Opening statement: "OK, good to see everybody. I appreciate you being here. With regard to injuries, you know the situation with Nick Boyle. Calais [Campbell] will be day-to-day here going forward with the calf [injury]; we'll see about this week as we go. Terrell Bonds has a knee [injury], that'll probably be a couple weeks with that. Brandon Williams has an ankle [injury]; we'll see as we go. [That could be] possibly a week, maybe more. It'll be touch-and-go for Sunday. That'll be the last I'll say about those guys going forward, really for a while. That's where we're at, OK? What questions do you have?"
Just a quick follow-up on TE Nick Boyle. Do you guys have any kind of a long-term prognosis yet on his injury and exactly what it was? (Childs Walker) "Yes, [he's] out for the season. It's a major knee injury."
With the tight end situation, do you sort of put FB/DL Patrick Ricard in there as a second tight end before you try to, maybe, bring in a free agent? Because it would take 10 days for a guy to sign, correct? (Todd Karpovich) "We have some plans on that, so we'll just see as we go. We have some guys on the practice squad. We had a player in for a workout today, as you probably saw. Of course, Pat [Ricard] can take on a bigger role, certainly. So, we'll have a good plan for that."
I was wondering what the situation is with C Matt Skura's hand injury. Is that something that's concerning you? (Stan Charles) "Not the hand injury, no. The hand injury is not a factor. Are the snaps concerning us? Absolutely; that was very costly in the game. It's a tough deal. That's a hard situation, but Matt [Skura] knows he has to get those snaps back there. Nobody feels worse about it than he does."
Getting a chance to review the tape, how did you think G/C Patrick Mekari did at right tackle and G Ben Powers at right guard? Do you kind of see that being what you at least explore for the coming week? (Luke Jones) "We'll just explore whatever we look at. That'll be part of the process in terms of what we do this next game. I'm probably not going to be talking too much about that this week; there's really no reason to do that. But they did a pretty good job – it's on the tape. So, we'll just see what we do. I would just say this; we're a work in progress right now with the injuries in the offensive line, and we'll be working on it."
Offensively, in light of all the injuries … I know that you, and even the players, have talked about this being a work in progress throughout the year offensively. What can you do as far as from a week-to-week basis to try to improve and to try to get this offense back on track to where it was last year? (Jamison Hensley) "Well, you do football – that's what football practice is. That's what you do; every team is doing it. I don't care if you're having great success, or if you're hit-and-go, hit-or-miss, or if you're not doing anything. You just keep working at it across the board, because it's always a myriad of factors; issues [both] individual and group, coordination [and] execution. Every play is different, and you have many, many things to work on. So, it's not a simple type of a process, that's why it's not easy. I think that's what makes it so interesting, but we've got … The process will remain the same as it always has. We'll work through that, decide what plays and decide what players based on who we're playing and what we're able to do well. So, we'll keep practicing those things to try to become proficient at executing those things, especially under pressure. It takes a lot of work and a lot of time. If you look around the league, you see that. I don't care … Any level of football, you see that. So, that's what we'll be doing."
I think G/T Tyre Phillips is eligible to come back this week. Could he be into the mix here this week? Or is it too early to know? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I think I said that we're just going to see as we go. We're working on a lot of different factors. So, we'll see."
I know he didn't play a whole lot, but how did you think CB Tramon Williams filled in, especially with CB Terrell Bonds going down with the injury? (Luke Jones) "I thought he did pretty well. He's learning as he goes. He's a veteran, experienced player. Coming in one week like that and to be able to know what he's doing … He didn't make any assignment mistakes. I thought he did pretty well, so we'll try to keep building on that."
With the injuries to the defensive line and DT Brandon Williams, and what New England was able to do on the ground against you guys, how much of a focus will improving on that be this week with RB Derrick Henry and the Titans coming in? (Shawn Stepner) "Yes, that's definitely going to be a concern and a factor. We're going to work really hard at that. It'll be the guys who are healthy that'll be in there playing. I have full confidence in those guys' ability to get the job done. That's a good group. Especially the young guys, they've done well, and they've proven themselves. They're nine games in now, so they're not new to this. So, they understand what they need to do. It's an offensive line and a running back that are built to do what they do; they're very good at it. [They're] very consistent from week-to-week in what they try to accomplish. So, we're going to have to be at our best to get it stopped. I'm confident that we will."
I noticed the last several games that you guys had penalties with illegal formations. What can you do to help that? (Kevin Richardson) "Well, the one you're talking … The one critical one with the wide receiver lining up off the ball, that's just really not something that should ever happen. He thought he was on the ball. He thought the referee signaled him on the ball; obviously, that did not happen. So, it's a young guy – you just need to learn from it. It's really inexcusable. That's a pretty simple thing to do, line up on the ball. Was there another one you're referring to? You'd have to remind me of it." (Reporter: "That's the one I'm referring to, but then there are several other weeks when guys have lined up not on the ball and you've gotten formation penalties.")
Late in the game, on one of the plays in the end zone, CB Marlon Humphrey appeared to be in a lot of discomfort with his arm. Did he come out of the game OK? (Bo Smolka) "Yes, he did. He got it looked at and got a little treatment, or whatever, but he's going to be OK."
It's been a couple weeks since WR Marquise Brown has had one of his bigger games. How are you noticing defenses defending him? And what's kind of the balance between that and trying to feed him the ball? (Aaron Kasinitz) "We don't try to feed anybody the ball. You try to create plays where you can against what you're seeing, and the game plays out. You get coverages, and guys get open, or they don't get open. The quarterback can see it, or he can't see it when they are open – with protection or where his read ends up taking him. The ball gets thrown well, or it doesn't. It gets caught, or it doesn't – that's kind of how it works. So, all those questions about that really fall under the category of, 'That's how football works.' So, we're not sitting there just saying, 'We want to make sure this guy gets a certain number of catches or that guy does.' I think we had 10 different guys get catches in the game – that's' not a bad thing. But we want more big plays, for sure. We want catch-and-run plays. We took numerous opportunities to try to throw the ball deep in that game, and none of them really happened in terms of the deep throws. So, you just have to keep working on it and try to make it happen. If we can make some big plays in the passing game, that would be huge for us. And we're working on trying to do that, but the defense doesn't always cooperate either, or they make a play on you, which they did a few times last night, as well."
When the offense isn't clicking to its expectations, the knee-jerk reaction from the outside is the play-caller. How much does that ultimately fall on the play-caller, and is that sometimes overblown? (Jamison Hensley) "Again, I don't have an equation for one of your 'how much' questions. But [offensive coordinator] Greg Roman is a proven coach, as all of our coaches are, and they're working hard. They're working hard, just like the players are, to get it right and put as many points up as they can. So, [we'll] continue to keep doing that. The outside, the criticism, whatever, it's just part of it; we understand that, and you just have to put your head down, and do your job, and try to improve. It's a long season in this league. So, opinions come and go; everybody has them, and that's really how you have to categorize it, and just leave it at that."
Late in the game, the Patriots had a third-and-1, QB Cam Newton sneaked it, and it looked like he came up short. The line judge looked like he ran in and was going to mark it short, but then, somehow, they moved the chains. I'm wondering if that was a play you looked at possibly challenging, or if you got any explanation from the referees on that spot? (Ryan Mink) "It's a good question. They don't give you any explanation on something like that; it's very arbitrary. We thought it was short – I thought it was short on tape, watching it later – but that's not something that would get overturned, unless it's just clear-cut. You can't see the ball in those situations, usually, and you couldn't see the ball in the replays that came on the TV. So, if they can't see the ball and exactly where it's at, they're not going to overturn that."
Given how good WR Miles Boykin is as a blocker and his skillset, and given that you do have some depth at wide receiver, and at tight end there have been some injuries, has there ever been consideration for using Boykin some as a tight end? Or is that not something that would fit him? (Jeff Zrebiec) "'As a tight end' is pretty broad. You're not talking about being an in-line blocker, are you? Like, 'Y', like Nick [Boyle] does?" (Reporter: "No.") "So, some of the stuff in terms of the inside-type of route-running or crossing routes and things like that, he already does. Some of the stuff that you see Willie [Snead IV] do – 'U-,' 'F-' type of roles. So, those type of routes or those type of scheme things, even some of the blocking stuff, carries over from personnel group to personnel group. And whether you want to call them 'U's' or 'F's' or 'H-backs' or whatever you want to call them, those are kind of the jobs that people do. You try to put guys in position to do the jobs that they can do well. Miles [Boykin] has been in there doing some of that at times, especially in the run game; he's run some of those routes as well. So, he's kind of been in there doing that to some degree, but there's a learning process with all that, as well, and we've got Willie doing a lot of that already. So, that's kind of where that stands."
It looked like on some defensive snaps, ILB Patrick Queen was seven or eight yards off the ball. You mentioned that he's a guy who rarely makes the same mistake twice. So, for him, what are the lessons to be learned from a game like that? (Jonas Shaffer) "It was a different kind of game than he's seen. That was more of a downhill-run game – little bit of an old-school game. So, the run fits, some of the angles and things like that, some of the formation adjustments, some of the motions, and where your eyes are – those are all things that come into play. A lot of that was new – in terms of the offense that we were playing – last night. The Patriots do a great job with that. They're very physical; we knew that. They didn't do anything different than they've been doing, generally speaking. It was good, what they did, and that's tough on linebackers. So, he'll learn from that, for sure – all those types of things – and he'll continue to improve."
DT Justin Ellis played a higher percentage of defensive snaps, because of circumstances, than he ever has. How did he grade out when you watched the film? (Aaron Kasinitz) "Yes, he played well. Justin [Ellis] played a good game. He did well in there. Justin Madubuike did a good job. Broderick Washington did a good job. Each of those guys probably have a couple plays they'd want to have back, but for the most part, those guys played well. I would say better, probably, on the tape than I thought watching the game itself. They were in there fighting pretty hard and did pretty well."
WR Willie Snead IV has had a couple of his most productive games recently. What are you seeing from Willie that's allowing him to be productive here recently? (Cliff Brown) "Probably, I'm seeing from Willie [Snead IV] what we always get from Willie. He's an incredibly steady player, a very consistent player. He's in the right spots, he'll make tough catches, he does the dirty work as far as blocking, he's always prepared. So, he's a guy you can count on, and those are the kind of guys you've got to have out there. In those kinds of games, the guys who you can count on to be in the right spot, do the right thing, make the good, solid play, that's invaluable. And players need to understand that. That's what he does. Willie is exceptional at that."