Miami Dolphins Transcripts – October 28 – WR DeVante Parker, RB Myles Gaskin, TE Adam Shaheen, G/T Jesse Davis, CB Xavien Howard, LB Jerome Baker and LB Jaelan Phillips

Head Coach Brian Flores

(I know you haven’t gone out to practice yet and the fact that you changed your normal walkthrough to a regular practice impacts it. Where are you guys with LB Jerome Baker, WR DeVante Parker and some of the injured players?) – “Jerome was limited yesterday and we will see how he does today. Same with DeVante – limited yesterday and we’ll see how he does today. Both trending, I would say, moving in the right direction. We’ll see how it looks today. Today is going to tell us a lot as far as game status, what we think and how much we think they will be able to help us in the game.”

(This week we heard Steelers’ Head Coach Mike Tomlin come out and deny the college reports for him. We heard 49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan say there wasn’t a 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo trade in the future. Why wouldn’t you come out with the Houston QB Deshaun Watson rumors and just say, ‘Hey, that’s not true,’ if that’s the case?) – “I think I’ve said this multiple times – Tua (Tagovailoa) is our quarterback. I don’t get into rumors. I don’t get into speculation. Tua is our quarterback.”

(I understand that. I guess the question, like last October I remember being here and CB Xavien Howard was the topic of the rumor at the time and the team put out a statement saying, ‘We’re not interested in any Xavien trades.’ I’m curious why this time it’s different?) – “I wouldn’t say it’s different. I would say that I’ve answered that question by saying Tua (Tagovailoa) is our quarterback. I’m not getting into speculation and I’m not getting into rumors. I’m not getting into rumors, speculation, distractions. I’m focused on our team, focused on our quarterback and that’s Tua.”

(Can you declare definitively that he is the quarterback for the rest of 2021?) – “Definitively that he’s the quarterback barring no …? I mean, there’s a lot of things that…“

(Barring injury.) – “Barring injury? Yeah.”

(You mentioned the concept of distraction. I’m curious – obviously we have different perspectives on the idea of a distraction. Do you view not talking about it as a better way to deal with it versus addressing it head on?) – “Not talking about it? So when I say Tua (Tagovailoa) is our quarterback, is that not talking about it?”

(No, I guess the actual trade rumor. There’s been reports that you guys had agreed to terms on a deal.) – “I don’t get into reports or rumors or speculation. I’m focused on our team and the guys in our locker room. I think when we get outside of that, that’s not where my focus is. My focus is on our players. I’m interested in our players. I’m talking about our players and helping them improve and get better. That’s where my focus is and that’s where it’s always going to be.”

(On that subject, when I asked QB Tua Tagovailoa about this the other day, I asked him would it not make you feel that much better if the Dolphins came out and said we are not interested in Houston QB Deshaun Watson? Would he not appreciate that? From that point of view, what do you think? Would he not appreciate that? Would anyone not appreciate hearing from the boss I’m committed to you?) – “When I say he’s our quarterback, that is me saying we’re committed to him.”

(Can you talk a little bit about RB Salvon Ahmed? Especially with RB Malcolm Brown being out, do you expect a bigger role for him and what have you seen from him this week?) – “With Malcolm being out, we need more out of Myles (Gaskin) and more out of Salvon. We’re working through who the next back is going to be. But yeah, I think Salvon has done some good things. He’ll obviously have some more opportunities and yeah, I think he’s doing a lot of things in practice from a preparation standpoint to give himself an opportunity to have some success in the game.”

(When you say you’re working through who the next back is going to be, I’m sure that has a lot to do with roles and filling roles because you guys are a role-based team. With RB Malcolm Brown being the bigger back, the power back, the guy who is mostly in pass protection, is that the role that you are trying to fill or somebody moves into that role and somebody else handles that role?) – “I think depending on who the next guys are. (Patrick) Laird’s been a third-down back. Larid has played in the kicking game. Duke Johnson’s been a third-down back. (Gerrid) Doaks is more of an early-down, more power I would say, power back. Based on the gameplan, based on how we want to play, that all kind of factors into the decision that will be made there.”

(I don’t know RB Malcolm Brown’s special teams roles. Is there a massive role that he used to fill that you have to replace?) – “No. As far as backup roles, he definitely fit some backup roles and played sparingly in the kicking game. But that’s something that (Patrick) Laird has done a lot of. Put him in, spill somebody else in that role or give somebody else a break in that instance. Or you go with a guy like (Gerrid) Doaks who would backup like Malcolm did. Really, Duke Johnson is kind of similar, as far as having more of a limited special teams role.”

(With RB Duke Johnson, he’s only been here for one week. You did that in 2019. Would you feel comfortable playing him with him only being here for one week?) – “He’s done a nice job these last couple of days. More time, you always feel better about that. But this is an experienced guy who has played a lot of football. The concepts come fairly easily to him, the protections, the concepts. Maybe just some verbiage and terminology is different. Obviously with more time, we’d feel better about having a few more days, a few more practices under our belt. But I wouldn’t say we’d never do it.”

(Pass protection was an issue the first time you faced the Bills this season. How much better has that gotten since then and what gives you confidence that you guys can handle their pass rush this time?) – “They’re a good rush team. They bring a lot of guys. They’ve got good rushers, good scheme. Obviously protection is going to be a big part of protecting the quarterback. It’s going to be a big part of the gameplan in order for us to push the ball down the field in the pass game. Obviously we talked about that extensively – the different looks they have, the players they have. We will continue to practice for that and prepare for that as we get closer to the game. It’s a big part of it, no doubt about that. It’s a point of emphasis. We’re going to have to protect if we’re going to move the ball.”

(How does RB Malcolm Brown’s injury play into what you were just talking about regarding pass protection.) – “Yeah, he was a big part of our protection plans. Other guys have to step up. That’s really what it boils down to – whether it’s Myles (Gaskin), whether it’s RB Salvon (Ahmed). Guys have to step up in that phase of the game. We’ll need it.”

(I know you mentioned earlier this week about WR Will Fuller. Have you gotten to see him do anything at practice this week? Do have a better idea of what his timeline is?) – “No, he hasn’t been at practice. He’s still on IR. We didn’t designate him to return. He’s still working his way back. He’s still working his way back. We obviously didn’t see him this week at practice. I’ve seen him in the building. We didn’t see him this week (at practice) and we’re hopeful. It’s moving in the right direction, that I can say for sure. We’ll see in the next few weeks.”

(I know you’re big on developing your program here and you still have a young football team. Looking at some of the veteran guys that have produced the last couple of years that have came on year two or three of their career, I’m just curious from your perspective, is there a common theme among these players that it starts to click for them around year two, year three? Is there a common theme or is it just all development is kind of at their own pace?) – “Everyone is a little bit different. I think it’s case by case. I think it’s case by case. I think some players, it clicks for them a little bit sooner. Some players it takes a little bit longer. Some players have success early and then for whatever reason start to tail off. Some people don’t have success and then for whatever reason, the light bulb goes off. I think it’s case by case. I think our young guys all work hard and all give great effort. They are all working towards being the kinds of professionals they need to be to have success in this league. It’s not perfect and again, it’s case by case. There are a myriad of things that are going on obviously inside the building, outside the building, that play a role in that development. We try to steer them in the right direction really on a daily basis and that’s everyone in the building. That’s coaches but all of our support staff as well. They play a big part in that.”

(QB Tua Tagovailoa was very hard on himself after the two picks. Do you try and carry those two solid offensive performances and build a little bit of momentum and utilize that during the week? Is that something you talk about?) – “Yeah. I think he’s done a lot of good things the last couple of weeks. I think we moved the ball fairly efficiently the past couple of weeks. I think you can build on that and we are trying to build on that. He’s trying to build on that. We’re trying to build on that as an offense. He’s always going to be hard on himself. I think a lot of our players are that way. That’s a good thing. I think that speaks to his competitiveness and his want to get better and be better for our team. I have a lot of respect for that and a lot of respect for him.”

(How often are you stressing to him, if it’s not there, take the sack if you have to and live to play another down.) – “That’s every day. I think that’s part of the learning process. I think there are a lot of decisions the quarterback has to make to put us in good positions and he’s made a lot of them. I think he’s made a lot of good decisions the last couple of weeks. He wants to put our team in good position and he’s fighting, clawing and scrapping to do that. He made a couple of throws that he wished he had back. Every player has plays that they wish they had back. It’s obviously just exacerbated at the quarterback position and he’ll be better, I would say. He’s learning from these mistakes, bumps in the road. I think he’ll be better from them.”

WR DeVante Parker

(Do you feel totally better now? Do you think you’re going to play on Sunday?) – “I feel good but we’re going to wait and see what happens. But I feel good though.”

(What’s this journey been like for you? I know you’ve always been adamant about getting out there, being on the field and now you’ve been sidelined for three weeks.) – “Injuries happen. I’m not a robot. Things happen. The only thing you can do is just try your best to get back on the field. Just put in the work.”

(What have you seen out of QB Tua Tagovailoa this week? Obviously, the distraction of these trade talks. How has he overcome it and be with you guys?) – “I haven’t heard anything about that. I don’t have anything to say about that. I haven’t really heard it from him. I don’t know.”

(What does QB Tua Tagovailoa look like in practice?) – “In practice he looks good. He looks as good as he always does in practice. We just have to bring it as a team on Sunday.”

(Sometimes this year there will finally be the long-awaited moment of you, WR Will Fuller and WR Jaylen Waddle on the field at the same time. Is it weird that it hasn’t happened yet? I’d imagine it’s frustrating. You all would probably love to be out there together.) – “You know it’s tough not having your brother out there with everyone. We’re just wishing him a fast recovery to get back out there.”

(How difficult has it been to watch the offense this season? You’ve been here for quite a while so you’ve been on six, seven game losing stretches but you guys were supposed to be good this year. How difficult has that been?) – “We’ve got to really just take it one game at a time. It all starts in practice and preparation. That’s where it is. We just have to bring it on Sundays.”

(Deep down, what were you thinking the potential of this receiving corps would be as you were waiting for the season?) – “I feel like we still do have a good receiving corps. We’re dropping balls. We’ve got to make the play when it comes to us. They give us a chance, you have to come down with it.”

(What do you think about facing the Bills? They’ve had your number recently.) – “They’ve got good players on their side. We just have to execute our plays that we have and go out there and fight.”

LB Jaelan Phillips

(I wanted to ask you about the event over at the Lotus House you participated in the other day. How was that?) – “That was incredible. So for those who don’t know, me and Duke Riley and a couple other staff members from the Dolphins went down to the Lotus House, which is a shelter for women and children in need. We went down there and basically all the kids filled out a wish list of Halloween costumes that they wanted. So we got them all their costumes and we got to hang out with them and do arts and crafts and tutoring and stuff. It was a blessing to be able to hang out with them. Kids are so impressionable at a young age and so full of joy, so it was just awesome to be able to go down there and talk to them a little bit. There were some football players and stuff, so it was a really good time.”

(Obviously you played less last week. Was the sense you got from Defensive Coordinator Josh Boyer and the linebacker coaches – was it because you were limited in practice last week as opposed to gameplan stuff?) – “Yeah, that has to do with it. We also have gameplan differences every week, so you never know how it’s really going to play out. I just have to stay ready myself whenever my name is called.”

(I don’t think we had you last time you guys played the Bills, meeting Greg Rousseau on the other side. Although you guys never played on the same D-line because you were sitting out that one year – what’s it like a former teammate, rookies in the same class going up against each other on opposite sides?) – “Yeah, I mean throughout this whole journey, I’ve been incredibly proud of Greg (Rousseau). He’s an amazing kid. Really great guy. Genuine guy so I’m happy for his success regardless of whether he’s on the opposite team or whatever the situation may be. But he’s the enemy this week so got to get after it. (laughter)”

(What was that year like at Miami? DE Greg Rousseau was having this great season and then you were taking that year off to kind of rebuild your body after retirement. What were you able to take away from what he did that season?) – “It was crazy because every game goes by and you’re just like ‘oh, Greg had two sacks, Greg had a sack or whatever,’ and then at the end of the year he has 15.5 and you’re just like, ‘wow, that’s pretty impressive for a freshman.’”

(You added a couple of other Canes. I don’t know how much you know them, but S Sheldrick Redwine and RB Duke Johnson joined the team. How often were they around while you were there?) – “Sheldrick (Redwine) was around more often because he had just left in ’18 obviously. So I’ve actually talked to him a few times prior to him coming here, but it’s great to have some Canes. Both the guys are extremely hard-workers and you can already see Sheldrick, for example, running down making plays today on defense and Duke (Johnson) doing his thing, too. So it was great.”

(Were you 10 years old when RB Duke Johnson was playing at UM?) – “I don’t even know. (laughter) All I know is I see like the Canes Access and stuff will post throwback clips and I know he had one huge game. I think it was against Duke or something like that – ironically enough – but the camera quality doesn’t look like it was from anything recent. (laughter)”

(You’ve probably never seen RB Frank Gore run in college.) – “(laughter) Honestly. That’s funny.”

(Just your thoughts just seven games into your pro career how you’re doing, do you think?) – “I feel like I need to do more, to be honest with you. I definitely feel like I need to continue to improve and play better. I’m not going to keep saying, ‘oh, I’m feeling comfortable.’ I feel like I’m comfortable at this point. I just need to elevate my game. That’s all that is.”

(Do you have contact with with Bills DE Greg Rousseau these days at all?) – “We jersey swapped after the first game and I congratulated him after his pick and stuff last week. But like I said we don’t fraternize with the enemy. (laughter) No reason to talk to him right now.”

(I know gap integrity is important, but when you’re facing a quarterback like Bills QB Josh Allen who can extend and make so many plays, how important is it against a guy like that to make sure you’re being really – having that rush and gap integrity in the pass-rush game?) – “Yeah, that’s always important. Like you said, against mobile quarterbacks obviously, that’s kind of an added part of the game that you kind of have to worry about. But we’re just going to stay true to our gameplan, stay true to our assignments and play our asses off.”

CB Xavien Howard

(I wanted to ask you this question. I know you’re experienced at shadowing guys, but when you have to go inside and you have to go into the nickel spot, how comfortable are you and does that lead into more communication issues?) – “Playing inside there is a lot of communication, especially being inside there is a lot of field you have to cover. Like outside – I wouldn’t say it’s a cheat code, but using the sideline and knowing where everything is at kind of helps out when you’re outside. But when you’re inside, there’s a lot of space so you’re covering a lot of things. And there is a lot of communication using your leverage and knowing where the safety is at and trying to use that help.”

(The trading deadline is Tuesday and a player of your stature and teams looking for cornerbacks, your name is going to come up. What goes through your mind between now and then?) – “Miami Dolphins baby.” (laughter)

(That interception you had on Sunday, another one of those over routes you kind of undercut. It seems like that’s where you get a lot of your picks from. What’s the key to success on that particular route to get the ball away?) – “That’s a tough route. I’d say I’ve been getting that week in and week out. A lot of running away from me and making me trail and making me chase guys. That’s what I’ve been seeing for these six or seven weeks. I’m expecting that now, and like I’ve said, everything the coaches scheme up – my job is not going to be easy. Everything I get is going to be hard. I’ve got to understand, as a player, who I am and what teams are going to do. I just try my best to make a play and make something happen for the team.”

(Is there a little bit of baiting that goes into that? Because it seems like sometimes they may think they have a window and then they throw it and the window’s gone. Do you bait quarterbacks that way?) – “I don’t. I don’t think I’m baiting quarterbacks to get the job done for me because like I said, most of the guys are running away from me and it’s making my job harder. When the ball is in the air, I just try to make a play on the ball.”

(When you play the Bills, they do so many crossers when you guys go to man. How difficult is that as a cornerback to cover that kind of route?) – “It’s tough man. It’s a tough job. At the end of the day, you’ve got to understand. You have to know what teams are doing to you and you just have to take the challenge on and take it how it comes.”

(How do you feel the secondary has faired in instances playing man versus zone?) – “I’d say we try to mix it up. Try to give guys a different look. At the end of the day, we’re definitely a man team. Zone helps also, so we just try to mix different coverages up. Not playing just one and give the quarterback an easy read like ‘oh, they are playing this.’ We try to mix it up.”

(How important is exactly that against a QB like Josh Allen?) – “Especially against Josh. Like you were saying, a scrambling quarterback, it makes the job even harder knowing you’ve got to stay on your guy. With the scrambling, you can’t look in the backfield. It’s really like backyard football. You just got to stay on your guy.”

(Can you ever look in the backfield? Do you peek?) – “I do sometimes. Stuff happens when you look in the backfield, like I said. If I’m beat or not, I’m still going to try to look back and get the ball. That’s my whole mindset, just finding the ball.”

(Do you feel like you’re getting fewer cracks at interceptions this early part of the season?) – “I try every week. That’s my goal, but it hasn’t been happening for me lately. Whatever opportunity I get, the best thing I try to do is just give the ball back to the offense so they can make something happen.”

(With WR Stefon Diggs, WR Cole Beasley, WR Emmanuel Sanders, WR Isaiah McKenzie.) – “(Gabriel) Davis.”

(As far as wide receiver corps, is Buffalo about as good as it gets?) – “Yeah, that’s a good team. That’s a good playoff team. Those type of teams we have to face if we want to call ourselves a playoff team. That’s the type of talent we have to see.”

TE Adam Shaheen

(You guys took a rough one early in the season against the Bills and I know the focus is on the team and the performance of the team, but how much do you feel like there is excitement about going up against them again?) – “It’s no secret we didn’t score last time as an offense. I think this is a game where we have to go out and that’s just not happening again. That’s the mentality is it’s not happening again.”

(Your room has had success against Buffalo, even in the game there on January 3 – you, TE Mike Gesicki and TE Durham Smythe. Do you feel like you’ll be a big part of the gameplan Sunday and there are things you can try to capitalize on?) – “Yeah, I mean not just against Buffalo but overall, the tight end room, there’s been some bright spots and we’ve got to continue that this weekend.”

(What’s QB Tua Tagovailoa been like this week?) – “Same as always, business as usual. Everybody, including him, is doing their best to improve and turn this thing around.”

(What’s the mood right now among players? Is it down? Trying to stay upbeat? What would you say?) – “I think we’re all disappointed and like I said last question, we’re all doing what we can to right the ship.”

(How difficult has it been to keep the positive attitude or the locked-in mindset considering when you’re at four losses, it’s not great but pressure doesn’t ratchet up like it is when you’re at six straight losses?) – “I can’t speak for anybody other than myself and that’s just how I’m wired. If we were winning seven in a row or if we lost seven in a row, it is what it is. I’m going to be doing everything I can do and try to bring one or two other guys with me.”

(Your production has gone up the last couple of weeks. Do you feel like you’re getting more and more involved and incorporated?) – “I think so. Like I said earlier, I think it’s the tight ends in general and not just necessarily myself. Durham (Smythe) has had the same increase in production and Mike (Gesicki) is doing Mike.”

RB Myles Gaskin

(You and RB Malcolm Brown always shared the backfield. Everybody always shares the backfield. This is a multiple-back team. But now with him gone, do you feel more pressure or more opportunity is here?) – “I feel for Malcolm. That’s a brother. When he goes down, my heart goes out to him in his situation. For myself, how do I feel towards it? Just keep on playing for Salvon (Ahmed) and myself. Just take on that workload, execute and do it for him. We still talk to him about how he sees things when watching film and stuff like that. It is what it is. It’s football but just kind of keep it going, keep it rolling.”

(You and RB Salvon Ahmed have made a career taking advantage of opportunities that have been presented to you. This year, you haven’t really had the opportunity to be a featured weapon. Do you feel like that’s coming for you?) – “Yeah. I mean I’m more focused on the gameplan and whatever the play call is to execute it to my best abilities. I’m not really worried about being called a weapon or whatever it may be. I’m worried about wins, trying to help this team try to get wins. That’s the only thing that’s important to me.”

(I know this is not your favorite topic but I saw on a fantasy football thing that you’re a sleeper pickup this week.) – “I could care less about fantasy. I really could. That’s somebody else’s game.”

(Where did the hatred for fantasy come from?) – “I don’t have hatred for fantasy. It’s just like pickleball or something. I don’t play it so I have very little care for it. (laughter)”

(So you never played fantasy growing up? You grew up in the fantasy football age.) – “Nah. I’m into real sports. I’m into real things. Fantasy football is what it is. It’s called fantasy.”

(What was working for the run game against Atlanta?) – “We had good communication with the O-line. Salvon (Ahmed) and myself were talking about what we were seeing. Just being able to build off of that – it really didn’t start in the first quarter so just keep on pushing, keep on going. We didn’t give up on it and I think that was the best thing that happened with the run game. Just communicating. Looks change. Things that you practice during the week might not come up and it might be a totally different look and I think we were able to capitalize on that and just help each other. The O-line, obviously, the receivers are out there blocking and everybody was doing their jobs.”

(Is that something, who do you communicate to? Your position coach, the offensive linemen themselves?) – “A mixture of both. Definitely go walk up to the O-linemen and ask, ‘Hey what you guys seeing? What you guys feeling? Is it cut back on this? Should I keep it front side? What you thinking? How you feeling?’ Like I said, just communication. Practice is practice but once you get into the game, things change. Bullets are flying and once you come to the sidelines, I think that’s the biggest thing for us, just to communicate, speak up when we don’t think something is going right and things like that and just try to fix it.”

(Even if you’re not having that initial success, do you feel like as you stick to and commit to the run and get those carries, you get in a groove and get a feel for where lanes are opening and whatnot?) – “Yeah, I think it takes that. I think you just – obviously not every run is going to go to the crib. So just find those lanes, find them run lanes, find those cutbacks, which is most important. It might not, like you said, pop the first quarter, it might not pop the second quarter, but you stay on it. Obviously, depending on what the game looks like – if you’re down by a lot you’re going to have to air it out – but if the time comes where you can keep pounding the rock, just keep doing it.”

(With RB Malcolm Brown sidelined, you guys are going to have to pick up a heavy burden of the pass protection jobs. How much pride do you take in trying to change that perception of you?) – “I’ll probably always take pride in that or I will always take pride in that. Like I said multiple times, being a smaller guy, you’ve got to be able to really throw yourself in there and not hold back. Those guys are 220 (pounds) and above. Those linebackers you’ve got to take on head up. A lot of it is heart, a lot of it is belief, a lot of it is aggression. You can coach technique and all that stuff but it all starts with your heart and I feel like just to give Tua (Tagovailoa) or whoever is back there the time they need to make the right throws, make the right decision.”

G/T Jesse Davis

(The line played well on Sunday. In Offensive Line Coach Lemuel Jeanpierre’s internal grading system, was it the best graded game collectively as a group this year? One of them?) – “I don’t know. I know there are a lot of things each week that we have to fix and correct. I don’t know in terms of best graded out, but the most important thing is we’re close. We’re right at the end there and Tua (Tagovailoa) is playing good. As long as we can keep him clean and keep him comfortable, I think we’ve got a chance.”

(I hate to bring back bad memories but is there a sense of looking for redemption for the offensive line considering you had a rough time in Week 2 against Buffalo?) – “Buffalo – this is a historic game for the Dolphins. It’s always kind of a dogfight, I guess. But yeah, the last couple four, five or six times we’ve played them, it hasn’t been very good. I’m looking forward to this one just because it’s the next one. It’s going to be a good environment up there and we’re ready for the challenge. I think we have a good gameplan ahead of us.”

(As an offensive line, what’s your takeaway from that Week 2 game that you guys have to correct to not give up those six sacks and however many quarterback hits?) – “I think they did a good job. They had a good gameplan against us. There’s some things that we needed to make corrections on early in the game and I think we’d be alright. We let things kind of spiral out of control and that’s tough for any line to handle. This gameplan moving forward, I feel like we’re in a better spot. I think our communication is better with the O-lines so I think everything is kind of moving forward, which is what we want.”

(How personally did you take that game considering it was your play that got QB Tua Tagovailoa hurt and obviously not one of your better games in your career.) – “Yeah, a communication issue led to that, so it was tough. Every time the quarterback gets hit and I’m sitting there going, ‘what the hell happened?’ That hurt me a lot. I talked to Tua and we had words with it, so it was good. I’m just looking to get better.”

(How would you assess and evaluate your play at right tackle right now?) – “I don’t know. You guys are the best critics here so you guys can do it for me. (laughter)”

(Has there been any change in terms of blitz identification and communication since that game? Not giving away secrets obviously, but have you changed anything in the approach since that game as a collective offensive line, receivers, running back and quarterback?) – “Yeah, I think their playmakers, it’s not a secret who they are. So for us, it’s like let’s find those guys, let’s get to them and let’s play ball.”

(You mentioned when QB Tua Tagovailoa got hurt, it hurt you a lot. How did you cope with that? How did you get through that?) – “I talked to Tua first. Then I kind of just spoke about it with my room and guys with me. It is what it is. It sucked with how it happened. I’m not going to finger point. It was my guy and my responsibility and I’ll take it.”

(On a positive side, you guys put up some of your best numbers last week in terms of the run game. What did you see out of the run blocking that helped lead the way for that?) – “I don’t know. I think we’re playing physical. I think that team was familiar with us because we played them in camp and preseason. I think for us, we were more determined. I know that for sure. As long as we – especially with Tua (Tagovailoa) being accurate, as he was – it kind of helps us in the run game as well.”

(Did you like how you guys ran the ball more? As blockers you get to get downhill.) – “Yeah, any time you can run it, it’s better than sitting back there and trying to pass 50 times a game. As long as we can get the run game going, I feel like we play with a lot more confidence.”

LB Jerome Baker

(I’m glad you dodged a bullet without anything major with the knee. Is it feeling well enough that you think you are going to play on Sunday?) – “I don’t know yet. I’m just trying to take it one day at a time. But the goal definitely is to play on Sunday.”

(Is there much discomfort?) – “It has it’s days. Sometimes it’s better, sometimes it’s not. I’m truly just taking it one day at a time and we’ll see Sunday.”

(Was there a sigh of relief that it wasn’t anything serious? There has to be any time you have an MRI.) – “Yeah, so I definitely was happy it wasn’t anything major. Just me personally, just my own health. I’m one of those guys that knees are nothing to play with. After that, I was definitely happy that it wasn’t nothing traumatic or career hindering.”

(You haven’t had any major injuries even going back to Ohio State, right?) – “Yeah, I was just joking with the guys the last time I missed a game was like high school – senior year of high school. I really pride myself on that. Hopefully everything goes well.”

(What happened senior year in high school?) – “It was my ankle. I think I had a high-ankle sprain. I missed like three games or something. But yeah, I’m just trying to keep that streak alive.”

(What did you think of LB Sam Eguavoen while he was in there? Did you talk to him?) – “Yeah. Sam, if you just watch Sam, he’s one of those linebackers that I don’t think he gets enough credit of what he can honestly do. I know if anything happens, he can step in and he can do the job. That’s exactly what he did. I’m definitely happy for him that he’s getting some reps. We definitely have full trust in him.”

(What was the level of concern on Sunday? How concerned were you at the time?) – “I was scared as (expletive). (laughter) Like I was truly scared. I was scared because it was like – sometimes I twist my knee and it’s just a quick little, take a few steps and it’s back to normal. But I think I went a few plays and was like, ‘Alright, it’s still painful.’ But after the MRI, it was just a big sigh of relief. I’m definitely blessed and happy that it wasn’t nothing serious.”

(I saw you talking with the doctors on the sidelines. Were you trying to talk them into going back in or was it just concern on everybody’s part?) – “They were just cautious of making sure I was right. (Head Athletic Trainer) Kyle (Johnston) does a great job of that. He knows how much I want to be out there and how much I want to play, but he’s also protecting my safety. It was just that conversation of what is wrong – we didn’t know exactly what was wrong yet. We went back and did some tests and whatever and just decided it wasn’t the best thing to go out there and continue playing. But Kyle always does a great job of making sure my safety is first.”

(Scheme-wise, how important is it to just mix up coverages against a quarterback like Josh Allen?) – “I mean it’s very important. If you just pop on the film, he’s playing very comfortable. He’s very comfortable in that offense right now. They’re hitting on all cylinders. We’ve got to switch it up on him. We have to give him different looks. Honestly, it’s going to be a tough one. We’ve got to go out there and execute. We can have all the schemes we want, different packages, pressures and whatever, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t go out there and execute. For us, our thing is really to just focus on the little things. That’s definitely our approach Sunday.”


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