Read the transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on Friday, December 9, 2022.
(So WR Tyreek Hill has an illness we understand. What did he come down with and will it affect him through today's practice or even the game?) – "All I know is his illness is gone. Our team is pumped up. He'll be back out there today and he's feeling great. We were pumped that we were able to get through it as fast as possible and on game day we still expect him to be fast."
(We spoke to T Terron Armstead yesterday and he was just kind of detailing the work he's been doing to try to get back. As it stands right now do you expect him to play in the game on Sunday?) – "You're always careful to be too absolute in that scenario. I feel good about him being able to play, but we still have a day of practice to go through and we need to make sure that there's no setbacks. But he's feeling good and I know he wants to play and we are hoping for the best as far as Sunday goes."
(His activity today will be what?) – "It will be limited and that will be a questionable (designation) scenario on game day, and you won't have an opportunity to ask me that question again so I guess it'll be questionable."
(On OL Liam Eichenberg's progress and if he could be active on Sunday) – "You talk about a remarkable recovery that was strongly influenced by hard work and determination and dedication. Him along with the training staff have done a great job which actually gives that a possibility which most (people), this would be way too soon. But we'll see how he feels today. There is that possibility, but I feel very good about him next week. We'll see for this week."
(We've talked a lot about how this week was going to be kind of like a field trip. Guys were getting to spend a lot of time together and it's kind of winding down. What's your takeaway from just kind of the time away from the facility and seeing guys maybe connect?) – "The hope that your team likes each other; that question was answered because there's nowhere to hide on trips like this. All your time is really spent with each other or on the phone with somebody in your family and it's been really cool to watch. You see guys that maybe aren't in traditional cliques cross position and just different types of personalities spending time together. I think that's a real cool thing that only the right locker rooms totally take advantage of, but I know there's a lot of people on this team that been on these experiences before that really has meant something down the final stretch run of the season, and I think this was a good week for that, for guys to get closer and there's a lot of shared experience. Guys finding random things out maybe that they didn't even want to know, but that's all part of being a close unit."
(WR Tyreek Hill mentioned that you guys had a comedian here and I had some inquiries as to who it was.) – "No, there were several comedians and it's really not any major news. It was pretty resounding from the entire team that they thought that their head coach had better material than the comedians. They all said that. I promise. (laughter) You don't have to ask them, though. Just take my word for it."
(Are you leaning towards or against activating T Eric Fisher for this ballgame?) – "I think I'm very comfortable doing that. He had a good first day of full speed football activity for the first time in a long time and it went well and so if it was just based on that, I think I'd be good. But kind of want to see today how his body responds. It's a big portion of football, is building that callous in regard to your position-specific stuff and being able to perform and so that callous; he really hadn't had any time to do. That's the first real time he's put himself through a full football practice so we'll see how his body responds. It was a good indicator yesterday, but there's a little more detail to do today before we do that."
(In terms of WR Tyreek Hill as a leader what have you noticed his response is with celebration of his teammates? When WR Trent Sherfield scores, when WR Jaylen Waddle scores, when TE Durham Smythe scores – what do you see from Tyreek?) – "I really like that question because it's something that I've always looked at as a great indicator. You always think you know where your team's at, but how do they celebrate together? And sometimes the most telling is when other people are scoring and you'll see him fly over there, you know, because he's faster than everyone. He'll fly over and be front and center of celebrations. I've also noticed I think two in particular stand out where he scores himself and just the football awareness of where you're at in the game; there's nothing worse than – touchdowns are hard to come by – there's nothing worse when a guy on your team scores a touchdown in a frustrating game and starts popping and locking. When you're like, 'dude, have some awareness.' I think the Baltimore game was one example. This past game against San Francisco was another where he had a long touchdown in a game where this side of the ball was pretty frustrating and his awareness to actually just run to the sideline because we have work to do is something that you don't know about a person until you're playing alongside him. So there's a lot to be told on how he behaves when we do score whether he's getting the ball or not and I think you can see by the reaction of everyone that he's not only a good teammate, but watch guys after he scores and does some crazy back handspring or something. Guys are pretty lit and they're probably in camera scope to be viewed their reactions to whatever he does as well."
(It seems like that awareness to score imbalance, it seems like the polar opposite of what outside opinion might be since I think part of the reason why the league did the no fun, no celebration was the peace sign. So I guess that's growth?) – "There's a lot of layers to that individual. I think the world is starting to see more and more. He's an especially unique teammate really first and foremost. Great human being. Father and family man. But he also is somebody that just really brings the ultimate team portion to his play even though he's so gifted, he probably could get away with not doing that."
(Do you and the trainers feel that QB Teddy Bridgewater is ready to dress if needed? Is he available?) – "We know this time has been great for him. We know that he's trending in that direction, but you have to treat each particular individual to their individual needs and desires really, and Teddy knows his body better than anybody. He's also played the game and knows with really as much experience as anybody on our team at football in general; he knows when it's go time for his body and how his body needs to respond. So we know we're getting close. We're not sure exactly when that is, but he's doing a good job and is in a good space."
(WR River Cracraft popped up on the injury report with a calf injury. Was that injury sustained at practice?) – "It's something that just popped up yesterday at practice and expect him to be – especially with River, he's another guy that where there's a will, there's a way – but expecting to list him doubtful for the game as the result of that injury."
(We saw S Brandon Jones here just doing laps around the field. I guess what have you noticed about his recovery and how he's attacked rehab?) – "You don't really know how someone's going to handle adversity. My expectation for him, just the way he – my experience with him as a player is that I expect it to be attacked in a way where he's trying to come out of it better than he went into it, and all he's done is proven that expectation correct because he is as diligent of a worker attacking his injury and enjoys being a part of the team as much as any player that I've been around. So it's been cool to watch and I think it's inspiring to the players that are able to continue on during the season on just what it means to other guys to try to be a part of it and I think that's helpful to see and love having him around."
(How did QB Tua Tagovailoa appear to you from a health perspective? Obviously everybody's got a little something at this time of year, but how confident are you that the ankle or anything else should not inhibit his performance?) – "Yeah, I don't see that being any factor. He's such a tough-minded player and person that I don't think he's going to let any injury that's very common – it's no different than the common bumps and bruises of a season when you're in Week-whatever-we're-in. So I don't expect that to be a factor whatsoever."
(A lot is made about Chargers QB Justin Herbert in this matchup, but what about defending Chargers RB Austin Ekeler? Very dangerous pass catcher.) – "He is a guy that is a great player and like most great players in the league, the answer for them is not one person. He does a great job of taking advantage of space and when there's not proper tracking or maybe you're playing a defense that doesn't come out of the stack that fast and the d-linemen aren't hunting after their pass rush; he makes them pay every time because he will routinely make the first person miss and as long as the technique's right, you're okay with that. But where he makes all of his damage is really exposing defenses that don't pursue well, so that will be something that we have to execute well for us to be happy with the results."