Nick Sirianni

Q. Wanted to ask you about injury possibilities on two guys, CB Avonte Maddox and the possibility that he could actually return on Monday, and then WR DeVonta Smith, will he practice today? (Rob Kuestner)

NICK SIRIANNI: We’ll see on both those guys. Don’t ever want to put a timetable. It’s great to have Avonte back out there working, looking good.

Again, just always love the energy that Avonte brings to practice. See how things go today with DeVonta. We have a walk-through before we get out to that. So, I guess you’ll see that here in a little bit. We will see here in a little bit as well.

Q. How are things settling in with Senior Defensive Assistant Matt Patricia week two and that shift? (John McMullen)

NICK SIRIANNI: Just building off last week, but also have a lot of things in place from the entire season, so I think that’s going well.

Him and [Defensive Coordinator] Sean [Desai] continue to work really well together. I walk by their offices quite a bit. They’re talking and chatting, very similar to how it was when the roles were reversed.

Excited with the dynamic right there and so appreciative of the defensive staff that they’re working like crazy to get things going in the right direction on defense.

Q. In the past two plus years, you haven’t had many staff changes on your own volition. How did you personally deal with that last week? (Zach Berman)

NICK SIRIANNI: Those are hard. That’s tough, because you get to know these guys. You get to work with these guys. So, to make a change that you know is going to be hard for people is tough. It’s tough on the human side of it, your emotions and everything like that.

Like I said, I did what I felt was best for the team. Sometimes when you make decisions on behalf of the team, you’re going to hurt somebody — I don’t want to say hurt, but it’s a hard thing to go through.

I would say the emotion that you feel with it is similar to when you have to let a player go or cut a player. It’s not a decision that I thought was going to be easy to do.

Again, like I said, I did what I felt like was best for the team. That doesn’t make the decision any easier.

Q. What stood out about the team this week as they try to get back on track? (Tim McManus)

NICK SIRIANNI: I think we’ve had a really good week of practice, focused on what we can control, what we need to do better. So good meetings, good walk-throughs, good practice. Guys are in a good spot and we want to obviously get out of this skid we’re in, so what a great opportunity. With football, you get a great opportunity each week. Sometimes with football you wish it would come faster. You have to wait a week.

We’re all ready to get back at it, ready to play, ready to go at it again against a good opponent. I just think the guys are hungry to get out there and coaches are ready to get out there and show what we’re capable of and what we can be as a football team.

Q. At linebacker, neither Zach Cunningham or Nicholas Morrow practiced this week. Wondering if you have an update on them? If they can’t play, how comfortable are you with Ben VanSumeren if he has to step in? (Martin Frank)

NICK SIRIANNI: We’ll see on those guys. I know they’re both fighting like crazy to get back. I can’t say enough for both those guys of how tough they are. Just anything they can do to get back, they’ll do. They’ve played through pain, through injuries, because that’s how much they enjoy being out there, how tough they are.

So Nick and Zach, can’t say enough about these guys personally. As far as the depth that we have, sure glad we have these guys. And Ben, you asked specifically about Ben, he’s continuing to progress and you really see his athletic ability. It’s on display. He started off on practice squad. We wanted to get him up because of his athletic ability and how that can contribute on special teams.

Now you’re starting to see it play more and more into how practice looks and games. We’re really excited about his progression and the things he’s done. We’re really happy with the room. I mean, the room in general, and even the guys that aren’t in the room that are cross-training in the room.

I won’t get too much into that. You guys saw some of it last week.

The coaches and the players in that room that are the depth players in that room have really worked hard, and we feel comfortable they’re ready to go with the plan we have in this week.

If it’s their opportunity, obviously we’ll miss Nick and Zach, but if it’s their opportunity, what an opportunity to go out and play against a division rival.

Q. A few players on the defensive side said that some of the changes had to do with being more aggressive, particularly in the secondary. Why did you want that? I think also, when you look at Matt Patricia’s record, typically he doesn’t play super aggressive. Is that going to contradict the way he does typically call his defense? (Jeff McLane)

NICK SIRIANNI: Again, you do different things with the different personnels that you have. With that, like I said, I did what I felt like I needed to do for the team first and foremost.

Then as far as with the aggression or anything like that, you do what you feel like you need to do to win the game. That doesn’t mean anything about Matt’s past experience. Matt is a really smart football coach and is going to use the personnel the way he sees fit.

Very similar to if you look at my past or going back to Shane’s [Steichen] past, we didn’t run a system like we’re running right now. We did that because, again, the most important thing to me as an offense or defense is that you’re utilizing the players that you have.

That goes all the way back to Larry Kehres. I left Mount Union for a little bit and came back and interviewed for the offensive coordinator job and he asked me what type of offense would you run? I started to explain it and he kind of smacked the table and said, ‘you don’t even know the players here anymore. You have to wait until you see what the players are.’ That always stuck with me. That’s how I see it.

We’ll use the guys how we see fit regardless of schemes, regardless of the past identity, because that’s what you do as coaches, you adapt to the players that you have.

Q. As a follow-up on the linebacker question, how has Linebackers Coach D.J. Eliot helped the guys assimilate with different personnel throughout the year? (Josh Tolentino)

NICK SIRIANNI: One thing that you really see about our linebackers that really sticks out with Coach Eliot is they’re close. Close group of guys. Zach always wears chains. You have seen him, has 50 chains on. Now all our linebackers are wearing chains, and they’re probably all his.

You see how close they are together. That’s a good product of just what Coach Eliot has done in that room and the type of guys we have in that room. So that’s the first thing.

Then, Coach Eliot works tirelessly to get the guys ready. He’s had a lot of different things that have changed this year with the guys that are playing. I went through a very similar thing when I was in San Diego in 2016. Felt like each week we had a different receiver getting ready to play.

I know how much time and energy that takes. You’re thinking about the opponent, the game plan, oh, and you got get this guy ready to play, too. Coach Eliot has gone through that more than anybody this year. I know from experience how hard that is and how good of a job he’s done getting these guys caught up to speed and ready to go.

That’s what really sticks out with Coach Eliot, the closeness of his group and how much work that he’s had to do behind the scenes and the guys have had to do behind the scenes to get themselves ready to play when they haven’t been here the entire year.