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Transcript | Mike McDaniel's Media Availability - August 8

Read the full transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on August 8, 2023.

(I'm just curious what the thinking is with OL Isaiah Wynn. I know he's told us that he's playing some guard, he's listed on the depth chart as the No. 2 left guard. Obviously he has been a tackle for the last four years, has played guard at Georgia. The fact he hasn't played it in six or seven years, what made you, Offensive Line Coach Butch Barry, etc. want to experiment with him at guard as opposed tackle?) – "So depth charts, okay, preseason depth charts – which there's nothing wrong with them in theory, but for what we do here, and you guys hear me talk about it all the time, like every day, we're evaluating. Every day is important and I am of principle that players decide where they're at on the field. In doing that, preseason depth charts are like my nemesis because I just make sure that they have every player on the team, but to sit here and say, 'this person is…' We are rotating guys, giving guys – I put a precedent on giving guys the opportunity and having them decide where they stand. So if someone's listed as a guard, that doesn't mean they're not getting tackle work or vice versa. You have to put something on paper in general, but realistically, there should be about 15 starters on each side of the ball because you're talking about different personnel groups. Can you do that? Do I just release the day's depth chart? All those things, it's very malleable. I understand why it feels like it's anointing something. It's really, really not. He's listed there because he does play that position, but there's like three other positions that he's playing. Unlike years past, I think in my history and definitely from last year, we have more competition at a lot of spots. So you might see somebody starting that's listed in the third team. I really don't care about it. But only because our mantra, like I can't speak out of both sides of my mouth, so I'm just like, 'Ah, okay, there's a lot of names here. Oh, there's five. There's seven. Okay, we got them all. Sweet.' And that's about the end of it. Thanks for the rant. I knew you'd help me."

(I don't have an injury question. I've got an injury recovery question. CB Jalen Ramsey on Friday was out there with no crutches and no leg brace, just a sleeve on his left leg. Is he ahead of schedule? Has his return date changed?) – "There's been a slew of crutches thievery in Miami Gardens. (laughter) Again, it's a beautiful balance because I love where Jalen is at. He is attacking everything. I love that I can depend on our training staff to know that leaves someone vulnerable to over-exerting at this stage. So that balance has been doing excellent right now. In terms of ahead, I think if I say 'ahead of schedule' to our head trainer, he might open-hand slap me because he doesn't believe in that. He believes in he's doing well at this juncture, but you have to go through steps and plateaus. He was already resisting the crutches when he had the crutches. I pointed out to him that his triceps could use the work, but he didn't agree. (laughter) His spirits are great and it speaks to him. Like how many other guys do you see with a timetable such as his having ownership of the team and his guys more than Jalen Ramsey? I think it speaks to the type of individual, the type of leader that we have on the team and the fact that you guys have a visual aid of his recovery and that he's not on crutches speaks to who he is and what this team and this locker room is about."

(What's the plan in ramping up S Brandon Jones this training camp? He's been in that red jersey and limited to few team reps.) – "It's more than last week, not as much as the next week. Very individualized. Brandon (Jones) specifically falls into the category of the Jalen Ramseys of the world. Brandon will do anything and everything to expedite his return. It means so much to him, so he was probably ready for a little bit more than we gave him last week, but that's intentional because we don't want to put him in a precarious situation to have a setback. There were no setbacks from last week, very encouraged by it. Hoping to take another step forward this week."

(You mentioned DT Christian Wilkins and how he embodies what you expect from this team the last time we talked to you. Can you talk about when you first realized that and is there some type of harnessing you have to do for his energy level? Does it get out of hand ever?) – "So it's one of the reasons – it gives me little goosebumps when I – I just got them, see? Literal. (laughter) Because the progression of players in their journey is just why you get into coaching. And yeah, when I first got here – he's always been so coachable so he would be – his antics were less directed towards they team as they are now. When he has enthusiasm, he's bringing his teammates along. He is letting them know that he's the tone setter. He's the standard. And it's not just him, it's all of his 10 other teammates on the field at the time with him. At the beginning, it was more let's just say, it was concerted 's-talk.' (laughter) I did that myself. I bleeped myself. And it was just more about being intense. He goes to a place when he plays football that is one of the reasons why he's such a good player is because he sees red. And now he's learned how to channel it and it's been awesome to see because where he was starting maybe some fights my first week here, now he's setting energy. And how awesome is that? How did I coach him – I'd coach him in team meetings in front of his peers and be like, 'Listen, you can utilize this energy better.' And he did. And now when he makes a play, it makes other people better offensively and defensively on our team. So it's a really cool progression to watch and I love him for it."

(Are there any key players who – someone on the top three teams – who you know are probably not going to participate in the team activity portion even if it's just for precautionary reason?) – "Yeah, there are some individuals on our progression back that I anticipate that the first person that comes to mind that will probably be tomorrow the first time you see (Terron) Armstead against these guys. Outside of that – there's so many people – but like I've said the whole time, it's very individualized because that's what they deserve. It's not a set rule. It's where they're at, what we need to see and what we need to see from Armstead is the healthiest version of himself and no setbacks. So knowing that it's the first day of joint practice, we're just continuing our progression with him. I'm sure there's other people that I am not thinking of, but the good news is we planned for this. I have a press conference tomorrow and the guys I'm forgetting, I know you guys will remind me."

(Speaking of energy, there's a lot more energy obviously when another team comes in here, but do questions get answered today? Do you see certain things today when guys go against other teams? Guys that maybe you're still figuring out?) – "It's a different benchmark in the progression of the coaching. You do see things. It's like many things; whatever you see, it's even more important the next day. How do they address that? It's not just going against the other team that brings the energy. It's that we've been practicing football for however long against the same people. So that's the excitement. That's the energy. And with that, you can see what people do with it. There's always good way to harness energy and bad ways. We're going to see both today. What are they going to do with it? The next day is you end up – it's very important that they just put their best foot forward so we can identify what those things are and then we have an opportunity the next day to see what they do with that. So it is unique information, how are they going to channel the energy and we'll see if the guys that do it correctly and appropriately, if they can maintain that for two days. And we'll see if the guys that do it incorrectly or inappropriately, if they can adjust the following day."

(The National Weather Service has an excessive heat warning today in South Florida. Heat index will be up to 115 degrees, they said. Did you think of moving practice up even earlier in the day to try to avoid that? And the second question is will you be in long sleeves throughout practice?) – "Well, I'm very aware of all of that. I have like a minor in meteorology at this point. And yeah, you're always going over the whys between the schedule for our team and what we like to do. I like to get in front of the team before and kind of set the tone for what our objective is for the day. If the variance was that severe, which it isn't from half an hour's time; if it is, then I'll cancel meetings and push it up. But I'm very aware of what the heat index is today, which is why you'll you see in practice, while I'm sweating in my long sleeves, which I will be wearing today that multiple people coming up to me continually during practice because we're monitoring that stuff all the time. You have to communicate. You want the training. You don't want it to be excessive that it is harmful or dangerous to people. So I am monitoring that all the time and doing our best to stay in front of anything like that. But yeah, we've been pumping our guys with hydration. They're aware and we'll do our best to keep everybody safe and get some good work in today."

(Have you decided to rest the starters or play Friday's preseason game?) – "Have not, and the reason is because I don't like to get ahead of myself. To me, when you decide that stuff – and I'm very principled by this – when you decide that stuff before you have two practices, you're essentially saying that these practices don't matter in my opinion. Like where are the guys at and what do they need? I'm sure in the future, future Mike will decide that there'll definitely be some starters that don't play. There will probably be some starters that do. And that's not a punishment. That's more of like where they're at in their game and doing right by them so that Week 1, you don't spend a quarter or half a game getting the bugs or the rust off. That's not fair to anybody. When the games count, they count, so I will reserve even considering those types of decisions until you know at least the completion of the second day of the joint practices."

(Have you expressed I guess any specific expectations you've outlined guiding the players' like behavioral conduct during this joint practice session?) – "Yes. And I spent the morning meeting today making sure that it's very clear that in football, especially this version of it, where you have pads and you're replicating it, but you're not tackling, there can be some emotions elicited from that. And I don't tolerate any things that get you 15-yard penalties. And if I can live-speed discern that someone is doing something that would get him kicked out of the game, he'll get kicked out of practice. I think that's important that we go there. That's one great thing about joint practices is it gets your emotion level closer to the point that a game is, and in a game, we can't hurt the team because of our personal – I guess how would I say it? I had to censor myself again. (laughter) Because our personal wars that we're going through. You have to put the team first. So those are other good things about joint practices, but we got in front of it because it is something people can lose their cool and we're trying to avoid that."

(Is there anything you're looking forward to the next couple of days other than you mentioned how they react to the energy of playing somebody else? Anything in your big picture looking at about the team?) – "There's so many – people can get enamored with, like, the starters, were three for five. And yes, we are assessing how the starting players are playing, but in these practices, you get a great lens into your roster. And you have a ton of really tough, tough decisions, really difficult decisions that are coming a couple of weeks away. And this is a great aspect of the whole preseason process where you get little heightened information on who's going to be a part of your team. We are – don't get it twisted – on our journey and we're deciding, really, the players are deciding on the field, what the locker room is going to look like. And the younger guys that maybe don't get as many opportunities in team periods generally get a little bit more opportunities in joint practices for that reason. The one-on-ones are heightened because it is more mano a mano. Less, 'Well, you did this yesterday, I got a plan for you today.' Those deciding what your roster is going to become is a hard, hard thing that Chris (Grier) and I and the coaching staff and personnel (staff) have to come up with. And these joint practices serve as a very helpful tool in that along with everything else that we evaluate."

(Was there anything from the scrimmage carrying over to today that you'd like to see cleaned up or re-emphasize? Whether it's operational or specific…?) – "Yeah, everything that you guys noticed that was bad, I'm hoping is good. (laughter) Because I was there, too. Everything that we're doing, what you're hitting on is a microcosm of what the NFL season is. It's about today and then tomorrow, it's about tomorrow and what did you use from the day before to make yourself the best version of the present. So that is an easier said than done thing that we have to accomplish in the regular season. It's as simple as like, so you beat a team by 25 points. Do you let your foot off the gas and then get pummeled that next week, or do you lose a game by 25 points, and not make the decision that, hey, we're not going to lose again? These types of things, that emotional roller coaster of taking what you've done before and pressing forward to be the best version yourself, that's what, across the board, I look at each and every day. So the scrimmage was an opportunity. We had some explosive plays given up that I don't want to see given up. We had procedural penalties with certain groups, some operational stuff with a snap or two. And we had some decisions from the quarterback and some routes, and angles by blockers. I mean, the list goes on and on. But what I can tell you is that's what's cool about looking at it that way is the second that on this practice field, I guarantee today I'm going to see somebody do something that will be a positive result as a result of something that they didn't do well in a scrimmage. You're trying to stack those things and make sure that is how we operate and training people with muscle memory on like, 'hey, alright, I'm going to take yesterday, but it's about today.' And so there'll be much of that in the midst of the heat index and the various jersey colors."

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