Head Coach Robert Saleh, 7.21
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Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, that last red zone period there, Al Woods kind of showed what he’s capable of when he blew up that one play. Is that sort of what you’re envisioning?
He’s a very large human who’s never really had a chance to just go in the way we teach it, so it looks really good, not that he doesn’t need to prove anything when pads are on, but it’s different when pads come on, but we’re really excited about Al.
Dennis Waszak, The Associated Press: How important is that kind of guy to your defense? To have that presence?
They’re all important, obviously. I’ll speak for me, just going out of our comfort zone a little bit. You guys know me by now, I prefer them a little bit small, fast, I take speed over size every day, but in his past, he’s shown he can, and the way he takes care of his body and where he is at this stage of his career, he’s never really had a chance to do it, but you can see in his foot speed on tape that he has the ability to, and now it’s just a matter of him getting used to as (Aaron) Whitecotton would say, “Take the seat belt off and let’s roll,” so I’m really excited to see how much better he gets as training camp goes.
Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: Do you expect the offense to go through some growing pains to start of camp, just with all the new pieces and all that kind of stuff?
Yeah, I expect that, and it’s even going to be more demonstrative, defense is on year three, it’s a pretty good defense, and offense has a new play caller, you’ve got new quarterback coaches, you’ve got new o-line coaches, new o-line, new receivers, obviously the quarterback, so a lot of things are going to be different and it’s going to take time, and the big thing is just getting used to the verbiage and the new playbook and then all the fundamental things that they’ve done their entire career like catching the ball, that’ll just happen naturally, but when you’re thinking and you’re kind of playing on your heels because you’re trying to absorb so much new information, that’s going to happen.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: You mentioned year three defense, what does that mean? Because I think in year three in San Francisco- you have so many guys back onw, what’s that going to mean your defense?
You just get even more connected from a coaching standpoint and a player standpoint, where it’s just a head nod and they know, or even stronger is when you don’t need to coach them anymore, not anymore, but in drive for example, if you get hit on a drive, they know how to fix it before they ever get to the sideline or they know what happened when they get to the sideline, so it’s really just making sure we’re all on the same page on what needs to get done, but when you’re so clued in and so tied in and you’ve had so many reps of doing the same things over and over and over again, you can advance the scheme a little more like we’re trying to do in terms of adding a couple of wrinkles, but with them, it’s just their knowledge. We talked about Aaron (Rodgers) being a coach on the field, the goal on defense is to get 11 coaches on the field, so the communication is on a very high level right now.
Connor Hughes, SNY: Will McDonald, I don’t think he was practicing?
Yeah, he has a contusion that was pretty good yesterday, but we expect him back soon.
Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: Quinton Jefferson. Just talk about what you like in him and the impact he can make on this defense?
Quinton? Same thing – I don’t want to compare him and Solly (Solomon Thomas), but they’re similar in that they just play with unbelievable effort, power, strength, they’ve got good pass rush ability and just another couple of high motor, high energy, intrinsically motivated guys. He’s also going to add to this group. He has some familiarity because he played with the Raiders where Gus Bradley was the coordinator and so having him here, I know he’s excited about it, we’re excited about him, but again he’s another one of those guys who’s just straight business with the way he approaches the game. Just adding him and Al (Woods) to that d-Line group, it’s going to be awesome.
Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: Tony Adams is a guy who fought onto the roster last year, and we saw him make some plays today, how far has he come since you first saw him last year?
He’s doing a good job. He’s in a good competition at that safety spot, he wants that starting job just like the other three do, and some of those undrafted free agents are trying, but yeah, he’s showing up good, but again, he’s running around in pajamas, so we’ll see when the pads come on.
Brian Costello, New York Post: You were just talking about the d-line, how good can this group be when you look at what you have at all the spots?
For sure, we’re as deep as anybody in football, and it’s a cool group because of the men that are in that room. You guys know how big character is to us in this building, and every single one of them, starting with Quinnen, are just made with the right stuff. They’re a really, really fun group to be around, and once that offense gets rolling, we can get some leads and they can unleash all that pass rush ability that they have. I don’t know, we’ll see, but it’ll be fun to watch them.
Brian Costello, New York Post: You have a lot of guys to keep happy. Is that a challenge as a coach?
No, I think that’s what I’m getting at with this group. I think they genuinely love to see each other have success and for sure there’s going to be guys who want some of those third down rips and some of those extra opportunities to get play time, but one thing I’ll say, and this is where the team comes into play, that if we can get some leads, it’s exhausting to rush the passer, and the more reps we get to rush the passer, the more opportunities everyone’s going to get.
Connor Hughes, SNY: Carl (Lawson) obviously reaggravated his Achilles last year and was still able to play throughout the season, but now that he’s fully recovered from that, have you seen, and the pads aren’t on, but have you seen a player that resembles what he did before that practice in Green Bay?
We’ll see. I do know with my experience with (Richard) Sherman when he tore his Achilles and came back, it’s a two-year injury. The first year, you’re back, but you’re not really back and if there’s anybody in football that will come back and put in the work and do what needs to be done to prepare himself to play, it’s going to be a guy like Carl. I know Carl’s going to be ready, I know he’s healthy, he looks explosive, he looks powerful and once we get the pads on, I’ll be able to tell you more, especially when we have those intersquad scrimmages with Tampa (Bay) and Carolina.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Aaron (Rodgers) in the past couple of days has made some indications that this is not a one year thing for him, he plans to play for a couple years, has he made that commitment to you guys and how important would that be for you guys?
I don’t think he needs to; I don’t even want to back him into a corner and make him commit to something like that. I just want him to have fun and know that when he walks in this building to let loose, have a little bit of fun, BS with the guys, come into the office, come talk to us, and just enjoy playing football, and odds are if you enjoy playing football, you’re going to want to keep doing that, but I wouldn’t put pressure on him to commit to something like that anyway, but I’d be shocked if he doesn’t play multiple years, I mean he looks like a little kid out there.
Brian Costello, New York Post: When do the pads come on?
They come on Tuesday.
Eric Allen, New York Jets: How much did you have to adjust the schedule for training camp with the early report day and the extra game?
We’re plugging some stuff to make it kind of not feel like it’s a whole season, I know it’s just one week, but that week is going to feel like forever, especially when we get into the middle of August, so we’ve implemented some team activities to try to break it up and just make sure we’re taking care of the guys and it’s a good thing for the young guys, because they’re going to get an extra look in a game setting, especially the Hall of Fame game, where we’re probably not going to play any of our starters and let all those young guys roll, so definitely a good opportunity for them, but yeah, we’re going to break it up with some team activities.
Tom Rock, Newsday: Sauce (Gardner) obviously played at such a high-level last year, how do you measure his success and his growth this year?
I’m not a stat guy, because you don’t put stats on anything, I’m sorry for the cliche answer, but he just needs to go be Sauce, just show up every day, do your absolute best, whatever happens, happens, but the beautiful thing about him is he’s another one of those intrinsically motivated individuals. It’s amazing, I mean he cares, but I think he looks at it as motivation that he was Defensive Rookie of the Year, I think he wants more, so he’s just got a great mindset that whatever step, whatever mountain he’s climbed, he’s looking for the next highest one and if he goes out and just does the best he can, it’ll be good enough.
Dennis Waszak, The Associated Press: How special was it that Sauce and Garrett (Wilson), what they were able to do together?
Yeah, for sure, I think it was the third time in NFL history, so obviously, credit to Joe (Douglas), his staff with all the studying and all the work that we were able to put in on those two. Then to (Matt) LaFleur, in the offense last year with Garrett and obviously, the defensive staff with Sauce. It’s an organizational thing. I think the entire organization should be proud, and they should be proud of themselves. They put in a lot of work. It’s a great reward, it was a great honor for them, and it’s a really cool thing for us, but when the ball kicks off on September 11, no one is going to care anymore, so we have to keep rolling.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: With Sauce, I know you guys scouted him and evaluated him, but once you actually got him in the building and saw him on the field and saw what he was able to do last year, what surprised you? What didn’t you know that he could do or something that he was better at that you didn’t expect?
I think for me it’s just how athletic and how good in transition he is for such a big, long, lanky guy. Usually, you struggle a little bit coming out of the transition, but we knew the mindset, and we knew all that. I am going to bring D.J. (Reed) into the fold on this one because him and D.J. complement each other so well because I don’t think I have ever seen anyone strain, I mean I have, but at corner especially, the amount of strain they put into every single play to get in and out of breaks, to be perfect with alignment, perfect with technique, perfect with their eyes, and how personal they take every rep. I think that is what makes those guys so special, that’s what makes Sauce (Gardner) so special. Every play is personal, and he is trying to do his absolute best. There is no plays off, he’s not getting bored, he is challenging himself every day, and because of it I am excited to see what he does next. He is just that type of guy that no mountain is high enough, he is just going to keep trying to climb.
Brian Costello, New York Post: (Tyler) Conklin, we saw some good stuff from him last year. What can he do in this offense with (Nathaniel) Hackett and Aaron?
This offense has been really good to tight ends in terms of what Hackett did in Jacksonville with big Mercedes (Lewis) and then in Green Bay with (Robert) Tonyan. Conklin has tremendous athleticism and so much grit in the run game. For them, it’s about getting on the same page as quickly as possible. Knock on wood, that tight end group is going to be a fun group. CJ Uzomah will be back soon. You can count on him and Conklin, and (Jeremy) Ruckert have been doing a nice job. Conklin is someone that I think can really blossom in this offense. Again, it’s just a matter of getting reps with Aaron and getting reps with the offense and seeing where it goes.
What have you seen that Sauce can add to his game as far as physical?
We’ll see as time goes. I don’t know if there was much. Obviously, you’re always going to challenge corners in the run game. That’s natural. That’s League wide, but there’s going to be stuff that I’ll let him tell you. When the pads come on, we’ll see more.