Head Coach Robert Saleh, 6.15
Brian Costello, New York Post: What was behind the decision to cut minicamp to two days rather than the three days I think was originally scheduled?
No reason in particular, I feel like the guys have had a really good offseason of work. That third day, just felt like it would be good for organizational meetings and cross some T’s and dot some I’s. It’s not completely off but we’ll just do some in house stuff and not touch the practice field.
(follow up) Are the players off that day? Is it just organizational stuff that day?
No, we’re getting through organizational stuff. Players, coaches, staff, support staff, and everybody else.
(follow up) And, is everyone here, Robert?
Rich Cimini, ESPN: What are your thoughts on getting the Jamison Crowder situation resolved?
I’m really excited. I think he’s going to be fantastic in the system. I’ll give him the opportunity to showcase what he’s done his entire career, and that’s make plays. Really excited to have him here, excited to get him in the fold, and excited to work with him. We’re really fortunate.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Robert, what is the plan for Jamison this week? Is this an acclimation period like you had with Carl (Lawson)?
Yeah, it’s the same thing. So, guys who have not been here we’re giving them the opportunity to go ahead and acclimate. So you’ll see with Sheldon Rankins and Carl, we might ease Carl in a little bit here and there. We’re going to talk to him before practice, a couple other guys too.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Robert, is there any chance that Corey Davis does anything this week? Are you still going to wait for him with that shoulder injury until training camp?
Leaving it up to him, with regards to how he’s been progressing. I believe he wants to do some routes on air today, which would be good. We’re not pressing, we’ve got a lot of the young guys at receiver that need these reps. Whether he takes reps or not is not as important. His presence out there and in meetings has been awesome.
Darryl Slater, NJ Advance Media: Robert, what’s your optimism level about Mekhi (Becton) being 100% for the start of training camp?
We’re very confident he’ll be ready to go. He’s just got a nagging foot injury, it’s not worth it to put him out there and make something so small a lot worse. We’re not worried about his availability for training camp.
Bob Glauber, Newsday: Robert, what is your philosophy on how hard to practice players? Especially with the added 17th game? Has that changed over time?
Just in general, the way people practice and train with science, and GPS numbers, and tracking data, and all the different things that have been made available to us, not only as a coaching staff, but as a performance staff, have really helped with regards to how we train, de-load, up-load, whatever you want to call it. How we handle and help these young men get through a football season so they’re always increasing, try to eliminate risk of injury, and all that stuff. We’re very mindful of what we’re actually working. We’re also mindful of making sure we’re always trying to peak, and reach different peak levels, we don’t want to train them to be soft. We want to train them to continue to build and get better with regards to their loads. There’s a lot of information that comes through, and it’s all tied in together with what the performance staff gathers on a day-to-day basis.
(follow up) In terms of physical practices, are you an adherent of working them hard physically at certain points of the season? Or are you more of a mental rep kind of coach?
I’m not beating around the bush, there’s rules that have been put into place, with regards to how many padded practices you can have. Even if you wanted to be the old school, two-a-day, double-padded practices, you just can’t. It’s not per league rules. I do believe that you do need pads on. I do believe that you have to be able to hit and run into one another on a day-to-day basis. That doesn’t mean you grind a guy. I still think you got to be smart with how you prepare these guys to be their absolute best on Sundays. If you’re driving them into the dirt, they’re just not going to be as efficient on gamedays. There is a lot of balance there, there’s that nudge to make sure you’re always building that callus, but at the same time you want to be very mindful of their wellbeing, and making sure they have longevity through this thing.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Robert, aside from Mekhi, are any of these other guys that have dealt with some injuries, or have been rehabbing throughout the summer, is there anyone that you’re worried about potentially not being ready for the start of training camp?
No, knock on wood, we’ve been very fortunate. We had a couple of things here and there that might have shelved guys for the rest of OTAs, but we’re not worried at all about their availability for training camp.
Kim Jones, NFL Network: Hey Robert, now that you have been with your team for these number of weeks in this spring, into summer, what’s the biggest thing you’ve learned about this group?
You look at what they went through a year ago, and the struggles of having not a good enough year, if you will. The character of these individuals, and the character of the men and women in this building, just overall, their mindset, their buy-in, it’s a tremendous group of characters. I think Joe Douglas and his staff have done a phenomenal job, with regards to the character of men that have been brought into this building. They have a tremendous drive, tremendous want-to. They’ve been putting it out on the field every single day. You just hope, as a coach, you want to give them all the information you can, because you want these young men to succeed because they’re doing it the right way, they’re made of the right stuff. They’ve just been a pleasure to work with. Like I said, everything has been great, we’ll see what happens when there’s adversity. True character of all individuals showcases once you hit adversity. But, as of now, everything has been fantastic.
Kim Jones, NFL Network: When you mentioned no concerns about any player, does that include Denzel Mims? Pre-dating you, he’s had some bad luck here, with the hamstring in particular.
Yeah, we can’t handle luck but, Denzel is in good shape. I know he’s been bouncing in and out from an OTAs perspective. We’re not concerned about his availability for training camp.
Darryl Slater, NJ Advance Media: Robert, have you talked to Jamison? Obviously, he did not want to take a pay cut, no one does, what is his mindset going into this year? Do you sense any bitterness, any frustration there? What have your conversations with him been like?
Jamison’s a pro. We had a really good conversation last week, heading into the weekend. He’s a pro. He’s had a lot of success in this league and he’s still young, he’s 28 years old, I believe. He’s going to have success here. I don’t get into the contract stuff with players, that’s not my role. I do believe in Jamison, if he performs the way we all think he will, what happens this year is not even going to worry him. We’re excited to have him, we’re excited to plug him in, we’re excited to see where this thing goes.
Ralph Vacchiano, SNY: Robert, you mentioned how you had guys who endured a difficult year last year. When you first got here, was it hard, or a challenge, to get them out of that funk? Or did you find them eager to get to work and put it behind them?
I’m going to take you through a scenario if I can paint a picture for you all. Last year was trying for this organization. If you really want to measure the character of the individuals that are in this locker room, this team had that 0-for start, had a pretty bad loss at the last second, travel all the way to Seattle. They’re 0-for, they travel all the way over to Seattle and Seattle gets after them pretty good. They have to fly all the way back for a weeks’ worth of practice, then go all the way back out to the West Coast to play the Rams, who are a playoff team and this group of men win. That is probably one of the hardest things to do in football. To have that type of travel, after having consecutive losses that happened to them, to have the character, the resolve, to bounce back against a playoff team, playing for a division. Then to come back home and beat Cleveland, who was another playoff team. I get they were shorthanded, but it doesn’t matter, it’s still the NFL. It just speaks volumes to the resolve of the people that were in this locker room. So, when we did get here, that resolve showcased itself immediately. These young men want to work, they’ve been very receptive, they’ve been easy to work with. Like I said, we’re excited to go through some hard times with them because we feel we have men of great character.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: Robert, we’ve seen teams in recent weeks, most recently as yesterday sign veteran quarterback backups, you guys obviously have not. What’s the benefit to Zach (Wilson) not having a veteran in the depth chart?
It’s a good question Rich. There’s that balance of someone needs a veteran to help him, also there’s a fourth-round pick from a year ago, there’s also Mike White. There’s a lot of reps to be had for them, to see where they’re at. They deserve that opportunity to showcase who they are. There’s a balancing act there. Mike and (James) Morgan have been doing a good job. I know they’ve had their ups and downs, just like Zach has but, it doesn’t mean that just because they’re veteran it’ll help the quarterback. There’s a match that has to happen, there’s a scheme familiarity that has to happen. If you just bring in a veteran that doesn’t know anything about your scheme, he’s learning just like the rookie is. Aside from helping him rehab, and regen, and study habits, which I think Zach, and that entire quarterback room, is already ahead of the curve on, with how they handle their bodies and study. I don’t know if there’s much value aside from being comfortable that if something hits the fan, that you have a veteran who’s played football. It’s more of a comforting feeling, rather than trying to work your ass off to develop the quarterbacks that are already in the building.
(follow up) Were you guys interested in Nick Mullens?
Nick, we had discussions, but we felt these young quarterbacks deserved an opportunity to showcase who they are. I’m excited for Nick to get that opportunity in Philadelphia.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Will that change Robert, for training camp? Do you want to have a veteran in here for training camp at quarterback?
Once these minicamps are over, obviously we’ll sit down with Joe (Douglas) again, and we’ll have a conversation about where the roster is and make the decision during the next few weeks.
Andy Vasquez, North Jersey: Robert, what has it been like having Marcus Maye in the building? In terms of learning the playbook, where is he at in that whole process?
Really excited to get Marcus back. Obviously, he’s a leader on this football team, guys have a lot of respect for him and his play style, and the way he goes about his business. Feel comfortable about where he is, he’s a pro, he’s been taking care of himself. Obviously, having him here has been great.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, I asked Jeff (Ulbrich) this question a few weeks ago, when we talked to him. I’m curious, from a defensive perspective, preparing a rookie quarterback in practice, you throw the book at him? Do you say, “We’re going to give him everything he’s going to see this season in practice,” or do you dial it back a little bit to say, ‘I want this kid to have a little success, I want him to get a little confidence in practice, let’s not wear him out on June 15th?’
No, it gets a little selfish with regards to the installation packages, offensively, defensively, and special teams wise. Offense is going about their business, you think about it, our offense is inside-outside zone and defensively they never get to see power, counter, all the gap schemes, so there’s a selfishness there. On the flip side, we’re a single-high team, and our offense needs to see Cover 2 and Quarters, that’s just not what we do a lot of. There’s that selfishness with regards to install, but at the same time, taking care of one another, where the offensive coordinator will ask, ”Hey we need one, two three?” “Okay we’ll take care of it, can you give us one, two, three?” Defense and offense are constantly going back and forth, making sure that we’re all working in collaboration to get the best out of practice. Mainly, with the entire team in mind, not necessarily just so the quarterback can get his work. It’s a mindfulness with the entire team to develop so, once we hit preseason, it’s not the first time we’ve seen it.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Robert, a little bit in that line is that you have been a defensive-minded coach throughout your career. Has it been a little weird throughout OTAs and heading into minicamp, to not necessarily have a rooting interest entirely for the defensive side of the ball, or do you have to catch yourself sometimes when you’re overseeing both offense and defense?
You know what, it does, you see a big play made and you’re like, ‘Ah!’ I messed with the players, the other day, I said, ‘I’m rolling with whoever is having the best day, so it doesn’t matter to me.’ I’m just a fan of whoever is doing great. There are moments because you see everything that’s happening, you see offensive guys make a great play and, to sit back and have an appreciation for all three phases, and the work that’s being put in, really getting a chance to listen to the coaches coach, the coordinators interacting with not only players but coaches. Kind of just making sure everything is going the way you want it to go. Obviously, it’s an adjustment, and it’s been different but both have been an awesome experience.
Kim Jones, NFL Network: We’ll ask you about a lot of firsts this year, you’re a couple days away from banking your first spring as a head coach in this league. What’s it been like for you?
Like I said, it’s been great. Knock on wood, we’ve been very fortunate, we’ve got a tremendous staff, a tremendous support staff. Joe and his staff have been very receptive, they’ve been awesome. The players are such great character individuals, and I mean that. You see it at practice, they got a lot of energy, they got a lot of positivity to them. There’s a lot of juice in the building. This spring has been fantastic. We’re really looking forward to training camp. I’m excited to see adversity, I’m excited to see how we handle it, so we can see where we’re at from that regard. Like I’ve said, that’s where character reveals itself, and that’s where you’re really going to get better, is through adversity and tough times. We’re going to have some adverse moments right from the get, how we’re going to handle it is going to make or break this football team.