How did LB Mychal Kendricks look yesterday?**
BILL DAVIS: Good. It's a day to day thing. We're slowly leaking him back in there to see what he can do. These athletes know their bodies better than anything. Do all you can without going backwards with the injury. So it was a good day yesterday, and we'll see what happens here today.
For a guy that's been out that long, if he can get through a week of practice, what kind of confidence level can he bring?
BILL DAVIS: Sure, he can. He can practice. If he practices, and every guy's different, but Mychal's been in the system for a long time. So we're excited about the opportunity that we might get him back.
LB Marcus Smith II has been playing inside while Kendricks was out. Will his role change once Kendricks comes back?
BILL DAVIS: All the benefits we have with Marcus now is he has position flexibility, which is neat that we've had the ability for three to four weeks train him at inside backer. Now just depending on numbers per week, we can move Marcus inside or outside. Every time he's active, he can be an outside backer or inside backer for us. It's a good thing to have with a rookie defensive player where he has position flexibility, and three or four spots that a kid can play at.
A rookie always tends to have a lot going through his head. Is that a lot for each position?
BILL DAVIS: Absolutely it's a lot, but it's a position we find ourselves in. I think he's an intelligent enough young man that it's not overloading him. Will he have mistakes? Absolutely. The older guys have mistakes too if they have to play that many. But when you're in back up and not in starting role, you have to be versatile in special teams and backing up multiple linebacker spots.
In training camp and in preseason you spoke about the value of his reps. Can you talk about his development?
BILL DAVIS: That's a good question. But I actually think with a guy with his intelligence, I think it will actually help him grow in that he's not only looking through the eyes of an outside backer. Sometimes he had enough reps at outside backer, and it's not overly complicated out there. It's a lot more complicated inside. Now you move inside and you can see it from a different perspective. They a lot of times send the outside backer in a rush. They make the decisions inside, and now he has a better understanding of why those decisions are made. So I think it will help a guy like Marcus. I really do.
Do you guys prepare this week just because of the uncertainty?
BILL DAVIS: Again, it's week to week. Right now we're not positive we have Mychal back, so Marcus is staying inside until we see a need numbers wise to put him back outside. But his growth is going to happen a lot faster from the inside position.
Aside from being accurate and being fortunate, what are they doing to limit turnovers?
BILL DAVIS: [Cardinals head coach] Bruce Arians has always had great offenses and he's a great offensive mind and has been for a long time in the NFL. You look at guys, not only are they not turning it over or giving up sacks, they're spreading the ball around to the open guy. A lot of times you have guys like [WR] Larry Fitzgerald that you try to make him get the ball. He's not doing that. They spread the field out. The quarterback goes through his progression. They hit all their options. The running back is getting a lot of touches both in the pass and the run game. The receivers are all getting different types of balls. They're playing four and five receiver sets. The quarterback is playing all the quarterbacks have played at a really high efficiency rate right now, so we've got a great offense that we're challenged with this week.
You look at Arizona and Larry Fitzgerald stood out.
BILL DAVIS: Correct.
Are teams doing anything to limit the opportunity? His numbers are down significantly.
BILL DAVIS: I think the biggest thing, it's nothing to do with Larry not being Larry. It has to do with all the other weapons they've surrounded the quarterback with, and the options are everywhere. Their running back is getting a lot, [WR Michael] Floyd is getting a lot, young [WR John] Brown has got some speed. So the ball is going to spread out, but it's nothing against Larry. Larry's still Larry. He still makes all the catches and all the plays.
You had a pretty good game against the Rams, and in the Giants game it looked like you had a great game. You always say after the games that aren't so good, you'll get them fixed. You'll get them fixed. Do you feel there is a fix over the last two games?
BILL DAVIS: I think we're growing. I think we're growing. No matter if we have a good game like we did against the Giants or we struggle for a couple quarters. No matter what the goal of every defensive team in the league really is, are we getting better this week. Are we better this week than we were last week? Can we build on what we did? You're always, in that win and in that shutout, we have many mistakes that we've got to get corrected. We've got some things that we've got to iron out. So whether you win or lose, there is always the correction. But I do think we took a big step forward with a confidence level of guys saying, okay, everybody just kind of did their job and they trusted the guy next to them to do their job. There is a lot to be said for somebody not stepping out of their little area of what we're asking them to do and trying to make a bigger play. I think that we learn collectively that if we play together we're pretty good.
Did communication play into that? What about communication, did you see anything?
BILL DAVIS: The communication has not been a problem. It really is execution of technique on a consistent basis. The consistency is what you saw against the Giants. We had for three quarters in the Rams, and then didn't have it in the fourth quarter. Earlier games we had some in the second half but not in the first half. So we've got the Giants game to fall back on and say this is what we can do, now can we do it for another four quarters? It's really one quarter at a time. Do we just do one play, one quarter of just consistent team defense?
On that note, you say about players not getting outside of themselves. For CB Bradley Fletcher in that game there are a few comeback routes. You never really got behind him. Is that what you expect out of him in those situations?
BILL DAVIS: Absolutely. All of them. We're really looking forward to it. He could have played those comebacks better. We talked about that. There are a lot of mistakes and techniques we can grow on. But one of those comebacks, Fletch turned his back because the receiver hadn't looked back yet. There are a couple things we're looking to get better and better at. The number one thing is don't give the big play up. There is a big challenge this week. Arizona is going to take six, seven, eight shots a game downfield. We've got to defend the field vertically and makeup sure those big plays don't happen. The rest of the offense is running at a high efficiency rate so we've got to stop the run in a short pass.
If you do have Kendricks back, what's that add?
BILL DAVIS: It just adds to our depth. If you get a starter back and a starter with his athleticism, it will help. Especially in the dime packages, the nickel packages. They go to four and five wide receiver sets more than most teams we faced. So it will be a game that we've got a match up on five wide receivers sometimes.
And that showed itself on the field against the Giants. Is that something that you saw? Do you think the reason for that is just the head coach listening to his players and responding to that?
BILL DAVIS: I haven't seen a problem since day one, week one. I really haven't. [Eagles head coach] Chip [Kelly] is doing what Chip always does. He reads the information. He gets the feedback from every player, from all the data he gets, all the different sports science things we do. He adjusts daily, weekly. We're always moving the target to make sure that the players are at the optimal spot on Sunday, and I don't think he's missed the mark this year.
In terms of the diverse packages that you're using with more personnel on the field, is this defense more how you envisioned it when you took the job?
BILL DAVIS: I think as we go forward, no matter what job, you've got to make sure you're putting your players in positions to do things they do best the most amount of times. You're trying to look at your personnel, and the more we get to know our personnel, the more we can put them in those positions. Now that we're a year and a half under our belt, we understand them a lot better. They understand the scheme a lot better. So we've got a lot of flexibility in the scheme. The defensive staff does a great job of kind of coming together and saying okay, let's use this guy like this. Let's change this part of the scheme up. Let's tweak this a little bit so those players can do what they do best the most amount of times.
Has using more dime packages allowed LB Connor Barwin to rush more?
BILL DAVIS: I don't know if that necessarily is I'd say no, because we do so much of the same stuff. Am I rushing four more? Probably. But every week dictates that. I can't say if we're spying on a quarterback, sometimes Connor has more. I can't say that the dime package changes that. It's a week. Everything is a one week world to us, and what we have to do to get that offense stops and get that offense's rhythm broken. So I think it's a game to game. Now the dime package has helped us in a lot of ways, and maybe that's one. But I don't know if I can say that for the season.
DE Fletcher Cox doesn't have a lot of sack numbers. How integral has he been as a team pass rusher overall?
BILL DAVIS: I can't say enough about Fletcher Cox and what he's done for the pass rush. We talk about it all the time. When the sack numbers weren't up and we said there are guys moving off the spot and breaking the rhythm. Fletcher is probably the biggest guy of moving people off the spot right now. The sack numbers haven't fallen his way, but I'm willing to bet at some point those numbers are going to pop for him because he's that close that often.
Since going back to Arizona, do you think about your time there?
BILL DAVIS: Not really. It was two moves ago. There are so many moves. I've got a lot of good friends back there and our family has a lot of good friends and there are a few people left in the building. But there is such a turnover of coaches and players constantly. There are a couple players and couple coaches that are left. But I enjoyed my time in Arizona and I have a lot of respect for that organization.
Do you find that you're philosophically the same guy as a coordinator here as you were there?
BILL DAVIS: I think the defensive staff that put this playbook together, I think we've got a lot more flexibility than what I had back then and what we put together back then. Some of it has to do with personnel and really the staff as a whole. The playbook we put together as a group, I think we built it to have more growth than I had in Arizona.