AUGUST 10, 2012
“I think for a first preseason game, there were some good things that came out of it. We did a good job of playing within ourselves early in the game, but on offense, we’ve got to make those plays. We had those catches we missed, and then we came back and settled down and made a couple plays. That was probably the only disappointing thing early in the game, the missed chances.
Defensively, I thought we did some good things. I thought we tackled — which was key, because coming into the first preseason game, just making sure we do a good job of tackling is big, because in training camp we haven’t had many opportunities to do that. So that was a positive. Overall, my impression, I thought some of the young guys got an opportunity to play more than we expected, and that will be a good chance to evaluate them.
I thought in special teams, we handled the substitutions well, so we played with poise. Starting out, that was going to be big, and we can build upon that. We also have a lot of work to do. We have to be able to run the football more effectively throughout the ball game, and that will be key as we go forward. We’ve got to look at that and make sure we’re being able to run the football effectively. We did a pretty good job on third down tonight throughout the game, and that was probably the key to the game there.”
How bad are the injuries to starting guard
“I’m not going to elaborate on anything more right now until we know what they are. I think (with) Travelle, I haven’t heard what his scans are, and Carlos should be OK. Carlos will be OK in a little bit of time, but I don’t know what that time frame is right now.”
It looked like starting linebacker
“He and Carlos are similar — one’s a little more severe than the other — but they are similar injuries . Both had knee sprains. I originally thought Rey hurt his ankle but he’s got a sprained knee; Carlos has a sprained knee and then Travelle, I didn’t hear where they were with his scans, but we’ll know later.”
How do you think your first team defense played tonight?
“Well, we got the mysterious penalty there, (but) I thought they did a pretty good job. Then we got thrown back out there (on the special teams penalty when the Jets punted). I think they played 14 snaps together tonight, and I think that was good. They came right out — I think we handled some of the bootlegs and play-action (pass plays) well. And we still have to work. I don’t think the first-team guys were in there then, but when they changed quarterbacks and (Jets quarterback Tim) Tebow came in, the other guys had a hard time. He takes those five steps to look to pass for a quarter of a second; we’ve got to do a better job of keeping him in there when they put the other quarterback in.
“Overall, there were some things to build upon. For (rookie defensive players)
By your protocols, that probably means Taylor Mays will be out for a week, six days?
“I don’t know that. I don’t think — you must have a different protocol book.”
No, I thought there was seven-day testing or something like that:
The first team offense had that 15-play drive, and it was going good until that last four yards, no?
“I think you want to get the ball in there — you’d like to. We had an opportunity and I think there’s some things to learn from in that — just getting on the right guys. On second down we pumped it in there to (wide receiver) A.J. (Green) and you know, those are the kind of plays we’ve got to make. That was a good throw right there and those are the type of plays we’ve got to make and we’ll make those every other time. I thought was a good series for us to do, really, even though we didn’t come away with the touchdown. I thought there were a lot of positives, because that’s real football down there. We had two good opportunities at it.”
That’s as good as you’ve looked early in the preseason. Usually in years past, it’s taken until the third game to look like that:
“Well, I hope we’re better than we were in years past and I think time after time, we just have to keep working at it. We’ve got a lot of work to do and again, this is just one step and we’ve got a lot of good tape to evaluate and get ready, and we’ve got a couple good installation days coming up this week — Sunday and Monday —and then we’ll turn attention to Tuesday and Wednesday to the Falcons.”
What did you think of (
“I thought Binny came in and did what we expected him to do. He did a nice job on third down catches and routes. You know, when they run certain coverages, you have to have other people that can beat the coverages. I thought he and (tight end Jermaine) Gresham did a nice job on that drive to keep the drive alive and keep it going.”
One of the things you weren’t happy about last year in pre-season were your number two (players on the depth chart) moving the ball but you got a (touchdown) drive to start the second half (tonight):
“Yeah, I thought that was excellent (to) come out in the third quarter like that and a big play by (wide receiver) Marvin (Jones) and (backup quarterback) Bruce (Gradkowski) handled it. Binns and (wide receiver Brandon) Tate did a nice job tonight and we’re just keep going. Again, I feel good about things we did tonight. We’ve got a lot of work to do, a lot of ground to cover and we’ve just got to keep pushing.”
Did you feel like you accomplished what you wanted tonight?
“Overall, I think you could say we did a good job. We felt like we got into a little bit of a groove on that second drive, but you’ve got to make the plays to finish it. Overall, for the whole game, I think you could see the talent we have.”
Were you shocked that
“Yeah, I gotta say that shocked me. A.J. has made so many tougher catches than that. But it’s the first game of the preseason, and I think you know nobody’s worried about A.J. He’ll make that catch every time when it counts.”
What does BenJarvis Green-Ellis give you out of the backfield?
“I think he showed tonight he’s a pretty complete package. He presses the line of scrimmage and helps set up blocks. He’s got good hands, catches the ball downfield, and can make plays in a lot of different ways.”
There was a big difference between this game and the one preseason game last year in Detroit?
“It’s completely different. I didn’t have a situation where I only practiced for two weeks and everything was new. Everything felt comfortable and felt good.”
“He’s the kind of guy that takes advantage of every little opportunity he gets. As a running back or on special teams, he always does a great job with his opportunities. He didn’t get to play a whole lot (in the regular season) on offense last year, but you’ve got to have guys like that on your team to be a winner.” ”
On his two touchdowns, one on offense and one on special teams:
“I just happened to be in the right place at the right time on both of those plays. I can’t do it without the guys up front, and I can’t do it without our core special teams guys.
You went out for the coin flip as the special teams captain:
“I’m just humbled to be on this team with the core group of guys that we have — they’re incredible. I wouldn’t rather be any place else than here in Cincinnati. I’m just thankful to God to be a part of this team and have teammates that care about you and respect you the way that these guys do.”
This locker room seems to have more guys than normal that are focused on ‘we’ and not individual stats:
“It really is a great thing. The guys upstairs (player personnel department) have done a great job of bringing guys in that are team guys — guys that don’t care if they make the game-winning touchdown or make the great sack, they just want to get the win. That’s what a great team is full of — guys that just want to win.”
On his blocked punt:
“It’s the first game of the preseason and everybody’s kind of feeling their way out a little bit, and I’m the veteran guy so I just try and take advantage of the opportunities that come. We have a lot of young guys making plays out there, so it’s fun.”
On present and former college free agents making an impact in the game (
“Yes sir. That’s what’s your team is built around, having strong guys like that. I’m very fortunate that the team noticed me and I was able to get here.”
On roster depth:
“Yeah, it’s going to be a lot of fun. We’re getting sacks out of all the linebackers. Everybody’s getting after it. There’s definitely a lot of talent around. It’s exciting to see. Vontaze (Burfict) is getting after it and getting interceptions, Dontay (Moch) is getting sacks there at the end of the game. It’s a lot of fun to watch.”
On his 45-yard catch-and-run down the sideline:
“That was just a great throw by Bruce (Gradkowski). I was in single coverage, and my man was inside, and I had a go route. Bruce looked at me and I looked at him, and I knew it was coming. I got that release and saw the ball in the air, and I just tried to make the best of the play. I thought I was going to get it (a touchdown), but I had to step over somebody and then got tackled. It was a good play all around.”
You’re a rookie, but have a wife and kids. Being a part of this team for awhile is big for you then, right?
“Definitely. My wife and my two kids mean the world to me. To provide for them is all that I want. It’s not so much for me, but for them. This game is fun for me, but to provide and give them all of their needs and wants, that’s what I really want to do.”
“Oh yeah, definitely. It’s competitive, but when you go out there and see Tate and Binns make those catches, you get happy. I was hyped and couldn’t wait to get in so I could do the same thing. Watching them make those catches, I knew that when I got in there and the ball came my way that I could make those catches. It’s just really fun out there. That’s what it’s all about — going out there, competing and doing the best that you can.”
Outside of your interception, how do you think you played? You got a lot of snaps:
“I was bit winded (laughs). Punt team, then defense, then kickoff (coverage), then kickoff return. I put a lot of good things on film and a lot of bad things on film, but the bad things I’ll have to correct. I’ll just come in here on Sunday, see what I did wrong and hopefully correct it for the next game.”
How was your first experience in the NFL? Did the speed surprise you?
“I thought the speed was going to be a little bit faster. Everybody said the speed was going to be amazingly fast. But football is football, and at the end of the day you might have one slow person and one fast person. You just run to the ball and good things will happen.”
You got a chance to get in before halftime, like you said you wanted to. How did you feel when you got your chance?
“Yeah, I got my chance. I just tried to execute. I watched the first group go in and watched what the Jets were running, so I figured they’d run the same plays when the twos (second team) and threes (third team) came in. So it was kind of like the film room for me on the sideline while they were in.”
On your interception, was it just a matter of reading the quarterback?
“Yeah. Coach (Mike) Zimmer always teaches me to go out and follow my instincts. So it was a good rhythm, and kind of what Coach Zimmer and Coach G (linebackers coach Paul Guenther) have done with me.”
Considering everything that has happened this year for you, what does it mean to get an interception in your first game?
“It means a lot. I’m truly blessed. In all my prayers this week, I was telling God that I wanted a turnover — either a fumble recovery or interception. It came true, and I’m truly blessed.”
On the defense’s performance:
“I think we did a good job and set the tone, and we did what we had to do. We executed each play that was called, then the next guys came in and made a lot of plays. It just shows that when one person gets nicked up, the next person steps up. Everyone did a great job — defensive line, linebackers, safeties. Special teams made a great play. The offense made some good plays. Our defense held their high-tempo offense to, what, 15 yards rushing in the first half?”
On his knee injury:
“The knee is great. It was a little scare, but thank God that I got some positive news from the doctors. I’ll be back in a couple of days. Tomorrow is our day off, but when we return to practice I want to start getting things rolling.”
You said you could have actually gone back in the game tonight?
“I could have, but why? They had to hold me back for a little bit. It’s only preseason, and it’s a situation where I go down, but someone else can step up and do just as good.”
“Obviously, you give credit to Cincinnati; they played a really good game. They got after our quarterbacks pretty good. They had five sacks, so obviously they did a tremendous job there. They kept us out of the end zone, so that’s good. I think we did some good things. I’m curious to see the tape. I wanted our guys to play physical. It was kind of vanilla-ed up a little, but I wanted to see how physical we would be at the point of attack and also down the field blocking. Our receivers I thought did a nice job down the field, but we’ll see.
“There were a couple real good individual performances. I thought Joe (McKnight) played extremely well. Obviously, (Tim) Tebow did a nice job. And that’s the thing; Cincinnati did a nice job adding in on their blitzes. They played a lot of Cover 1 and then added a guy in if the back was in protection, and the tight end. They did a nice job with that. When Tebow stepped in there, he can burn you with that. He did a nice job throwing the football. Unfortunately he had a big drop. On the interception, the young man (Bengals rookie linebacker Vontaze Burfict) made a nice play undercutting it. The ball’s got to be thrown out in front there, but I thought Tim played well. I thought when Mark (Sanchez) had time, he threw the ball well.
“You’re not going to beat anybody — I don’t care if it’s Pop Warner, a preseason game in the NFL or a regular season game — if you get a punt blocked, the odds of you winning probably aren’t real good. I know you guys will come up with the stats for that, but I’m sure it’s at least 80 percent against you that you’re not going to win the game. That was unfortunate. We wanted to punt the ball out. They had no timeouts. The wind was at our back. Just get the ball out and go into halftime 3-3. But obviously Cincinnati made a nice play there, so you’ve got to give them credit. Then you go down and the rest is kind of history.
“At times I was a little disappointed in the backup groups, the second group in particular on defense. There was a simple adjustment to make and we kind of missed it. Cincinnati made us pay for it on that drive. They made some big runs against us. Other than that, at times the young guys on defense stepped up. I thought they played well. Quinton Coples I thought had a tremendous game with a sack, a TFL, a forced fumble, a blocked pass on third down, some real encouraging things. That’s not surprising, but I was happy to see it, nonetheless.
“Obviously, we’ve got to play much better. We play the world champs next week. That’s what you’re looking for. You’ve got to make improvements and we need to make a lot of improvements to get to where we want to be on opening day. With that, I’ll open up for questions.”
How concerned are you about your offensive line?
“The offensive line takes all the blame of course when your quarterback gets hit. On some of those, the ball has to come out. It’s really not all on the offensive line on a couple of those. Now there were also a couple where maybe it could have been, guys getting beat physically. You can handle a guy getting beat physically a heck of a lot more you can mentally. There was one sack against (Greg) McElroy where, shoot, I think everybody in the ballpark knew the guy was coming. He looked like that (Usain) Bolt guy ready to run a 100 (meters). I think he’s coming and for some reason we missed it. That was unfortunate on the fumble. We have to do a better job on that. I think sometimes it’s not unusual the way you practice with the quarterbacks never live in those situations, they have a tendency to hold the ball a little longer. That’s why we put the buzzers out there in practice. We do all that type of stuff because guys are holding off not trying to hit the quarterback. When you get to the live action, when those guys add to the rush, they’re going to hit the quarterback and that happened today. Again I credit Cincinnati; I though Marvin (Lewis) did a tremendous job with his team.”
How do you think the first team offense did with new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano’s system?
“I thought that looked pretty good. I thought we never had a problem with that. It’s unfortunate you put yourself behind the stick sometime on those third downs. You never want to start that way your first third down because you can get sacked. Those things happen. I thought we did some decent things; we moved the ball, at times, pretty effectively, but something would happen where we just couldn’t finish the drive.”
How did you feel about the starting defense?
“They were only out there for a couple of series. We made a couple big errors in some of those things; on a third down, in particular, when Bart (Scott) gave up a big on there. That’s a technique issue there. They had 86 yards rushing and averaged 2.8. They had one carry for 11 yards. It looked like we played it initially well. And then we buried ourselves inside and the back was able to cut out. Overall, I was pleased with how we played the run. But there are certainly some things we have to tighten up. The communication, for the most part, I think was pretty good. I thought we kind of played it pretty vanilla. I think our communication seemed like it was okay. Eric Smith wasn’t with the starting group. We purposely put out Yeremiah Bell to kind of lead that back end. I thought he did a nice job for us, and then also with (LaRon) Landry. Those two guys really haven’t had a whole lot of work together, so I wanted to start that game where those guys had to communicate, and I thought they did a decent job.”
Even though you were vanilla on offense, did you want to see more explosiveness?
“You’d always love to see us be able to throw the ball down the field. That starts with protection first. We were going to try to get the running game established, try to run the ball quite a bit. I thought we did that at times. I thought we ran it pretty well. If you would’ve asked me, we weren’t going to score 30 points tonight. We kind of simplified the game plan. I know nobody’s worried about the wild cat; it’s real easy to stop. That’s why I got a call at 7 a.m. the day before we played by Marvin not wanting to see the wild cat. I guess I’m the only guy who thinks it has a place in the NFL, me and every defensive coach in the league. So I think that’ll help us, too. Again in this situation, we wanted to play football. We wanted to hit somebody else, run our base running plays. We did and I thought at times our guys really got after it, so we’ll watch the tape and see if that’s true or not.”
How did it feel to play tonight?
“It felt good. We’ve got some things to clean up, protection-wise. We’ll get after that this week and make corrections. Any time you get a chance to play, shake the rust off, scramble around, and get a first down, that is fun. It was fun to get back on the field with these guys.”
You seemed to have no time to deliver a pass. What was going on tonight?
“We had some good pressure. They got after us tonight. We’ll take a look at that. I was really proud of the way our receivers ran routes. I thought they did a really good job.”
Talk about the running game. There appeared to be no push at the point of attack:
“It was a little sluggish. It was our first go-around. The important thing is to remember what we have done in practice. When it comes to a game, we can’t just make things up. You have to stick to your technique and your coaching. The biggest coaching point to take away from this game is that once the lights come on, it doesn’t change anything. You’ve got to be the same guy.”
How much do you worry about where the big plays will come from in this offense?
“The big plays will come to us. The running game will get going. Things will open up in the passing game. Tim (Tebow) alluded to it as well. We’re not game planning for (preseason). A couple of things caught us off guard. That’s part of a preseason game. Was it our best? No. We’re not going to crawl in a hole. We’re going to move on and get better.”
How much can you gauge from tonight’s performance?
“We’ve got to handle it when someone can’t play during the season. I’ve got to step up. I’m proud of the way I did that tonight, but we can do better.”
Between now and the next preseason game, what do you see yourself focusing on when you return to Cortland?
“I like to watch the film first. I thought my reads were pretty solid. I thought the accuracy was there. I didn’t have too many checks, but the couple I had were OK. Other than that, keep progressing — keep moving forward and mastering this offense.
What is your overall assessment of how things went?
“I felt like we did some things pretty well as an offense. I felt like there were things that we need to improve on. I felt like personally, I did some things pretty well. Obviously, I want that last throw back. It was a very good play by their linebacker. I felt like we got in and out of some checks pretty well. I felt like we had good field position a few times and we moved the ball, but you want to be able to capitalize with touchdowns. There are definitely a lot of things to learn from and improve on and get better at.”
The runs you had in the first half were the biggest plays of the first half. How did those unfold?
“They were just pressures — man pressures. They were hugging a backer and someone came free and so I just tried to break through and make a play and make them miss. I was just out there playing a little football and having a little fun.”
How did you feel in the pocket throwing the ball?
“Tonight I felt good in the pocket. From the first play, checking to the slant. Going hot to Joe (McKnight), to the one to Stephen (Hill). It felt pretty good. The one that I felt like I really wanted back was the last play to Jeff (Cumberland). One, we are in the red zone, so there is no reason to force it. I tried to put it low and outside, but that was a heck of a catch by that kid (Vontaze Burfict), and that was just a stupid play by me.”
Did you just try and zip it in?
“I tried to put it low and outside, but the kid was undercutting it the whole time and their corner was behind it, so I should have tried to check it down to Joe (McKnight) on the swing route or tried to ground it or make a play running it. It wasn’t a good decision by me.”
Did anyone try to take a shot at you during the punts?
“No. Not really. It was pretty easy. We just kind of ran down there. They fair caught it on the first one. Leonard did a pretty good job trying to hold me up, so I was well contained on that one. It was all good.”
Were you surprised about how comfortable you were, with the limited amount of reps that you have had in training camp?
“I was comfortable with the plays and how Coach (Tony) Sparano was calling it. It felt like the execution went pretty well, but of course you want to get points and score touchdowns. I think that will keep coming as this offense gets along. We will continue to build better connections and we’ll find those big plays down the field.”
How do you see your progress with your delivery and your throwing motion?
“I feel like I’m getting better every day. I felt like today was one more stride to getting better. I felt like my timing and rhythm was pretty good for the most part. Besides that last one, which I should have gone to my check down or ran it, that was probably the only one I was late on with rhythm, and it got me in trouble.”
Do you have to make a conscious effort to be more compact with your delivery?
“No. Not now.”
Do you have any nervousness because you are with a new team and this was your first game?
“I’m just excited. I was just excited to go play and be alive for a few snaps. I think I had a few snaps in training camp, but it was fun to play a little — five snaps of football — it was fun.”
You were pretty amped after your long run:
“Sometimes I just get excited. I love playing the game of football. I know as a quarterback, you want to have ice water in your veins in the calm before the storm, but I’m an excited, passionate football player. All pregame I am excited and ready to go play. That’s just me. That’s who I am. So, sometimes I just have to let it out a little bit.”
With that pregame excitement, what’s it like to have to sit and watch before you get a chance to play?
“Obviously I want to go play, but I’m just ready to do whatever. I obviously wasn’t ready enough, because after the first three-and-out, when the punt team went out there, I was looking at the sheets looking at what they were doing and I was like ‘Oh shoot, I’m supposed to be out there.’ I got out there a few seconds late because that was the first time in my life that I had to be out there for special teams. So, I have to remember that better next time.”
Was coach (Mike) Westhoff giving you a little grief about that on the sidelines?
“He was pretty cool. He was laughing about it. I told him what happened again.”
The pass to Stephen (Hill), the one he dropped, was that in a way your best moment of the night because of the fluidity of how the play unfolded?
“ I felt like it was good timing and it was a good read. He had already come up with a really nice catch. He’s still working and getting better. He’s going to be a great receiver. I know he was really excited to make a big play and make Pacman miss and he was going to try and take it to the house. I felt like we had great timing and great rhythm and he ran a great route to get Pacman off. I have 100 percent confidence that he will make that play every other time we go to him.”
People at home are thinking and saying, where are the points going to come from in this offense:
“I think they will come just by continuing to work and get better. Obviously, we didn’t do anything to game-plan for this week. We came out here and it was just another day for us. It was kind of like another practice. There was no game-planning. Things will definitely change when the season gets here, especially with us game-planning.”
Do you have some wildcat plays that you think you will use in the season?
“Whatever the coaches want to do. You know and I know that I am going to give my heart and soul to doing it the best that I can. They are a lot smarter than me, so I’ll let a decision like that and let them make it.”
How much does it help to have that on film now?
“Being able to go back and look at different checks that we had and some of their blitzes that they were bringing and how they were hugging some of the backers — just the timing of throws. Did we have some bad ones? Did we have some good ways? Anytime you can go out there and play and have stuff on film and come back and look at it is always great.”
What part of your throwing progress are you most pleased about?
“Probably my rhythm and my feet from my drops from under center. I think I only had one play from under center today. For the most part I was taking the ball from under center. The footwork from the drops and still being in balance and rhythm and timing. All that leads to your throw and accuracy and accuracy.”
Do you think that your accuracy is markedly better than last season?
“I feel like I have improved in a lot of ways, but that is one of them. Yes sir.”
What are you going to do when you get back to camp?
“We’ll go back to camp at Cortland and watch what we did this time and get ready for the next one. We will keep making steps and getting better.”
What do you take from tonight’s game?
“You put some stuff on film. You see a good measuring stick. Learn from it and move on from the next one.”
Did you know you were going to play the whole game in the first preseason game of your career?
““Yes. The coaches told me I was going to play all four quarters. I was well-prepared to play.”
Can you rate your play after your first NFL performance?
“I did very well. I don’t have a grade for it, but I was very productive. I also have a lot to improve upon as well. It starts on Sunday when we go back to practice. I look forward to looking at this game on film and correcting my mistakes.”
Coming in as a No. 1 draft choice, do you put pressure on yourself or try to enjoy the moment?
“Coach (Karl) Dunbar told me to take a deep breath and let it go. I’ve been practicing hard. I’ve been getting the feel of the game. I go against a Pro Bowler (D’Brickashaw Ferguson) every day in practice. He told me to relax and take advantage of my opportunities.”