Opening statement:"OK, [I] apologize for being late; busy day, but a good day. [We're] with our players, looking at the last game and making corrections and starting on the Saints going forward. We're excited about where we're at, and we're looking forward to where we're going. What questions do you have?"
Did this 'mini-bye' after playing on Thursday night come at a good time for you guys, especially with health concerns and things like that? _(Jamison Hensley) _"Yes, who knows? These games come when they come. We have kind of an interesting set up here with the Thursday game, then a Monday game, then a bye. So, hopefully we can take maximum advantage of that in terms of opportunity to recover from some of those things that you're talking about and get some guys healthy, get some guys ready who are coming back. That's all part of it, but really the focus is going to be on the one game, Monday Night Football in New Orleans. We've played there before on Monday night; it's going to be rocking. That crowd down there is crazy. It's loud, it's inside. Obviously, they're coming off a big win against the Raiders; a dominate win, so that's an excellent football team. So, we're going to have our full focus and attention on this game coming up."
Do you see the speed of the game slowing down for some of the rookies, including C Tyler Linderbaum, S Kyle Hamilton and TE Isaiah Likely? (Todd Karpovich) _"Yes, I do. They're all playing kind of at a high level for where they're at. They're just starting out; I know they're young guys. They're halfway through their rookie season now. All three of those guys – in their own right – are doing some really good things out there. To see Isaiah [Likely] step up finally … Not that he wasn't playing well, he was playing well, but now he had some real opportunities to make some plays and made them for us, not the least of which was recovering the onside kick at the end of the game. We don't take any of that lightly. _(laughter)You got that, see? Someone got that. Thank you. [Tyler Linderbaum], give [Tyler] a lot of credit; he blocked really well in a lot of ways. He's going up against one of the best nose guards in football, and I think he might have gotten him one time, but [Tyler] settled down and played great, blocked on the second level [and] was excellent. Then, the unsung part to me, all the snaps were right there, all the stuff that Lamar [Jackson] was doing with the ball handling. Those snaps were right there with a really good nose guard lined up over him, so he played exceptionally well. Then, Kyle [Hamilton]'s role continues to expand. You can see him kind of growing into … We're kind of figuring out where he fits in what we're doing, and he stepped up and made some excellent plays. That coverage on the goal line where he knocked the ball away, it just can't be done any better than that. So, we're happy with all those guys."
You said on Thursday that you had to wait until the next day for any update on RB Gus Edwards. Do you have one? _(Bo Smolka) _"Yes, Gus [Edwards] has a hamstring, so he'll be day-to-day probably. We'll see about the Monday night game; he'll have a chance. It's a mild hamstring, but you never know about those. It's just how it goes. [Rashod] Bateman's a little bit more disappointing in the sense that after the game they thought it was kind of a tweak, but there's a little more there from a strain standpoint. So, conversations will be had. It looks like it's going to be a few weeks for him. We'll have more to report on that later in the week."
OLB Justin Houston is playing really well. In his second year here, what is allowing him to be even more efficient than last year? _(Cliff Brown) _"No different than last year, he's kind of rushing the passer the same way. Sometimes the sacks come your way, too. I think Odafe [Oweh] would say, 'Some of those sacks should have come my way, too'. Some of it is just kind of good fortune; it just unfolds that way and all the sudden, he's the free guy, but he's still very talented. That's the thing about Justin [Houston]; I know he's been in the league for a long time, but he's still gifted. He's powerful, he's explosive, he has strong hands, throws guys around, he has leverage, he has really good feet, he still can move. He's still got it, and it's showing up."
People who study offensive line play online seem to be very excited about C Tyler Linderbaum and particularly his mobility. Has that been exciting for you as well, and does it open up new dimensions for the run game? _(Childs Walker) _"Yes, absolutely. He's also reaching guys, he's reaching shades, he's reaching three-technique sometimes, which is pretty incredible. So, it's the stuff that you saw in college, and you always ask yourself, 'Is this going to transfer to the NFL?' That's really the game of the Draft, so to speak, and the evaluation part of it. I would say, so far, so good. His game is transferring very well to the NFL."
This run game continues to evolve year-to-year. Do you feel like this is a very different kind of run game than what you've had in the past, and does having that diversity make it more difficult to defend? _(Jonas Shaffer) _"It's kind of a continuing – we've used the word evolution probably too much – but it's kind of continuing growth with our run game. It's [the] creativity of our coaches. Of course [offensive coordinator] Coach [Greg] Roman does a great job, and all of our coaches, [offensive line] Coach 'Joe D' [Joe D'Alessandris]. All of our coaches do a good job of developing that run game, but it's always a moving target, because it has to be. They take measures to take something away, then you have to have the next step, and you kind of sometimes know where you're going, and sometimes you come up with something. I just appreciate the creativity of our coaches. We're really challenging people the full width of the field with the run game. Then, you add in the RPOs and the play-action passes, that brings depth into play. So, we have some really good stuff going with the run game, scheme-wise. It comes down to execution at the end, though. In the second half, our guys did a great job of that."
WR Devin Duvernay continues to be really hard to stop on jet sweeps. Is this the all-around role for him that you envisioned when you guys first brought him here? _(Ryan Mink) _"I haven't thought about that in a while, but I would say yes. I think it's a really good observation, because those are things he did in college. He's that kind of a guy, where he can … You can put the ball in his hands; he can run routes underneath; he can run deep crossers; he can go deep; return man. He's been very valuable."
WR Devin Duvernay had the touchdown in the red zone on Thursday. Does Duvernay getting more and more effective in his role give you more confidence to call those types of plays for him in the red zone going forward? _(Cordell Woodland) _"Yes, that's a great point. You see it; it's not something that we weren't thinking about doing in there, but it's good to see it come up in there. And obviously, the red zone, like you said, it's tough to run the ball, [and] there's not a lot of room to throw, so some of the misdirection stuff is really good. They start packing it in a little bit, and then you try to run outside. They spread it out a little bit, you try to run inside, or you try to throw inside. That's the game. But whenever a player does something well, or he kind of shows that he's a real problem for the defense, you definitely want to keep coming back to it."
Tomorrow is the trade deadline. Do you anticipate any movement? (Jamison Hensley) _(laughter)_"If I did, then the cat would be out of the bag. But I know [executive vice president & general manager] Eric [DeCosta], and I know how Eric is. I wouldn't be honest to say he hasn't talked to me about what he's trying to do or what he's thinking about doing or what you can do, but it takes two to tango. So, we'll see how that all goes. But you never know."
I think Wednesday is the deadline day for you guys to activate OLBs Tyus Bowser and David Ojabo to the 53-man roster. Have you had any setbacks with that, and have you had any expectations with that? _(Jonas Shaffer) _"Yes, that's a fair question, and I might as well just tell you. Yes, they'll be activated, so they'll both be activated and available, and we'll see what happens. I would expect … I think Tyus [Bowser] will be ready to play, for sure. And really, it kind of comes back to Tyus saying, 'I'm going.' He wants to be mentally ready to go, so you can ask him. But I'm kind of counting on him, to be honest with you. He has targeted this game, so we'll see. And then [David] Ojabo is a little different. We'll see where he's at with it, in terms of being ready. He's a rookie. But he will also be possible, as far as playing in the game Monday night."
How hard is it to figure out when OLB David Ojabo is ready to play, when you didn't get a training camp with him, and you didn't get to do the normal stuff with him? _(Childs Walker) _"It's hard. It's hard. Where is he at? We've got to get him out there to practice more and see what he looks like. He hasn't really been in any team [periods] yet, so we've got to take a look at the team period, see how much he knows of the defense – and you're right – we've just got to see what it looks like. That's where we're at right now."
With OLB Tyus Bowser and the trickle-down affects that he can have … I know you expect your outside linebackers to play a lot of different positions, but is there anything to getting him back at the strongside and moving OLB Odafe Oweh to the weakside and guys just being at positions where they're most comfortable? _(Jonas Shaffer) _"Well, Odafe [Oweh] really … It depends what package you're talking about. So, Tyus [Bowser] on [the] strongside goes in as a SAM in the base package. That's really not something Odafe really does; maybe [in] certain calls you see him over there to strengthen the tight end side or strengthen the formation. Odafe is more of a defensive end; Tyus is more of an outside linebacker. So, Odafe can play on two feet – he certainly does. He drops. He did a great job this past week [of] dropping. But Tyus is a true linebacker, who rushes the passer. So, yes, definitely different roles, and I think you'll see that when they're both out there together."
We didn't ask about TE Mark Andrews. Is that still what you said after the game, where you don't think that's anything that could force him to miss some time? _(Jeff Zrebiec) _"Well, as soon as I say that, then something happens, like with [Rashod] Bateman. So, [with] Andrews, it still looks like it's not a major, major thing. It's something he's dealing with, like a lot of guys do. But I think he'll be OK."
With WR Rashod Bateman, basically, it wasn't a new injury? _(Jamison Hensley) _"No."
What have you seen from WR DeSean Jackson? There's a lot of anticipation for his Ravens debut, just because of his career. What have you seen from his development? And do you think that if you needed him, he's ready to go? (Jeff Zrebiec) _"I do. First of all, I'll just preface it by saying he is [almost] 36 years old, but he's a good-looking 36 – I can tell you that. _(laughter) He looks great. And I say that from the standpoint of, he's running around really well. So, you guys have seen him at practice. So, he's a possibility; I think he probably feels like he's ready to go, and if he is he could be out there."
WR Rashod Bateman caught a few deep passes at the beginning of the season, and you guys haven't had that as much when he's been injured. Is that the type of thing you anticipate WR DeSean Jackson being able to eventually provide? _(Noah Trister) _"Yes, that's a good point. We'd love to see him make some big plays. That would be the hope for DeSean [Jackson]. He can do all the other things too, but he still can run. He's looked good at practice."
Were your parents able to watch the game on Amazon on Thursday? (Jonas Shaffer) _"Oh, yes. _(laughter)Yes, they were. They figured it out. I don't know who they talked to, probably [assistant to the head coach] Megan Rosburg. Good question; thanks for caring."