Transcript: Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone, OC Jay Gruden, QB Gardner Minshew II, and TE Tyler Eifert (9-30-20)


September 30, 2020

(On TE Tyler Eifert going back to play against his former team in Cincinnati for the first time) “I was just talking to him earlier on in the week, saying, ‘Hey, we’re going back to Cincinnati and you’re really lucky because normally you’d be taking us all out to dinner at the best place or bringing stuff in or anything like that.’ Then I told him about what the empathy is of these players that are going maybe back to where they played, where they know a lot of people, or back to where they’re from [with] family and friends and all that that might not be able to attend the game depending on what the protocol is in each state that we play in. You’d have to ask him if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Sometimes you get overwhelmed with that stuff. A lot of times after a game you like to see your family before you go but because of the protocol that we have when we travel, we’re pretty much locked in a bubble.”

(On if players have to pay for meals when the team travels back to their hometown) “I’m just saying, before all this COVID stuff, like if we went back to a place [where a player is from], that player usually knows the best place to eat. Everyone usually relies on him [and asks,] ‘Hey, where do we go? What’s the best place to go grab something or afterwards, the after meal, what to do?’ I don’t know if our team does that, that’s happened a lot in my career. Obviously, food is a big part of who I am.”

(On what caused the Miami defense to play a soft zone scheme) “I think it’s a little bit of everything. I think we’ve got to do a good job for him. [In] the pass game there, more of a game plan-type defense, you really don’t know what you’re going to get in some of the normal down and distances. It was a short week, so putting that stuff in is a little bit challenging for making sure you have enough stuff and obviously when you lose DJ [Chark Jr.], it hurts too. I would say it’s probably all of the things come into play and we just have to be able to go make some plays.”

(On if it’s QB Gardner Minshew II’s responsibility to recognize the defense and if he didn’t play as bad as the statistics might suggest) “No, I thought he took some shots that we wanted him to take. I thought he did a nice job. I think anytime you lose a game, everyone’s going to walk away and say, ‘Hey, I wish I could’ve done a better job,’ coaches included, myself included. I think that’s always going to be the way people look at it and if you’re not looking at it that way, then you probably have some difficulties. I think if you walk away and you’re like, ‘Well, I did everything I can.’ that goes against everything we’re trying to get done as far as team concepts where we’re trying to get better.”

(On the play of OL A.J. Cann) “I think he’s played as good as he’s played since he’s been here. We’re talking about he’s had three really solid football games. I think he’s playing at a really good level. He’s comfortable. He’s overcome some of the weaknesses that he may have had in the past and he’s really worked hard to [fix] it. Right now, he’s playing as good as he’s ever played here. Week in and week out, he’s going to be tested and he’ll be tested this week. They’re [the Cincinnati Bengals] really good up front, have a good wave of players that can play. But A.J.’s playing well so I’m happy for him because he’s taken a lot of heat. He works real hard. He’s one of those guys that just, he’ll play when he’s banged up. He’s always at practice. He’s always studying. He’s always working and to finally see some of the success that he’s had this year is really a good thing for me, but I’m sure especially for him because of the amount of work he’s put in.”

(On the biggest weakness OL A.J. Cann has overcome) “I just think some of the footwork stuff, some of the leaning stuff, those things. He’s done a nice job of that and he’s always done a nice job in the run game, but he’s worked hard at really cleaning up a lot of his game just from a technical standpoint and I think that’s really helped him. His patience is better. [He has] much better awareness. I would say overall he’s really done a nice job; he really has.”

(On the decision to release former Jaguars DT Timmy Jernigan and his thoughts on the depth on the interior defensive line) “I feel good. Obviously, now we have Doug Costin who we like that you guys haven’t really seen a lot of coming up and he’ll be playing in a rotation and he has flexibility. Then obviously we brought Daniel [Ekuale] up from the practice squad and he creates a lot of flexibility for us to move some people around and we think we can get more production out of. So that was the reason why those moves were made. Then, obviously, our kicker was injured so we had to go out and bring in a kicker and we wanted to make sure we had two just in case anything happened, whether it be COVID or an injury during the week.”

(On an update on WR DJ Chark Jr.’s injury status) “Right now, the tests, he’s passed it. He’ll be out on the field, he’ll be back at practice today in a limited role, so we feel good about that.”

(On if the COVID-19 outbreak in Tennessee is a worst-case scenario) “I think anytime something affects the team from a standpoint of COVID, it’s a problem. I don’t want to say it’s the worst because obviously things could get worse as far as what may happen or may not down the road, so I don’t want to speculate towards that. But I really believe that the way the league is set up, the protocols and the contact tracing and everything from that nature has at least given us the ability to go ahead and continue to play these games. I think that this is a great opportunity right now for all of us in this league, coaches, players, support staff, to remind ourselves, with a lot of these openings that are going on, of our awareness of once we’re outside the building and what we’re doing. Knowing that you test every single day, that doesn’t mean that you’re not going to be exposed to it because those tests don’t come back until the evening, so that virus can incubate and go. I think it was a great opportunity. We took the beginning of our team meeting today and really re-emphasized that protocols that have been in place and hopefully something like this won’t happen again.”

(On if the league should re-evaluate and test for COVID-19 on Sundays as well) “I don’t have enough information on that, so it’d be hard for me to talk about it. I think I just trust what the league does and the doctors and it’s also the PA (NFL Players Association) people are involved and there’s consultants. I mean there’s a lot of smart people on that stuff that they know more than me. Like I said, I’m trying to do the best job I can for this football team and have them tell me what the protocols are and try to make sure that we abide by them.”

(On if he anticipated that the pass defense would be harder to improve than stopping the run) “I think it’s easier to come out there and be able to improve on stopping the run. I just think from a standpoint [of] you have much more body types to go to be able to do that. I think it’s very difficult to go out and really get the pass rushers, so this way you have enough of them where someone’s going to be singled up and someone’s going to have to win. I think that Josh [Allen], K’Lavon [Chaisson], and obviously we’re banking on [Dawuane] Smoot, and maybe even [DaVon] Hamilton and a couple other guys that can get in there and get the rush. The one thing I say is that I always look at pass rush and you can see when someone beats someone one-on-one, like right off the bat, and goes ahead and creates a sack with a good move and you see those top level guys at times doing that. I think Josh has been close but like I said, close doesn’t really mean a lot. It’s a game of inches and what you can do. K’Lavon’s done a nice job, he’s getting better each week. But I think it’s in conjunction of how do you create pressure on the quarterback? It’s from both ends, it’s from the guys up front, it’s from the guys in the back end making sure that we cover. I’ve always said that even when I’ve been with teams that have a lot of sacks, all the media attention and attention around outside of the building was always on the players that are creating those sacks, but really the guys that are creating it are in the back end at the time. So I think it’s truly a group effort of everyone working on [it] because that’s where I think the term, where you hear, ‘coverage sack’ comes in. I mean we’ve all heard that term before, ‘That’s a coverage sack.’ You just have to be able to make sure that if that quarterback’s going to that first read, sometimes even a second, but mostly the first, if he’s going to that first read and that first read’s open, unless you just completely whiff, it’s going to be very difficult to get guys down. So we’re working on this group effort to try to get a little bit more pressure on the quarterback.”

(On if the lack of pass rush in the first three games correlates with playing three veteran quarterbacks) “I think all the quarterbacks that are playing are very good, I really do. I mean you don’t really play in this league, the one’s that we’ve played or like the quarterback we have coming up, [if you’re not]. That’s why I don’t want to get myself into a mind of saying veteran quarterback and rookie quarterback, because I’m going against first-year quarterback in Joe Burrow who doesn’t play like a rookie quarterback. He can run, he can move, he’s got a quick release, he can throw the ball, he can hit all the different spots, he’s got a hell of a lot of talent around him, and he’s very talented player. He’s tough as hell, I mean you see that on film. So I think whenever you’re playing these quarterbacks when their first reads are open, it’s always going to be tough to generate a pass rush.”

(On if they are looking at tape of rookie Bengals QB Joe Burrow’s first three games in the NFL or in college more to prepare) “I think three games is enough, but we understand who the player was when he was in college. I think that the transition that he’s made despite [not having] an offseason, I can’t tell you how much credit I give him because it’s unbelievable. That’s why I wanted to make the distinction with the last question of veteran quarterback [versus] rookie quarterback. Sometimes you see people play in this game and by nature they’re rookies, but they don’t play like rookies. By nature, they may be free agents, like the guy we have [RB James Robinson], and doesn’t play like a free agent, doesn’t play like a rookie. I look at Joe Burrow as a guy that’s not playing like that. He’s not a guy that gets rattled. He’s not a guy that may get confused. He’s definitive on exactly what he’s doing and his footwork plus he has the ability to extend plays and run. So I would say what he’s done is a credit to him and that staff because without an offseason, to be able to be as comfortable as he is and as tough as he is in the pocket, I tip my hat off to him. He’s done a great job.”

(On the impact of LB Myles Jack and LB Joe Schobert in the run defense) “I think they’ve been excellent. I think Myles has been playing his best football really, kind of like the A.J. Cann question. Myles has had flashes before. I think the consistency of how he’s playing is up. I think both he and Joe have done a nice job for us. That obviously helps us quite a bit. Again, I don’t want to say that we’ve gotten to where we need to be. I think there’s still a lot of improvement that we’ll make in the run game as we push forward with the guys that we have. So I think both those guys have played well and I think Myles is playing at a very high level right now.”

(On how helpful it is to have two linebackers in LB Myles Jack and LB Joe Schobert that have both played the ‘Mike’ linebacker position) “Both of those guys are great communicators. We just have to make sure everyone else can listen and hear. Meaning that the calls are coming out quick, they’re making their calls and the guys up front, the guys on the back end, everything we do. As the game calms down, we’ve been communicating much better, but we have to come out in the beginning of the game and communicate well and make sure that we’re all getting it. Now we’re doing a great job at the linebacker position communicating; we just have to make sure we do a good job up front and in the back end too.”


September 30, 2020

(On how QB Gardner Minshew II has been playing, especially with pressure) “I think he’s done good, for the most part. We’re three games in. Obviously we’re not where we want to be record-wise, but from a quarterback progressions standpoint, I think he’s getting to see a lot. Last week we fell behind and tried to play catch-up and force [the ball] into some known passing situations, which is never good, partly because we weren’t very good on third down, but it’s a process. We have to do a better job across the board to help him, [in terms of] play calling and then there are times when I think he can maybe stand in there a little bit longer and hopefully see the field a little bit better. But I’ve been impressed with Gardner so far for a young football player learning a new offense. He’ll get better.”

(On what he thinks his reception will be returning to Cincinnati) “Probably not a good one. I think they’re glad I left, probably. Who knows? I like Cincinnati. I have a lot of respect for the Brown family. [Bengals President] Mr. Brown was very fair to his coaches and players. [I have] a ton of respect for them, nothing but good things. Coach Lewis was a great coach to work for. We had some great young players: Andy Dalton, A.J. Green, Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Giovani Bernard, Tyler Eifert. We had a lot of fun in those three years, had a lot of success. Unfortunately we didn’t win a playoff game, which still leaves a bad taste in our mouth, but, like I said, [I have] nothing but respect for that area and that organization.”

(On if it’s been weird to play a former team and if coaches get used to it in the business) “I think you just get used to it. It was a little bit weird, but the way football is now, I think there’s only two or three guys left that I know on that staff and as players. I think the only guys left are Giovani Bernard and A.J. Green. I don’t know who else is left out there, Carlos Dunlap and Geno [Atkins] [are still there]. So times change, players change, coaches change, but like I said, the organization’s solid. Mr. Brown runs a class organization and it’ll be good to go against him. We have to win though.”

(On how to make sure the offense gets off to a fast start on the first drive) “That’s important. Unfortunately we’ve given up some touchdowns on our first drive and we’ve been behind early and then we weren’t able to answer against Tennessee or Miami or Indianapolis, so we got down and [were] playing catch up and that’s not easy with a young quarterback and a young offense. We have to stay on track. I have to a better job of staying on track as a play caller and not getting too panicky, so to speak. I have to make sure we stay on track and make sure we keep the run mixed in there with the pass. Last week against Miami, [we] probably got a little too pass-happy, which is unfortunate. [It] puts our team in a tough position, our tackles, puts our quarterback in a tough position. So we have to do a good job of keeping balance and it’s our job to get to starting faster. We tried to make that a focal point last week. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen. Hopefully it will happen this week against Cincinnati, but we have to be prepared for both scenarios. We have to be able to play with a lead. We have to be able to play without a lead. So it’s a good learning experience for our guys, but we do have to do a better job starting fast.”

(On if the trouble starting the game well has to do with them being a young team) “A little bit, maybe. I think we can help them out too. We have to try to hit some of these big plays that are available to us and we have to make plays. Last week we didn’t make plays on third down, which got us off the field and made us have shorter drives which got us off script. We had a lot of good plays available to us in the play action and the keeper game that we didn’t get to because we got down and a lot of that is because we weren’t effective on third down. I think we were 3 for 10, so [there were] terrible play calls on third down by me and we didn’t execute quite good enough unfortunately. But this week, if we’re going to be an effective football team offensively, we have to convert the third down-and-4-to-5’s in order for us to keep drives alive, which opens up the playbook for everything else so we don’t get down and become one-dimensional.”

(On how RB James Robinson is developing as a receiver and a blocker) “I think you see it on tape. I think if you watched him on tape against Miami, he’s probably, arguably, the best player on the team out there on offense. He was excellent in the passing game. He was great in protection. Obviously running the football, he had two touchdowns and some nice hits. So he’s been everything we hoped he would be, but playing in the National Football League, it’s about consistency and doing it week in and week out. But obviously, for us to be good, he has to have big production, both in the running game, in protection, and in the pass game. He’s everything we thought he might be, but he has to continue to keep it up because we are going to rely on him in a big way moving forward.”

(On if the criticism of QB Gardner Minshew II in Week 3 was fair) “I think anytime you’re the quarterback, you’re going to get criticism when you lose and you’re probably going to get too much credit when you win. That’s just the nature of the position, that’s what you sign up for. But from my standpoint, I take a lot of the criticism. I didn’t call a good enough game for Gardner to have success, so that’s on me. I have to give him a better opportunity to make some plays, get the ball out of his hands, timing more quicker-type drops, get the ball out of his hands where he’s not holding the ball waiting for deeper-type routes to develop against known passing situations. [It was] not a great game plan by us. Miami kind of fooled us a little bit, played a little bit more zone than they had played the last couple of weeks. But Gardner, I think, is on track of being a very good quarterback. He’s young, he’s going to make some mistakes here and there, but for the most part, I love the way he competes. You see him competing on every single play, whether he’s outside the pocket trying to make something happen. Obviously ball security, we cant have the fumbles, but I’ve been impressed with Gardner and I know he’s going to get better and we’re going to get better around him and I hopefully I get better for him.”

(On if he’s spoken to Head Coach Doug Marrone about decisions to defer) “It doesn’t matter. It’s up to him, whatever he feels like on that particular game [and] team. If we do get the ball, it’s our job to make sure we make it count. If we don’t get the ball, we’re down 7-0, 3-0, or 0-0, we have to make each drive count. We have to come out to a faster start, whether it’s the first drive of the game or after a long drive by the opposing team. We’ve done a poor job of that offensively so there’s really nothing [to say]. I think defensively, we’ve given up touchdowns on the opening drives and offensively, on our first drive, we haven’t done anything, so I think both offense and defense have our hand in it. We both have to execute a lot better early in the games to give our guys some momentum and some juice. Sometimes, as a pro athlete, you get down early, it’s hard to get out of that funk. We have to do a better job if that does happen. We have to keep grinding and keep pushing and somebody has to take us over the top to get us some momentum back and unfortunately against Miami, that didn’t happen.”

(On his assessment of Cincinnati’s defense) “They’re solid. They played Philadelphia really well last week. Carson Wentz had some problems. He didn’t run the ball extremely well, so they have a good defensive line. I think with Geno Atkins, if he plays, he’s one of the better interior defensive linemen. Obviously they have the outside edge pressure with [Carlos] Dunlap and [Sam] Hubbard. They’re both very good players. They bring in #58 from Auburn [Carl Lawson], he’s a great pass rusher. Linebackers are getting better. Obviously they have an excellent safety [Vonn Bell]. He covers a lot of ground, very active. Their corners are aggressive. So it’s going to be a tough matchup and they do a great job. Their defensive coordinator [Lou Anarumo] does a great job of mixing up man and zone, like most coordinators do, some good blitz packages, so it’ll be a good challenge. They played well against Philadelphia. Cleveland kind of got them in some personnel groupings and ran the ball effectively with Nick Chubb. Hopefully, we can do the same thing, try to keep them off balance a little bit which will open up plays down the field.”

(On what he attributes the problems on converting third downs to) “Me, really, not good enough. We tried a crack toss on third down, on third-and-5. I knew we were going for it on fourth down, so I tried to get the first down on the run. They [Miami] played a defense that was not very good for that look, [we] should’ve got out of the play. Then on fourth down, we ran a scat protection, they covered zero-ed us and we blew the protection a little bit so [we] didn’t give our offense a chance to really make some plays on third down. [I] called max protection against max drop zone, called empty protection against max blitzes, so [it] was just a poor play calling third down experience by myself. I have to do a better job giving him [QB Gardner Minshew II] better outs, better alternatives to cover zeroes, to cover ones, to drop eights, zones, and it was a poor job by me.”

(On how he combats QB Gardner Minshew II not playing as well against zone defense) “I think most plays that we have, we have man-beaters on a certain play, we have zone-beaters on each given play. That’s why we have progressions. That’s why we have reads: single high, two high, man to man, we want to go here to this matchup, zones, we want to work this high-low on this defender, or what have you. So that’s something we just have to continue to see and progress to. Sometimes it looks like cover-two man and they go to cover one and we lose sight of the safety. We don’t know it’s cover one, so we have to make sure we see the field a little bit better as well from a quarterback’s perspective. For the most part, we just have to do a good job. [When] we do get man, we have to win the one-one-ones and [when] we get zone, we have to do a good job of seeing the field, finding our check-downs if they’re there, our high-lows and reading the right defender, or getting through our progression, which will come. I think we were number one in third downs, so we’re doing a great job of that. Against Tennessee I think we were 10 for 14 and then obviously Week 1 against Indianapolis, we were very successful. We just hit a snag against Miami. We just didn’t preform well. It might have been protection related. It might have been route related. It might have been play call related, but we have to get on the same page obviously. I think we’re number two in the league [on third down conversions]. We’re still doing pretty good, but we have to do better.”

(On TE Tyler Davis’s NFL debut) “It was good. Unfortunately we had a short week obviously, so we didn’t get any practice time, so we hadn’t really had full speed rep since training camp before he got injured, so it was good for him to get out on the field. We liked what we see. We like his size, we like his strength, and we like his speed. I think the more reps he gets, the better he’ll be. [He’s] just a guy that has to get in there and get to work, take his lumps from time to time, but for the most part, we like his skill set and it’s something I think we can develop as coaches, play callers, both in the running game and in the passing game. I think he can do some things.”

(On how WR DJ Chark Jr.’s absence last week affected the play calling) “It was a lot actually. Not to make excuses, but talk about one-on-one matchups, he is usually the guy we want to look to in the one-on-one matchups. He’s our best one-on-one matchup player and not having him available kind of hurt us. We had a lot of formations and plays designed for him and we didn’t really know until Wednesday afternoon, late afternoon, that he wasn’t going to be available to us, which it’s really hard to change your game plan totally from Wednesday afternoon to Thursday night, unfortunately. So that had a good impact but we’re not going to use that excuse. Other guys have to step up and unfortunately, we didn’t do a good job of that. But DJ’s definitely a guy that anytime he’s not in the game, you’re going to miss him for sure.”


September 30, 2020

(On how he’s working on his presence in the pocket) “It’s definitely a work in progress. It’s one of those things. Kind of for me, the rule of thumb I’ve always had is once you get through your progression, then you look to make something happen. If you’re skipping reads and getting out early, then that’s an issue. Then sometimes it just works out and then it’s all good and then it doesn’t work out and it’s all bad. So, it’s a process we’re working on week by week.”

(On if being able to sense pressure in the pocket is a feeling) “Yeah absolutely, it’s huge. You have to be able to keep your eyes down field and [on] your reads as you feel the pocket, feel when you have space, feel when it’s closing in too fast and adjusting [to that].”

(On the difference it will make if WR DJ Chark Jr. is back on the field this week) “It’d be huge. DJ [Chark Jr.]’s a great player for us. He’s proved over the last two years he can really change games, but either way, I feel really confident with the guys we have in that room. Everybody can go out and make plays and win their one-on-ones, so we have full faith in everybody we send out there.”

(On if WR DJ Chark Jr. is a safety net for him) “Anytime you have a receiver that you know can win one-on-one and is consistent, that always gives you some comfort and calms your mind a little bit knowing you have somebody that can win a one-on-one every time. But we feel that way about a lot of our guys and we’ll continue to try to build those relationships.”

(On what he’s doing to improve after last week’s game against the Dolphins) “It’s one of those games that everybody looks back and everybody takes accountability and that’s a good thing. We all have things we wish we could have done better, and we all have things we’re going to address moving forward to make us better. Anytime you get in one of those games and you’re down early and they [the Dolphins] start playing like that, you have to fight the temptation to press, to really try to force things. [You have to] still let the game come to you because a lot of times there’s still a lot more time than you think. I know, personally, that’s one thing [I’m working on], just feeling the game out, letting it come to me and not getting too antsy.”

(On what it would mean for the offense to have a first quarter lead for the first time this season) “It’d be huge. I think it’s a goal of ours just to jump out early and let our defense go hunt. That’s one of the best things that they do, really, they can get after the passer and rush and cover. I think they’re at their best when they do that. We have to do a better job at jumping out and giving them that lead.”

(On if he looks at last year’s win over the Bengals to prepare for this weekend’s game) “Absolutely. It’s one of those things [where] you kind of take a mental log of each game you play and it’s good to be able to have those experiences to go back to, as well as [look at] what they’ve done more recently.”

(On Mississippi State QB K.J. Costello) “I got to watch the game. It was awesome, [I was] super happy. I know that coaching staff very well [and] that’s a school where both my sisters go, so I was pumped to see them. I know K.J. [Costello] personally. [I’m] super happy for him. That was a big win and, to me, that’s the best offensive system in college football and to see it in the SEC finally is exciting.”

(On Costello’s facial hair) “I don’t know, he’s got to either go all in or all out. That’d be my advice. You can’t be halfway with it.”

(On what he’s seen from the Bengals defense so far this year) “First thing you watch [is that] they play really hard. I think they have a very good, physical front. They play downhill. They are good at the point of attack. Looking in the backend, they have some very talented guys. Former first-round pick, Jessie Bates [III], safety, he plays really well all over the field. He’s a challenge. You always have to know where he is and [it’s] something we’re looking forward to facing.”

(On if Costello gets a pass on his facial hair by setting an SEC record for passing yards in a single game) “Yeah, I guess. I guess I’ve earned somewhat some leeway. If I was just randomly walking around with a mustache, that wouldn’t be socially accepted in most circles, but since I’ve played some good football games, it helps. I guess, yeah, we’ll have to give him somewhat of a pass.”

(On how RB James Robinson has become a go-to guy in the offense over the first three games) “It’s good. Anytime you have a guy that’s that good after the catch, knowing that as you work through your progression, you drop to four so you can still come down to your last option and still get good yards out of that, that’s been very nice to have.”

(On if he was able to watch more NFL games last weekend) “I kind of just casually watched most of them. Nothing really stood out. It was nice to just kind of watch as a fan more than anything.”

(On WR Keelan Cole Sr.’s performance this year) “He’s a guy that anytime he’s gotten on the field for us, he’s been really good. That’s been [for] as long as I’ve been here. I think anytime we can get him on the field, get him balls thrown his way, he’ll do a good job with it.”

(On TE Tyler Eifert going back Cincinnati this weekend) “I’m super excited for Tyler [Eifert] and [Offensive Coordinator] Coach Gruden, both going back to Cincinnati. It’ll be a big game for them. They both obviously have a pretty good impact for us and more than anything, you just want to do right by them.”


September 30, 2020

(On what he expects for his return back to Cincinnati) “I’m excited to be going back there. It’ll be nice. They’re allowing fans in the stadium, so my family will be able to go. When I played there, they pretty much came to every home game, so that’ll be good having them there. It’ll be cool to go back there and play for the other side, but [I’m] looking forward to it.”

(On how many family and friends will be in the stands at the game) “[There will be] about ten. The night before a game, normally, you can visit with family or friends when you’re on the road in the lobby or go get a quick bite to eat or something like that, but with COVID and everything, we’re not even allowed to go down to the lobby or see anybody, so that will be a little bit different.”

(On if his current teammates have been asking about his former teammates in Cincinnati) “From an offensive standpoint, [they’ve been asking] just the type of players. You can learn a lot from just watching film, but being there, going through a camp, a bunch of camps, and practicing against these guys, it’s easy to pass on some of the things they’re good at and then some of the things that they’re not as good at. I’ve been able to definitely help out the tight ends as far as what to look for.”

(On if he’s asked QB Gardner Minshew II for more targets as he plays his old team) “I think we’re looking to try to get 20 targets just because. But no, I think you always want to play well against your old team, but I don’t want to be a distraction. I don’t want it to be about me or anything like that. This team, we need to go in there and get a win and get this thing rolling in the right direction.”

(On if he thought he would re-sign with the Bengals) “I think they made that pretty much as clear as you can by just telling me they’re not going to re-sign me. So, yeah, I wasn’t expecting to go back there.”

(On if he’s reached out to Bengals TE C.J. Uzomah after his injury) “Yeah, I’ve talked to him a couple times. The thing that I told him, from experience, is you can sit around and take the time where you can’t even rehab, five or six weeks, and just sit there and do nothing and enjoy doing nothing. Then you get to that point in your rehab where it’s time to turn it back on. Obviously, you never want to be hurt, but maybe it’s time to let your body rest or do whatever. But once that time comes to make that comeback and get your body back and start doing your rehab, then it’s balls to the wall to all end, at that point.”

(On if he’s pleased with the tight ends getting more involved in the offense) “I think so. I mean the guys in the tight end room are all good guys. We can all play and our mindset each and every week is we’re not demanding the ball or any of those types of things, but we’re just trying to do our job the best we can. We’re not the room you’re going to have to worry about getting upset if we don’t get targets. Obviously, we would like targets. Who doesn’t? We just try to go in and be an asset to this team and not a liability to where we’re guys that can be dependable and relied to make sure we know what we’re doing and we’re getting our job done.”

(On if his life is wrapped up in Cincinnati) “Yeah, it’s wrapped up. I got my house sold and I had an investment property [and] got that sold. It’s all wrapped up there.”

(On his assessment of the Bengals defense) “I think guys like Carl Lawson, Sam Hubbard, they’re really good players and we’re going to have our hands full. We just have to make sure we use good technique. I mean they’re big, explosive guys. You have Carlos Dunlap that can really get after the passer. So, just practicing against those guys for so long, [I know that] they’re tough to block. We just have to stay true to our fundamentals and make sure we have good footwork and technique and those types of things and it’ll make our job a little bit easier. That will be a good matchup.”

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