Miami Dolphins Transcripts – August 5 – Head Coach Mike McDaniel, LB Andrew Van Ginkel, WR Jaylen Waddle and T Terron Armstead

T Terron Armstead

(First off, how did it feel being back? I know you’ve had some load management for maintenance, but how did it feel to get back out there, especially in team drills?) – “It felt great man. It’s fun. It’s a fun game. Getting back out, I’m feeling well enough to get out back out and participate, being with my guys, competing against the defense, it was fun.”

(I was curious, I know you said you did a similar maintenance program in New Orleans, but how does that – knowing that you have a ‘day off’ from practice, how does that make you change the process? Do you do anything differently to make sure that maybe the mental side of the game is still sharp there?) – “That’s the key word – process. Understanding all this is a process, this entire segment of a season is a process where we’re building up to get to peak performance and be ready when the real live action starts. So if you’re not doing full 11-on-11 drills, you have to attack that process in a different way – that’s weight room, that’s training room. So whatever the task is that day to improve, just taking care of that.”

(You obviously have nothing to prove. You’ve proven you’re one of the better players in this league. Now getting here, you have a whole new fanbase. What do you feel as an athlete you have to kind of re-prove to the people who have never seen you on an every-Sunday basis?) – “I appreciate that. I think that’s probably the tough part of the sport or professional sports, is that every day you have to prove yourself. Your career, whatever you’ve done, it really doesn’t matter up to this point. You have to come with it every day, and that’s the hard part of greatness and sports success is that consistency. Getting to that level every day, whether I know or you know that I can go out and do it and perform, you have to come with that mentality every day to show and prove.”

(How do you compartmentalize when they’re constantly measuring all of you by the salary that you make, what cap space you take and all those kinds of things?) – “I don’t really know where that takes place. In the building, in the locker room and on the field, we all go out and try to perform with one goal in mind and that’s to win. So we’re not discussing salary caps or anything when the play is going on. We’re just trying to perform, execute and get the job done.”

(What’s been your impression specifically in team drills going against that defensive front? Obviously there’s a lot of continuity. It seemed like they were blitzing you guys a lot. What’s been your impression of that?) – “Man, real active group. Real active group. Highly talented. A lot of skill. Adding Melvin Ingram to that group is, I think, extremely underrated. He’s an amazing player and has been that way for a long time. A guy like Christian Wilkins who has been highly productive but hasn’t been that notable as far as popularity, he’s going to have a – I’m projecting that he has a standout year, more so in the stat line than ever before. (He’s an) extremely talented player, intelligent player, real good hands and feet technique. Man, Zach (Sieler), another one – extreme technique. (Emmanuel) Ogbah, I’m a fan of those guys.”

(Next week when you get to go scrimmage against the Buccaneers, a lot of people talk about whether it’s practice or preseason games, a lot of people say you get more work out of those kinds of scrimmages. For players, do you feel like you get more out of those kinds of scrimmages than you do a regular practice or a preseason game?) – “The type of the work we put in out here is high level. It’s high level, and (Head Coach) Mike (McDaniel) demands that. So the level that we get to and compete at every day, you’re not going to get much different. You might see different styles of play, different schemes, but we get after it. We get after it out here. I think it’s great and will translate when we go to Tampa. I played those guys twice a year for nine years now, so I know that team, the defense, and they come with it – a championship caliber team. So it’ll be a good time, good chance to get in and go technique verse technique, scheme verse scheme. But as far as the level and effort, nothing is going to beat what we’re doing out here.”

(At this stage of your career, do you need much 11-on-11 work in practice or many preseason snaps to feel ready for the opener?) – “It always – it kind of varies. You never want to put a count on it (and say), ‘I need this amount of reps.’ It’s a feel. It’s a feel. So you’re getting that rust knocked off, technique, getting your eyes, hands and feet where you want them to be, that can take however long. Ideally, I want to be able to feel like I’m ready, like I’m game-ready and season-ready as early as possible. But I’m not there yet.”

(Have you ever played with two guys like WR Tyreek Hill and WR Jaylen Waddle and the kind of speed that they have on the outside and the cutting ability that they have? I just wonder how corners are going to be able to stay with both those guys?) – “I’ve never seen it. I’ve never seen the likes of Tyreek Hill alone. The explosiveness, the zero to 60 in 2.5 (seconds), he’s a Model X. And Jaylen (Waddle) too, those guys are extremely talented. Their burst is insane. Them, Raheem (Mostert) and Chase (Edmonds), we have a lot of weapons. We’re just trying to get those guys an opportunity to make plays.”

(As great of a player as you’ve been, obviously you’ve had some tough luck, too, unfortunately with health. Is that something you think about ever in terms of, “Boy, I would really like to play every game in a season?” Is that something that ever crosses your mind?) – “Absolutely. Absolutely, this is my job. This is what I do for a living. This is how I feed my family. This is how I make my life. So that’s – ideally, all I want to do is play. All I want to do is play. Unfortunately, we don’t always get to do what we want to do. My injuries have been a result of a lot of different things, more so compounding, coming back too early and all those good things. (Head Coach) Mike (McDaniel) and (Head Athletic Trainer) Kyle (Johnston) and the rest of those guys have been conscious and cognizant of everything that I’ve dealt with previously, but I’m trying to get on that field every day, every play. This is what I do. I love it.”

(Is it almost a … to stay healthy in this league?) – “Listen, there’s a 100 percent injury rate in the NFL. It’s just a guarantee. Now the severity, the magnitude of the injury – you try to prehab, do all this preventative work that I’m definitely tapped into – the nutrition, the mobility, all those good things. Do everything that you possibly can do, then it’s control what you can control.”

(How difficult has this been to take a cautious approach to your practice participation and just be guarded and careful about it?) – “I wouldn’t say it’s a cautious approach because once you’re in there, you have to go. You have to go. I think it’s being smart and not just jumping right in, especially coming back from some offseason work and getting healthy. If I was just coming in fully, fully healthy, I think my rep count would be different. It was more so of a ramp up with the different studies and science and health, technology. This has been proven to be most effective.”

WR Jaylen Waddle

(The contacts, what exactly do they do?) – “These are prescribed, so they are like regular contacts, but they put a tint on my eyes for the sun and things like that.”

(It’s just literally to see?) – “Yeah.”

(What’s it feel like to hear all of these kids scream your name?) – “It’s good. I’m going to go over there and hang with them for a little bit before I go to meetings. It’s pretty cool.”

(Wide Receivers Coach Wes Welker, what’s unique about him and his approach to coaching?) – “It’s a different approach because he actually played and he had success in this league. You really take into consideration what he’s telling you because he did it before. It just makes it hit home a little better.”

(How would you describe Welker’s personality and approach to teaching and connecting with guys?) – “I think he’s just himself. Out here and in meetings, he’s himself. He’s not going to sugarcoat nothing. He’s going to tell you if that was a bad play, that’s a bad play. That’s all you can ask for from a coach, honestly, is to give his true opinion.”

(Coach Welker told me that Head Coach Mike McDaniel taught him how to make really good coaching tapes. And that he can make a tape that tells a story of how a play is installed to how it works. How helpful are those coaching tapes?) – “It’s good. It makes it full circle, especially if you mess up and he shows you a play that you get the same look from the defense – kind of how it’s supposed to be. So he paints that picture in your mind so the next time you go out there, what to expect and how you’re going to treat it.”

(When you self-scout yourself from last season, what do you look at and say this is the one thing that I wanted to make sure I focused on this year?) – “Honestly, my yards after catch is something I realized that I wasn’t that productive at last year. That pops out on tape when I look at it.”

(Is that more about breaking a tackle, making a move, where the ball is placed?) – “All of that goes into consideration, but honestly, I put it upon myself to try to make someone miss and get up field.”

(What do you remember about the very first time you met QB Tua Tagovailoa?) – “That was a little while ago. I remember he was quiet. He was like four lockers down from me at Bama and he kept calling me the wrong name. He kept calling me Jason. I don’t know why. (laughter)

(On those reps against CB Xavien Howard on one-on-ones, how does that help your game?) – “Personally, I think ‘X’ is the best corner. I’m not just saying that because he’s on my team. But if you look at what he’s done in this league, he travels, he goes and plays man-to-man, so I feel like it’s good to go against the best to up my game. We’re both from the same city so it’s a little H-town throwdown.”

(Is there trash talk?) – “It can get there. But nah, we’re just out here trying to get better.”

(What have been your impressions on the rookie receivers? WR Erik Ezukanma and WR Braylon Sanders in particular?) – “They’re great. Honestly, they always come in, they are willing to work. They don’t have any problems. If they have a question, they are going to ask the older guys. They might ask me. If I can help, I try to. But normally I steer them to going to Wes (Welker) because he’s going to give them the exact detail of what it is they want them to do. I really like them wanting to have more knowledge of the game and come out here and work every day.”

(What’s the one thing that you think you’ve taken from WR Tyreek Hill that you think you could incorporate into your game?) – “I think just his approach. I think I have a pretty good approach to the game, but his approach every day. He takes every day as a new challenge. He’s really a real deal technician when we’re in meetings and things like that. He’s a true professional. I think I can take that and learn from it.”

(WR Robbie Anderson said that when he was in Carolina with QB Teddy Bridgewater, Teddy really helped him make the transition into becoming a pro. What is your relationship like with Teddy and what he brings to the team?) – “Actually, I got to grow a relationship with Teddy outside of the facility this summer. Just me throwing in his neighborhood. You know he’s from down here. He’s honestly just a great dude off the field more than on the field. Honestly what he does for his community down here and how productive he is around here is inspiring. I think so. As far as on the field, he’s the OG. He’s going to see the coverage and tell you what he saw and give you his true opinion.”

LB Andrew Van Ginkel

(I’m curious the process of finding out you’re going to get the orange jersey for the day. How does that happen?) – “It’s exciting. You get a text that says that you were the practice player of the day, so when I got that, I was happy and just knowing all the hard work that I put in really is paying off.”

(What makes you more nervous – having to put together a quality playlist or going up against T Terron Armstead in pass protection?) – “That playlist was pretty tough. (laughter)

(You didn’t have one, just an emergency break-glass-in-case-of-orange-jersey playlist?) – “No, I didn’t. Off day yesterday so I got a few extra minutes to spend on it.”

(Was that all your playlist or did you take some votes in?) – “No, it was all mine, yeah. Just kind of all over the place, but songs I enjoy.”

(We’ve talked a lot about changes to this offense. As a defensive player, how has this offense kind of tested you and the rest of the defense so far in training camp so far?) – “Oh man, it’s been great. We’re seeing looks that normally you don’t see this early in training camp. It really tests our edges and tests our gap defense, so as long as everyone is doing their job and working hard to improve, that’s how we have to approach each day.”

(What do you think you’ve got to prove this year? Obviously you’re working to try to get a multi-year deal at the same time.) – “For me, it’s just being myself. Go out there and compete each and every day and do what I do best and run to the ball, do the extra little stuff that people don’t always recognize.”

(We’ve heard so much about T Terron Armstead helping out the young offensive linemen. Does he ever give you tips coming off that edge, things you can do to help your pass rush game?) – “Not yet. He hasn’t practiced a whole lot, but as soon as I go up against him and see the certain looks that he gives, I should ask him.”

(Have you put on some weight?) – “No, I’m about where I was last year.”

(I know there’s a lot of continuity on defense and Defensive Coordinator Josh Boyer said that really the core of what you guys do is going to be the same, but obviously you never want to stay stagnant. I guess just what percentage of the defense is maybe a little bit different or have you put wrinkles in so far?) – “It’s a lot of similarities to last year. Everybody is going to do their job. We’re going to be fundamentally sound and honestly, it’s pretty similar to last year and everybody’s just got to attack their job.”

(And so far, what impact have you seen LB Melvin Ingram make on the team so far?) – “Just his leadership and then the way he attacks each day. You can definitely feel him when he’s out there and just watching practice, he makes plays all the time so it’s really exciting.”

(Head Coach Mike McDaniel said that because the defense is so good, he doesn’t always have to be as aggressive because he can kind of count on the defense to slow things down. How does that feel for you to hear something like that and to know your unit is…?) – “Yeah, it’s exciting. The standard here is high and we come about each day trying to uphold that standard and if it’s not good enough, all of us players on defense, we know that we have to come out and attack the next day and get better.”

(Do you feel you’re kind of, as a unit – not self-policing, but you kind of can give that feedback to one another?) – “Yeah, for sure. We can tell right away if it’s not good enough. If we don’t set the edge or if we give up deep balls or give up splash plays, we don’t expect the offense to gain a yard so whenever they do that, it’s definitely not to our standard.”

Head Coach Mike McDaniel

(There are a lot of – obviously with as much talent as you have at tight end, receiver, running back – there are going to be a lot of players who want the ball, touches, playing time this year. When you and General Manager Chris Grier were evaluating which players to re-sign or sign, how much did you talk, if any, about each one? Would this guy make waves if he doesn’t get as many snaps as maybe he has in the past or feels like he deserves? Is that ever a consideration when you and Chris evaluate players and specifically with tight end, you have a bunch of players who have had a lot of NFL snaps. Not all of them might get as many as they have in the past. Was that something you thought about with TE Mike Gesicki, TE Durham Smythe, etc. in signing them?) – “You adamantly discuss each and every player that you’re re-signing and I think competitors, by nature, compete and they, in general, have a yearn to have the ball. But then I try not to have preconceived notions necessarily about how players are going to respond or whatever. That’s what you do as a coach. You show how each and every play affects other plays, how things can snowball, how some days you won’t have any (opportunities) with regard to playing the ball down the field and some days you will. So it’s really not a matter of trying to avoid that. It’s kind of setting the vision of what good football takes, what type of sacrifice it takes and there’s never been a team that hurts because of too much competition.”

(What’s your approach in preseason games? Because I know typically coaches – they kind of level up and then sort of level down maybe a little at the end in terms of using starters. How much work do you want to get the guys during that and at what point will you pull back maybe to avoid injury or that kind of thing?) – “I think it’s a tough balance – an inexact science that you try to handle on a case-by-case basis and what the team needs, understanding that every time you’re playing football, there’s always a risk in that. There’s an inherent risk, but there’s also – preseason is a valuable time to hone your skills and having 11 people work together for the regular season. So realistically I don’t try to shortchange. We have three practices before we head off to Tampa and practice against them, and I try not to get ahead of myself and say, ‘Okay, this person first of all is anointed the starter. Second of all, how much are they going to play?’ That’s something that I think it’s important to wait until you get there before you really decide exactly how long each individual player will play because there’ll be starters that end up playing in Preseason (Week) 1. There will be starters that won’t. I don’t think that preseason is very valuable, but you’re also trying to figure out who is going to be on your team and we take that very seriously.”

(I wanted to ask you about the news that came out recently about Steve Ross and tampering and courtships of a coach and Tom Brady. What do you say to the team? Obviously I don’t know how much it impacts people who are actually on the field on a daily basis, but when they see themselves as an organization be discussed in the news and it involves possibly their head coach and it involves their quarterback, what do you say to them as a group?) – “You said a key thing in that statement where you’re not sure if it involves the people on the field, so that right there, the most important thing as a head coach is that that’s your entire focus. So you can say a lot by saying a lot or not saying anything at all. We have an incredible challenge in front of us as the 2022 Dolphins. I think the players are owed complete and utter focus on that, so I think there’s power in not giving legs to something that doesn’t really affect those 2022 players that really deserve full and undivided attention. I think that’s something that you can – the biggest thing is that players have an objective that day. Players are owed a lot by coaches for what they sacrifice, so I wouldn’t do them the disservice by spending any time on things that aren’t 100 percent focused on what’s important to them and their job at hand, which is making a football team and then being held accountable for their efforts moving forward on game days.”

(Is there any concern at this point regarding CB Byron Jones and his status for the start of the regular season?) – “No. The concern is with him continuing to progress. Right now that isn’t a concern for us, but it takes a full commitment each and every day for that to hold true, so right now we’re confident in how he’s rehabbing. If there’s a setback, then we’ll be concerned, but until then, we feel pretty good about it.”

(We had Wide Receivers Coach Wes Welker the other day, who said something interesting about how he thought he sucked his first year as a coach and he’s come along since that time. You’ve talked a lot about developing players and for a coach that’s come along this ride with you a little bit with Wes, I was just curious about your process of cultivating coaching development?) – “That’s an important, important aspect of the job. I think Wes is really – he channels his inner player on that one and I think he was being a little hard on himself. But I think that speaks to what he’s kind of invested in, in the whole process, how far he’s come. But that’s always ongoing. That’s very important for me, as a leader of the football team, is to make sure that the players are getting resourced by people that are getting better at their craft. To always seek new and different ways to communicate with people and handle those relationships in the best way possible. So I think it’s just attention. I think it’s positive reinforcement on things that are working. I think it’s solution-finding and just really investment into the assistant coaches by myself to improve on things that really don’t work.”

(What was the thinking in just releasing DL Adam Butler with a failed physical as opposed to PUP or keeping him around? Because he was a useful piece last year. And did the fact you have confidence in other defensive tackles on the roster – DT John Jenkins, the young guys, factor into that?) – “Absolutely he was a useful piece. It takes a village in the NFL organization, and I don’t fancy myself as a CBA expert. Luckily, I have CBA experts down the ball as a resource, so certain things within the injury really kind of forced the hand in that direction and yes, we are very, very confident in a lot of the young players that we’re developing and I’m very confident in that room in general.”

(From your former experience, do you have a favorite part and/or a least favorite part of the art of the joint practice and how that works?) – “My favorite part is the competition. You’ve been going against each other for – I mean, shoot, I think it would be like, 120-some-odd days since we started in OTAs or in the offseason program. So that break-up is much needed. So it’s very, very useful in that regard where you get to go against an opponent – somebody else – for the first time and that’s super valuable. And you get exposure to different schemes on both sides of the ball, which is very valuable moving forward to the regular season. My least favorite part? I guess it’s honestly, I love the opportunity for the players in the preseason game. From a coach’s perspective, it’s kind of annoying because you’ve kind of used your bullets in practice so you kind of – it is a little challenge to not adjust from practice, which kind of gets you out of the whole process of what you want to show and what you don’t want to show. So that whole gymnastics, the fact that we have to play a game, is a very necessary evil that is important to me for the players’ opportunity. But from a working day-to-day deal it’s kind of annoying from a coach’s perspective.”

(The NFL confirmed that this team, at some point, was interested in another quarterback in QB Tom Brady. Do you feel like that motivated QB Tua Tagovailoa at all since he was still on the roster at that point? Is he the kind of quarterback or person at this point that needs reassurance in the team’s confidence in him?) – “No. If you’re a starting quarterback in the National Football League and you don’t think that there’s competition always, then that’s not the way to look at it. You look at it like you’re going to go attack this job and it’s your job to show everyone exactly who’s the best person for it. Whether or not Tua (Tagovailoa) himself feels X, Y or Z, the only thing I know is what he speaks to me about and that’s how confident he is in the way he’s playing and his skillset. I know his teammates are very confident in what he’s developing, so that’s a cool process to be involved in. I haven’t seen anything from Tua that would lend me to believe that he’s affected in the slightest by all the stuff that goes on that he can’t control.”

(How smart is S Jevon Holland? For such a young player, I notice you always come around to him and you spend a little bit of time with him, at least.) – “Oh, yes. (laughter) It has been really, really cool watching Tua (Tagovailoa) and him compete. And that’s an odd thing to say, like in regards to a safety versus a quarterback, but he plays all over the place, he communicates the defense from the call from the sidelines and he’s a student. I think Tua respects that, and they have kind of a nice competitive bond going. It speaks to how football smart he is, how to – the things that he does on the football field are super exciting for the Miami Dolphins moving forward. He is athletic and has a lot of skills, but none of that even matters if he doesn’t have a brain for football and a commitment to football like he does.”

(Obviously, the game has changed a lot publicly from 20 years ago with players using social media to kind of express their thoughts and that kind of thing. I was just curious, from your perspective, how you sort of believe in players expressing themselves publicly if they’re unhappy with something or something along those lines. Is that something that you as a coach want to monitor?) – “No, I think it’s a very important thing for players to understand, and that’s that it’s pretty black and white, your arguments and your feelings, and you express them the best on the football field. One thing that I’ve talked to the team about is I see better than I hear. So all of those things can be expressed, and it’s your job as a coach to kind of show how to handle any sort of adverse emotions and project it into your play, and how you can show your teammates you know exactly what you’re doing, show your they can count on you and show your teammates that they’re better off with them than against them.”

(Are you concerned with the quarterback-center exchange? You’ve had several high snaps. Are you concerned a little bit with that with OL Connor Williams?) – “I would be concerned if he didn’t work at it. That will – even with guys that have been doing that for an extended period of time, shoot, Alex Mack last year, that is something that when you’re asking players to do various things post-snap out of the shotgun, you have to kind of learn how to negotiate the accuracy of those. I would be concerned if he wasn’t working at it. I am very, very confident in how far he’s come. He’s earned that because of his ownership of the position that he’s trying to go and take, and I think the rest of the team is pretty confident that that’s not necessarily an issue. There are a lot of snaps that are on target as well.”

(What’s your history on that adjustment? Because a lot of times when the guy is going from center to guard, it’s not as hard. But when he’s going from guard to center to handle the ball, what’s been your history when you’ve made a player make an adjustment?) – “What’s cool is we have a plethora of offensive line coaches as you guys know, but I have firsthand experience with (Offensive Assistant) Mike Person as a player doing the same thing. Those are things that definitely come to – aren’t lost and that you’re thinking about, so it’s been cool. A little known fact, (Offensive Coordinator) Frank Smith was a center for Ben Roethlisberger in college. We have a good amount of center experience within our coaching staff and that is something I think players can really lean on and is very helpful, and that’s why I haven’t really been that concerned about it because I do have history with moving guards to center and understand the little bumps in the road along the process.”

(OL Michael Deiter, any sense of timetable?)  “He’s feeling better. We’re trying to be pragmatic and not be greedy, so expect him sooner than later. It’s not sometime this week. We’re taking it day-by-day intentionally, but also trying to battle him because he is competitive as all get out. And then the second question?”

(Which I can now cancel, in fact, because with OL Michael Deiter coming back soon, you would seemingly, and you and General Manager Chris Grier would know this far better than us, but with Deiter coming back soon, you would seemingly have enough with OL Connor Williams, Deiter, OL Cole Banwart, OL Adam Pankey. So I’m willing to cancel the second part of what I asked if you have to get to a meeting.) – “Oh, well um, thanks? (laughter) We have bullets everywhere, so we’re – adversity is an opportunity. There’s been some great snaps for a couple other players because of his injury. I really challenge guys to take advantage of opportunities and utilize those practices to their benefit. There’s never too much versatility an interior offensive linemen can have, so that’s why we’re pretty comfortable being pragmatic.”

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