Definitely. I'm still not sure exactly how much he's going to play, if he's going to play at all. But it's just good to have him back out there on the practice field, see him running around. It's exciting.
Q: Have you seen a little change in him the last couple of weeks?CP:
Yeah, I noticed it first day in training camp. He's on a short leash and he knows that. He's had to change a lot of things, changed a lot of things in his life, and has done a phenomenal job. He loves football so much, and he's so competitive. It was so hard for him to be standing around for eight games and watching games on TV on the road and watching from the sidelines at home. It just tore a hole in his heart, and I think he's really realized how much he loves football and how much he's missed it. It's just great to see him out there smiling and running around and to see him happy again and excited about playing.
Q: How did Chad Johnson look in practice?CP:
Chad looked great. He ran around, caught a bunch of balls, was going full speed and looked good. Hopefully he keeps feeling good and looks good for Sunday.
Q: You had one of those uplifting wins against the Ravens in the opener. All around, does that seem like forever ago?CP:
Yeah, it does. It was two months ago. It does seem like a long time ago. It's tough going back and watching the film against them the first time. We didn't play very well as an offense. Fortunately we came up with a win somehow, but it's frustrating. When you play your guys inside your division, whether you win or lose that first game, it's tough when you feel you didn't play well individually or play well as a unit, and I don't think we played well as a unit and I don't think I played well individually. It just makes you hungrier to go out there and put better stuff on film ... more accurate passes, better reads, better plays together, better drives together as a unit.
Q: The Ravens played the other night without Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle. How big of a difference is it if those two guys aren't out there on Sunday?CP:
It's huge. I mean, they're two of their better players on defense, if not two of the best. It's a defense that's as good as it gets talent-wise, top to bottom. When any team loses two guys like that, you're going to suffer, you're going to be in tough positions like they were with the turnovers inside their own end of the field. When you've got young cornerbacks or inexperienced corners trying to play some of the coverages that they play, it's going to make it tough on the team and on the defense and on those corners.
Q: Is the offense more conservative when you don't get as many possessions in a game?CP:
I think so. A couple of weeks ago against the Steelers, we only had six possessions all game. It forces you to be that much better each play. You need to execute that much better, you need to be that much more perfect individually and as a unit. You can't waste a play. You can't rear back on first-and-10 and take a deep shot down the field because you're put in a tough spot on second-and-10 and then possibly a third-and-long. You have to be a little conservative, just because we've been hurting in time of possession and number of touches in games. You can't just take a deep shot here and there and try to throw the ball over their heads and put yourself in a second-and-10 or a long third-and-10.
Q: But isn't that your game?CP:
No. We can attack people deep. Chris (Henry) is one of our biggest deep threats and we haven't had him for a while. But we can also control the ball and kind of chink and chunk the ball down the field. We can take checkdowns and throw wide routes and take the underneath routes when you're running some deeper stuff and just try to put yourself in manageable third downs. When you play teams like Baltimore and Pittsburgh, you get in third-and-10 and you're playing into their hands. They've got guys all over the field, coming from all over the place and trying to confuse you when they know they've got to cover so much territory.
Q: With Chad Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and now Chris Henry back, do you think Baltimore will change its approach defensively from what it did against Pittsburgh and play more deep zones and not pressure the passer as much? CP:
You don't know. You can't expect to have five turnovers inside your own territory in the first quarter. You're talking about perennially one of the better defenses in this league, if not the best defense in this league. And when you put the best defense in this league inside their own territory and having to cover a short field that often in the first half, big plays are going to happen and points are going to get put up. So that was kind of a special circumstance, the way that game played out.
But you've got to go in expecting him to come up with a whole bunch of new stuff, and then expecting him to play the same exact coverages that Chris and Samari play. So it's a crapshoot. You don't know. You've just got to be really ready for anything, especially with these guys. They really try to confuse you. They move around a lot.
They've got defensive linemen playing linebacker. They had a guy that lined up at Mike linebacker a bunch against us, and they've done it a couple different times. You just don't know what to expect with them. You've really got to go in with a game plan that you feel you can execute and that you feel is pretty simple for your guys to ID their guys and really just roll with it.
Q: The national media are saying that your offense is struggling. Do you think you've struggled?CP:
I think so. I don't know where we're ranked, but we think we can be right there in the top two or three offenses in this league, and I don't think we're there. We haven't done a good enough job running the ball, we haven't done a good enough job protecting it and, really, throwing it. We definitely haven't played our best football offensively. Another way of saying that is that we've struggled.
Q: How do you think you have done this year compared to last year at the same point?CP:
Me personally? We're 2-6. That's in all of our eyes terrible, frustrating, embarrassing, whatever it may be. I've always felt that it's the quarterback's job to win football games. You shouldn't be judged off how many touchdown passes you've thrown or completion percentage, you should be judged off of wins. If you look at 2-6, it's embarrassing and I'm embarrassed about the way I've played in games and the way I've put us in the position that we're in right now.
Q: How are you taking this personally? CP:
It's tough. Lot of sleepless nights. Lot of sleepless Sunday nights and Monday nights. It's frustrating, and when you get frustrated, you get mad at little things during practice, things during meetings, little things during games, just built-up frustration. But you've just got to find a way to focus on that next game and getting a win, and that's where we are right now. There's talk what our final record could be, is there a chance of going to the playoffs, and really right now we can't worry about that and I'm not worried about that. All I'm worried about is getting a win against Baltimore.
Q: Do you ever get discouraged?CP:
It's very discouraging. I mean, we're 2-6. I never thought we'd be here, aren't happy with it, didn't expect to be here, but all we can do is try to fight our way out of it.