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Transcripts: Press Conference (12/29)


Opening statement:"Good seeing everybody. [I] appreciate you being here. [It was] a good practice. We're getting ready for a big challenge. [It's] pedal to the metal in terms of preparation. What questions do you have?"

Have you been impressed with WR Zay Flowers' level of toughness?*_(Jamison Hensley)_* "I think Zay Flowers is great. He's done a great job. He works hard. He comes to work every day. He has a great attitude. [He's] A+ in every way, really."

How are S Kyle Hamilton and CB Brandon Stephens progressing with their injuries?*_(Luke Jones)_* "It's the time of year. It's the time of year it is. Everybody that can go will be out there."

Did you talk to Miami Dolphins' defensive coordinator Vic Fangio in the offseason after you had a public spat with him last season?*_(Kyle Phoenix)_* "I don't know. I think everybody has their own opinions on whatever they want to have their opinions on. We know what we're about [and] what we stand for as an organization [and] as a coaching staff. I know what I'm about and what I believe in. That's how I feel about it."

How different is the Dolphins' defense with Vic Fangio as defensive coordinator?*_(Cordell Woodland)_* "It's a different scheme [and] different system. They run different coverages. [It's] just a different setup. [It's] a different coordinator [and] different scheme."

What has stood out about Dolphins DE Zach Sieler's development, who was drafted by the Ravens in 2018?*_(Luke Jones)_* "I'm going to tell you straight up – [Zach Sieler's] exactly the player that I thought he was going to be. He was a [dang] good player when he was here. [He's] physical, tough, and he's playing that way but better because he's been further along in his career. He's strong. He's twitchy. He gets off blocks [and] presses the pocket. He's a very good football player, and he's everything you want in a football player. He's tough, and he shows up every day."

How much did facing the San Francisco 49ers' run game last week help with preparation for defending the Dolphins' run game?*_ (David Andrade) _*"It's going to be a big challenge. Their offense is very diverse, and their running game is a big part of it. They can run the ball outside. They run the ball in the alley. They run the ball in the C-gap, and they run the ball straight downhill. Raheem [Mostert] is the main guy. He's their guy, but not the only guy. They have two other very good backs [De'Von Achane and Jeff Wilson Jr.]. You saw the game against the Cowboys kind of showed it off. It's a very diverse offense."

How does a matchup against the Dolphins and the other playoff-contending teams you have faced prepare you for January playoff football?*_(Cordell Woodland)_* "I think that's exactly right. That's a very good point. We've played playoff teams for about eight weeks in a row now. These are the kind of teams that you have to beat in the playoffs if you want to advance in the playoffs. It's great preparation for us, but yet, the big challenge is still [being able] to win those games to put yourself in the position that you want to be in as best you can. We've done that up until this point, but this is a whole other can of worms that we're opening up here on Sunday. We're not afraid of that. We're going to get after it and play the best we can and try to put our best foot forward."


On John Harbaugh saying this would be the toughest game of the season and if the players feel the same way:"Yes. It's the next game coming off of a tough win on the road [on] Monday Night [Football]. [It's] a short recovery, and [the Dolphins] are one of the best teams in the NFL. So, I think everybody knows what's at stake; everybody knows who we're up against, what we're up against. It's just about continuing to prepare for the next 48 hours and get ready for the game."

On how this week of preparation was physically on a short week: "It's just the way the cookie crumbles. We get a Monday night game, then we get a big Sunday game, so you have less time to recover. [It's a] shorter week, [and] you have to flip your attention to the Dolphins pretty quick. Again, like I said, we all know what's at stake. There's not going to be any sympathy on having a short turnaround and not enough time. So, it is what it is, we just have to overcome. It's just like you do all year. You just overcome things [and] find ways to keep handling adversity and finding ways to win."

On what were practices with CB Jalen Ramsey were like when they both played for the Rams: "Obviously, it's always going to get you better. It's funny because before [Jalen Ramsey and I] were on the Rams, oddly enough, he was one of my favorite players. Just the way he carries himself, the swag he possesses, the skills that he has, the talents – I was always a big fan of him. I got to go against him in Jacksonville after coming back off the ankle and then just being with him every day in [Los Angeles] ... The iron sharpens the iron thing ... But once you get deep into the season, you don't really go against each other that much. You're more preparing for the other teams and things like that. Obviously, he's an all-world phenomenal talent, I think everybody knows that. He's a brother, we won a ring together, and he truly is a brother of mine. So, it's pretty great to be able to compete against him. Actually, I have another brother on that team, [Duke Riley]'s the Mike linebacker now, he has the green dot. So, it's just weird going up against him, but that adds a little competitiveness to you. Those are guys you have the most respect for and a lot of love for. So, just knowing what we're up against and the task at hand and what we need to do to find a way to win this game."

On if there's a switch in his head as a veteran player on what happens on the net play and if he puts together maximum strength:"Of course. Whatever happened in the regular season, it doesn't matter at this point. You could have no catches; you can have 150 [catches]. It really doesn't matter. It's about what you can do in the next couple of games. How do you want to be remembered? [Will you have] legendary moments and things of that matter? So, nothing actually matters at all to me in my eyes. The [previous] game doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is this last game and the games that are coming after that. Like I said, we all know what the task is; we all know what we're working for [and] working towards. We just have to find a way to put one foot in front of the other each and every day and get better." 

On QB Lamar Jackson's leadership:"I think [Lamar Jackson] leads the way that he plays. I'm not the biggest vocal guy; he's not the biggest vocal guy. He's just a baller. Like, he's a gamer. He knows how to turn it on when we need him, and I think everybody looks at him to be that. He knows how to … He's probably had that all his life. I'm sure he's had that all … I know he's had that all his life – from [being as tall as] knee high to where he's at now. He's probably always been the special, chosen one, and that just carries over. It's just, some people are born with it, and he's one of those guys who was born with it."

On the acclaim for his sideline shimmy celebration with WR Zay Flowers:"Man, I don't know how … I don't even know his name, [and] I don't know how buddy does that dance, but it is impressive. I've had people hitting me up for weeks, like, 'You've got to do this celebration,' and I had to tell them straight, like, 'I can dance. I like to have fun, but I can't hit it how buddy hits it.' Like, he's doing it. So, I don't know if it's the knee to the shoulder, [or] the way it just … He's got it. So, it's just having fun. Zay [Flowers] scores … Like I say, in that room, we all feel a part of each other's success. I've had enough success of my own to be able to really be able to enjoy other people's moments more so than when I score, myself. So, we're just having fun, man. We played against one of the best teams in the world and were able to come out victorious, so [we're] just having fun."

On if he takes credit for the team's celebration game improving this season:"You said it, not me." (laughter) "I didn't say that. Like I say, I've been doing it a long time. It's just … It's not about putting the spotlight on yourself or anything like [that]; it's just about having fun. It's very hard to score touchdowns in the National Football League. It's about having fun [and] bringing that joy back. When you were a kid … I'm sure you wanted to celebrate when you were a kid when you scored – like, everybody wants to celebrate – and I'm sure all the other 10 people on the field are just as happy that you scored, as well. So, it's just about having fun. At the end of the day, this is football, this is the game that we love. Aside from the business aspect and all the other things that go with it, it is the game of football that we love, so sometimes you've just got to be in the moment and enjoy it."

On the importance of getting the No. 1 seed and a bye week in the playoffs:"It's needed. [When] you go this deep into a season, and you find a way to steal another bye week or get rewarded a bye week for all the hard work that you put in all year, it's important. This is a veteran team. We've got some young guys, but we've got some older guys, [like] that guy over there." (Looks at his own locker.) (laughter)"We've got some guys who would absolutely love a bye week and be able to, not rest, but do other things to put yourself in a better position for weeks coming up. So, it starts with being 1-0 this week. The same thing I said when we lost a game, and we were 3-2, and then won whatever, however many games; it starts with being 1-0. It starts with handling [and] knowing your assignment and just being able to lock into the details and find a way to come out victorious one more time, and that puts us in a different position than it would if we weren't 1-0. So, like I say, we all know the task that's at hand. There's no need to hype it up, hype it down; it is what it is. We've just got to find a way to come out, be prepared and win."


On if WR Jaylen Waddle's being out for Sunday changes the way they prepare for the Dolphins' speed and WR Tyreek Hill: "It doesn't change much. We already had our gameplan set, and we're not going to change anything else just because one guy goes down. We're just going to continue [to work] on our gameplan, lock in and just do our details. Then, everything else will be alright."

On how much the defense has looked at the 2022 game against the Dolphins to prepare for this game: "We're not worried about what happened last year. We're just focused on what we do. We're working on our job. If we do our job, we'll eliminate the explosive plays; we'll eliminate them catching the ball and come out with a win."

On how the defense looks at the way they've played to this point this year: "People can say whatever they want. It really doesn't matter to us. We just come out here and do our job. Whatever people have to say, that's on them. We know who we are, we know what type of players we are, we know what type of team we are, and every week we come out and show it."

On if Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel's system and the Dolphins' pre-snap motion is different than what he sees from other teams: "It could be a little different, but we know how to handle it. We practiced it, [and] we watched the film, so we'll be ready."

On what makes Dolphins WR Tyreek Hill a big challenge to cover other than his ability to catch the deep ball: "[Tyreek Hill]'s a great player. He comes out each and every week, and he does what he does best. [He] catches the ball [and] gets upfield. As long as we do our job, we'll take care of that."

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