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Head Coach Brian Daboll
Q: Where do we stand on (tackle) Andrew Thomas? Is he going to be out there? (Running back) Saquon (Barkley)?
A: Andrew won’t. He practiced a little bit in individual two days ago, just wasn’t feeling right, didn’t practice him yesterday. He won’t make the game.
Saquon will practice, do a little bit more. We’ll see where he’s at and take it right up to game time. Those are our only two people.
Q: Everyone else you expect to play, you’re saying?
A: I do. Yes.
Q: Do you expect the same front that you’ve had with Andrew out, except with (guard) Ben (Bredeson) coming back?
A: I do.
Q: What have you seen from (outside linebacker) Azeez (Ojulari) this week? Does he look like he’s fully ready?
A: Yeah, he’s had a good week. He had good practice yesterday. Feels good, practiced well. So, unless something happens today, counting on him being there.
Q: How does his presence help your defense?
A: He’s a good player for us. We’ve got to get him into those situations where we can utilize his skillset, which he does a good job of rushing the passer, but we’ve got to play good team defense, good team football in order to get to some of those situations.
Q: We were talking to (Defensive Backs Coach) Jerome (Henderson) about some of the growing pains with young corners. What’s the balance with rookies being a little patient, but also, you have a standard?
A: That’s a good question. I’d say any young player, starting with rookies, but even second-year guys, they have to play. There’s going to be some quote-unquote growing pains at times with any young player. But I think as long as they’re improving, and you can see it at practice, they get some more familiarity in game situations. They’re good players. Put them into different situations. Hopefully the next time they react to a situation, whatever that may be, they learn from it, and they’re able to execute it better than the first time that they did it. But I have a lot of confidence in our young guys. We’ll just keep on rolling along with them.
Q: As a coach, do you relish the chance to have a long week – you went from having the shortest week – just to prepare your team to have that extra time?
A: Whatever the weeks are, the weeks are. You get used to it as a coach being in the league for as long as you do. If it’s a short week, you get ready a certain way. A long week, you have a couple extra days. But each week presents its own challenge, and the most important thing is doing well putting together good plan and going out there and then playing well.
Q: How do you game plan for (Seahawks safety) Jamal Adams, who is such a difference maker when he plays but you don’t really know what to expect?
A: You hope you have a little bit of an idea, go back when he did play, and the three safeties, but you never really know. So, you adjust on the sideline if you need to do something a little bit different. But he’s a heck of a player.
Q: We know from a coaching staff perspective and also you named captains and you have your leadership quality there, but is there value when guys kind of challenge each other in the locker room when you guys aren’t there, and just the idea of being able to be a guy who’s willing to step up and take that on his shoulders?
A: Sure. I think that’s what you want in your team, whether you’re a captain or not a captain. I think anyone can be a leader. A rookie can be a leader if they’re doing their job well and they communicate well. I think (center) John Michael (Schmitz Jr.) is a good example of that for our football team. He does a great job in the offensive line room as a young player, and he’s only played a few games. Anyone can be a leader and I think that you want player-driven leadership on your team, no question about it.
Q: It’s going to be your third primetime game basically in four weeks. What do you make of that? What have you seen from it, or what do you take from it, playing in those spots?
A: I just think you’ve got to play well in any game in this league. So, we just play them when they’re scheduled and do the best job we can do to prepare, then ultimately got to go out there and coach and play well.
Q: Does Monday night football mean anything to you? Like the fact that it is the prime spot.
A: I think it’s obvious you’re the only game, usually. There’s been a couple here last couple of weeks but for us, we’ve got to get ready to play a really good team. We understand when it is, I think that’s a great opportunity for everybody, but we’ve got to do a good job.
Q: (Seahawks running back Kenneth) Walker will start this way then bounce around, he did it to you guys last year —
A: He does it to a lot of guys. Yeah, a lot of teams.
Q: Yeah, I know. How much do you have drill it into guys that you’ve got the back side?
A: You’ve got to practice it; you’ve got to give the best looks you can. You’ve got to coach it and he can cut it back at any time, he can bounce it out at any time, challenging player to defend so everybody’s got to be gap sound and the run force has to be good. You’ve got to run to the ball, and you’ve got to wrap the guy up.
Q: Missing Andrew again for another week, how difficult is that with just the kind of player that he is?
A: You want all your best players to be out there, that’s why we have the guys behind them. Have confidence in those guys. Obviously, no one is Andrew Thomas. We want (offensive lineman) Josh (Ezeudu) to be Josh and we’ve got to do a good job of coaching Josh and the rest of the guys. But, when you’re missing a good player, that’s the NFL. You’ve got to be ready to go with the next guy up.
Q: With Andrew, is it something that is probably week to week?
A: I’d say week to week. But whether he’ll be ready next week, I mean it’s –
Q: But it’s like you’re putting him on IR.
A: No. No. He went through a few little drills, didn’t feel right, we took him out right away and just want to make sure the player’s ready to go and do the necessary rehab and stuff. So, I’d say it’s week to week. Whether he’ll be ready next week, I’m not sure. Really week to week.
Q: What do you need to see from Saquon to give him the green light come Monday night?
A: Well, we’ll see how he looks today. I think he’s gotten progressively better and then it’s just a talk with Saquon, where he’s at, it’s a talk with the training staff. I think everybody’s got to be on the same page and again never want to put a guy out there that’s not ready to go, but he has gotten better. I think there’s a chance, but we’ll see where it’s at.
Q: Does he have to test with hard cuts? He’s such a hard runner.
A: Yeah, and he’s done some of that out here. We’ll see, we’ll get a little bit more of that today.
Q: We’ve only seen him obviously only in individual and some position stuff. Has he gotten any team stuff this week?
A: We’re working through that. What we’ve asked him to do he’s done a good job with. I want to give him the benefit of the doubt all the way up to as far as we can go.
Q: What have you seen from Josh in replacing Andrew? What are you looking for this week?
A: Just to do his job. It’s obviously a tough position in the NFL but he’s gotten better since we’ve put him in there each day. He feels comfortable so just go out there and perform his responsibilities to the best he can.
Q: Is there such a thing as “give us what you got?” Like oh, Saquon can play maybe 15-20 snaps or do you have to be able to play your full workload to be able to play.
A: I’d say we’re just going to let him go today and see where he’s at and then we’ll kind of talk –
Q: I mean generally speaking. Is there such a thing as give me what you got.
A: No, I’m with you. I think you take each situation different with each player based on the injury, how they feel, what their roles are, their responsibilities. Each position is a little bit different.
Running Back Saquon Barkley
Q. Start with the obvious Saquon, there were reports that it was an ordinary ankle sprain and Taylor Rooks said that you told her it was a high ankle sprain. Is it a high ankle sprain?
A: Yeah, it’s a high ankle sprain. I don’t know where the ordinary came from but that’s not something I’m mad about, people doing their job. But I sat down – I know Rooks really well. Me and (cornerback) Amani (Oruwariye) had dinner with her before the game. That’s my good friend so we chopped it up and I told her what it was and that’s how it went down.
Q. In regard to this week, there would be people who would say that you shouldn’t play. That’s kind of what (Chargers running back) Austin Ekeler is doing. You shouldn’t play or a running shouldn’t play without a contract beyond the year until he’s 100 percent healthy. That is the smart thing to do business-wise. Does that impact your decision at all?
A: I’d agree. I think that is the smart thing to do business-wise. I wouldn’t question anybody telling me that I should do that but at the end of the day, it’s my life. I make the decisions, so I love this game and I feel like if it’s good to play, go out there and play. So, I’m trying my best.
Q. When you clarified what your injury was, did you feel like you needed that out there because you wanted people to know what you were pushing through?
A: No. It was as simple as having dinner with a friend and she works for Amazon, and she was like “Are you okay if I say this?” It’s like if I’m having a conversation with one of y’all. That’s what it is. But it wasn’t to push the narrative of “Oh, this is what I’m fighting through.” I don’t care enough for that to be honest. I’d rather it be like college. In college, you get hurt, you get banged up, nobody knows. But it’s the rules in the National Football League, everybody’s got to have an injury report every single day and know if you’re limited in practice, if you’re day to day, that’s the rules. But, if it was up to me, I’d rather it be – it’s football, you get banged up. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Just keep it like that and work through it. That’d be the way I’d like it though.
Q. If it’s up to you, this decision, would you play Monday?
A: Yeah, I feel like it’s my body, my choice. It sounds crazy saying that right there (laughs) but the reality of it is if I can go – If my body is telling me to go out there and play then yeah, that’s what I’d like to do. But if anybody else is in the situation of, say if some people are in the situation of, they don’t have a contract behind it and they’re doing it for business reasons, I respect that, too. Probably is the smart thing to do, to be honest, but that’s not in my makeup and how I view it.
Q: How about the most basic thing, how are you feeling? Where do you feel you are at?
A: It’s tough, I mean it’s one of those things that I think I am doing way better than what a lot of people would expect, especially talking to doctors, that I am further along, but it’s frustrating because I am healing fast, but you want it to be faster. You want to heal fast, but it’s tough balancing that. Just taking it day by day, just fighting. Every single day I come in and rehabbing and try to get myself back to a place where I can go out there and compete at a high level for my team.
Q: Does it mean something to you the fact that if you would get an opportunity to get out there and run around a little bit on Monday, to have a chance to show them that you can play, or show yourself you can play or do you kind of want to have an idea tomorrow or Monday morning?
A: It would mean a lot to me just to play in general. I love playing football. You don’t want to miss games, I’ve missed enough games in my career, so I would love to just go out there and play anytime I can. That’s why last week I was like aye, if it feels good enough and I can go out there and I can play and protect myself, protect the ball, and protect the QB, man let me try and play last Thursday. If I can do it this Monday, let me try and play. You never know with these things, it’s a tough injury to battle through, but whenever that is, I just would love to be out there because I love the game of football and that’s the only thing that matters.
Q: How much do the past injuries come into the equation for you, with the fact that you’ve had the ankle injuries before and you’ve kind of talked about it before, you didn’t come back and probably play at the level you wanted, potentially even maybe came back early. How much do you factor that in the past experiences?
A: I was thinking about that. That is something that I might have said, but maybe with my left one, when I was dealing with the knee. We still come back in the left one, but my right one, the first one I did, my second year in the league, I came back earlier than what it said, I guess I was supposed to be out. The first game I came back, and I had a long run for like 40 however many yards, that got called back and that would have put me over 100 all-purpose yards and I think 100 yards rushing and I still finished the season with 1,400 yards that year. I don’t think, that doesn’t go through my mind, like ‘oh I came back too soon’. Right now, it’s just like, I want to get back. I’m itching and I’m eager to play. I don’t like watching from the sidelines, I don’t like watching on TV. I want to be out there and competing with my guys.
Q: How much do you recognize that this a team that needs a win?
A: I feel like every week you need to win. I think you can feel where the fans are, where the reporters are, like where the media is at. You know you can feel that. I don’t want to say pressure, I don’t want to say in a sense of urgency, but it is definitely better to start the first quarter of the season 2-2 than 1-3, so is it like a must-win? Every week is a must-win. On primetime, Monday Night Football, against a really good team that is playing really well. So, yeah it would be important to come out with a win, but I feel like every week is like that. You got to stress it, you got to feel like it’s a must-win, but the same thing, like it’s the NFL. We come out and we don’t get the job done, then we are 1-3. You can’t just be like ‘Oh we got to set the building on fire, we’re done’ because there is still a long season to be played, but at the same time you got to realize it’s important to go out there and win against NFC opponent and especially a really good team.
Q: Is it about pain tolerance more than anything else? Did they say you can’t hurt it any worse?
A: I don’t want to get too much into that. I don’t think that’s fair to myself or the docs. I won’t get too much into that. I’ll just leave it is whenever I’m able to go out there and be able to protect myself, protect the ball, and protect the quarterback, I’ll be ready to go.
Q: Did you do team drills today?
A: I can’t answer that question.
Q: What do you think your chances are of playing this week?
A: I don’t know. I think I will have a better answer tomorrow and I’ll have a better answer the day after that – I think that’s Monday, right? We’ll see.
Q: Has any part of your week this week been normal? Have you done normal things on the practice field we haven’t seen? Have you felt normal this week at all?
A: I wouldn’t say it’s normal. My routine’s the same, the time I come in and what I do in the weight room, in the training room. It’s a little more rehab-focused with the ankle. But it’s just kind of going out there and just testing it, seeing where I’m at, seeing how it feels, seeing how my body responds. That’s really the big thing is going out there and running and putting your body weight on it and trying to move at a high level and competitive speed and then come out and go to sleep and see how you feel the next day. So, I would say that’s why it’s not normal, that part of it, but the process has remained the same and will always remain the same.
Q: How is your body feeling when you’re trying to cut and stuff like that?
A: Have you ever had a high-ankle sprain before?
It’s not easy, but I’ve dealt with it before. Luckily, it’s the side I’ve done before, so I think when that happens your body can heal a little quicker and react to it because it’s happened (inaudible). So, we’ll see.
Q: Do you feel better than say, two days ago?
A: Yeah, every day, I would say. Every day. I think Dabs (Head Coach Brian Daboll) came out and said it, but that’s a true statement. Every day it’s getting better and better and trending up.
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