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What They Said: Coach Sean McDermott, CB E.J. Gaines

Head Coach Sean McDermott

Opening Statement: Injury update – Jeremy Butler continues to be in the concussion protocol, will not practice today. Cordy Glenn remains day-to-day. Bacarri Rambo with the hamstring will not practice. Michael Ola has a little tweak on his toe, on his foot there, will not practice. And then Kevon Seymour remains day-to day with his foot. Update on Colt Anderson, will practice, and was taken off of PUP. With that I’ll take your questions.

Q: How do you feel your team responded Friday at practice, given obviously the pretty shocking news to them early in the day?

A: I thought they handled about as well as they could. They get the human element and I appreciate that. These are relationships that have been built up over time. Having said that, we’re a mentally tough football team and we’ll continue to increase in that area. The leadership did a phenomenal job and they understand that this is about winning. This is about building a football team. So, I was extremely proud of them.

Q: Sean, will both Jordan (Matthews) and E.J. (Gaines) practice today? And in what capacity do you see them getting involved right away?

A: Right, they will. They’ll both practice. Right now it’s about terminology and getting comfortable, so that they can go out and execute and play fast. Both were at walk-through this morning and have done a nice job of getting up to speed to this point, but that’ll be a process as we go through the next couple days, as well.

Q: What are you envisioning for E.J. (Gaines)’s role. Is he going to be in competition for that outside role? Is he more of a slot guy? What do you see him as?

A: Well, that’s the great part about it. He’s played inside, he’s played outside, so there’s position flexibility as far as that goes. He’s started multiple games before. So, he’s in competition with the rest of the corners for those spots, both inside and outside.

Q: What goes into the process of getting those guys up to speed, in terms when you can get them reps? What’s the biggest challenge that they face getting them up to speed?

A: Probably the terminology. Both of these players have been around a lot of different systems. In fact, Jordan (Matthews) has been around a couple different systems, and with a couple different quarterbacks – I think three or four maybe four or five different quarterbacks, to be exact. So he’s done a nice job over his career of adapting.
Really just probably the vocabulary, the terminology, of what does this team, what do the Buffalo Bills call a curl route. One team calls it “x”, their team calls it “y”. Just that part of it on the front end is probably the biggest hurdle.

Q: Sean, given that they’ll have three days of practice before you play at Philly, is the objective to get them up to speed to compete in that game because you’re running out of games and those types of situations?

A: Yes, it absolutely is to get them some game action this week. So, we’d like to take a look at them in Philadelphia. I’m excited about what we’re about to see at practice having said that too. With them getting acclimated with what we do and their new teammates, really embracing them, and seeing how they’re going to add in terms of what we already have, in terms of the core of our football team.

Q: Sean early in the offseason you said one of the things you wanted to build this defense around corners who could tackle. Is that what E.J. brings? Is that one of the reasons you kind of targeted him in this deal?

A: Well, our scouting department did a phenomenal job of identifying E.J. as a potential – in this situation a potential player. Tough football players, corners who can tackle, as you mentioned Sal (Capaccio) are part of what we believe in and are a part of the identity of the defense. And he certainly has done that over the course of his career and we look forward to getting him on the field and integrated into what we do, and watching him compete.

Q: What else from a coverage standpoint with E.J. – if you could just break down some of the things you like about him there, technique wise and such?

A: Well, it’s the physical part of the game, it’s the technique part of the game. Knowing where your help is and how you leverage your position in the overall defense and the overall scheme. The term we use is being one-11th of the defense or one-11th of the offense or special teams, really. Really at the end of the day it’s about doing your job. I’ve got a job to do, they have a job to do and being accountable for your responsibilities.

Q: With Cordy [Glenn] not having played Thursday and not practicing Friday and not practicing today, where does he stand in compared to him practicing last week?

A: We’re still concerned about it. We’re hopeful. We take it one day at a time and we look forward to getting him back on the field.

Q: Has he made any return trips to Charlotte and Dr. [Robert] Anderson?

A: Not to my knowledge, at this point.

Q: So this wasn’t part of the schedule that was agreed to or considered after he met with Dr. Anderson? He talked about some plan that had been worked out so his absence from practice today wasn’t part of this plan?

A: Well, we’re looking at some things right now. Right now, it’s day-to-day.

Q: Coach, just going back to the game real quick: Coach [Rick] Dennison a couple of times has talked about how he emphasized with Tyrod [Taylor] getting the ball out in rhythm and on time. Can you just maybe give us a review of what you saw from the game tape in that aspect of his performance?

A: I was impressed. He did a nice job. We were in rhythm early, and then we had the setback with the penalty, which we discussed. I was not happy about the penalties on offense or overall as a football team. You can’t win doing that. I was pleased with the way he moved the football, the way he got the football out of his hand when given the opportunity, and kept us on track, again, outside of the penalties.

Q: Sean, in the event with Cordy being injured as he is right now, Seantrel Henderson is facing suspension but he’s done mostly all of the work at left tackle, who else would step into that role? Would it be Dion [Dawkins]? Jordan Mills?

A: So, we’ve got some depth at that position, which is nice to have, and critical. It’s an extremely important position, and Dion would potentially move over if we got that far. At this point in time, we’re not going to do that. We want to get Dion comfortable at the right [tackle] position, but, to your point, we do need to have a contingency plan in place and we feel the reps that Dion built up over the spring should serve him well if needed.

Q: Do you think Cordy will be ready for week one?

A: We’re hopeful. We’re hopeful.

Q: Dion – where is he at right now? We watch him, we can’t really tell a whole lot from practice, but it looks like it’s been a little bit of a struggle for him to get up to speed. Do you feel that he is a rookie and going through rookie stuff right now, or do you like what you see?

A: Well, I like part of what I see. The rest of it is him getting used to playing in the NFL, getting used to, just getting up to speed on adjusting to NFL techniques, adjusting to NFL life and that’s typical of a rookie. There’s not any reason for concern at this point. He’s doing a good job. He did some really nice things in the game. Give credit to Jordan Mills. Jordan Mills, he’s not easily giving up that position, either. I mean, he’s fighting and having a nice camp and had a great spring so it’s a good competition going on there and that’s only going to make us better.

Q: You used the challenge one time in the game on the catch on the far side and then I saw you kind of maybe reach for one on Rashad [Ross]’s play and didn’t use it. How did that process go with you and the booth and walking through all of that?

A: It was good. It was good experience. Really, on the one across the field on the defense when they had that big completion, I couldn’t get a good look at it, quite honestly, and they were getting up to the line so I felt like, really, we had plenty of timeouts at the time [and] I wanted to get one out there either way throughout the game. That could’ve gone either way; it was close. The one with Rashad, I really again couldn’t get a good look at it. Those, I always look at cost [versus] benefit at that point. It would’ve been about a five-yard completion, give or take, and I still felt like we had a chance the next down to get a first down. But yeah, that was a good experience and there’s a lot to learn from that game. You watch all the other preseason games going on and there’s a lot of good situational football being played out there.

Q: You have three receivers in Jordan [Matthews], Zay [Jones] and Anquan [Boldin] who have done most of their damage out of the slot. Have you talked to Phil [McGeoghan] about where they fit in? Somebody has to play outside, so have you talked to Phil about where they might fit in?

A: Yeah, we’ve discussed that as a staff. At the end of the day, what interests me, what interests us as a football team is good football players. You find places for good football players. When you look at both of those players’ productions, Anquan and Jordan over the years, there’s been quite a bit of it in the slot, as you mentioned, but they’ve also played outside as well. We’re going to put good football players on the field and then also put them in a position to have success.

Q: Sean, this trade came unexpectedly at a time that this seemed like an uneventful camp, which I think may have really fit what you wanted to focus on. When you look at the trade and what you went through Thursday night into Friday morning and just how much of a jolt it was, do you think that kind of helps you in some ways? Just to understand and go through that type of experience?

A: Well, there [are] kind of two sides to it, right? Again, going back to, there’s that human element [part] of it. We must acknowledge that across our building. That said, it’s important that we’re a resilient football team. That goes throughout the whole building. This is about making the moves that we feel are in the best interest of this football team and that’s what winning programs do. Those are difficult at times to make, but it’s important that we as a football team prepare ourselves that something could come up, as you’ve heard me say before, that wasn’t in the head coach’s little notebook, right? Or the [general manager]’s notebook. We must continue to go forward and remain mentally tough and adjust to sudden change. I thought our players did a phenomenal, phenomenal job of that. [We] went out and had a practice later on that afternoon, which you all saw, and I thought the focus was right on point.

Cornerback E.J. Gaines

Q: E.J., shocking, I know on this end of things. But for you, what were your emotions and reception to the deal?

A: Oh, man. My emotions were kind of everywhere when it happened, you know? It’s a big move, a big part of my life, but man I’m just glad to be here right now.

Q: You jumped right in feet-first here, getting some reps early. How did everything go through the course of practice in terms of process and things in the snap of a finger?

A: Yeah, they went well if you ask me. I mean, a lot of mistakes I made just trying to jump into a new system but I told the coach ‘man, just throw me in there and see what I can do’ and he definitely did that for me today so we’ll go watch the film and see how I did.

Q: Have you talked about what your role will be here? Whether you’re going to be mostly outside, special teams, slot – stuff like that?

A: I haven’t. I came here to compete, and that’s wherever I go. Just to bring the competition level up, compete against these young guys, show them how to come in and work every day.

Q: Sean [McDermott] said he wants to build this team around corners who are physical and can tackle. Is that how you would describe your game?

A: Yeah, definitely don’t mind getting into the run game, tackling, causing fumbles, turnovers, that’s what I’m good for. Whatever these coaches ask me to do, I’ll do for sure.

Q: Besides it being an opportunity for you, what makes you so excited to come here versus where you were?

A: Man, just being somewhere that I feel wanted. Being somewhere that I feel like expects me to come in and make plays and knows what I can do on the football field, so I’m just excited for these coaches to be excited for me, really.

Q: E.J., where were you and what were you doing when you heard?

A: I was actually in a meeting, on my way out of a meeting and ran into [General Manager Les Snead] out there, and that’s how it happened. Big news for me. Crazy whirlwind that I’m in.

Q: Did you feel that, after you got the injury in 2015, you never got a chance to prove yourself with the Rams again?

A: I did. I was just going through a few injuries back then in 2015 after the foot injury and everything but I’m feeling a hundred percent and I think it was more of the move from the coaches with the Rams and everything but like I said, I’m excited to be here. I love these coaches and the players and it’s just a great environment.

Q: Did it feel good? I mean, you got a pass breakup there in the two-minute drill. Did that feel good to make a play on your first day?

A: Yeah, man. It took too long, if you ask me, to make a play in the day. But yeah, getting out there and making plays and having these guys get excited for me – it’s fun.

Q: It’s not your position coach, but you do have a couple coaches from the Rams from last year on your side of the ball. How much more does that make you comfortable here?

A: It’s great, man. Whenever I got here and [saw] some of the familiar faces from the Rams – I’m just excited to be here. They’re excited to see me be here too, man. Just seeing some familiar faces is good.

Q: Have you played more man or zone throughout your career and are you more comfortable in one or the other?

A: No, I don’t really mind either one. College was a little bit more zone. [Former Rams Defensive Coordinator] Gregg Williams was a little bit more man. I’ve done it all. I’m just excited to be here, like I said, and do whatever these coaches ask me to do.

Q: With that zone responsibility in mind, what are some of the keys for you to excel in the zone?

A: In the zone? I feel like it’s just breaking on the ball. That’s more of the mentality when you’re in the zone. Reading the quarterback and trying to make plays as far as just stopping your man from catching the ball in the man-to-man. I’m excited and I can do whatever they ask me to.

Q: Do you feel the pressure of – there are only three preseason games left to get acclimated and one of those is in just a few days.

A: I wouldn’t say I’m more worried about the preseason games as I am the first regular season game and just being prepared as far as these play calls and getting the offenses down that we’re playing and everything. It’s just kind of coming into one and forgetting about the defense I just left. I’m just doing that right now and focusing on that.

Q: Are you going to be cramming here over the next three days?

A: For sure. For sure. I started cramming last night and that’s why Coach, I feel like, felt comfortable throwing me out there today.

Q: You’re still entering the last year of your contract. That’s not changed, but the place where you’re at has changed. How has that altered your mindset in any way?

A: It really doesn’t. I’m on my fourth year in this league and I’m just ready to win. I want to make it to a playoff game and that’s what I’m here for and I feel like the guys around here are here for the same thing and the coaches also, so I’m excited for that.

Q: Any guys on the team that you’ve played with before you got here?

A: I actually was good friends with Shareece Wright before I came and everything, so that’s a good thing being in the corner room. He’s definitely teaching me some of the game plan and some of the techniques that coaches want us to use so that’s good.


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