Head Coach Robert Saleh, 11.29
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Before you guys start with questions, I’m going to cover these injuries for you all. Trevon Wesco, he’s got an ankle. He’s going to be two-to-four weeks. Corey Davis is day-to-day with his groin. Mike White is still going to be out with COVID. Joe Flacco is back in. (Denzel) Mims will be at practice Wednesday. Quincy (Williams) checked out good this morning. Zach (Wilson) checked out good this morning. Mekhi Becton is still not ready, he’s progressed to field work.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, when you say Mike White remains out, is that just right now or he’s out for this week for sure?
It’s for right now. He has to be perfect for the next three days, but it doesn’t look like he’s going to be ready for Philadelphia.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Robert, with Mekhi, how close is he? I know you said one-to-three weeks a few weeks ago, how close is he to actual practice?
He’s out into the field and from there it’s just a matter of progressing. Field work is a big step, so as he works through the soreness and just getting back into football shape and getting the flexibility in his knee, he’ll progress back to practice. It’s all contingent on the work.
Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: Robert, with Zach, you said he checked out good. Is that a situation where he might be dealing with some soreness like in a game like yesterday and throughout and he’ll just be able to play through it? What does that look like for him with the knee?
It’s the same thing that we saw. There’s no limitations to what he’s going to be able to do with regards to running, dropping back, boots, all that stuff. So, obviously, he took a pretty good hit on the sideline and he felt it, but when he got to the sideline, there was, from my understanding, a little bit of pain. Pain went away, felt good, he wanted to get back on the field, we got him back on the field and he helped us win a football game.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: Does that tell you a little bit about (Wilson’s) make up? The fact that he did get hurt, he wanted to go back in and try to finish off the win?
He’s tough as nails. He was trying to play Buffalo, he was trying to play Miami game, and we wanted him to take the extra couple of weeks to let him get his knee to full healthy. Even in the game, he’s not going to be denied. If he has a chance to play, he wants to play. His grit and his toughness and his desire to get better is pretty darn high in terms of just how hard he works at it. So yeah, it does.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Robert, he was pretty down on himself after the game yesterday, Zach, on his performance. What did you see when you went back, what kind of progress did you see?
And I love that he’s hard on himself. Like I said, his desire to get better is up there with anybody. He works his tail off at it. But at the same time, coaches also, we’re hard on ourselves, too. It’s our job to help him get better and do everything we can for him. Was it his best game? No. Did he do a lot of things? Did he get comfortable as the game went on? Absolutely. He orchestrated two 13-play drives that led the scores where we were able to lap them. Scored before the half, scored after the half and another eight-plus-play drive. So, he orchestrated three pretty long drives and did enough to win the football game and that’s what’s most important.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, when he spoke to us, he said the knee, “Wasn’t fully healed.” And he said it’s going to stretch sometimes and shift on him, is that kind of your understanding that he’s going to deal with, he said that it was twice yesterday where he felt it. Is that something he’s going to have to deal with all season?
Yeah, you’re getting into doctor talk right there. From my understanding, he’s got no limitations. Whatever the knee does, from my understanding, it’s fine. It’s cleared. Like I said, we’d never put him on the field if we thought he can get hurt any more. From there, I can’t speak for all the medical terms or whatever might be happening him. I just know that he has no limitations, and he can play quarterback the way he needs to.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, are there things you guys can do to get him comfortable early like you talked about? Or is that just something that’s kind of part of the process and it’s going to happen when it happens?
That’s one of those deals in terms of, I want to explain this the best way possible for you guys, but when you are young and it’s one thing to see tape, it’s another thing to go out there and practice, it’s a whole other thing for it to come at you 100 miles an hour with the body language of different players and the way they play their position. There’s a trust factor, right? It’s there, you know it’s there, but you’re just not ready to pull the trigger. But you see him pulling the trigger when the second quarter hits, third quarter, the more looks he gets, the faster he starts going. That’s part of being young. He knows he’s seeing the right things. He’s sending the ball where it needs to go, he’s going through the right reads, it’s a tick late early and then it catches up as the game goes on. That comes back to trust. Trust your feet. It goes back to making sure his footwork, we always talk about reading with our feet. His footwork has to be consistent, his eye placement has to be consistent. When he speeds up, he’s going to lose that timing and he’s going to lose that trust because things are happening faster than they actually should be. It’s not until the game happens where he starts getting into a groove and when he starts getting second, third, fourth looks at it. Long answer short, Brian, he’s got to get comfortable in this thing and it’s going to take reps and time.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: With regard to Mims getting some more work. Considering how much time he’s missed, Robert, is it realistic for him to be available to play on Sunday? Or is he going to need like a ramp-up period for conditioning?
We used last week as his ramp up because he had missed so much time. He got in a really good weeks’ worth of work. We’ll see how it goes Wednesday and through the course of the week in terms of just his getting him back into the offense and getting comfortable again. He had made so many good strides with knowledge and route running and all that stuff, so we’ll see how it goes. I’m expecting it to go well so we can get him up on Sunday.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, what happened with Corey? Friday you sounded optimistic and Saturday you guys downgraded him to doubtful, and he obviously didn’t play. What happened with Corey there?
I spoke to you guys before practice, obviously, and so the intent was to get him out there. We run two live periods and we’re getting out in the redzone, so it’s not a lot of running but a chance to get the guys’ legs loose. And he went out to practice and ran a couple of routes, gave it a shot, didn’t really like the way it came out, came back Saturday still wasn’t feeling it, and then we just shut it down.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Robert, I don’t think we asked you this yesterday, what did you think of Zach’s touchdown run?
It shows no limitations. But his ability to move off schedule, and that’s some of the stuff that improvisation, but the ball was actually designed to go to the running back, and he didn’t have an option to run, as he was handing it off he saw that the Texans had a fully loaded box, so he pulled it and made something happen, so good for him in that. But it was pretty cool.
Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: Robert, how impressed have you been with Elijah Riley? Just gets here and he’s started in the last two games. What’s allowed him to be able to step right in and do that for you guys?
Yeah, this whole week, I may have mentioned Elijah, has been here like you said, three weeks or whatever it’s been, and it seems like he’s gotten the ball more in practice than we had all in OTAs and training camp. He’s been a ball magnet over the first three weeks. His superpower is his mental horsepower. He is a very smart young man. He can process very quickly, he does a great job communicating pre- and post-snap. He triggers, he’s a hair trigger type player in that when he sees it, he is 100 miles an hour to the ball. But he’s very accurate when he does see it. He’s been impressive in these first three weeks, and we’re excited to see him grow over these next six weeks to see what he can make out of the season.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: Robert what’s your confidence level in (Matt) Ammendola?
To his credit, obviously, he came back, he made a kick after the miss. I’ve got faith in all our guys. Has he hit a couple of bumps here in the last couple of weeks? Yeah. But at the same time he’s made some big kicks for us this year and it’s just something we got to continue to work on and grow through for him. He’s another rookie, for all intents and purposes, and he’s got a very talented leg. He’s just got to find a way to get consistent and make those big kicks when they’re all up.
(follow up) Is his job secure for this week?
Those are always things we’re going to talk about. We have the young man we signed to the practice squad. Obviously, every week is competition. So, you got to, just like everyone, you got to earn your keep. And we’ll give him a chance to maintain his job.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Robert, how important was it to get the run game going yesterday? And, I think, all year you talked about keeping the pressure off of Zach. Is this something you need to do so he doesn’t feel like he has to do so much?
You look at a team like the team we’re about to play, Philadelphia, part of their resurrection over the past second half of the season has been their ability to run the heck out of the football. And no matter how much the league tries to advertise the passing game; the run game, defense, special teams, that’s what travels. And especially in this time of year, in cold weather, when people are hurting. And so, the offense to run the ball the way it did yesterday, the o-line was moving people, there was space, the backs were finding the creases, they were hitting it hard, they were breaking tackles, they were awesome all the way across the board. And so, yeah, whenever you get the run game going, it takes pressure off of everybody. The defense gets to hang out on the sideline a little bit longer, the offense starts imposing their will, it just wears out those pass rushers, there’s a lot of good things that happen when you can run the football. The challenge now is to step up and do it even better than we did last week and continue to run the ball as effectively as we did.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, the two-point conversion, the old school of thought was you don’t chase points early, right? We’ve all heard that growing up in football. Now, analytics kind of says different things. I’m just wondering how you kind of balance the two, you know? You’ve been around football a long time, when situations like that come up, kind of the old school thought versus the analytics.
To be honest with you, it felt like it was going to be a low scoring game. It was our first touchdown, it was right at the end of the half, we were going to need a touchdown anyway, relying on our defense, all that stuff. In my mind, it was to get it to a three-point game to where it felt like it was going to be a good defensive battle. And obviously Mike (LaFleur) also, ‘Hey Mike, do you have a good two-point play?’ “Absolutely. We got one that will score.” And I roll with Mike with that in that regard. But for me, I’d rather know immediately rather than play the two-point conversion game later, to be honest with you.