Head Coach Robert Saleh, 8.29
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: Robert, where do you stand in terms of finalizing the roster?
Still a lot of communication that has to be held. We’ll get with Joe (Douglas) and his staff after practice, but there’s still a lot of things to go over.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Will guys be practicing today that are still in the bubble?
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Is Dalvin (Cook) here and practicing today?
Dalvin’s here, he’s practicing today. He’s practicing, Duane’s (Brown) practicing, Breece (Hall) is practicing, who else? Yeah, those are the big ones.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Allen (Lazard)?
Lazard? He’s practicing.
Andy Vasquez, NJ Advance Media: Carl Lawson?
Carl Lawson’s practicing, thank you.
Steve Serby, New York Post: Where is Carl now with his physical condition?
He feels good, it’s just a matter of getting him back into the swing of things, so hopefully this week we can get him back into physical- I mean I don’t worry about his physical conditioning because the guy works just about as hard as anyone in football, but it’s just about getting him into the football swing of things over the next three days and then getting him back rolling come Monday.
Connor Hughes, SNY: It seems like you guys are pretty healthy, is there anyone who is not practicing?
(Wes) Schweitzer is not practicing, and neither is Kenny Yeboah, but hopefully Schweitzer will be back by the end of the week.
Andy Vasquez, NJ Advance Media: What about Izzy (Abanikanda)?
Izzy’s (Abanikanda) practicing.
Steve Serby, New York Post: So, you’re optimistic about Lawson for Week One?
Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: What’s the plan for Dalvin?
I should have just given you guys an injury report. I don’t have to give one until Thursday, but he’s going to be limited, just try to get him involved. Him and Breece are on the exact same plan, just getting them ready to play Week One.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: In terms of Breece (Hall), I mean obviously he’s had a bunch of reps the past few days, how much can you expect out of him for the opener, and how long does it take do you think before he can be the Hall we saw last year?
That’s a great question, I don’t have an answer for that one, Rich, I wish I did. I know he’s worked his tail off. He’s been here every single day. For him to be where he is, like I said, we’ve never been worried about his availability, we just have to be smart. The excitement is “Well, let’s just throw him out there,” but we need to be smart, we need to be diligent, and I think in his mind, he can probably feel like he can take 30 touches, but we just have to be smart with him, make sure we’re constantly communicating with him, and just being diligent.
Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: How do you balance that? Obviously, you’re looking out for his future, but at the same time, you want him out there producing as well.
You have to balance that. Communication. Making sure that everybody is on the same page. Make sure the running backs coach, coordinator, the training staff, team performance, management, myself obviously, and Breece, we’re all on the same page with what the plan is and just being disciplined and sticking to it.
Brian Costello, New York Post: What about Dalvin? He had the shoulder surgery, he hasn’t practiced, where is he at in his progress?
He feels great. It’s different when you’re dealing with an upper body, so we feel really confident about him and his ability to just hit the ground running. It’s just a matter of getting his legs underneath him, but at the same time, he hasn’t had a camp, hasn’t had OTAs, he’s been working, he’s been traveling a lot with the baby, so we just have to be smart with him, so obviously it’s good we have two- it’s great we have Michael Carter also, three really good backs that we feel very comfortable with, Izzy getting back and healthy- we’re surprised, it’s shocking how quickly he’s come back from his injury, so we feel really good about the backfield.
Connor Hughes, SNY: I know you’re probably going to start slamming the wood when I ask this question, but when you came here, you talked a lot about wanting to revamp the sports science that you guys did, and I know you and Joe spent a lot of time analyzing how you can fix soft tissue issues and the season ending injuries and all that stuff. Do you feel like you’ve made that progress? Because it seems right now you guys are about as healthy as you’ve been in a while.
Is he not a Giants fan? He’s been covering them a lot lately. The idea is to just control the things you can control, so we feel like we can help with the soft tissue stuff. I’ll go to the Cleveland game and argue from a coach’s standpoint, we’re not ready to play a game yet, and so we go out and play a game, and if you remember, I think (Bryce) Huff aligns offsides and it extends the drive, and now we go from a four-play drive to a 10-play drive. We lost two players on that drive to soft tissue, so there’s a balance and there’s an understanding of like how far do you want to push the guys, because there’s still a callous involved in our mind. As a coach, you want to callous them and get them ready to play a season, but from a player standpoint, you want to make sure they’re available to callous, so there’s a tremendous balance to it. I think over the last three years we’ve done an awesome job collaborating and communicating throughout the organization. You’re never in the clear, you’re always trying to study it to make sure we’re in good shape in terms of where we are as a team. Always as a coaching staff pushing the envelope, they’re always kicking back trying to move the envelope, and you just keep pushing it, but at the same time, you have to be smart.
Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: In terms of your defensive line, it’s really like a hockey line, I’m not sure how much you know about hockey…
Hockeytown, USA, man. Still love New York Sports though.
Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: How do you manage all the personalities and the number of players on the defensive line? I know everyone wants to get out there, but everybody can’t be out there at the same time.
No, it’s true, because everybody wants to be on the field, everybody wants to be on the big downs, and everybody wants that production, but I think it’s a good question for the players. I don’t want to answer for them, but I will. I do think they genuinely love each other in that room. I think they root each other on. I think when you see somebody have production, Jermaine (Johnson) had the sack the other night and all four d-linemen, plus CJ (Mosley) are doing his dance. Jermaine’s dance. It’s like everybody wants to see each other succeed. It’s a ‘there’s enough pie for everyone’ type of mindset in that room, and I think Quinnen’s (Williams) a great example. He gets his 60% play time and those 60%, he’s full gas and getting all kinds of production, and he gets his piece of the pie. And there’s enough to go around for everybody. It’s a selflessness and knowing that when Q Jeff (Quinton Jefferson) or Solly (Solomon Thomas) is out there, they’re going 100 miles per hour and they’re wearing out that dude in front of them, and then Quinnen jumps back in for third down or whoever it is, and it doesn’t stop. When the right guard is playing Quinnen and then he has to play another interior d-lineman, it doesn’t stop for that right guard. You rest him, but that right guard still has to work, and that’s the mindset that we’re bringing, like it’s nonstop, and I think those guys are so deliberate and appreciative and bought into that for one another, that you get a group of guys that just play their absolute tails off.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: What did you think of Jermaine (Johnson)? You pulled him out to talk to him after the late hit, what did you think of him?
He’s been great. It was a little ticky-tack I think, but he’s had a really good camp, really good OTAs, really good offseason in general. Excited about what he’s going to do this season, and again, for him, he just needs to play his tail off. He didn’t do anything special; I think all the special things will happen if he just keeps that deliberate mindset and the way he’s attacked every day.
Zach Rosenblatt, The Athletic: Robert, at the end of camp, it seemed like Randall (Cobb) was one of your three best receivers. He was out there a lot with the first team. Does he have anything more left in tank, then you maybe thought he did?
He looks really good. He’s another one that we have to be diligent with in terms of making sure his legs are always fresh for Sunday. His connection and understanding of the offense, I know he had the personal foul penalty, but the mindset to go get a block. He fell back to five years ago when it was legal. He’s a stud, man. Everything that we’ve heard about him from a leadership standpoint is priceless. You can’t put a price tag on that, but he’s been awesome.
Connor Hughes, SNY: (follow up) Specifically on the field with him, because I think we all knew what he was going to bring as a person.
He’s been great on the field too. His connection and repour with the coordinator and the quarterback and his ability to help groom the young guys. The way he’s taken guys under his wing and his play obviously, he’s cool. I get why Aaron (Rodgers) loves him so much.
Brian Costello, New York Post: With Duane (Brown) back, is he in drills today? I think your starting offensive line for the first time?
With Duane back, yeah.
Brian Costello, New York Post: You have a handful of practices here before Buffalo. Do you feel like it’s enough time for that group to sort of build chemistry and work together?
Yeah, I count last week too. I know Duane wasn’t there, but he was going through all the walk throughs and all that stuff. You’re always going to want more, but three weeks is plenty.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: How do you feel the team is prepared wise for what’s ahead? You went through a lot year. This year is totally different. Expectations are what you know. How do you know they’re ready?
There’s always going to be something new. We haven’t faced adversity yet. Everyone’s been very positive through this offseason. The analogy that I give is when you go to climb Mt Everest, hopefully one day, but the story anyways of what I heard is you do a lot of traveling just to get to the base camp and that’s a very easy road just to get to base camp before you go straight vertical. Well, that’s where we are. We haven’t done anything. We’re going to face adversity. The road is going to get really freaking hard from here on out and just the mindset and the adversity to fight through all of that, stay together, keep that positive mindset, that’s going to be the key. Everything has been great now, but I think what we have is a group of guys who understand that. It’s a lot of guys who were a part of that big win a year ago before the Bye Week and then from there it just kind of fell apart. There’s that experience of having a little bit of pat on the back and understanding what that feels like in this city, but what it means to stay on the gas and continue to roll. We’ve had those experiences, but we’re going to find out a lot about our team. I’ve told you guys before, you don’t know about who your team is until you face adversity. Adversity will happen, it happens to everybody. So, I’m excited to see what we do.
Connor Hughes, SNY: Aside from the personal aspect of it all, has this cut day been particularly difficult just because of the roster transition you guys have gone under because of the quality of player you guys are letting go compared to when you first arrived?
Yeah, it’s still always difficult, whether you think a man is quality or not. I will say this, there were way fewer guys where you’re looking them in the eye and knowing that it’s over for them, if that makes sense. I just felt like every guy I spoke to, I just know they’re going to be on a roster somewhere, someone’s practice squad, either ours or somewhere else. Their career is not over, and it’s really cool, because we’ve worked hard and we’ve brought in a lot of really good young men, and they’ve represented the right way, and anyone who isn’t here, just wishing them the best of luck.