Opening comments:ML: "I was watching the tape today, and the effort from our players and the poise and staying on track was great. I was very pleased with that. Obviously, a lot of people contributed to the win. There were big contributions throughout from some young players, which was good. As we go forward, it's going to be important for those young guys, when opportunity arises, to make big, productive plays and contribute like they did yesterday.
"Cedric (RB Cedric Benson) has an opportunity to play this week. He has an abductor strain, what he had last week a little bit. He re-aggravated it early in the (Pittsburgh) game, and we were able to get him shut down. He really doesn't feel much worse for the wear. He has an opportunity this week. We'll be real cautious with him as we approach the game. If he's not healthy, he would not go. Well see how he is as goes through the week. Hopefully, he can make a comeback on this.
"Leon Hall injured his elbow when he took the friendly fire from (Rey) Maualuga early in the game. He has a little bit of a sprain in there, but should be fine to go. Evan Mathis has an opportunity to play this week. He's come back from the ankle. He should get a little bit of work on Wednesday. Kyle Cook had a mild concussion, we found, coming out of the game. He'll be evaluated Wednesday and should be good to go. Jeremi Johnson continues to have the deal with his chest that is causing him to miss a little time. Hopefully, as time goes on, that will continue to heal and feel better. He was pretty sore, though, in the game. Chris Crocker's lower legs just need a little bit of rest. He kept coming in and out of the game with cramps and a calf. We'll have to continue to monitor his time this week. Keith Rivers is coming back from the calf injury. He might be the guy least likely to play this week of all the guys. That's where we are with that.
Comments on RB Larry Johnson:ML: "There's been a lot of things swirling about Larry Johnson. Let me go ahead and address that with you.
"I spoke to Larry Johnson last Thursday, and I wanted to visit with him about his future. It seems pretty clear that if there were an opportunity here, it would have zero effect on Cedric Benson, Bernard Scott or Brian Leonard. I'm very happy right now with what they're doing and their roles and I want to see Bernard's role continue to expand, as it did yesterday. If indeed we chose to bring Larry in here to visit, and spend some time with him, we'd judge him on the field and see what he can do. If we did decide to go forward, his role would be as a fourth running back, and as a backup player on this team, doing all the things backup players do, and that's work their tails off in the kicking game and showing looks and so forth. He would be an insurance policy if something would happen to our guys, where he would have a chance to be active. I can't foresee him being active when he was initially here, if this happens. That's what I told him. I had an opportunity to visit with Cedric, and it doesn't affect him, zero. Obviously this was already underway last week, so Ced coming out of the (Pittsburgh) game had no affect on this thing."
Q: You haven't signed him?ML: "No."
Q: You haven't agreed to sign him?ML: "No."
Q: He will visit?ML: "He will visit."
Q: Things are going very well, why bring him into the mix?ML: "One of the things I told Larry was we would judge him on his future and not on his past. We would judge him from that way forward. I told Ced (Benson) that I think you can help him with that. You could validate with that. But we'll see what happens. For the good of everybody, now you know. You don't have to question it anymore. You're hearing it from me first. "
Q: Additional comments:ML: "On to Oakland. They are a very physically talented football team. I would say right now, obviously, they're not happy with how many wins they have. They've got some explosive players offensively. They have some players on defense who can play. This is as good a secondary group as we'll play, in their skills and abilities. They can rush the passer, they can do a lot of things. The last couple of weeks will be all for naught if we don't take care of our business. We have to have a great week of planning, a great week of preparation for our players and coaches, and we need to get locked in as we travel out to Oakland this weekend. So it's big. Our guys will be excited to play and go, and we'll regroup and recharge and get moving forward. This is a big week."
Q: Can you comment on the new T-shirts the players have in their lockers, reading "N.D.C.Q."? ML: "I cannot, beyond saying that it's a different week of the season and time for something new and different, and it's something our guys have been working off of all year. We've kept it amongst ourselves from this point on, and we'll try to keep it amongst ourselves from this point forward. It's just something like Christmas.
"This is a little bit of a family thing, we try to keep our issues in house, positive and negative. I think that's a good thing. They've done a good job of that. You just move on. It's a focus point for them, a reminder, because we want to keep reminding them that the work you've put forth to date gives you an opportunity for more work."
Q: Trent Dilfer said you have the mentally toughest team in the league: ML: "I think toughness means, regardless of the situation, you're not going to flinch. That's something we talk about all the time. They've got guys getting paid on the other side, too. They're going to make plays, too, so let's not let the last play -- positive or negative -- affect our next opportunity. To me, that's what a mentally tough person is. He doesn't waiver. He sticks to the task, he keeps his eyes on his keys, his focus and so forth, and he knows the next opportunity is coming, and let's be ready to take advantage of it. That's big."
Q: Is that the biggest change from last year's record of 4-11-1?ML: "How about No. 9 at quarterback? That would be the biggest change, I'd say. But obviously, before Carson was injured, we had an opportunity to maybe win some close games early in the year, and we didn't get it done. This football team, I think, has learned from those. That's always the case. If you don't win a game, you better learn something from it. I think we've learned those lessons from those early games last year when we could have made one or two more plays that would have had an effect to win. It's just like cleaning up the penalties we had in the kicking game in the first half. They were warranted, they were called and they were called for a reason, so let's get it right. I think if we go forward, we'll learn from those and they'll never show up again. It's not for lack of trying, but we need to clean up how we get it done. This team understands those things."
Q: Carson is tough-minded, too:ML: "It's a very good thing, the fact that he realizes at key points, we're just trying to keep the ball progressing down the field, so let's wait for our shots, let's not force it. I thought the best thing he did yesterday was not force the football. I think that was big. I don't know how many turnovers we had the first time we played them, but I know we had zero yesterday. To play the Steelers twice and limit them like that, it's nice. To not give them an extra opportunity."
Q: The rookies seemed to play very well yesterday:ML: "Well, let's start with Rey (Maualuga), because Andre (Smith) didn't suit up yesterday. Rey had 30 snaps I think , that's almost half the snaps, and gave us some quality play. We left the base in there against some of their three-wide sets some just because of his growth and feeling good about him and the things he can do now. I thought Michael Johnson had his best football game. He had some pressures on the quarterback. He kind of hit his stride as a rusher there, which was good. You can see some of the things that Mike (Zimmer) and Jay (Hayes) have been talking to him about kind of come to life there on the field yesterday. So that was big.
"Then there's Morgan Trent. He's developing, and it's fun to see because he's worked his butt off. He had the little setback when he got hurt in the rookie camp, so it's been good to see. Yesterday Kevin (Huber), he obviously dropped the snap on the PAT, which was not a very good play. He had a very poor punt, then the punt backed up was as big a play as he's maybe made all year for us, and that was huge after the delay (delay of game penalty). He had a good punt before the delay, he had a great punt after the delay, and that was a big play in the football game. So again, his ability to do that and not be unnerved in that situation is great.
"Bernard (Scott) obviously had the kick return, but I think more importantly, the things he did on offense were huge. I thought he stood in there well as a protector, and that's big. And then we've got Dan Skuta, who did a great job yesterday on special teams. Some of our undrafted guys, rookies that are playing. Tommie Nelson, special teams and a couple snaps on defense yesterday. So, I don't know if I'm missing anybody …"
Q: Jonathan Luigs and Quan Cosby:ML: "Luigs didn't play really other than the kicking game, and Quan Cosby did a great job of getting up and catching the punt, downing the ball all day. A decent job in the return game, but huge, huge, effort play getting three or four guys blocked on the kickoff return, blocking his guy on the back end and then hustling down and blocking two guys on the way, helping Bernard into the end zone. Those kinds of plays, and he's making productive plays as a cover player in the kicking game, too. So it's big. As I told them after they came back from the bye, their rookie year's over now. They're still getting breakfast for the (veteran) guys on Saturdays, but basically their rookie year's over."
Q: How much of a jolt does a kick return for a TD give to the rest of the team?ML: "It's kind of an unscripted score. You get the touchdown or a field position change without having to make a big play on offense, and I think that's huge. Just like a defensive touchdown. So I think that's a big play in the game and a big opportunity for every game."
Q: What does Bernard Scott give you in that role?ML: "Bernard is a fine open-field runner, and I think you got to see it yesterday, again. We've witnessed it all the time in practice. I think the more he plays, the more opportunity he'll have for the great open field runs that he's able to do, and he shows the speed he has. When we played the Bears, when he watched his old (college) teammate Johnny Knox run back kicks and stuff, you could see the confidence in his eyes light up and he was saying, 'I could be doing that.' I think that's the first time he really embraced that to that level."
Q: Your pressure on Ben Roethlisberger and getting him on the ground was big:ML: "We did a good job of understanding the plan and getting the rush, and making sure we stayed frontal on him. We had a couple times we weren't as good at it, and he got away. When he does, he makes things happen. You don't always get all the pass rush pressure that you would like, but when you don't, you have to cover (receivers) for a long time, because they can go out for really long ones and go downfield. But we did a good job, other than one play, of staying in pretty good leverage down the field in those situations."
Q: No one cares about history, it's just about getting the win, but what about the fact this franchise has never won in Oakland?ML: "It won't mean a bag of beans this week."