Wide Receivers Coach Tyke Tolbert -- July 28, 2019
Q: With your young players, is it more important for your group to have their technique, alignment, assignment down and the playmaking part of it will take of itself?
A: I think anytime you get on this level, youíve been a playmaker before so Iím not so concerned about them being playmakers as much as you said and just get up there, know the assignment, know the alignment, and play hard. We have a thing in our room that says, ĎMaster the things that require no talent.í What is that? Assignment, alignment, (and) technique. (If itís) those things they focus on, the playmaking ability will take care of itself.
Q: Thereís a chance you might not have Golden (Tate) for the first four weeks. How do you balance putting him out there, and getting his time with Eli (Manning) versus maybe getting some of the other guys ready in the event that you donít have him to start the year?
A: Well, in my mind, he will be ready for Week One. I know he has a deal going on, and an appeal and all of that. Weíll let it play itself out, but I have to go with what I know today. What I know today is that heís out there, heís practicing with the ones, and heíll continue to practice with the ones. If something else changes, but up until then, I think itís coming up pretty quick, weíll know then and weíll make adjustments then. But as of right now, weíre going to go status-quo.
Q: What do you lose if heís not there?
A: His experience and his playmaking ability. Heís a playmaker. Like I said, all those guys are playmakers. They come here, and theyíve been playmakers before. If you happen to lose someone, regardless of who it is, but talking about Golden, you lose a playmaker. I hope that wonít happen, but if things can be possible at this point in time weíll just let it play itself out with the league.
Q: How do you keep the room from being deflated with the bad luck that you guys have had with the injuries?
A: Thereís no deflation at all. Actually, the guys have more excitement in the room because those guys who normally hadnít had the opportunity to have a lot of reps get a lot of reps now. They can showcase their ability. Actually, thereís a little bit more excitement in the room than I would expect there to be because the guys are more excited about the extra reps theyíll be getting. Iím excited equally about coaching those guys. Weíll give some other guys some other reps, who donít normally get as many reps. Now you get to coach them more, give them more reps, and it makes it exciting.
Q: When you bring in somebody brand new, like TJ Jones, do you spend a lot of time with them on the playbook and getting them up to speed or is a lot of that on the player and getting themselves to a certain point?
A: Itís a combination, but I spend extra time with him. Either early in the morning before special teams, and sometimes in the afternoon. TJís a pro, heís been around five to six years now, and heís an inside- outside type of guy. Heíll bring some veteran leadership to our team, and simply make an impact on our team. Heís also been a punt returner as well, so that helps.
Q: I think he averaged 12 yards per catch in his career so far. What did you guys see out of him in the workout or maybe on film, that made him stand out?
A: All of the guys that worked out had a pretty good workout. They really did. I told them when they finished, ĎYouíre going to make the decision tough for the decision makers,í because Iím definitely not a decision maker. But he had some good feet to him, you could see him outside, inside, getting out of cuts, catching the ball, and all of those things. He has good size. Having played in the NFL, too, also helped because he has some game experience. You canít discount game experience.
Q: Do you feel like you need somebody with that kind of experience given how inexperienced the backend of your depth chart is now?
A: No, we worked out together and we signed the best guys who we thought did best at the workout, regardless of experience. It just so happened that one of them was TJ who has game experience.
Q: More on TJ JonesÖ
A: No. Again, in my experience with him was only really in the workout. I never had to study him. Coming out of college, I studied him, but as far as him being on another team, I donít study other receivers. Iím too busy doing other stuff on my team. But at the workout, he had a really good workout, and we just picked the best guys that were available to us.
Q: How far does a rookie fall behind, like Darius Slayton, when he canít get on the field early in camp and stands there watching?
A: As a young rookie, you wish he was on the field more. He is very involved. Heís in my hip pocket the whole time during walk-throughs, practice, and everything. Heís asking for the play, heís telling me what he does during the play. Actually, heís telling me the whole concept because I teach guys concepts, not positions. But thereís nothing like doing it. Weíre going to get him up to speed as quick as we can once he gets back out there. How far away is he? I canít tell you that, thatís a question for the training staff. Whenever he is ready to be out there, obviously he is going to get thrown into the fire really quick.
Q: Coach said, Ďsooní:
A: Soon sounds good to me (laughter).
Q: How would you categorize him based off how he did in the spring? It seems like he took decent strides in the spring:
A: Big time. As a matter of fact, itís funny that you mentioned that. A lot of the tapes we are watching right now of installs, of guys who were here in the spring, and a lot of the plays we are showing the whole team now, are plays that he made. It stands out, itís noticeable all of the plays he was making throughout the spring. We are waiting for him to get healed, get out there and be full speed so we can coach him back up again and run the routes.
Q: Are you showing veterans a play that a rookie made?
Q: How much will he be near the top of the list if heís healthy, if you are down some of the other guys?
A: Itís hard to say because everyone is improving, like I mentioned when I first started. All of these young guys are excited about the opportunity of getting all these reps. When they are all battling, itís hard to mention or say something about a guy who is not out there right now at this point in time. Once he gets out there and gets up to speed, weíll see. At the end of the day, weíre going to play the best player, whoever they are.
Q: In your experience when you have a rookie who has done well in the spring and over the summer, do you find a lot of times once the games start in preseason it separates them a little bit and you see things going too fast for them with physical contact? Do you kind of have to take a step back off them?
A: No, because we practice with pros every day. In all of the places Iíve been, our guys practice against some of the top cornerbacks in the NFL, All Pros, Pro Bowlers, whatever. It makes them better. Getting to the game situation, it actually makes it a little bit easier, because theyíve been practicing against elite guys the whole time. Not to discount other guys, or other corners. Every player in the NFL is a good player. A place that I was at before, we had elite Pro Bowlers year in and year out, and I had young guys and older guys practice against those guys. By the time they got to the game, they were already ready. Actually, it was a little bit slower for them.
Q: Is teaching concept and not position something that is more important in this league as opposed to in college?
A: Itís definitely more important in the league. In college you may have a team full of guys on scholarships and everybody has a position. In the NFL, how many guys you have, maybe five or six, and then you are going to have somebody up on game day. You may have four or five up on game day, and if John Doe busts a shoulder pad or something, then all of a sudden Jim Doe has to come in and play at that position. He canít say, ĎWell I canít play because Iím just an X or Z or F.í He has to go in and fill in. Thatís why I teach the whole concept, so whenever guys have to go in the game they canít say, ĎIím going in at this position or that position,í they can go in and fill in wherever it is.
Q: What has Alonzo Russell done so well in these first few days? Also, being 6-4 in a receiver room where itís a little smaller at the starting lineup, does it give him an edge?
A: Heís one of the guys I am talking about chomping at the bit getting these opportunities. What does he bring? He brings his size and ball skills. He can always run, he can always make plays on the ball, and at the end of last year, he became active. But what I was telling him throughout the course of the year, ĎItís not your ability to make plays on the ball and do things on offense, which I know you can do. Itís your ability to go out there and perform on special teams.í Thatís a role that younger guys have to play in order to be active on the roster and active on game day, itís be a special teams guy. He improved that greatly and he was worried about that. Being active the last game with the Cowboys, he has continued to improve, as you have seen throughout this training camp, making plays on the ball. I like where heís going.