Head Coach Joe Judge
September 3, 2020
Q: I didn’t see David Sills out there. I’m wondering if there’s something going on with him injury wise or otherwise? Then when you come down to your 53-man roster, after the top three receivers, it seems like almost everybody else has made a play. I’m wondering if that’s a position you’ve identified as maybe the hardest to chop down?
A: Every position is hard. We have to give consideration to what every player has done in camp. Everyone showed a level of improvement. We have to think long-term in terms of where this takes our team. Specifically with David, he was with the trainers today. We’ll get a further update on him later, see where he’s at with everything. They wanted to check him out for something. When we have more information, you’ll have more information.
Q: This is your first time in this situation. How do you plan on handling the next two days with the cuts and all? Also, another guy, we didn’t see Blake Martinez out there. We haven’t seen him the last few days really in live drills. What’s the level of concern on him and how’s he doing?
A: Blake was out there today. He did some of the early stuff for us, the individuals. We had some monitoring things with a lot of our players today. We wanted to get some guys limited snaps, some guys we thought it was best to take a load off their legs. We’re at a point, we really pushed these guys through training camp. We’re going to have a turnaround going into next week. It’ll be a longer week getting ready for Pittsburgh. We made a decision on each individual player where we thought they were today and what we’ll do moving forward. But Blake was out there.
Q: What are the next 48 hours going to be like for you? How is this process going to play out?
A: It’ll be busy. It’s our responsibility as we’ve been working throughout camp, it’s not the first time we’re going to talk personnel. It’s not going to be the first time we will have the specific conversations we’re going to have over the next 48 hours. We just want to make sure we do all of our diligence to get every player the right evaluation, to think long-term in terms of what this team is going to be like throughout the season, what meets our needs, where our depth is. Ultimately, we’re looking to keep as many good players in our program as possible. That’s true for our 53-man roster, the practice squad, and whatever other means we have. It’s going to be busy, but we’ve done a lot of leg work on the front end, giving everybody a fair opportunity every day. We just want to make sure we take our time to review everything and make sure we make the right decisions.
Q: This is the second time you’ve been in the stadium with the crowd noise or whatever you want to call it, background noise. What are your thoughts on that, and then along the same lines, what are your thoughts on the fact that there’s going to be different attendance guidelines? You go to Dallas, there’s going to be fans, but at home games there won’t be. What are your thoughts on that?
A: I’ve said from the beginning, fans are a crucial part of this game. I love playing in front of fans. Home crowds are great. It’s great going in front of visiting crowds that are booing you, too. To be honest with you, I’m looking forward to getting into any stadium we can where there’s people in there cheering, booing, whatever they’re doing. It brings a lot of energy and excitement to what we do on a Sunday. I’d say in terms of being in the stadium with the noise itself, you can notice it more in warmups, whether it’s songs or that ambient noise. I’d say regardless of what’s in the stands, really once you get zeroed in on game action, it’s you, the guys on the sideline you’re communicating with and the players on the field you’re watching. You really lose any consciousness of what’s going on in the stands. You really get zeroed in. It’s kind of that… whatever you want to call it, you kind of eliminate all the background noise.
Q: You wrap up your first training camp. Obviously, it’s unlike any other. Is the team where you want it to be right now?
A: They’ve made a lot of progress this camp. I’m very proud with how they’ve worked on a daily basis. I couldn’t tell you how pleased I am with their urgency, their attention to detail, and their willingness to work the way we want them to. That’s key. They’ve been fun to coach. I look forward to keeping coaching these guys right here. Obviously, we’re always looking for further improvement. You never arrive, you’re never really where you want to be, no matter what level you’re at. We’re going to keep pushing, correcting from mistakes, emphasize where our strengths are and making sure we use those to create matchups in our favor. But I’m pleased on how they’ve worked in this training camp.
Q: What’s your schedule like? Are you going to bring them back on Monday?
A: Yeah, so the players, based on rules and the off days, we’ll see the players again on Monday. They’ll have access to the facilities as far as treatment, meals and things like that. But as coaches, we’ll see them all Monday. We’ll have a squad meeting in a little bit to kind of close it out. Have a meal with these guys, cut them loose, let them get a little bit of rest. They’re going to have to test on a daily basis still for the next few days, so they’ll still be around. As coaches, we’ll be around as well. We have a weekend worth of work to get going. But at the same time, I want to make sure the coaches get some time this evening and one of these days this weekend to see their families, sleep in a little bit, get some rest and kind of make sure we recharge before we go into a tough stretch.
Q: You’ve sort of kept everybody so busy that there wasn’t time to get into trouble. Not trouble but to find cracks in the COVID bubble that you guys have built here. Are you worried now with a few days off that these guys are going to be out, going to restaurants and doing other things?
A: I’d say to this point our players have really demonstrated the awareness that they have to have to keep the team in mind with all of the decisions that we have in front of us. I’m proud of the way they’ve done that. I’m proud of how they’ve worked on a daily basis to deal with the protocols and keep our team healthy. I’d say that I trust our team to make the right decisions. We talk a lot about that. We emphasize it. They give me no reason to think otherwise at this point. Obviously, we have a three-day stretch where we’re away from each other. But they’ll be testing. We’ll make sure we’re monitoring the health of the team throughout the time period away.
Q: As you put this roster together over the next several hours, couple days or whatnot, how much goes into the planning of the opponents who you have coming up because I’m going to imagine you’re probably going to bring guys up and down from the practice squad, maybe do a little shuffling, how much of that factors into the roster planning?
A: Well, you can’t build a roster for any one game. The thing you have to keep in mind is there are 16 games, multiple opponents. I think by nature, you build your roster most for your division initially. But that’s going to change throughout the season. Throughout stretches, you’re going to have opportunities to bring people up from the practice squad, you’re going to deal with injuries, you’re going to deal with sickness. A lot of things you’re going to deal with throughout the year. Really the biggest thing we’re working on as far as building this roster is building the versatility on both sides of the ball, and that factors into the kicking game as well. If we have good versatility, that will allow for us to have multiple game plans and schemes so we can match opponents and deal with different situations we’re going to face.
Q: You mentioned at the start that you wanted a team that was tough and represented the area. Do you feel that your team is at that point yet or are they still a work in progress?
A: What I see with our team right now is they come out to work every day and they play with a tough mentality. When I think of hard work and I think of tough, I think of the people in this area. Look, we’re going to improve, we’re going to keep making strides. We’re never where we want to be, we’re always going to work to be better. But I think the mentality they’re bringing to work every day reflects where we are.
Q: I think you guys have signed or added something like five guys in the last two days. I’m just curious what the thought process of doing that right at the end of camp like this is, because it’s a little harder to evaluate those guys, obviously? Do you anticipate being active after cutdowns, because obviously, a lot of players become available at that point?
A: I just think it’s a natural part of the NFL. There’s always roster turnover. This time of year, you deal with some injuries on your roster, there are some guys who can’t finish camp, so you look to bring guys in and take a quick look at them. Where we go beyond that, is it a roster spot, a practice squad spot, are they on the emergency list to bring back? Each player has an individual situation that he’ll deal with and that we’ll deal with. But the idea is to get a look at as many players as you can so you know who’s out there when you need them.