Read the full transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on October 27, 2023.
(Let's start with three quarters of your starting secondary. Is S Jevon Holland out of protocol?) – "No, he's not But still working through it."
(Then your starting corners, with CB Xavien Howard and CB Jalen Ramsey, if they go through practice today well, there are no health issues, things go well, they look good to you, do you expect both of them to play Sunday?) – "Everything is case by case. With those two individuals, I have a very good working relationship with them, and we communicate very well. So they both know what they mean to the team, and what their desire to play, if they put themselves in harm's way, what it can do to the team. Much like Terron Armstead, and that's an earned right because they're not just telling me, they've shown me they know how to prepare. I think literally nothing to do with any competitive advantages, or any like – I really have to go through practice and listen to them. I'm already going to know I'm going to like the way they look, those two in particular. But it's about them understanding, which we've worked to this point to be in a working relationship like this where they know the implications, they know what it's like to feel right, and they know that we have guys that we've really depended on all year, fortunately, that are able to make plays and orchestrate the defense if they're unable to. Obviously, we'd love to have them both. I'm prepared for either scenario for both players and I really don't have a clue if they're going to play or not. Which is fun, right?"
(And if they do not play, how comfortable are you with the contingency plan?) – "That's a good question with the information that we have to work with, so I appreciate that. I'm very comfortable. I was very happy with the performance that the secondary had last week. You learn a lot about people when you're on national television and your matchups are as difficult as they can get. You talk about the receivers that Philadelphia had, and they didn't blink and gave us a chance to win that football game. That's the comfort level. That's the good thing. I find comfort in the fact that both 'X' (Xavien Howard) and (Jalen) Ramsey know how capable the players are that they play with, so they won't make an irresponsible decision. Because just kind of like Terron (Armstead), I'm going to look at it and I'm going to be like, yeah, that's awesome. I want that guy to play. But I'm not inside their mind. So I'm comfortable with all the scenarios and will be excited regardless at Hard Rock (Stadium)."
(Outlook on OL Connor Williams?) – "Yeah, we're going to go through practice. He's in the same category. My gut tells me he'll be active. I'm not sure yet if he's going to start, just because today's like – when you get in these situations where you have up to the day decisions, each practice is monumentally important, especially because it's the most important practice of our lives, the most important day of our lives, today. We'll see how that goes. There's a litany of questions that I truly, with the support of the training staff and the rest of the coaches and stuff, I'm still figuring out. YOLO." (laughter)
(WR Tyreek Hill told us he's playing tomorrow. Can you confirm that? Sunday, I'm sorry I'm jumping ahead.) – "There's no trick or treating for his kids, right? (laughter) Yeah, I would expect him to play, for sure. He's done well. We're very proactive with our – it'd be like, would you run on 'E' if you had a Ferrari? You'd probably make sure it had gas. You take care of it on the front end. An emissions check would be something you'd get done early. Our proactive work proved very well served yesterday as he had a phenomenal practice, and I expect him to be full Tyreek (Hill) energy today."
(Going back that you're not in the player's mind, but CB Jalen Ramsey posted on social saying that he has to go and feel great in order to play, and he has to go through a whole process. What ends up being the process that you guys have to see in order to get back?) – "OK, so literally what he's talking about with this whole process is playing football snaps. When he's talking about his process, he has to go through, 'Alright, so I get warmed up. I feel a certain way, I go through my reps, and it doesn't mean that every play I executed perfectly. It's more am I feeling 100 percent convicted in what I know I need to do.' And then after practice, going through the normal process and then communicating with the trainers as he's literally done every day for the last however many months. It's really just going through the movements, fundamentals, technique, drills and seeing how confident you can be doing all the things that you have to do at that position. You have to turn every single way. You have to stop passes and runs and all sorts of stuff. He knows – he's only interested in one version of Jalen Ramsey, and that's Jalen Ramsey and we know him to be that, because he's not going to shortchange the team and go play a game where he knew going into it that, 'Oh man, I might have to come out in the second quarter, or that I'm just going to be a non-convicted version of myself.' Well that takes away what he does for his teammates when he's going. When he's going, everybody can feel – by how he plays – residual energy, so he's not going to settle. He's not a settler."
(So all in or nothing basically?) – "Yeah. When you're talking at that position and game day actives, you kind of have to be, because the trickle down is so real when you have a guy come out."
(Is CB Cam Smith IR on the table? Or not considered at this time?) – "We're not totally thinking that. I wouldn't say it's off the table. We're trying to work through it and see how he responds. We don't want it to linger throughout the season and make him worse while we're trying to make him better. I have to tip my hat to him. You can see that he is made of the right stuff, that he has what you're looking for in a talented player which is determination and resiliency, and I'm confident that anything we do with him, that he'll find a way to get better from it. He's in a good spot and learning from some unbelievable teachers and coaches within his position room."
(Where are you with the left guard replacement? I know you've got OL Lester Cotton in the mix, you have OL Robert Jones in the mix and then OL Liam Eichenberg – if OL Connor Williams does return to center – obviously could return to the position that he once played. How have they all looked this week in trying to replace OL Isaiah Wynn?) – "I think one of the best parts of practice this week is the way the guys have gone after executing the specifics of that position. I'm feeling very confident in the way we finished the game. I loved Lester Cotton's reps. It's hard to keep Rob (Jones) off the field. He's an ascending player. We might try to find a way get him on the field at some point. Like I've been telling you guys, Liam has been playing – I just love how he evolves every game and gets better at certain things. So, with his commitment to the center position this week, the one thing we've had to make sure of is alright, we're going to commit him to working with Connor and see how that plays out. He has the ability to play guard, but I'm very confident in Lester and Rob and just what they've put on tape this week."
(At running back, how is RB Raheem Mostert's ankle? Do you think we might see carries for RB Jeff Wilson Jr. Sunday?) – "Raheem Mostert, getting himself ready for Sunday, he's very good at that. I was very happy with the way he looked yesterday. Today is a new day, so we'll see how that plays out. We were planning on getting Jeff some touches last week and we always get frustrated when the game doesn't go a certain direction that we were unable to do that. So, I have a heightened desire to get him some touches this week, but we'll let the game play out and the players on the field decide how many touches those are by their performance."
(With S Brandon Jones, he's pretty much been a strong safety in the box guy. I know you guys don't necessarily have positions at the safety spot, but are you comfortable with him filling in for S Jevon Holland, especially all the communication that goes with it?) – "That's what he's been working at because it was challenging. He had such a physical mountain to climb, and he did so in such a diligent, great way. Then, just like you're really hitting the nail on the head, it's a system change for him. That position is all about how convicted you can play, because you have a lot of space and you have to stop the run from deep and you have to be able to protect a lot of space. That's a process. He continues to get more comfortable. He's getting better at – he cares so much and wants everything so bad that he's like a lot of people that are inherently driven, you make yourself vulnerable to snowballing plays. If you don't like something, it can become two plays because you're so mad at yourself. It's been cool to watch him through the process because you're always going to be – in practice this week, every safety has their own alignment, technique, assignment, issues. What I've seen growth in him is stopping the lingering. He's going to continue, and all that does is give people confidence. So his teammates I know are all in his corner. It's not something easy that he's gone through, and the journey isn't over. What he wants to do is feel 100 percent comfortable executing our defense at a high level, and he's in the midst of that journey and it's an ongoing one. It's hard to be really, really good in systems if your system's really good. There are things that you have to – what do I mean by that? There's high level nuances and details to a good system that make it more challenging. If you have loose rules or non-detailed responsibilities, it's an easier system, but in terms of like, 'Hey it's somebody's job to make a play,' when you have a system where you identify who has the difficult down, who has help, and how do you play together and have a ton of different position specific details with that, it's a process. But that's why we don't overreact. I'm happy with where he's at and I just want to see him continue to get better at executing the stuff that is so important to him."
(At this hour, S Jevon Holland is not ruled out yet? I just want to clarify that.) – "That's right."
(Inaudible question) – "No, I really enjoy quality football. You know how hard it is, the NFL season for players, to just execute. You want to talk about what's harder is getting better while doing it. I just really have high regard for teams that finish the season better then when they started. I see on tape a team that's better than when they started, so I know what type of work goes into that. I think from a defensive standpoint, what's very unique about this unit is they have concrete fundamentals and principles that every player on the defense shares. So you can see consistencies in how they defeat blocks, from corner to safety to edge player to 4-technique. It's based on fundamentals and technique to me. They're a very good tackling defense. Offensively, I'm seeing a team that is really evolving and finding more of who they are and finding abilities to make plays in all sorts of ways with guys that I'm very familiar with contributing at a high level. Not just Mike Gesicki, but I coached Kendrick Bourne in San Franscisco. Those guys' uptick in involvement, their backs are playing real well and I think Mac (Jones) is seeing the field. I think they are a team that I know that our team isn't taking lightly and a team that will take advantage of those who do take them lightly."
(FB Alec Ingold has been battling I think a foot injury. I'm wondering how he's been progressing. It seems like his snaps from special teams and scrimmage have been reduced recently. Is that accurate and how is he doing?) – "Typically he's on the field a ton and he's still been on the field a lot, but we decelerated that simply because of how important he is to our team and making sure that we don't run him into the ground so to speak. We have a lot of good football players and we've been able to spread around assignments and responsibilities, whether that be in 3-wides or 2-tight end personnels and do some things that he would do. Because of that, we have a chance to have him continue to be a featured player for us here moving forward. It was something that we were trying to get in front of because we know how much he means to the team and didn't want him – you kind of have to protect him from himself by the way he plays football. He is that physical component that you want to have on your team, not go against. We've been trying to be cognizant of that."