Opening Statement: Injury report, just an update here. Will not practice today: Cordy Glenn, Zay Jones, and then also I wanted to add to the list, would be Seantrel Henderson. Cordy and Zay will be out for the game, and Seantrel will be listed as questionable. Limited today will be Charles Clay and E.J. [Gaines], and they both will be listed as questionable for the game. With that, we’ll open it up.
Q: What is Seantrel’s injury?
A: Yeah, just honestly, recently this morning, a little bit of a back [injury], he tweaked his back a little bit.
Q: Are you still a running team? They led the league in rushing the last two years, now it’s not quite the same identity, do you look at yourself [the team] that way?
A: I do, I honestly do. I know they led the league. We’re looking to win games, so whatever that takes. Like I’ve said before, obviously, we run it once a game, we run it 100 times a game, whatever it takes to win the game. That’s what we’re really looking to do.
Q: When it comes to the development of Dion Dawkins, how far has he come and what have you seen from the first snap he took in week one as a rookie fresh out of water, to now, as you cross the midway point of the season?
A: I’ve been impressed with the way he’s come into the league. His mindset, his approach, he’s an aggressive player, he really fits our personality upfront – what we want to be all about upfront and as an offensive unit. He’s bounced around, [has] played different positions. That’s been a challenge, but he’s embraced that challenge the whole way. Really, to this point, he’s played just about 50% of the snaps, and then Cordy played 51%, I believe it was, give or take. Tomorrow’s game, or Sunday’s game, will not be anything new for him as far as that goes.
Q: Do you notice him being more comfortable, I know left side was his natural position? He did all the work at the right side leading into the season, did you notice him kind of fall back and – it seems more natural on that left side?
A: I would say to your point, slightly yes. He does seem natural on that side, he’s worked both sides, and he’s played guard also. You saw that over the course of his college career, just about too, where he played some different positions there also. Anytime you can find a guy that has that type of position flexibility, that’s a good thing.
Q: How much of a benefit do you see the presence of Kelvin Benjamin on Sunday with the other receivers? Do you think it’ll be something noticeable, where the opponents are going to be forced to pay more attention to him?
A: I don’t know, I think that’ll be somewhat interesting. It’s new for us as well, in that regard, just to see how we’re going to now get defended, as opposed to how we were defended before. Again, one person does not make a team, I’ve tried to establish that. It’ll be interesting to see how he integrates into what we do. Then, to your point, how other teams defend us, and the different looks [we’ll get]. We need to be ready to adjust to how we’re being defended when Kelvin’s out there.
Q: I understand coverage and everything else; a lot of other factors will determine this play. Is there in the course of preparing Tyrod Taylor to now work with this new receiver, the idea that his – Benjamin’s style, clearly, or his gift, is challenging for those contested balls - Do you urge your quarterback to put more of those types of passes in his direction?
A: Well we want him to go through his progression. Whatever that progression is on that particular play, go through the progression, trust the system. Yet, also know the different skill sets of the weapons we have out there. In this case, Kelvin, as you mentioned, contested balls, he does a good job of coming up, typically, with those contested balls. I know, I’m sure Tyrod – and we’ve spoken about that, Tyrod’s very aware of that, like he is with the rest of the players and their specific skillsets as well.
Q: Does it speak to the fact that Tyrod has the lowest interception percentage in the history of this league, and part of the reason is he doesn’t attempt those kinds of throws?
A: You could say in certain situations maybe that’s the case. I like the fact that we haven’t turned the ball over. There’s a give and take there as well, honestly, when you look at it. Over the years, Kelvin has come down with those contested balls, and I think it’ll be a good thing for our offense.
Q: I know Kelvin only played a quarter before he got hurt against the Saints team back in week three, but can you quantify the value, if at all, of that tape seeing how they played him for that quarter of play in a different offensive scheme, obviously?
A: It’s a different scheme, a different game. There’s probably a little bit of feel on both sides of that, for Kelvin and for them.
Q: Is there a value to you as coaches though, at all, in looking at it?
A: A little bit, maybe, a little bit; how they defended them maybe, yeah, a little bit. We looked at that game. Kelvin, I think it was midway through the first half, went out of the game. Overall, maybe a little bit of takeaway.
Q: With Henderson, I know you said he’s questionable for this weekend, but with Glenn out, are you hoping he can get back to being your swing tackle this weekend?
A: We are, yeah, we are. If not, then we’ll have a plan ready to go. We’ll just take it one day at a time right now.
Q: Matt Milano’s snaps were down to 10, obviously because Ramon [Humber] came back. With this team, and how they spread the ball out to their backs, they’re fast – Would this be a situation where you want to have him [Milano] on the field a little bit more, and maybe rotate those linebackers, and keep them fresh because they do so much on offense?
A: Right, we’re comfortable and confident with Matt, and as well as Ramon, and Lorenzo [Alexander]. We’re going to put the best players out there that we think are going to give us a chance at being successful. Certainly, like I said, [I] have a lot of confidence in Matt, what he’s done to this point both special teams and defense, has been impressive.
Q: On that note, there’s a perception that because it’s Drew Brees and the Saints, they love to throw the ball vertically, but actually, they do a lot of underneath stuff, give it to their guys in space. Can you kind of just speak to tackling in the open field, especially considering how tackling was not as good as you wanted, obviously, last week in the run game, but this week, after the screen-passing game, tackling in the open field, how important that is?
A: They do a good job. Offensively, like I said earlier in the week, they make you adjust to their personnel groupings, they make you adjust to their tempo, they play fast offensively. Drew does a lot of selling the defense with his eyes, with the pump fake and some of that type of good stuff, he uses the check down extremely well. He is as advertised and so is the offense. When that happens, what typically accompanies that is thinking and playing not up to the speed you’re capable of or teams are capable of. Then, you see the tackling that shows up in space. That’s the stress that they put on the defense.
Q: What’s the toughest game you’ve ever played against [Sean] Payton and Brees?
A: Which one has been the toughest?
Q: Does any one stick out?
A: There are so many, we’ve gone back and forth. You guys documented that earlier in the week here. I don’t think there’s any one in particular, they’ve all been a challenge. They’ve come out on top at times, and then we’ve come out on top other times. It’s been a fun battle, good competition, and interesting. I’ve learned a lot though those situations.
Q: When was it that Cordy started feeling sore again?
A: Over the weekend a little bit, some soreness showed up. That’s where it first came into play.
Q: They say ability is availability a lot of times. When does Cordy Glenn, who’s the highest paid lineman in the history of this team, when does his position here for the future start to become a little perilous?
A: Listen, we want to get Cordy back on the field. That’s the first priority. We’re working hard, and he’s working hard to do that. At this point, we have to control what we can control, and in the same thing, for Cordy.