Q: Do you consider the ankle 100 percent right now?CP: "Oh yeah, 100 percent. I practiced on Monday, did everything, felt great and felt great yesterday after that, and that was a good test. So I'm full-go all week."
Q: What does a QB miss most when you've had only 19 live snaps since last October?CP: "I think just the feel -- the feel of being in there, the feel of the ball being snapped and seeing pressure come at you, the feel of having to adjust from your pre-snap read to your post-snap read. Thankfully, I practiced Monday, and I'll get these next three or four days in and get that feeling back."
Q: Can you get it back in practice?CP: "Oh yeah. We don't do walk-throughs very much around here. Every practice, we're in shoulder pads or full gear and we're going at it. Obviously the quarterback isn't live, but we practice full-speed. And being my sixth year starting in this league, going through all of training camp for the most part, until we got to the second game, I had that feeling then. It'll take a couple snaps to get the rust off, but it won't take much."
Q: Are you free to throw as much as you want in practice, or is it still being monitored?CP: "I guess it's being monitored, but I don't hear much about it. I think they don't want me to throw over 120 balls in practice, but it's pretty tough to throw over 120 balls in practice. I think normally it's pretty average for most quarterbacks to throw around 80 balls per practice, and that's around where we are."
Q: Are you excited to get past all these questions about your ankle, your elbow?CP: "I kind of expect them every week, at least for the first month of the season. Going back to '06 when I blew my knee out, I got those questions until about week 8, 9, 10. So I'm used to being in this situation and kind of fielding all sorts of questions."
Q: Your offense hasn't been the same since about the middle of 2007. Does it feel like you can get it back to where it was?CP: "That's what is so fun about this point in the year -- that you don't know. Of course we want to score 60 points every game; I think every offense wants to. But until you get out on the field and see and get into real regular-season games with the guys you have, you don't know. There are a lot of new faces on our offense, especially from that year. And until you play with those guys and go back and look at the film -- for technique and execution -- you really don't know how good you are. But right now we're a very confident group. We're very confident in each other, and that's all you can ask for going into week one."
Q: Does playing a team with a new head coach affect what you expect to see on Sunday?CP:"Oh definitely. It's a good thing, but it's also a bad thing. It's a good thing that you're with a new group. I've been on a team where you're playing for a new head coach in his first game. But it's also a little bit scary, because you know he's holding some things back. With Coach Nolan being the defensive coordinator, we all know him around here; we played against him in Baltimore for a long time. He's a great football coach and a very smart defensive football coach and defensive play-caller. But you know they had to hang onto some stuff they didn't want on film, stuff that they've been working on since March or April, so we really have to be in tune with one another. Our communication has to be great, and we have to expect the unexpected. We've seen a couple cover-zero blitzes and a number of things they've done in the preseason, but you know they're always holding something back, so you have to practice for everything, prepare for everything, expect to be surprised and have to talk about some things on the sideline and make some adjustments."
Q: Didn't Baltimore do that to you last year -- throw out some stuff you didn't expect?CP: "Yeah, for the first game it's pretty normal. I'm sure every team in the league holds one thing for the opening game and doesn't want to put it on film, just to have that surprise factor."
Q: Considering he wasn't supposed to start, how much has Anthony Collins improved?CP: "Tremendously. I think he kind of knew he might have a chance to start week one and beyond, depending on what happened with Andre. He was great about it. He knew the situation. It's tough when you have a top-five, top-10 pick drafted ahead of you -- when you expect to be the guy the next year and then they draft a guy with a top 10 pick. But he kept a great head on his shoulders, and he worked his butt off. He and (T Andrew Whitworth) were together every day, working with each other and helping each other out. He's done a great job. He's gotten better each week, each day at practice, and I know he's excited for this first game, to go out there and prove that he can play."
Q: What makes Champ Bailey so good?CP: "A lot makes him good. Experience, for one. He's a very, very smart football player. He studies a lot of film, he understands routes, he understands reading formations and adjustments and jumping balls. And physically, he's as gifted as any corner in the league. He's 6-feet tall, he's got long arms, and he can press guys and try to run with guys. He's quick coming out of his breaks, and he can catch. There aren't a lot of corners who can really catch the ball, and he goes up and attacks the ball. There's a number of things that make him great."
Q: Do you make note of where Champ Bailey is at all times?CP: "Definitely. Going into the game, you don't know if he's going to follow Chad all over the field or if he's going to stay on the side he's usually on. But you've got to keep an eye on him. You have to see where 24 is and know that there are some routes where he's going to see something coming, he's going to expect it and there might be something he's going to jump and make a play on the ball."
Q: You seem to have three different styles at running back:CP: "Four, really. There's a lot of explosiveness back there. (Cedric Benson) is extremely fast, DeDe (Dorsey) is fast, Brian Leonard can run, and we really haven't seen everything that Bernard (Scott) can do. He's done some great things in the preseason, but he's still a rookie and hasn't done it in a regular-season game. But four unique guys back there, just different skills sets, and I don't know if we've had that since I've been here. I don't think we have. We've had a certain type of runner and then a backup, but not four guys like that. It's exciting, because there are so many things you can do. We have a lot of stuff where two guys are in the backfield at the same time, and there are just a lot of mismatches you can create for people."
Q: Are you surprised the team kept four running backs?CP: "No, I don't think you could be surprised whatever happened, because it was a really tough decision. It's tough to keep four guys, but even tougher to have to cut one of them, because they're all so unique. That was the one spot on the roster I think everyone was kind of holding their breath. It's tough to make the wrong decision. You can't go wrong with any of them. And Ced being your starter, you're so excited to watch Ced play, but then you're excited to get these other guys filtered in and see what they can do."
Q: Do you feel like this is a completely different offense in terms of personnel? Is it like '04, in that you don't know?CP: "No, because I've got a number of starts under my belt since '04. I'm not going into the game the same way. But there are a lot of new faces, a lot of different guys. There's still Chad. You lose TJ being a big-time playmaker, but you sprinkle in a lot of good players, too. So it's definitely new faces, new jersey numbers, but I don't think the talent level has slipped. I don't think there's a number of positions where we were way just better in '04 or '07. I think we have the same amount of talent. It may be in different spots, but we've got the same amount of talent and the same explosiveness we had in those previous years."
Q: Sports Illustrated called this the golden age of the receiver. Do you agree with that? And what makes it that?CP: "I kind of feel it's been like that since I've been in the league. We've had T.O. and Larry Fitzgerald's come on, Chad's been kind of a staple guy. I think it's a good assessment. Calvin Johnson recently. On the road, every time Chad gets the ball in his hands, you kind of hear, 'Uuh! What's he going to do, what's going to happen?' I'm sure that's a familiar sound in Arizona, and now in Buffalo. So I think there are some very explosive guys that are really hard to cover one-on-one, guys that are difficult to take out of games and guys that can turn any play into a big play or a touchdown. I think that's exciting for fans, and it's definitely exciting for our fans."
Q: Getting back to that game in Columbus on Saturday (USC vs. Ohio State). Last year you had trouble finding guys willing to bet with you besides columnists. What's it been like this year?CP: "Well, there are no Ohio State guys in the locker room, and I don't think anybody around town wants to bet me. I do have a neighbor that's got an Ohio State flag waving outside their house, but I don't have any bets yet."
Q: You accurately predicted a blowout last year (in the OSU vs. USC game). What's your feeling about this year?CP: "This year's a little tougher to judge, especially because of the way Navy played Ohio State last week, and with a rookie at quarterback (for USC), it's always tough to gauge. But when you've got Terrelle Pryor, you're always in a game. He showed that last year. I'm not sure what Bowl it was, a BCS game, where he just took over the game. So it's a tough call, but I still think my boys are going to take care of business."
Q: Why is Chad (Ochocinco) better now than a year ago?CP: "I think a couple reasons: One, just his attitude. He's come in so focused to be the best receiver in the league and to take over that role. When he has that focus and that determination, it's tough to not see him taking over the lead. And also just his work ethic. The way he works, he runs every single route. In my seven years, we've had a lot of receivers come in that are in good shape, but I've never seen a receiver be able to take every rep. He just doesn't get tired. He's like Bruce Bowen of the Spurs. For whatever reason, the guy just doesn't get tired. He can run all day. And when he comes in with that focus and that determination to work that hard, his game consistently gets better each day. And just when you think he can't run a route any better, he goes back and looks at it on film and finds a way to sink his hips a little bit more or to get his head around out of the top of the break. So when he comes in with that right focus and that work ethic, he's got a good shot to take over that No. 1 spot."
Q: Chad's 31 years old. Is he as good as he was three for four years ago?CP: "That's a good question. Chad does not age. He acts like he's 19 and he plays like his body's 20. He may be 31, but he doesn't look it at all. He doesn't act it, either. But the guy just doesn't get tired, he doesn't get hurt."