Opening statement:"OK, good seeing everybody. I know you're on a tight schedule here [with Team USA's World Cup match], [so I] appreciate you being here. What questions do you have?"
What has impressed you the most about what this team has done defensively? _(Jamison Hensley) _"Defensively, I feel good about the steady progress. I feel like we had a vision, the players understood the vision. It's built around the talent that we have, and what we had, and we haven't really changed course; we've stayed on course, and we've just tried to improve. So, the guys have done that. It's starting to show up in a real good way the last month or so, and we have to keep getting better. We have a long way to go."
How gratifying as a coach is seeing the progress the team has made over the last month especially? _(Kyle Barber) _"Yes, it's great. I think any coach – any teacher – would say the same thing; when you see your students or your players start to have success in ways that you kind of envisioned for them, it's very rewarding. Then again, it's tempered in our league especially by the fact that you know you're coming up against a great opponent the very next week that's very capable of making everything go in the other direction at any time. Our guys are really good; they do a great job of keeping it simple and understanding the challenge in front of them and just trying to play it one play at a time, one practice at a time and get ready for the next game. I feel really good about our guys. Lamar [Jackson] thinks that way, Calais [Campbell], Marlon [Humphrey], Marcus [Peters] … All those guys feel that way."
OLB Jason Pierre-Paul played great yesterday but was kind of lost in all the talk. What does that say about the depth of your defense? _(Todd Karpovich) _"It says a lot about the depth; it's definitely a major positive. That's one of our greatest strengths, has been our depth. That's something that's really showing up now, especially that we're healthier and getting healthier. 'JPP' [Jason Pierre-Paul], he was just on fire. He was on fire the whole game. To see it finish up with that interception, that's really rewarding. He wanted to go down there and get that picture I think you saw at the end of it, so that was pretty fun. [I'm] proud of him. Broderick Washington … Nobody talks too much about Broderick Washington, but he's been a very – you use the word steady – but I would say a very physical force in the middle of the defense really all season. So, we have a lot of good players playing good football."
You are now on a four-game win streak after searching for consistency while starting the season 3-3. When you were 3-3, did you feel like you guys were at a crossroads in your season? _(Cordell Woodland) _"No, I didn't feel that. I just felt like we had a chance. We talked about we had an opportunity because of the things that showed up that actually cost us games, for it to really get our attention and to force us to really chase perfection in everything we were doing. So, the guys haven't forgotten that. Going into this week, I know the guys are going to look at the things that we have to do better and they're going to chase perfection in those areas. Sometimes if you have success when you're not playing that well, or you make mistakes or whatever, it doesn't matter, it gets smoothed over and kind of brushed under the carpet. Then, it comes back to haunt you later. So, we have a lot of things to work on that way. I don't want to lose sight of that one lesson that we learned early in the season that kind of helped the guys focus on all the little details."
I think WR Rashod Bateman had his Lisfranc surgery over the weekend. Do you have any updates on how it went or anything longer-term you can share about his recovery process? _(Jonas Shaffer) _"Right, it sounds like it went great. The doctors told me it went well. Rashod texted me back and said it went really well. I don't know what doctor tells you it's a bad surgery right after. I say that jokingly because I think it went really well, so don't take that the wrong way. By all accounts, it went great. He was in great spirits. The good thing is he got it in kind of a timeframe where it should be a quicker recovery than it would've been if it had been a worse injury. So, it was an injury that needed the surgery, for sure, and I think [it was] absolutely the right thing to get it done at that time, and it's going to make for a really good recovery. That's what I was told. I know he's excited about that. I don't know what the timeframe is for him coming back, but he's going to be good for next year."
Do you have any injury updates on T Ronnie Stanley or S Kyle Hamilton? _(Todd Karpovich) _"Yes, Kyle [Hamilton] and Ronnie [Stanley], we don't have the final word on those things yet, but I would say it's definitely trending in the right direction based on what we know so far. Ronnie still has an MRI to get, so we'll find out the final on that, but it was trending really well last night and this morning. And Kyle, the same thing. Kyle, the X-rays looked good, so it's trending in the right way. His knee is stable and all those kinds of things."
Last night in the locker room, S Chuck Clark's postgame speech was about already looking ahead to the Jacksonville game. What does it mean to you to have players who are already locked in on the next game? _(David Andrade) _"It means everything; it's the thing that you hope for as a coach. You kind of dream of that; you want your guys thinking one game ahead. You want them starting to prepare already for the next game, and I appreciate that. Chuck [Clark] is a great leader. Chuck is the kind of guy who guys respect. He had a pretty good little rib deal there, and it was hard for him … He wasn't in a mood to give a speech, but he said the right thing, and he's right."
You had given the D-line some major props in Week One and a little bit throughout the season. They have quietly been making an impact, is that what you're seeing from that group? _(Melissa Kim) _"They've had mostly a really good year, but there have been a couple of plays here and there, or stretches here or there that they'd want back. That's the same thing; they went to work to fix those things. To me, this game yesterday was indicative of who they are. It was dominant. It was dominant in the run game. That was a team [Carolina] that had been averaging 180-some yards a game, but they got 30-something. Then even with the pass rush, the pressure all day, the batted balls. It was just a dominant performance."
ILBs Patrick Queen and Roquan Smith played 100 percent of the snaps next to each other. What are you seeing from them as they bounce off of each other and feed off each other? _(Ryan Mink) _"I think they have a great chemistry already. I don't know … If you're talking about working on chemistry, sometimes chemistry is like love at first sight. To me, it's kind of that way with those two guys. They are working well together, and it's only going to get better. I just love the way they're playing."
When you see QB Lamar Jackson, sometimes after some penalties he will express his frustrations. When you see him kind of punt the ball after a delay of game penalty, what's kind of your reaction? _(Jamison Hensley) _"I think to myself, 'Mental note. We're going to have to have a word about that.' They could call that delay of game. So, no, we can't … That's not something we're looking for. He [Lamar Jackson] does it in practice. It's probably my fault for tolerating it in practice sometimes, so I'm going to tell him it's my fault. So, we won't do it in practice anymore then either.
"The penalties were a problem yesterday. We had two drives … We had a holding penalty, and we had a facemask penalty. That was a tough one, but I could see what the referee Jerome [Boger] saw, so I can understand why he called it, but it wasn't technically … He [Morgan Moses] didn't pull it, but I see what he saw. And then the holding penalty … Those are a minimum of six points, maximum of 14 points that we let go there."
I don't think I've seen a snap infraction called. Why wasn't that a live fumble – when C Bradley Bozeman kind of dragged the ball on the ground. It was a pre-snap penalty and not a live ball. _(Jonas Shaffer) _"I don't know. I don't have the answer for that one yet. It's a great question."
WR Devin Duvernay led the receivers in snaps, but only ended up with two touches. When it comes to him – I know he gets the ball in a variety of ways – does it really depend on the type of looks you're getting him, in terms of the plays that are called for him? _(Cordell Woodland) _"Yes, we probably had, I would say 8-10 – maybe that's a little high – 6-8 runs that he [Devin Duvernay] would have gotten the ball on reads that he didn't get the ball on reads. [There were], obviously, numerous passes where it just didn't come his way. But that's … It's a double-edged sword; 'D-Rob' [Demarcus Robinson] got 9 or 10 [targets]. It's a little bit of a double-edged sword. It does go a little bit week to week, but I think we'll also … We've got to say to ourselves, as coaches, 'We need him [Duvernay] involved. We need to find a way to get him the ball.' So, we understand that. It doesn't always go to a guy even when you call it towards a guy, but by the same token, we've got to keep chasing that, because we want the ball in his hands."
These grittier games where points feel like a premium tend to rely on some special teams plays to be made. It didn't look like there were quite as many special teams plays being made on Sunday. What did you see out of your special teams unit? _(Kyle Barber) _"Great question. I just think we didn't make the plays. We were all over the punter. We took one bad angle off the edge there, where we ran into the punter, and that was just technique – that's just a bad angle. But we almost blocked three punts; we should have had a punt return – a big punt return – but we kind of misjudged the lane a little bit on that one. So, I thought the guys played super hard. The special teams … The whole team played super hard, and you could really see it on special teams and defense, in terms of like flying to the ball. There was some physicality out there in all three phases. So, when you have that, you can work with, 'OK, now we can make this play or make that play; let's keep chasing the technique' – when your guys are playing like that."
ILB Patrick Queen has been playing really well recently. Is there anywhere you can point to specifically where you've seen him make strides? _(Ryan Mink) _"Yes, I can point to all the different little plays that he's making, technique-wise, but from a big picture standpoint, I would just say that he's gaining confidence and some comfort in the fact that just play with poise, and you're going to make the plays. He's the kind of guy who always wants to make plays so bad, he almost overshoots his target sometimes. Now, he's just kind of taking a breath before he pulls the trigger. They say you have to calm [down], take a breath … My wife tells me that; she does that. You can't be breathing hard when you pull the trigger. Sometimes you have to do that, and I think he just does that. He's just playing a little calmer, and for that reason, he's making more plays."
We saw RB Gus Edwards show up on the injury report on Friday with a knee designation. Is that just a minor thing that compounds with his hamstring injury that made him questionable to play? _(Jonas Shaffer) _"He just couldn't get to the game. It was one of those things that we really thought … I thought – I'm not going to say I was told – but there was some optimism that he would get to the game, and it just didn't quite work out. He just couldn't do it, and you could see it; I could see it in practice on Friday and Thursday. So, we'll hold out the same hope this week. I think he'll get there, but he just has to be right. A guy has to be ready to go and be at his best. He's working hard; Gus wanted to go, believe me. All those guys want to go, same thing with DeSean [Jackson]. He's another guy that would be in that category."
We haven't seen WR DeSean Jackson at practice, so how bad is his hamstring injury? _(Jamison Hensley) _"It wasn't supposed to be real bad, but it just hasn't quite come back as fast as you want it to. So, he's working really hard to bring it back. He's a little older, [so] it probably does take a little bit more time – I hope he doesn't get mad at me for saying that – but he's working at it. He's going to be back, hopefully this week. We'll see."