Head Coach Pat Shurmur -- August 27, 2019
Q: Nate Solder?
A: He’s excused. I excused him today for personal reasons.
Q: I know it just happened, but any idea what happened to Alex Wesley?
A: Ankle. His ankle has been a little sore. They’re checking it out.
Q: How wide open is the backup tackle position? We saw guys like Paul Adams and Chad Slade in there today. I know (Nick) Gates has gone in and out.
A: We’re going to play this game out (on Thursday) and then we’re going to make a decision on who the backups are. It’s that wide open.
Q: What have you seen out of (Paul) Perkins this summer?
A: A lot of good things. I don’t know him as well as some, but he’s steadily improved. It’s fair to say that he was probably a little bit rusty when he first got back at it. But I think he’s made steady improvements throughout (training camp).
Q: You obviously like Corey Ballentine a lot to draft him out of a Division II school. But because of that background and what you’ve seen of him this summer, is he a little bit more advanced than you maybe thought he was? Are you happy with his advancement?
A: I don’t know that. There are certain positions where you can bring in a guy from a small school. They have the traits that you’re looking for. He’s a very mature young man. He’s very smart. He gets it. He understands the game and he works very hard. I think you draft the players with the idea that they’re all going to be successful, and be successful quickly, understanding that it’s going to take all of them a little bit of time. We’re pleased with the progress he’s making, for sure.
Q: Did that terrible incident teach you something about him looking back now?
A: I think anytime we have adversity in our life, it becomes part of us. You hate to see somebody go through that, but the way he’s handled it emotionally, mentally, his conversations (around) the building, asking for people to help him… He displayed to us that he’s a very smart, very mature young man. He’s got a great, really a high degree of toughness to him.
Q: Obviously Golden (Tate) will be out for the first four games, what is your comfort level with guys like (Cody) Latimer and (Bennie) Fowler, what you’ve seen from them and how important is Thursday night?
A: I’m very comfortable with the guys that we have. We’re going to put the roster together and get ready to go against Dallas. I’m comfortable. Obviously, we’re going to be able to see some things in this game, from the players that are playing, that will help us determine who’s on the 53 (man roster).
Q: What specifically do you like about Bennie and Cody?
A: There’s a veteran presence there. They know how to play the game. They played a lot of football, and there’s a confidence that they know what to do, they’ll compete and make plays.
Q: On a personal level, as a coach, you have to make decisions, but is it tough to sit down and look at a kid and say, ‘Your dream is over for now’ or whatever?
A: Yeah, I don’t usually say it that way. I think we’re all sort of real about what’s going on here. Every team has 90, and they’re going to get down to 53. Each one of those conversations is as different as the player that you’re talking to, because they’re all at different stages of their career. Some of them are older players, some of them are younger players, and the reality of it is that a lot of these players are going to get an opportunity hopefully someplace else, or maybe back here when our roster changes as the season goes on. We’re just open and honest about everything. We all go into it knowing that we’re going to have to have some of those conversations.
Q: What has your impression of C.J. Conrad been, and how much do you appreciate how much he’s had to come from the draft period and all that?
A: He’s done a good job. Again, another guy that’s gotten steadily better. We’re pleased with the progress he’s making. We’ll just see in the final analysis if he makes it or not.
Q: A year ago, Tae Davis made the team as an undrafted rookie, and now he’s pretty firmly entrenched, it looks like, as one of your starting inside linebackers. Can you talk about his arc?
A: He’s gotten better. He’s improved. I think we have a lot of young players that made a lot of improvements, because they were getting way more reps a year ago than they would normally get on some rosters. He took full advantage of that, and I think it’s helped him in this camp, for sure.
Q: When you’re watching tape getting ready for these preseason games, do you kind of note any guy in case he becomes available in the waiver period, or do you leave that for the personnel department?
A: No, I’m always looking at players and seeing which guys might be a good fit for us. We know a lot of these players because we’ve evaluated all of them as coaches, before the draft and then through the years playing against them. We have a pretty substantial scouting report on most of the guys that are in the league. We certainly, as coaches, have an opinion.
Q: If Rod Smith isn’t able to go (on Thursday), how do you evaluate his preseason with you guys, both on offense and on special teams?
A: We’re just going to have to see where it’s at. I think he’s done some good things. Up until when he got hurt last week, he made good improvement and steady progress. If he’s a member of our initial 53 (man roster), we’ll certainly have a role for him.
Q: I’m sorry if this is a repeat, but as the training camp portion of this wraps up, do you have a message for your team?
A: No, not specific. I do that as we go along. Today, I’m more focused on the issues of the day as we get ready to play the Patriots.