AUGUST 29, 2013
“For a fourth game, I was very pleased with our effort tonight. Sometimes, it’s a difficult situation going into the fourth preseason game, but I thought our players came out and responded and ready to play. It’s kind of a letdown. You look across the line and some of the guys you expected to be there (against) aren’t there. But every club has to choose (how to play their roster), and I thought our (front-line) guys played well with limited exposure. Get in, get out, and then it was really a good night to watch the other guys play and compete. There was a lot of a good football and reps with our team. It’s good to see and good to evaluate as we move forward. We got guys good snaps and good opportunities.”
Is there any early update on linebacker
“He’s got a shoulder injury. It had slipped out, and they slipped it back in place. But that’s about all we know ... We’ll have to see how he responds.”
How do you feel linebacker
“I think J.K.’s had some good plays. He’s had some production and he’s had some up-and-down plays, too. He made a nice play on the ball tonight, a nice interception there.”
This is the second straight preseason where linebacker
“It’s good. He’s still a young, developing guy. I think he’s made some progress on special teams and that’s the good thing, you know?”
The guys came out pretty physical tonight — what are your thoughts on the running game?
“Well, again, it’s — the running game, it’s a collection of things. It’s being able to run it when you have to and throw it when you have to. But we were productive early in the game when
How about the injury to guard
“He’s got a little knee injury and again, it’s nothing major, it’s about how we respond and get forward.”
Is there any value in having a winning preseason moving into the regular season?
“You know, there’s really not. You start from scratch. The value of the preseason is developing the positive habits of the guys when they’re in there playing, doing the right thing.
How important was it for Iloka to play tonight since he hadn’t in a while?
“It was very important for him to want to get out there and play and play like he did. He played almost a half of football, so that’s good. He didn’t get a lot of plays the first game — just the way the rotation went — but when he was in there he was able to get off the field with some 3-and-outs. So it was good for him to get out there and play, so that was good. That’s what he had to do. This thing will continue to heal and he’ll be ready to go, but I think a lot of guys have gone out and played with what he’s dealing with.”
Both backup quarterbacks went out and led you on scoring drives tonight — what’s going to be the barometer as to who you keep?
“We’ll make a good decision and keep the quarterbacks that we feel we need to keep.”
Are you glad the preseason is over so you can start preparing for Chicago?
“Yes. That’s obviously been the focus of this whole preseason — getting ready for the season. It’s good that it’s finally here. There was a lot of good work that was put into training camp and into these preseason games, so I’m glad that it’s over, and I’m glad that we will be playing real football now.”
With that first drive, how important was it to establish the kind of momentum that you want going into Chicago?
“That’s what we wanted to do. We wanted to drive down and we wanted to score, and we did exactly what we set out to do. We had some really good runs mixed in there. We had a couple conversions on some throws. We wanted to drive down and score, and we did that. That’s what we wanted our first offense to do.”
It looked like the run game between Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard was good this game and throughout the preseason:
“Yes. I thought we did a good job. Both of those guys are really good, and they are going to complement each other really well. It’s good to get the running game going. The guys behind him looked really good as well. It makes it easier offensively if you can have a pretty good running game, so I’m excited about what we have here.”
Offensively, were you able to accomplish what you wanted to in the preseason and in training camp?
“I think so. I think we did a lot of really good things. We were out there competing, out there working hard, finding guys out there that are going to help us win games. I feel like we accomplished all of that in training camp.”
Do you feel as ready this year as you have in past years?
“Yes. Just the comfort level of everything is better. I feel a lot more comfortable now. I’m excited about the guys we have here. I’m excited about the team we have and about what we are going to be capable of doing. I think that’s the biggest thing. With what we have going on with the players we have, I’m just really comfortable. I feel like we have a lot of potential, and I’m excited to get this year going.”
You have to feel pretty good about how your preseason has gone, right?
“Yeah. I felt like I made progress week to week. I felt like I made progress on the things that the coaches were preaching that I need to work on. As an offense, we did well tonight, so that was progress for us.”
What do you feel you need to work on most?
“I’m always working to improve my game. My mindset is that when I go out there in practice or a game, I try and be perfect, even though no one is perfect. That’s the only way I feel like I can improve. Decision making, everything. Every detail of the quarterback position, I’m trying to improve on.”
You seem to have tremendous confidence on where you stand with the offense. Is that accurate?
“Yes. I feel really comfortable. The coaches did a great job of giving me everything I need to be successful. Just have fun out there. Putting time in with the film and meetings to try and be successful out there on the field.”
It’s been a fight for spots at the running back position. You guys all seem to have made the most of your opportunities when your number is called. Would you agree?
“Absolutely. You have to. We have a lot of good backs, so any opportunity to get on the field, we try to make the most of it. You’re never going to play a perfect game, but when you make your mistakes, you learn from them and try not to make them a second time.”
Each of the running backs tonight had their good moments. You guys really stepped up tonight. Would you agree?
“That’s what makes this a good running back group, and that’s what makes us better. Competing every day single day like that, and when we go out on the field we expect the best from one another. That raises each one of our standards and our levels of play.”
You run with tremendous body lean, which seems to help your style. In addition, you catch the ball and run with elusiveness. You seem to be able to do everything out there:
. “I’ve had some good coaches along the way. My high school days, I had my dad. From then on up. Just learning from everything and watching other guys, especially older guys like BenJarvus (Green-Ellis), and getting things from them and adding them to your game. I have a very strong passion for the game of football, and I want to play as long as I can.”
Is the NFL everything you thought it would be?
“Absolutely. Everything and more. I’m enjoying it now, and hopefully I can keep on playing.”
You seem to be understanding the offense pretty well. Is it coming through to you easily, now?
“Yeah. Some of this stuff is similar to what I ran at Nebraska my first couple of years there. I’m very comfortable with all of it. As you get more experience, you get more confidence. The linemen are making their reads with their blocks. The more experience you get at this level — even on special teams as well — the quicker you’ll play. I think I progressed through that all through preseason.”
Did you feel the pressure to prove yourself at wide receiver, in addition to as a returner?
“I didn’t feel pressure. Going into this camp, I was like, ‘I’m going to put it all on the table and give it all I’ve got, and show them I really want to be here.’ I just want to take it one day at a time and keep competing. ”
Do you feel that you’ve improved?
“I feel like I have, but there’s always room to get better. So I’m just taking it one day at a time and try to get better.”
Do you feel that you’ll become more of a mainstay of the offense?
“Whatever the coaches want me to do, that’s what I’ll do. Whatever my role is, I’ll just go in and embrace it.”
What will tonight be like for you, in anticipation of final cuts? Will you be nervous?
“I’m not going to be nervous. I try not to ever be nervous. I just try to go out there in the games and just play. We’ll go out and enjoy ourselves and the end of the preseason. For the rookies, it’s our first preseason. That’s a good time in our lives. Not many people get to say that. So we’ll enjoy ourselves, then come back tomorrow and go out to work. Hopefully I’ll be preparing for the regular season.”
What is your reaction when you see the amount of injuries at linebacker, with all of these guys going down?
“I’ve never seen that before. Guys just keep going down. I don’t know what it is with silly things. Brandon (Joiner) with his knee, and now E-Man (LB Emmanuel Lamur) today. It’s sad, but you try to keep working and move on from it as a team. You don’t want to see what that happen, but it is what it is.”
You don’t want to see that happen, but do you also look at it as an opportunity for you?
“Definitely. It’s an opportunity for a lot of guys, when a guy gets injured. You’re never competing by yourself in this league, you’re always competing with someone else. To see him go down, you’re mad, you’re sad, but you have to go get ready to play. E-Man gets hurt, and all the sudden I’m in on special teams and defense — double duty. You just have to be ready to play.”
How do you think you guys responded to the loss of Emmanuel Lamur in terms of the play of the backups?
“We had a couple of plays on third down where we maybe should have gotten a stop, but for the most part, I think we did a pretty good job only giving up 10 points. I thought we did a pretty good job in the second half of holding them, and I was pretty proud of that.”
The next couple days have to be the toughest for a football player. Your thoughts on how you performed this preseason?
“I think I had a pretty solid preseason. There are still some things that I need to get cleaned up, get better at and keep learning, but I played hard and left it all out there; I know that. Now it’s out of my hands.”
What were some of the things you’ve had to learn during the preseason?
“I’ve had to learn the offense, I had to get used to the way they practice here and the tempo of practice — just the way things are done in this locker room. It’s always an adjustment when you have to do that. I’ve also had to adjust to a new lifestyle and a new city, but nothing has been too tough. I’ve had a lot of good people around me that have helped me through the process.”
What’s it been like being involved with Hard Knocks?
“It was a fun experience. You never really get used to them being around, but you get more comfortable. It’s been cool to watch the episodes at night — seeing yourself out there and knowing that’s what you are going through every day.”
What are some of the things that you are most looking forward to in the regular season?
“I think just getting that first game in. Everyone says the next level is fast and we saw that in the preseason, but it gets cranked up even more in the regular season. Just trying to get that first game under my belt, take it all in and get into a groove of the season.”
Do you feel more comfortable as a pro now with the preseason complete? Does it feel more like a routine to a point?
“For me, I try not to make a big deal out of it — just try to stay level-headed and be the same guy every single day. I’ve just trying to work hard and let things take care of themselves. That’s been my main thing.”
Talk about your situation this preseason:
“It’s a strange situation. Obviously, I want to be on the field, but we have great receivers around here. Whichever way they want to go, I’m sure it will be a good decision. There are really talented guys in this room and I’d really like to be a part of it.”
The season begins in 10 days in Chicago against a team that you were a part of for the last couple of years. Does that add anything to your desire to be part of this team?
“Yes. I want to go back there; I want to play. That’s not my driving force. I don’t necessarily hold anything against Chicago; they did what they had to do. But I would love to get back there, get on the field and contribute.”
They put you out there first. Do you think this was a fair competition at H-back/fullback?
“Yes, I think it was fair. Obviously, we are two different kinds of players. He has done a great job of coming over from tight end. He is more of an H-back kind of guy, and I am more of a side fullback. It kind of goes by what this offense needs and what we need at the moment. I hope I did everything that I could to make this team.”
The action seemed limited the last couple of weeks for both of you guys. Are you happy with the amount of time you were on the field tonight?
“Yes. That’s how it goes playing fullback. Last week, I think we had like 50 plays, so it was kind of hard to get as many reps when you are playing from behind and having to throw the ball a little more.”
“To give you guys an injury update, Kavell Conner had an ankle. He came back and played a little bit and then we held him out in the second half. David Reed, a concussion. Emmett Cleary on a kickoff return had an ankle but came back and played. Daxton Swanson pulled a hamstring. One of the goals, obviously, is to come out as healthy as you can. Credit Cincinnati — they did a heck of a job and certainly in all three phases played much better tonight than we played. We just really couldn’t get anything started. One positive, I think, was the 17-play drive in the second half and to get a score on the board. We couldn’t get off the field on third down; we couldn’t convert on third down, and gave up plays on special teams, so credit Cincinnati. They just played a lot better than we played tonight. We’ll go back and look at the tape. Obviously, we have some tough decisions to make, and we make those in the course of the next couple days and get ready to open the season, get ready for Oakland once we get the roster finalized.”
Personally for you, how hard is it to make these cuts with players you’ve grown to know?
“It’s really tough because over a short period of time, it doesn’t take long to build relationships with all these players, coaches do. Players in the locker room, they become their family. It’s extremely hard, and it’s an opportunity of a lifetime for a lot of them. They’ve probably been dreaming about this opportunity their whole life. For some of them, they’re going to get some disappointing news. Everybody’s going to have to give disappointing news across the league over the next 24 to 48 hours. Does that mean their NFL career and the dream is over? No. What you put out on the field the last three weeks and what you put out there tonight, you’re not only trying to make our club, you’re trying to make 31 other clubs. Everyone is being evaluated.”
As hard as that conversation is (making cuts), do you value the time you had with them?
“Absolutely. Just considering what they have sacrificed and what they have given from a time standpoint, all the hard work and effort they put in since the offseason program started with lifting and running and all the meeting and practice time, the OTAs and minicamp. They’ve done everything we’ve asked them to do, and more. It’s tough.”
Do you meet with each one of them personally?
What did you see from Khaled Holmes tonight?
“You know, it would be tough to give you an answer on that right now. I’ve got to go back and really look at the tape and see. We gave up a couple sacks, some pressure and some penetration in there. Was it just him or was there a combination block, was it him and a guard working together? Those are things I’ve got to go back, and we have to go back as a staff to fully evaluate that. I thought he competed well. I don’t think the ankle was an issue and he came out of it healthy, so I thought that was a positive.”
What did you think about Kerwynn Williams running the ball tonight?
“He did a heck of a job. He’s got good vision and is tough as nails for an undersized guy. He’s got the heart of a lion. He’s produced. He’s produced really every week and made big plays. He’s been productive. Again, he’s put enough out there so you have to give it some heavy consideration. At the end of the day I don’t know what’s going to happen. We’ll have to wait until the dust settles. I thought he competed and ran hard.”
You had a bit of a rough start:
“Yeah, I think that sums it up. We started a little slow and I made a few throws that didn’t exemplify me as a player. I’m the toughest critic on myself, but that just can’t happen. We bounced back and had a good 17-play touchdown drive. That was good to see.”
How do you keep your head straight after a bad series?
“You have to be mentally tough and bounce back. The players that stick in this league are the ones that bounce back. That’s something I’m still working on. I have the support of the players and coaches. They had my back and I came back out and we had a nice drive.”
What did you think of the run game?
“The run game was great. I can’t say enough about it. Our offensive line, tight ends and fullbacks, played their butt off. It was good to see. At the same time, you have to make plays when you get opportunities and enough weren’t made. That’s the difference in the game.”
What do you do now?
“It’s a funny game. You just wait. Continue like it’s a normal day. Get a workout in. You don’t want to drive yourself crazy. You want to keep your routine and see what opportunities present themselves.”
Do you hate the next 24 hours?
“You have to go into it with a positive mindset and continue with your routine. Get better and not over-think the situation. We’re going to continue pushing forward and see what happens.”
Are you comfortable with your performance tonight and your spot on the team?
“You can never be totally comfortable with any game. There are always things that you could have done better. Myself included; I felt like I could’ve done some things out there a little differently, but that’s what the film’s for.”
Do you feel like you have done everything you can over the course of training camp to make the team?
“Yes, I feel like I did the best I can. I put my best foot forward and my best effort out there.”
What are you going to do in the next 48 hours?
“What everyone else is doing — just wait. You’ve got to relax. You’ve got to go about your day.”
What do you feel like your role on this team could be or should be?
“It could be and should be anything the coaches determine. That’s not really up to me. So wherever they feel it’s best for me to play, that’s where I’m able and willing to play.”
You had a great game tonight. Did you do enough tonight to make the final 53-man roster?
“Well first and foremost, I want to thank the Lord Jesus Christ for me giving me the strength to go out there and give it my all. It’s always a blessing to be able to go out there and perform. It was a team effort. We didn’t get the results that we were hoping for, but I’m definitely blessed to be able to go out there and perform.”
You really got the coaches’ attention tonight:
“All you can control is what you control, and that’s your play out on the field. All I can control is what I do out there on that field. I’m going to leave the decisions to the coaches.”
What are the next two days going to be like for you while the team makes final cuts?
“Oh, I’m good. I have faith, man. I know the Lord’s going to take care of me. So, I’m good. My hope is in the Lord.”
How do you feel about your chances of making the team?
“The coaches always say to make sure you don’t have any regrets and leave it all out on the field. I feel that’s definitely what I did. It definitely wasn’t perfect. There are always a couple of plays I’d want to do over again. I have no regrets and left it all out there, so we’ll see what happens.”
What do you think the coaches will see in you based on what you put in?
“I play hard. I know my assignments and the fits. I played, like I said, not perfect, but I am going to be accountable to my team and everything. There are definitely still some things I have to work on.”
Do you guys put any stock into tonight’s outcome?
“We’re definitely disappointed. We definitely wanted to come out with a win. But like I said, this is what preseason is all about; just being very critical of our performances, our team performance. Ultimately what you want do in the games is come back as a team and get a victory. We’re going to look back at the film and make sure we make the corrections.”