Q: What are your thoughts on this San Diego team?CP: "It's a huge game for both teams. There's a lot riding on it. They're definitely on a hot streak and have been playing well really lately. We need a win and it's going to be an exciting game. This team has been ready for it since we walked off the field in Minnesota. It's a chance to redeem ourselves and get this feeling out our stomachs and move on the rest of the season."
Q: Is there a sense of urgency with this game, considering what is at stake with a first-round bye?CP: "Absolutely. We've been talking about that for a couple weeks now. Now that the time and moment is here. And they're in their locker room and meeting room saying the same thing. You're going to get a great effort out of both teams because there is so much riding on this game."
Q: You guys are obviously built on running the ball. Is it even more important to run it effectively against San Diego in order to keep the ball out of the hands of their offense?CP: "Definitely. They have a lot of playmakers on offense. The quarterback is really good. The receivers are good. The tight end is great. A lot of really good players that can make plays, so the more we can control the ball and time of possession and control field position the better chance we have of getting the win."
Q: With Maurice Purify being released today, the door seems to be open for Jerome Simpson to see some time. Can you talk about his progression? CP: "He's been making progress. He's come a long way since he's been drafted. He came in and really didn't know a ton about football, he could just play. I think he's learned a lot these last two years and really progressed. Not sure exactly what the timeline of him getting on the field is, hopefully this week. If not he'll continue to work hard and prepare himself as if he's a starter and get a lot of reps."
Q: You obviously can't replace a guy like Chris Henry. But it seems that Simpson's style matches that of Henry's:CP: "Yeah and I think he's definitely a vertical threat. So is Andre (Caldwell). He can really run, and it gives us a chance to make some bigger plays. Hopefully we'll have a chance to get him in there this week, but if not we're confident in Andre. We still have to continue to work hard and get better in practice, and do what we do on Wednesday and Thursday and try to find more shots down the field and more big play and positive big-chunk plays that we talk about in our meetings."
Q: You face a lot of 3-4 defenses, playing in this division. Is there a little more familiarity this week in preparing since San Diego has a 3-4 defense?CP: "Not really. It's hard to compare 3-4 defenses. They do a number of different things, especially in their third-down packages and base-down stuff. It's a lot more pressures than we're used to seeing by the three other teams in our conference that play 3-4. It's a good group up front. A strength is their front seven and their corners. But they do a lot of different things than what we're used to seeing and bring some different pressures and fire zones pressures. It's tough to compare them to anyone in our division."
Q: Has the way you've changed hands with your handoff also affected play-action?CP: "No."
Q: The games are starting to get more important. As someone who has played in some big games, do you ever share any of your wisdom with some of the younger players in these situations?CP: "If that situation presents itself, yes. But we have a group of guys who don't really flinch or feel that anything's too big for them, and they aren't scared of any situation. We've played in big games. When we've gone to places like Baltimore and Pittsburgh and played in bigger games against some good teams, our younger guys and more inexperienced guys have stepped up and made plays. It's not something that concerns me that guys are going to be nervous. We've had guys who've responded to tough environments, and this game should be no different."
Q: The team was pretty confident going into Minnesota. Did it shock you how jittery you guys became early on, and how you kept getting penalty after penalty?CP: "We just didn't play well. That's the simple answer – we did not play very well. We didn't react well to the environment. We've played in this situation before, in stadiums against good defenses and teams, and we've played well, and this time we didn't. We had our lunch handed to us and have to make sure that doesn't happen again, because we know what that feeling is like and how long this week has already been, and it's already Wednesday. As a unit watching film and having to stomach that and go through that again and watch ourselves not play well, it's not fun watching yourselves lose. But when you don't play well and give yourselves the opportunities, it's even harder. That's the feeling we have as a team, and we want to get that feeling over with."
Q: When you have a pre-snap penalty, is that worse than a regular penalty because it seems to be avoidable?CP: "I don't feel that way. Penalties are bad. Period. We've had our fair share of 20-yard gains and then realized there's a flag on the ground. Those are bad too. I don't think a pre-snap is worse. Penalties are bad in general, and we've had our share of pre and post-snap, and we need to do better avoiding those."
Q: Coach Lewis said that you guys may have been too 'amped up' for the Minnesota game. Have you learned anything from that?CP: "If there's anything we've learned, it's look at what you did last week. I don't know if we were too amped up or excited or emotional. We did not play well last week, and we'll continue to work and start focusing on and envisioning what it's going to be like there. It's going to be loud, hectic. Their fans are very passionate and into the game. We know that. We're playing against a good team on both sides of the ball, and we have to play our best football to date to beat this team."
Q: How beneficial is it to fly to the west coast on Friday, as opposed to on Saturday like the Oakland trip?CP: "A huge advantage. Getting used to the time, the weather. It's been 20 degrees here for a couple of weeks now, so getting in some 65-degree weather will be nice, letting your body adjust to that. Just letting your body's clock adjust to the different time zone and atmosphere and all that. It will be definitely a much better advantage than a couple of weeks back."
Q: You, personally, are very familiar with flights out to the west coast. Is that enough time to adjust?CP: "Yeah, it is. I think it's a perfect amount of time. You don't want to be there too long because then you kind of get too anxious for the game. It's just a lot of waiting around. It will be good to get out there Friday. I think we get out there at nighttime, get used to that clock being kicked back three more hours and try to get our rest, and have a chance to get out Saturday and do a walk-through-slash-practice to get our feet used to some natural grass, because we've been going on turf a lot. It'll be a great trip. It's set up for us to be effective, and I think that's what coach wanted to get done by getting out there a day early."
Q: You haven't lost two games in a row. Is that extra motivation to win this week?CP: "No, I hadn't thought about that. I didn't realize that was the situation. I just think that this is a big game, and we know we can win, and we know we need to win. So regardless what happened last week, what game is next week, it's a single-game focus. We're going to be focused solely on the San Diego Chargers, on what they do on third down, red zone, backed up, whatever the situation may be, not on any outside circumstances."
Q: What do you think about Bobbie Williams winning the team's Ed Block Courage Award?CP: "Bobbie's a guy that's been here, I think long as just about anybody on the team. I don't know if the guy's missed a game. I know he had emergency surgery (emergency appendectomy in 2006, causing him to miss three games). I forget exactly what happened three or four years back, appendix exploded or something like that. He's a guy that's battled through a number of injuries, and just keeps sucking it up and keeps playing. He's an emotional leader. I personally get fired up every game to hear his little pregame speeches, because they're always intense and somewhat funny but get your mind focused. It takes a little bit of the tenseness out of the air. But he's a leader emotionally and physically. He's a guy that gives it everything he's got on every play and it shows up on tape and at practice. So I voted for him. He's well-deserving."
Q: Do you think the line has struggled over the last month?CP: "I don't think so. I'm not sure statistically why it would have or wouldn't have. I feel like we've been playing good upfront. We've played some physical groups. We played last week probably, in my opinion, the best D-line in the league. I think we had one sack (given up). But I think we've been playing well. In a 16-game season, our guys set the bar extremely high week one-two-three-four-five, and nobody expects more out of themselves than they do. They expect to play great every week. At every position on the field offensively and defensively, there's definitely games you play better here and there and they may have played better earlier, but I don't think their play has dipped at all. I think we've played some good fronts, and they'll continue to keep working to get better."
Q: When the offense is struggling this late in the season, is it reasonable to think it can be fixed with three games left?CP: "I believe so. I think we believe so as a unit. There's a reason we don't just show up on Sunday and play. We come in and work. We're a team that doesn't take days off. We come in Wednesdays and Thursdays. I don't know one time in my seven years that Marvin (Lewis) has ever said, 'We're going to do a walkthrough. We don't need to get banged up, and don't need to do this and do that.' We come in to work. You're only going to improve the more you work, the more you practice. And that's something we're working to do every week."
Q: Does this offense have another performance in it similar to the Chicago game, where it put up 45 points?CP: "Definitely. I can't say specifically we're going to put up 45 points against any one opponent. But we've proven it, we've done it before. Like I just got done saying, we're going to keep working week-in and week-out through the playoffs, through the rest of this year and strive to be great on offense, strive to be perfect."