Q. With WR Jalen Reagor out, just wondering where you are with WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and your confidence with him right now? (Reuben Frank)
COACH PEDERSON: I’ve always been confident in J.J. What I like about J.J. is he’s a player that we can use in multiple positions. He knows outside. He knows inside. Smart guy, and someone that we’re going to have to lean on a little bit here in these next couple of games.
Q. You tried to explain the other day about what passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach Press Taylor’s duties were on game day. Just wondering if you can give us a little more detail as to who handles — I know Frank Reich and Mike Groh would help you out during the two-minute drill. Is that now Press’s role on game days? (Jeff McLane)
COACH PEDERSON: The way the sideline and the way the descriptions, obviously without getting into too much detail and maybe to bore you guys, Press obviously controls and coaches the quarterbacks. He’s also the one that he and I talk to during the game.
He also goes to the rest of the staff. We’ve got, obviously as you guys know, we have a couple of lines on the headsets where he can gather a lot of information from the other coaches and get the information to me.
[Senior offensive assistant] Rich [Scangarello], who is in the press box, does a great job with our two-minute situational football there, and he’s in my ear quite a bit on some of the two-minute drives. And then, really, everything kind of just funnels its way through Press and then eventually comes to me, unless I go directly to Stout [offensive line/run game coordinator Jeff Stoutland] with a run question or some run plays that we might be interested in.
Q. As the opposing coach this week and a former quarterback, what’s impressed you most about Bengals QB Joe Burrow from what you’ve seen from him the first two weeks? (Ed Benkin)
COACH PEDERSON: Obviously his ability to extend plays. Also, his ability to hang in there, be tough in the pocket. He’s taken some hits these first couple of weeks and really bounced up. I just think nothing — right now, nothing has really phased him. He’s mentally tough. Physically tough. He’s a good athlete. He throws a really good football, very accurate football, a catchable football. Those are all great things that he, being a young quarterback, can possess, obviously with a team that has the weapons and firepower that they have on offense.
Q. We’ve seen some pretty hefty fines and violations come down for coaches not properly wearing their masks over the first week. We saw you try out that face shield and then go back to, yes, the other mask. So I’m curious if maybe you’re trying different alternatives because of some of the violations we’ve seen come down this week? (Kristen Rodgers)
COACH PEDERSON: It really wasn’t because of the violations. I did want to try a couple of face shields this week in practice. The first one I had on Wednesday, it was good. It kind of contours to the face just a little bit, but it wasn’t strong enough in the wind. The one I had on yesterday morning in the walk-through which you didn’t see was a little more of a wind face shield, a little more stable in the wind.
The only issue I had with really both of them is they get warm, right. They are a little bit closer to your face, so a lot of your — whether the temperature’s warm, there was some humidity on Wednesday and on Thursday, so it got a little bit warm on the face and so I went back to the mask yesterday afternoon just to kind of get the fresh air on my face.
I haven’t made a decision yet. Still working through a couple of face shields and masks right now, but I will have something on my face for sure.
Q. C/G Nate Herbig at left guard and G/T Matt Pryor at right guard, can you give us a little more detail on why that’s a better set up? Nate got those couple starts at right guard and now he’s got to make a change. What goes into that? (Les Bowen)
COACH PEDERSON: I’ll tell you the No. 1 thing is Matt Pryor for us has played right guard specifically. He played there last year. He played next to [T] Lane [Johnson] last year, and he feels comfortable.
Nate’s been the guy that we have been able to use in a couple of spots, right. He can also play center if need be and so he’s the one that we feel more comfortable in right now being able to move him to the left side.
So both the guys have handled it extremely well, but really the main reason is that Matt Pryor is more comfortable and has played the right guard position more.
Q. What did WR Alshon Jeffery show you in practice yesterday, and how soon is it before he can start to play? (Zach Berman)
COACH PEDERSON: It was great to get Alshon on the practice field in some individual, the routes-on-air period that we were able to throw with him. Just beginning to incorporate him back into a full practice schedule.
I’m optimistic moving forward in the next couple weeks, possibly, but again it just depends on how he does, how he recovers today. You put a guy that’s had an injury out there. You want to test it. You want to see where he’s at, but it’s all about today; the day after, 24 hours, how he recovers and being able to do some more with him.
Yeah, I’m excited. We’ve got a little bit of time. I don’t want to push him, but at the same time, it’s good to see him get some work in with [QB] Carson [Wentz].
Q. So is this week not possible? (Zach Berman)
COACH PEDERSON: This week, no. It’s too soon this week because he hasn’t taken the practice reps needed.
Q. The decision to have QB Jalen Hurts up last week, was that just a decision made on merit as a quarterback or do you factor in the other abilities he has like we saw him do on Sunday? (Dave Zangaro)
COACH PEDERSON: Well, obviously, yeah, in Jalen’s case, he has a skill set that — that we saw in college, obviously, and just felt like it was an opportunity to maybe get him sort of coming just a little bit. It’s nothing against [QB] Nate Sudfeld or any of that. We feel we have two really good backup quarterbacks. It’s a week-to-week decision, quite frankly, based on opponent, based on game plan and things like that.
But the things we had in last week for him, he handled well and it’s a small drop in the bucket I think to probably getting his career off and running at some point.
Q. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said the other day, he put all the blame on himself and said his game plan was poor and talking to players during the week, they appreciated him saying that, but also, of course, said that they have to execute better. You can always spread the blame around, we know that, but as a coach how do you know when to put it all on yourself versus being critical, or singling out guys, performance, and execution? (Rob Maaddi)
COACH PEDERSON: I appreciate that from Jim obviously and we talk a lot about ownership and accountability in the building, and it’s no different with coaches. I look at my job and does the team come out flat; is the team energetic; is the team well prepared. Those are things I look at on a Sunday to say, ‘Hey, I can pinpoint a couple of things that maybe during the week, I can do a better job.’ So as a coach, you kind of pin that on yourself. Then as play callers, right, Jim and I are both play callers, and we evaluate ourselves the next day and there’s times there, too, when in front of the team, I’ll quite frankly say, ‘Hey, I put you guys in a bad situation. And it was a situation that we weren’t very successful in, right.’
So as coaches, you just know; you’re around the guys so much. We have to do obviously a great job with game planning and scheming and obviously play calling. And in private, say, away from the media or the public setting, you can have hard conversations with your players, and just like the players are acknowledging; that, yeah, it’s on us, as well too, to go execute, we understand that. But you do that kind of stuff in private, away from the public spotlight.
Q. RB Miles Sanders said last week after the game that he sort of struggled a little bit with conditioning towards the end of that game. What did you make of that and do you expect a big jump there in his second game? Can you lean on him a lot on Sunday? (Bo Wulf)
COACH PEDERSON: You’ve got to realize, without having preseason games, and he missed a lot of training camp practices and stuff like that, that that conditioning to play for 60 minutes, that’s real. It’s things that I constantly remind the team of. We got better as a team in week two, and we’ll be better in week three as we play more games, but I’m not concerned with Miles because I know he’s going to be stronger each week and he’s going to play himself into game shape. He practices extremely hard, and that’s all part of his conditioning and getting him ready to go on Sundays.
Q. Getting back to Alshon Jeffery, when you have a team that’s taken away the deep ball like the Rams did last week, would a healthy Alshon have been a big part of the game plan working the short to intermediate parts of the field, or maybe at a minimum, would you expect he would draw like a bigger corner like Rams CB Jalen Ramsey away from the other receivers? (Jimmy Kempski)
COACH PEDERSON: In the case of the Rams, their defensive style is they are going to play a little bit softer on the back end because they don’t want to get anybody over the top. They also play Jalen Ramsey from a schematic standpoint, Jalen is always the boundary corner and the other two guys, I think it was 22 [Rams CB Troy Hill] and 31 [Rams CB Darious Williams], these guys are the field corners. And outside of one or two occasions did Jalen go to the field, and then in the red zone he matched up with [TE] Zach Ertz. That’s their philosophy, right. That’s their scheme. So that part of it wouldn’t have mattered. A Jalen Ramsey wouldn’t have gone with Alshon so to speak in situations like that.
But you know, Alshon, being a big target, being an experienced receiver, yeah, there’s some short to intermediate throws that you can probably target him in that could open up some lanes, some windows. But it’s just the way the structure of the Rams’ defense, the way they play.
Q. You kind of mentioned coaches know after a loss like the Rams last week and now that you’re later in the week, what kind of sense have you gotten from your team? And also DT Fletcher Cox, I know you guys are trying to be cautious in calming that thing down. Is there any chance for him this week? (John McMullen)
COACH PEDERSON: In Fletcher’s case, it’s been day-to-day. He’s going to try to get some work in today, see where he’s at physically to see if he can go.
But we’ll see where he’s at at the end of the day today. Tomorrow is obviously another workday and then make the decision on game day with him.
The guys, they have responded extremely well. Wednesday was a really good practice. Very, very energetic, upbeat practice. Listen, the guys — that’s one thing I love about this team this year is these guys understand that good football teams can’t continue to make the mistakes we’re making, right. So obviously right now we’re not there yet, right. We’re not in that good category yet. We’re, I would say, below average because of the turnovers and some of the mistakes that we’re making.
But the thing is, is they understand that, and they bounce back from that and they pick each other up, right. So this week has been really good. We’ve had two good practices back-to-back and we’ve got a another one today. So I’m not concerned about where the guys are. They understand. They are smart. Veteran leadership always takes over.