Head Coach Robert Saleh 10.30
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I am just going to cover the injuries real quick. Al Woods, confirmed he will be out for the season with an achilles. Connor McGovern is dealing with his knee, he is going to go to IR. He does have a chance to return. Wes Schweitzer is dealing with a calf, he is also going to go to IR with a chance to return later in the season.
Zach Rosenblatt, The Athletic: Robert, do you have any optimism about Joe Tippmann possibly returning this week?
We’ll see. We do have the extra day with Monday Night Football, it is going to be a little bit. We are just going to see how he progresses over the next couple of days.
Rich Cimini, EPSN.com: With Connor (McGovern) and his knee, is that a dislocated knee? There was a report that I think had said dislocation.
I don’t have the specific details on that one, I just know that it’s an IR, with a chance to come back.
Rich Cimini, EPSN.com: (follow up) No surgery is what you’re saying?
I believe as of now, he doesn’t need it. I think we are just going to try to get a rehab and get his strength in for the back half of the season, but it may be something that he has to get as we progress. He’s not out of the woods, but let’s just say it was the best-case scenario based on what we thought on the field.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: What is the latest with Duane (Brown)? You’re down a lot of o-lineman (offensive) what’s the latest with Duane Brown?
We’ll talk more on whether or not we’re going to open up his practice window over the next couple of days. Like I said, we’ve got the extra day. So, we’re going to utilize it in terms of just taking our time.
Brian Costello, New York Post: With Duane, Robert, once the practice window activates, he’s going to need a little time to practice, I would assume, before he could be activated for a game? Because he missed a lot of training camp, he hasn’t had a lot of time.
Yeah, we’ll see how it looks. I know Duane works as hard as anybody in football and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s ready to go from day one, but we’re going to give him ample time to ramp up. We’re going to trust him and his communication and letting us know when he’s ready to roll and when he says he’s ready to roll, we’ll roll.
Dennis Waszak, The Athletic: Robert, do you guys look at Xavier (Newman) as an option at center moving forward? Or do you guys have to go out and get somebody? What’s kind of the game plan for that right now for you?
Well, right now we have who we have. ‘X’ (Xavier Newman), obviously he’s definitely going to be an option. Once the smoke clears, dust settles, we add people back to the offensive line room. Again, that’s some good conversations for you guys have with Joe (Douglas) tomorrow, but once everything settles down, thankfully, like I said, we got the extra day, we’ll have time to sort it all out.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: How tough is it for the offense to build the continuity and get to the level where you want to be when you’re playing musical lineman, basically?
It’s really tough, because everything starts up front. From a protection standpoint and how creative you can get offensively, it starts with your ability to protect the quarterback. The longer you can protect him the more creative you can get in route design and the better the run game works and all of it. We feel good about the five guys we have every time we step on the field. It’s just a matter of them getting an opportunity to work together and find that cohesion that we’re looking for, so it’s a shame for the five o-linemen (offensive) that have started for us are on IR now, but it’s just like every other team. There is no feeling sorry for yourself. You have to step in, next man up, great opportunity for the young man, whoever gets those opportunities. You just pray to God every morning that you get a little continuity and you can string together a couple of weeks and find a way to get better.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, how critical is it for you guys to just kind of get the offense going? Obviously, the defense has kept you in the game the last two weeks and you find a way to win, but the defense can’t be relied on every single week I don’t think to limit the team to 10 points, right?
With regards to offense, we knew yesterday was going to be a low scoring game. Then you throw in the weather, the weather was much worse than I think people realized and I think it was hidden behind the fact that we do play on turf, so you don’t see grass and mud flying everywhere, but the wind and the rain made it even more difficult and you’ve got two really good defenses playing and a couple of beat up offensive lines, especially as the game wore on. It’s not to make excuses for either side, but it was hard to move the ball. I think it was more of a defensive deal than it was anything else, but at the same time, from an offensive standpoint everyone knows the deal. You still got to score points in this League, but the positive thing is that I know we’ll be in every game. We’re going to fight our tails off, our defense, our special teams, our kicking game, our run game. All of it is going to tie together and like I said, everyone can point at reasons why things aren’t clicking the way they are, but it’s a collective effort, but I have unwavering faith that they are working hard, they are putting things together, and eventually things are going to click and it’s going to look pretty cool.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, we didn’t ask you after the game about Randall (Cobb). What led to him being inactive yesterday?
He’s dealing with a shoulder. It was on the two-point play from the Philadelphia game, at the end of the game there and took a shot to the shoulder and it just has not been able to recover at the speed that we were hoping.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: Offensive line question, are you hopeful, Robert, of getting I mean, you got 24 hours I guess before the trade deadline, are you hopeful that there might be a reinforcement coming in?
You like reinforcements, but no one’s trading offensive linemen. They are so scarce throughout the League. There has been so many injuries throughout the League, with regards to the o-line. There is some really, really good players that are available that we can get in here for a workout, but like I said, we’ve got a couple of days to try to figure it out and get some people in here and see if we can add some depth back to the offensive line.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Robert, what did Xavier show you in practice last week? C.J. (Mosley) said he was the scout team player the week there. What did he show you that you guys elevated him and then obviously turned to him?
Yeah, he’s been working his butt off. It feels like he got here yesterday, but he goes out to practice and he grinds, and he works. It’s not easy to block our defensive line. Whatever you need him to do, play tackle, play guard, you’re limited on numbers when it comes to show team guys. He snaps, he plays guard, he plays tackle, he does things for the first team offense, getting a couple of reps here and there, but for the most part, he’s servicing the defense and he gives us a really good look. He’s reliable, works his butt off, strains, really does a nice job getting our guys better. It is amazing, he goes from scout team player of the week to, ‘Hey, you’re up to, oh look, you’re starting at guard. Now you’re taking your first snap at center in an NFL game with a zero-nose sitting right on top of you’. Credit to him, he didn’t waver even after the initial fumble. He didn’t flinch and I thought he did a really nice job.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Isn’t it kind of amazing, Robert? Like, you guys spend all this time plotting, right? Like what that team’s going to look like and it’s from March, April, OTA’s, training camp. We talk about all this stuff and then a guy who got here yesterday, basically ends up playing a key role in a game?
Yeah, that’s part of it. I always say that the difference between A and Z is opportunity, right? There are things that he could have done better, obviously, but just really cool that he was able to step in and do what he did. It’s a tall ask, it’s a hard ask, and I thought he was admirable, but that is this game and it’s doesn’t always work out in a positive way. Sometimes it’s an absolute disaster, but , in this case, again, credit to Keith (Carter) and the offensive staff just to keep composure, get guys where they needed to be. Billy Turner, having the visit versatility, to go play guard in a pinch where he’s normally a tackle, don’t forget that one. Overall, just the o-line and having an understanding globally of all five positions by all those guys to be able to go and execute and perform. Especially, in that fourth quarter where I felt like we were able to give the quarterback just enough time to make a couple of plays, so again, really cool. I thought it was really good from our offensive line.
Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: Did (Xavier) Newman snap while he was working with the scout team? Did you guys even know he could do that?
We knew, which was a big reason why we had him as the practice squad call up, is because when (Joe) Tippmann is gone, now you need someone who can snap, but he’s never done it in a game. It’s just he can snap. So, we had our choices of guys to call up. There are guys who have been here much longer than he has, but he could snap, and you always want to have three centers. Rule of thumb, you never want two injuries to take you out of a personnel grouping. If he wasn’t up, I mean I don’t even know how you play football at that point, but again, credit to him, he had himself prepared and it’s not easy. You got Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams standing over top of you and it’s your first game ever snapping, that is not easy, and I thought he did a really nice job.
Brian Costello, New York Post: What are these next 24 hours like for you, Robert, do you check in with Joe (Douglas), does he come to you and say this might happen or before the deadline, what’s it like?
Yeah, we’ll meet, we’ll talk about some things. He knows exactly where we are, we communicate what we need. Obviously, the injuries makes it obvious where the immediate needs are and if something pops up, he will get with us and ask us to watch some tape on a certain guy and get our opinion. If something really heats up, obviously, he’s always in constant communication, which is nice, but for us, we’re more in between. Thank God we got the extra day with the Monday night game, but we’re grinding on the Chargers game and trying to figure that out and obviously keeping ourself free for Joe and his staff if something pops up.
Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: Robert, Thomas Morstead has become something like a cult hero around here. How cool is it to see him kind of have his moment? He was getting emotional yesterday, it’s pretty rare that after a win I feel like that a punter is going to be at the podium, but he earned that obviously, so what’s it been like seeing him have this moment?
He’s been awesome, man. He’s obviously a veteran, been in the League a very long time. Been in a couple of different buildings. I think he expresses so much gratitude. I don’t know, sometimes you wonder if he’s, players just kind of brown nosing or not, but he’s not, he genuinely loves this locker room. He loves his teammates and he’s been around some really good ones, being in New Orleans for so long. He just feels like his teammates here and the way things are done in that locker room, it’s done right. When you’re surrounded by like individuals, you tend to kind of gravitate and love that person you’re next to. There’s a lot of people like minded as him, in terms of just the work ethic and the understanding of what it takes to win and be a great professional. I think that’s what’s great about our locker room. I think that’s why you see them always in the fight and never quitting and never wavering. It’s got tremendous character and I’ve said to you guys before, character wins in the fourth quarter, not talent. As long as we can continue to play with the standard at which we do, we will always give ourselves a chance.
Tom Rock, Newsday: Robert, just one more on Xavier, if I go back to him. Just how impressive was his handling of the mechanics on the spike play? There is really no margin for error there, so for a guy who hasn’t snapped to even just know the rules and what has to happen there that that has to be pretty impressive?
It’s something we work on every week. Especially, after the Denver debacle, right? Right before that, there was just a reminder and just going over the rules and what needs to get done and credit to him and the urgency of the entire the whole operation. Credit to (Allen) Lazard to stay right where he was and to set the ball. Credit to (Xavier) Newman to sprint his butt down, grab the ball, look for the side judge just put the ball down before the ref, so he could tap it, which saves us about a half a second to a second. To Zach (Wilson) and everyone just getting their feet in the ground and spiking the ball and the clock operator for having a quick trigger. Just all of it was perfectly executed. That clip will be on the teach tape for many teams around the League and it’ll be a teach tape clip at least for our offense, or for a lot of coaches for many, many years because you can’t execute it any better.