Read the full transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference ahead of Day 3 of Training Camp on July 28, 2023.
(Opening Statement) – "I'm going to steal the floor for whoever is going to try to beat me to the punch. Obviously yesterday we had an injury with Jalen Ramsey at practice. It was a non-contact injury that was his meniscus. He is going to be having surgery at 1 o'clock today. The length of this rehabilitation is dictated on a couple things that could occur during the surgery. The exact timeline is to be determined. What I can tell you is I don't think the beginning of the regular season is really a part of the scenario. It's going to be into the season and how deep that is depends on what happens today. Realistically with the way the team had practiced, you don't know with these kind of things, but what was the most amazing thing about the whole thing was the way Jalen responded. He spoke to the team yesterday and it really moved a lot of people. He first let everybody know how much he appreciated this team and how this team has accepted him. He's been in the league for a little bit and he knows what we're doing here and his opinion is special for his position group not to waver, and exuded all the confidence he has in that position group. One of the things that he said that was real cool for everybody was he told all his teammates not to worry, not to feel sorry for him. He's going on whatever timeline the doctors give him. He's going after that timeline and trying to flex that he'll beat it. He realistically couldn't be more committed and excited to join the team again this year, whenever that is. It isn't really up to him and he knows that, but adversity is not really an issue. It's an opportunity for a lot of guys to come together and stand up. It was a team moment that was really put together by Jalen and that's where it stands right now."
(How do you feel about the cornerback depth that is on the roster right now?) – "I feel good about the entire crew. We are dealing with some injuries now in the group, but I feel very, very, very good about the competition there and the guys that are ready to go see some more opportunities. There's Pro Bowlers and hungry young guys and everything in between. It will be outstanding work for us moving forward."
(The other day we heard CB Xavian Howard point to CB Kader Kohou as his pick for a guy to make that next step this year. What have you seen from him going from his rookie season to now in his second season with the Dolphins?) – "I see determination and hunger to build on what he's really done. Kader is a prime example of seeking opportunity and every player is very aware of that. Last year we were sitting here talking about Byron Jones and my answer to you guys was not, 'Oh yeah, Kader Kohou'. Keep in mind every single rep, every single day, which is what our whole team's focus is, those things, the results of those, the development, the consistency and the growth, that determines who's playing and who is excelling just like Kader showed. That's why you breed competition, get as many quality players as you can, and then you let the chips fall as they decide, not as we look at a piece of paper and say, 'Ok it's that guy'.
(Had CB Jalen Ramsey express any discomfort with the knee up until yesterday?) – "No, absolutely not."
(Wanted to clarify too, it looked like there was a collision with WR Tyreek Hill right around the time the injury happened, it was a non-contact injury?) – "The contact was after he had injured it. It was very clear."
(It seems pretty smart in retrospect for the club to take a corner in the second round. What have you seen from CB Cam Smith and if it comes to it, what do you know about rookie corners starting in the NFL?) – "I know enough not to project where we're going yet, especially this soon. It is a journey, and again we weren't talking about Kader Kohou, who played outstanding as a rookie. I definitely know that he didn't come up in this press conference a year ago. I have seen steps forward and steps back. I've seen a consistent human being that is earning the trust and respect of his teammates by how he's approaching things professionally. Now what does that mean for how he's playing? I don't even really think about that. It's more about intent and you build and stack those days so that you can ultimately have a decision, that you don't prematurely decide ok he's doing whatever. I've been happy with his daily investment and how he really has seen the pro's around him and taken some notes and is learning lessons every day. Sometimes those are good lessons, sometimes those are bad."
(You mentioned two outcomes from surgery. Can you speak to the likelihood of either and if maybe one is likely to be a longer route back?) – "To answer your question, no I cannot. The doctors will know the most information during the surgery and they'll do the appropriate thing."
(Were you able to get any sleep last night knowing that you have the depth at the defensive back position? Were you able to get any sleep last night?) – "Absolutely. Jalen (Ramsey) himself, to the team, said it best. This is a team. He's a piece of the puzzle. I'm focused on a lot of players. If one player dictated the ultimate success or failure of this team, maybe you'd lose sleep over it. But a team is something that at the end of the year, your success or failure is determined on how you handle things such as this. Day two is a little early and unfortunate to happen to Jalen, for sure. But to sit here and think we are just going to coast through stuff without having anything happen is far from my philosophy. As a team, it's a great opportunity to get their feet wet at something you have to master to have the season that you want, which is to take something that is unfortunate and our whole team, I could tell through the whole walkthrough after Jalen talked, our team was focused on making sure we do right by Jalen and be the best team that we can possibly be for when he gets back. It's just one more added thing that can incentivize what we're doing on a daily basis. I'm very focused on today, which means I have to sleep before today."
(I wanted to ask about some other injury updates with some guys. We didn't see LB Jaelan Phillips or DB Keion Crossen in practice with Brandon Jones and CB Trill Williams coming back from injury. Is it just maintenance or coming back from injury?) – "Jaelan, on the second play of training camp, got stepped on. He has an injury that we're not worried about but would not be healed if he continued to practice. We're just being smart with it. Brandon Jones and Trill, one of the things that I can say with some absolute certainty on this team, in the locker room, you have about as hungry, thirsty and passionate guys that I've been around. Particularly those two, coming off injury, one of our responsibilities is to protect them from themselves. The one thing I can say in terms of how everything is individualized with literally everything we do, is all the players that haven't been fully participating throughout the entirety of practice for their individual regiment purposes, none of them have had any setbacks. They are good to go, and we're finding out some information on Keion. I don't expect him to be at practice but I don't really have anything to tell you until I get some feedback on him."
(I see you talking, making it a point to talk to these guys, whether it's CB Nik Needham or S Brandon Jones, just to talk to them one-on-one. How much mentally is that good for them also?) – "Human nature is real. When you're a football player on a football field practicing football, what are you if you're not practicing football? You're a football player that is preparing mentally. But human beings are human beings, especially those guys that are putting in so much work and want to get back as quick as possible, I'm trying to communicate with them as much as possible how important they are to the team and not to lose focus on the opportunity they have right then. When you aren't playing but observing, if you challenge yourself mentally you can really get things out of the situation. That's what I'm challenging them to do. All of the guys on our team are pretty good guys and I don't wish injuries upon anyone. I know how hard that is, so they're good on their own. Like every single player, healthy or unhealthy on this team, I feel a responsibility to bring the best out of them."
(Can you speak to the attention of this team, certainly since you've been here, to go out of your way and give guys an extra week or two to come back? It seems like you always error on the side of caution with injuries. With a guy like LB Jaelan Phillips, who has such expectations and excitement for the season, may want to get back sooner then he should.) – "Organizationally, that's something that I am proud of. We, across the board, from the top down, involving all administrative positions, coaches, we prioritize what this is for each individual player. Very, very often, in a competitive setting when there are a lot of good players on the field, people will be irresponsible with themselves and press things too fast. As much as we can, players are depending on us to be experts at whatever we are. From a human being standpoint, when we know people are chomping at the bit, we want to make sure because we want to heal them. Our trainers want to get whatever is ailing them corrected, and we're not willing to, at the cost of longevity, try to get something out of someone and ignore the negative consequences. I am very proud of that."
(Are you going to look to add a cornerback in the next coming days?) – "We'll probably have a workout. I'm very happy with our group. We'll have a workout for depth purposes here in the near future."
(You guys made the playoffs last year despite a lot of injuries. What did that tell you about your team's depth and about your team's mentality?) – "That's exactly why I'm not losing sleep. You have to take what's in front of you. I talked to the team a ton about this. There's so much the world is telling us if you open your eyes and listen. That experience, that's how we justify last season. Our goal was not to get to the playoffs and lose. That is unfortunate so you have a choice. Do you turn that into a failure or turn that into something that is a part of your future success? The only way you can do that is take what's there and learn from it. Hey, guess what, injuries happen. That's why our veterans in year two have taken a huge step of personally holding the young guys accountable. You really learn that you need everybody to win. If we hang our hats at an injury, what is that doing? No other team really cares. If I'm holding my breath for the Chargers and everybody else to shed a tear for us, I'll be holding my breath. I think it's an invaluable lesson, something that you can turn, like everything in life, you can turn a perceived negative into a positive if your mind is right and trying to attack today and not yesterday."
(I wanted to ask you about Dalvin Cook. He's visiting the Jets and was on Good Morning Football this morning and openly campaigned to be a member of the Miami Dolphins. Where is this team's level of interest in adding Dalvin Cook?) – "First and foremost, I'm extremely happy with our running back group. Extremely happy. I have great relationships with some very talented players. However, Dalvin Cook is a great player. I look at it like if it works on both sides, it makes sense for somebody. You're adding a player to a team and an organization, and all the things they both need need to be met for it to work. He's a free agent and he's visiting the Jets. And that's what I have to say."
(How is the rest of the team?) – "It looks like if we build on yesterday, yesterday's mistakes were purposeful. If we don't, I don't like where we are at. But it's all about building on the last day. Every day you have mistakes, but if today is productive, it's because people are learning and progressing while still competing."