Head Coach Joe Judge
November 27, 2020
Q: (Xavier) McKinney, his progress during the week, do we expect to see him Sunday?
A: I’m going to give him one more day of moving around out there. I would say I’m encouraged with the way he’s moved around and looked so far. The little bit that we were able to see of him rehabbing before this, he looked like he was in shape to come back. I’d say that everything has been on track with him being on a timely return. Today is going to be a big day for him in terms of situations and how he can handle it. There’s more to it than just being able to run around out there. We have to make sure mentally he can fire on the same page as everybody else. But we’re going to make the decision after practice today.
Q: Tae Crowder, how’s he looking for Sunday?
A: Tae’s been very similar in terms of Xavier. He’s had a good week of practice. We’ve worked him in, we’ve bracketed him in with some other guys in case he can’t go that we can get somebody else involved in that spot as well. But he’s taken his share of reps. We’re really looking to see right now how he responds from a harder day yesterday and see where he’s at physically. That kind of tells the tale of a lot of these guys coming off the IR, is how their body bounces back so we can see what kind of shape they’re really in so that we don’t put them out there in a position to be hurt again. But I’m encouraged with how he’s moving around.
Q: I saw Logan Ryan is leading the voting for free safeties in the NFC for the Pro Bowl. Obviously you had a relationship with him before he got here. What has been his impact on this team and on this locker room? It seems like he’s really kind of taken to his role as a leader on a young team.
A: First off, I don’t keep up with the voting. But I would say this, I’d say this guy is very deserving of everything he’s earned. He really impacts our team on and off the field in a very positive manner. I’d say on the field, it starts with his communication. That really ties a lot of things together back there. You really have to call the defense from the backend on a lot of things we do, and he’s kind of the unifying voice on a lot of the sets we have. That being said, he’s developed a very good relationship with his teammates back there, whether it be Julian (Love) or (Jabrill) Peppers or the corners who are working on the perimeter. He’s really done a good job of getting everyone on the same page. I’d say that being said, he ties in a lot of experience not only in this system, but just in the league in general and builds in some of that savviness that allows him to do different things within the concept. He’s a fun guy to watch at practice because Pat (Graham) can install a concept, and he knows where he’s got to get to on the snap or post-snap. He may show it a little bit different pre-snap, but he knows where he’s getting to. You have to kind of let him go ahead and be a player and let him kind of have a little bit artistic freedom, if you would, right there. Look, this guy in terms of being a player, he has good instincts, he has good production for us, he’s a good tackler for us, he’s tough as nails, and he’s been able to overcome a lot of adversity off the field. I’d just say he’s a guy that we love having in this program. He’s a very good player for us, he’s a very good leader in the locker room. I can’t say enough positive things about him.
Q: Any fines for the day after weigh-in? Do the coaches have to get on the scale too or what? How does that go?
A: Well, if the coaches jump on, everyone’s Christmas is going to be a little bit worse off, so we’re going to kind of lay off that right now. No, we’re going to check in with (Craig) Fitz(gerald) and their staff in a little bit, kind of check on the guys. For the most part, I think all of our guys have been pretty good. Most of the guys, the staff here for the most part had to-go boxes ready to go. I saw most guys walking out with that. We kind of encourage them to take more than their heaping helping to go home with, so they did pretty good with that.
Q: How have you seen the offensive linemen respond this week with a new coach and given the last two weeks and what’s happened?
A: No different than any other week. These guys have come to work every week, they’ve worked hard, been very resilient. Right now, their focus is on the Bengals, and that’s what the entire team’s focus has been on right there. They’ve had a good week of practice. We have a very important day today, so we have to come out today feeling confident going into the weekend. We don’t want to come out of this practice today with a lot of things we have to clean up. But they’ve come to work and had a real productive day.
Q: Your last two games, you played teams coming off the bye and beat them. What are the signs you look for as a head coach with teams coming off a bye? Are there danger signs with a team, just rust, getting out of the routine, because some teams do it well, some teams don’t? You just beat two teams who didn’t respond that well off a bye.
A: I think you can make too much of it sometimes. We’ve looked at that from both sides. We’ve kind of looked at it, what does Philly do coming out of a bye? What did Washington do coming out of a bye? All that stuff. You tie back into Ron’s (Rivera) history in Carolina, you look at what Doug (Pederson) has done in the past as well. To me, it’s all based on how you handle the game week. The bye is very important. It’s really important for getting physically refreshed, mentally refreshed. It’s also big for self-scout and getting a jumpstart on some of the opponents coming up. We did everything we were capable of doing last week to help the team. I’d say the biggest thing for me when you get into the game week of not kind of walking into it. You have to get back into working that routine you referenced, that’s very important to me. That being said, you can kind of slice it through the league, it’s probably close to fifty-fifty across the board in terms of teams coming out of bye weeks, and I think that’s more about how they prepare in that game week, and then execute for those 60 minutes on Sunday, more than the week off beforehand.
Q: Is rust an excuse or is that not a part of your vocabulary?
A: No, there is no excuse to that at all. Everyone has a bye week at some point. We don’t write anything off just saying that something is going to be an excuse. We have to use it to our advantage. It’s up to us to come to play with the right mentality.
Q: Any update on Graham’s (Gano) status?
A: I think we should get to see him a little bit today out there kicking. He was with the trainers independently yesterday swinging his leg a little bit. I just asked him how he felt today. He said he felt good overall. I’m going to watch and see how sore he may or may not be and obviously see him. He wasn’t backing up too far in the hotel room to test his range. We’ll have to kind of move him around a little bit today of we’re allowed to. I’m going to check with Ronnie (Barnes) in a second. Very optimistic about his chances this weekend. We’ll see where he is though.
Q: As far as the O-line, do you want to have a rotation at guard on Sunday?
A: Yeah, absolutely. Again, like the same thing I have talked about before, we want to play all of our guys. Keep them fresh, keep them rotating. We feel we have multiple capable players at those positions. We’re going to go ahead and use them all.
Q: You had guys out there the other day in old-time jerseys. We heard the story behind that. You’re a guy who is very into the moment. Why is it important for you to talk about the past and bring up the past?
A: Yeah, that’s just something that’s very personally important to me. When I came to this organization, that’s something I expressed with ownership. They looked at it the same way. To me, the history of this organization is very important. It’s very important for all of our players coming in here to understand that this team has been here a lot longer than they have been around. It’s up to us to understand the history of this organization and who has come before us to make this a great place to be. We can’t walk freely through the building all the time right now, but there’s signs all around our building about the area. That’s very important. We want to embrace where we live and represent the area. There’s pictures and there’s sayings all over the building that reference players who came before, coaches who came before. It’s important that we understand who those players are and why they’re significant. Who those coaches are and why they’re significant. Again, it’s up to us and it’s our responsibility to understand who those great players are. It would be absolutely devastating if we ever had a current player run into a guy who’s in the Ring of Honor and not understand who he is or why he’s significant. Those guys have made tremendous contributions. Every one of us is working at this point to do something to make a contribution to this organization long term.
Q: Where did you get the idea for this?
A: Actually, I was talking with Kevin Abrams at one point. I think it was last week or the week before. He brought it up, I thought it was a good idea. We kind of bounced it off each other in terms of how we can tie it together and how it would work. It kind of evolved into using the practice players of the week. We had been putting them in different color jerseys to kind of just signify what they are. I thought maybe it’s a good idea to put them in some really significant jerseys. We have no names on our jerseys, that’s by design. The name that you put on your back, it’s not yours, you have to represent that player in terms of how they played and how they practiced on a daily basis.
Q: Will (James) Bradberry be at practice today? Are you expecting him to play? Who is your third tackle if it’s not Matt Peart?
A: We’re still mapping out the third tackle position. We’re rolling through Chad Slade, (Jackson) Barton, and (Kenny) Wiggins and a few other guys. We have multiple options at the third tackle. We’ll look and see how that shakes out today. In terms of Bradberry, yes, we do expect him at practice today. All signs would indicate that he should play for us. Obviously, we’ll give every player the opportunity to go out there and practice and show it today at practice. He had a personal issue. I’m not going to go into his personal issue publicly. Something we encouraged him to go ahead and take part of. He was able to arrange it, that he stayed within the cadence, he followed all the rules. He was back last night. He’s been in all the zoom meetings for install throughout the week. In terms of meeting wise, he hasn’t missed anything with us. He’s obviously missed the on-field practice time. This is something right here we want to make sure that he can take care of. It’s very important to us.