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Transcript: McVay, Phillips, and Gurley Weigh in on AD99, Injuries, and Facing the Redskins

Aaron Donald is back with the team, but how much he plays this Sunday remains to be seen.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams-Minicamp Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Head Coach Sean McVay – September 14, 2017

(Opening Statement)

“We had ‘Mo’ (S Maurice Alexander), (OLB) Connor (Barwin) and (T Andrew) Whitworth were back, full participation. (CB) Kayvon (Webster) was still out today with a shoulder. He’s day-to-day, we’ll reevaluate him tomorrow and have a better idea, but as of right now, he’s questionable for the game.”

(On if CB Nickell Robey-Coleman would start in place of CB Kayvon Webster)

“He would, yes. If Kayvon is not able to go, Nickell will be ready to step up. A lot of confidence in Nickell – he’s done a lot of really good things throughout the course of camp and he’s had a good week so far.”

(On how DT Aaron Donald played in practice today)

“Aaron was good. Being able to put the pads on, moving around – we had a good, physical practice today on both sides of the football and 99 (Aaron Donald) looked good again today.”

(On if there are any concerns that he has with playing Donald a lot of Sunday)

“I think we’ll continue to evaluate just how he feels. Right now he felt good. I think it was good for him to get out there, get a handful off snaps yesterday, got a good, normal workload as if you’re playing in the game on Sunday. I haven’t had a chance to talk to him post-practice yet, but he certainly looked good, moved around really well and we’re kind of right on track. We’re taking it one day at a time, obviously focusing on that, but I feel like we’re on track to have him available and ready to go for Sunday.”

(On if it is a little bit odd breaking down his old tight end position group with the Redskins)

“What’s different about it is that you’re getting ready to play an opponent that involves a lot of people that you have close relationships with and that you’ve been a part of for the last handful of years. So that’s what’s been a little bit different about it. But, just like anything else, when you watch the tape, extremely impressed with what they put on the film week in and week out. That group specifically, their tight ends, unbelievably talented group. When you look at (Redskins TE) Jordan Reed, (Redskins TE) Vernon Davis, (Redskins TE) Niles Paul. They have the rookie (Redskins TE Jeremy) Sprinkle, so they’ve got a very versatile group. I think (Redskins Tight Ends Coach) Wes (Phillips) is a really good tight ends coach – very thorough, very detailed, great communicator and you can see that he’s a lot like his dad in that way.”

(On his reaction when he found out he was coaching against his former team in Week 2)

“I think it’s just like – every single game is very important in this league. You get 16 shots at it for sure and then you maybe give yourself a chance to compete after that. But, the Colts game was very important to us and now it’s on to the Redskins game. But, I think just knowing a lot of the people that were in that organization and how much they meant to me, that’s where it has extra meaning. But, in terms of wanting to win this more than the others, it’s our same exact approach every single week. I think you maybe just have a little bit more respect because you understand how special a lot of those players are from having worked with them and what that coaching staff is all about. So, that’s why you have so much of an appreciation and respect knowing that we’re going to have to be at our best to get the win on Sunday.”

(On if he circled the calendar)

“Did not circle it. No.”

(On what ways he thinks QB Jared Goff this year compares to Redskins QB Kirk Cousins in 2015)

“It’s difficult just because when Kirk was drafted, I was working with the tight ends and you could always see the evolution and the talent that he had. When he got his opportunities to play in games he certainly always flashed great things. There’s a reason why everybody that’s been around him believes that he’s the guy that’s capable of doing what he’s done the last handful of years. It just so happened that the opportunity that (Redskins Head) Coach (Jay) Gruden gave me as an offensive coordinator to start calling plays kind of coincided with his opportunity and really where he earned the chance to start. I think it kind of just ended up where we crossed over at a really important time in both of our careers and we were able to develop a rapport and share a bond because of the human being and then also because of some of the things that you go through both good and bad. I think that relationship between the play caller and the quarterback is extremely important and that was one that we were able to develop a special bond and I know he and Jay have the same thing going right now. But, as far as comparing him to Jared, I think the way that I would say this is that they are both very good quarterbacks. I really think extremely highly of Jared. As I continue to get to know him, the more that you like him. What you also appreciate it is that we’re getting a feel for each other. We’ve played one game that counts together and I think as we get experience together, we’ll only get more and more comfortable because I think as long as the coaching staff and that quarterback can be an extension of the coaching staff, I think the better chance that you have of that guy feeling comfortable. That’s the most important thing, is making sure that we think about the quarterback first and foremost – what he likes is really what we like as a coaching staff and that’s something that something that we’re continuing to figure and navigate through as the season progresses with Jared.”

Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips – September 14, 2017

(Opening Statement)

“Obviously, it’s good to have (DT) Aaron Donald back. It’s a good game to get him back. They’ve got a really good offensive line. Their quarterback threw for 5,000 yards last year, so they’ve got a really good offense. It’ll be a big challenge for our defense. It’s nice to have – now, I don’t know how much Aaron will play, but at least it’s good to have him back in the fold. So, we’re looking forward to this ball game. We did some good things, but we’re playing a team that’s a really sound offensive team that’s got a lot of talent with a great tight end coach, so I’m worried about that (laughs).”

(On if it’s awkward coaching against his son)

“Yeah. I mean, this is the first time we – you know, of course we don’t go against each other, the players are playing against each other. I kid about it, but (Redskins Tight End Coach) Wes (Phillips) I think – you know I’m proud of my son, obviously. I think he’ a great coach. He does a great job with those guys, so it’ll be a challenge. Their tight ends will be a challenge for us and we didn’t do great against tight ends last week, so that’s a concern. But, I know a lot of the guys on their staff and (Redskins Offensive Coordinator) Bill Callahan is a great offensive coach. They’ve got a great offensive line coach. (Redskins Defensive Coordinator Greg) Manusky and I have coached together. We’re good buddies, so they’ve got some really great coaches. Seriously, they do have some great coaches over there. And, they’ve got some really good players, so it’s going to be a battle for us.”

(On if he pays close attention to the Redskins tight ends when he watches film to see how his son’s group looks)

“Oh yeah, I look and see what their tight ends are doing. Well, I’ve seen them for a few years now and he coached (Cowboys TE) Jason Witten at the Cowboys when I was there. But, yeah, their tight ends are really good players I mean, I’m going to coach Aaron Donald who’s a lot better than I’ve coached some of the other guys I’ve had. That (Redskins TE) Jordan Reed, you can coach him up pretty good because he’s a real talent.”

(On what DT Aaron Donald brings to the game)

“I think the first thing Aaron brings is just him being back, everybody is excited about it. Now, how much he can play and what a big difference it’ll make in the first ball game, I don’t know that. But, I think it just kind of energized our team and our players that he’s back playing football. He is a great player, but the mental part of it I think helped everybody.”

(On how much he plans to play Donald)

“It’s more of a pitch count I think. But, it’s a number of plays and we’ll see how he is. He looked to be in good shape. You know, football shape and shape are two different things because you’re carrying a lot more weight with pads on and so forth. But, he doesn’t seem to be bothered too much by the reps we’re giving him in practice. It’s not wearing him out, so we’ll make sure in the ball game that we watch him.”

(On if Donald’s mastery of the defense is what he hoped it would be)

“Yeah. Our defense, we kind of, whatever players can do. When he goes in there, we tell him, ‘Go.’ It’s not real complicated for him. We let him – no seriously, he knows the defense pretty well already. There’s a few things that he had to clean up, but a lot of his play is one-on-one, beat the guy in front of you.”

(On how Donald will transition from the 4-3 defense to a 3-4 defense)

“When you have a great player, I think it’s really not the coaching, I’m sorry to say. I think coaching makes a difference, I do think coaching – I wouldn’t be in coaching if I didn’t think it makes a difference and I wouldn’t be in it if I didn’t think we could help good players or even great players get better, so that’s what we try to do. But, once you get that caliber of a player, you just have to scheme things where you get him one-on-one as much as you can, things like that.”

(On facing Redskins QB Kirk Cousins)

“This guy is an accomplished quarterback now. He didn’t have a great game the first game, but he started out I believe that way last year and got better and better. He can really throw the ball. (Head Coach) Sean (McVay) will tell you, he can really throw the ball. He’s very accurate, he’s good under pressure, he knows defenses, he can tell when blitzes are coming, so I have a lot of respect for him.”

(On if there’s something he can gain by having McVay who knows the Redskins so well)

“I don’t think there’s a big advantage in that. The only thing is and I think both teams see this, is the offenses are similar, but you have different players, so they’re different. It’s how they utilize their players and how we utilize ours are different. Because, Manusky and I have similar, I mean he was with me at San Diego, so you could say defensively, things are similar too. But it’s different players and you utilize them differently. So, it looks different, even though it’s both kind of the same systems.”

(On the defensive productivity and performance against the Colts last week)

“Pretty productive? Yeah, I think the best in the history of football. (laughs) But yeah, we want more, right? That’s coaching, right? We want more. No, I mean we want to play like that, obviously, you’re not going to get two touchdowns and a safety every game, but I liked the way they played, obviously. Like I said, there’s some things we can clean up. Once you get a lead, you know, the offense helped us so much getting the lead, it’s a different mindset. We’re playing at home and this is a fun team to watch, offensively and defensively. I think they make plays, so you try to stay on that same pattern.”

(On how he feels about the secondary when he sees them on film)

“Well, any time you play that kind of game, you played really well. This league is one game at a time. What happened last week, now you’re going against somebody else. Somebody that’s really talented, especially throwing the ball, this will be a bigger challenge for us.”

RB Todd Gurley – September 14, 2017

(On having DT Aaron Donald back)

“It’s good to have him back. Aaron’s Aaron – going to dominate practice. We had a play yesterday where (FB) Sam (Rogers) was getting the ball, I mean he didn’t even get the ball yet – he was already in the back field knocking it out. Still doing what he does best, dominating things.”

(On if he was surprised that he was able to come back and be the Aaron he’s always known)

“He better. He better have fresh legs. He’s an incredible player. His quickness, his speed – you can’t coach or teach that. He’s just a dominate player and that’s just how he’s always been since he’s been in this league.”

(On Donald being in football shape)

“I’m not even in football shape, so I doubt he’s in football shape. It takes a while, but hey you never know. He’s built differently. He’s one of a kind, so there’s no telling. He might already be right. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t just chilling. I know he was definitely getting it in back at home. So he’ll be fine.”

(On what it takes to get into football shape and if it just takes a few games to get into a rhythm)

“You never know. One week, you might play in Tampa. The weather is different from where you might have to go to Colorado. It’s just different. You’ll definitely know when you’re in that shape, where you can just go out there and just not get tired. It’s definitely tough, but you’ve just go to fight through it and just push it to the limit. It can’t get any worse than what you felt before or how you felt in camp. So you’ve got to prepare yourself in practice, finish with long runs or do sprints after practice, just to do your best as possible to get in game shape.”

(On what stuck out to him in the running game in the Rams’ Week 1 win over the Colts)

“We’ve just got to be more physical – whether me, just everybody. We’ve just all got to do our job and just go out there and execute. At the end of the day, I’ve got to win my 1-on-1s, receivers got to win their one-on-ones, linemen got to win their one-on-ones, tight ends got to win their one-on-ones. So we looked at it, will get it together, and just come back next week and improve on what we did last week.”

(On if the glasses he’s wearing for his news conference are prescription or for fashion)

“They’re prescribed. Just like (reading) glasses, though.”

(On if he ever wears contacts for games)

“No, I never wore contacts a day in my life. (The glasses are) mostly for the look, though. They are prescribed.”

(On if it is encouraging or frustrating when he has runs of 10-15 yards called back due to penalties)

“It’s fine. As a running back, you kind of know why. Like if someone’s coming through the hole free and you have to bounce outside, majority of the time, the play is not designed to bounce outside. So, you get why it’s a holding call. You can’t get mad at a guy for holding because, as a runner, you kind of react off what you see and most of the time you don’t want to bounce it outside if it’s not designed to go out there. You know, it is what it is. We’ll get it fixed and try to come back. All you can do is just try to eliminate those mistakes and those penalties and then just come back and just move forward, honestly.”

(On if he likes getting more involved in the passing game)

“Oh yeah, it’s always better when you can avoid one or two guys instead of 11 guys (laughs). It definitely doesn’t get much better than that.”

(On if anyone has given Head Coach Sean McVay any grief for playing his former team in the Washington Redskins this weekend)

“No, he’s excited. I know he’s excited. He’s just been excited, he’s been pumped up, wired all week. So we know how much this means to him and how much it means to us – second game of the season, had a pretty good game last week and we’re excited to go against his old team.”

(On if McVay is more wired than normal)

“Yeah, he’s been a little intense this week, but what can we expect?”

(On if he thinks it’s better to play a Thursday Night Football game earlier in the season compared to later)

“I don’t know. (Doesn’t) really matter to me. I don’t know. They’re alright, but I guess it is better to get it done early while everybody’s healthy instead of doing it Week 15. It’s a tough turnaround, whether if it’s Week 1, Week 2. Probably definitely to do it earlier in the season.”