Head Coach Joe Judge
Q: (Wide Receiver) Kadarius Toney last night tweeted that he thought it was 'goofy' that people were publicly criticizing Henry Ruggs for that incident. What are your thoughts on that and have you addressed that with Kadarius?
A: The answer is that I have spoken to Kadarius. I've spoken to the entire team on this issue. The one thing that's unique about this situation with Henry is the amount of relationships he has throughout this league, whether you're from the state of Alabama and you know him from playing through high school competing against him, you were a teammate of his at Alabama, which a significant number of those guys are playing in the NFL. When I talk to my team about the situation, I'm literally looking in guys' eyes, (and) it's not a headline to them. It's a friend of theirs, it's a teammate of theirs, it's something different. I think the important thing that we express is that our prayers are with everybody involved with this. It's a terrible thing to happen. I've got to be very, very careful about how I comment on any of this because it is still an ongoing legal matter and it's not right for anyone to really sway publicly one way or another or anything. I talked to Kadarius. It's important that we understand how we articulate our words and put them out there. Ultimately, our prayers are with everybody. This is a situation no one wants to see happen to anybody. No one wants to be in this situation. While no one is in any way, shape or form dismissing the consequences at all, it's horrible on both sides. It's absolutely horrible. As some players on the Raiders and (Raiders Quarterback) Derek Carr have voiced, as well, it's a terrible incident. You've just got to make sure that you still have prayers for everybody involved. The important thing is we articulate our words and we watch what we say at the same time.
Q: I just wanted to get back to your team a little bit with the COVID stuff. It sounds like you plan to get most of those guys back. What does missing these practices mean for (Running Back) Saquon's (Barkley) availability though? Obviously, he's still dealing with the ankle injury.
A: I know a lot of times we have to see how they really move and not having him available to be here with the trainers on a regular basis and kind of seeing if we can get him into practice, I would say that's something we wouldn't eliminate at this point based on where he's at physically, but I couldn't say that it's moving in a direction to give us a definite answer in a positive way. Again, we'll see where he's at. I would say with all these tests, all but one has come back as negative. We're actually getting a lot of players back who tested positive this morning and then re-tested negative that we're getting back in before practice. We've had a number of coaches as well that we had to send home this morning that are now back in the building and working. This has been, obviously, a different type of day. We've kind of flowed with it pretty well, I think, as an organization. We got the meetings accomplished virtually. It was kind of like stepping back into last season. We've got the players coming over right now. We've got a gap between the meetings and we're having a walkthrough at 1:30 p.m. We'll walkthrough up until 2:00 p.m., practice at 2:00 p.m. and then we'll recap the tape tonight virtually again just to make sure we follow the entire flow of the day virtually. The feedback we're getting right now from our training staff is, as we get more information, be patient. We told every player to be ready, that we expect everyone to be completely focused in and locked in and available for this game. No one has been ruled out completely as a player at this point. There are still some players that are going to miss practice today – not a large number. There are some players that are going to miss practice today while we're waiting on follow-up tests and things of that nature. I'd say right now the only person who I would say is out for the game would be (Running Backs Coach) Burton Burns, the coach. Right now, he and his wife are getting some additional treatment right now that (Senior Vice President of Medical Services) Ronnie Barnes has set up for them and making sure he's taken care of. We've talked with him several times today to check in and see how he's feeling. We're taking every precaution to make sure he gets every step possible. In terms of the players who haven't been with us coming off injuries, Saquon as well as some others, I'd say just having missed time in the day whether you're doing anything IR or not to be part of this game anyway or someone who's trying to see if they can get to this game, a little bit of lost time does affect you. Not having the full morning available for treatment, strength training or whatever is going to get your body back does affect you. That being said, the silver lining of this is we're getting ready right now to go out on the field and practice, so there's still going to be guys moving around and making progress. Some of the other guys you're going to ask about in terms of (Wide Receiver) Kenny (Golladay) and those guys, we plan on those guys being more involved in practice and seeing where they go. They did the PM walkthrough with us last night and we'll see how they move. I'd say (Wide Receiver Sterling) Shep (Shepard) will start out today with the trainers more than anything. I think this will be a deal where coming out of the game, this is really a game week Wednesday. We don't have a lot of answers for them yet anyway. Obviously, it's Thursday getting close to a Sunday game, but we'll see if there's a chance with him moving around and how he progresses throughout the day, and see if it's realistic or not.
Q: What were the numbers on the positives today you got back? I know you said you had 13 on Tuesday. What were the numbers yesterday and today? Do you know?
A: I don't have that off the top of my head. I know it was a good amount. There were a number of guys, where it was coaches, staff members, players, even some people in the media yesterday that went through a similar thing in terms of getting a positive then getting a negative later on and saying you're cleared to come back to work. It's something we're working through operationally that as we keep getting results and guys are cleared to come back in the building, we will. There are a couple cases of guys who are unvaccinated where they're a little bit more in limbo because there's a little bit more extensive testing for those guys and clearance methods. No one has been ruled out. We're getting everybody ready, whether that's virtual meetings or however we have to do it. We'll keep everyone ready and up for the game, and when we have final answers, then we'll go ahead and plow forward. Until we find out whether we have to test tomorrow or continuously throughout game day, I've told the coaches and players that everyone's got to be ready. I've told the coaches, we could get to Sunday morning and they could tell us we lost a dozen people. I don't want to hear any excuses, have the next guy ready to go, have a game plan ready that includes changing personnel, changing scheme. Whatever we have to do, be very fluid in this. That's our job as coaches, make sure we have the best plan available regardless of who's available.
Q: So Saquon's involved in the virtual meetings. Do you know if he's working with a trainer? Is he just standing around at his house doing nothing? Is he able to physically move around so that theoretically if he rejoined you guys Friday or Saturday he has any chance to play or is that unrealistic?
A: In terms of what the trainers are doing with these guys while they're removed, there's some things they can do with them. There are also some limitations while a guy is in the COVID protocols. You don't know if he's got the virus or not, so in terms of what the trainers are doing with them, that's kind of between those guys. Anyone who's in the virtual meetings, it's not much more exciting than we are right here (with this zoom call), just kind of sitting still and watching and being a part of the meetings as far as talking. He's not up doing rehab while we're talking, if that's what you're referring to right there. But while we're in the virtual meetings throughout the day, for that two-hour period we had this morning he was in there, he was fully involved, he was part of the game plan, he's listening to what's going on, the systems, the checks, the adjustments, obviously the things specific to the Raiders that we have to be alert for. Mentally, he's being prepared and physically, the trainers will handle the rest of it and we'll see if we get an opportunity to get him out there and progress him towards Sunday. Again, that could be affected based on just the timetable from the league. A lot of that is based on what we get from testing results.
Q: You said you mentioned you had positives this morning, do you know how many positives you had this morning in regards to players and coaches?
A: To give you an exact number, I'd have to actually go back and check my notes. It was a pretty solid number, I'll give you that right now. It wasn't like a quick glance-over number.
Q: Also, how does it affect guys when there's a false positive if they're unvaccinated compared to when they're perhaps vaccinated?
A: I'd say the biggest thing is based on the second test they get back, the other rapid test and they get the PCR, which is more of that kind of swab and later in the day, overnight type of test getting back. There's a little bit of a difference in terms of that. I'd say the biggest difference is the exposure, the close contacts. So, if you're vaccinated and the guy next to you is not vaccinated, if both of you are close contacts of someone who pops up positive, the unvaccinated player is going to have to go through a lot more strenuous steps to get back in the building, whereas if you're vaccinated, you really just have to wear a mask and test for five consecutive days to make sure you're clear. I was a close contact myself a couple of weeks ago from an interview I did and that was something right there where you had to put a mask on when you talk to the team, when you're inside. On the field, I didn't have to wear a mask. I had to test for five consecutive days, so that was really kind of my experience with being a vaccinated close contact. It doesn't remove you from the office necessarily. It doesn't remove you from the field. If you're unvaccinated, it can take you out of action if they deem that you were at risk as far as being a close contact. A close contact can come anywhere from being in the locker room, being in the meeting room, being on a bus traveling, being on a plane too close to somebody on the trip back. There's a number of places this can come from.
Q: Regarding Kadarius, you've had several instances now where you've had to pull him aside and explain to him either why he can't do something or say a certain thing. Is it concerning to you maybe that it's not getting through to him, that he seems to leave and basically say whatever he wants the next time, or do you think he understands the ramifications of what he says?
A: Kadarius is a very intelligent person and every time we've had a talk, he's fully understanding and we've been in a good place with that. In terms of what he tweeted out, I know where his heart was with that. I think sometimes it comes across that obviously you read it and you say, 'Okay, this doesn't really sound the right way.' I think it's more about making sure we articulate our words. I know he included in there in terms of – we talked as a team yesterday about our prayers should be with everybody involved and that's the truth and that's what I believe and that's what I've expressed to the team. I know a lot of players feel the same way. In terms of his growth, one thing I'll tell you right now is KT's a good kid – and I shouldn't call him a kid, he's not a kid. He's a good dude. He really is and he's got a good heart. This guy's a hard worker and a team-first guy. I'd say just from a personal standpoint, I'm glad that everything I did when I was 21, 22, 23 isn't fully documented. With that being said, we've got a group of guys from this generation who are in a position where everything they have is and they allow it to be documented in a lot of ways because we put it out there ourselves. We've got to make sure we keep doing a good job, especially when it comes to social media, making sure we articulate our point the right way, that we never have to clarify or defend it. That doesn't always come across the right way the first time. We've got to keep educating all of our players. We keep working with our players all the time. To me, it's always important to understand someone's heart. Sometimes guys are going to make a mistake in terms of how they articulate or verbalize something. When you understand the core of what someone's trying to say and you talk to a guy and you understand the relationship and maybe he didn't get the point across exactly, you understand he's coming from the right place. We've got a number of guys who are in the same situation with a lot of different situations. No one's more aware of what goes on out there because I get (Director of Football Communications) Dion (Dargin) and (Senior Vice President of Communications) Pat Hanlon and all these guys give me a list of different things that go out there and sometimes it's like, 'Does this have to come across my desk?' and other times it's like, 'Yeah, I've got to see this.' When something comes up and I have to talk to a player, I talk to them. I address it. I don't hide from issues. We don't put our head in the sand around here. We take things head on and if a player needs to be corrected on the field or off the field, we do that. If there has to be discipline at some point, then we take discipline where it's measured, but there's a point of trying to appease the crowd sometimes with discipline, there's a point of knowing what's the actual point you're going to get out of it. I think with Kadarius specifically, this guy's a really, really good person, he really is. He really is. He's a good teammate. He's very coachable. He's got great intentions in the building with what he's trying to do to help this team. This guy's a tough dude, he plays through a lot of stuff, so in terms of this guy and his character, I have no questions about this guy's character. I think it's important people understand that – I talk about it all the time, I can deal with personalities. Now, that doesn't mean at some point you don't have to address something with somebody. That doesn't mean people don't have to address things with me. My personality can be abrasive at times. My personality rubs people the wrong way all the time. It's something I'm very self-conscious or self-aware about, but I like people who are themselves and that includes understanding and accepting their personalities. He's a young player and we've got to continue to help this guy grow as a professional and he's doing everything he can on the field and he's making a lot of progress off the field, as well. I'm really proud of the way this guy's working on a daily basis to be the best he can.