Head Coach Joe Judge
August 10, 2021
Q: Joe, how did (Running Back) Saquon (Barkley) come through yesterday? I know it was mostly light stuff and individual drills, but how was his first day back?
A: Yeah, actually it was really encouraging. He got out there with the team, was moving and more and more comfortable with it. I don’t speak directly for him and how he feels. What we’ll end up doing is put him through today something very similar and then we’ll back him out for tomorrow. So, again, just kind of more an extension of the rehab. We’ve got to make sure that we control not only just what he does on the field, but then also the repetitions and the volume he gets within each period, so it’s something we’re going to keep an eye on and see how his body responds. We’ll look to increase it as we go through this process, but in terms of yesterday, I was very encouraged with how he came out and had a good day of work. Good excitement for a lot of people to have him back.
Q: The fact that you guys are back in pads today, does that kind of change what you’re going to allow him or have him do to evaluate where he is or is it kind of predetermined regardless of what kind of practice you’re running?
A: Yeah, the pads won’t affect him at all. He’s not going to go ahead and see any defenses today. You’ll see him do individual, do some teach periods where it’s offense versus offense. These aren’t live drills by any means, more steps and teach type stuff. He’ll do those things. In terms of competitive drills, he won’t see those in the short term.
Q: What does he have to show you to get that point where he can get into competitive drills potentially?
A: Yeah, it’s more on the doctors to greenlight him. So, in terms of what I’m looking at, how he’s moving, how he’s responding. I make sure I’m taking the information from the medical staff and I apply that going forward with him on the field. Look, the important thing for me is he keeps progressing physically and gets used to being back out there on the grass in a football sense.
Q: Saw (Wide Receiver) Kenny Golladay was doing some stuff off to the side catching stationary. How is he progressing coming back from that hamstring?
A: I’d say I’m pleased with the way the guys are working, they’re all making progress. Everyone’s individual injury is different, but Kenny’s doing a good job working and getting back and as soon as we can get him on the grass, we will.
Q: Joe, a week ago was the fight. What have you seen in that week? I mean, you addressed it right away and you said there was no real carry-over in there. Have you seen anything in the last week that was maybe encouraging to you about how guys kind of rallied after that?
A: No, we’re past that. Look, we walked off the field the other day and it was done. It was done. It didn’t carry over into the building, moved on past that. Like I said, it’s kind of like a fight in the house with your brothers, it can get rowdy, but when it’s done, it’s done.
Q: Have you ever seen it not happen in your time in the NFL or even in college where it wasn’t done?
A: I’ve seen it plenty of times. To me, it’s important that our guys understand that we’re all one team. It’s going to be competitive between the lines, it’s our job to push and challenge each other, but at the end of the day we’re all on the same page.
Q: Joe, how do you think the linemen are handling kind of jumping around from spot to spot, tackles at guard, centers at guard, guards at center, etc.?
A: Yeah, I think they’re doing a good job. Part of our job is making sure that everyone gets experience at all positions. Especially at this time of year, you never know what comes up in terms of who’s going to be in your preseason games at different spots. Also, you look at the five different combinations, there’s different exposure and experience with guys as they build through the year. You want to make sure your interior linemen get reps at center and guard because you can never have enough guys who can snap the ball in a game. If we only take eight guys into a game, well, somebody has to be the backup center, somebody has to be the emergency center if something happens to those first two guys. In terms of the tackles playing both sides, tackle to guard, we’re just always looking to build in different flexibility just in case – hey, someday you may hit a ‘break glass’ situation or somebody’s gotta bump on down and you don’t want it to be the first time they do it once live ball starts.
Q: Joe, what are the keys to working on a silent count on offense? You guys are going to be in front of a few fans tomorrow and finally in front of full houses down the road here. How important is that and what are the keys to it?
A: So silent count is discipline and repetition. That’s what it comes down to. You’ve gotta get reps so everyone understands what the timing is. Defense is generally always working on silent count in terms of how you’re keying the ball. Offensively, you have to have an idea of what the keys are pre-snap, do you have some kind of indicator from a player, is it something based on the timing we’re going to work. But it all just comes down to repetition and practice.
Q: That’s something that (Center) Nick (Gates) said he’s never done in his life. Does that concern you?
A: That’s why we’re practicing.
Q: Joe, one of your edge guys, (Defensive End) Ifeadi Odenigbo. What are you seeing from him this camp?
A: He’s playing hard, he’s playing hard and I think we knew early on that when the pads come in is really when his game is gonna show up. He’s done a good job of that. He’s a high effort guy, definitely brings an element of sub pass rush on the edge. He’s definitely given our guys a good challenge in one-on-ones mixing it up. He’s shown up in team periods for us. He’s a guy that we just gotta make sure, like everyone, he’s making consistent progress with us every day and I’m pleased with the way he’s working.
Q: Consider him like a high-motor guy?
A: Absolutely a high-motor guy.
Q: When you look at the next couple of weeks, I would imagine you have to stay ahead of everything knowing that you’re going to be on the road. You guys have already said you want to churn the bottom of the roster and you want to see how many guys can come in and upgrade. How does that affect that process knowing that you’re going to be out of here for two weeks?
A: I think the way we’re practicing, mixing everyone in with different groups right now, is kind of answering those questions for us and we’ll make sure that we get enough time in the game for the young guys that we really have to evaluate and get a feel on. We’re going to let the performance on tape really determine that part of the roster for us. We’re looking to evaluate every one of our players every day. We’ve got to make a lot of decisions and I think I said it again, it’s different than last year because after this Jets game we have to release five players. It’s not something we’re looking forward to doing, but it’s just something in how the nature of the rules are, that we have to make those decisions. You’ll see today a large mix of different guys in different personnel groups. You’ll see a different element of what we’re playing today in terms of making sure that we can evaluate different guys at different positions. That’s interior offensive and defensive linemen. That’s some of the defensive backs. That’s some of the tight ends. We’ve got to make sure we get a good look at some of these positions where we’ve got a lot of young guys that we have to see step up and play.
Q: And with that, those are the guys already here. As far as free agent tryouts, I know it’s a lot of talking with (Senior Vice President and General Manager) Dave (Gettleman) and them, but how do you manage that in the next couple of weeks when you’re not here? Can you have free agent workouts on the road?
A: You’ve got to kind of manage that with your personnel department from behind. We’re not going to have any workouts for ourselves in Cleveland. That won’t be part of it, but there are some days leading up to it and a lot of those questions may come down to either the health of the team or what we need to do to go out there and work and function in practice. But ultimately, we’re looking at these players competing for the roster. We’ll always churn the roster as much as we can. We’ll always see who’s available out there and make sure that we’ve got our list right and when the need comes, we know who to turn to.
Q: Joe, two injury questions – (Tight End) Kyle Rudolph, where does he stand? And (Offensive Lineman) Jonotthan Harrison, is he going to be out here today?
A: You’re not going to see Jonotthan do anything except with the trainers today. Kyle Rudolph’s making progress every day. I know he’s a guy that wants to be as involved with the team as can be. He’s a guy that’s got more of a long-term plan, like we talked about with Saquon and some of those other guys. In terms of a timetable, I’m not going to place anything artificial on him, but I’m going to let the trainers and medical staff let me know when he can continue to do more and more, and we’ll get him phased in. The one thing that Kyle’s done a great job of is just his experience of what he’s done in the league, who he is as a person and how he prepares. Mentally, he stays as engaged as he can be through the meetings, through kind of watching tape on his feet if you would, kind of moving around in the meeting room and getting some kind of simulated reps and staying engaged. So when he gets back, he’s had as much mental experience as he could. Nothing can ever fully replicate or simulate what you’ve got to do on the grass, but he’s doing everything possible he can to get himself in a position that when he hears a play call, he has to get lined up, he sees the front and knows who he has to block or who he’s working off in the pass route. He can process that faster.
Q: Joe, will practicing against other teams impact how you decide to use Saquon in practices coming up? Like will you be more hesitant to put him out there against somebody that may not think that they should ease up on him or something?
A: Well, I think it’s a factor with any player you have that has any kind of ailment. We’ve got to make sure that we can put them in a controlled setting where their safety is best. We did a drill yesterday where it’s a non-contact, just a space kind of tracing. We don’t do it as a tackle drill, and look, I told Saquon he was up, I told (Linebacker) Blake Martinez, ‘Blake, you’ve got Saquon,’ because I know these guys can work with respect and what they’re going to do against each other. It’s just two guys that we trust that Saquon can execute the technique, build in his rehab, get in a football movement. Blake can work what he’s going to do, and he also knows that he’s not going to do anything and make a mistake that maybe someone else would make. I’m not accusing any one of our players, but sometimes you may get someone who’s maybe a little outside their lane and we want to make sure we keep them safe.
Q: Obviously, that would apply to someone on another team though?
A: You know, it absolutely would. Now, in terms of him against another team in practice, we’ll look to see how he progresses this week. We’ll have to see where he is next week for Cleveland. I would not expect to see him next week in any kind of 11-on-11 or live action. Now that’s not a final deal, but I would just say based on what we know from our medical team and where he’s at in his own rehab we’re not going to try to artificially accelerate and get him involved just because of the competitive nature spiking up.
Q: Joe, since training camp has started, have you had like a tentative depth chart that moves up and down every day or every week or whatever?
A: I tell our guys all the time, when they come in, the depth chart is really blank and as we start practicing and they start putting together things on tape, you start filling in names based off of what they’re doing. That can change every day. It’s really just cumulative. It’s what you do consistently day in and day out. Some guys may flash one day, some guys may flash another day, but ultimately you want to go ahead and measure who’s consistently dependable, who’s productive for you on the field. But in terms of filling those names in, yeah, the answer is as we start practicing, the names start getting filled in. Now, they’re not written in permanent marker, so at any point, based on who is playing, the best get in that spot.
Q: Will (Wide Receiver) John Ross (II) be practicing today? We saw him leave practice a little early.
A: No, he’s going to do some stuff with the trainers today and kind of ramp him up a little bit and see where he’s feeling physically. There’s going to be a couple of other guys, like (Tight End) Kaden Smith where we’re going to kind of keep them on a lower load based on some things he did earlier in the week and last week with a higher volume. So we’re going to build him in and kind of get him more into tomorrow’s practice and the end of the week. Based on what he’s done individually, we’ll tempo back with him a little bit here.