Q: How much has your confidence grown in Nick Folk since you signed him midway through last season?
BB: Yeah, Nick's done a great job for us. I think myself, the coaching staff, the players, everybody, we have a tremendous amount of confidence in Nick. He's a real pro, works very hard at his job and I would say handles the responsibility that comes with it as well as you could. He's got great poise and a great demeanor. I think everybody feels very confident when he goes out on the field which is a great feeling and it's something that you have to earn. It's not something that's given to you or you just pick up along the way. You have to go out there and earn it. He's certainly done that.
Q: Damiere Byrd didn't get a ton of opportunities early in his career and he's having a pretty productive season this year. Has he exceeded expectations for you guys at all this season?
BB: Well, whatever players we have on our roster, we try to teach them the system, give them an opportunity, and then whatever they earn, then that's what they earn. So, if they earn more playing time and more opportunities, then that's what they get. I mean our expectations for every player are to come in, work hard and help the team. Certainly, Damiere has done that. All the rest of it really has been what he's earned on his own. Nobody's given him anything. He's come in there and competed for playing time and has put some pretty solid production – achieved that solid production with his playing time. So, that's really a credit to him.
Q: What have you seen from Donte Moncrief that has warranted his increased playing time the last few weeks, especially at kickoff return?
BB: Yeah, Donte has had a real good attitude since he got here. He's had to learn some different things offensively, both terminology and some route concepts and so forth, but he's done a good job of that. He's shown his good running skills and good athleticism and good hands. So, those are good qualities for a kickoff returner. He's got good size and speed and toughness and runs hard. We thought we'd give him a look back there. He did a nice job. He ran through an arm tackle and showed good ability to get up to the second level and ran past the kicker and had a big return for us. So, he's shown those things in practice but not in many live opportunities, but those carried over into the game. So, that's a good thing, so he'll hopefully continue to gain confidence in that role. He's embraced it and he certainly helped our team last week with it.
Q: With your upcoming trip to LA and the NFL's travel rules, will you be allowed to bring the practice squad?
BB: Yeah, I mean we can certainly bring enough people to take care of our responsibilities and needs. We'll try to do what's best in terms of, again, what the individual situation is with the player and what we would be doing out there. You know, being out there on a short week is a little bit different than being out there on a full week. So, we'll put all that together, and I think it'll be a little different on a shorter week than it would be on a full week, but we're still kind of working through that.
Q: Is there any concern for Cam Newton this week when it comes to getting ready for the game, since he is on the injury report?
BB: Yeah, we'll just update it as we go through the week here. And, depending on how it goes, if there's an adjustment we need to make, we'll make it.
Q: You've been successful over your career in finding good kickers. What is it that you look for in kickers that you like? Is it strictly a numbers thing or what are some of the characteristics you like about a kicker?
BB: Again, a lot goes into every player and every position. Each of us are different. Each kicker has a different makeup, experience level, some type of technique variation and so forth. So, in the end, you just need somebody that can perform the tasks that they're asked to perform. Sometimes those are a little bit different from one team to another and one situation to another. For example, now with Jake [Bailey], we have another player who can kick off. That hasn't always been the case. So, depending on what the circumstances are, it sometimes can alter a little bit what you need. But, ultimately, the most important thing is to put the ball through the uprights. Without that, there are no kickoffs. That's really about consistency and striking the ball. Nick has done a good job of that for us.
Q: Was there anything you saw from Damien Harris in practice last year that would suggest to you that he would be as efficient as he has been? Or, with a player like that, is it sort of a wait and see approach and throw them in the fire?
BB: No, I think there were a lot of things to like about Damien coming out of college, last year in training camp and the opportunities he had in practice last year on the scout team and some other drills. I mean, I think we all would have loved to play him. But, based on the depth and health and experience of our backs last year, just that opportunity didn't really present itself. I don't think he had the opportunity to show necessarily that he was better than those players, which again, was a pretty good group. So, this year, his second year, he got a lot more opportunity. And also, due to some other circumstances, he was able to – I would say the competition was thinned out a little bit from time to time with Brandon [Bolden] and then Sony [Michel] and Rex [Burkhead] and James's [White] personal situation. Things happen that just gave more opportunity for the backs that were available and that was him, other than the first, whatever it was, three games.
Q: What's it been like for you to watch both of your sons grow and develop as coaches this season?
BB: It's great to be able to work with Brian and Steven every day, just to come in and use their input and experience. They have so much experience in our system that they have lot of value and perspective that not everybody else has. But, we have a good staff. I mean, I really enjoy all the coaches on the defensive staff. Vinnie's [Sunseri] done a good job for us and of course DeMarcus [Covington] and Jerod [Mayo], Mike [Pellegrino] are great. They all do a great job of bringing new ideas and game planning, developing the younger players and just molding consistency within their group. So, collectively, they work well together. I enjoy working with them. But, of course, it's good to see your sons on a regular basis. I wasn't always able to do that when they were in school, whether it be high school, college or whatever, and now that's an opportunity that I really cherish.
Q: What did you see from Adrian Phillips as a free agent when you signed him, in terms of what you saw in him as a player and perhaps fitting in here? How has his production confirmed that or what things might have been different this season that you didn't expect?
BB: Well, I think Adrian showed in San Diego that he was a valuable player for the team. He did a really good job for the Chargers, as he has for us, on defense and the kicking game. Adrian showed a lot of value as a special teams player as well as in multiple defensive roles that he played out there, and he's been able to do that for us here. So, anytime you put them into a different system, you never know exactly how that's going to work out. But, Adrian is a smart player, he's very instinctive and he works extremely hard at football. Football's important to him. He's got a good football background from his playing career in Texas and with the Chargers. Again, you can see him do multiple things on the field and do them well. And then the more you're around him personally, I'd say the more you like him. Again, he's into football, he works hard, he communicates well. He understands different responsibilities, both as a safety and at times when he's in the box and those responsibilities closer to the line of scrimmage. He does a good job of tying all that together. He tackles well. As I said, the roles that he's filled for us in the kicking game have been important, too. So, he's just a good football player that's helped us in a lot of different ways.
Q: Would you say it's fair to say that, given Patrick Chung's opt out, you were fortunate to have a player who obviously profiled similarly coming into the season but nonetheless has been able to kind of fill his role to a degree at that position and be productive?
BB: Yeah, I mean he's certainly been productive for us. I don't know that it's exactly Chung's role. There are some things he does that Pat did. But, again, each year is different, each game is a little different. It's not like we do the same thing all the time and then you just plug someone in there when somebody else goes out. There's an element of specifics that go with each game and each game plan. But, the good thing about Adrian is he's very adaptable. He is versatile and he can turn the page from one game to the next in how he has to alter his playing style or read progression, or even sometimes the responsibility of how we handle a particular problem. Again, his experience and instinctiveness really help him in that role.
Q: Kyle Dugger said last week that playing closer to the line of scrimmage was a little bit of a new role for him compared to what he was doing in college. Maybe it was down at the Senior Bowl, but when did you get an inkling that he'd be so good closer to the line of scrimmage and how have you seen him grow in that role?
BB: Right. Well, I agree with what he said about in college. He played primarily free safety and the deep part of the field. But, at the Senior Bowl, they did use him in – I think their safeties were pretty much interchangeable. They might have even played right and left, I can't remember, but you saw him in both positions down there. I would say Kyle's the type of player that gets better every day. It doesn't matter whether it's kickoff coverage, kickoff return, third down, play action. The more he sees it, the quicker he processes it, the quicker he reacts and the more consistent he becomes. So, there are some things he hasn't seen before that are maybe a little new for him, but once he's seen it and identified it and you've explained it to him, he picks it up very quickly. So, I think physically, he has a good skill set to play close to the line or in a deep part of the field – zone to man coverage, blitz, can play in the kicking game. So, he has a lot of things that you like at that position, and again, he's a smart, hardworking kid that will enable him to try to maximize all the skills that he has.