Head Coach Joe Judge
August 17, 2021
Q: Do you have any update on (Wide Receiver) Kadarius (Toney)? I’m curious what might be going on there and if there’s any timeline on it.
A: No, I’m not going to set a time on it. Again, we’re going to check with the trainers. He’ll be out there today doing some things today and working around. We’ll see how he progresses and what his workload in Cleveland will look like this week.
Q: We shouldn’t really expect him to practice then?
A: I didn’t say that at all. We’ll see how he’s doing in practice and we’ll see if we can ramp him up further along, like a lot of our guys should.
Q: Are you still hopeful he’ll practice this week?
A: Today will tell us a lot about it with him and a lot of the other guys. There are guys coming out of the game that are dinged up a little bit, there are guys coming out of last week’s practice where we have to where they’re at physically, guys coming off of injury, so today we’ll take the day to move these guys along through individual and group, see if they’re ready to do more team periods. We’ll see from today how they can handle what we’re expecting them to do later this week completely.
Q: It’s just injury with Kadarius, right?
A: Yes. Look, there’s nothing too much to read into this. This guy is working hard, he’s doing what we’re asking him to do. Obviously, he had to come off the COVID-19 list, that made his timeline a little bit different than everybody else. No different than anybody else, there are bumps and bruises, things you have to deal with. We made the determination last week that he wasn’t in a position to play in the game and that’s the decision we made for the team.
Q: A guy we haven’t asked you about in a while is (Cornerback) Aaron Robinson. Is he any closer to being ramped up and getting back to practice at all?
A: In terms of what he’s dealing with right now, he’s working hard every day. The trainers feel he’s moving at the right progression right now for where’s he’s at. As soon as we can get him out and work with him, we’ll definitely look forward to it.
Q: What do you see in (Quarterback) Brian (Lewerke), the quarterback you signed?
A: We had him out here a few weeks ago for a workout with some of the guys. Thought he threw the ball well. He’s a guy we knew about coming out of college last year we evaluated. He was someone who when he came to the workout it was a position we weren’t looking to add a fourth, but we knew if there was going to be an opportunity at some point to add him that we’d like to work with him for the time being. This time of camp it’s good to get guys in here and see what they look like, and make a determination going into the season.
Q: You obviously have a connection to (Defensive Back) Keion Crossen. What does he bring to the team?
A: It’s not unique to just Keion. It’s a small league. Whether it’s a guy you’ve coached before or coached against, maybe a guy you worked out coming out of college, there’s always some kind of connection to just about every player in this league. In terms of Keion, I had the opportunity to coach him his rookie year. He was a guy who obviously we used a lot on special teams. He had defensive roles, as well. He’s a guy who brings an element of speed and athleticism. We’re going to get him involved with our defensive backs and our kicking units and see how far he can push himself.
Q: Did your experience with him help in any discussions you might have had with (Senior Vice President and General Manager) Dave (Gettleman)? And on a broader scale, Dave was saying you guys share the same vision of football. Has that been evident in how things go transaction-wise and personnel-wise?
A: I think me and Dave do a really good job of talking through our needs on the team, what we’re looking to do, understanding the vision of what this team is going to be and how we have to get it there and what we have to work on the field. And then personnel-wise, to get the people that fit the system in here. It’s ultimately our job to find guys who can have versatility so as coaches we can put them in positions of strength and change that by game. In terms of my prior relationship with Keion as far as helping with the transaction of bringing him in, absolutely. Any time you know somebody – and as I said earlier, there’s always some kind of relationship with the players in this league -- you draw on your past experiences with those players to make the best decision for what you’re doing going forward.
Q: Is there anything new with (Running Back) Saquon (Barkley) or do you think he’s still a ways away from live stuff?
A: We’re going to go ahead and keep progressing him, do a few more things. You’ll see him out here today doing a little more than he did last week. At this point, until the doctors give me the green light, I’m not going to throw him into any live contact drills or anything of that nature. We want to be careful as we go through it, but we just have to keep on pushing his body. When the doctors say that he can go further, we’ll keep pushing him further and further.
Q: During joint practices, he’s not going to do much there, right?
A: I wouldn’t plan on putting him in 11-on-11 at this point. We’ll see if there’s something else we can slide him into drill-wise.
Q: Have the doctors said at all that if he keeps progressing at this point he should be ready?
A: I’m not going to go into individual medical conversations right now. I’m happy with the way he’s working and the progress that he’s making.
Q: Dave made it sound like you’ve got to add an offensive lineman, but you haven’t yet. Do you plan to have someone before you head to Cleveland or where do things stand over there?
A: We’ll see. We’re always talking through the entire roster. Obviously, we talked through the last couple days of moves we had to make to get down to 85 by league rules. These are in-depth conversations. We want to make sure we evaluate everyone on our roster, as well as who else is being released throughout the league who is available, different needs we may have or different people who we think may upgrade us or come and be competitive for the roster. So, we’ve spent the last couple days looking through it. We’re always looking at personnel at all times. That’s our job, to know who’s available based on what we need and what the team needs for competition. In terms of will we bring somebody in, I won’t rule that out. I’m not saying that’s an absolute or that we have to do it, but we’ll see where the person on the street is available and we’ll see where we are as a team after today.
Q: Is (Wide Receiver Kadarius) Toney’s conditioning COVID-19 related at all?
A: He definitely was behind in his conditioning coming off. You’ve got to remember when he came up here and he had the quarantine period where he had to stay inactive by himself and then obviously that sets you back for a good bit. That’s something we’ve seen with all of our player coming off of COVID-19. We’ve had different guys in different stages. Some guys have tried to work out while they’ve been away and found that tough, where they can’t. Some guys have been able to go ahead, and they’ve been asymptomatic, and they’ve came back with an easier transition coming back. It’s definitely unique to every person and we don’t want to have just a blanket template for everybody. We’ve really got to make sure we treat the person and not just the issue. I would say, all of our guys who came back off COVID-19 were behind in conditioning. He missed a good bit of time. That’s something that’s set him back, but he’s working hard to get caught up right now. I’m very pleased with how he’s working in the meetings. I’m pleased in the progress he’s making. I’m pleased in the way he’s fitting in with the team and his personality’s coming out. That’s something for rookies that naturally happens this time of year after extended just time with vets. That’s all been very positive and when we get him on the field and go full speed, we will do that. But right now, we’re going to make sure we take our time and based on past experience with different players here or elsewhere, we’re going to make sure we don’t get impatient and rush a guy out there before his body’s ready to go.
Q: The joint practices, how important is it for you and (Browns Head Coach Kevin) Stefanski to meet, and obviously next week with (Patriots Head Coach) Bill (Belichick), just to set up the situation the way you want it to have the control of what you want to see out there and the trust factor that you are working together and not against each other?
A: To me the trust factor’s huge, which is part of the reason early on me and Kevin talked way back in the offseason about the possibility of doing this and part of it is because of our relationship and our experience together. That helps because then you can work together. When you go into these practices, you want to be with someone that you have a relationship with because then you can work together and make sure, ‘hey, what do you need to see? What do we need to see? Let’s work together to make sure we all accomplish that.’ We talked continuously throughout these last few weeks making sure practice is mapped out for both me and him. We’ll wait and see how our teams come out of practice today and touch base before we finalize any plans going forward. Whether it’s Kevin or Bill or other places I’ve been with or other guys we’ve worked with, it’s very important in these practices to have a relationship. The players have to understand going in, it’s going to be competitive. That’s the nature of football, right? It’s another team that’s going to be competitive. Just like out here, we don’t want to get out there and make it something that’s not football. We want to get out there and work against each other and keep it between the lines and keep it between the whistles and make sure we play hard, we protect ourselves in every play, but we’re also working with the other team, as well.
Q: (President and Chief Executive Officer) John Mara said, ‘we’re all on the hot seat,’ in regards to producing this year and it resulting in actual wins. It’s year two of your time here, how much do you feel the pressure to produce victories and go deep in the playoffs this season?
A: Right now, all I’m focused on is practice today and getting our guys a little bit better. We have to have a better day today. We’ve got to go to Cleveland and have good days on Thursday and Friday and keep improving this team. All that other stuff doesn’t matter if we don’t take care of what’s in front of us right now. That’s my focus.