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Transcript - Training Camp Day 15 (Aug. 15, 2019)


Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019 | Jack Hammett Sports Complex | Costa Mesa, Calif.


Opening statement:

"That was a good-spirited practice this afternoon. We got some good work in. It got a little chippy for a little while, but you know, it's football. Both teams were professional. I liked the way we performed today and in certain situations, but there were too many flags on the ground. It was good work, it's always a pleasure to go up against a team like the Saints. They're one of the better teams in the NFC and they have an outstanding coaching staff — so the coaches are challenged, the players are challenged, everyone's challenged, so I think we got better today."

On practices with NFC Championship game teams:

"If you want to evaluate yourself and see where you are, it's good competition. That's what I tell the guys."

On WR Keenan Allen:

"He was a little sore."

On if Allen will be okay for Sunday:

"I'm sure if he was playing on Sunday, yeah I'm sure he would."

On if QB Philip Rivers will play on Sunday:

"We haven't talked about who's playing and who's not playing yet, but we will see."

On evaluation of the team:

"I love the situational football because that's how you play the game, in situations. I like to see our schemes, our philosophy against other [teams]. We've gone up against two pretty good organizations, so we've had a good chance to look at some things we are doing and make some adjustments."

On building off previous seasons:

"I think every year is a different year. Once we start playing real football games, we'll see exactly where we are. If you look at our schedule early on, we are going to be challenged."

On S Nasir Adderley:

"I don't want to put a timetable on it, but he's working hard every single day, I can tell you that. He's trying to get back on the field to be with his teammates.

"You have to be patient with those soft tissue injuries, but yeah I would like to see him out here. This training camp is very valuable."

On players who have impressed you:

"[LB] Uchenna [Nwosu] had a pretty good day today. I liked the way he worked last Monday night and today. I think with these joint practices, some of these guys, they see it as an opportunity and he's taking advantage of it.

On LB Uchenna Nwosu:

"He can play [defensive end], he can play outside linebacker and he's playing on special teams."

On giving the first-team more reps in joint practices:

"I like getting the starters a lot of reps in these scrimmages because it's a controlled environment. I think you do see a lot more teams doing this.

"We did this back when I was playing, back in the early 1990s, so it's been around for a while. I like the way our players are handling the situation."

On the defense:

"I love the way they ended the two-minute period today. We talk about situational football, if there wasn't an interception by [S Derwin] D.J. [James Jr.], their player would have scored a touchdown."

On RB Melvin Gordon III:

"I haven't spoken to Melvin in a while.

"He's a pro's pro. Whenever he reports, I'm sure he'll be ready.

"There's always drawbacks when you're not here practicing with your teammates and getting better each and every day. I wouldn't expect him to walk right back in and pick up where he left off. I don't expect that at all.

"It's hard for me to appreciate it because I want him here. You know? When I was in his shoes, I could appreciate it. I do understand, it's business. It'll work itself out."

On if joint practices or preseason games are more beneficial:

"You know what, both. Like I said, these joint practices you get some full-speed reps. In preseason games, it's what you practice for when we go play in games. So, I think that both are really valuable."

On if T Trent Scott is ready to start Week 1:

"He has no choice."

On other options on the offensive line:

"Well, we drafted [T] Trey [Pipkins III]. Trey's been a swing tackle, working right and left. He's coming along."

On the tackles:

"They've taken a lot of reps. They've grown. Their growth this camp. You can see it just in the games in the communication with the other linemen, which is important to get them in there. They played a lot of snaps last week. I'm going to cut back a little bit this week, but they'll get a few."

On moving linemen around:

"You know, it's hard to go from inside to outside but [G] Forrest Lamp played outside in college. We know that he can go out in a pinch. At some point, we're going to start working him outside a little bit."

On players getting chippy in joint practices:

"Oh, no question. You don't want things to get out of hand, but football's an emotional game and guys are really passionate about it. It doesn't surprise me when it happens."

On giving veterans time off:

"I look at guys — I have a plus-nine rule. Guys that are plus-nine [years of experience], they get more days off. They get more time off. We really watch and monitor their reps. They've been in a lot of NFL training camps. They've proven they can play on this level, but I tell them like everyone else, 'You've got to show that you can still do it.' They have no problem with that."

On veterans wanting to forgo time off:

 "Well, in the past we've kind of admired that and let the player come out and practice, but now I think I have to do a better job protecting the player from himself."

On the motivation for his time-off policy:

"No, I think it's more of a personal thing. I think each player — it takes a certain amount of reps to get them ready to play Week 1. We have to figure out what that is for each individual."

On G/T Michael Schofield III:

"Michael's doing a fine job at right guard. I wouldn't say that he's set because there's a competition going on there, but he's doing a fine job."

On G Dan Feeney:

"It's a rotation with Feeney, it's a rotation with Michael [Schofield]. We're still looking. We have three more preseason games. We have a lot of time left. We're going to let this thing play itself out."

On LB Denzel Perryman:

"Denzel's moving around better. The first 10 practices, I couldn't say that, but he's gotten better. I think he's getting used to playing with the knee and the knee brace."

On CB Trevor Williams' rehabilitation:

"Everybody's different. Yeah, it's longer than I thought, but like I said, everyone's different."

On the defense's celebrations:

"Well, they may be working on the timing of their celebrations because all they get is 40 seconds. If we get delay of game because of celebrations, it's going to be a problem." 


On the joint practice:

"It was good. There are a lot of things to correct, that's for sure. It's a good team, as we know coming off the season that they had last year. There are plenty of things for us to clean up. We made our fair share of plays, but there are plenty of areas to get things corrected, which is to be expected. It's the middle of training camp, going against a good football team. There's certainly a lot of room to improve."

On which team won the quarterback challenge:

"We got them day one, really thanks to Cardale's [Jones] unbelievable showing. We got them day one, but they pick the challenge for day two. Then, whatever happens, we're going to make it all win-or-go home on day three, probably. It was a good start."

On the quarterback challenge:

"The practices are great and the [challenge], certainly, with those guys — [Saints QBs] Drew [Brees], Teddy [Bridgewater] and Taysom [Hill] over there. They mixed in [G] Larry [Warford], one of their offensive linemen. It's always great. It's always fun to see Drew and see all of those guys — but to see Drew, we were just telling stories from 15 years ago. It's crazy how time flies. It's cool going against those guys, and we get a lot of different looks, defensively. From a practice standpoint, it's great work for us."

On WR Travis Benjamin:

"Last year, first of all, he was hurt some. Then, he was sprinkled in a little bit — in-and-out with [WR] Tyrell [Williams], [WR] Mike [Williams] and [WR] Keenan [Allen] with Mike coming on the way he did last year. With Tyrell gone, Travis may be asked to be on the field more. We'll see how that all plays out. He just needs to keep doing what he's doing. His biggest asset, as we know, is his speed. That's the best way to use him. That doesn't mean to throw it deep all of the time, but the threat of him running by you — we can continue to use that. He's healthy. This is as good as he's looked, to me, in the whole time he's been here."

On WR Mike Williams:

"To me, he's never really, really covered. Obviously, you don't just throw it up all of the time. The percentages aren't in your favor all of the time, but he has such a catch radius and he's so big. When most guys may look covered and you see him, you go, 'Well, maybe he has a chance.' I've grown used to that over the years with some of the receivers we've had here in the past. He's similar to those guys in that aspect of going up and making catches. You've seen, he's made some here about every day — big plays. He's going to be a big part of what we do."

On being described as 'ageless':

"I don't know about that. I felt a little stiff and old this morning. I feel great, mentally. Maybe he's talking about that. So far, I can say that I feel good in that respect. I feel good physically, too. I think some of it — and I imagine, I don't know. Drew [Brees], [Patriots QB] Tom [Brady] and all of those guys that are up there as far as age in this game, I think being around all these young guys all the time helps. It helps you. They keep you energized, excited and fired up. It has been fun. I've really enjoyed not only the young, young guys — the guys born in late 1998 when I was in high school — but the guys that are the six, seven or eight-year guys — the Keenan's [Allen] and all of those guys that you kind of gotten to see be rookies and All-Pro players."

On the team potential:

"No question, I think we are in a similar window that we were in from 2006-09 when we won the division four years in a row, went to an AFC Championship game, had a first-round bye — a couple of those — won a playoff game almost every year or got to the divisional round, at least, every year. I feel like we're in that window. That doesn't mean that it's going to just happen, but I do feel like we're in that window capability-wise. We know what this division is. Kansas City has kind of had it the last couple of years, they're going to be unbelievable. Denver and Oakland are going to be teams to deal with. I think we have the toughest division in the whole league. That's where it starts for us, finding a way to win the division."

On RB Melvin Gordon III:

"One, what he does between the lines — how hard he plays and how hard he runs. Offensive linemen love seeing a guy fight for every inch and he's that way. Quarterbacks love it as well. Also, he sells himself out and throws his body in harms way to protect, not only catch out of the backfield but to protect. Then, he's great off the field. He is always smiling, laughing. He is always around the guys. I think that guys appreciate that. We want Melvin back. He brings a lot to our offense. Right now, our young guys, [RBs] Justin [Jackson], [Austin] Eck [Ekeler] and a couple of other guys are doing a heck of a job. Thankfully, we have them, but we want Melvin back. There's no doubt about it. Hopefully, we see him here before too long.

"I think you want to always be as supportive as you can of your teammate. At the same time, you have to move forward with what you have to do to prepare for the opener and beyond. There's a balance there. I know Melvin knows that I'm pulling for him. In saying that, that means you want what's best for him. You want him to feel great and you want him to be at peace with how it all ends — and hopefully it's right here. He knows that. I doubt anything that I just said will make [ProFootballTalk] headlines, but those that know me will know that's what I've meant all along.

"If he's not here, we've got to go. I think that's what I really was saying three weeks ago. If he's not [here], shoot, we've got to go. We do have good players here at that position, so we have to go. Are we better with Melvin? Heck yeah, we are. Hopefully we have him in addition to these other guys. Then, it will be one of the saltiest running back groups around. Again, I'm in no place to speak for the organization, but I know no player is in a panic right now. We want to support him and wish he was here, but we also know that it's August [15] and everything is okay at this point."

On the team potential:

[Melvin] is certainly a big part of that. Any time you don't have a great player out there, you're not as good, but you can find ways to get it done. Certainly, we're better with — I was about to say 28 out there — we're better with 25 out there."

On practicing with the two teams in the NFC Championship:

"I think it's huge. I really do. Practice is weird, right? I don't know if you watched, but there were a couple of series where the run game looked [not great] on both sides. It looked like there could have been a sack on both sides, and there's incompletions — it's just like, 'Guys, we won 12 games and they really should have been in the Super Bowl.' Sometimes you don't look like that in practice, and I think that's the way it goes. There is not a great deal of preparation that goes into this practice. You're seeing fronts and different movements of guys, so I think its great tape to teach off of and to learn things. 'Oh. Look at this coverage, we haven't seen that. What's good versus it?' You know, it's not so much finding a way to beat the Saints in practice, it's more helping us get better and seeing guys compete. Like a guy like Keenan [Allen] was not in there today and [WR] Artavis [Scott] gets thrown in there with the [first-team] a little bit to see how he reacts to that. I thought he did some good things. There are some things he needs to clean up. I missed him on a wide-open third down. We weren't very good on third down. Still, those things you clean up and there's no real consequence today. Which is probably the best part."

On if he'd be okay with not taking a snap in the preseason:

"Yep. I'd see you September 8 and be just fine."

On ProFootballTalk:

"I don't know if it was even that they changed my words. It was just bits and parts — it was really a two-sentence statement. It was a, 'Here's this' and a, 'But we're going to go with what we've got.' I think if you watch it and hear the tone [you can understand my point] — that's why text messages can get you in trouble sometimes, too. You're like, 'Hey you didn't hear me say it. I said it like this.' So, all is good. I just know that makes it harder on [RB] Melvin [Gordon] too. You want him to know what you mean and how you feel about it."

On if he has talked to Gordon recently:

"Oh yeah. I think he's talked to a lot of the guys. It's more encouraging because you know he hates being away. He wants to be out here — he loves to play, he loves the locker room. I mentioned all the things on the field, but I think one of the reasons he's so likable is he loves to be in the locker room hanging out with the guys. He's always smiling, laughing and carrying on. I'm sure he misses that, even more so now that we're starting games and stuff. It's part of this business, and hopefully, again, this gets resolved and both the Chargers and Melvin are happy."

On T Trent Scott filling in for T Russell Okung:

"Again, [T] Trent [Scott] is a young player. He's going to get better every day. He's going to make some mistakes, but he's physically capable and he cares a whole heck of a lot. I think if you have those two, you have a chance. You want Russell healthy first, for his own self and his family, but we certainly want Russell back when he is healthy. Until then, I think the whole group has enough trust in Trent and [T] Sam [Tevi] both that we can go and move down the field to score some points."

On his relationship with Saints QB Drew Brees:

"It is crazy. It's pretty cool. It's meaningful for me, too. Shoot, you're out here with Drew and not only is he a friend and a guy you shared a quarterback room with 15 years ago, he's also the all-time leading passer in the history of the game. It's pretty special. I was asking [QB] Easton [Stick], 'Hey, were you a Drew Brees fan growing up?' He was like, 'Yeah, that was my guy.' How cool is that? You're on a practice field, doing a QB competition and watching him work. It is awesome. In addition to all of those guys on that team, it's a heck of a group. You definitely don't take that for granted, sharing the practice field with a guy like that."

On the defense:

"I thought our guys did some good things. Again, I didn't see the drills on that side. I don't think you — at least I don't say, 'Who won the day?' We won't be saying that in our room. We'll be saying, 'Oh yeah, I don't think he made that tackle.' I'm sure, when the Saints watch the film, they're going to say, 'Oh yeah, you made that tackle.' That's just the way it goes. It's more about the other things, the details — cleaning up some routes. [TE] Hunter [Henry] and I were a little off on that one today that got tipped and intercepted. There's no harm, nothing happened, but it will help us when we get into the regular season when it counts. Those are the things that are valuable in these kinds of practices."

On the tight ends:

"I'll tell you, they are really versatile tight ends in the run game and pass game. Virgil [Green] is battling to get healthy right now. It's great to have Hunter [Henry] back healthy and playing well. I really think [Sean] Culkin has had his best camp yet. He's just tough and plays hard in whatever you need him to do. You want me to motion over and block a [defensive] end? You want me to run a route? He does all of the special teams. He has really had a nice offseason and training camp."


On working on interceptions:

"Every day we do ball drills. The emphasis every day is turnovers. Punching the ball a lot, fumbles, interceptions, strip-sacks, all those kinds of things we emphasis every day. Of course, during the individuals, we work on that every day — catching the ball, high-pointing the ball. We had some more that we could've had as well, but it ended up coming back to us in the same drill. I think we did a good job today. Hopefully we can continue that."

On having confidence in the secondary:

"As a whole, that's what it's about. We want to lead the NFL in turnovers. If we can lead the NFL in turnovers, we can have a good defense. I think that's what it's about, getting the ball and gaining confidence. We've got some young guys that are doing some really good things for us and hopefully we can continue that."

On dropping an interception:

"Any time it touches any one of our hands we want to get the ball, especially myself. I think everybody holds themselves to a high standard. Just like [CB Michael] Mike [Davis] today, I'm pretty sure he wanted to catch the ball that [S] Derwin [James Jr.] ended up catching. We all hold ourselves to a high standard. Like I said, as a defense we want to lead the league in turnovers. That's one of the big ones you can do is get interceptions."

On practicing with the two teams in the NFC Championship:

"It's always good to go against those teams, especially teams like those two. That game could've went either way. We've played against — practiced against — two Super Bowl-caliber teams. [Saints QB] Drew Brees is going to help us out, especially on the defense. They run a multi-defense type of scheme and I'm pretty sure that'll help our offense as well. So, going against Drew and some of the weapons they have — [Saints WR Michael] Mike [Thomas] was down for them and [Saints RB] Alvin [Kamara] was down for them. Hopefully, they can come back tomorrow and we can get some work against those guys. You've still got to roll with whoever's throwing the ball. We can have a good day against [the Saints]. We look forward to it and will hopefully continue to do that throughout the week."

On the Saints' Super Bowl potential:

"No doubt. They've got Drew Brees. It's like anybody that practices against us. We've got [QB Philip] Phil [Rivers]. Any time you've got that caliber of quarterback, that's where it starts. They've got a good defense and they've got really good players on offense — a good [offensive] line. They've got the highest-paid wide receiver. [Their] running back has been to back-to-back Pro Bowls. They've got some really good talent over there. Any time you can match up against those guys, stack and do well against them, you've got a pretty good chance to do well on defense."

On their celebration after an interception:

"The celebrations, they do those type of celebrations. We told ourselves that if we get one, we're going to do it. Everybody says we kind of stole it from them, so they say. We tried to make an emphasis on, 'We're going to get more turnovers than you all and do it more than you all.' It doesn't even matter who came up with it. Let's see who can do it the most."

On celebrating:

"Practice you can do it however long you want to, I feel like. In the game, you've only got a quick little turnover. If we catch it on this end, take pictures on this end — don't run to the other end. That's where the 40 seconds comes in. In practice, I don't care. Take a whole minute."

On RB Melvin Gordon III:

"I mean, that's our brother. We don't want to talk bad about anybody's situation. Everybody's situation is different. How can I tell him to come if he feels like he deserves this? I feel like I deserved what I got. I'm pretty sure nobody would say, 'No he didn't.' For a brother like Melvin, he deserves what he wants to get and what he's worked hard for. He's put himself in a position to get what he deserves, but overall we kind of worry about who's here and hopefully he can get his deal done and can be back here with us competing for a Super Bowl."

On if he's talked to Gordon:

"Yeah, I talk to him probably three times per week. That's my guy, so I talk to him all the time.

"He's working out. He's got his helmet and shoulder pads [while] working out, so hopefully when he comes in he'll be in tip-top shape. Hopefully, take him [just] a couple days to get back into form."

On Gordon's workout video:

"Like I said, I talked to him, so I knew what he was doing. He's working hard. Of course, it doesn't simulate practice, things like that, but for him to [have the] initiative to stay in shape and do the things he's got to do when he comes back to be ready — I think that shows that hopefully he'll be back sooner than later."

On Saints QB Drew Brees:

"You can't tell. Him and [Patriots QB] Tom Brady. You can't even tell those guys — they seem ageless. Those guys have been doing it for such a long time and doing it at a high level. He's going to probably continue to do that at a high level this year. Like I said, they've got so many weapons around him. They've got one of the best quarterbacks of all time. I'm a big fan and hopefully he'll continue his success."

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