Q. With the growing number of coronavirus cases happening in the NFL, the Tennessee Titans having a bit of an outbreak and we’ve heard reports of more popping up across the league today, what has the league been conveying to you and do you still have the same optimism that a season will be completed here? (Tim McManus)
DOUG PEDERSON: Obviously, I can’t comment too much on other teams. I don’t know all the situations, but I do know that there’s positive tests right? Basically, the message from the league office is we have to uphold the protocols in place that we’ve been asked to do. I feel comfortable with what we’ve done, what our players have done. We just took this long road trip and everything was good. It’s something that obviously I have to do my due diligence and keep reminding our team, coaches, players, staff of the protocols that are in place and we can’t let our guard down. It’s unfortunate, but I am optimistic that the league and the season will continue.
Q. How did T Jordan Mailata come out looking on film and what kind of challenge does he face Sunday with Steelers LB T.J. Watt? (Jeff McLane)
DOUG PEDERSON: He did well in the game. I’ll tell you this, he wasn’t perfect as you know and he’s got some room to grow and obviously improve, but it was really a good first step against a good front, good couple of defensive ends there in San Francisco. Obviously, this week with Watt and [Steelers LB] Bud Dupree, these guys are great edge pressure guys. They get after the passer and he’ll have his hands full. It’s going to take a solid week of preparation by all of our guys to be prepared for this defense.
Q. With WR DeSean Jackson and WR Alshon Jeffery, are they getting closer to playing and in DeSean’s case what do you have to do so this doesn’t keep popping up? (Zach Berman)
DOUG PEDERSON: Yes, both guys are getting closer. In DeSean’s case, it’s just a matter of just continuing to manage him, make sure he’s more than — we say 100 percent, but 100 percent as he enters himself back into practice and gets himself accumulated again. Honestly, it’s just going to be something we’re going to have to monitor, I think with him. He’s going to have to monitor it and just making sure that we’re giving him enough rest during the week to prepare for Sunday.
Q. Is DeSean practicing today? (Zach Berman)
DOUG PEDERSON: He’ll be out there today. He’ll work some individual and we’ll incorporate him back slowly this week.
Q. So you expect that Alshon will play this week if all goes well? (Les Bowen)
DOUG PEDERSON: I never said I’ll expect him to play. I expect him to practice and we’ll see where he and DeSean are later in the week, but both guys will practice this week.
Q. S Will Parks, that was like a hamstring a long time ago. What’s going on there, is he ready to come back yet or not? (Les Bowen)
DOUG PEDERSON: Well there’s different grades of hamstrings, different levels of hamstrings. His was significant enough to miss the amount of time that he’s missed, but he’s another one that we’re slowly working back. He won’t be out there today, but he’s one that is getting closer and closer each day.
Q. The last few weeks we’ve seen QB Carson Wentz use his legs a little bit more, how do you view that? There’s obviously a risk-reward for him doing that, when he takes off what is going through your head? (Dave Zangaro)
DOUG PEDERSON: Normally when he takes off, he’s made the right decision, whether it’s a pass play and he scrambles or it’s a designed run for him. He’s done a nice job of that and getting down. He’s protected himself well. There has been a couple of times — I know at the end of the game he took a short sack which is okay in a four-minute situation, he knows he’s going to get hit there but those are all things we can control. I think he’s made great decisions using his legs so far this year and it has really helped us stay on the field on a third down situation and obviously the nice run for the touchdown the other day was really a special play by him, making the guy miss. It’s just something that he’s comfortable doing. We’re comfortable putting him in that situation. We don’t want to do it too much, but as long as he protects himself and we can help him do that then we’re okay.
Q. Carson has 10 rushing first downs in the last two games, which is an amazing total. At some point did you or passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach Press Taylor discuss the whole issue of maybe him being more aggressive this year with him? (Paul Domowitch)
DOUG PEDERSON: I don’t recall necessarily a conversation about it, I think it’s been a part of who Carson is. We’ve encouraged him to use his legs especially on passing situations when things break down. He’s really good at it, he breaks tackles, he gets out of it, he’s extended plays and he’s been successful. We still have to be smart in the run game and some of the things that we do with him, but it’s a little bit of a conscious effort to get him more involved in the run game as a runner because he is big, strong and powerful. Why not utilize that when we can?
Q. Following up on the question about DeSean specifically, you’ve done all these things throughout the summer, resting him, monitoring his reps, monitoring his snaps in the first couple games and he still is getting hurt. He’s really only played a couple of games since he got back here. What is your confidence level that you will be able to get him to the point where he can go out and contribute week to week, for the rest of the year? (Reuben Frank)
DOUG PEDERSON: My confidence level is high. He knows how to practice; he knows how to play. It’s a situation where he’s a speed guy and he has to make sure, and we have to make sure, that we’re giving him the proper amount of rest. He’s got to stay in the weight room, part of it can be in the weight room, part of it is getting treatment and then continuing to just slowly bring him along each week. This is part of the maintenance plan that we do with guys, whether he’s a receiver or an offensive or defensive lineman, secondary guy, this is what we have to do to make sure that these guys are healthy for the entire season.
Q. You talked about Jordan and you guys have had four different offensive lines in four games and you guys have held up. What has that challenge have been like for offensive line/run game coordinator Jeff Stoutland and how impressed are you that you guys have been able to weather that storm? (Bo Wulf)
DOUG PEDERSON: It’s been a little bit of a challenge, but I have so much confidence in Stout. He prepares everybody, right? Not just the starters, but he prepares the backups to go in the games. You’re seeing that T Jack Driscoll had to come off the bench last week and plug and play at right tackle for a few snaps. We had G Sua Opeta ready to go if something were to happen to the guard position. These guys are well prepared, Stout does a great job with it and quite frankly we don’t concern ourselves with all the different moving parts because it’s something we’ve been accustomed to and we prepare our guys that way. So, it doesn’t matter. It’s kind of a plug and play and guys have handled it extremely well.
Q. Do you feel like Carson using his legs, can almost be a rhythm thing where if he feels like he can start working his legs he can translate that consistency maybe over into the passing game as well and help him settle into the game? (Kristen Rodgers)
DOUG PEDERSON: I think it can only help him, whether it translates into the passing game I’m not sure. You need your legs to throw the ball as well and we don’t want to gas him out by using his legs all the time. It does help the offense, it helps the offense kind of get into a rhythm when he’s getting and gaining positive yards on first, second or third down. Kind of maybe gets the offense settled in a little bit. But he’s done a nice job with it and we’ll keep exploring more opportunities each week as we go.
Q. Can you update us also on WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside’s status. If and when he’s able to return, with WR Travis Fulgham doing what he did and WR John Hightower being a bigger part of the offense, what does that mean for J.J. going forward? (Martin Frank)
DOUG PEDERSON: J.J. is still a part of what we’re doing. In fact, he’ll be out there today, he’ll practice today and looking forward to getting him back in the offense and working with the guys. It will be day by day with him, but optimistic that he’ll be ready for Sunday.
Q. John Hightower has played a lot of snaps over the last month. As a rookie that’s a lot of responsibility. What has impressed you about him so far this season? (Mike Kaye)
DOUG PEDERSON: John is a talented receiver with good speed, good hands, great athleticism, he’s smart and John’s learning how to play at this level. We’ve challenged him a couple of times and he’s really responded positively and each week he’s gotten more and more comfortable with the game plan. Carson is getting more comfortable with him and we just continue to watch him grow as a receiver. We think he’s talented and can really help us. He made a great play on fourth down last week. Also, Carson scrambled and made another play out of the pocket to him. He’s understanding, he’s learning, and we just got to keep him coming.
Q. With the variations on the offensive line and injuries that you’ve had, what have you done especially this past Sunday, maybe changing it up a little bit and moving the pocket for Carson and helping the offensive line out and helping Carson out in that situation? (John Clark)
DOUG PEDERSON: By doing that it keeps the defenses a little bit off balance. They don’t know —Carson’s not always going to be straight back behind the center or in the pocket that way. Last week, the game plan as you saw was some jet motions and some moving parts to kind of distort some of the eyes of the defenders. We had some success getting Carson out of the pocket, but each week is a little bit different as we attack each opponent, but it does help to have different launch points for your quarterback to move around in.
Q. The Pittsburgh Steelers are going to allow fans in the stadium. This will be the first time that you will be playing in front of any fans. Is there an advantage like DE Brandon Graham says? You kind of feed off trying to quiet them down and also are you hoping that eventually it’s going to be a pretty good balance for you and you might finally get some fans in the stands? (Ed Benkin)
DOUG PEDERSON: Obviously it’s positive. We’re excited that it’s getting closer to maybe having fans even here at the Linc [Lincoln Financial Field], but having fans at Heinz Field is going to be great. It’s going to be great for both teams, I think. As we’ve said, players feed off of that emotion and off of the crowd. Even though it’s a small number, the voices will be heard, and guys are looking forward to doing that and playing in front of a few fans. It’s always good when positive things happen to be able to celebrate in front of fans. So, we’re looking forward to it and hopefully it will work out to where when we come back home, we’ll have fans at our stadium as well.