Howie Roseman and Nick Sirianni
Q. Can you just talk about CB Isaiah Rodgers and what you liked about him? Is there allowed to be contact with him? Can he get a playbook, that kind of thing? (Reuben Frank)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: No, there’s no contact with him. After he signs, he is suspended — he reverts to the reserve suspension list right away.
Obviously, [Head] Coach [Nick Sirianni] was with him in Indy. We did work on him coming out of the draft, saw his pro tape. He is a talented guy, and obviously he made a mistake, and he has apologized for that mistake.
We believe in second chances, and now it’s on him. So, he’ll come in next year, be ready to go for the offseason program and training camp. I think. He’s got apply for reinstatement, so I’m not taking that for granted.
Q. P Arryn Siposs didn’t make the team. Why the decision to move on from him, and what’s the plan now at that spot? (Ed Kracz)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: Well, a lot of these guys that we brought that we cut today, we’re interested in bringing back. We have a practice squad.
We’ve talked about the roster being 69 guys as opposed to 53 and having flexibility in those spots. I think when you look at Sip [Siposs] obviously the season didn’t end for us the way that we wanted to, and he would say the same thing, but also have confidence in his abilities.
We’ll just see what happens here in the next 24 hours with him and a bunch of these other guys. You know, try to bring some of these guys back and give them a chance to continue to compete for spots.
We got the activations there on the practice squad as well for other guys too.
Q. What do you like about TE Albert Okwuegbunam to trade for him? (Dave Zangaro)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: Yeah, first thing you talk about Albert, you talk about the physical ability. He is 6’5″. He is almost 260 pounds. He runs a 4.4. He’s got a huge wing span. He has really good lower body flexibility for a big guy.
We had a chance to watch him together, and obviously Coach has had tremendous success with that position and some guys who look like this. So, bring him in here. He is 25 years old. We have some people in the building who were with Denver when they drafted him and give him an opportunity.
That’s not a slight on the tight ends we have here. We think [TE] Dallas [Goedert] is one of the best players at his position in the league, and we have two young players in, [TE] Jack Stoll and [TE] Grant Calcaterra, that we brought in here that we really like.
For us, any time we have an opportunity to add an offensive player that we think can help us and help our team we look at that, so that’s the reason we brought him in.
Q. What’d you see from CB Eli Ricks this summer? (Shamus Clancy)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: I would say this just to start. This is a hard day for us as an organization.
We bring in these guys, and we ask them to give us everything that they’ve got during the offseason program, during training camp, in the preseason, and we have to sit down with each and every one of them. We do sit down with each and every one of them, and we thank them for their efforts and their energy.
So, you know, it’s not easy having these conversations with those guys and then we kind of try to shift quickly. So, it’s a hard transition having as many conversations as we do with these guys and then kind of shifting here and kind of thinking about all the good.
Q. LB Nicholas Morrow came in, and he was running a lot with the ones to begin with starting out with OTAs. He is on the release list. What changed from the time he first went in and when he was released, and what does it say about the improvement of LB Zach Cunningham? (Chris Franklin)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: I think when you talk about Zach Cunningham, obviously a productive player in the National Football League, and he came here a little bit late in camp and had an opportunity, and he continues to have an opportunity. I don’t know that it’s so much about what Nick did as opposed to being really heavy at some other positions here.
Again, as we look at the roster, we’re looking at it through the lens of having 69 guys and knowing that there’s some fluid processes on some players and some things. So, we’ll do whatever we can to put the best possible guys on the field for New England and through the rest of the season.
Q. You cross-trained some of the outside edge guys at inside linebacker. Did that factor into the decision to maybe go a little light at inside linebacker? (Jeff McLane)
NICK SIRIANNI: Versatility always plays a role in that, and that makes some of the guys — I don’t want to say more valuable, but the more you can do sometimes, the more likely we might keep you.
So, I guess that’s really — in Patrick’s [LB Patrick Johnson] case we felt good about that and that he can play. He got a little bit of reps in the Indy game at linebacker, and that’s just the nature of this league with things that are ever-changing through the ups and downs of a season.
Q. Howie, at what point did CB Eli Ricks look like a guy who might be a factor during the summer? (Reuben Frank)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: Obviously you talk about pedigree. He was the No. 1 corner in the country coming out of high school and going to LSU. Then didn’t have his last season that he wanted to there, and he was a guy that we spent a lot of time on in the draft process.
He came in with an opportunity, and I think what we saw is this is a long, instinctive player with good athleticism and ball skills. Those guys are hard to find. His work ethic, his care factor was really high.
So that’s a great success story for him when he had a lot of adversity here as a guy who really thought he would be a high pick going into the year. He came in with the right attitude, and we called him and told him he was on the team.
At the same time, like we tell all these young players, there are no scholarships in the NFL for any of us, and so you have to keep working, have to keep improving, and we’ll keep judging. We evaluate every day, and that’s what we’ll keep doing.
Q. When it came to special teams, you guys lost CB Zech McPhearson and LB Shaun Bradley, obviously to injuries. S K’von Wallace was a big part of it. Do you guys feel comfortable in that aspect when you look at somebody like CB Mekhi Garner who played a lot and played well on special teams in the preseason? (John McMullen)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: Yeah, what we do when we have these conversations — we spend a lot of time with conversations about the depth chart and roles. So, we make sure that [Special Teams Coordinator] Coach [Michael] Clay is in a position to put out his best guys too in the game.
So, we’ll talk about every role on special teams, from wing to gunner to kickoff returner and make sure that he feels really good.
Our full focus is on having the best possible season we can have. And so, that starts with the first game of the season. That’s been Coach’s message, “keep your eye on the first game.” So, everything we do is focused on trying to give our coaches the best opportunity to win that first game.
Q. In what ways do you feel different about the roster as it stands now than maybe when camp started? (Bo Wulf)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: I think that you have demonstrated ability through camp. I think we’re a good enough team that when you see the players go against good competition on both sides of the ball, you can get a good evaluation of those guys.
I think the two joint practices, seeing us go against other teams, gives us a good evaluation of those guys. I think as opposed to hoping on some guys, you see demonstrated ability. You get a chance here with the Thursday night game to go back and really have all these guys in a vacuum and watch them individually like you would if they were on another team and really try to make the best possible decision.
So, I think that helped. Again, we know that when the real games start, that it’s going to be a different dynamic. Just like when the playoffs start, it’s faster and going to be way faster for these guys, but excited for the start of the season.
Q. How many conversations have you had with DE Derek Barnett and what sense do you have about what his role will be? (Zach Berman)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: I think you know us well enough that any conversations we have with players are private. Tremendous respect for Derek and the player and person that he is and what he brings to this football team. Love having him here. That’s why we bring him back.
That’s a position for us which you see with the 53-man roster, it’s a priority. So, we’re going to keep as many of those guys we possibly can. Last year we got in a little bit of a bind and had to give up a pick and had to sign guys in the middle of the year.
So, for us having those guys lets us sleep a little bit better at night, and Derek is certainly one of those guys.
NICK SIRIANNI: I just think he has had a great camp and so excited that he is a part of this football team. I love his toughness, his edge, and his ability that he brings to this team every day.
Q. It seems like DE Derek Barnett was at least hoping to find a role elsewhere where he could play more. Are you concerned at all about his feelings on his role here? (Dave Zangaro)
NICK SIRIANNI: No, because we’ve had discussions with him. Like Howie said, we’ll keep those discussions that we have with our players private.
Q. Who will be the punt returner? (Jeff McLane)
NICK SIRIANNI: We don’t have to make any of those decisions right yet. We still have time, and we still have, like Howie said, you have 69 guys to choose from. Well, you know, we’re not going to pick Jordan Mailata or something like that, but you have a lot of guys to choose from and guys that have been working all offseason and all training camp catching punts, so we feel good about our options there.
Q. You’ve had punter situations before where you’ve had to make a move within a week or something like that, but obviously the holding situation is a factor if you have to go with another punter. Are you any concerned about that? (Jeff McLane)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: No, I think that any time we make a decision, we have to go through the worst case scenario and the options and be prepared for those options.
I think not just at punter but any of the questions that you answer, we go through the possibilities that it doesn’t work out exactly the way that we thought, and we make sure we’re all on board with those scenarios.
Certainly when we talk about Jake [Elliott] and how good of a player he is, we want him to be in a great spot because is he an important player for this team. We’ll make sure that’s taken care of.
Q. Understanding that the practice squad is part of this, but this is as thin as you’ve been at wide receiver in terms of the 53 for a long time. What’s your comfort level with that position, and is that a spot you’ll look externally to fortify? (Zach Berman)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: We’ll look at everything here in the next 24 hours. The roster situation is fluid. Obviously, we’re going to be aggressive when we get back upstairs to our desk, and we’ve spent a lot of time in preparation.
Our scouts have done a tremendous job of putting in a position where this is all funneled down, and really the organization of this process is as good as I’ve ever seen it here. It’s a great credit to our front office group.
I think that for us we’ll look at all those things, but I think from our perspective really when we talk about the roster and the numbers on the roster, they’re going to end up being the same numbers.
So I think when you look at it, we’re really concerned with the 48 guys who are going to be up, and then the rest of those guys, they’re all practicing, they’re all going to have a role in practice.
So I don’t know that we feel like we’re necessarily thin there. Obviously we have to get some guys back and see who is available, but when it shakes out and you look at the numbers, they’ll be the same as they always have been.
Q. Howie, from a philosophical standpoint, the recent rule changes over the past few years, more liberal IR, the bigger practice squad, putting veterans on the practice squad, how much does that change your philosophy when you build a roster, or is it not that much? (John McMullen)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: Well, I think we’ve talked about the larger practice squad gives you flexibility in these situations to really take a big-picture look at the roster as opposed to really just focused on the 53 [man roster].
I think what the IR rules do is they give you an opportunity to get guys back. It was such a major decision to put guys on IR and then lose them for the year, so it gives you more roster flexibility, which obviously for guys in my spot is a huge deal.
But I think that we’re always looking for the flexibility, and both those rules give us increased flexibility.
Q. You have three young corners who are undrafted. Eagles CB Josh Jobe, CB Eli Ricks, and CB Mario Goodrich. All undrafted young guys. What’s kind of the trick at that position to find undrafted guys who can compete for roster spots? (Reuben Frank)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: Yeah, I don’t know that there’s a trick. I think it’s a great credit to our scouts for bringing those guys to our attention, and I think it’s a great credit to those guys for how hard they work, and it’s a great credit to our coaching staff for taking the time to develop these guys.
We talk all the time from the day that those guys come in our building, every day we’re talking about developing, developing, developing, developing.
I think that takes everyone in the building to join in on that, but obviously when they get on the field, the coaches do a great job of taking their skill set and utilizing them and having success and great credit to our defensive back coaches led by D.K. [McDonald].
Q. There’s more than a handful of guys on this release list that have been contributors to this team over the years and that have been on the 53-man roster. Was this process for you more difficult than it has been in past years? (Jeff McLane)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: It was, especially when you go through some of the success that we’ve had, but also some of the adversity that we’ve had together. I think that’s why this is a hard day.
Those are hard conversations, and especially when you’ve done something with a lot of these people that was special. So I think this was a harder day than certainly the two of us have had in the last three years.
In one way it shows that you know your team is getting better, which we’re proud of, but it’s definitely bittersweet to see some of these guys go. I think some of these guys are going to get picked up before we have an opportunity to bring them back.
Q. I know you want to see these guys play in regular season games, but how do you compare about the way you feel about the draft class at this point to maybe past years after training camp? (Jimmy Kempski)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: Yeah, I say this: I don’t know that I’ve had a chance to really think about that. That’s probably a fair question.
I think one of the great things that the league does and a lot of things the league does great is give us this weekend to kind of take a step back a little bit and to kind of think about some things.
That’s something I’ll seriously think about a little bit, but these guys, the rookie class came in with great energy, great attitude, a great want-to. I think that anyone who has come to practice on a regular basis sees the energy that they’re bringing every day.
Also, really proud that we have a group of veteran players who have embraced them and taken them under their wing. I think one of our coaches had said to Coach and I that you know really the benefit of having great leadership is leaders who want to help the future of the organization, and we definitely have that with the players on this team.
Q. What made you want to trade for TE Albert Okwuegbunam, and the scouts, what do they say about him? (Zach Berman)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: Again, just trying to be consistent. We talked a little bit about his [Albert Okwuegbunam] traits when we started this on Albert O, and I think this is a guy that not only has traits, but it’s hard not to watch that last preseason game and see what it looks like when it looks right.
I think [Head] Coach [Nick Sirianni] remarked, not a lot of tight ends who have 100-yard receiving games in the preseason, and it was because he has a unique ability to uncover, he has lower body flexibility, he has speed, he has length. He has all the tools in his body.
Again, that’s a start, and now he gets here. I know that he will be coached up, and we’ll get the most out of him when he gets here.
Q. Nick, this is your third one of these. Do you kind of get a feel when you cut down the 53 as far as we’re strong here, we’re not strong here, or do you just kind of… (John McMullen)
NICK SIRIANNI: Obviously today you’re thinking about the guys that aren’t going to be with you anymore, and that’s the tough part.
But, yeah, you always are going through. I mean, we talk about that all the time. We’re in constant conversation, staff meetings, conversations with just [Executive Vice President/General Manager] Howie [Roseman] and I that we’re talking about how we feel about where we are here, where we are there.
So that’s not something that — you’re working towards this step of where we are right now with 53, but that’s something we’ve been thinking about for the last month and a half or whatever, really more than that, going back to OTAs.
The process is exhaustive, and we’ve worn it out to the point of where we are right now, so it’s not like an aha moment, like, yeah, we’re here right now, but because we’ve been thinking about it for so long.
HOWIE ROSEMAN: To be fair, after this press conference on the draft you said, ‘Let’s go look at your board and see what our team looks like and see how we’re getting down to 53.’
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah.
HOWIE ROSEMAN: Long way.
Q. Was S Justin Evans a pleasant surprise? (Bo Wulf)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: Justin Evans is a guy our pro staff deserves a lot of credit on. Last year in training camp, He was a guy that we had our eyes on obviously. A highly-decorated player at Texas A&M who went in the second round of the draft and then had some adversity through injuries and through COVID. He was a guy that we were interested in.
So, we had watched him last year in preseason and felt fortunate that we were able to trade for the safety we were able to trade for last night, but he was definitely on our radar. Then we kept watching him.
So, we know that this is a guy whose got really good physical tools. We like having him on the team. He loves football. He has great energy about him. We’re excited to see what he is going to do in an Eagles uniform.
Q. It’s not necessarily a roster question, but LB Nolan Smith has been missing practices and the preseason game. Any concern about him being ready for the season opener? (Dave Zangaro)
NICK SIRIANNI: He is getting ready and working hard every day to rehab himself and get himself ready to go. If he is ready to go, we’ll play him. If he is not, then we won’t. But we feel good that he is on the right path, but we’ll see. I don’t want to set any unrealistic expectations for him.