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TRANSCRIPT: Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay, Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips, RB Todd Gurley September 5 press conference

Here’s what the three had to say today.

Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay

(On if there was a reason for RB Todd Gurley II not being a captain this year)“We’ve got a bunch of great leaders. He definitely got recognized by his peers as somebody that was right up there with those guys. We let the players select that and those were the six that they ended up voting on, but (RB) Todd’s (Gurley II) been a great leader. The fact that you may or may not be represented as a captain officially, we’ve got guys that we expect them to carry themselves accordingly. Todd is certainly somebody that influences and affects a locker room in a positive way and I know he’s looked at as a leader on this team.”

(On if he will have a conversation with Gurley about the team vote for captains)

“We talk about it. It’s one of those things where I think he knows he has the respect of his teammates. When you look at it, it’s nothing really against Todd, it continues to be a good reflection of those other guys. It’s one of those deals where he’s still looked at as a leader. He was right up there with the guys selected as the captains, in terms of he very easily was a couple of votes away from being one as well.”

(On TE Tyler Higbee’s new contract and what he means to the team)

“He’s really important. Versatility from that tight end position is paramount. His ability to be able to make plays in the pass game, be able to compete on the line of scrimmage in the run game, do some different things protection-wise. We ask a lot of our tight ends, in terms of the versatility and his ability to play on all three downs and be competitive with whatever we ask him, is a really important part of this offense. He’s a great leader. He’s a guy that is really been instrumental in the development and growth of helping with (TE) Gerald Everett. When you’ve got a guy in your room that, that’s what it looks like to do it right, I think those two have a great relationship. He continues to grow, so really happy for Tyler.”

(On if it was a priority to keep Higbee on the team considering he’s been a part os the nucleus of the team)

“It was. It’s a priority for our team. When you look, these decisions are what you try to project and try to get ahead of some of those things. It’s a great job, (Agent of TE Tyler Higbee) Erik Burkhardt, our group being able to work in unison to be able to get something done. It’s a good reflection of two parties working together and then Tyler, obviously, earning the deal based on what he’s done on the field and the way he’s handled himself here and overall.”

(On numbers not defining what a player means to a team)

“Absolutely. When you look at a down-in and down-out on the tape, a lot of the contributions that he made is incredibly selfless plays. Then he did get his opportunities as the year progressed, you saw the production and he delivered in a big way. He had a lot of big-time catches for us in some crucial moments. His value to us is very important. Sometimes to the outside, it might not seem that way, but it sure is in this building – his teammates, his coaches, he’s very much appreciated. The things that he does down-in and down-out certainly don’t go unnoticed or unappreciated from us.”

(On contract extensions for LB Cory Littleton and CB Marcus Peters)

“Those are conversations that continue to go on. I’m not exactly sure where we’re at with those just because we’re so busy and getting involved in the preparation for Carolina. Those are two guys that I know there is ongoing dialogue with them.”

(On if there’s any personal curiosity he has with how Gurley is going to look in in first game)

“I think there’s curiosity just for our team. How are we going to look? How are we going to play? How are we going to adjust? What are some of the things we’re going to see from them offensively, defensively, special teams? So, I think there’s a curiosity of an excitement and anticipation on just getting a chance to play real football. Roll it out there and see how we look. I think the guys are excited. I’m excited to see (RB) Todd Gurley continue to do his thing and he looks good. He’s feeling good and we’re looking forward to Sunday.”

(On if Gurley will be on a play count)

“Nope.”

(On his experience playing in his hometown last year and what he thinks it will be like for Gurley returning home to Carolina.)

“I think he’s always a guy that’s got a lot of support and great family. I’m sure he’s got a lot of people that are coming and excited to see him play. Hometown crowd. It was a little bit different going back to Atlanta. I’m not playing I’m just on the sideline just kind of watching. It’s going to be fun to be able to see him go back home and hopefully have a great game for us.”

(On an area of the team that is determinative of if they will rise or fall)

“Sure, I think like anything else it’s our ability to play as a team. I thought in a lot of instances some of the things we can draw on, knowing that what we’ve done before won’t do anything for us this season. But I think you can draw on a lot of the things that did positively take place with defense picking up offense, offense picking up defense, special teams making a crunch time play. So, it’s really about us coming together as a team, playing as one and figuring out a way to win a football game, all three phases putting it together.”

(On if he plans to watch former Rams offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur in his head coaching debut tonight)

“I’ll have it on in the background. We’ll finish up the gameplan. But excited to see (Packers Head Coach) Matt (Lafleur) and hopefully those guys do a great job tonight. I know it will be fun. I texted with him a little bit earlier today and excited to see those guys go do their thing.”

DC Wade Phillips

(Opening Remarks)

“Here we go. We’re obviously excited about this season, everybody’s rearing to get ready. Big challenge we know that. (Panthers QB) Cam (Newton) has been the MVP of the league, he says he feels like a rookie now, which is kind of scary because he had some great years – even his rookie year was a heck of a year. They’ve got (RB Christian) McCaffrey who is a dual-threat – probably the biggest dual-threat, catching 107 passes and rushing for over 1,000 yards last year. I think he was third in yardage last year. Offensively they’ve got a strong group – they’ve got some good, young receivers with speed. It will be a big challenge for us, but we’re looking forward to it.”

(On if he takes away anything from when he coached against Panthers QB Cam Newton in Super Bowl 50)

“The only thing I take from the Super Bowl is that big ring I’ve got (laughs). All teams are different – their team is different from then, ours is too. This is a different team, a different time. It’s a new year – I don’t think anybody knows who really, really will be good. Everybody’s speculating, but we’ve seen last to first every year and vice versa. Everybody’s feeling it out and seeing what kind of football team we have.”

(On if he thinks the defensive line is further ahead since DT Aaron Donald has participated all offseason)

“Well, (DT) Aaron (Donald) is further ahead than he was. Even though he had fantastic years the last two years, he actually started slow in the first few games. This year, I think it’s helped him. Obviously, we’ll see, but the flip side of that is everybody’s gunning for him. We know everybody’s going to try to block two guys on him or three guys on him if they can. He’s had that, really, a lot last year, but I expect it more this year.”

(On how DT Sebastian Joseph-Day has developed since training camp)

“I think (DT) Sebastian (Joseph-Day) has done a good job for us. We played him in the preseason to see how he’d do. He played against Dallas’ first-team center, so we feel good about him on first and second down. We’ve also got (DT) Greg Gaines who has come in and done a good job for us. With those two guys, we feel that we’re all right at nose guard.”

(On what he’s seen from S Eric Weddle and LB Clay Matthews)

“(S Eric) Weddle and (LB Clay) Matthews both, obviously, are experienced guys. But, they’re also real sharp guys that communication is such a key. I can’t say enough great things about what (Head Coach) Sean (McVay) has brought in communication-wise with the offense, but also, that emphasis with the defense. Getting guys who communicate as well as these two guys do has got to help us.”

(On OLB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo)

“(OLB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo) ‘Obo’ has obviously been hurt, really even, the start of this year. He got to practice one week and got to play in a couple of preseason games and kind of showed what we thought maybe he could do. He’s got some pass rushing talent, so that was good to see.”

(On His impressions on S Taylor Rapp and How his versatility helps the defense)

“(S) Taylor (Rapp) is a lot of what we thought he was. He’s a really good football player, he’s got really good short-area quickness, he’s a very good tackler. He’s not (S) John Johnson III yet, but he’s got a lot of those traits. We expect that he will play in the game, he won’t just be a backup, he will play some in the game. He’s earned that.”

(On LB Bryce Hager stepping into his role)

“It was a competition all along anyway. Obviously when (LB) Micah (Kiser) got hurt, we went with (LB) Bryce (Hager). We feel good about Bryce. He played when (former LB Alec) Ogletree was hurt, I think we won those games, he played in. We have a lot of confidence in him. Again, smart guy, but a good athlete. Because he’s such a good special teamer, he’s a good athlete. I think that bodes well for him and us.”

(On how long he thinks LB Clay Matthews can play)

“I don’t know. I told Clay Matthews he’s only half through, because his dad played 19 years, so he’s only halfway through. I don’t know how long guys can play, it’s all individualized. Like I say, ‘Clay Matthews Sr. played linebacker for 19-years.’ I mean, that’s just amazing. These days, with the way guys train and keep themselves in shape all-year around, you expect players to play longer. When the end comes, he will know and we will know, but it’s not right now. He can still play.”

(On CB Aqib Talib)

“He said he feels real good. He’s practiced well, we will have a full speed practice again today. Yesterday, we were full speed and he felt well, he felt good, he moved around well.”

(On If preparing for Panthers QB Cam Newton is different from the Super Bowl)

“That team led the league in 15 categories. The playoffs were unbelievable. They beat (Steelers QB Ben) Roethlisberger and (Patriots QB Tom) Brady, and Cam, the MVP. They shut all of them down on third-downs less than 20 percent, I think all of them. Hit Brady 24 times in a playoff game. I don’t know if you can compare many teams to that one. I like to think we were that kind of team, but I think we good on defense. I think we are going to be a good football team”

RB Todd Gurley

(On how excited he is to get the regular season started)

“Pretty excited. First week – Week 1. Get to go back to North Carolina so looking forward to it, though.”

(On if he’s excited to return to North Carolina)

“Yeah, I’m excited. Like you said, it’s far. Didn’t really went to Charlotte growing up, but it’ll be cool just to be able to go back to North Carolina and be able to play in front of family and friends.”

(On how many family members and friends he is expecting at the game)

“No idea.”

(On if he thinks it will be a lot of people)

“Yeah, I’m pretty sure a bunch of people probably are going to be there. I’m pretty sure it’ll be a good amount of people.”

(On if he was excited seeing he would get to return to North Carolina for the first time in his professional career)

“No, not really. I just thought it would be cool, that way everybody doesn’t have to worry about keep coming to games (in Los Angeles). We’re playing Carolina, that’s all you need to see. Other than that – like I said – it was cool, but I didn’t really think too much of it.”

(On how his left knee feels)

“It’s fine.”

(On if his knee has been fine throughout the preseason)

“Just Week 1 now – I’m here, so just getting ready for Sunday.”

(On how long it will take the starters to get back into the flow of the game)

Could be one game, could be two games, could be three. You know how football is – get good spurts. Obviously the first game, the biggest thing is just trying to minimize all the stuff we can control, whether it’s pre-snap penalties and stuff like that. You get a bunch of that stuff usually in the first couple of weeks. As long as we control what we can control, take care of the ball, we should be fine.”

(On if he feels like he will be able to run like he has in the past on Sunday)

“Yeah. That’s my job. That’s what I do.”

(On his reaction to Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott’s contract extension)

“No. Big congrats to him (Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott). Good to see him back on the field. I hope (Chargers RB) Melvin (Gordon) gets his next.”

(On his reaction to Rams QB Jared Goff’s contract extension)

“I was excited. Him (QB Jared Goff) and (TE Tyler) Higbee – excited.”

(On how he feels regarding the Rams efforts to keep the nucleus of the team together)

“It’s a good feeling. Just to be able to play for an organization that takes care of their players. They just show the younger guys that’s rookies and second years, just the definition of hard work paying off. It’s a good feeling, just to be able to have a bunch of guys on the team that got what they deserve and to be able to just go out there and really just play ball, honestly.”

(On why he feels it’s important to go back to his hometown)

“I own a home there.”

(On what he does in the community for his hometown)

“I’m from there. Who doesn’t go back to their hometown?”

(On being eager to show people he is fine after all the talk in the offseason)

“No, I’m not eager. It’s football, I’ve been playing it my whole life. It’s just another season.”

(On how the season ended last year)

“I was one of only two teams playing. Everyone else was sitting at home.”

(On speculations about his knee injury and wanting to put the rumors to rest)

“No.”