Opening Statement:We’ll work on some third down and some calls. Really, our focus still remains on including the foundational base and the fundamentals, building our communication and the chemistry of the units. This is critical as we go to pads next week. We’ve got to make sure that we start this week with a big strong base on fundamentals and keep building our conditioning. We’ll actually peel back the time a little bit today. We are going to try to mirror this as much as we can in terms of the pattern we have in the regular season. We’ve been two hours on the field the first two days. Today, we’ll be about an hour and a half. That generally patterns what we do in the regular season. After this, we’ll have a day tomorrow where we’ll actually tone it down a little bit and focus more on teamwork. We’re going to be more at a lesser pace. We call it the “Pro Bowl Jog,” which is what the league officially calls it, but it’s more of a spirited jog through, if you would. A lot of focus tomorrow on review we put in already, what we’re going to put in next week, our communication across the units, and then just trying to build a team operation, breaking a huddle, no huddle, or whatever may come up in that situation. So, with that all being said, I’ll answer any questions I can.
Q: Do you guys know the severity of [Offensive Guard] Shane Lemieux from yesterday yet?
A: No, I’d say for the next, call it 24-48 hours, we’ll really kind of understand where he’s at. I will say this, I’d say the worst-case scenario looks to have been avoided, we’re happy about that. But, in terms of trying to come out here and try to make a diagnosis on Shane, we’ve got to see where he’s at. But, one thing I take for Shane, he’s kind of like a wild animal. He’d cut his leg off to get through a bear trap if he had to, so him not being out there is kind of driving him nuts. He’s already been in my office today talking about the fastest way to get back and, look, my message to him is always when the trainers say you’re 100 percent healthy to go on the field, we’ll put you on the field.
Q: Joe, I noticed like all the linemen are wearing knee braces. Is that something you require them to do?
A: It is. The message to our team is, look, as much as they hate wearing knee braces — and trust me, they do — they hate having an injury and being out for the season even more if something happens. So, until we can practice at the right tempo together and everyone is staying on their feet, we’re going to keep the knee braces on. And anytime we go full pads, live contact, we’ll always have the knee braces on in practice.
Q: Do you think the knee brace could have helped Shane avoid the worst case scenario?
A: Based on what it was, no. It had no impact on what happened.
Q: Joe, for a player like [Wide Receiver] Kenny Golladay, I know this is practice, it’s camp, but how quickly do you want to see him produce on the field, get open, score touchdowns? Even if they’re just red zone drills, does that stuff matter to show what he’s going to do it come the fall?
A: It matters for any player to keep having his production every day. You watch them with all the players right now, specifically to Kenny, who the question was geared towards, is it’s really that he just keeps advancing within our systems, concepts, schemes, and understanding techniques. One thing I’ve been very encouraged with Kenny is, first off, the guy is tremendous to work with in meetings. I mean this guy is keyed in, focused, locked in, like he’s staring through you the whole time. He’s absorbing everything. He’s very, very ahead on how he pays attention in meetings and he carries it over to the field. Mentally, he’s really caught up really fast on what we’re asking him to do. He was good in the spring, as far as working. The time throughout the summer with [Quarterback] Daniel [Jones] and the other receivers, I believe that helped him and all the other receivers, as well. He practices really hard, that’s something that’s very important. When you look at our guys, they practice hard. A lot of times anybody new comes into our program, sometimes there’s a learning curve. I’d say with Kenny, he’s really jumped off as of right now. We go through every day, in terms of what it looks like with the eye test, but then also going through the GPS numbers, the volume, the yardage, the intensity, the high intensity reps he’s had, and he’s always at the top of the scale right there amongst a couple other guys. So, to show the output he’s given, we’ve just got to be smart, as coaches, to make sure he’s put in position. This part early in camp is key to really watch our players. We’re not managing them if we don’t want to challenge them and push through it, but we got to ramp up our team the right way. The difference in last year was we had that 10-day acclimation period, where it was more strength and conditioning, almost like a spring phase two. They’re with the strength coaches on the field, we had more spirited walk-throughs at night. Then, we got to go ahead, build a practice and we had those time restrictions. We’re still within some time restrictions this year, but we’ve got to make sure for all the players that we’ve got to monitor reps, we have to monitor the volume of what they’re doing. That’s a large part of why we start in the red area, to be honest with you. We start short by going back to volume, so in day one, when the intensity and urgency is very, very high, and there is a natural anxiety, that we aren’t putting them in position to run there and just telling them to run go routes and post routes. One-on-ones out the gate, right now, are more risk of injury because their bodies aren’t ready for that response yet.
Q: Joe, what do you see from [Defensive Tackle] Danny Shelton?
A: Actually, yeah. I see the same thing from my time with him in 2018 as I do now, and that’s a guy who, first off, comes in every day with a huge smile. Nice guy, loves life. I don’t want to speak for Danny on that, but just from being around him, he’s always smiling. He’s a great teammate. Anything you ask him to do, he does at 100 percent, whatever is best for the team. He’s a guy that will talk to a vet as well as a young player in terms of trying to help them with something he may have some knowledge on. He’s a guy that’s really good as far as building culture and a rapport with an individual position, and also within the unit. I think guys who come to work and love football and care about their teammates, that’s natural for that energy to spread and guys that have tight bonds in the locker room. But, as far as a player, he’s obviously a big, athletic man. You see the way he showed up at initial tests — which you guys weren’t there for, but you see a guy with that size run the way he did and work through the summer on some things he had to overcome, and work through from some spring injuries and some nicks and bumps that he couldn’t go through all the way. It showed his commitment and work ethic to what he’s pushing himself to do. This guy has really changed his body throughout his career, he really has. I mean a lot of big guys accept being big. We try to impress on all of our players that conditioning has to be an advantage for us. You watch the way Danny prepares and practices, that definitely shows up his understanding of how he fits in our system.
Q: He’s also a guy who’s a big run stopper who’s not been able to stick. He’s bounced around a lot considering he’s a first-round pick. Why do you think that’s the case?
A: I can’t speak for other teams. It’s the National Football League, there’s always movement. Coaches, players, roster turnover, that’s just the nature of it, and it’s a small league. There’s a lot of guys who may leave and come back or may be coaches somewhere else later on. I speak from my previous interaction with him, I was very pleased with the way he came to work every day. He helped us tremendously and going through this year, I’m glad he’s here along with all of our defensive linemen. That’s a group that’s really fun to coach. [Defensive Line Coach Sean Spencer] does a great job with those guys. I think [Defensive Coordinator] Pat [Graham] has a lot of schemes that he puts them in a good position to make plays in. But the drawings on paper are only part of it. These guys have got to do their jobs. One thing they do is every day they come out here and they work very hard, they’re very detailed and attentive.
Q: The best we could see from 150 yards away of [Running Back] Saquon [Barkley], it looked like he was doing a lot yesterday, running routes, really running full speed and stuff. What have you guys seen from him and what’s the report you’ve gotten back on him so far?
A: I’d say with all of our players, what we’re trying to do is wherever they’re at in their recovery phase is they get to a point where we try to mirror practice as much as we can and see if we can build up their own mental game so that when they get back with the team they have confidence because they’ve already done as much in a practice as can be. Right now, that’s where Saquon is and a couple of players are in that mode of mirroring our practices to bring them back. Also, the trainers may on certain days have different plans for them based on de-loading them or may ramp up a little more based on what the rest of the team is doing and their status. What I’ve seen from him every day is a guy that comes out and he’s just very focused on keeping it narrow and just understands that today is what’s important and he’s got to go ahead and take a step forward every day. And I think the players do that, the coaches do that, and it leads to those building blocks day by day for long term success. So, I’m very pleased with where he’s at. He’s got a great attitude, he’s shown a ton of leadership for us right now, does a tremendous job staying engaged. The important thing for guys when they’re away from the field mentally, they’ve got to stay sharp and involved in communication and the installs so when they come back they’re playing full speed.
Q: Joe, with the addition of [Cornerback] Adoree’ [Jackson], what’s your excitement level pairing him with [Cornerback] James Bradberry? Obviously, Bradberry had a great year last year. What are you expecting out of that tandem?
A: Well, it’s more than just those two right there. We’ve got players on the backend that all have different skillsets which adds to our versatility. We were talking about Adoree’ early on, he can play inside or outside, he’s an experienced player, he’s an intelligent player. I’ve known about him from playing against him throughout the years, and he brings a different element as well as a possible return specialist and things of that nature. But I would say along with those two corners, our other corners, some of our safeties, it gives us the ability to have different matchups based on the wide receivers that you’re playing. Within our division, a lot of good receivers, different body types. Washington’s receivers and Dallas’s receivers, different body types and skill levels, so you’ve got to have the ability to move pieces around throughout the game plan and matchup as best as you can.
Q: In regards to James, could you have asked for a better – he obviously comes here as a pretty big signing last year, the larger market and has the kind of year he has. Could you have asked for a better first year from him in a new system?
A: There’s kind of two parts to that and I’m going to answer them both. First off, when we step into the building, business is done, so in terms of the status of what somebody’s getting paid, we don’t care about that. I tell players all the time, I don’t deal with contracts. I don’t ever want to deal with contracts because the best players are going to play. I don’t ever want to feel tied to something and have the negotiation influence who steps on the field. But I would say, for a guy who was a high-profile signing last year, it’s natural, the players are looking — What’s this guy’s story going to be? How’s he going to work? James has really done a really good job for us. He’s a good teammate, he’s very intelligent, he works very hard, he produces on the field, he’s very coachable. That’s one thing about our guys is they’re always looking for a better way, always looking for a way to help. I love the way he comes out here every day and works. Really does a great job in that room. The DBs as a whole, when you talk about the corners and how [Defensive Backs Coach] Jerome [Henderson] and [Assistant Defensive Backs Coach] Michael Treier really work with those corners right now, they’re really having a great gel right now and chemistry of how they push each other, understanding that they’re all competing, but at the same time they’re not only competing against each other, but pushing each other.
Q: Joe, since you’re winding down as the week goes on, is tomorrow more a walk through and community relations thing?
A: Yeah, absolutely. To be honest with you, we haven’t had a chance to really interact with the fans and that’s in different elements. One is football and then, the key focal point of this program is we’re going to be a strong community. We’re going to be very involved with the community and show support for the people who show support to us. That’s something from day one I’ve talked about, is that good service is very important to us and even last year, all our guys made great contributions and strides with being tied to the community. Just like we were, it was all tied in through Zoom, it was all remote, it was all virtual. This is the first exposure we’ve had, although there’s other COVID protocols. We can’t be touching hands on, kind of like how we are right now. It’s still the first time we get to be face to face with them, to address the fans and approach them to speak and it’s very important for us that, you know, not everybody has the opportunity to see us. It’s important for me, it’s important for this organization that we’re going to come to you. We’re going to make the effort and make sure that we can get to you and make sure you get the opportunity for the team that you cheer for, that we’re going to come to your community. Ultimately, your community is our community. A lot of players on this team have different backgrounds — coaches, not everyone is from Jersey, from New York, from this area, but we all live here, this is home now. So, we’ve got to make sure that we embrace it and we support it. People are in the stands and how many times you hear people come in and say, “Why are they booing us?” Well, first off, you buy a ticket, you have a right to see a good show, alright. Let’s just call it right there, but at the same time, you see people complain all the time, you know, we want them to come there and be good fans and cheer, the reality is we need to earn that. But, we want to also make sure that we support them on the other side and they understand that we’re there for them. The Mara and Tisch families do a tremendous job supporting with financial contributions. Whether it’s equipment, fields, grants, whatever it may be, a lot of organizations. As the face of the organization, these players and coaches, we are responsible for getting out there.
Q: Joe, what does a guy with elite speed like [Wide Receiver] John Ross [III] allow you to do on special teams and offense?
A: That’s a pretty broad question. I’d say, you know, the old adage ‘speed kills,’ you’ve got to play fast. I think the one thing that he’s really demonstrated early on right now is his ability to control his speed. That he’s not a fast, out-of-control player, but he’s got the ability to run fast, threaten you deep and also stick his foot in the ground and redirect and come back for the ball. We’re working him out, his kickoff return, was working yesterday on punt installs with the punter. We continue to work on a different phase and different responsibilities. Again, we’re going to keep the 53 best players and if that goes heavier or steeper or heavy at another position, all those guys have to have roles in the kicking game, as well. We’ve got offense, defense, special teams, we need all three phases to be successful. Offensively, we’re trying to carve out right now who we think does well with our system and then build it to them. This early part of training camp is going to be kind of like a sample, kind of put them through everything, see what really kind of comes out, what we focus on and build it to his and everyone else’s strength and skill set and then start refining and that’ll be on special teams as well as offense. I’ll tell you one thing I’m impressed with right now – so, obviously, the speed stands out, but the work ethic and he’s coming in, he’s very down to earth, very humble guy, a great teammate. Before we really had to interact with him, a lot of the teammates who got together with him in Arizona and threw around, so you get a lot of feedback from the players and they say, ‘Hey listen, we like this guy. He came and fit right in with the group.’ I’d say we have unique receivers, I’m talking about personalities and work ethic-wise, and I’ve coached receivers other places. I’m not dogging anyone else’s unit, that’s not what I’m saying at all. We don’t have any prima donnas, we don’t have any guys who are above any one job, we don’t have any guys where something’s too small for them. We like our guys and [Wide Receivers Coach Tolbert] Tyke does a great job getting these guys to understand we’re about doing the dirty work. You can play 70 plays in the game and you can catch eight balls for 80 yards, that’s a great day. Eight balls for 100 yards, that’s a great day. Alright, what did you do the other plays? How’d you block? How’d you cover kicks? What did you do that was worthwhile? How did you impact the team when the ball wasn’t in your hands? That’s something our guys have to understand and embrace. We’ve got to run the ball effectively, but everyone who doesn’t have the ball in their hands has to do their job and block. Our guys do a good job of getting down and dirty and give good effort.