Q: What are your thoughts on the addition of Larry Johnson?CP: "I think he's a really good insurance policy, like Marvin (Lewis) said. We've definitely got a history with picking up guys that other teams are going to shy away from and having success with them, so hopefully it will be a success."
Q: He says he's known you since the Heisman Trophy Ceremony in 2002: CP: "Yes. I didn't spend a ton of time with him, but I've seen him a number of different places throughout the years. And he's always been very nice and very friendly and easy to get along with."
Q: There have been some questions about whether bringing someone like Larry Johnson in would disrupt the chemistry inside the locker room. As a team leader, will you monitor that and step in if need be?CP: "I think we've got a very veteran locker room. We've got guys that understand the business side of things and understand that you have to always act as a professional. Whether it's one, two, three, four, five guys, the veterans and the leaders of this team, including myself, need to make sure that doesn't happen, and we won't let that happen."
Q: Marvin Lewis said he agreed to do "Hard Knocks" because he thought the team was mature enough to handle the attention. Is the fact that the team brought in someone like Larry Johnson another sign that he trusts the locker room? CP: "I think so. He's always harping that this is our team, talking to the players saying, 'This is your team.' He's the head coach and he runs things, but the best teams are run by the players as far as keeping guys under control, making sure guys are working, making sure guys are in the right places at the right times. That's the type of locker room we have and the type of team we have. I think he's right saying this is a much more mature and a much more veteran team than he's had in the past."
Q: Injuries will happen, but aren't distractions something a team could do without when it's on a roll?CP: "I don't think it's a distraction. Any time you have guys get injured, or the possibility of guys getting injured, and you need to kind of stockpile at different positions. It's maybe a distraction media-wise because you guys have now a different story to write or something else to talk about. But as far as us players, there's another guy in the locker room and he's going to try to help out, try to stay on this team as long as possible and try to be as involved as he can. Whether it's him or picking up a guy on the practice squad, guys are just trying to fit in. When guys come in to a team that's winning and things are going well, for the most part they don't want to come in and be a distraction. They just want to do what they're told and do their role, and I'm sure that's the type of guy Larry will be, or whoever else we'll pick up throughout the year."
Q: Do you think this move is a sign that this organization is in it to win it? CP: "I think this organization's done things every year to try to pick up the best players they can and replace injured guys, replace guys that get put on IR. But this is another example of another really good player that was on the street, and there's a possible need in the future if not right away, depending upon how Cedric (Benson) is. It's just another sign of that."
Q: How different is this signing from bringing in Cedric Benson last year?CP: "Really, not at all. It's kind of the same situation. Hopefully it works out the same."
Q: How do you avoid a letdown facing a struggling team? How do you guys avoid human nature to overlook a team like the Raiders?CP: "It's difficult to do, but from the offensive side of the ball, looking at these guys, they're a sleeping giant. They're a very good defensive football team. Very good players all over the place, the best corner in the game. They've got Richard Seymour and fast linebackers, fast safeties, a powerful, fast defense. So we've got our hands full on offense. I haven't talked to any of the defensive guys, but our defense is playing as good as any defense in this league right now, and they've got a lot of veterans over there that will make sure we're working. But as far as the offensive side of the ball, this is not a letdown game, this is not an easy game. This is going to be a grind. We're going to have to come in and be extremely physical. We're going to have to execute on third down, we're going to need to take care of the ball because they've got a lot of playmakers on their side of the ball. It's going to be a tough game for us offensively."
Q: Is this a typical Al Davis-Raiders team that, on defense, is physical at the line of scrimmage and plays press coverage on the outside?CP: "They've been doing that forever, it seems like. Very aggressive on the outside, in-your-face, very fast, long, all those guys are 6-2, 6-3, long arms, real rangy, get their hands on receivers and play press and really try to jack you up at the line of scrimmage. Up front, really big and physical. Like I said, it's going to be a difficult game plan for us to get ready for, and a difficult game to play because you're in a tough environment, you've been on a five-hour plane flight and we're playing the next day. We're not going out early. So we've got a lot of things working against us and we need to find a way to come out and be as successful as we can with every drive."
Q: The way the defense has played the last few weeks, how much confidence does it give you to know that you don't have to worry about getting into a shootout to beat teams? CP: "A ton. A ton of confidence. I don't feel like we need to go into a game and take a lot of chances and throw the ball all over the field. We have to go in and run the ball, keep our defense fresh, keep our defense on the sideline and give them great field position to work with. It's really difficult to go 80 yards and be patient, and go 10 or 12 plays against our defense. It doesn't happen very often. If we can change the field position, it's the worst case scenario. Best case scenario, we score. But just giving those guys rest and a ton of field to defend and make another offense be real patient and check the ball down the field, it's tough to put points up on our defense that way."
Q: How surprised were you on Sunday with the performance of Bernard Scott, especially in blitz pick-up against a defense like Pittsburgh?CP: "Honestly, I wasn't really all that surprised. Since he got here in mini-camp, he just flashed. 'Who is that guy? Who is 28?' It happened throughout training camp, Week 1, Week 3 and Week 5. Now, he really got a chance to shine, especially on the special teams play. Really not very surprised. He's been doing it since the day got here. Everybody on offense was saying, 'I can't wait for this guy to get a shot, because when he gets his shot, he's going to take advantage of it.' "
Q: Laveranues Coles's production has picked up in the last few games. How is he different now than from earlier in the season? CP: "He's getting more comfortable very week. He takes as many reps as he can in practice, and the more reps he takes, the more comfortable he gets in the system. Hopefully he'll keep growing in that role. He's a dangerous guy once he gets his hands on the ball. He breaks tackles and gets outside. He has a lot of speed. He's really gotten more and more comfortable in the offense."
Q: Was he uncomfortable in the first couple weeks? CP: "I don't think he was uncomfortable. But he wasn't where he is now. He had a good feel for what was he was supposed to be doing, and where he was supposed to be lining up and what routes he was supposed to run. He was thinking a little bit. Now, he's reacting and playing fast. It's tough to come into this offense and play two different positions in your first year, even if you are a 10-year veteran. It's taken him a little bit of time, like we expected. But he's starting to get really, really confident in the game, and in all the guys around him."
Q: Kyle Cook has not been playing like a first-year starter. What have you seen from him, and how has he fit in to make this line better?CP: "The main thing is he's a great communicator. He comes in and gets guys the calls right away. There's no hesitation, there's no second thinking. He makes the calls on the play. Then, he brings a dirty, physical play. He gets after it every single play. He doesn't stop until the whistle is blown. He hits guys as hard as he can on every play, and he loves picking up the linebacker blitzes up the middle. His style of play and just the way he communicates for such a young guy. He gives other guys around him a lot of confidence."
Q: He seems like an older guy, even though he technically doesn't have a lot of experience:CP: "He's been around for a little bit. He's not a rookie. He's been on some different teams and kind of bounced around a little bit. He's been in NFL locker rooms and been in NFL offenses, and now he's getting his chance to shine."
Q: Are you concerned about jet lag since the team is flying to Oakland the day before the game this week? CP: "We normally go out on a Friday. I haven't been in this situation before. But we'll be ready. It's a big game for us. Were coming off a big game, but we realize how big of a game this is. The jet lag thing won't be an issue. We'll show up in Oakland ready to play."
Q: Can you talk about the job Brian Leonard has done on third downs?CP: "He's made a lot of plays that he shouldn't have. Somehow breaking a tackle, somehow jumping over a guy, whatever it may be. He's done whatever it takes to get a first down, which is what you love. A lot of times the defense had a really good call, and he somehow bear-crawled his way to a first down. He has a lot of confidence in himself, and he's got that not-going-to-quit attitude. He's going to get the first down no matter what the situation is."