Defensive Coordinator Don Martindale
Opening Statement? "If I'm a little horse today, it's because on Sunday, for six holes in sudden death, I was screaming, 'Let's go, Brooksie!' (laughter) It seemed to have pissed the one guy off, so I kept it up. (laughter) Just kidding. That was great to watch, though. It was great for the city; it was great for Caves [Valley Golf Club]. It was an awesome event, and any time you see guys playing at that level, it's fun to watch. With that, I'll open it up to questions."
You gave up the fewest rushing yards and the fewest points over the preseason. How well does that translate to the regular season? (Todd Karpovich) "I hope it translates well. All credit to the players, themselves, and how they attacked each game, and each practice, and each OTA, and minicamp and everything else. We talk about those things before the game – about what we want to accomplish in a game – and that was one of them, because we weren't happy with the New Orleans game. If you remember back to that, there were a couple runs that leaked out on us. It was just simple things to fix, and they fixed it, and I was really pleased with our run defense. I was pleased with our defense, overall."
How have you seen DB Brandon Stephens grow from OTAs until now, and how do you see him fitting in, knowing how much you guys like to play so many different guys? (Luke Jones) "I think he's done a nice job. He's continually working on his communication. That's the biggest thing – I always bring up to you guys – with all the rookies, but Brandon [Stephens] is a quiet guy, and if you've had a chance to talk to him yet, you know what I'm talking about. His skill set and what he offers … This roster, it's awesome, because he's just another one of those things … Like I told you, the defenses turn it into NBA matchup-style play, and he's one of those chess pieces that you love to have."
Is this the deepest secondary that you've had? There are so many good young players. (Ryan Mink) "It's one of those things you don't think about. Like, I don't look back and say, 'Hey, this is deeper.' I know this: We have a really good defense, and that's across the board. I like the mix of veterans and younger players. I think you're seeing 'PQ' [Patrick Queen], Malik [Harrison] and those guys jump up, because this was their first preseason and OTAs and minicamp, and you're starting to see the improvement. Reps mean everything. Reps are gold, especially to younger players."
Speaking of the secondary, how hard have they made it for you guys, as you figure out those last few spots on the roster? (Childs Walker) "It's been tough, and it's a credit to all of them – how they play – and it's like there was no drop off when we started putting in the younger guys. It's been tough, and I'm glad I don't have to make the final decisions, because I'd keep all DBs [defensive backs], and we'd have about two wide receivers." (laughter)
How encouraged have you been with what you've seen from CB Tavon Young in his return over the course of the summer? (Garrett Downing) "I think every day, it gets better. Every day it gets better. And it's just like how I made mention about how much better DeShon [Elliott] is moving. It sometimes takes two years, and I think that his progress has really been impressive. I don't know when he'll be 100%, but he's pretty darn close. And I still think back to the Carolina practices; I thought he really competed well and was moving well."
Along those lines, the team traded CB Shaun Wade a couple days ago, and people pointed to the depth at the slot position – just being able to cover guys. Do you feel pretty confident about whoever has to step in there? (Jonas Shaffer) "Oh, yes, yes. I feel really confident."
Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman
Opening statement: "Hello, everybody. How is everybody doing? Everyone good? Good. We're excited moving towards the regular season. Guys are really working hard. We had a really productive week last week. We got some things accomplished [that] we wanted to get accomplished, and now all eyes are on the beginning of the regular season. I really like everybody's focus. Everybody is really dialed in. I mean, it's the regular season. Everybody is going to be jumping out of their skin that opening week; it's exciting. Any questions?"
With RB J.K. Dobbins being put on IR, RB Gus Edwards kind of is the next running back up. What impresses you the most about RB Gus Edwards? What gives you the confidence that he can step up into that role? (Jamison Hensley) "We've had confidence in Gus [Edwards], really, since his rookie season. I mean, he was an undrafted player that really impressed us. He made his way onto the roster in the regular season, and he's done nothing but impress since. He's our kind of guy. He's really built for what we do. He's going to get more of a workload now, not to say that it won't still be a committee. But Gus is definitely going to get a lot of work, and we feel great about that."
We saw last game QB Tyler Huntley play with 100% confidence. Have you ever thought about having both QB Lamar Jackson and QB Tyler Huntley in on the same play at the same time? (David Andrade) "You want me to show my hand? You want me to put my cards on the table on that?" (Reporter: "Just like last year with 'RG3' [Robert Griffin III].") "Oh, yes. It's possible. It's possible. Anything is possible, but Tyler [Huntley] played really well. The Carolina game was the first time he was a starter, and that's different. It's just … It is. So, you really saw him learn from all that he went through that week. He's gotten a tremendous amount of work this spring and summer, and we really like where he's going. He played a great game the other night, and he just came back to work looking to get better. But those things loom – they could show up."
When you said running back by committee, RB Gus Edwards … Who else is in the mix there? Are you confident in all the guys that are fighting for roster spots? (Todd Karpovich) "Anybody that's in the locker room, in my mind, I factor them in. If they're in the locker room, we're planning for them. So, all the guys – every one of them. And over the course of the long season, most likely they'll all play."
You've talked a few times this offseason about wanting to throw the ball more to the running backs. Now with RB J.K. Dobbins out of the picture, do you feel like that part of your offense that you were really trying to introduce more this year, can you still do that? Or how do you feel about that? (Ryan Mink) "The bottom line in this league is using your players to the best of their ability in such a way that allows them to be successful. J.K. [Dobbins] was really making strides in that area. So, it would definitely be a more concerted focus in that area. That's something we're going to have to work through. I feel great about the guys we have, and I think you'll definitely see us … When the defense tells us to throw it to the [running] backs, we will."
I know you're very familiar with WR Sammy Watkins, but how challenging has it been the last couple of weeks kind of balancing wanting to get him as right as possible physically, but also building chemistry, especially with QB Lamar Jackson having missed the first 10 days of camp? (Luke Jones) "I think the No. 1 thing is his health and welfare and availability. So, that's No. 1. Sammy [Watkins] has played this game. He really knows our offense really well. He's been really dialed in in meetings and whatnot. So, let's get him back. Let's get him 100% ready to roll, and then let's go. But would you like him out there? Sure, but we'll be just fine."
In terms of the offensive line, how are you feeling about that sort of chemistry aspect that you've talked about – the gelling? (Childs Walker) "I think it's starting to come together. We really felt like we were maybe a little behind before the Carolina game. I felt like we started to really push that area, and I'm seeing it come together. You're always fighting for five guys out there at all times. I've been fortunate enough, for a few years, to have that happen, and it's always the best-case scenario. But we really like our collection of offensive linemen, and we have a lot of depth, we feel. Everybody is getting better, so I like where we're at right now."
Everyone talks about QB Lamar Jackson and talks about the evolution of the passing game. What strides have you seen out of QB Lamar Jackson this summer and what he's done to make those strides in the passing game? (Jamison Hensley) "Lamar [Jackson] is growing all the time. Not only mechanically and whatnot, but again, the quarterback's checklist of things to improve on is pretty wide and pretty deep. So, he's been really improving in a lot of areas. We're pushing the envelope in certain areas, and he's really handling it well. I think he has a really good grasp of the offense and what we're trying to get done, but really, all areas. Getting better in one area, but not focusing on the other area, that's not a winning edge, either. So, he's really focusing on everything about the position."
RB Gus Edwards
Obviously, you never want to see a teammate go down, but when you have the opportunity to be the No. 1 running back, is this the opportunity that someone like you was always hoping for? (Jamison Hensley) "It's a great opportunity. It's really unfortunate what happened. My feelings go out to J.K. [Dobbins]. I know how hard he worked this season, and just to see how hard he's been practicing, it's really unfortunate. I'm ready to do whatever is asked of me. I'm ready to step up."
How much have you talked to him since the injury, and what have those conversations been like? (Luke Jones) "I've just been checking on him. He seems to be in a good place. Knowing the type of worker he is, he's going to come back better, he's going to come back hungrier. I'm pretty sure he's disappointed, but it's just going to make him hungrier."
I know that you've been confident that you could be the workhorse running back, independent of this injury to RB J.K. Dobbins. How eager are you to show that this year, knowing that there is going to be a lot on your shoulders? (Garrett Downing) "I'm ready for it. This is what you put the work in to do. I never considered myself a backup. I know that Coach Roman [offensive coordinator Greg Roman] does a great job at using what we have and putting that to work. I've been ready."
How do you and the other running backs' styles complement each other? (David Andrade) "I think one aspect we all have is the physical aspect. I think we have what we need for this offense. That's why these guys are here – because they fit the offense well – and we're ready to prove ourselves."
Can you speak to what you've seen from RB Ty'Son Williams, as he's come on this preseason? Obviously, he's going to get an opportunity, as well. (Childs Walker) "Since we signed him last year, he's been doing a great job in practice. Everybody gets to see how hard he runs now. He makes a lot of good decisions, and he's going to do a lot of good things for us this year."
How do you look at your pass-catching ability, and how much further that's come along for you in the offseason and even last season? (Ryan Mink) "It's something I work on every single day. In this offense, to be one of the better backs, you have to do that. It's something I've been working on, and I'm excited to show that.
Do you feel faster out there? We can see you, physically. Do you feel a little bit different out there this year? (Ryan Mink) "Yes, I feel great. I feel like I'm in the best shape I've been in, and I've just got to show it."
This is an emotional day for a lot of NFL teams, as the roster gets cut down to 53 players, and you've been on both sides of this thing. What is it like for players in the locker room, as you go through this process, knowing that for a lot of guys, this is a difficult day? (Garrett Downing) "I feel like it's hard, but the point is that you have to do everything that you can do to make the team, and once you do that, you should be able to just live with the fact that you put everything on the line. I think we've had a great camp. A lot of guys showed that they can play in this league, and they can make plays when their name is called upon. I'm just excited, because I feel like a lot of good things are going to come out of this team."