AUGUST 17, 2013
“From a positive standpoint, we played a normal first half. There are a few things we have to correct, but overall it was a lot of positive things happening. We had some stops on defense and were able to move the ball on offense. All in all, we achieved some things we were looking forward to. We have to continue to play while making a few adjustments in the running game. It was a good effort, and we are getting a lot of different guys in to play, and I am pleased with that. It has been a successful second week. Now we move into the third week, and we are looking to get some of our injured guys back when we go to Dallas next week.
Other than the fumble, you couldn’t ask for much more from the offense:
“They were pretty efficient. Seeing the execution of things was what I was really pleased with.”
Was it just a night off for Benny (
“Yeah, just resting him. There is not anything he has to prove to me about what he can do. It gives some of the other guys an opportunity.”
All the backs played and had a good night:
“They all have good ability, and we’re blessed with that.”
Third-down conversions were good:
“We had some third-and-medium type coverage chances, and done a good job converting them. The tight ends had some conversions, and the quarterback was efficient with the football. These are the types of things you need to happen.”
Defensively, how do you look at it?
“We held them (Titans) to field goal opportunities, and that’s all you can ask for at that point.”
How’s the ankle?
“It’s all right.”
You’re going to be a little sore tomorrow, aren’t you? You got hit out there a few times:
“I did. It’s the first time in a while that I got hit. It’s good to get the rust knocked off a little bit. It’s part of the game.”
Four different receivers had a reception over 20 yards in the first half. With the depth you’ve got at receiver, it’s not surprising, is it?
“No, I’ve got full confidence in all the guys that we have. It’s fun to see — we’ve been practicing a while now — so it’s fun to see these guys come out and perform. We’ve got some talented guys, so I’ve just got to get them the ball in space and let them do what they can with it.”
The first drive didn’t end so great with the fumble, but the defense held and then you scored 17 unanswered points. Was anything said on the sidelines that got you guys going?
“We just hurt ourselves on that one. We had a chance, we could have held onto it just a little longer and picked up the first down on that play. But we wanted to come out, we wanted to start strong — that didn’t happen with the first drive — but we picked it up the next two drives.”
What’s rookie running back
“You kind of saw what he could do tonight. Give him the ball in space, working against linebackers ... He and BenJarvus (Green-Ellis) are going to complement each other really well.”
Did rookie tight end
“Yeah, he did a good job. He caught a couple of big passes and I think things will slow down and he’ll get in the groove.”
What pleased you most tonight? Was it manageable third-down distances and having a high rate of conversion?
“Yeah we did. We kept drives alive and kept moving the ball. We were making really positive gains on first down. I think we were running the ball really well when our first group was out there. We’ve got to keep that going.”
“Yeah. Now’s the time to get these guys experience doing something they won’t normally do. The more versatile you can be in the preseason, the better chance you get.”
Mohammed Sanu kind of just picked up where he left off from his rookie season tonight, didn’t he?
“Yeah. Mo’s such a talented guy. He’s got such a great feel for the game when he’s running routes, understands getting open. It shows, and when the ball’s in his hands, he can make guys miss. He took a short pass and took it about 30 yards and almost scored a touchdown out of it. That’s what we expected out of him.”
You seem comfortable going to him on third down:
“He’s always in the right spot at the right time. He made a good catch and a good run after the catch. He’s doing it good in practice all the time and you can trust him to do it in the games.”
He made a great play on that third-and-five situation:
“We had a good play called for what they were playing. They had two deep safeties and we felt we had a good matchup inside. He did a good job finding the open zone and kept the chains going.”
You have some big targets in the red zone with Sanu and Eifert, don’t you?
“Yeah. I think we match up well once we get down there. It’s good to see Mo come down with that ball. He kept his landmark and made a good play on it. We expect that from him. I’m going to keep saying it — he’s shown that he can make plays like that, so we’re going to expect him to do that kind of stuff.”
With the offense performing like it is without (starting players)
“Yeah, it does. Now’s the time for these other guys to step up and show what they can do. I feel like we’ve done a good job of that. The guys that have stepped in played well and we’ve gotta keep that going.”
With this running game going so well considering all the backs you have, there’s going to be some tough decisions to be made before the season, right?
“Right. It’s definitely going to be a tough one. It seems like all the backs have been playing really well and they’ve been really solid and it’s going to be a tough decision because everybody’s doing a lot of really good things.”
You know what you have with your returning receivers like Ryan (Whalen) and Dane (Sanzenbacher) and then tonight, (rookie wide receiver)
“We’ve got a lot of competition on this team. When you get everybody back from the year before and add draft some guys, it makes decisions tough. It’s kind of like you were saying — there’s tons of competition out there and that’s what you expect for your team and what you want to have right now going into the year.”
On the fade for the touchdown, you went up against a big, 6-3 corner and overpowered him, found yourself some room, and stayed in bounds. Great play:
“Andy (Dalton) saw the matchup and he liked it and threw a beautiful ball. I just did what I was taught to do.”
On the play you made on Bernard Pollard, where you stiffed-armed him and another defensive back and took it to the half-yard line, you showed everything on that play with your strength and power:
“I was just trying and excited to do my job and convert on the third down opportunity that we had. I’m just happy to make those plays when they come your way.”
The receiver corps was without A.J. Green but you had five different receivers including Giovani Bernard that had catches for 20-30 yards. That’s pretty good when you can spread it all over the field and attack the defense like that:
“We definitely have a lot of weapons and guys that can make plays. That’s our job. When you’ve got the weapons, you’ve got to make sure you do it.”
The game didn’t start off real well with the fumble, and Tennessee left points on the board, but in the first half you were in the red zone twice and hammered it in there for touchdowns. That’s big:
“You need to do that and get ‘sixes’ and ‘sevens’ and not ‘threes,’ because it won’t add up on the scoreboard when you need those points. When we execute like that—when we finish up—it’s going to be good for us.”
How big a weapon can Giovani Bernard be for this team?
“He’s a very explosive little guy. He plays hard, plays fast and plays quick. He’s always making plays when the ball is in his hands. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do for this team this year.”
You had over 100 yards rushing and you’re in a dog fight for a spot on the team. When opportunities present themselves, you’ve got to capitalize, and you did it with a capital ‘C’ tonight:
“My goal is just to go out there and play hard, try make some plays, and show the coaches I should have a spot on this team.”
The offensive line has controlled the line of scrimmage through the first two games. Controlling the line of scrimmage is a big deal:
“Anytime we can get a good running game going and our offensive line is doing a good job like that, it’s a good game.”
You love special teams as well. It doesn’t matter what it is. Any role you’re asked to play you step up and do it:
“Anyway I can get on this team and makes some plays, that’s what I’m going to do.”
You’ve played center, you’ve played guard, and tonight you were out there working at left tackle. You played right and left tackle at Georgia, correct?
“I played left and right back in school. I played pretty much all over until I got here.”
So you’ve played them all?
Are you game and ready to play all five positions in the same game?
“We’ll see. I don’t know.”
Your set was good, your footwork was good. Did you feel pretty good out there at left tackle?
“Yeah, I did. We worked on it a little this week with so many guys hurt. It’s an opportunity for me to get out there and get some reps this week. I thought it went well and I’m happy with the way it went. The more you can do the better.”
It looked like you guys did a nice job of getting guys out into space a lot, and not just yourself. Is that something you can envision happening with this offense this year?
“Definitely. I think coach (Jay) Gruden has done a really good job of using the whole entire field. That’s one of the things he talked about, using every inch of the grass. Our offensive line did an amazing job tonight, and not only our first-team offensive line, but our second- and third-team offensive lines did a great job. Our quarterbacks also did a good job, and receivers turned in big plays after the catch as well. It was a good job by everybody on the offensive and defensive sides.”
How does it feel when you see triple tight ends and you know you’re going to run it?
“It feels good. As a running back, whenever you’re about to get the ball, you’re always excited for it. When you’re a running back, you always want the ball in your hands and the opportunity to make a big play. It’s always good to see that.”
What happened on the play when you had to come out of the game?
“I had the wind knocked out of me. The play before that, my helmet hat broke. I just came out and had my helmet fixed.”
How do you feel you played?
“I feel like I improved from the first game. I was concentrating on form tackles. I’m trying to keep improving every week.”
Did you play on special teams also?
“Yes. I did kickoff, kick return and punt return.”
What was the best thing to come out of tonight?
“We accomplished what we wanted to in terms of scoring points. There were a lot of good things and there were some things we can fix. Overall, it was pretty good.”
You looked pretty sharp in the first half. It seemed like you were able to get some separation. Is that something you hope continues throughout the season?
“Yeah, definitely. We have a lot of weapons. After the fumble in the first half, we came back and looked good. When you see all of the players we have to throw to, it’s great.”
How much do you guys feed off of each other?
“We definitely feed off of each other. When someone makes a big play, we want to go and do the same thing. It’s always good for someone to set the tone and for all of us to have the opportunity to get in the groove together. Those are the kinds of guys we have in our offense.”
What do you feel you did particularly well when you were deep in your own territory?
“Well, first of all, we don’t want to put ourselves in those types of situations. We had good field position, but we gave up some big plays. The first drive, they took it all the way down and scored a field goal. We started off bad, but we did a good job holding them to three points. We knew we had to hold them when they were deep in our territory.”
The offense had a turnover and put you in a difficult situation:
“We like to be put in those situations. We like to see how tough we are and see the areas we need to work on. They should have made the field goal, but they missed it. It’s the way of the game.”
How tough do you think you are?
“We have an image and a way we want to look — we’re not there yet; we’re not even close. We have the right tools, people and coaches to get where we want to be. I hate saying it’s still early and it’s only preseason, but when our first defense is out there, it should be three-and-out. My expectations are very high. Hopefully we can get the jitters out and finish the next two preseason games and then get ready for Chicago.”
How disappointed are you with the defense, other than the play in the first quarter by Jurrell Casey?
“I think we started the game the way we hoped we would. The offense took the ball down the field from the 20 yard line and made plays. Unfortunately, the theme of the night was, we couldn’t finish drives. So we got the field goal and then the defense got a turnover right away like we talked about, but we couldn’t capitalize with the missed kick.
“We didn’t take advantage of opportunities we had early and then, like you said, the defense the next three drives didn’t play as well as they needed to. We couldn’t find a way to make a play. We got them in some third and longs, but to their credit, they converted and kept drives going and so that was disappointing to watch. The offense didn’t really help because every time we got back down there to get points on the board, because teams in this league are going to score points on you, especially playoff teams, we were one-for-six when we got the ball inside the 30.
“We missed some kicks, and that made it more frustrating than I think it needed to be for the whole team. We did a lot of good things, but we had some drops, they didn’t, we missed some plays when they were there, we missed field goals and that was why it was frustrating.”
Were you pretty encouraged by the play of Jake Locker?
“I think he came out playing well. I thought he threw well and did what we asked him to do. He got out of trouble a couple times when there was pressure; I thought his decision making was good. Kenny (Britt’s) drop, and one by the tight end hurt us a lot because we had to settle for field goals, and we missed a couple of those tonight. So that’s what I’m saying about being frustrated; you thought there was enough there and then when you don’t finish drives like we didn’t in the first half, it makes it frustrating for the whole team. We could have had 21 points on the board and felt a lot better about it.”
Any concerns about the situation tonight with Rob Bironas?
“I think he will look at those. It was a combination of things, he hasn’t been kicking and so that is going to factor into any position when you aren’t out there competing. He has been in this league long enough to where we know how he is going to respond. He doesn’t want to miss kicks, and they are all makeable the ones he missed, and Maikon (Bonani) missed one, too, and those just change the game. It just changes the mindset of things for the players when you are finishing things that you normally do, but tonight we didn’t do.”
Were you planning on bringing in Maikon after Rob’s second miss no matter what?
“We were planning on giving him some kicks no matter what. There really was no plan. Last week Maikon didn’t get any kicks, so we wanted to get him some kicks in this game if that many came up. We’d rather he was kicking extra points, but that wasn’t the case tonight. Since he didn’t get any kicks last week, we wanted to get him in there tonight.”
You were sloppy on defense, missed some tackles and for the second game in a row, kind of gave up some drives on the first-team defense. Can you talk about that?
“On the sidelines it’s hard to see everything that happened as far as what missed and what we did well. They have a good offense, and on the first series I felt like we had a good feel for them. I wish we could turn that into points and then on the next two drives, they made plays on us. They converted some tough situations on third down and we missed some tackles. It was a combination of them making plays and us not and limiting some of their plays. Again, that’s a thing as a team we have to find a way to rise up on some of those drives and make some plays and hold some of those drives to field goals like they did to us.”
Is it looking like Tommie Campbell might be having a little trouble gaining some traction on winning the first team spot on defense?
“It’s hard for me to evaluate on the sideline how he is playing on every snap. The obvious play is the play where the guy scored the touchdown, but we will have to see after we watch the tape.”
Can you talk about what happened to Kendall Wright?
“Not really sure. He hurt his knee on the catch over the middle and I haven’t really heard anything since then. He was walking around so you take that as a good sign, but we will just have to wait and see.”
What about Akeem Ayers?
“He got kicked in the ankle I think. I don’t think it’s a sprain so much as a bruise but we just don’t really know. He is up walking around so that’s a good sign too.”
Kenny Britt has had some drops in the first two weeks. Trust is a big thing:
“He has to catch the ball, he knows that. All of the receivers do, that is something they work on every day. It’s frustrating again when we have an opportunity to make plays and we aren’t making those kinds of plays. That would have extended a drive; that was the only punt we had in the first half was because of that drop. On offense we had a lot of things click; we ran the ball well again. All the backs did a good job; we converted some short yardage situations and ran the ball well against a pretty good defense I thought. There are some good things going on, it’s just that we aren’t there yet. A lot of good stuff going on but again frustrating that we didn’t finish drives.”
Did Damian Williams earn more time earlier in the game?
“We will have to see. Damian did well; he has been consistent making catches in the last two games and in practice. He is someone we have always trusted, so yes he will have his opportunities.”
Do you plan on playing the starters through the second half next week?
“Our plan this game was to play them the first half, and I think they got a lot of plays, which was good and we needed it. You need to be in these types of situations, you want to be in adversity and when things weren’t exactly clicking we were. You would rather things click and we score 35 points but we didn’t. We put ourselves in position to do that and that’s the encouraging part that we are making plays and moving the chains on the road against a good football team.
“But we just couldn’t finish and step up and make plays. On the other side of the ball, they did and we couldn’t stop that and that was the difference. I think next week we know what we need to do. We will have a good, hard week of practice, we understand we have some work ahead of us and we are in no means ready yet, but most teams aren’t. We will play the starters into the third quarter next week and hopefully we will finish some of those drives that we didn’t finish today.”
Did you decide to play it cautious with Brian Schwenke’s hamstring?
“He got sore towards the end of this past week which was unfortunate because we were hoping to have him play in this game. But he was a little sore so we didn’t think it was worth trying to push him through this game. Hopefully with the extra rest, next week will be more of an opportunity for him.”
A lot of the drives today ended up without any points. Is that frustrating?
“I think that it’s great that we’re moving the ball on a consistent basis. We are finding ways to get down there to have opportunities to score points. We have to find ways to score touchdowns when we get down there because, as you know, it can change the momentum of the game when you score seven instead of three. We have to get a little better when we get down there and be a little sharper, and make the plays that are there to be made to convert on some of those drives.”
What about the play where the defense gets you a turnover in your territory and you don’t convert:
“It’s the same situation. I think you get down there and ... they made a good play on that one. We had a play called that we liked. We had a matchup we liked, but the guy made a play. That’s tough too. You have to find a way to overcome that. When you have the momentum — when you get the turnover — you almost give it back to them when you kick a field goal, whether you make it or miss it. Just by kicking a field goal, it feels like a win for them. We need to find a way to get in the end zone.”
You had the chance to throw the ball down field. Did you feel encouraged by how that went?
“We called plays last week, but the defense dictated that we not (throw the ball down field). I thought we did a good job of taking what they gave us. We found ways to move the ball and stay on the field.”
Kenny (Britt) had another drop today. Do you keep firing it his way?
“Yes. They are working hard. That’s what the preseason is for — to work out the kinks and get ready to go.”
What do you have to do to create more plays?
“We have to get off of the field on third down. We had them in some third and longs and we’ve got to do a better job on that.”
How do you assess your play tonight?
“It was a lot better, compared to last week. I was a lot more comfortable. I felt a lot better. I’m kind of upset at myself, because I gave up the touchdown. It was a good throw. It is what it is.”
Were you pretty close to knocking the ball away from the receiver?
“Yes. You can’t look back. You have to play his hands. I hit his hands and tried to pull (the ball) out. It was a good throw and catch.”
Is every play a learning experience?
“Yes. You can’t dwell on it. You’ve got to move on and look forward to next week.”
What does the defense have to do to get better?
“We’re there. All we have to do is make tackles. I’ve been in this league a long time. We’re tired of seeing it. We cannot panic. This is still preseason. We’re still trying to find out what we’re doing on defense. We’re still trying to come together and gel. As far as hitting the panic button, don’t do that. We’re going to get this thing fixed. We’re going to play three quarters next week against Atlanta. They have a very talented receiver group, a very talented running game and a quarterback that can get the ball anywhere. We had a great test tonight. For the second week in a row, we bit ourselves and spotted them points. We’ve got to get off of the field.”
For the second game in a row, you gave up big yards on the ground, is this a big concern right now?
“Yes. One of our main goals this season is stopping the run. When you let teams run the ball on you, you’re not living up to your goals. That’s something that we’ve been doing good on in practice. We have to translate that over to game day. The last two weeks, we’ve not been getting that done. We need to keep getting better. Next week, we’ll see another run team. It will be our biggest test.”
Talk about the running game tonight:
“We ran the ball well tonight. We were in the red zone six times and we got one touchdown and missed three field goals.”
The Bengals have a salty defensive front. This was a pretty good answer by your offense tonight:
“Yes. We knew they were a step up in competition. We knew we were going to have to do what we knew we could do. That’s run the ball. We have to get better and better every weekend. Every day in practice, we try to get better.”
Shonn Greene got in to the game and banged away for a little bit, then you almost busted a long run. Did he soften the Bengals defense for you?
“He got some tough yards. Anytime you have guys running downhill, like Shonn Greene and Jackie Battle, little guys don’t want to hit. A fast guy like me that can come in and try to take one to the house is a good thing.”
There were drops, fumbles and mistakes today. How do feel about the mistakes?
“If you sit and look at the game, you may think we didn’t have a very good day. Like I said, we had a good day. We just didn’t finish. We’ve got to learn to finish and capitalize on mistakes. When the defense gives us the ball, we have to come away with points. We have time to keep working.”
We saw you talking to
“That’s a real, close friend of mine. When I first got to Tennessee, he was one of the first guys who reached out to me.”