Head Coach Joe Judge
July 27, 2021
Opening Statement: Guys, I appreciate your patience. Good to be back with everybody, pseudo-back together. Tomorrow we get in person, that’s going to be a little bit more back to normal. Look, obviously we’re back in a process today, first day back in training camp. There’s a lot of logistics that go with reporting day. Right now, our players are still completing their physicals. We’ve had some team meetings in terms of some of the medical meetings and some of the logistics that go along with reporting day. Then, this afternoon, we’ll transition back over to football and get ready for tomorrow’s practice. That being said, I’ll answer any questions I can at this point with the information we have.
Q: A few guys popped up on the PUP list, [Offensive Lineman] Matt Peart being one of them. I know you don’t like talking about injuries, but can you talk about whether it’s a long-term injury? Does it look like it’s serious? Are you expecting him back soon?
A: I’d say, with all the guys that are on PUP, we just took the approach of anybody who’s not 100 percent from day one that we’re going to put them on the PUP list. This wasn’t anything unique to one player, just an approach we’re taking with every player. With the PUP list, we can pull them off at any point. We’re optimistic with all the players that are on it currently, they’re all working with our training staff and making a lot of progress. I’m not going over any one person’s individual injury at this moment, but I’ve got a lot of confidence in the way that he’s working and going day by day. Obviously, Matt’s doing everything he can to get back on the field as soon as possible. Whenever that is, we’ll make sure he’s ready to go.
Q: I know you don’t shy away from talking to your team about expectations. On Day 1, what kind of message do you give them about expectations and how forceful are you with those expectations?
A: In terms of forceful, I mean look, we have our standards in this organization that we’re not going to compromise for anybody. Look, it’s training camp. Our expectation is to get this team operating to develop good fundamentals, develop chemistry within the units and start getting some execution on all three phases of the ball going forward. This training camp is about getting our players in football shape, starting to have an identity as a team to build going forward and building this season and getting ourselves ready to go out and play.
Q: With [Wide Receiver] Kadarius Toney being in the COVID protocol, do you guys have a best-guess estimate on when he might get back on the field? If he does miss time early, how detrimental is that being a rookie and being hit or miss during the spring to him being ready for the year?
A: Well, he’s with us today in the building, so he’s back with us. We have a number of guys for different reasons that we’re actually going to take them a little bit slower. Obviously, coming off of that protocol as we learned last year with the number of players on our team throughout the season, we’re going to go and move them around the field and make sure that he’s ready to go, then we’ll start integrating with our team. We’re not going to go ahead and rush anything to get in the process. He’ll be in the meetings with all of our players. He’ll be able to go out there and operate in some of the – some of the meetings we get a little bit more on our feet. But in terms of practice itself, we’re not going to do anything with him on the field with the team until we know he’s fully ready to go. His timetable will be different, I’m sure, than a lot of the guys last year that we learned from. One thing we really took away from last year was these things are all very specific to each person, what their symptoms were or what their exposure was, but that time away from training is what’s critical.
Q: I know culture is very important to you. Do you start at sort of square one with this training camp or is there a building with what happened last year?
A: I think every year is its own year. When we started back in the spring in terms of our expectation, the standards of the organization, we started team building back in the spring even when we were just on Zoom before the players all got in here during that Phase 1 period. It’s something that we build on and carry over all the time. Look, there’s some things we’ve laid down as far as groundwork in Year One, but not all these players were here last year. So it’s important that we go ahead and start at ground zero for these players to understand everything that we expect them to do.
Q: In terms of the vaccination rate of the team, can you give us some insight into what the numbers are on the staff and with the players?
A: Well, every staff and coach is fully vaccinated. That, I can tell you. In terms of the team itself and the number rate, I’m not going to get into rates. I would say that since the end of spring, we’ve had a number of players who have either started or finalized the vaccination process. We’ve had a number of meetings with our players that they understand that if they’re not vaccinated, the protocols that are tied into that.
Q. A two-part question on [Cornerback] Sam Beal. From a football perspective, obviously he’s only played six games in three years and he opted out, so he doesn’t have the, I don’t know, the resume to fall back on like a [Offensive Lineman] Nate Solder. Where is he with you football wise and then also, since we last talked to you, he plead guilty to a gun charge. How does keeping him around fit with the rules you have for this team?
A: I’m not going to comment at this point on any ongoing investigations or anything that’s going on with the league at this point right now. In terms of him as a football player, everyone right now is building their fundamentals throughout training camp. We’re going to start on the field today with our conditioning test and then tomorrow, we’ll pick up the football and again, we’ll build everyone from the ground up, alright. Whether they played every game last year or never played a game in the NFL yet.
Q. You said there were a couple guys in the situation that Toney is in. Who are you referring to there?
A: We had a couple guys who had some exposure to it and had to quarantine throughout this point. Some guys who had some issues this summer, I’m not going to go into specifics unless they’re on the list right there. But, you know, there’s a couple guys that have come off that we’re going to go ahead and make sure that we’re doing the right thing by them in terms of the adjustments to training they had to make the last few weeks.
Q. You talked earlier about making sure your guys get into football shape and we saw your program last year. You’re a lot heavier, my estimation, on conditioning maybe than some other coaches, [Wide Receiver Sterling] Shepard said that recently. What’s your theory behind that? What’s your thinking behind concentrating on that?
A: Behind the conditioning?
Q. Yeah, the conditioning aspect of it.
A: Yeah, we’re getting our players’ bodies to stay healthy. One thing we do is a lot of research and self-scout. We went back after last year and we showed it to the players themselves and then came back in spring to explain why we practice the way we do. It was reflected in a decrease in injuries across the board within this organization as well as relative to the league. We were one of the healthiest teams last year in the league and the healthiest this team has been in a long time. Look, you can’t put a player on the field and tell them to play 100 percent for 60 minutes if you haven’t trained them that way. To me, there’s a difference in practicing and training. We talk to our players all the time, we say, ‘We’re going out for practice,’ but we’re really going out to train. We’re trying to get their bodies ready to go ahead and perform how they have to in a game and the most dangerous thing you can do for a player is skimp on how you practice. Whether that’s conditioning to get their bodies in the right position and build up that callus within their muscles so that they don’t have soft tissue injuries on the field. Whether that’s practicing things like live hitting and live tackling and making sure that when they go out there and the pace of the game is actually faster, that they’re not in a position to be prepared to do it safely and effectively. So, anything they’re going to have to do in a game, we’re going to make sure that we practice, correct, repeat, practice again.
Q: Do you get a lot of guys complaining about the fact that you do more conditioning or are they alright with it in your mind?
A: I think guys see on the field how they play and as they improve throughout the year. Plus, it’s about keeping yourself on the field and healthy, and I think that’s the best example you can give to a player of, were you able to go out there and play last year or were you limited through something that maybe you weren’t in shape to do? You know, we have a very open relationship with our players around here, we tell them the ‘why’ in everything we do, we explain why we’re doing what we’re doing. In terms of conditioning itself -- look, I was a player. I’ve got a 15-year-old son, the first thing he wants to tell me about every day I pick him up at practice is what they did for conditioning. I have to explain to him, ‘I really don’t care. What did you do for football?’ Conditioning is part of football. We’re not going to go ahead and say, ‘Hey, listen, don’t worry about the quarterback’s footwork through individual period. Just go out there and coach with your team and get all his footwork fundamentals.’ No, it’s a fundamental. We’re going to work on that extra so that it carries over into team periods and it can help keep our players healthy and on the field.
Q: Having seen your training camp practices last year, there was a method to the madness, everything full speed, two fields. My question really is about how do you deploy your coaches if they overlap at a specific position? I’m really thinking of the offensive line. By my count, you have at least four guys who have some handle of what you’re doing up front, plus you. So, on a day-to-day basis, do you kind of assign things to your assistant coaches at that position or is it an organic thing that these guys come to work together and realize, ‘Okay, this is the priority today and this is how we’re going to divvy it up?’
A: Unless something specific that I see that I want, a certain coach with a certain player or a certain group for that day, I let the coordinators handle how they’re going to split the staff, and we just make sure that we have eyes on all positions, that we’re covered fully. We’re never going to want to have a drill where -- let’s just say for example a group of tight ends don’t have somebody out there who can correct their mistakes or give them the necessary information to go out there and practice within the period. So, I let the coordinators handle how they’re going to divide the staff, but if I see something specific I may go ahead and say, ‘Why don’t you stay with so-and-so today and make sure he gets this.’