Head Coach Joe Judge
Opening Statement: Thanks to the people who are the hard-working crew. The weekend didn't start early, so I appreciate you coming out today. We'll just jump right into questions and anything you guys have got, start firing away.
Q: Is (Quarterback) Daniel (Jones) going to be a full participant today?
A: He will be. So today we'll have to simulate some contact for where he's at in the process and he'll have a doctor's appointment later today with the independent doctor and that'll be the final step.
Q: Sorry, you said the final step is later today with the independent doctor?
Q: So everything's on track for him starting Sunday at this point it appears?
A: It appears. But he's got to get through a couple more steps.
Q: What about some of your other injured guys? We asked you yesterday about (Wide Receiver Darius) Slayton and (Wide Receiver Sterling) Shepard and you wanted to see how they went through it. How are you feeling about them?
A: I thought both guys had a decent day yesterday. We'll see them go out here again today and make the final decision on all those guys as far as ruling guys officially out after practice today, but I thought both guys made positive steps yesterday in terms of having a chance to play this weekend.
Q: How about (Tackle) Andrew (Thomas)?
A: I think he's in the same boat as those guys right there. Obviously, he's a little bit different because he dressed out last week for the game. We thought he was obviously well enough last week to play at least in a limited role. He's gotten better throughout this week, so we'll see how he moves today in practice and see where it's going to put him in terms of what we expect out of him on Sunday.
Q: If he doesn't play, how do you determine which side you put (Tackle) Nate (Solder) or (Tackle) Matt (Peart) because obviously you switched Nate from right to left last week. How do you determine that?
A: We just go ahead and roll it on through. All three are good to play either side right there. So, we just kind of play them based on where we think the matchups are and what's best for that player and best for the team each week. But all three guys can play right and left.
Q: With Daniel, is it strictly kind of a medical thing with what the doctors say or do you kind of go by what your eye and say, 'are we bringing this guy back too quickly?' How does that all work?
A: Specific to this decision right here, look, there's a lot of doctors that have a job to do and I'm going to go ahead and let the doctors do their job before we have any further discussions. To me, it's more of a medical decision right here in terms of can you put him on the field, and can they play and stay healthy?
Q: (Guard Ben) Bredeson we saw was limited yesterday. I'm not sure of the nature of his hand injury, but is this something he can play through? Do you think there is a possibility?
A: There is a possibility. There is a possibility. He had a good day of practice for us yesterday. He'll go through today. There's obviously – if you have an injury with whatever body part, you've got to test that body part out to make sure you can get to Sunday and be effective. He's got another day right here today of going out and seeing how he does.
Q: It sounds like when he tested it out yesterday, he did OK with it?
A: I'd say that's fair to say.
Q: Given how kind of scary that looked with Daniel kind of wobbling around last week, if he is able to be cleared and play, it certainly didn't seem to look that good just watching last week. Can you just speak to how critical that would be for you if you can get him back out on the field without having him miss a game and what that would do to the morale of the guys?
A: I don't think it plays into anything of the morale. I think we just want to make sure we have all of our players available to play in the game. Obviously, Daniel is a critical part of this team. He's done a good job. He's improved consistently throughout his time here. He's obviously playing at a high level for us right now. He's doing a lot of things to facilitate the offense. He has great command of the line of scrimmage. This guy does a lot of things in terms of making plays, extending plays. He's made plays with his legs, with his arm. I can continue to see this guy progressing within his craft, his profession. So in terms of getting him on the field, our goal is to have all of our players at the game and have everybody healthy. At this point right here, we're encouraged and that's the way the steps and the process is going with him, and we're hopeful we'll have him out there.
Q: You've said all along since you became a coach here, you trust in the medical opinions of every injury. Obviously, in the concussion protocol, there's another layer to all this. The trust in the medical part of it, is that how you have to handle this situation with Daniel and not your feelings as far as what you may have seen during practice and if he's cleared, he's cleared? Or is there another layer to it because of the concussion?
A: I think you've got to make a clear distinction of what everybody's job is and what their role is in the team. The doctors, the medical staff – they have a very clear job in terms of getting our players healthy and determining their health and availability for the game. If I get involved one way or the other with an emotional decision, that's not always going to be the right decision. It may be a situation where I know we really need a player and I want to get him on the field, but medically, that may not be the right decision. It may be a situation where I think maybe this guy is not ready to play, but if I've got every expert and doctor and trainer saying, 'this guy's fully cleared to play, Joe. He's not at risk of getting hurt again. He's fine', I've got to trust those opinions. I know that I'm not a doctor. I know I've got to trust the opinion of the guys that have done a lot more education and research and practice in that field. I've got to listen to what they say. Look, with me, there's one simple question I always ask whenever anybody has an injury: is this dealing with pain or can he get hurt worse? If it's an injury risk, that's a different issue. If it's dealing with pain with different issues, then that's up to the player to a degree. Can they go out there and manage the pain? But it's not up to me to determine whether someone can or can't get hurt worse. I've got to listen to the opinions of the experts.
Q: Obviously, one of his weapons is his legs and the way he moves. He kind of led with his head last week. Can you speak to how you've seen him get better avoiding bad hits like that? And did you think he made a bad decision?
A: I'm not going to go into specifically on that exact play. I would say in terms of the technique we teach our players, in terms of taking on contact, whether you're delivering a blow as a tackler, you're shedding a block, you're initiating contact as a blocker or you're running the ball, we always want our eyes up and we want to lead with the shoulder. So there's drills we've done through training camp to train that and build that in. There's things we do and emphasize. That's something we want to teach everybody. Now look, realistically, that doesn't happen 100 percent of the time. It just doesn't. But that's why we have film, and we have meetings, and we correct those things. We work the fundamentals in practice. We always want to make sure we push into that. In terms of how he's gotten safer with running, yeah, I think that there was obviously a very clear jump between the first game of the year and the second game of the year this year. Daniel's a very competitive player. He's always looking to go ahead and get that extra yard. I think there's an element with Daniel where he doesn't want the guys to see him slide and step out of bounds because he wants them to know that he's in it with them. He wants to go out there and he's a part of contact. You saw Daniel come out here the other day in full pads and he wasn't participating. He doesn't want to do something different than the rest of the team. What we've had to explain to him is, there's a time and a place for that and there's also a time and a place to protect the team by sliding, getting out of bounds and making the right decision. That's not always the easiest thing for a competitor to hear. That's something you just have to teach them as a coach and keep on harping on it and pressing on it. I think he's done a really good job of making those decisions and really being productive with his legs and still getting out of bounds, sliding at the right time, doing what he has to do for the team.
Q: On defense, do you have to think about kicking the green dot back to (Defensive Back) Logan (Ryan) or is that something (Linebacker) Tae (Crowder) can handle?
A: Tae can definitely handle it. No, Tae can definitely handle it. We practice this way, whether it's all through training camp, whether it's the spring when they're here, whether it's throughout the practice within the week. This week, we had green dots on Tae, (Linebacker) Reggie (Ragland) and Logan for the game. They're the three declared green dots we have for every game. So every week, we'll practice all three of those guys. Now, that may be as simple as get Tae out of there for a couple of reps and get Reggie in there and call it. Or if they're in there with two other linebackers or Logan's in there with two other linebackers, Logan calls it. So we'll make sure we work all three of those guys making the calls and making the adjustments. Ideally, you want the linebackers upfront to do it just because of the nature of when a play happens and guys are spread all out and they're walking back, you really want that linebacker in front so you can talk to the front and then get the message to the back end. Now, it's not that you can't do it with the secondary, we've done that before here and other places as well. A lot of teams do that. I'd say specifically with us, dealing with Tae, he's very capable of it. He's worked very hard at it. He's done a good job. When (Linebacker) Blake (Martinez) went down in the Atlanta game, you really saw this guy immediately raise his level of play. We went down the next week in New Orleans, obviously it's a very loud atmosphere, a lot of external factors you've got to deal with, and he did a terrific job through that game of getting everyone on the same page. He's done a really good job through practice this week obviously simulating a lot of things the Rams are going to bring us in terms of tempo and multiples and motions and things of that nature. He's done a really good job preparing for it. You hear him in the meetings prepare that way and it carries onto the field.
Q: Is the plan to activate (Linebacker) Cam Brown for this game?
A: He has a chance to be. He's had a good week of practice. We're going to go ahead and see how the final roster shakes out in terms of after today and make some decisions in terms of the different positions and how he would factor in. Look, he's a guy that played at a very high level for us last year through training camp. We lost him early in the season. This is an opportunity to get him back. We want to make sure that if we get him back, we can get him back and keep him back. It's a little bit about watching and monitoring how he's done throughout practice. We also brought him out here on Tuesday in the week to put him through some rehab and make sure that he was good to put on the field Wednesday. He obviously passed that mark. We went out there Wednesday, it was a lighter practice for us or a shorter practice for us in the morning. Yesterday was a heavier practice for the team, so we'll kind of see how he responds from yesterday and see where it goes into this weekend. But he has a chance.
Q: When you saw what (Wide Receiver) Kadarius (Toney) was able to do in the game last Sunday. Do you guys come back here and erase the white board? Does that give you excitement to create more for him, seeing that he can handle it in a game?
A: I don't think it cancels out anything previously you've done as an offense, but I think what it does do is, as with any new player, especially a young player, demonstrates the level of trust he has, you start putting more on his plate. To me, one of the biggest plays he's made for me as a coach is when we called the reverse pass in New Orleans that he pulled up on. It's key to see a young guy like that make the right decision because you go into the game and you say, 'Hey, it's going to be great if we hit this pass. This is going to be a big play for us.' What you have to also consider is what if they hang out and cover? What if the coverage adjusts to pick that guy up, which they did. Do they make the right decision? Actually, that play came up in Friday practice exactly the way it came up in the game. He made the right decision in Friday practice. I asked (Offensive Coordinator) Jason (Garrett), I said 'Jason, do you want to get that play going any other way?' and he said, 'No, I think we're fine. We'll be okay with that. We've already hit it earlier in the week.' So, alright, let's move onto the next one right there. Sure enough, we go to the game on Sunday and exactly what happened, he makes the right decision again. When you see a guy that makes those right decisions, it gives you more trust to say, 'alright, give him some more on his plate.' And when he does more of that, we'll give him some more of that.
Q: Have you gotten him in the quarterback room at all this week?
Q: Not yet?
A: No. (laughs)