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Lewis, Dalton News Conference Transcripts

Marvin Lewis News Conference

Opening Comments:

                "The opportunity to play a division game on the road comes at us right away. We have to really have a good week of preparation as we look forward to playing the Steelers in Pittsburgh. That's the mindset going forward."

Did the film turn out okay as far as everyone being healthy?

                "I think we'll be in pretty good shape come Sunday."

Are there certain ways you prepare players for any reactionary moments with emotion?

                "We prepare them each and every day to play with the technique of their responsibilities. Emotion goes out the window when you get hit in the face. It's how you've been coached technique-wise, and how you play your responsibility down in and down out."

Is it fair to say that Ben Roethlisberger is still ascending?

                "He's played at a very high level for a long time. He obviously played very well his first week of the regular season. He didn't play a whole lot in the preseason, but he really looks good. He avoided the rush, delivered the football, and made accurate throws. He played really well."

What are the challenges to defending someone like DeAngelo Williams?

                "He had a fine season last year. He's a strong runner who can cut and move. He runs behind his pads. He's been one of the best running backs in the league in the last ten years since he came out of Memphis."

What does Brandon LaFell bring to the table?

                "He's a great pro. He has ability as a wide receiver. He makes the rest of the offensive group better as he comes in and helps. He's probably the oldest mentor that A.J. (Green) has had since he's been here, which has been great with the experiences Brandon has had."

What do the Steelers look like without Heath Miller?

                "I think Jesse James showed in the first game this season that he'll become that outlet. When Ben is moving around and avoiding the rush, there goes the ball to number 81. The only thing that changed is the number. That looked very familiar. That's a big part of their offense; using him as their blocker inside in the run game and part of the protection at times. They haven't changed what they're doing. Heath Miller did it for a long time very well."

What are the challenges to defending someone like Antonio Brown?

                "He's very, very good. He makes catches on every kind of route; vertical, slant, screens, in-breaking, over-the-top. You just have to be conscious of where he is and understanding the plan all the time."

Does watching Steelers tape take you back to being their linebackers coach in the '90s?

                "I think the difference now is that so much of defense has ended up nickel over the last five or six years. I don't know that we had the nickel as much, it was just third downs when they put three wides on the field. The linebacker group is playing well; great production from Arthur Moats, and number #95 (Jarvis Jones) on the other side is also doing well. Then you bring in James Harrison on third downs. It's good, plus the flexibility that the 3-4 provides gaining that fourth rusher from any of the guys all the time."

Are you amazed at James Harrison's performance at his age?

                "I'm pleased when he's not playing against us. He was great for us. I am happy that he got the opportunity to continue to play. It's what he loves to do. He's a good leader for young guys as far as how to work. He's such a worker."

Was it a tough decision to move on from him?

                "Yes I think it always is when somebody you know added something to your football team that way. It's always hard I think when you look at maybe possibly going in a different direction."

As a coach, have you enjoyed this rivalry?

                "I enjoy the AFC North. It's all I know; 24 seasons in it. I've seen a lot of the games between these teams. I know it's always tough-fought football games all the time."

Does a road division game this early in the season have more magnitude?

                "It's going to be the second game of our season, one way or another. Just like last week was the first. Right now, that's what it is. It's the most important game we have, because it's the next one."

The Jets have a big, physical personnel similar to many AFC North teams, will that help you prepare for games like this against the Steelers?

                "It helps us. We didn't necessarily play that kind of group in the preseason, other than Minnesota. Stephon Tuitt and Cameron Heyward are big guys just like Steve McClendon, who we faced last week with a big interior three. Then the guys on the outside edges, the athletic linebackers. Their secondary is improved. They have guys back there now that make plays on the football all the time. Mike Mitchell is always around the football."

Andy Dalton news conference

You and A.J. (Green) have a great rapport, and so do Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown. What goes into the chemistry of those QB/WR relationships?

"First off, Ben and I both have really talented receivers. And then it just comes with time. I've been with A.J. my whole career, he's been with Antonio for seven years now, I think. So it's just part of the chemistry and building it. When you've got talented players, you get that chemistry. When you're both trying to be good at what you do, you're going to have big plays."

How long did that chemistry take to develop?

"When you've got a guy like A.J., you get the ball around him and he's going to make the catch. It evolves over time, but I would say we're a little better now than we were our first year. I think you start to build that early on."

You and A.J. have had a lot of fourth-quarter success, particularly on the road. Is there something where you just feel like you have to get it to him? What happens in crunch time that allows you two to have that success?

"That's the point of the game where you have to be at your best. If you're wanting to win the game, you've got to get your guys the ball. He's got the mentality that he's going to win every single time out there, and we've been able to get it to him. That's been really good for us. We've been able to get our best guy on the offense the ball, and he's been able to make plays with it."

The first regular-season game of the year always has a lot of adjustments and coaching on the fly, and this year you did it with new people in key positions on offense, including a new play caller in Ken Zampese. It seemed like it went smoothly and you guys were still able to make quick adjustments, didn't you?

"Yeah, we did. We felt like there was good communication, and we were able to adjust to things on the sideline. That's what you have to do during games. It's not always going to happen exactly how you think it's going to. So it comes down to, 'This is what they're doing, this is how we need to react, this is what we need to do in different situations,' and I thought we did a good job of that on Sunday."

Does your relationship with (offensive coordinator) Ken Zampese help with that?

"There have been times when we've been able to talk about what other teams have done and what we've experienced before. That's something that's been great for us, as we've been here together since I've been here."

What did you learn about Brandon LaFell on Sunday?

"He came to play. That's one thing we knew right from the start when he got here. He's a true pro. He gets it. He studies. He knows what's going on. And when his number's called, he made the plays. It was really good to see him out there. You have the expectation of, 'This is what you're going to see,' and when you get to the regular season, you want to see it really come through. And we did that. So I was really pleased to see that. Brandon's done a great job since he's been here, so we're happy to have a guy like that."

He's the fifth different receiver to start opposite A.J Green on opening day. Does having a constant, like A.J., help with breaking these other guys in?

"Yeah. We're very fortunate to have A.J., obviously, when you have a guy with his talent and caliber of play that he plays at. So everybody knows where he is on the field for us, so it's just making sure everybody's communicating well and on the same page. But it's nice to have a guy who's been here since I've been here, and is one of the best in the game."

* *

C.J. Uzomah stepped up on Sunday at tight end in place of Tyler Eifert ...

"It's been great. He's been able to get a lot of work in. We've had a lot of time together since the offseason. He's done a great job. He's done everything we've asked him to do. He's going to make big plays for us this year. He showed that with the big catch down the middle last week. That's not the only one we're expecting from him; we're expecting big things."

Why is it so tough to win on the road, especially in Pittsburgh?

"Any time you go on the road, it's tough to win. Everything is stacked up against you, especially in Pittsburgh. It's a division game, their crowd gets into it. You've got to be poised and you've got to play throughout the whole game. One play doesn't determine the game. So you've just got to stick to the game plan, stick to what you're doing and keep grinding it out. It's always tough to get a win there, especially when you're playing against a good team."

Why is this team good on the road?

"I think that extra focus. You're going, and all you're thinking about is the game. You've got to try to steal games when you go on the road. I think we just have the mentality we're going to do whatever it takes, and that's why we've been able to get some big wins on the road."

You had a slow start at the Jets. Does your mentality help you get through something like that?

            "Yeah, I think it's just adjusting too. You're getting some looks that you're not expecting to see and you move on past that. You talk about what they're doing and how you're going to attack it the next time. So I think it's just making good adjustments and guys realizing what we have to do to attack them."

With all of the new pieces on offense, was it a big deal to play that well in opener?

"You can't worry about all that. We have some new guys, but at the end of the day you've got to go play your game and expect them to win when they get their chance. Nobody's talked about that inside this locker room on the team. It's just we came out with a win."

Week 2 is early for a division game and rivalry. What are your thoughts on playing a game of this significance this early in the year, where the winner gets a leg up in the division?

            "You never know how the schedule is going to play out. For us, we've got Pittsburgh in Week 2. Like you said, the winner has a leg up on the division. We expect it to be a good game, and we're going to do everything we can to try and get a win."

Watching the playoff game for you had to be a cocktail of emotions, considering your injury and then everything that unfolded in the game. What was that like?

            "Yeah. It was obviously tough standing on the sideline. But that's part of it, and that's how it happens sometimes. Good thing it's a new year."

For the second year in a row, you were the first football superlative on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. You were the most likely to star in a new CW show called "Ron Weasley: The College Years." Were there other offers or ideas bounced around? It seems like you are friends – will you invite him to any games?

            "(Laughs) Yeah, we've done that a couple times, where I've been on the show with the superlatives. I don't know if Jimmy's going to make his way to Cincinnati or not. We'd love for him to. Jimmy, if you're watching this, we'd love to have you in Cincinnati."

As they were in the preseason, Jeremy Hill's touchdown celebrations were toned down – he handed the ball to the official and shook hands with teammates. What are your thoughts on that, and have you noticed any change in him?

            "That (the fumble against Pittsburgh in the playoffs) was a tough way to end it for him last year. He's moved past it, obviously. He got in the end zone and was celebrating with the guys. So you never know what's going to happen. It wouldn't surprise me if he dances again. I think it was just the first one and he was trying to celebrate with everybody."

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