
A: I think there's a mix of that. I think you have to evaluate that and that's what we do a as staff every week is – how do we get certain guys going, making sure we are doing the right things. There's plenty of good to build on and there's things that you want to continue to improve on. That's where we're at right now and we're focused on that this week at practice.
Q: It's easy to look at the numbers and say, "We need to start better." On these opening drives, first quarter and things like that. How as an offensive guy, a play caller, working with (head coach) Brian (Daboll) – you can control that to a certain extent, right? The game is going to be even or right there. How do you make sure you can try to start the game fast? Changing what you are calling early, different formations and things like that?
A: I think it starts with putting the guys in the right spots and then the execution, the communication amongst the players out there. I think that's all part of it. It's an 11-man operation, everyone's got to be on the same page, everyone has to be going in the right direction. Those are things that we work on in practice.
Q: Is there anything you've looked at from a play-caller standpoint at the start of these first three games and said, "Maybe this needs to be tweaked?"
A: Yeah. There's plenty of that and that's what we do every week. Win, loss – we are looking at all of that every single week. There's plenty of things that we can improve on. Personally, as a staff, we evaluate how we present to the players, what we present to the players, how we meet as a staff internally from an offensive side, all of the schemes that we are talking about – how can we make it simple, how can we make it better, how can we improve? Those are all the things that we talk about and all the things that we look at. I think each week, you get a little bit better and a little bit better at certain things and that's where you see the growth.
Q: Dallas had a lot of pressure this past week. Brian said that you did a lot of things to alleviate that and it didn't work. How can you get better at that?
A: You come out today and practice. Work on those fundamentals, work on those techniques, take the coaching points and take the things that we talk about in the classroom, apply it to the field, continue to show them looks and you'll see players get better at it each day. We've seen growth from Week 1 to Week 2, Week 2 to Week 3. There's plenty of stuff that we can build on and then the things that we probably didn't do so well, we'll emphasize it and show them the tape. We'll show them the drills, the fundamentals, techniques and we'll work on those.
Q: A month ago if I had told you that after three games (wide receiver) Richie James would be leading the team in receptions and among the leaders in yardage, would you have been surprised?
A: I think the way it's shaken out, Richie has done a great job stepping in. We've had some injuries and things like that, but he's stepped up to the plate and you're going to see that across the board when you have injuries like that. Next man up has got to step up. He's a guy that we trust in those situations, and he's done a great job with it.
Q: What changes without (wide receiver) Sterling Shepard? He was your most targeted receiver, he was playing the most snaps. What changes for you guys offensively now that he's not there?
A: The first thing I'd say is it stinks for the kid to have to go through that. He battled back from an injury to get back to where he's at right now and then to see that happen – my heart goes out to him and I know he'll bounce back. He's one of those guys that brings a lot of energy to the room, to the group and to the offense. We'll look for guys to step up and replace that and/or step up and fill those needs and the things we need to do on offense. Players have got to rise to the level that we need them to around the entire group in the receiver room. I think guys will do that and I think it starts today in practice.
Q: At the end of the first half, what was the thought process in letting the clock run out when you guys got the ball?
A: Yeah, I think Dabs mentioned some of that as far as the time management stuff. I think there was definitely discussions – you're just working through the clock at the time, that was the best decision to let that clock run.
Q: Daboll yesterday talked a lot about how waves of lows makes it hard to stay consistent, makes it hard to maintain the same philosophy of trusting the process and all that stuff. He mentioned leaning on people, leaning on his coaches. How is he leaning on you specifically to help them through this consistency and maintain this philosophy of trusting the process over results?
A: Just being yourself. Being the same guy every day. Come to your meetings prepared. Come into any interactions with the players prepared and giving them the answers that they need to do their jobs.
Q: It seems (tight end) Daniel Bellinger is getting more and more involved. Can you talk about the process with him and the trust that's gone into Daniel Bellinger?
A: 'Bell' has done a great job. (Tight ends) Coach (Andy) Bischoff has done a great job with him since he's gotten in here. I think you're just seeing that type of growth from that kid. He's just putting in the work every single day and he's improving. He's improving a lot of things – run blocking, route running. You're seeing it at practice and you're seeing it show up in the game.
Q: At the end of the first half – why the change in approach of not being as aggressive as you guys have been in previous weeks? It seems like that was how you have been coaching games.
A: There's a lot of things that go into that, whether it's field position. I think at the time that's what we felt was the best to get into the half. I fully support it. That's what we want to do as a staff. We talked about it and kind of had out plan and that's what we did.
Q: Is there a path for (wide receiver) Kenny Golladay to help you on game day?
A: I think Kenny is doing a great job. He had a great week of practice last week. You saw him in the game there. Had some opportunities and I think when you really look at it, everyone on staff – players, coaches and everyone – is going to have plays that they want back. He has another opportunity today and go out and have a great practice. I fully expect him to do that. He's a pro, he's been a pro since he's been here, and I think that's what pros do – they bounce back and continue to work.
Q: Do you anticipate (wide receiver) Darius Slayton getting on the field more now?
A: It's kind of the same thing with really every group on offense. Today is a day to go in, define your role, have a great practice, play hard, practice hard and I think that's what we're going to continue to evaluate every single day up to Sunday.
Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
Q: Are you going to take (offensive lineman Devery) Hamilton off the field goal team after he stepped on Graham's (kicker Graham Gano)? That's like the biggest no-no you can have, right?
A: Yeah, I got to talk to Devery about that (Laughs). Keep them big 16s off our kicker's foot. Nah, Devery's doing a good job. And yeah, we got to keep the kicker healthy for sure.
Q: What happened on the blocked field goal?
A: They blocked it.
Q: Besides the block.
A: Just they did a good job. Traditionally, they've always had a really good field goal rush team. And they did a good job schematically of what they're doing. We knew exactly what they were going to do. It's just the execution part of it. We got some guys in there – young guys in there – that are trying to work through it. But it's just (that) every rep's a new rep for some of these guys. So, we got to make sure they understand what we're doing and how we're trying to do it and just execute better.
Q: Was it a scheme thing, or somebody was just beat one-on-one?
A: No. It was a scheme. They do a good job of moving guys and trying to get you to fire out, and they accomplished their goal.
Q: On the long punt return, was that as simple as the gunner lost contain, or was there more to it than that?
A: A lot of things happened on that punt return. Really good punt by (punter) Jamie (Gillan) – 41 yards, 5.2 (seconds) hang. We should have been standing down there waiting for the ball to come down. Just got to keep the ball leveraged, keep it inside in front. You've seen the guy (Dallas wide receiver KaVontae Turpin); the kid is super, super talented. I don't think I've ever seen anybody accelerate up the sideline like that. He's scary fast. So, we knew we were going to have issues dealing with him because he's super, super talented. But again, we have to be able to play better in space and be able to leverage the ball and stack blockers so we don't get potentially hit in the back at the point of attack. But we've got to do a better job.
Q: How do you think (wide receiver) Richie (James) is doing as the punt returner?
A: He's doing fine. I mean the opportunities that's he's gotten – especially the last couple of weeks – he did a good job. The last two that he had, the one on the sideline, that was a great punt by (Dallas punter Bryan) Anger. I mean it's two inches from the sideline as he's running towards. And the one in the plus area, he felt like the punter mishit the ball, and he thought he could steal some yardage. So, I'm never going to question because he makes pretty good decisions back there. But prior this game, he was averaging almost 13, 14 yards return. So, our opportunities will come; and we just got to take advantage of them.
Q: With Graham, you just say 'Keep on going,'?
A: Yeah. It is, and I've said this 100 times about Graham, it's a blessing to have a guy like that that you know you can depend on. He is starting to figure it out (in) year 13, 14 – whatever it is. He's kind of in his groove right now. The guys trust him. Obviously, the head coach (Brian Daboll) trusts him. And he's doing a good job. Just got to keep working to get better.
Q: What's the yard line that (running back) Gary (Brightwell) is allowed to catch a kickoff at and take it back?
A: It just depends. It depends on the game. Sometimes we might line him up minus-three and tell him, 'Hey look, if it's in front of you, let's go.' Sometimes, we put our heels on the goal line. It just depends on the situation and what's going on – how the game's flowing, their kicker a lot of times, what's the hang time, a bunch of different things that go along with it – that make us come up with the decision whether we're going to bring it out or leave it in.
Q: Did Jamie get a gold star on his tackle?
A: (Laughs). He's making too many tackles, and that's the thing. Jamie needs to focus on punting, and the coverage teams need to work on tackling and focus on tackling. Obviously, we don't want the specialists making a whole bunch of damn tackles. So, that's something obviously we're frustrated with. We just got to get better. We're a process-driven organization. We got a bunch of new guys out there. And you're going to fail your way to success. You can't talk about the process not being able to be willing to go through the process. So that's just part of it. We got to get better, and we got to keep – these young guys got to come along, and they got to make more plays. Our good players got to play well. They got to make plays. So, that's what we're working towards.
Q: At the end of the half, I think that would've been 65 yards (for a field goal). Was there any talk there, or was that too far?
A: I think we were going into the wind, so it probably wasn't a realistic thing. And we got to realize, too, we all think Graham's Superman. But the franchise record here is 58 yards (for a field goal). And (former Giants kicker) Aldrick (Rosas) had that a couple years ago. And if you've got the wind to your back, you've seen Graham hit the ball a long way, but we're talking about 65 degrees at night. It ain't 95 degrees in Charlotte, you know what I mean? So, the ball doesn't, it can't compress. It's not going to go as far. You've got a little wind. So, all those different factors you've got to take into account as you're coming up with that decision.
Q: Is his (Graham Gano) foot alright?
A: Yeah, he's fine. He's fine.
Running Back Saquon Barkley
Q: You've had a lot more success on runs from under center versus shotgun. Is there anything to that? Why do you think that is the case?
A: I didn't know that. I don't know the reason behind that. We're having success in the run game the first couple of games, and we got to continue to build on it and use that to our advantage to help us win some more games.
Q: I didn't know if there was like a style of run. You run one versus the other.
A: You can see stuff a little bit clearer from home. You can see everything from home, I guess it makes it a little easier you could say. It clears up your vision a little more rather than gun. There's nothing really to it. The bigger runs we hit so far have been from home than gun.
Q: Everyone has been talking about the turf. You've played on it now for a few years. Your injuries haven't even been here but what do you think about it?
A: At the end of the day, I'm blessed to play football – go out there and play Sunday. Personally, I'm not really a fan of turf. I'm starting to understand when I was a rookie and older guys were complaining about the turf – I guess you start having a little more understanding of that. I don't really look too deep into that whether the turf is out there or not. I just try to go out there and perform at a high level and help my team win. That's something that I can't control. I try to control what I can control.
Q: Talk about the Chicago Bears. Obviously, (linebacker) Roquan Smith – talk about him and the challenges you face this week.
A: Yeah, Roquan – I feel like I play him every year. We play the Bears every year. He's a heck of a player, very instinctive, super athletic. He's one of those guys – I remember the game when I tore my knee against them. I went out wide and he came out. He was the first linebacker that ever tried to press me. I was like, that just shows you – usually, a lot of times, especially a linebacker, is going to want to back off and be threatened by my speed. It shows you how much confidence they have in him and how much he has in himself. Any time you go against a player like that, you want to rise to the level of your competition. They have a tremendous team over there and a great defense. They're 2-1 and we know they're going to try to come out here and get another win. We just got to try to do the best we can to defend home turf and execute the plays that we can.
Q: It sounds silly with the math but is 3-1 and 2-2 a bigger difference than one game a month into the season?
A: Yeah. You want to win every game you can, so you definitely would rather be 3-1 than 2-2. As I said, you don't go in any game with the mindset like, 'Okay if we 2-2 then what?' If that happens, then you prepare for that, but you go in with the mindset of trying to win a game, trying to do whatever you can to win a game. If you can get to 3-1 in the first quarter of a season, obviously not looking too far ahead, never satisfied but I would say that's a pretty good start. We got to find a way to get to 3-1 against a very good team who's playing really well. So, we'll try to capitalize on that.
Q: We have a three-game sample size now, is there any point where you say "If I keep this pace, we'll do this" or is it now, is it a quarter or halfway point of the season where you start looking at your numbers and say some of the records that are intact, some of the career times or things like that?
A: I don't look at my numbers. I'm not naive, I'm not stupid. You scroll on Instagram and see the top-five rushers. I don't go searching for my numbers. The way I go about it is like – I take care of the little things and the rest will take care of itself. I know the goals, and I know the things I want to accomplish. It's not necessarily a certain number that – I just look at it as you continue to keep climbing up that mountain and the only way you can get to the top of that mountain is by taking it one step at a time.
Q: Has there been any moment that you have said, 'Wait, I can do this again?' Has anything surprised you or pleasantly surprised you in these three games that felt like a little bit of a hurdle for you to get over?
A: I would say all that, gaining confidence and surprising myself. I wouldn't say surprising myself, gaining that belief in myself kind of happened in OTAs and camp. Going through that process was a blessing. Camp is a grind, but I really feel like it helped not only me but anyone in general when you can go out there and practice at a high level against great competition. Obviously, you guys see how good our defense is. Going against those guys just gives you the confidence to come into the season to play at a high level. Made some plays so far early in the year but it's just the start. Got to keep grinding, got to stay on it and keep trusting the system, keep trusting the offensive line and try to find a way to continue to get better.
Q: Is there one thing that surprised you that you've gotten better at that you were better at than maybe you were before the injuries?
A: I don't know if I'm really better. I would say I'm probably a smarter player. I have a better understanding of the game than I had my rookie year. My rookie year is when you come into the best shape of your life – you're 21, you're young, I hadn't had any injuries in the past or anything like that. I probably was in better physical shape than I was but just understanding the game, slowing down the game. I don't see myself doing anything different, just have a better understating, listen to (running backs) coach (DeAndre) Smith, (offensive line) coach Bobby (Johnson), all the coaches, and trusting the offensive line. That's how the plays have been working and I got to continue to do that.
Q: It's one thing to feel it and see it in the spring or even in the summer, right? That you're feeling good or you're like your old self. When you go back and watch it and you're watching yourself again, do you see the same player or better player than the 2018, and 2019 seasons had?
A: Yeah, you know, not to be arrogant, when you see plays like when I went back, and you watch film on the touchdown run I had on Monday – making that jump cut inside a hole and making those two guys miss and find a way to score. Those are the plays where it's like, kind of put a smile on your face and you're like, 'That's the guy I know. That's the guy who always was there.' He was there last year to be completely honest; I just had a hard time finding a way to bring him out. That's coming with a mental disconnect, I lost confidence, and its human nature – that happens. You're going to have your ups and downs in life, but you got to find a way not to waiver and continue to trust yourself, continue to trust the process, and just find belief in yourself again. I feel like I'm starting to do that also with the help of the coaches and my teammates.
Q: Playing the Bears again, do you watch the game from last year and if you do, I know you had a pretty good game, what do you see from yourself?
A: Last year is when I really felt like the hurdle everyone wants to talk about. The hurdle that I felt like everyone is talking about, I feel like that was the hurdle for me last year. Obviously, we didn't finish the last game last year. We didn't play well at all as a team. For that one, going back to Chicago to the place where I tore my knee to have a 100-yard game. Obviously, it's all about the team but looking at it from my mindset there to go to that place. That kind of like put everything in the past for me and I was able to go into the offseason healthy. I still was able to show glimpses of that, especially inside running – I just wasn't breaking long runs. Now that I got my confidence back, all that stuff is starting to happen again. It's different, think about anything you do – whether you're playing football or any profession, any job you have is like; if you have confidence in yourself, when you're back there. To be honest, before that play, DJ (quarterback Daniel Jones) was like, I know I missed it before, and DJ was like, 'Hit it" and I hit it and we scored. It's just little stuff like that is coming back, just the trust in it.
Outside Linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux
Q: How did it feel health-wise for you on Sunday?
A: I would say as far as my health it was a win. Being able to go through a whole game and execute.
Q: What was missing from your game? An explosion?
A: No, I feel like it was a pretty good game given the circumstances of the situation and how the game was actually played. So, I don't think anything's really missing. As far as the team I feel like we could've executed at a higher level in the run defense. I think that kind of got away from us. Individually, I feel like I could've executed more but health-wise I feel confident in being able to deliver on the field.
Q: When you go into a game like this, this weekend and you look at their offense their really not putting the ball up a lot. Fewer 'at bats' per se in the pass rush, does that make you treat them as a premium if you hadn't already to try to get after the quarterback and get some pressure?
A: I think every game when you look at it it's about stopping the run. Once you can turn it into a drop-back game you have the advantage. So, given that we gave up a lot of run yards last game, we're really focusing on stopping the run and we're going to harp on making sure we have good fits, good technique, and play true to our fundamentals.
Q: You knew you were on some sort of a pitch count last week, right?
Q: And that was pretty much the way you thought it would go?
A: Yeah, we stick to the script. It was unfortunate, I was okay with the circumstances because it's about getting you back in, making sure I'm healthy but I definitely wanted to go out there and contribute a little.
Q: Do you hope that you have a bigger role in the script this week?
A: Definitely. You always want to hope that you're available to be in the game. So, I hope that I'm able to be ready when it's time.
Q: Did you learn anything from your NFL debut? Speed, Monday Night Football, just welcome to the NFL.
A: I would say that you're not superman. There are times where you want to be the reason we win, there are times where you want to be the guy and you've got to realize that the game isn't played like that. There are eleven people for a reason, it's a team sport for a reason. So just making sure that you contribute as much as you can and to the best of your ability given the circumstances.
Q: Have they told you that you're not going to be on a snap limit this week?
A: I wouldn't say playing it by ear, but I don't think I've really got an update on the plan as far as pitch count or not pitch count. But yeah, we're definitely going to continue to progress as I progress.
Q: How different is that 'not superman' mentality? In college and high school, you can really turn it on and be the dominant force.
A: When you say 'be the superman' I wouldn't take it as a mindset because for me l still feel like I can make every play on the field. But it's more of an understanding of how the game is played. You're not just going against the other players on the field, you're going against a coordinator, you're going against a team, you're going against people who do this and have been doing this for a living. It's understandable that there are schemes and ways to isolate players or take them out, to do whatever. So, just me understanding that it's a lot bigger than it was before and it's a lot more detailed and it's a lot more time taken within the schemes of offenses and things like that.
Q: Given who you think you are, does that benefit you? If it's bigger, if it's more schemes, you think you're that kind of player too, right?
A: I would say for me, I break down the film and I get everything that I can but then in the game you've got to remember, not only do I have to react to the offense but then we have coaches. For example, you're starting quarterback goes out, you've got to change it up based off of the players you have. Coaches are really good at playing to their team's strengths. Plug-in players and putting them in the right spots and making them shine. I think that's the part that's been my welcome to the NFL. These are guys that get paid to draw plays and to run them and execute them.
Q: There are guys that literally get paid to nullify what you're doing completely.
Q: How many times did you watch that 4th and 4 because it seemed like you were that slight second off from decking him.
A: Did I go inside?
Q: Yeah, when you went inside, the one that they completed right at the sticks.
A: Yeah, it's funny I actually only watched that one time. I didn't watch it again. That's why when you said 4th and 4, I had no idea. I would say that one is frustrating but that's the game. And that's where I tell you it's schemes, understanding, it's coaches. They knew that 4th and 4 I'm thinking pass, they know that. They know that we pressure so it's smart for them to get it out quickly and to play to their advantage. So, that was just great coaching and better execution.
Cornerback Aaron Robinson
Robinson: On the back end, we've got to go out there and compete. With that, I'm a defensive player. I've got to go out there and get tackles – try not to think about it.
Q: You think you can be available for Sunday?
A: I think I'll be ready to go.
Q: You went through the individual drill, and I think you went through it one time and (Head Coach) Brian (Daboll) came up to you. What did he ask you?
A: Kind of just kept checking up on me – 'Are you good? Everything feeling good?' I'm giving him a thumbs up, 'Everything feels good.' Not thinking about it. Just going along.
Q: How much did this throw you for a loop a few weeks ago after you had this? Just started feeling some pain, and you didn't think you had any kind of issue or anything, did you?
A: After the Tennessee game, the next day – that evening – I started feeling a little stomach pain. I didn't think too much of it. It carried over through the night into Tuesday and all day. I kind of just then thought about, 'Let me speak up.'
Q: Next thing you were in surgery?
A: Didn't think about any surgeries. Like I said, I spoke up with the trainers. They asked me a couple of questions. They sent me in, a test got done and everything went from there.
Q: That was Tuesday night, right? Tuesday night you called him?
Q: But you didn't have the surgery until Wednesday morning?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: What was your reaction when they said, 'We're taking your appendix out?'
A: Honestly, I wasn't going for it, I wasn't trying to go for it. At first, I'm asking a million questions. I had to do some research myself, but it could've been more serious than what it was. So, I went along with the plan.
Q: Was the surgery painful, or you're asleep I'm assuming?
A: It wasn't too bad. You're going to have pain for sure after surgery, but it wasn't anything that I couldn't handle.
Q: What has the recovery process been like? Is it more just being careful with the wound, or just getting back into shape?
A: Really just being careful with the wound for sure. A lot of stretching. A lot of movements in the trunk area. That's pretty much it. Trying to move around and keep everything opened up.
Q: Is it hard to watch? Hard to be on the sideline?
A: It's something I couldn't control. It's definitely always hard to watch the guys play and not being able to be out there. But I couldn't control the situation, so that's what it was.
Q: How long were you in the hospital? Just a couple of hours or something?
A: They kept me overnight. : Didn't think about any surgeries. Like I said, I spoke up with the trainers. They asked me a couple of questions. They sent me in, a test got done and everything went from there.