“I’ll tell you the injuries. [S Jaquiski] Tartt, [LB Reuben] Foster and [WR] Pierre [Garçon] are going to be out. Everyone else is good.”
TE George Kittle and C/G Weston Richburg are okay?
“Yep, good to go.”
With Kittle’s chest, was that a concern this week, him being in the non-contact jersey where you may have to keep an eye on him?
“Yes. It’s been a concern for a few weeks. He got a hit last week, it hurt, got a few extra days of rest so that’s a benefit for us. But, yeah it’s something that you’re always concerned about.”
Rueben’s been listed this week with just the hamstring. Is the shoulder not an issue anymore for him?
“Yes. The hamstring is why he’s not playing.”
Do you look at the bye week as an opportunity? Did that factor into the decision, just the fact that he could have two weeks?
“No. If he could play this week, he would. The bye week will definitely help him. I’d be very surprised if he wasn’t ready after that, gaining a week. I would think he would have a chance to play next week. But, he’s definitely not ready to go this week.”
With RB Matt Breida, how much did his durability, particularly for his size, factor into your interest in him?
“Just through the draft and everything?”
“Not much. He was durable in college. He played a lot. We thought he was a real good runner, a guy that we definitely thought was draftable. We thought he would be around there late and we went a few directions there in the sixth and seventh round. But, he’s one of the guys you’re watching every pick saying, ‘Man, I hope that guy gets to free agency.’ Then, if you have one of those extra sevens or things, or went a different direction, we definitely would have grabbed him. But, we felt very fortunate he lasted.”
Were you aware that he hadn’t missed a game since high school?
“I didn’t. I don’t remember that off the type of my head. I’m sure we talked about it, but durability wasn’t an issue. From what I remember, just with you asking me this since it was two years ago, from what I remember he had very good numbers and stats and then they went really down his last year. I think that’s why he went a little bit under the radar because of numbers, which you do hear about, but that’s usually the last thing you hear about. We just put the tape on and watch it. You think he’s going to be way up there and then you try to figure out why one one’s talking about him. From what I remember, I think it was because his numbers took a big decline his last year. I could be wrong, but that’s what I think.”
With this being QB Nick Mullens’ first full week in full-speed reps, full-time here, what kind of impressions did he make on you?
“Real good. Like I said last week, Nick’s a machine with every opportunity he gets. He is out there, he is dialed in. He takes advantage of every opportunity. Showed some clips earlier in the week of where he was last year on this exact date on a Wednesday, whatever that date was. We were running a play on the field and it wasn’t him getting the rep because he was at middle-third safety and I was showing him. I was like, ‘How did you get better that day?’ Then, there were clips of him after practice throwing that clip on air. Then, the next clip was a year later to the day and we were running the same play but he was actually playing quarterback instead of safety, or not on a field by himself throwing to air. He always finds a way to get work and he works the same way every day. I’m sure it’s a lot more fun for him and better work that he’s got the other 10 guys out there he’s going to be working with on Monday.”
Last week, recovery was such a huge concern given the time span. Now that you’ve had all this time, how big of a difference do you see in the guys?
“The guys are a lot fresher. Just having a longer week helped us. I know we’re going to get it more with our bye week. It’s a very fine line because we’ve been waiting a long time to get a chance to recover and our guys have really needed it. It’ll help us. I think that’s why we don’t have as many guys questionable right now. They’re going to get a lot more next week, but I wasn’t as concerned with recovery this week because we got a few days off this weekend. I thought we had as hard of practices as we’ve had this weekend. We needed to. One, because we were capable of it, and two, because we’re not going to get a lot of practice time next week.”
Did the air quality affect you guys the last couple days, outside of changing the practice time?
“Yes, it affected us because when we changed the practice time we had to cut stuff out. So, we cut about half of our walk through out, a number of plays out. We were afraid the air quality was going to get worse as the day went, so we cut out some of our individual time, routes on air, things like that and just tried to get to the plays. It didn’t change the schedule a ton, but definitely made it a little different.”
That was yesterday?
“That was yesterday.”
“Today was alright. The air quality was still there, but it was actually a little better from what I was told than it was yesterday. We didn’t have to cut anything because Friday, a real football Friday is usually a shorter practice anyways and starts earlier anyways.”
You’re not anticipating anything Monday night in terms of possible postponement?
“I know it’s a possibility because I definitely understand what’s going on. Just hearing about it the last two days and last night, when I got home my wife showed me some of the videos that were going on. You know how bad it is, then you see it and it’s unbelievable. It’s affected a ton of people on our team, I know everyone through California. Obviously our prayers go out to all those people because that is probably the most important thing going on in our country right now, that we’ve got to get that fixed, because it’s scary and it’s a real deal. I know how many people it’s affected in this building, so I can’t imagine around the state. As far as the game on Monday, I don’t know. We’re ready to play and I don’t plan on things changing. If they do, it’s because it needs to. We’ll wait until someone tells us what we’re doing after and we’ll be ready to do it.”
Some of the timing from snap to throw for Nick, the advanced numbers that came out were the lowest in the league this year or second-lowest. Was that a product of the game plan, a lot of quick passes, or is that a testament to him having a really quick release?
“I think it was everything. On a couple plays, I’m sure it was Nick having a really good release, getting it out fast. On a few plays, it was guys getting pretty open pretty quick. The way the game went, there wasn’t a lot of stuff that you had to do later in the game going down the field and things like that to try to get back in it. We had a pretty good lead, so we were able to be pretty conservative with that. Nick played very well and did some good things. I wish it could be like that all the time. But, it’s not always just up to the quarterback. You’ve got to have good situations and play well as a team.”
When you sit in the room with a quarterback, how would you compare working with, building the game plan, how much of when you are constructing the game plan do you sit there with Nick, with the quarterback? Do you make it and then talk to him and integrate him with it?
“No, you make it and then you talk to them. You hope they’re watching it on their own on Mondays and Tuesdays. Coaches get ahead and we’ve got a little bit more to do to cover. But, I don’t really talk to them until Wednesday. He’ll come in Friday afternoon, meet with [quarterbacks coach] Rich [Scangarello], our quarterback coach, and see where we’re at with the game plan, ask him some questions, they’ll talk. Sometimes, Nick didn’t do it this week, but sometimes the quarterback will come in and speak to me about some things. It depends on what the day is, what the questions are. But, it’s usually Wednesday.”
Does he have some feedback after he first sees it and then you kind of tinker with it from there?
“Yeah. I hope every player has feedback. A lot of guys don’t really have feedback until they go out and rep it. It’s more, Wednesday you put a ton of stuff in. They kind of just sit there in a room like this. We get up and diagram it, show clips of it, they try to soak it all in. You go out and walk through it, come back in, have lunch, talk to you guys. Then, you go out for a practice and you rep it. Then, you talk about it but not too much because you just want them to play it, see how it is and then you come in and you watch the film. That’s where I sit with the quarterbacks and Rich and we talk about every play and what happened at practice today. ‘Do you need to rep this again later in the week? Do you not like this? Why don’t you like it? You’re right, it sucks. Let’s take this out. Or, no, we got the wrong look. Let’s try it again tomorrow and show you something different.’”
What progress have you seen from DB Tyvis Powell and S Marcell Harris?
“Those guys have done a great job. Marcell, it’s been a tough road for him. He wanted to come and help us right away coming off his Achilles from his last year in college. It was tough. He’s been itching to get out there every second. Tried in training camp, wasn’t quite ready. He’s been waiting so hard for the day he could come out and practice. I know it was a couple weeks ago. The time he got to come out and practice, I think it was the Green Bay week, was his first time. We had too many guys down on offense. I think we had like eight starters out not able to practice that week. So, we had to walk through. It was torture for Marcell because he had been waiting so long to come out and practice, and his first practice back was a walk through. He had to wait for that. Then, last week we had to walk through because of the Thursday night game. He’s been working, he’s itching to get out there. It was cool that he got out there and got to play a little bit last week. Hopefully, we’ll see him a little bit more as we go. Powell, he’s done a great job for us coming in playing corner to start off, moving him to safety to see if he had a chance to help us at the end of training camp. He’s come a long way in just learning what to do in a short amount of time and giving us some versatility in the secondary and also on special teams.”
Where do things stand at WILL linebacker? Were you rotating LB Elijah Lee and LB Malcolm Smith?
“No, we weren’t rotating him. There were a few things that happened with Malcolm during the game where he needed to take a couple series off. But, no, we’re not trying to rotate Malcolm. Malcolm is a real good player. It was fun to have him out there, especially at that position. That’s what he does best. No, there’s just things that came up in the game where he needed a few plays off.”
What’s been your experience playing against teams that are coming off their bye week? Is there any rhyme or reason? Do they have extra energy or anything like that?
“I mean, it can go either way. I’d rather them not be coming off their bye week if I had to pick. I don’t know exactly every one. But, you don’t like guys having more time and you don’t like guys being more rested. But, this is the first time we’re a little bit more rested, too, and had a little bit more time. Sometimes, that can be an advantage. Sometimes, it can be a disadvantage. There’s times you have more time to overthink stuff and you put too much stuff in and you water a game plan down. So, there’s no absolute to it. But, if I had to pick, I’d rather people have to play us the day after they played and have no time to prepare.”
Have you decided which running back you could elevate or will elevate to the active roster for Monday?
“Yes, we have decided. But, I haven’t told them yet. So, I apologize. I would, but it’s recorded and I’ve got to tell them first.”
Have you had an opportunity to speak with assistant strength & conditioning coach Shane Wallen or chat at all, given that his father’s house--?
“Yes. I saw him on the field for the first time today. There’s not a lot you can say. I just told him we’re glad his parents are alright. You lose a house, it’s a big deal, as everyone knows. Fortunately, they’re okay. But, I know Shane’s going through that and a lot of people in our state are going through it. We’ll be here for Shane as much as we can be, but it’s something that’s going to take time to fix.”
Have your players been affected at all from having worked out with that air quality?
“They haven’t mentioned it to me. I don’t think so. But, I don’t know. I think every person is different. From what I hear, people with asthma and stuff it affects more. My wife doesn’t have that and I know it was hurting her eyes when I got home last night, she had a headache. I think everybody’s different. But, no, none of them came to me and said, ‘We’ve got to get out right now.’ If they did, we would have.”