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Transcript - Organized Team Activities (May 28, 2019)


Tuesday, May 28, 2019 | Hoag Performance Center | Costa Mesa, Calif.


Opening statement:

"Today, we kind of eased back into it after a long weekend. There was a lot of walk-through [segments] today, a lot of teaching sessions. I thought the guys handled that pace well. I think we got some good work done."

On LB Denzel Perryman:

"He's still rehabbing right now. He's in the huddle just to hear the calls, but he's not practicing right now [in team periods]. He's working a little bit on the side."

On when Perryman could return to full practice:

"As soon as he's healthy. I don't want to put a timetable on these fellows, but as soon as he's healthy."

On if position competition begins this early or waits until training camp:

"For some people, it's started. If you watch those punters, that's a heck of a competition right now. Long snapper, that's going to be a good competition. The rest of those guys, I think you can wait until you get the pads on and see how they respond when the game speeds up and gets a little more physical."

On WR Travis Benjamin:

"[A healthy Travis] means a lot. Travis, he was already like a No. 3 for us, to be honest with you, with the way that we used him last year. His speed is rare. He's a big-play guy. We're glad to have him on our roster."

On Benjamin's clutch catches in 2018:

"You talk about the limited production — he was hurt last year. He came back, tried to work through it. It didn't quite work out. We didn't need him, to be honest with you, we had depth last year at the position. His big play potential, it's been good for us. He's going to be on the field more this year because [Raiders WR] Tyrell [Williams] is gone. Hopefully, we see more of those big plays."

On TE Hunter Henry:

"He looks good. It's good to see him running around, having fun and enjoying football again. He's healthy. Hunter Henry looks good."

On Henry's progression in rehab:

"We expected to be here [at this point]. Where he exceeded expectations was coming back a month early last year. Right now, we expect him to be ready to go. He's looking good."

On how returning for the second playoff game helps Henry this offseason:

"I think it did a lot for his confidence going into the offseason."

On when a young player can show aggressiveness in practice:

"I want to see it in training camp. That's when I want to see it, when we get the pads on. No one is going to get cut out here or make the team running around in shorts. We're learning. We're competing, but we're learning. We're teaching at a slower pace right now, as well. Come training camp, you are going to have plenty of opportunities to make this football team."

On CB Trevor Williams:

"I have to tell you, Trevor looks outstanding. His confidence is back. He's playing like it in practice. His change-of-direction is night-and-day [difference]. It's going to be a nice little competition over there between him and [CB] Michael Davis."

On the linebackers:

"It will play itself out when we get the pads on, especially at the linebacker position with Kyzir [White], Thomas Davis [Sr.], Denzel [Perryman], Jatavis Brown — all of those guys are competing for those spots."

On LB Uchenna Nwosu:

"Uchenna plays more of the outside linebacker spot. Right now, he's our starting OTTO. He also can run some LEO behind [DE] Melvin Ingram [III]. He's a versatile athlete."

On QB Tyrod Taylor:

"I think he has looked good. Right now for Tyrod, it's just about learning the system and being able to call the plays and make the checks at the line of scrimmage. Today, we put him in some situations where we kind of made it tough on him with no-huddle situations. I thought he grew a little bit. That's just where he has to grow the most. His ability speaks for itself."

On player attendance at OTAs:

"Well, it's [voluntary]. 98 percent of our guys are here and I appreciate that. I would like to see all of the guys here. I think this is when you build your team. The guys that are not here, when they get here, they'll be ready to go."

On P Ty Long:

"He looks good. Both Tys are looking good [P Tyler Newsome], to be honest with you. Like I said, right now it's a heck of a competition out there."

On what a coach can learn about punters and long snappers during OTAs:

"Kicking a ball and putting them in situations where they're competing against one another in front of the whole team — everyone is watching — helps a little bit. That's a unique position where you don't get to do that a lot with the other positions. The preseason games, those will be the big tell."

On DE Isaac Rochell:

"Ike [Rochell] has gotten better every single year. He's changed his body. His work ethic is outstanding . He's turned into a pro. I look for him to take the next step this year, but he has gotten better every single year. That's what you want in your young athletes."

On if injury history at linebacker is the reason for a large group entering camp:

"it was definitely an emphasis. We have a lot of guys that we want to look at. We have some guys that, come training camp, we might be talking about that we're not talking about now. That group is big for a reason."

On veterans teaching young players:

"If you watch out here, every day you see veterans with young guys on the side. They're talking them through techniques, they're talking them through fundamentals. You go in the classroom and you let some of the veterans lead the meetings in the classrooms. I think the young guys are learning a lot from the veterans right now."

On the competition in practice:

"I just like what I see when I'm standing in the back. I like the competition I see. It's back-and-forth. Not one time have I come out to practice and one side has dominated the other side. It's always been both sides making plays back-and-forth. I think that's the sign of a good football team. We have a lot of work to do. We're not there yet, but I like what I'm seeing right now."

On if there will be added pressure for players not in attendance at OTAs:

"I can't answer that. Those guys are key members of our football team. They have major roles. They will start when they get here. I think the guys that are here and getting those reps in their place, I think they're benefiting big time. Those guys are good players. Whether they're here or not [right now], I'm sure they're going to show up and be productive."


On what you're looking for right now:

"I still think we're installing looking at different things. In the offseason, you look at some of the things you did well, some of the things you maybe want to try to improve on. A lot of it, quite frankly, is looking at different players and different spots. I think with losing [WR] Tyrell [Williams], getting [TE] Hunter [Henry] back, there's a lot of different moving components. We have to see who can fill into those kinds of roles, who can do what. We have some young guys who have been here for a couple of years and it's their chance to see what they can do. It's process. It starts here in the spring and carries over through training camp."   

On young tight ends:

"When we talk about tight ends it's always hard to really say a lot in this time of year. When we get the pads on and they have to block a defensive end — when they get stuck trying to block [DE] Joey [Bosa] in practice, that's when you can really tell a little bit more. They've done a good job as far as their assignments. Obviously with Virgil [Green] and Hunter [Henry], we feel good with those two and then the guys behind them it'll be interesting to see. Sean Culkin has looked better. He's a had a good spring and hopefully that'll carry on through camp." 

On WR Mike Williams' breakout year:

"I think one of the things that group, the wide receiver group, has done is different guys have stepped up. Through the course of the years, everybody hasn't been healthy. It was obviously great to see Mike do what he did, but now the challenge for Mike, quite frankly, is now to build off that. Now he has a target on his back because teams will try to stop him. We feel good about our guys, they're competing, and when you have a veteran leader like [WR] Keenan [Allen], who does a lot of things for you it kind of sets the tone. [WR] Travis [Benjamin] being back with us, that certainly helps. It's a great opportunity for some young players to show what they can do."

On what WR Travis Benjamin brings to the offense:

"Speed helps. That's the big thing. He's made a number of big plays for us through the years. He does some things for us, whether it's a jet-sweep, running the football. Travis is very versatile and I think one of the things that we, as a group, really appreciate about Travis is how smart he is. He really helps the young guys. He's a leader, he works hard, and he helps build the chemistry in that room. If you watch us, you can see us move receivers all over the place. You've seen Mike [Williams] on a reverse, you've seen Mike block at the end of the line scrimmage. You've seen guys everywhere. It's not easy to do that and when you have guys like Keenan and Travis who are smart players and leaders who help build that chemistry, it really helps."

On Benjamin's catches against Pittsburgh and Kansas City:

"Travis, like I said, has made a number of big plays for us. We had a tough start in that first game against Kansas City and then he was nicked up a little bit, but he's always been a guy who's made some good plays for us. Whether it's been on a reverse, down the field — I think defense takes notice when he's in there and that helps the other guys.  I thought it was great that this all worked out and we got Travis back."

On motioning receivers:

"Last year, that was something that we kind of developed as we went along. I think that's the way it is every year. I don't necessarily know that it is receiver motion. I think you're always looking to expand and do different things to stay versatile. A lot of it is determined by the players that you have and what they can do. Obviously, it starts up front with our offensive line and those guys. They've done such a good job understanding the different things that we have to do, especially when you do some of those motions — the identifications of who they're trying to block and who they're trying to protect change and they change quickly. Those guys have to be able to handle that. It's a thing that takes everybody. Will we continue to do some of that? Yeah, but we have to look at other things, too, because if you stay with one thing too long in this league, defenses get a beat on you and it makes it hard."

On using RBs Melvin Gordon III and Austin Ekeler in two-running back sets:

"Obviously, both of those guys and what they can do determines that. That will be part of what we do just like we have done with that. I think you want to try to do a number of different personnel groups to try to keep defenses off-balance. We look at a lot of different things through OTAs, into training camp and try to get some things that we feel like will help us as we go forward in the season."

On evaluating scheme-fit with personnel:

"I think that's what you do a lot in the offseason. You go back and look at what you did and you obviously see things that other people are doing during the course of the year. You try to do things to incorporate some of those ideas. It's really the period when our season is over to when we get into phase one or two where you look at those things, look at your players and you start thinking about what you want to do off of the things you've done in the past. I think what we've done is really pushed our guys offensively to do a number of different things. It's not easy. When you talk about all of the different spots that we ask our guys to line up in and understanding the concepts, it's a difficult task. When you have a quarterback like [QB] Philip [Rivers] that understands it all, it makes it a lot easier. Once again, it comes back to guys like Keenan [Allen], like Travis [Benjamin], like Hunter Henry and even Melvin [Gordon] and Austin [Ekeler] — guys that understand what we're trying to do. We're really trying to create matchups that we think can work out in our favor. We're still trying to make plays look like something that we've done and give them the old misdirection the other way. We're just trying to build off of those things. I think it's the combination of our staff working together with the experiences that they've had or ideas that we come up with. There are a lot of times, if you go into our staff room, there are a million things drawn up on the board. Somebody will draw something up and they'll either say it's a good idea or get ridiculed, 'That's stupid.' You can't be afraid to put the stupid things up and try them because sometimes they do work. There's a lot of give-and-take with everybody. It really goes back to our players and their desire to play multiple spots and do multiple things. That really helps us."

On the possibility of QBs Philip Rivers and Tyrod Taylor on the field at the same time:

"That's always a possibility. A lot of that determines how our personnel shakes out, in general. We definitely wouldn't be afraid to do that. Right now, Tyrod has to learn this offense and play in this offense. He's done a great job so far. We're excited to have him."

On the running back rotation:

"You know, that's a good question. I don't think it makes our job harder. I think it makes their job harder. They have to find a spot that they can play and be productive when they do it. Hats off to [RBs] Detrez [Newsome] and [Justin] JJ [Jackson]. Down the stretch, they were huge for us. The Pittsburgh game, JJ really made some plays and Detrez did, too, at the end of the season. It's great to have those guys in our offense again. It really feels like it gives us some depth at that position and some guys that are versatile. Obviously, you can't use everybody in a game. You can only have [46] active. [Defensive Coordinator] Gus [Bradley], he's always working to get more defensive players than offensive players active, anyway. That makes it hard enough. I'll tell you, that's one of our stronger groups — the running back group — just because of what those young guys have done."


On the upcoming season:

"This year, I'm just looking forward to more opportunities to play, take advantage of the plays that I'm in and hopefully at the end of the season, we have good things to talk about."

On if he's the veteran of the wide receivers:

"You could say that [WR] Keenan [Allen] and I are the vets of the group. Knowing that you've been in this game seven, eight-plus years that everything just comes so simple and the game slows down for you."

On if he is more vocal in the receivers room:

"Absolutely. I won't shy back from it, but we kind of have a veteran room now with guys three or four years in now. [WR] Mike [Williams], three years. [WR] Artavis Scott, three years. There isn't much you can talk [to them about], but with the rookies — [WRs Jason Moore and Trevion] Tre [Thompson], just talking them up and talking them up on the minor details."

On how his role changes with WR Tyrell Williams' signing in Oakland:

"Hopefully it changes for the better. There are more plays and more opportunities for me to showcase my skillset, get on the field and ball out."

On his emotions last season:

"It was frustrating at points, but being a veteran and the plays that were coming toward me — making them and not making them — [it was just] continuing to bring camaraderie to the team and boost our receiving rooms."

On if will be under the radar this year:

"I hope so. They need to double Keenan [Allen], double Mike [Williams] and hopefully I just come open each and every time I'm on the field."

On having two big catches on the game-winning drive at Kansas City:

"I felt good. I felt confident about myself knowing that my role in the offense had diminished a little, but when I got my number called and [QB Philip] Phil [Rivers] looked toward me to make a play, that I made those plays for the team and we came out victorious."

On if he would accept a race against Saints WR Ted Ginn Jr.:

"I would accept that. When I wrote them, they didn't write me back, so I knew what that was."

On if he's the fastest player in the NFL:

"I'm one of them. I won't back down from a challenge. Not one bit. I'm a competitive person. If we want to get on the field and race, we can race."

On the wide receivers:

"As a person, each and every one of us is down to earth. We love to build each other up. We have confidence in each other. Skillset-wise you have Mike [Williams], a big target. One hand, two hands, just throw the ball his way. You have a route-runner in Keenan [Allen]. He will just do anything, everything you tell him to you. We have Geremy [Davis], who is a big receiver also. He can block, he can catch the ball down the field. You have [Artavis] Tay [Scott], in a couple years [with us] with him learning the game and watching his game from Keenan, you can see he'll become Keenan one day. We have [Andre] Dre [Patton], he's the same thing as Mike. We have big target guys and then me as the speed guy."

On creating offense for other people with his speed:

"I love it. When the ball comes my way, but it's not coming to me and I see [TE] Hunter [Henry] or Keenan [Allen] behind me when I take the safety or DB with me, I smile to myself. I'm like, 'Good job,' knowing that I got those guys open. It's a team sport. Being in a role like that, when you continue to be selfless, the ball will eventually come your way. You just have to take advantage of it."

On the return of TE Hunter Henry:

"It's really big knowing that instead of Keenan, you have to keep an eye on this guy too because he will run past you and make the play down the field."

On how the offense can change this season with his speed and Henry's return:

"[It could be] more explosive. There could be more plays down the field. We just can't wait to get started and see the 40-plus, 20-plus, 30-plus yard plays downfield."

On if there is a chip on his shoulder following last season:

"Oh, absolutely. The chip on my shoulder is just to come in and play my best. Then at the end of the season, come back to this podium and smile at you guys."

On attendance at OTAs:

"From a receiver standpoint, you should never miss OTAs. If QB1 is here, the receivers should be here no matter what. Game planning, learning from each other, catching the balls that you know in late December and January that you're going to be catching those same balls. I wouldn't miss a beat from it."

On the potential of the punt return game:

"With me or [CB Desmond] Des [King II] back there — it doesn't matter who is back there — we're rooting each other on. Whoever makes the best play, the best man wins. Before the games, every time we walk past the opponent, they ask, 'Hey, who's going back there, you or 20 today?'"


On having multiple Notre Dame players on the team:

"It's nice. Definitely with those guys you know they're going to work hard and do what they need to do. I played with them for a few years. [LB] Drue [Tranquill] came in the year after I did to Notre Dame so I had three years with him, [P Tyler] Newsome the same way and then [DT] Jerry [Tillery] I played with for two years. It's nice having them here."

On being a mentor to the Notre Dame rookies:

"I think that happens naturally. I think what will end up happening once they're used to being here, they'll challenge me, too. Like I said, I'm happy to have them here because I think they're special guys with special qualities."

On work in the offseason:

"I think just right now, in general for everybody, OTAs are a time to get your routine down. It's obviously not the season. I don't think you should treat it exactly like the season, but I think it's a trial run to see what works for you. Get your diet right, get your stretching right, get all the stuff off the field right. Get a routine with going to practice, stretching before practice and that's what I want to develop. Then when I go into camp, I'm feeling good. It's kind of like been here done that. Obviously, it's my third camp, but looking back to what OTAs were before will help me out."

On building on the New England game:

"First off, I think the thing with the Patriots game is, I had never been there before personally. So for me, it was an opportunity to see what it was like to be in the playoffs, see what that feels like and then go against the team that ultimately won the championship. Just being there was experience in it of itself and then building off that, it's kind of continuing to do what we did and then to get better. I think the biggest thing is, like I said, we have a young team. We all went there we felt what it feels like to be in Foxborough [Ma.] when it's zero degrees and play against one of the best quarterbacks ever. I think that's the biggest thing." 

On the defense:

"I feel good about the defense. I think the biggest thing is that I feel like we had a lot of retention. I've been here three years now and it's like you see a lot of the same faces over and over again. You start to see guys understanding the defense and the package from a broader perspective, starting to understand offenses better and better. I think that's the biggest thing. We're comfortable in the defense. Once you're comfortable and can play fast, you don't have to worry about the package. You get better. Like I said earlier, we have a group of guys who push each other. You look at the defensive line — some of the leaders we have on the line and some of the great talent we have, it's easy to get better in that environment." 

On the pressure each season to win with:

"I feel like you always have that pressure because every season is its own season. You never know what the next season is going to bring and then, obviously, the previous season doesn't really matter. It's like a healthy pressure. I don't think anyone is looking in the locker room like, 'We need to win now or we can't do it.' I think it's 'Hey, we're in OTAs. Let's get as good as we can get this practice and then see what happens when January rolls around.'"

On the process from OTAs to training camp:

"I think it's, like I said, build your routine, keep doing that and then you have six weeks to get in great shape. For me personally, yes, I want to get stronger, but the biggest thing for me is I want to come to camp feeling like the best version of myself from a stamina perspective. It's hot, you really roll straight into preseason games, so there's not time to mess around and get in shape. You need to come and be ready to play."

On attendance of voluntary OTAs:

"My thing is everybody has their own routines. Again, OTAs is about creating a routine so whatever people do that works, they should do that. For me, I think it's just a time for me to get better and a time to hang out with the team. I enjoy being here and hanging out with the guys."

On if there's added pressure to win with QB Philip Rivers:

"I think you guys are talking about the pressure. I think there's always pressure to win the Super Bowl. I'm here and this is my job. Everybody in the locker room is hired and this is their job, so there's always pressure to win the Super Bowl. I don't know about you guys, if you watched last season, Philip [Rivers] is getting old, but he's still playing as good as he's ever played. So, Phil being at the end of his career isn't really a factor in our minds. We're just trying to win games."

On LB Drue Tranquill:

"First and foremost with Drue, you should expect a guy who's going to work hard. I think that's just the Notre Dame way. Obviously, I have pride in Notre Dame. He's going to come and work every single day. He's going to learn the playbook quickly. He's a great player, too. His work ethic is a standard, but his ability to play is something that really makes him special. He was a safety and a DB at the beginning of his career at Notre Dame and then moved to linebacker. You see a lot of his athleticism being in the box. I'm excited to see what he does. I think he's going to have to compete because we have a really good linebacker room, but you guys are talking about the pressure. I think that's just going to make him better so I'm excited for him."

On if the athleticism is what causes the ability to move to different positions like Tranquill:

"Yeah. I think you're seeing the game change a little bit where, even at end, you're looking at guys playing my position and a lot of them are 250-260 [pounds]. It's not this huge gain, it's about quickness and speed. He does a good job covering the field. He does a good job of coverage, which is important for our linebackers. To answer your question

— yes, though, I think you're seeing that change happen."

On DT Jerry Tillery:

"I think he's a beast, first off, but second off I think he's a guy who can do a lot of different things. We needed a guy who's going to come in, obviously stop the run, and then be able to contribute on third down. I think he checks those boxes. If you look at his last season, I think it speaks for itself. He's guy who's going to work hard. So, whatever we need him to do with his ability, he'll be able to do it because of his attitude."

On Tillery playing injured:

"I think it says a lot about his character. I think he was committed to winning a National Championship last year at Notre Dame. The injuries and the noise as they call it, didn't really matter to him. All he wanted to do was win and I'm expecting the same thing. When he's healthy and ready to go here, when we get in these preseason games and then into the regular season, as someone who cares about him, I'm expecting him to do the same thing and contribute to winning a Super Bowl."

On Tillery outside of football:

"He's cool. I've spent a lot of time with Jerry. At Notre Dame, he was a guy I was hitting up on weekend like, 'What are we doing this weekend?' It was funny because he was one of the few young guys that I was actually able to get close with because, as you know, there's a big age difference between an 18-year old and a 21-year old in college but he was mature. He's a cool guy. I like hanging out with him."

On refining hand technique during OTAs:

"I think OTAs, within practice, is that. Working hands, working moves you haven't done before. Focusing on pre-snap penalties and obviously learning the package. A lot of the physical stuff you can't really do so, you're right, it's a lot about hands."

On what refining you've been doing:

"I think it's just becoming a little more fluid with my movement. I think one thing that I've struggled with in the past, and it's something that I'm working on and just getting better, is coming up and knowing what movement I'm going to do. Lining up and having a pre-snap plan. I think that's important with the defensive line. A lot of times, you see guys get caught in their rushes and they're just standing up watching because they don't have a pre-snap plan. That's something I'm trying to focus on."

On photographing the Los Angeles Lakers game:

"That was fun. You're watching one of the best basketball players in history, first off and foremost. He's a beast, LeBron James. I think it's important for guys to have passions off the field. This is my job, and this is my No. 1 priority, but I'm human. I like to take pictures and I like to do some other stuff too. It was an opportunity to get better in that respect and it was really fun."

On other hobbies outside of football:

"One thing I'm working on is See You on Sunday — which is an initiative to that invites people to take a day off social media. The goal is just to start the conversation about social media health. What I like to say is, we spend eight hours a day sleeping. We spend a lot of time eating and doing things like that and we talk about food health, we talk about sleep health and it's not as much of a conversation to talk about social media health but you're seeing people spend four and five hours a day on these platforms. That's something I'm passionate about and I've really been working on."

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