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TRANSCRIPT: Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay, DC Wade Phillips, RB Todd Gurley October 25 press conference

Here’s what the trio had to say today.

Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay

(On an update on OLB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and if he feels like it will take the entire 21-day term for him to get everything figured out)

”Yeah, I think so. Right now, that’s kind of the trajectory that we’re on right now. Really, he’s done a nice job with the things that he can control. The thing that’s interesting about it is being able to do some individual things, but because of the way that we’re practicing at this point in the season, being mindful of especially some of the guys that are naturally just banged up through seven weeks, he’s had limited opportunities to really show how he’s doing. But he is making progress. It’s been good to have him out there. He’s got a great demeanor and we’re seeing good things. But as far as any sort of updates or changes, there’s nothing on that front right now.”

(On DT Ndamukong Suh popping up on the injury report yesterday)

”Yeah, he just had a little bit of swelling in his knee, but he’s a guy that takes great care of himself. We don’t expect that to be anything that lingers into the game. But with guys like him and with (DL Michael) Brockers as well, we want to just be smart with them, trust the way they feel and understanding especially how we practiced yesterday, they really weren’t missing much. It was just more of a projection that if we had truly practiced, they would miss that. Both those guys are feeling good and we expect them to go today.”

(On how the rehab of CB Aqib Talib, WR Pharoh Cooper and WR Michael Thomas is coming and if they are projected to come off the Injured Reserve list as soon as they’re eligible)

”Really, you can only use that on a couple people, but we’re monitoring their progress. They’re doing a great job. Right now, because that still is a little bit a ways away, and there’s just so many things that can take place in the meantime, unfortunately with the way injuries play out and the way that we’re kind of figuring out what’s the best way to get our 46 (man roster) up on game day and how that adjusts and alters on a week-to-week basis. Those guys are doing a great job with their rehab. They’re making great progress. Once those timetables do come up that we could potentially utilize that ‘designated to return’ on those guys, it would definitely be predicated on the situation. I think just looking at it, unless something changes, (CB) Aqib (Talib) has always been a guy that we’ve anticipated using that on. How that affects the other guys it’s hard to say, but nothing is set in stone. Just with the way that we approached it, putting them in IR, kind of the intent and what we’ve always kind of anticipated – unless something changes – was that Aqib would be one of those players that would be used as far as designating that to return on.”

(On if he agrees with Run Game Coordinator Aaron Kromer’s statement that G Rodger Saffold III is one of the most underrated guards in the league and what having a player as athletic as Saffold at that position allows the team to do schematically)

”You can’t really say enough about what he’s done. I think it’s a really accurate statement. I think the thing is we all have a huge appreciation for what (G) Rodger (Saffold III) does. What he enables us to do both in the run and the pass, the combination of his athleticism, his ability to get to the second level, play in space, but then also play with power, get removal at the line of scrimmage. You’re not limited in any really scheme run-wise. He’s a great matchup. We stress him a lot with some of the pass (protections), whether it’s play-action or some of the drop back world where he’s having to go against some elite players and he’s one-on-one inside for some long-developing plays. But, he’s a guy that’s done an excellent job really over the last couple years. I just think that the way that those three veterans on the left side, when you talk about Rodger, when you talk about (C) John (Sullivan) and (T) Andrew (Whitworth), they’ve been incredible. It’s also really been fun to watch Rodger be able to stay at one spot because one of the things I was so impressed with when you first get here is just the overall versatility where this guy is all over the line. I think having him be able to settle in at that guard spot has shown why we feel like he’s an elite, special player at that spot and he’s stayed healthy. I agree exactly with what (Run Game Coordinator) Coach (Aaron) Kromer said.”

(On how often he is speaking with RB Todd Gurley II one-on-one about his role, what he expects and what’s coming up)

”I think that comes up a lot. Really, whether it’s you set aside time or you kind of just organically let it play out throughout the day when you go by. You try to be around these players, but you also try to be respectful of some of the times in the locker room when it’s their own time. But, with regards to football, there’s a constant dialogue that goes on between us and all of our players, but definitely with (RB) Todd (Gurley II). You spend some time, you make sure he feels good about things. Like anything else, with all of our players, you just want to make sure how are they from just a human standpoint – with their family, their friends, things like that. So, I think it’s kind of just predicated on the day, but I think we’re all intentional as coaches about building and developing those relationships that we talk about. When you’re talking about from a football approach, he has a big part of what we do. We talk about (QB) Jared (Goff) and how much input he has in the dialogue and don’t want to do anything that he doesn’t like, but certainly to regards with plays where Todd is the primary, some of the run concepts, it’s very important for us to make sure that the players feel good about that. If they don’t, then that’s something that we’ll either try to explain why we’re trying to do it and then maybe they feel better. Or if they still don’t, we’ve got a lot of plays on that call sheet we like.”

(On how often that happens with a running back who says they don’t want to do something or don’t feel great about something)

”Todd’s pretty great. He’s great about it. Even today, we were asking about, ‘Okay, if it’s a first down from the 1-yard line, you give him two options. Really, our players are so great. They say, ‘Whichever one you call we’ll make work’ and you say, ‘Well hey, you’re fun to work with, man (laughs).’”

(On if that’s rare for the players to have that confidence level in the play calls)

”I mean this is a rare group. I think that I’ve been fortunate to be around players that as long as you can explain to them why you’re trying to get something done, then maybe they can say, ‘Well, this is why I like one better than the other.’ But for the most part, I’ve been fortunate to work with great players that really are very flexible, adjustable and adaptable to kind of whatever we feel like is the best thing. But they do have an input and an influence and certainly this group that you’ve heard us talk about – really our team as a whole – is a special group. It’s been really fun to work with them. How receptive everybody is to being coached and to be willing to just kind of do whatever we think is best is one of the things that’s refreshing, but I would like to think that they know that they do have a voice. If they say something, we want to try to listen and make sure that we put it into effect if we feel like that’s the best thing for our team.”

(On if the touch pass that they’re running is something that he picked up on film or if he ever ran it while he was with Washington)

”It wasn’t something that we ran in Washington. It was something that it’s been around for a while. We’re certainly not the first people to run it. Really, all that really is, is the same thing you see with the jet sweeps – we’re just in the gun (shotgun formation) just flipping it to them. It just counts as a pass for Jared. But as far as the way that you conceptually run it to our players, it’s strictly just an adjustment from the ball handling. Certain weeks we like it and it’s a good way – I heard you ask Jared about this yesterday. It’s a good way to be able to get the ball in playmakers’ hands, make people defend the field horizontally in the run game. Sometimes if we feel like padding our pass stats we’ll just get in the gun (shotgun formation) instead of under center to do it.”

(On if he watches all of the Rams news conferences)

”Sometimes I listen to them when I’m just watching film or riding home. So yes, I do (laughs). I like to know what’s going on.”

DC Wade Phillips

(Opening remarks)

”Let me see what are you going to ask…about (Packers QB) Aaron Rodgers and how you’re going to stop him? It’s obviously a big task, the guy’s a great player. Unfortunately for us, he got a week to rest, so he should be pretty close to full speed is what we’re hearing. The great ones, you try to slow them down. Certainly, you don’t shut them out, but we’ve got to play really good pass defense, got to have a rush and all the things it takes. If you can disguise some things on him, even though he’s a tremendous quarterback, it helps some. Like all the great ones, they can make plays off schedule and that’s the key with him. He’s going to throw the quick passes that he knows are there and he’s going to do them really well. Then if it’s off schedule, he’s one of the best, if not the best, maybe of all time – moving around and throwing. He’s thrown Hail Mary’s for touchdowns. He’s thrown every scramble pass you can think of for big plays. They do a great job with their receivers in that if it is off schedule, if they’re not throwing it on time, that they keep running their routes and then we’ve got to keep coverages. We call it plaster. Everybody calls it plaster, on the guy who wants the ball to be thrown in the normal amount of time – if you’re in zone or man, you’ve got to get close to the guy you have and stay with him the whole time. That’s where they excel. So, that’s something we have to work on.”

(On his thoughts on DT Aaron Donald’s 4.0 sacks against the 49ers last week)

”You don’t see those kinds of games very often by a defensive player who dominates the game like that. Lucky to be around some great ones and they’ve done it every once in a while and it’s a tremendous accomplishment. Obviously, it helps your team so much. It lifts your team when he’s making all kinds of plays like that.”

(On building a box around Seahawks QB Russell Wilson and if that’s the same plan for the Packers game)

”Yeah, he’s similar in that, he will run with the ball if it’s open and can make long yardage, he does that too. But like (Seahawks QB) Russell (Wilson), he’s looking down the field all the time. He’s tremendous at moving around and throwing the ball and making plays. Now, he’s not always running out of the pocket. He’ll just hang in the pocket a long, long time sometimes for people to come open. I can say it’s a tremendous challenge.”

(On what he saw at practice last week that allowed the players to play well against the 49ers)

”Well, I mean you work every week to try to get better. We talked about (CB) Troy (Hill) the week before and then he had a really good game. He played really well. It’s guys coming out and playing well. Part of it is through practice, certainly. Preparation is a key thing to getting ready. The game itself is obviously the most important. Then, not letting them score is what we try to do.”

(On what offenses are doing to make changes to the inside linebacker position)

”Yeah, they spread the game out so much that people have to move out into space more than they did. You could have the big middle linebacker that wasn’t a cover guy at all. Now, it’s almost the opposite. They can get your middle linebacker out of there and put him one-on-one with somebody in certain occasions, and the passing game is so important. Scoring’s up. Passing’s up. The more athletic guys you have in coverage, helps as far as the linebacker’s concerned. Probably, just completely. They have safeties playing linebacker now – guys that can cover. That’s it.”

(On if that trend at linebacker has helped LB Cory Littleton)

”No, they had a two-back running team last week. So, he’s still got to play the run strong. three-four MIKE is a little different than a 4-3, old time 4-3 MIKE. But, because you have the noseguard in front of you and you have (DL Michael) Brockers and (DT Ndamukong) Suh and (DT Aaron) Donald in front of you, that helps a lot.”

(On how LB Mark Barron has been progressing)

”Yeah, (LB) Mark (Barron) felt better than he’s felt after a game, I think. That’s a positive thing. We’ll see. He can play every down if he’s healthy. He’s that kind of player, which you’d like to have. But, we’ll progress him in more and more and just take it easy, but make sure if he’s ready to play in certain situations, we can put him in.”

(On his evaluation of S John Johnson III so far this season)

”Yeah, he’s a good, young player. That’s what he is. Last year, he did a tremendous job tackling. He’s a really good tackler. Now, we’re seeing some interceptions too. Smart guy. Plays hard. Athletic and has all the tools and utilizes them. He’s gotten better and better. Last year, I thought he was a really good player last year.”

(On if he’s noticed any trends over the past year and a half where more offensive systems try to spread defenses out)

”Well, somewhat, but it’s more execution. They’ve got better players. They’ve got better receivers. They’ve got guys that run routes better. People are coaching them really well, I know that, which you expect in pro football. I think just the skill level has gone up and the quarterbacks – even the young ones – we’ve seen that, even with our guy. The young quarterbacks have played better and better. Usually, they come into the league and they don’t do anything for a good while. Now, even the young quarterbacks are playing well. I told you last week, (49ers QB) C.J. Beathard – they had made over 400 yards two weeks in a row. So, teams are executing well.”

RB Todd Gurley II

(On it being a rough start for the Los Angeles Dodgers)

”Yeah, it’s just two games. That’s all. They’ll be alright.”

(On what he’s seen from the Packers defense)

”They’ve got great players. Obviously, with (LB) Clay Matthews, he’s always been a threat. They’ve got a Pro Bowler in (DL) Mike Daniels. Great guys on the back end – (S) Ha Ha (Clinton-Dix) and (LB) Nick Perry up front. It’s a good defense and it’s a winning team and a winning program. Those guys know how to compete and play hard.”

(On how much pride he’s taking that the Rams are number one in the league in rushing offense)

”I just found that out just now. I didn’t even know that, honestly. But, it’s cool. That’s why we work all offseason to – whatever it is – be the number one, whatever offense, defense, special teams. A lot of work still, but I feel like we’ve been doing a pretty good job.”

(On what that says about the offense’s ability to spread the ball around and get other players involved in the rushing game)

”(RB) Malcolm (Brown) does a great job. He came in and did a great job last game, leading rusher. Then, we’ve got guys – F, Z, Y – all of us can take jet sweeps and fly sweeps and take them to the house or get 20, 30 yards and get a first down. So, that just tells you about the balance of our offense. You don’t know who’s going to get the ball. It’s not just a one man show. I can get the ball, Malcolm can get the ball, (WR) Cooper Kupp, (WR Brandin) Cooks, (WR) Josh (Reynolds), (WR Robert) Woods, (TE Tyler) Higbee, (TE) Gerald (Everett). I mean it goes on and on.”

(On how he seems to enjoy crediting his teammates and where that comes from)

”Oh yeah, that’s what it’s all about. I don’t want the ball all the time because obviously they’re going to know it’s coming to me. So, that’s the good thing about this team, man. We have so many good players, so many weapons and (Head) Coach (Sean McVay) does a great job with just spreading the ball out that – obviously, I’m going to get my touches, but you never know who’s going to get the ball with this offense. It’s not just line up first, second down, (RB) Todd (Gurley II) gets the ball. It’s play-action, run the ball, jet sweep, just making everything look the same. That’s why we’ve been doing such a great job.”

(On if that is who he’s always been or if his parents or coaches taught him about sharing the ball)

”No, I mean I always played defense growing up. I don’t know. Like Coach (McVay) preach – Coach preaches all the time, my high school coaches, everybody. I’ve always been a person to be happy for other people’s success. There’s no better feeling than being able to be on a team, see your teammates balling and having that success, you’re having that success and everybody just sharing it together. That’s why Coach says football is the ultimate team sport. There’s no need to get mad over a play. There’s only one ball, everybody can’t get the ball. So, that’s why we play the sport – and it’s 16 games. If I don’t get the ball this game, I get it next game. It is kind of what it is and we try to all work together and be on the same page.”

(On how he views Run Game Coordinator Aaron Kromer’s statement that G Rodger Saffold III is one of the most underrated guards in the NFL)

”Oh yeah, it’s been that for quite a while. Obviously, we know. (G) Rodger (Saffold III) knows it. Obviously, he had a couple injuries in the beginning of his career, but when Rodger’s in there he’s – I think a couple games ago he just had his 100th game which is very impressive. He’s just always in there doing his thing. He’s definitely underrated, but we really appreciate him on the team. That’s what all that matters. But yeah, he’s a beast, man. He’s a beast. Definitely deserving of being in the Pro Bowl a couple of times, but at the end of the day, we know what we have in him as a teammate and a player. All his hard work is definitely going to pay off, for sure.”

(On Saffold blocking two guys against the Broncos and if that’s rare)

”No, that’s what he does. You look at him last year, we’re playing the (Philadelphia) Eagles and we’re doing a pitch toss to me and he goes and hits (Eagles S) Rod Mcleod and then goes straight up to the corner. He’s a freakish athlete. He’s just always praising me and coming up to me, telling me what we’re going to get this week. He just works hard. The people that see it, sees it. We really appreciate him and having him on this team. He’s a big part and all those guys up front are.”

(On how his communication is with Head Coach Sean McVay and if he gives him feedback)

”Oh yeah, I kind of run the whole offense, man. He comes up to me every Monday and tries to tell me (laughs) – no, that’s what’s so great about coach. He’s a great communicator. At the end of the day, I kind of always give him the same answer. It doesn’t really matter to me, it’s whatever those guys up front are more comfortable blocking and I’m just going to follow their lead. That’s why he’s such a great coach and we have so much respect for him. He’s a great coach, but he also gets that we are the players and we’re on the field and we know how to make in-game adjustments and he also wants to know what we’re thinking and what we like play-wise. He does a great job. I could just give him a generic answer, it doesn’t matter or whatever those guys up front. He’s always communicating with us.”

(On what it’s like to be coming home and still undefeated ahead of the Packers visiting Los Angeles)

”Yeah, it’s been crazy. I probably got like 30 tickets this game – everybody wants to come to the game now. It’s cool. We’re playing the mini G.O.A.T. at home. It’s going to be fun. It’s (Packers QB) Aaron Rodgers. It doesn’t matter what type of team they are, they always have a chance with Aaron Rodgers. You don’t give them any hope. You’ve got to go in there, play hard all four quarters because you know he’s a Hail Mary god and he does fantastic stuff on the field. We’ve got a great respect for him, but we’ve also got guys like (DT Aaron) Donald and (DT Ndamukong) Suh and (DL Michael) Brockers and (DL) Ethan Westbrooks – all those guys. So, we’ll be ready to get at them for sure.”

(On if he’ll watch the Packers offense to see what Rodgers is doing)

”Oh yeah, most definitely. Just him being him, he’s going to make a great play or two, but our goal is to eliminate him. But, he’s Aaron Rodgers for a reason. He’s going to make great plays and we’re going to make great plays. Guys like him, (Patriots QB) Tom Brady, just being able to play against those guys and see what these guys have done in the league. You’re always kind of being a fan for sure.”

(On the last time he played the Packers and what he remembers)

”Yeah, (Former Packers S) Damarious Randall did not let me – he keeps letting me hear about that 55-yard run. He came from the other side of the field, kind of ran me down, pushed me out. He’s with the (Cleveland) Browns now, but he’s always talking about that play. I just kind of remember that game, it felt like it was really slow. I had like 30 carries that day and it really didn’t feel like I rushed for a career-high – like 150, 160 (yards) – but, it was kind of taking what they had. We just kept running the ball. Obviously, we didn’t win the game. It was still a close game, but we didn’t put the points up on the board on offense. But, it was a fun day. I didn’t get a touchdown, so no one wants to have 160 and no touchdowns. That’s never fun. But, it was cool. It was a great experience. One of my favorite stadiums to play in. Just with the tradition and how it is.”