Head Coach Robert Saleh, 9.15
Injuries real quick, Duane (Brown), (Mekhi) Becton, and (Breece) Hall, same routine, they will be full participants today. Then you are going to see (Greg) Zuerlein on the injury report. It happened late, it happened in practice, but I didn’t really get the full details until after the injury report was thrown out, so I apologize. He won’t participate today in practice, he is not out for the game. He is dealing with a groin, and we will see how that works over the next couple of days.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Are you optimistic that he is going to play on Sunday?
We’re 50/50, we are working out kickers today, in the event that he can’t. It is not serious, but serious enough to bring this game into question.
Brian Costello, New York Post: What kind of curve ball is that for you?
More like a knuckleball. No, Joe (Douglas) and his staff, they’re on it. To get all these kickers in for workouts, see which one would be best available come Sunday, but got to roll with the punches.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Do you get a sense Robert that what happened with Aaron (Rodgers) and just kind of now, I know you guys don’t pay attention to the outside, but does this galvanize the team somewhat of like coming together?
I don’t know. I don’t know about that on. Possibly, if we have success, it will. I’m encouraged by the week of practice. A lot of upbeat personalities, had a really, really good, productive practice yesterday and loved where the mindset of our team is, but you still have to go out and find a way to have some success. We’re going against a championship football team. It’s going to be tough.
Zach Rosenblatt, The Athletic: We asked about (Micah) Parsons already, but what’s the specific challenges does he give? He can basically move about anywhere.
He’s a game wrecker. He’s going to be one of those guys that gets paid (Nick) Bosa money. You give money to people like that. From everything that I’ve heard he’s a unbelievable worker and then on top of it, you have to game plan for the guy and then on top of that, he just wrecks games. So, its like here’s the bag, but no pressure Dallas. He’s special. You got to be aware of where he is at all times. He’s as dynamic of a football player as anybody in football.
Brian Costello, New York Post: With being aware with where he is at all times. What can you do? Are you sliding coverage to him, protection? When you identify where he is, what’s the next step?
You’ll see Sunday. You just got to be aware of it. They do a good job. DQ (Dan Quinn) creating one on ones and getting those guys in one on ones situations. There’s going to be plenty of opportunity when he’s in a one on one battle and you got to win, but he’s a challenge. It’s not to take away from the rest of them. It’s a phenomenal defense. They’re very deep, very deep D-Line, all the way across the board. So, it’s not just him. Their corners are fantastic, safeties, linebackers, they’re opportunistic. So, like I said, we got our work cut out for us.
Zach Rosenblatt, The Athletic: On the other side, Tony Pollard, when he touches the ball, what kind of challenge do you get with a guy like that?
He’s explosive. Fast. He’s got youthful legs and he’s got great vision, patience. He can break tackles. He can operate in short yardage. So, it’s not like he’s just a scat back. He’s good in the pass game. You look at guys like that and no disrespect, I’m not disrespecting anyone. When teams make a decision to keep a guy over another, they’re speaking to the football world. I think inside the football world, I think anyone who’s ever played Dallas knows that Pollard’s extremely talented, and always has been by Dallas doing what they did this off season by making him the back and the only back. Just let the rest of the world know what football already knew.
Brian Costello, New York Post: How did Mekhi (Becton) come through Monday just in terms of how he played?
He was good. He came through, so he finished the game, awesome. Went through his rehab schedule. Finished all of practice yesterday. So, so far so good. He had a lot of juice and energy in practice yesterday which was promising, so he looks good.
Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: Aaron announced on Instagram he had surgery on Wednesday. What’s the latest with him as far as prognosis?
From everything we understand, everything went great. He’s in great spirits. You know so, I’m not going to speak for him, but from everything we gathered, I heard everything is good as it can be.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Have you been able to talk to him or text with him at all?
Yeah. We’ve been in contact with him daily. He’s excited to get back here. Obviously, there’s a healing process he has to go through with the incisions and all that stuff, but as soon as that’s done, we’ll get him back here, but he’s fully engaged, he’s awesome.
Brian Costello, New York Post: With Breece (Hall), you said you’re going to be careful going in. Does each week go up in how much he can play or is it not that simple?
No, it’s pretty much that simple. You just try to give him a little more every single week. We’re still in the pitch count. We gave him 11 touches this last week and it’s funny, like I said in the game, he nudged me late in the third and said hey I know I’m on a pitch count, but I can get more if I need to and I said well that’s why you’re on a pitch count. It’s our job to protect players from themselves, because they’re just so competitive. We’ll continue to push the envelope, same thing for Dalvin (Cook) we’ll continue to push the envelope to get those guys into football shape.
Andy Vasquez, NJ Advance Media: I know you said you feel good about where the team is at, but how much of a challenge has that been this week with the emotional low and high of Monday and then making sure that energy level is staying consistent through the team through Sunday?
You can’t avoid the emotional rollercoaster that this game gives you, everyone says you want to be even-keeled, I think that is all coach speak. I have said it to you guys before and I tell my wife all the time, that we are the lucky ones, we get to experience every emotion a body has to offer, especially in the four-hour window on game days, so embrace it, love it, be blessed with it, but keep the main thing the main thing, and that is coaching everyday with the mindset to go to bed better than you woke up and if you have that, then that’s the consistent part you are looking for, the emotional highs and lows they come and go, but the ability to refocus and get yourself back in moment is what is most important and I think our team is built to do that.
Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: With Xavier Gipson, it seems like he’s beloved by just about everybody in the locker room, but why do you think he has resonated with everyone so quickly, like an undrafted rookie kid like that?
Well, that one is easy, his mindset, his deliberateness, his preparation, he is wise beyond his years with regards to how he approaches the game and then he is a good football player and he has got an unbelievable smile on his face every day, he attacks every moment. So he’s easy to get along with and I think he has got a fun loving nature to him, so he’s a special individual, and the best part about it, I know he is going to get a lot of praise for his returner skills, but eventually he is going to show up as a receiver, he has got a chance to be a really good receiver too.
Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: How good of a game did Quincy (Williams) have? He seemed to be all over the place.
Yeah, he balled out and it got lost I think because of Jordan (Whitehead) and the way the rest of the defense played and just the punt return and all of that, but he’s been playing really well for us two years and I know he got paid this off season and I felt like he really stepped it up this off season with regards to preparation, mindset and focus. He made a couple of plays that will get no attention that were astronomically, unbelievably difficult for linebackers that really go unnoticed.
Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: (follow up) What do you mean?
Well, for example I think it was like third and four or six and they ran a rub route to the back in the flat, something as simple as that and he is caught behind the play and the strain and the effort and the violence to knock the back backwards, because usually that is a catch, fall forward, first down, move the chains off the rub route because you have to lose ground to regain position, but the difficulty on that play is quite significant for a linebacker and he still got over the top and because he has got so much thump when he tackles, he knocked the (running) back back, no leaky yards as we say and we were off the field. But nine out of ten times that is a first down, so plays like that it’s like a ‘oh that was a routine play to the flat and he made a tackle,’ that was as hard as it gets for a backer, in my opinion anyway, but he played at a very, very high level on Monday.
Brian Costello, New York Post: How critical is it for you guys to continue to get contributions from special teams like you did Monday, the offense is going to be trying to figure somethings out now, just getting what they get, obviously you are not going to get a walk off punt return?
It goes unnoticed and its always three phases of football, I know with the League rules a lot of things are being phased out, but punt and punt return are still a big part of the game and there was two or three occasions where Mo (Thomas Morstead), punter, got his foot on the ball and was able to pin them inside of the 15 twice, at least twice that I can recall where he completely flipped the field, had over 50 yards of net and that is everything, that is from protection, the snap, the whole thing, the punt, obviously the protection, the gunners on the outside, and that little returner Buffalo has is pretty good. So you pin guys, you pin teams inside the 15 yard line against our defense, that is hard, it is already hard to go 85 yards to go score, there was a lot of really, really cool moments in the game from a hidden yard stand point that I felt like we were able to take advantage of, so it is always all three phases, even though people might not recognize it because the punt return and field goals, the things that are so visual are easy to see, but the things that are not easy to see, like the way Morstead punted and gunners working, those are probably even more significant than the punt return itself.
Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: Robert, if you only go in with two quarterbacks on Sunday, who would be your emergency quarterback?
Cobby (Randall Cobb), yeah. Maybe get some single wing going.
Andrew Crane, New York Post: Sauce (Gardner) was pretty critical of his performance after the game, was there anything you are looking to see from him this week or is that just him being a tough critic on himself?
He is a tough critic, I mean, five receptions, 62 yards, I think he had put on him is a bad day, then we are doing okay, but that is why he is special, that is a bad day for him and so the challenge for him is to stay deliberate, stay focused, treat every rep like a championship moment and continue to find ways to get better. Give Stefon Diggs credit, I mean he is one of the better receivers in football and he’s going to get his, so it was a battle, they all battled and Diggs, credit to him and their offense, they had a really nice day with him, but yeah, he is his toughest critic, so that is a good thing.
Jeane Coakley, SNY: Shirt?
We are recognizing Jon Simoneau from Bernards High School, he is our coach of the week, recently just earned his 100th career win, they are 4-0 which is cool. They outscored their opponents 147 to 31, so that is a very lot to very little, but just want to wish the school and the team good luck the rest of the way and always good health.