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TRANSCRIPT: Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay, DC Wade Phillips, RB Todd Gurley October 11 press conference

Here’s what the trio had to say today.

Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay

(On the injury status of WRs Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp)

“They’re in good shape. They’re going to partake in individuals today and progressing along just like we had hoped. Things are looking good.”

(On what the progression is in terms of getting Cooks and Kupp available to play on Sunday)

“So really there’s a strategic protocol, just making sure we’re in alignment with the way things need to go with the doctors and everything like that. Based on yesterday, being able to take part mentally, they just took part in the walk-thru, they’re going to be able to do some individuals today. Then tomorrow, as long as they’re staying on track, they’ll be full participants in practice. Should be good to go for Sunday, unless there’s any setbacks.”

(On Coach Phillips previously coaching in Denver and with so many defensive players previously being coached by Phillips’ does the tape look like they’re going up against their own defense)

“There’s definitely some principles and some different things that (Broncos Defensive Coordinator) Coach (Joe) Woods and (Broncos Head Coach) Vance (Joseph) are doing that are similar to what (Defensive Coordinator) Wade (Phillips) had done when he was in Denver and that we’re doing here. But then there’s also, you can just see that some of the things that Coach Joseph has done in his past, with some of the influence of his background. So there’s principles from both systems, but what you do see is a very sound system. With what they’re doing, they do it well. They have great players that are doing it. They play hard. Situationally they do an excellent job mixing it up early in the downs. They’ve got premiere players on all three levels and it’s going to be a great challenge for us. I would say it’s a mix, certain things you can see are very similar. They do some different things front structurally in the third downs than really what we do. But some of the stuff that they’re doing on the back-end coverage wise is a mix of both what Coach Joseph has done, and then what we’re doing here.”

(On what type of competitor CB Marcus Peters is and his bounce back mentality)

“That’s something that you even notice when you watch the tape that you like so much. I think, especially when you really look at it, the quarterback and the cornerback positions — if you’re going to be a really good player over the course of time in this league, you better be able to handle bad plays because they’re inevitable. You show me anybody that’s been a great player in this league, I’ll show you somebody that’s responded from some form of adversity, been able to make plays after things that didn’t always go their way. I think to him, to his credit, that’s something that he’s done in Kansas City. That’s why he’s made a lot of ball production, he’s gotten his hands on the ball really throughout of his career. But also, the thing that says as much about anything is the ownership he displays. Being able to say, ‘That’s my bad. I’ll get that fixed.’ Taking that extreme ownership that we talk about, demonstrating that accountability and he’s a fearless competitor. You always want guys that never fear failure. They’re always going for it and we talk about doing it in a smart way. Picking your play ops and doing those in a way that doesn’t affect and influence the integrity of the defense. He’s got a great feel for this game. I think one of the things, as soon as you spend time with him, you watch tape, whether it’s being out on the field. The way that he processes the game, he understands concept situations, different things like that. He’s an extremely smart football player that then also has the talent to match up. You feel really good about him. We have full confidence that a couple bad plays certainly don’t define what a phenomenal football player we think he is and what a great year he’s going to have moving forward.”

(On if he feels CB Aqib Talib’s absence when he isn’t on the field or in the locker room)

“Yes, I think so. Absolutely. He’s got a great personality. He said it here, he’s just kind of magnetic. People are just drawn to him. Where there’s a charisma, there’s a swagger, there’s a confidence, but then also there’s that experience. He’s learned from a lot of different situations, circumstances he’s been placed in. What says as much as anything is when you’re a guy that gets traded somewhere, your first year to be voted a captain by your teammates, I think is a great representation of the respect that he earned immediately. Just spending time with him, a guy that’s really smart – very similar to Marcus in terms of where you see the talent really match up with the understanding and awareness, intellect. Using his previous experience as a way to learn and move forward. But yes, he’s definitely missed. He’s still around, that’s one of the things you appreciate. He’s still in meetings, he’s still influencing and affecting that room in a positive way. He’s been nothing but a bright spot for us. Certainly we miss him on the field, but we’re anticipating getting him back. I know he’s doing everything from a recovery standpoint and we look forward to that. You definitely miss a player of his caliber, but that also demonstrates the leadership and has a positive affect and influence on his teammates like he has since he’s gotten here — really his coaches for that matter too. When you’re around players like him, it makes you better as a coach just by learning from them as well and I feel that way.”

(On Denver having defensive similarities and if it affects the game plan as well)

“Yes. Certainly dependent upon what the situations are and kind of what some of their lead dog calls are in those different situations. We always want to try to do things that give us answers versus whatever those looks are. I think they do a nice job mixing it up. So we’ve got to be on the screws, we’ve got to do a good job making sure that we’re giving our players plays that have answers and give them a chance to have success. It’s a good mix, but there’s still a very clear-cut identity of playing sound things on those early downs, when they get you in some of those known passing situations, the third downs, you get down into the red zone. They do an excellent job and they use their personnel to their advantage. They’ve got some really special players at some key spots.”

(On if he thinks it’s possible for a play-caller to ever call a perfect game as a play caller)

”No, I don’t think so. Really, what I would go back to is, we try to do such a thorough job as a coaching staff of thinking through things. It’s when you get caught or you make decisions that aren’t in alignment with your preparation that I get the most frustrated with, that’s where you don’t let the moment dictate an emotional decision. You try to stay sound, try to keep an even-keel demeanor throughout the course of the game and don’t ride that emotional wave. That’s really more what I mean than anything else is, certainly the outcome is the outcome. But, if you have an intent, if you had a reason why you were doing it, if it went along with your priorities going into the game-plan, but then you’re also not afraid to adjust and adapt – which we’ve got coaches that do a great job seeing it in live action and certainly, that happens a lot. So, I think that’s the biggest thing. But, to say that you call a perfect game, it’s about the players. You want to make sure you’re putting them in good spots. That’s your job. You can call the greatest play ever, but the players got to make it come to life. That’s the one thing is, it’s about these guys, their ability to execute is what makes them good plays. But as long as we feel like we’re giving them plays that have answers and are attacking the primary looks that we’re trying to get, then you feel pretty good about it as a coaching staff.”

(On the defense huddling together during the third quarter of the Seahawks game and how much he appreciates when they challenge each other in that way, and how much leeway he gives them to do that)

”A lot. I think you appreciate that a lot because the ownership that’s displayed by the players is so powerful. When you’ve got the guys that understand the urgency, the moment, the situation and you’ve got the right guys that are bringing the team up. We’ve got the right guys that know what we want to get done and I think those guys that do pick and choose their spots, like a (LB) Mark (Barron), like an (DT) Aaron (Donald) – guys listen because they don’t just talk to talk. There’s a reason why they did that. Clearly, it definitely was influential and it helped out. I think that communication – there’s so many different things that go on between the players that we’re not exposed to as coaches that when you’ve got the right core guys leading and affecting and influencing the locker room in a right way or that have the awareness and understanding to be able to get those guys up in a situation where we need it the most, that’s powerful. That’s exactly what we want. That’s the type of environment and culture that you want to try to create and that’s what the players are creating. That’s what you really feel good about.”

(On OLB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo’s status)

”He’s a guy that we’re monitoring. He’s making good progress and really, it’s coming up on that date. I don’t know exactly what that is – my brain is mushed right now. But, it’s coming up to where you can start to decide whether you want to activate him and put him on the roster. Then, obviously, that affects some other different things that we would have to do, but it’s coming up. As far as we know, he’s on track to be able to potentially get back and get working with us.”

(On if he wants to have Okoronkwo pulled into the roster)

”Yeah, I think he’s got to earn it. I think we have a lot of confidence in what he put on tape. It’s a reason why we wanted to be able to get him here, but haven’t seen him play a lot of football – really, any football for that matter. Looking forward to just seeing him compete. See how he fits in and if it’s something that we feel like helps our team. But yeah, anybody that you invest a pick in and that’s on our football team, we want to try to develop them to the best of our ability and see them flourish. He’s no different than anybody else.”

(On if WR JoJo Natson is on track to come back this week)

”Yeah, he’s a possibility, actually, because he’s able to take that cast off now and play with a splint. So, if we decide to make that determination that we want to be able to put him back there, that’s definitely something that…this came about sooner than what we anticipated. So, there is a possibility on that, that he’ll be back there and he’ll be competing for us this week.”

(On who the punt returner will be if Natson doesn’t come back considering WRs Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp’s injury status)

”Yeah, it could be (WR) Cooper (Kupp). I would say this, we’ve got three guys because really, (WR) Brandin (Cooks) has also fielded them. So, it just so happens that (WR) Robert (Woods) was the guy that was doing all the things the other day, but really, all three of those receivers have the ability to catch punts. Really, if you’re going to play, you’re going to play. I don’t think you ever want to put a – especially when you’re coming off an injury like that – I don’t think you can ever put your foot halfway in the water and say we’re going to limit some of the things that he’s doing in a game where, if you’re not feeling like you can fully go and play, then we shouldn’t be playing those guys. So, if they’re put back there, they’re going to compete and they’re going to try to give us the best chance to move the ball in a positive direction if that return opportunity presents itself.”

(On if Kupp or Cooks are limited at all coming off the concussion protocol)

”Yeah, they’re not. Really, the biggest thing that we want to be able to do is just – you always want to be so careful with this process and if they’re not ready, we trust that (Senior Director, Sports Medicine and Performance) Reggie’s (Scott) guidance, the outside doctors that we utilize, this is a very thorough process that these guys go through. If it’s something where there’s anything that doesn’t check up or make it feel like, ‘Hey, they’re going to be fully acclimated, they’re ready to go and there’s no restrictions,’ it wouldn’t be something where these guys would go. Unfortunately, this game does involve a bunch of different potential collisions like that, but I think those guys are great competitors and I don’t think there’s any sort of fear. You go out there, you compete to the best of your ability, you hope to avoid those. But, I think those guys, the way that they are and the way that they are as competitors, I don’t think it’s in the back of their mind and we don’t want to have any restrictions on them. You always want to put them in smart spots, too. It’s not like we’re going to try to ask them to do a bunch of different things that leave them susceptible to injury. But, I don’t think you can also be cautious with it because then I think that’s when you almost leave yourself potentially getting injured as is anyway.”

DC Wade Phillips

(On what to attribute the defense’s success to in regard to only allowing three points in the fourth quarter the past two games)

”First of all, you’ve got to play good enough to win. You’d rather not give up the points we gave up, but you also want to be 5-0 rather than 3-2. We obviously keep working to getting better on defense. We’re still, what, a top-10 defense and sixth in scoring defense. I know we gave up points before, but it’s still an accumulation and it still says 5-0 on our record. There’s certainly things you have to work on. That’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to not let them score – that’s the first thing. Nine-to-nothing in the fourth quarter and the game before, the last play of the game we made the play. I’ve been with a lot of teams and I just think this team – I’ve told you before – plays really well under pressure. We don’t want to be pressured to play that well all the time, but I feel good about where we’re going. We’re not there yet, but that’s where we’re going.”

(On players potentially doing too much)

”Well, that’s pretty much with everybody. We just tell them, ‘Hey, play the defense called. Don’t play 3-4 (defense) on your own.’ Guys want to make plays. You’ve got to trust the guys on your team. You’ve got to trust the calls and trust the guys on your team. If everybody does their job, then you can do yours better. So, that’s always been the philosophy in football.”

(On if he has identified anything the defense can get better at in the run game)

”It’s still up and down run-wise. We had some great games already against good running backs and good running teams. I thought Seattle did a good job, number one, but the last five rushes, they made five yards. So, we can stop the run. We’re playing a team this week that the two rookie running backs are the tops in the league as far as rushing average. They’re in the top five in runs. So, we know they can run the ball so it’s going to be a challenge for us that way. Their quarterback threw for 377 yards last week, so for people to say, ‘Well, they can’t throw the ball either’ are wrong about that. It’s going to be a big challenge playing in Denver. The home crowd is great. It’s tough to win in Denver. I’ve been on the other side of it, so I know that.”

(On going back to Denver)

”I’m still close with a lot of the players, obviously. I have great feelings for them and the coaches. I got too much credit when I was there because (Broncos Defensive Coordinator) Joe Woods and (Broncos Linebackers Coach) Reggie Herring and (Broncos Defensive Line Coach) Bill Kollar – they’re all there. They were the guys that met with the guys every day and got them to play the way we did. I was just riding on the train clanging the bell. I got too much credit in that area because those guys are great coaches. I have a lot of feelings for the guys there. Guys that gave up – just like I do here – the guys that sweat and play hard for you, you have great feelings for. They’ve got some – obviously (Broncos OLB) Von Miller is a great player. The two receivers, (Broncos WR) Demaryius (Thomas) and (Broncos WR) Emmanuel (Sanders) are really good players. When you’ve seen their players, you know the abilities they have, it makes you worry more certainly. Then, (Broncos CB) Chris Harris Jr., I know he’s a great cornerback, but he’s one of the best players I’ve ever coached – besides also Von – but they don’t talk about him. So, they’ve got really good players that I care about personally, but I care about our team a little bit more. We’d like to win this game. It’s a big game for us.”

(On his relationship with Broncos Head Coach Vance Joseph and if he takes pride when he sees guys he worked with having success in the league)

”Yeah, I do. (Broncos Head Coach) Vance (Joseph) and I were together in Houston and we went from the 31st (ranked) in the league in defense to second in one year. I think that’s the biggest ever and a lot of it was because of Vance. Bill Kollar was there and Reggie Herring was there. So, those three guys, again, did a tremendous job. I told Vance all along that he should be a coordinator. When I first got with him I thought, ‘He’s too good of a coach not to be a coordinator.’ I think somewhere at that time I let him call defenses and I thought he’d become a head coach. So, that’s come to fruition.”

(On what is most difficult to prepare for with Broncos QB Case Keenum)

”He’s a really good quarterback and we played him last year. They obviously paid him a lot of money because they thought he was too. Like I said, he went 377 (passing yards) last game, so he can throw the football. They’ve got really good receivers, so we’ve got to do what we do. We’ve got to play good pass defense and rush the passer well against a good quarterback. That’s always the menu.”

(On if CB Marcus Peters is moving around on defense)

”I think his is more me than him. I think just getting comfortable with the things he really does well. Until you have a player – he’s got to play coverages certainly...and he didn’t say it, but he was banged up a little bit. But, I think the key is with all the players on defense, you get a feel for how they play, put them in situations that they can be aggressive or they know they don’t have to be aggressive, those kind of things. So, it’s partly on me.”

(On if CB Aqib Talib not being able to play affects the entire defense)

”Well, I mean he’s a good player. He’s an elite player, really. But, (CB) Troy (Hill) came in and played well last week I thought. (CB) Sam (Shields) is a talented guy that I think is going to get better and better every week. We’ve got guys to replace him and that’s what we’re doing.”

(On Peters mentioning that his eyes were on of place during the Seahawks game, if that was a one-time thing and if eye training is really important for defensive backs)

”Well, he’s one of those guys that’s special in that he sees so many things and he can diagnose routes and those kind of things. You don’t want to take that away from him, but you also don’t want him peeking too much in certain situations, that’s why I say that’s partly me. We’ve got to get him, system-wise, in to how we want things done, especially with – it’s not how he moves and so forth. He’s got great movement skill and ball skill and all those things. So, I think it’s just working out how we want to play it and him fitting into the way we want it done. But, he’s like a great quarterback that can scramble, if you take the scrambling away from them they’re not as good. The same thing with him, if you take what sees away from him – now you’ve got to limit it a little bit more and that’s what we haven’t done well enough with him. He’s getting there and he’s a great competitor. He’s like any great corner, the next play he’s going to play as good as he can play. He doesn’t get his head down. He keeps fighting and that’s what happens in the fourth quarter. If bad things happen for really good players, they keep playing.”

(On any snow game memories that stick out)

”Well, it’s always cold when it’s snowing. That’s the one game I want to go up to the press box and say, ‘Hey, you guys are on the field. I can see better up here.’ Our Super Bowl year we played New England and beat them in overtime in a snow game. It was cold. In fact, in the overtime, they won the toss and (Patriots QB) Tom Brady was cheering because they got the ball. I’m sure he felt like – which he’s done a million times – that they were going to win the game, but Von Miller sacked him and they had to punt. Then we scored. That’s some good memories, at least that one anyway.”

(On what he saw from LB Mark Barron in his return last week)

”(LB) Mark (Barron) did well. I don’t know if he led the team in tackles, but he was pretty close. I was worried about how sore he’d be this week. I talked to him today and he said he was a lot better than he thought it was going to be because he hadn’t played in a long time and coming off of injuries and so forth. So, I’m really encouraged by that because he really played well. He’s a force on the field. He’s going to make plays and he’s a real smart player that doesn’t make many mistakes.”

(Closing statement)

”Another grudge game for me, right (laughs)? Like Atlanta, Buffalo, Dallas, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Chargers, yeah. Denver twice, Houston – two different teams in Houston. Pretty much got the league covered now (laughs).”

RB Todd Gurley

(On if he’s looking forward to playing in cold weather)

”Not really, but it is what it is. They’ve got to play just like us, so it’ll be fine.”

(On how he prepares for having to run in the altitude)

”I don’t know. Never played in it. Honestly, can’t tell you. Like I said, just got to deal with it.”

(On his experience from playing in cold conditions)

”A couple games. Once you get out there and get to running around, it’s just – they’ve got the heated benches and the heaters on the side, so it’s not that bad. It’s usually just kind of the warm up and then the timeouts and stuff like that you kind of feel it. It’s not too bad.”

(On if he’s aware the Broncos had a difficult time stopping the run last week and if that makes him any more excited to face them)

”Yeah, definitely aware, but I know my situation and how teams are going to play us. They have a great head coach themselves, I’m pretty sure that’s his objective to get that run defense a little better. Obviously, they know we’re going to run the ball. So, you definitely get excited, but you don’t get too excited because a team can look like that one week and then the next week can shut a guy down for 50 yards, but that’s why we play this game. We practice and go out there and hopefully execute.”

(On if he likes having a head coach that is hard on himself as a play-caller and if he ever thinks he’s too hard on himself)

”No, he’s just a great coach, great competitor. He’s always taking a responsibility as the head guy, whether we mess up or not, he’s always saying he needs to put us in a better place. We just love playing for a guy like that. We know what we did wrong. He knows he did wrong. That’s why we play this game. We try to go out there compete, fix it and then at the end of the day, we learn from our mistakes. That’s what just makes him the type of coach he is.”

(On if sees similar concepts to his own defense when watching the Broncos on film)

”Yeah, most definitely. Same defense, but there’s whole different personnel out there. Definitely helps us that we’ve been able to play against it the last two years. Then, next week we’ll play the exact same defense. That’s pretty cool because you get familiar with that.”

(On what kind of teammate WR Robert Woods is and what it has been like building a relationship with him)

”He’s a great guy, always working. Even when those guys went out, he didn’t ever complain. He just did what he had to do, helped those other guys get lined up. Just going back and watching the film, he’s just did such a great job, whether it’s the jet sweeps, catching the ball and even blocking for me. I mean this guy, he’s damn near a lead blocker for me. He’s always just putting in the effort. Always working hard. You see why he’s the type of player and it shows on Sunday because he puts in the work throughout the week. It’s been good playing with (WR) Rob (Woods). Nothing but respect and love the guy.”

(On if CB Aqib Talib has been around the facility much since his surgery and is he upset that he’s not able to play against the Broncos)

”I don’t really think he cares too much. But yeah, he’s been around. Been seeing (CB Aqib) Talib.”

(On if he’s still in meetings trying to help other guys out or just trying to get well)

”I honestly can’t tell you. I don’t really – I’m in my meetings. They’re in their meetings. I can’t really honestly tell you.”

(On his exchange with the defense on the sidelines on Sunday and if he feels free to give them extra inspiration)

”We’ve all got each other’s back. That’s my job. Obviously, if something bad happens on our end, they’re always there encouraging us and if something bad happens on their end, we’re telling them we got their back. So, that’s just kind of how I am during the game. I just kind of feel the energy. I just try to either go up to the special teams, defense and just tell them, ‘We’re all in this together and we’ve got each other’s back and at the end of the day we’re going to get a win’. So, we’re not going to sweat it too much.”

(On WR Josh Reynolds’ two consecutive first down passes and a sweep against the Seahawks)

“Oh man, it was real big. It was a real critical moment. I just remember the start of that drive, just being in the huddle and I’m just looking around and I see (WR Robert Woods) ‘Woody’. I talked to Woody the play before like, ‘You know, we got to put this on our shoulders.’ Him and (WR) KhaDarel (Hodge) come in there and he makes a great play, then he makes another great play and then he gets the sweep and then he’s in there the next play he’s in there trying to block for me on a duo. Once he made that play it was just like, I kind of just chuckled and was like, ‘Yeah, we’re going to be fine.’ KhaDarel had a great play to help us go down and kick the field goal. These guys have been doing it just like we’ve been doing it in practice. They just haven’t had the chance to play, and when their opportunity came they stepped up and delivered. That’s what you love about this team. No matter who it is – whether it’s me, I go out, (RB) Malcolm (Brown) comes in, Woods, (WR Cooper) Kupp, or whatever it is; (TE) Gerald (Everett), (TE Tyler) Higbee. I feel like we all believe in each other, we all know what to do. Coach prepares us to be prepared in the game. Once we go in the game, it’s just natural, just play ball. But, he did a great job of just coming in and filling in for those guys.”