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What They Said: Coach Sean McDermott and LB Lorenzo Alexander, WR Andre Holmes, WR Zay Jones, QB Tyrod Taylor

Head Coach Sean McDermott

Opening Statement: Good morning. Just a few injury updates: most of the injuries everyone here already knows about, but just a few updates. Right now, Jonathan Williams is listed as day-to-day with a knee [injury] suffered the other day in practice; Ramon Humber will be limited, as well as Marcell Dareus. Ramon with an oblique strain at this point, and Marcell with a quad [injury]. Before we go any further, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Jim Kelly and the Kelly family on the passing of his father, Joe, and just to let everyone know in the Kelly family that you are in our thoughts and our prayers as the events of the last couple of days have unfolded. With that, I’ll take your questions.

Q: Where does Cordy [Glenn] stand right now?

A: Cordy is progressing and he’ll be out on the field with the walkthrough going on and he’s progressing. He’s moving forward. Nothing has changed. We feel like we’re on schedule at this point.

Q: Will he go through any regular drills, per say?

A: Not at this point.

Q: What about Jordan [Matthews]?

A: Jordan, we’ll see out there at the walkthrough period in a little bit. He’s taking a step forward today. [He] is on schedule, as is Cordy. You’ll see Jordan in a little bit more of activity than Cordy at this point.

Q: When you say ‘on schedule,’ do you mean for week one?

A: Yes.

Q: What about Rod Streater?

A: With Rod, we’re still in that week-to-week bucket, if you will. We’re still going through evaluating options at this point.

Q: How off-guard were you taken by Anquan Boldin’s announcement? You had told us that you had felt from him that he was ‘all in’ and this was part of the enthusiasm of signing him. Where did it all unfold?

A: Well, I think the bottom line with Anquan’s situation, as a football team, is we respect his decision. That said, we adjust. That’s what we do. That’s what this league is about: adjusting on the field, and adjusting off the field with our game plans. I’ve been in this league and around this league for around 20 years. I’ve learned not to be surprised by anything. That’s really the core of it, and as a football team, we adapt. These players, this football team has adapted before and will continue to adapt and show grit. That’s a hallmark of a good football team. I’ve been extremely proud of the way everyone has done that all through preseason.

Q: What is the challenge, though, of trying to regroup that receiver room knowing it’s gone through a number of shuffles already, and the offense as a whole? What are the challenges of doing that and keeping that focus knowing that Sammy [Watkins] is gone and you have all these moving parts?

A: The guys, they understand that. These are professional athletes. They understand that. I like the room. I still like the room. I’ve said that before and I’ll say it again. I like the room. The guys in the room know that there’s an opportunity for another guy to step up and that’s again what happens in this league. The NFL is a league of opportunity, in this case, for a guy to step up and show us what he can do. I really liked what I saw the other night from Brandon Reilly and Daikiel Shorts and they continue, as young players, to show the ability to catch the football in traffic. We’re looking at this as an opportunity and I’m sure those guys are as well.

Q: You’ve had to lean on your player leadership once or twice already. This is probably another example. How much have they come through for you in the early going? You guys haven’t faced adversity of any kind yet in the regular season, and they’re already being depended upon.

A: That’s a big part of my philosophy, is leaning on those guys. We will have a leadership council during the season. At this point, it hasn’t been set, but I do lean on a lot of those guys already. The Kyle Williams’ of our football team, the Lorenzo Alexander’s, the Eric Wood’s, and the list goes on. They’re a great sounding board for myself in terms of what’s going on, how the team’s reacting to things, are we tired, or are we in a good spot physically [and] mentally. They’ve been a tremendous help to me and I really appreciate their leadership, their guidance, and their feel for the pulse of the team overall.

Q: With that in mind, in your leadership as a coach, how do you manage the sense that as noble as Anquan said his reason was for walking away, he still walked away. He still left this team in the lurch, so to speak. You adjust, you do all those things, but the idea that somebody “quit on teammates” or “quit on you” – how is that handled, managed, discussed in any way?

A: It all starts with, and I mentioned this the other day, ironically enough, it all starts with the word ‘respect.’ We respect Anquan’s decision. We respect our opponents. We respect the process. That’s a healthy word for a lot of parts of life and this is a part of life that Anquan has decided to go on and be done with his playing career. That’s all part of becoming and transforming the young men on our football team that this is a part of life. We move forward and you do it with positive energy and an outlook for finding the next opportunity.

Q: As much as this is an opportunity for the younger guys, how big of a setback is that, knowing that you lose 14 years of veteran experience and a veteran in that locker room and on the field.

A: Well, I’ve got a lot of experienced guys, we’ve got a lot of experienced guys on this football team. In that room is Jordan Matthews. In that room is Andre Holmes. We’ve got some young players in that room, yes. We’ve got some young players on this football team, absolutely. That said, we’ve got, we feel, enough leadership on this football team from the players I mentioned earlier, and some others we’re developing. It’s one thing to have leaders on the primary level of the football team. It’s another thing to develop leaders underneath those primary leaders, and that’s what we as football coaches, as teachers, [and] as developers of men – that’s what we’re here to do.

Q: Sean, would you have traded Sammy Watkins if you know Boldin was going to walk out the door?

A: That’s a fair question. Two separate entities. Two separate decisions, altogether.

Q: Is there any part of you that’s [frustrated] that two weeks ago he told you he was all in and now he’s retired?

A: Again, I want to go back to what I said before. Respect. We respect his decision, and obviously things changed between the minute he walked in the door and then the last couple of days. We respect his process and what he went through to get himself to where he was. Anquan’s one of the best football players, one of the best wide receivers to ever play the game. I really admire what he does off the field and in the community over the course of his career. We appreciate everything that he did while he was here and we wish, like we said the other day, both Anquan and his family the best moving forward. We really do.

Q: We’re hearing a lot of people say that Tyrod [Taylor]’s being set up to fail. What do you think of that notion and have you had any conversations about that?

A: Tyrod’s been around this league a long time as well, so Tyrod knows that you adjust. Tyrod, just like the rest of our football team, is extremely resilient. He’s adapted over the course of his career and he really embraces those types of situations, if you will. That’s the Tyrod I know and I wouldn’t expect anything different in this case.

Q: On the field, would Zay [Jones] go back to the slot? Would Jordan now be there when he’s healthy? Because I know Anquan was working there and Zay was outside.

A: We’re looking at options. Obviously Jordan has played quite a bit of his career in the slot, and Zay the other night did some good things outside. Having said that, Zay does know the inside position as well so we do have some flexibility built in there. [We’re] looking for some other guys to step in and step up. I like what Andre Holmes has done the last couple of weeks. I like his contributions in terms of the vertical game, the physical part of the game, and then as I mentioned the other night, a couple young guys stepped up and did a nice job as well.

Q: Coach, I know you have some extenuating circumstances with the right tackle position battle because of what you have going on on the other side, but with respect to the position battles that are going on, at least some of the more notable ones, is there an idea in mind as to when you want to have those set going into the season? Ramp up, these are our guys, let’s get them ready for week one. Do you have that timetable at least kind of in the back of your mind?

A: You like to have it this week, as we move into this week, and have some thoughts in mind of how this thing is going to shape up. We do have those thoughts. That said, there still is some competition going on at all levels of the roster and at all positions. That will be interesting this week, as we go and watch the tackle position, as we go and watch other positions with the competition that’s going on and then how it affects special teams and how special teams affects line of scrimmage value on the offensive side and the defensive side. We’ll know a little bit more as we go through this week as we prepare and then after the Ravens game, really how it’s shaping up at all the positions.

Q: Sean, have you or do you plan to bring in any veteran wide receivers to give them a look and maybe add some depth there?

A: We’re always going to look and I know Brandon [Beane] and his staff are looking at everything, every position. [I’ve] got all the confidence in the world in Brandon and his staff and they’re going to continue to look at things that are going to help us at all levels of the roster.

Q: Is it considered an urgent or maybe an immediate need at receiver?

A: Well, when you look at the roster, when you look at how we shape things, like I said before, we’re looking to get the best possible players on this football team to help at every position. We’re going to do that throughout the season. That’s just our philosophy and we’re building not only to win now but to win in the future and sustain that success for a long time.

Q: You did not make a move with Anquan yesterday, officially. What is the plan for that to happen? Will it be him retiring or him being released?

A: There [are] a lot of things that go into that process. Really, it just takes some time to go through the right avenues and doing everything the right way.

Q: With that question, would he end up owing this team some bonus [money], like a million dollars –

A: I’m not going to get into that at this point in time.

Q: Maybe this is more of a question for Rick [Dennison] when we get to talk to him, but how did you feel the process went with him upstairs versus him downstairs? I know the first week he was down, and then last week he was upstairs.

A: I thought Rick did a good job. He’s tried out both spots. He’s still thinking about what he wants to do this week and to get a feel for home versus away and all the setup that goes into that. I thought the communication was extremely clear on the offensive side of the ball and that’s important for the quarterbacks and our timing. Our tempo was outstanding the other night. We got in and out of the huddle. We executed in two-minute and drove the football so at this point, that’s undecided moving forward but I thought overall that that was a healthy part of the game the other night, offensively.

Q: You always joke that there’s not a head coaching manual. I know there’s been some unexpected roster changes and the schedule really doesn’t slow down for anyone. How do you avoid being overwhelmed?

A: I’ve got a great staff. I’ve got a great staff and the people in this building have done a phenomenal job of supporting me. That goes from the coaches to the personnel side to the entire building. We’re all in this together and everyone understands that. You’re going to go through things as a football team, as an organization, and it’s how we handle these types of moments that will define where we go. You must be, as you’ve heard me say before, adaptable. We have to adapt and we’re going to do that and continue to do that. Who knows what the next thing is. I’ve said this and expressed this with the team, I believe that the NFL is a test of how long a group of people can hang together to get to where we’re trying to get in to in terms of the playoffs and to build this team the right way. It really is. We’re going to be stretched by and other teams are going to be stretched by injuries, internal crossroads, external crossroads. There [are] just things that come up that we have to be as mentally tough as we can to get ourselves to where we’re trying to go or give ourselves a chance to get us to where we’re trying to go.

Q: How much do you need to repeat or reinforce that message to a team that’s this young?

A: Well, we’re always teaching as coaches. We’re always reinforcing in a positive context. That’s also why we do have leaders on this football team, the primary leaders that I alluded to earlier. That said, it’s also why we have an experienced staff that’s been around the NFL. That’s why I hired the caliber of coaches that I did. It’s a people-driven business as far as that goes, so yes it is important that we acknowledge it and then we circle back on things to continue to reinforce what’s important to us, why it’s important, and then how we move forward.

 

LB Lorenzo Alexander

Q: What gives you the confidence that this team can adapt with losing a leader like that?

A: We have a lot of leaders in this locker room; you look at Kyle Williams, Eric Wood, Richie Incognito, Tyrod [Taylor], you can look at myself. So the leadership, there’s really no void in that because we’ve been there the whole time. He had just got here and was just starting. Obviously a guy that walks in the locker room, cats are going to naturally look at him, but I don’t think we’re going to lack in that area. It’s more just from a production and a wisdom [standpoint], as far as how to play this game for 16 weeks. Where receivers can look at him and say ‘ok, what is Q [Anquan Boldin] doing, how’s he getting open, how does he approach the game, how does he watch film?’ I think we lose it in that sense inside of the receiver room, as far as maturing some of the other guys, that’ll hurt. But as far as leadership and making sure guys are doing the right things, the little things right, I think we’ll be fine with the guys we have in this room.

Q: How frustrating is it when it seems like its player after player, you lose Sammy [Watkins], then Anquan [Boldin] leaves, Jordan Matthews is hurt, how frustrating is it?

A: That’s the life of the NFL, and I’ve been around long enough to see that. Guys come and go, whatever the reason may be: free agency, trades, injuries, and you have to adjust and deal with it. That’s the life of the NFL, it’s all about dealing with adversity, and things that come up that you’re not expecting, and the resiliency of a team normally determines how well you’re going to do. It’s definitely great to be tested early in some of these areas, we’re not playing in any real games yet, so it gives guys a chance to see what their roles is going to be. It would have been a lot harder if this were to happen week two or three of the season; when guys have already developed their role, and now you getting shifted. These young guys at least have a shot of knowing what they’re getting into, going into week one, it’s not just all of a sudden.

WR Andre Holmes

Q: You sticking with 18 or are you going back to 81?

A: I’m going to stick with 18. That was my number for the past four years, so I’m going to keep it.

Q: When you heard the news Sunday night about Anquan [Boldin] retiring, what was your immediate reaction?

A: I was surprised, but he went out of the way a lot of players don’t get to go out, and that’s on his own terms. He’s played about fifteen, sixteen years, and he’s done a lot for the league, and he’s doing a lot for his community. Everyone here respects his decision, and hopes the best for him.

Q: Did you ever get the sense that he wasn’t all in when he got here?

A: Not at all, he was the first one on the field every day, warming up. On off days, at times we’d get some extra work in. Not at all, did he show that he was about to retire, or didn’t care about being here.

Q: The words “opportunity” and “others stepping up” have been thrown around since his retirement – How do you guys as a whole take and grab these opportunities to step up?

A: We spent almost a whole offseason with the same amount of guys minus Sammy [Watkins], but we brought in Jordan [Matthews]. Everybody knows what’s at stake, and what opportunities are there. We’re all hard workers, we all come in every day wanting to get the best out of the day, and make yourself better. It’s not going to change the receiver room at all, as far as how hard we’re going to work, and our dedication to getting better.

WR Zay Jones

Q: With Anquan [Boldin] retiring, what was your initial reaction?

A: I think it caught a lot of us at surprise, but it’s just another event that happened. We wish him the best moving forward, he’s going to go off and do some great things in the world. That’s what he said, so I support him fully, real excited for his future.

Q: Tyrod [Taylor] said you’re like a rookie and a vet, with all of the stuff that’s been thrown at you this summer and this offseason. How well do you feel? You’ve handled a lot of question marks, a lot of things that you might have not expected?

A: No, I didn’t expect any of this, but that’s life and that’s football. A lot thrown at this team, not just me, so there’s a lot of growing up to do. Just have to mature fast, and do the best that we can moving forward.

Q: Do you still learn things from Anquan [Boldin], despite him only being here for two weeks?

A: Totally, Anquan’s a veteran receiver, 15 years, Hall of Fame player. The knowledge he’s given me has been crucial. Moving forward, I’ll always hold it with me and cherish the moments that we had. Happy to see him move on and do better things in the world. He seems like he’s really happy.

Q: Are you going to try and make an effort to stay in touch with him now that he’s no longer here?

A: Of course, I try and stay in touch with all the receivers that I’ve came in contact [with]. Sammy [Watkins], Anquan, I consider those guys my friends, people that have helped take the next step into the NFL, so most definitely.

QB Tyrod Taylor

Q: What’s your mindset now after another change to a top wide receiver that you were planning on throwing to this year?

A: It’s unfortunate that we lost Anquan [Boldin], but as a man, as a player, you have to respect his decision. He had a personal reason, he’s still a good friend of mine. Haven’t had a chance to talk to him about it, but just have to continue to keep moving on. Like I said before, you can’t predict the things that happen, but as a team, and personally, you have to be able to adjust, and continue to keep the mind focused on the goal. Everything is still obtainable and we have to continue to keep chipping away one day at a time.

Q: How frustrating is that when receivers keep coming in and out – Sammy [Watkins] goes, Anquan [Boldin] gone, Jordan [Matthews] is hurt, things like that?

A: Of course, it’s not the best scenario, but like I said, we have guys on our team right now. We have a team full of playmakers still, those guys would have just added to what we have. Just have to continue to keep chipping away one day at a time. Keeping our mindset, everything we have is still in front of us, all of our goals, we can still reach that. Just have to continue to do what we’ve been doing over the past couple of weeks and keep our head forward.

Q: You spoke with Anquan [Boldin] before he signed and you have a good relationship. Did it appear that he was all in at that point in time?

A: Yes, and I don’t think he would have made that decision. Over the past couple of days, maybe something has been weighing on him, and he made a statement on the reasons why he did. Like I said, as a man, I have to respect his decision; Appreciate all the things he taught me throughout his short time here, and the things he taught Zay [Jones] – A young guy that could definitely benefit from that relationship, hopefully they’re able to keep I touch, even from him being on the outside looking in. As a team, we have to continue to move forward and control the things that we can.

Q: This is a big opportunity for someone on the roster to step up – Is there anyone in your eyes that you’ve seen really make a stride?

A: It’s been a day since the news has a broke, but I would say in that receiver room, guys have been competing since day one and I like the mindset those guys have. It’s all friendly competition, but they’re pushing each other to be their best each and every day, and that’s what this team is built upon.

Q: How much tougher has your job gotten without Sammy [Watkins], without Anquan [Boldin], because you’re the guy that needs to get these guys the ball. How much tougher is it without their experience?

A: I just have to spend more time with the guys that we have here. We’ve been building a bond, and building a chemistry the whole time. Now, as the receiver room gets a little shorter in depth, I have to spend more time with those guys, and that’s what I’ve been doing. Talking to them daily, on the field and off the field.

Q: People are saying you’re being set up to fail here. How do you respond to that?

A: I can’t control some of the things that go on in this league, all I can do is focus on myself and be preparing each and every week; That’s what my mindset has been since the day I’ve been fortunate enough to play in this league. There’s been a lot of things that I’ve had to adjust to, and I’m going to continue to keep doing, and keeping my mind focused on my goals, and the goals we have as a team.

Q: How do you maintain focus in that receiver [group] – With your young group of receivers, knowing that they’ve gone through a little bit of change, the moving parts over the past two weeks?

A: Sure, it’s a challenge for all of us. It’s definitely a challenge for them too, and we’ll see as the time goes on, how they respond to that challenge – I’m looking forward to seeing them respond in a great way, and I think they have the mindset as well to do the same.

Q: Specifically, Zay Jones, how important is this preseason week for him to break away from the pack?

A: It’s definitely an important game, every time he gets a chance to go out there and create plays and make plays, it’s definitely important for him. A young guy in this league, getting confidence early on in the preseason is big. Like I told him yesterday, he’s kind of like a rookie and a vet in the same year. A lot has been thrown at him, and he’s taking it in stride. Challenging himself to be better each and everyday.

Q: Would it ever be appropriate of you, to feel like you could go to management and say ‘hey, I have young guys here, maybe I might need a veteran, I might need a guy who can stretch the field more – would that ever be something you would want to do or feel appropriate doing?

A: Coach McDermott and I have a very good relationship, the communication has been open. At the same time, they make the decisions, it’s my job to focus on preparing each and every day. Like I said, I’m always going to control the things I can control, continue to keep a positive mindset, and continue to keep working hard.

Q: Do you think this may have given you an opportunity to prove yourself even more so, doing it with less receiving help – I’m a franchise quarterback, throw me four guys, and I’ll prove myself?

A: Regardless of the circumstances, you have to go out there and make things work. That’s our job as an offense, go out there and execute, whoever’s on the field. Guys go down, get hurt in this league. You have to continue to stay focused as a team. Like I said, my mindset is right now, getting everyone on the same page, that way we can go out there, play at a high level, win games, and chase the goals we’ve set as a team.

Q: Your coach said that your left tackle is on schedule to be there week one. How nice and comforting is to you knowing that Cordy [Glenn] might be there with you?

A: It’s exciting. We’ve seen him go through a long offseason battle with injures and trying to get back. We know how bad he wants to be on the field, he’s working hard each and every day, just trying to get back out there, and it’s definitely a good thing once he’s out there. But the guys that have been playing in there in his position right now have been competing their butts off, and I look forward to them continuing to keep doing that.

Q: How about the same with Jordan Matthews – with all the change, finally getting him to get back in to play with you guys has got to give you a chill as well?

A: Absolutely, over the years, Jordan Matthews has played very well for the Eagles. We know what kind of production he can bring to the table, just have to get him healthy, that’s the main thing, that he gets healthy. Gets back out there so we can get on the same page, we’ve been talking through a lot of things, we’ve been able to run some routes recently. But the main thing is to get him back there so he can be on the field with live bullets, and going out there and executing the offense.

Q: Coach McDermott talked about establishing a leadership council – Is that something you see yourself possibly being a part of?

A: Yes, he’s actually already established a group; I’m pretty sure with changes to the team, things getting moved around, I’ve been a part of those meetings. I think its good the players to have an open conversation with our head coach. Just to talk about things going on in the locker room, things that are going on in the league. To get the player’s viewpoints across to the coach, and he’s been very good about listening to us and giving us open air.

 

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