Head Coach Robert Saleh, 8.5
Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: What happened to Aaron (Rodgers) on the drop back?
He got stepped on. Little pinky toe, he’s alright.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Were there any nerves or did you expect him to come back?
No, I saw it. I knew he was fine.
Andy Vasquez, NJ Advance Media: How do you balance, obviously, wanting guys to be competitive, but not wanting them to get near him?
Yeah, that’s 32 teams. That’s every single season, stay off the quarterback. That’s why they wear red, but every once in a while, it happens.
Andy Vasquez, NJ Advance Media: Next week going into Carolina, will there be a talk about that before the practice?
Oh, yeah. We do it all the time. Stay off the quarterback. Respect the quarterback. Every player knows how important those quarterbacks are, but stay up, stay off them. It goes without saying, but you’re always going to try to make it a point of emphasis.
Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: I know you like to draw the line between fights and stuff like that, things that go on out at practice, but is there anything extra you might say in terms of joint practices, things of that nature?
Yeah, I look at it like the NFL is a fraternity of brothers. I know everyone’s competing. It’s no different than I see it out here. They’re going to grab and scuffle, but let’s move on and get back to the next play. At the very least, have respect for the people in front of you, whether it’s your teammate or not. Play clean, stay up, and just compete to make a team. I get tempers are going to flare and all that stuff, but you could just do your best to just compete and treat them like your brother and just move on. That’s really the whole thing that you’re trying to achieve. You’re not going out there to fight. You’re trying to get some work done and I get it. It gets heated, but at the same time, if we play with cooler heads, you can get a lot of work done.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Robert, how’s Garrett (Wilson)? Is this a ramp up for him today?
Yeah, I think we’re expecting him back Tuesday when we get to Carolina, so he’s doing really well.
Zach Braziller, New York Post: You said expecting him on Tuesday, is he expected to join the joint practices?
Yeah, I know we’ll have him back in a limited fashion on Tuesday and then when we fly out, we should have him in a limited fashion against Carolina.
Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: Any plans for Duane (Brown) to return anytime soon?
Yeah, I think he’s a couple weeks out.
Zach Braziller, New York Post: He is obviously a key to that offensive line. Not having him, because of his experiences, is that bad?
Well, he’s still rehabbing. Would love him out there right now, but it is a plus that he’s got so much experience in this League. He’s one of the few in the League when you have that much experience you can play without practice, but he’s going through a lot of individuals on the side, and he’s still getting a lot of work in. So, I’m not worried about whether or not he’ll be ready to play once he gets here.
Eric Allen, New York Jets: What does it say about (Xavier) Gipson? After the punt, comes back with the kickoff return. What have you seen from him overall?
I like him. He’s got a great mindset to him. He’s kind of a veteran mindset to him in that he’s composed, he’s very business-like, approaches everything. He has a plan. His day-to-day, his moment-to-moment operation is like a veteran. He just knows how to take care of his body, prepare, all the different things that we ask those guys to do. Credit to him. He had all kinds of space and I think he probably got a little excited, but he might still be running if he can feel that one clean. Maybe he knew it and he saw it and he just got a little excited, but no doubt that we’d have the confidence to put him back there again and let him go do it. He’s been doing everything right and I know he’s salivating as his next stop.
Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: We talked about the competition in other spots, but just how would you view the return game competition right now?
It’s obviously there. (Xavier) Gipson is a talented young man and (Alex) Erickson had that really nice return also and then you got Mecole (Hardman) who’s fielding punts back there and Bam (Zonovan Knight) is a good kick returner and he showed that a year ago, so there’s always going to be competition back there, it’s going be good to see how it plays out over the next three weeks.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: You got two guys, Sauce (Gardner) and Quinnen (Williams) and they’ve said they want to be the best at their position coming off All-Pro years. What do you see from them that they’re striving to get there?
For them, it’s mindset, I’ve told you guys a million times, internally driven players have no ceiling. They just keep going and going. They’re not looking back. They’re not satisfied with being an inch in front of the guy behind them. They want to be in front of everybody by a mile. They’re trying to PR, personal record, they’re trying to PR every single day. That’s what those two guys are. They’re elite competitors. They really don’t compare themselves to anybody. They just work. I think when you have that type of mindset, there’s no ceiling to what you’re able to achieve. You mix that in with their confidence and their skill set and you’ve got, when they say they want to be the best, I believe them.
Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: With AVT (Alijah Vera-Tucker), have you ever been around a player that is as much of a Swiss Army knife as that guy? I mean, he can play three different positions.
No, I know. Coach’s best friend is a player that’s got versatility. We’ve had them, but he is special. He doesn’t get caught up in, “God, if I play this position, I’m going to lose money, or that position. How can I help the team? How can I be on the field? How can I be my best?” At the same time, I know he what he wants, I know exactly what he wants, I’m not going to talk about it here, but he’s willing to sacrifice that to help this football team get to where it needs to go and I think because of it guys like him are priceless. Just absolutely love him, love his mindset, love the way he plays the game and those guys are always, like I said, they’re coaches best friend.
Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: What did you think of Sauce spending his day off getting his diploma?
I think it was great. I think I was asked about it way back and if he was able to do this, of course. I think it’s great because he’s doing it for generations. He’s not just doing it for himself, which is awesome, but there’s so many young kids that look up to him. There’s family that are going to come after him, his kids, God willing, one day. I just think it signifies so much in what he’s been able to achieve and what he still can achieve as he goes forward in his career, but I think it’s cool. I think everyone should walk if they have the opportunity and he got that opportunity. Glad we were able help him with it.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: You’ve been around a lot of great defensive players. Does Sauce have a different type of drive?
I don’t want to compare him to anyone. I do know that he does have elite mental makeup and drive and like I said, internally driven to just be his absolute best and he’s still trying to figure it out too, you know he’s still young, but he strains every play, he works every play. I’m going to throw DJ (Reed) in there because DJ does such a good job and almost keeping him grounded, but Sauce is driven in a way that when you look at the elite players in the League and you’re like, well, “What’s the common denominator amongst all these elite players?”, it’s not athleticism, it’s their mental makeup, and he’s up there with all of them.
Andy Vasquez, NJ Advance Media: Suddenly all the attention is on you and you become kind of a bigger than your name, bigger than who you are as a person. That’s hard for guys to deal with. He seems to have an ease about himself with it. Why do you think that is?
You know, that’d probably be more of a question for him. I always tell him to enjoy it, but just remember there’s Ahmad Gardner and then there’s Sauce the football player and the reason why the football player exists is because Ahmad Gardner is an unbelievable human being and to always stay connected to that person because as soon as the football player is done all you have left is what your original name was or is, so I think he gets it. It is tough because you can get kind of full of yourself at times, but I think he does a good job keeping himself level-headed.
Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: What do you guys like about (Nick) Bawden? Having a fullback brought back this year and just kind of that role that he might have?
For sure. Nick, again, one of those versatile athletes, unbelievable on special teams, adds an entirely new, a different dimension to the offense, which has kind of gone away. You know, it’s funny from a scheme standpoint in the NFL or in all of football, the old school is the new school where people just don’t know how to fit two back runs anymore. It’s amazing to me in linebackers there’s a struggle to fit a two-back run and so if you have a guy that you feel comfortable with and San Francisco gets a lot of mileage out of juice because of the all the two back runs that they create and Miami does a little bit of it, but he just creates a different dimension from a schematic standpoint, but he’s got versatility, he works his tail off, he stands for the right stuff, and his special teams value is really, really good.