Head Coach Robert Saleh, 10.10

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Brian Costello, New York Post: Do you have an update on Jermaine (Johnson)?

Yeah, Jermaine is dealing with an ankle. It’s going to be day-to-day; we’re going to know more by the end of the week. Just to evaluate him as we go through and just to see where he’s at.


Brian Costello, New York Post: So, is it a sprain, but it’s not a high ankle? It’s a low ankle?

I’m not going to get into specifics on that, but it is an ankle. We don’t think it’s a severe ankle. Again, we will have a lot more information by the end of the week.


Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, there were a few times in the Spring and Summer when the hype train started rolling on your draft class, that you kind of tempered things and said, ‘They’re rookies. It could take a little while.’ But, they’ve had quite an impact already in these first five games. Just how impressed have you been with this rookie class and how much of an impact they’ve had this early on in the season?

What’s impressive about them is that it’s not too big. Usually, with rookies, the first game they’ve got big eyes. I remember I had a rookie in San Francisco that made a tackle on a big-name player and was like, ‘I just tackled so-and-so.’ I was like, ‘No, he just got tackled by you.’ You have to teach them that they belong. This group, it hasn’t been too big for them. They’ve rolled right in. They still have a long way to go, too, that’s what’s exciting about it. I’m being honest with everybody, they’re doing very well, but I really in my heart believe that they haven’t even scratched the surface of where they’re going to go as long as they continue that mindset, that selflessness that they all have, and that grind of continuing to find ways to get better. It’s going to be a special group.


Rich Cimini, ESPN: How did this version of your offensive line do yesterday, specifically with AVT (Alijah Vera-Tucker) at right tackle and I’m going to guess that you’ll probably roll with the same five based on how the results were?

It was a pretty good performance. There’s some things from a protection standpoint, just communication. Not communication, but just feel in terms of space that we can get better at, which we will. Really thought, starting in the second quarter, I really thought the run game came on. In terms of just creating push and space and our backs hitting it. I thought Michael (Carter) did a good job punching two of them in. I thought Breece (Hall) did a good job creating some explosives, and I thought the offensive line did a really good job in terms of creating lanes for our guys. From a run game standpoint, I think it’s the best we’ve been. Then, from a protection standpoint, it was good and I think it can be even better.


Al Iannazzone, Newsday: I know you joked yesterday about AVT playing quarterback, but can you speak to what he’s done and how difficult it is to play three different positions three weeks in a row?

First and foremost, he’s a selfless warrior. Whatever you ask of him, he’s going to do, and you want to be mindful of the fact that he’s got to be able to eat, too. But there’s also this confidence in him that we have that whatever we ask him to do, he’s going to be unbelievable at it. What he’s been able to do, to do what he’s done is not easy as any o-lineman can tell you. It’s incredible what he has done. He’s played four different positions already, three in the last three weeks, and he’s been lights out with all of it. It’s just a testament to who he is and the type of person that we’ve been bringing into this locker room with regards to the selflessness, the sacrifice for their teammates, the ‘get the job done’ at the best of your ability. Everything that this checks off for an individual, I think he represents what this locker room is. I am really happy for him, and hopefully we can get this thing settled so he can stay in one position so he can show the world how great he is.


Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: You guys knew how versatile he was when you were looking at him in college, but could you have imagined that he would’ve played four positions and played them well this early just 20 games into his career?

You don’t ever anticipate ever having to move a young man like this. You want to get them settled, especially when you speak about our philosophy and what we believe in terms of, you don’t want to be someone who has 10,000 kicks that he practices one time each. You want someone who has one kick that he practices 10,000 times. To move guys is not in our DNA. It’s not what we want. It’s kind of been out of emergency and with what has happened at that position. To his credit, he’s been lights out. He’s done it without even flinching. He’s got so much confidence in himself. Credit to John Benton, our o-line coach, in getting his guys ready. He’s been awesome. You know he had the versatility, but you never go to a young man’s career trying to use all of that versatility.


Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: What’s it been like seeing Carl (Lawson) play at the level that you guys were hoping when you signed him? Obviously, he missed all of last year and was easing back into it, but it seems he’s firing on all cylinders right now. 

He’s put together a couple of good ones. I still think he’s got more to go, too. He’s coming back from an Achilles injury. I don’t think people realize how hard that is. He went two years without football, and he’s slowly stacking up good days and he’s getting faster, his GPS numbers are getting faster. I’m really pumped for him. He’s gaining confidence, he’s getting stronger and stronger every week. Just looking forward to him to have continued growth and the production for him is just going to continue to follow.


Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, what have you seen from your team in the fourth quarter this season?

I know I keep saying this, we have a young group that doesn’t flinch. You just look at this group, when the fourth quarter comes, there’s just so much confidence to be able to get the job done. There’s so much confidence in their individual playing ability and there’s so much confidence as different units to be able to get the job done. Whatever’s clicking, and I’ve got my own philosophy or my own thoughts on how it clicks for these young men when the fourth quarter, I’ve talked a ton about how the game progresses from first half to third quarter, to fourth quarter. When we get a chance in the fourth quarter, I mean you just don’t have any quit. We talk 60 percent from the Navy Seals and just this belief that you can get anything done as long as you’re willing to put your mind to it and I think this locker room embodies that. We have a bunch of guys who love the game, they’re focused on the moment, they go one play at a time, like all the clichés, it just feels like that’s what you see and what they represent on the football field, especially when the fourth quarter hits.


Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: We saw an increase in C.J. Uzomah’s snap count, I’m wondering, and we saw him in some packages that maybe hadn’t been used before, some 11. What was the thought behind that?
Same thing, we’re trying to make sure that guys are, it goes back to the whole play time thought. If someone’s taking every single snap, can they give you everything they’ve got every snap? C.J. has earned the right to obviously play, we signed him, he had a lot of production in Cincinnati, he’s been getting stronger, obviously. Really, it’s just we have two really good tight ends, trying to balance off the reps. One, so they can be a little bit fresher as they go, but two, C.J. deserves it just as much as Tyler (Conklin) does and they’re both playing at such a high level, we just want to get them out there and get them their reps.


Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: So, you’re putting the defensive line rotation at tight end now is what you’re saying?

(Laughter) Kind of.


Al Iannazzone, Newsday: How much do you guys, you especially, stress things like you really haven’t achieved anything yet with all these things that are happening. The first win in the AFC East in a while, first win at home, first winning streak under you. But how much do you say to these guys, ‘You really haven’t achieved anything yet?’

We haven’t, that’s the truth. What we’ve accomplished is winning three games out of 17. We’ve got a long way to go to establish ourselves as a team that can, whatever. If you want to be a team that’s great, then winning is, you put it in the back shelf and you just keep on moving. We’ve got a big one with Green Bay and we’re going to have a big one the next week and a big one after that. The ability to compartmentalize or to push, enjoy the win until noon today, and then move on right to Green Bay in terms of taking care of your body and preparing yourself the way you need to. That’s what championship teams do. We’ve got a long way to go before we can ever prove that, and to do that, you’ve got to create consistency. It’s awesome that we’ve been able to get off to the start we have, but at the same time, it doesn’t mean anything because it all starts over every week.


Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, how much do you think the rookies are kind of feeding off of each other and what they’re doing?

I think they feed off it. There’s an old saying that “You are what you think about.” If you’re continually thinking about and talking about how good you are, then you’re probably going to be pretty good, or at least have the confidence to be good. But I do think the entire team is feeding off one another. I think when you see guys like Corey Davis just celebrating their teammates for getting chunk yards or blocking, you see (Braxton) Berrios running 60 yards down the field to block for Breece (Hall) on that wheel route and you see o-linemen straining to get blocks or defensive players straining to make plays happen for one another. There was a play where Will Parks get vertical on a cracked toss and just gets run over but he took two guys with him and it allowed for a free run tackle, a free hitter from, I think it was D.J. (Reed) who got the tackle and C.J. Mosley rolling over the top because he sacrificed himself. I think there’s a group of guys who are absolutely playing for one another, and I think they’re all buying in to one another and I think they feed off of that. I know the rookies are getting a lot of publicity, they’re the fun ones to talk about, but I think it’s happening all over the football field. And like I said, it doesn’t mean anything because we’ve got to go do it again, but I really like where this team’s at mentally and the way it’s playing for each other.


Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: You said last week you don’t like going against your best friends, well you’ve got another one this week with Matt (LaFleur). This is like the friend’s part of the tour, the schedule here. But what’s it going to be like? I mean, you’ve gone against him, but you were the coordinator then, so what’s it going to be like as the head coach?

It’s the same, he was in my wedding, I was in his wedding, and we were roommates together. He’s the ultimate in terms of how close he and I are, but it’s the same thing. I love him, but it’s game week and when the game kicks off on Sunday it’s all about the Jets.