It seemed like QB C.J. Beathard took a big hit early and then got a quick pull. Were those two related?
“We wanted him to go one series. I wish it would have been longer. It was a hard debate that it was only three quick plays, but it’s just not worth it. You’ve got to make that decision.”
Why did you play LB Reuben Foster and DL Solomon Thomas?
“Reuben, because he’s not going to play in these first two games, so it’s going to be a while for him to get that chance. So, once he got out of the protocol and felt good, that’s what we planned on doing all along as long as he was healthy. Solomon, it was really between both of us. Him and [DL Arik] Armstead haven’t played a ton. Then Solomon missed the week at Houston and he got to go back last week, but he wanted to play a little more and I thought it’d be good for him. It was one long drive. He was able to make a couple plays and we got him out of there. He stayed healthy, so it was a risk but felt that was something that could help him for week one.”
Is OL Garry Gilliam still in the protocol?
When did Foster get out of it?
“Foster got out yesterday.”
And why did you choose not to play Armstead?
“I just didn’t think he needed it, just talking with him. He got a lot of playing time last week. Felt good in practice, didn’t want to risk it.”
What is your initial assessment of WR Richie James Jr.’s game tonight and overall how his preseason has gone so far?
“I think he’s had a good preseason. I think a lot of our receivers have. It’s going to be tough with the group that we have. I know I can’t keep all of them. He’s been consistent throughout it all and got some opportunities tonight and came down with them.”
Generally, what was your approach to this game and how many questions in terms of building the 53-man roster did you still have going in?
“There’s still a number of questions. It wasn’t necessarily just position battles, but just where we’re going to go with the roster. Where we’re going to go heavy. Where we’re going to go light. It’s going to be a few tough decisions on that that we’re going to have to really talk through tomorrow.”
What was your initial assessment of the offensive line? That first quarter was a little rough.
“Yeah. The first few series it was. I think we went three-and-out twice and got one zone read in, I think [QB] Nick [Mullens] pulled it. That kind of got us going a little bit. Until then we couldn’t get a first down, except on a personal foul. They got after us early. Just a couple plays. It was disappointing, but once we settled down a little bit I thought we finished a little better.”
How do you think G Joshua Garnett played? I know you said earl in the week that he had a chance to overtake OL Mike Person. You haven’t seen the film yet, but what are your early impressions?
“I’m not sure. From what I saw out there, his name didn’t come up much, which is a good thing for an O-Lineman. He had two good days of practice. One real good day, because we were able to have pads on. Yesterday there wasn’t as much, the day before the game. But, it was a good week for Josh again. We’ll make that decision as the week goes. I don’t know if that’s something we’ll probably know or the world probably won’t know until a week from Sunday.”
Is LB Fred Warner not playing a good indication that he’ll start weeks one and two?
“I think there’s a real good chance, but we wanted to see the other guys tonight. [LB] Brock [Coyle] is still in the mix and we’ll see how Malcom ends up playing out because [LB] Malcom [Smith] has been battling through some stuff, but he stayed healthy last week. It’s going to be one of those guys.”
Were you playing G Jonathon Cooper that long just to see how his knee was going to respond?
“Yes, just giving him a chance because he hasn’t been able to go as long as everyone else and we wanted to make sure he could stay out there longer tonight and see how he reacted and make sure we have a lot of tape to watch of him when we get back in.”
Generally, what did you think of Beathard’s play throughout this preseason?
“I didn’t think he got a lot of great opportunities. I wasn’t down on him at all, but I didn’t think he played his best. I wasn’t disappointed in him or anything, sometimes that’s how the preseason goes. Sometimes it’s tough to stay out on the field when you get a few penalties, you get behind the chains and stuff. Right when you want to get in a groove, you’re out and the next group is up. I wish he could have had some more success, but just how he’s played throughout training camp, throughout the entire offseason and battling a little bit of his foot injury as it went, I was very happy with C.J.”
Kyle, taking everything into account between the preseason and training camp, did you get everything accomplished that you wanted to? Is there anything that surprised you in either a negative or a positive way?
“No. The days you’re allowed to practice and how many padded (practices) you get in, you go and try to get as good as you can. I think everyone would always like more to practice. But, also, the more you go it’s harder to keep people healthy. It’s just a very fine line in football, on how to prepare for it and get ready for this grueling season that will be long. Also, how important every player is that you don’t want to get them hurt. I’m glad the preseason is over. Glad we got through it. I’m excited to get going now.”
Was it important to get QB Jack Heneghan in as a reward for all the time he’s spent in here?
“Yes, definitely. He deserved it. We haven’t given him a rep in a game yet, and he hasn’t gotten very much in practice. He knows everything inside and out. He’s worked as hard as anyone learning the offense. I think the guys really respect him, just how he worked this offseason throughout OTA’s. How hard he worked out in the weight room with the guys and when we were away. He’s a talented guy who deserved the opportunity based off his ability, but also, especially because of the way he handled himself. I think the guys were really pumped for him watching that. I think it was like a 16-play drive, and he did a heck of a job. He turned one play into a quarterback draw that wasn’t a quarterback draw, but he kept us on the field. I was real happy for him.”
Was your plan to give RB Raheem Mostert a long look tonight?
“Yeah, he didn’t get much last week at running back. We gave the majority of that to Alf [RB Alfred Morris]. I think we gave the first series to Alf, so it was a quick three plays. We wanted to get him to get a few more carries. It’s a tough position in terms of the decisions we’ve got to make tomorrow. I wanted Raheem to have a few more.”
Is OL Mike Person still the frontrunner to be the starting right guard Week 1?
“Yeah. He’s still the frontrunner. I mean, anybody who has been at that position for the majority of camp and got all those reps. We’re happy with Mike. He’s done a real good job, and that’s why we didn’t dress him tonight. We’re real excited about [G] Josh [Garnett], too. He got a late start, which puts him behind the eight ball with the group. There’s a lot of continuity that goes into an O-Line playing together. We major in double-team blocks and you get used to who is blocking next to you a lot between the center and the right tackle. So, that’s the advantage someone has from just being here. But, Josh is a talented guy that we believe in. He’s going the right direction. It’s a good problem to have.”
You mentioned that at the start of camp, you felt like you’d have more guys that you’d cut this year that will play in the league this year. Do you still feel that way? If so, do you feel like there’s even more tough decisions than you thought you would have initially?
“Yeah, I do. Definitely. There’s definitely more than 53 guys that I’d like to keep on our team, and there’s definitely more than 10 guys I’d like to have on our practice squad. There’s definitely going to be someone here that we still want to be here. But, that’s the issues of the numbers that you’re allowed to keep, the numbers of guys you’re allowed to practice with. That wasn’t as much of a problem last year. I hope that’s a problem that we have every year.”
With these four games behind you, what’s the biggest thing you are curious to see from your team going forward in terms of questions you want to see answered?
“I’m just ready to see how we show up versus Minnesota. I’m not going to overthink anything and look too much into how each preseason game has gone. We’re going to have our 53 here over the next couple days. As I say to our team, everyone talks about the final 53, but never in the history of football has the final 53 stayed the final 53. That’s always moving and you’re always trying to see how it goes with injuries and what’s out there. I’m excited to narrow our group down so we can really start focusing on what we’re doing this week. I’m just excited for the season to start like I think everyone else is.”
When will you be making the cuts?
“I don’t want guys lingering around. We’re not going to make guys wait if we already know. The stuff that’s for sure, we’ll get done right away. But obviously, there’s going to be some stuff that comes down to the wire.”