Head Coach Vance Joseph gave an update on three injured players: Shane Ray, Devontae Booker and Bernard Pierce: On RB Bernard Pierce missing practice. Pierce pulled a hamstring, Booker is sore, he has two screws in his wrist (ouch). Ray and he are on same timeline. 6-8 weeks. With Booker on PUP, his game status can be revisited later. As far as Ray, it sounds as if VJ is going to not use IR to return and have not dress for game one, maybe game two. This should have him back for the Bills game (thank you!) which will see him playing with a club on his left hand. I wont cry if that club accidently biffs a Bill.
Because of both Shaq Barrett and Ray out, they plan on playing Von Miller very sparingly. Kasim Edebali will be the SAM and Danny Mason will provide depth. “We signed Edebali because he is a relentless rusher. So far, he’s showed that. He’s a hard worker and he’s a hard body. Until Shane and Shaq are back, he’ll be fine. He was signed because he could rush the passer. So that’s what those guys do for a living. We feel good about him.”
Shockingly, he was asked about the quarterbacks and some of the questions were funny. Won’t say who, but one guy was trying to get VJ to spill the beans on who took what snaps indicated an ulterior motive. “I didn’t see that. Mike is calling the plays. It’s really scripted plays. It’s not off the cuff. It’s in the offense. It’s been done over the last three of four months. I didn’t see that. We haven’t game planned yet, but they’ll both work the zone-read stuff, they’ll both work the shotgun stuff and they’ll both work the drop back. That has not happened yet. In your eyes it has, but in my eyes, it hasn’t.” Watch out, K, you’re back in good graces, don’t blow it.
As far has declaring a winner today, “They both made plays and they both didn’t make plays. It’s tough to ride the rollercoaster with those guys. Who won today? Who didn’t win today? I’m not going to do that, guys. It’s going to be a collective evaluation over the weeks. I have a hard time watching each day of what they’re doing instead of watching the film and making a collective evaluation at the end.“Every day I’ve been up here. I’ve been up here for three days. It’s not going to change daily. That’s important because you don’t want to leave here every day thinking Paxton is the guy and tomorrow Trevor is the guy. We can’t do that. It has to be a collective evaluation over time. That’s why time is a good thing because now we can have a full evaluation of both guys. It’s going to be split until we name a starter. That wouldn’t benefit us in my opinion. I want to give the guys the chance to put their best foot forward. That’s going to take time. But, once that happens, we’ll name a starter and go with that guy.”
Well here’s the skinny, when it came to go routes along the sidelines, Trevor Simeian had himself a day. When it came to trying complicated throws splitting defenders in the middle of the field, Paxton Lynch was uneven. Some not so great and two jaw drops. Trevor was more consistent and was very good on the short passes and rainbows. Both guys continued to be night and day on the types of throws they attempt.
Tomorrow will be pads day, which will affect evaluating everyone. “When you evaluate the offensive line, it’s all about how physical you are, your fight back, your come off, your finish. With the defensive line, can a guy hold the point? Can he rush in pads? As far as that part, that’s a huge part of it. Garett Bolles has done a fine job. He’s blocked his guy for the most part. He’s still a rookie. He’s making small mistakes, but as far as blocking his guy, he’s good at that. As far as knowing everything to do right now, he’s getting there. But blocking his guy, he can do that.”
“Peko has been solid. He’s what you want in a nose guard. He’s a big man who can hold a point. He’s got some quickness to rush the passer on pass downs, but his job is to take up two gaps and he can do that.”
Once again, VJ singles out Isaiah McKenzie as the slot, while Chris Harris, Jr and Emmanuel Sanders say it’s Bennie Fowler. “Isaiah has been the same guy since he’s gotten here. He is a very mature rookie. Every challenge that we’ve given Isaiah, he has taken it and dominated it. He is obviously a fabulous returner. He’s a big time slot player. He’s tough. He has not changed. What we saw on tape and what he’s given us since he’s been here, been the same.”
Many have speculated that McKenzie would be both kick and punt returner. Not so fast, there, “He’s more of a punt returner. Your kick returner is a bigger guy in my opinion. That’s a physical, violent play. I wouldn’t expose him to that if we didn’t have to. Cody Latimer and Carlos Henderson; that’s the body type you want for that position. I wouldn’t put Isaiah in that role if we didn’t have to. That’s a physical role. A physically contacted role.”
Speaking of Carlos, sounds like he’s playing around DT and E and wants to run before he walks. We see this often with some of the rookies coming in and playing around top tier players. Maybe it’s wanting to forgo some technique to make big plays instead.“He’s a rookie. He’s trying hard. He wants to be a good player. He’s trying hard. He wants to help us on offense. He’s trying a little too hard right now, but he’ll be fine. It’s early.”
If you’re wondering about the tight end situation, “Derby is a guy that can win one-on-ones. You watched one-on-ones with the safeties, he can really separate. He’s a great route runner. He’s got great ball skills. He made a great play in the corner over there. With our tight end group, he’s the guy that can win one-on-ones as far as match ups. When you’re game planning and you want to get a guy on a certain linebacker, he would be that guy for us.”
On the team motto ‘Championship Habits’ “It means a lot. What we put in our bodies. Our off the field behavior, our on the field behavior and our work ethics. To be a champion, it takes a lot. A lot goes into that. Not just football play. It’s really a lifestyle.”
See the presser below.