Marvin Lewis News Conference
Paul Brown Stadium
September 10, 2014
"I was asked to go ahead and tell you that we're putting Tyler Eifert on the IR designated to return today. He'll be able to practice in six weeks and return to the field two weeks after that whenever he's ready. We'll do that today.
"Moving forward with the Falcons, this is a well put together football team led by a great quarterback who played lights out last week and really is an effective player. A big reason the decision was made last year to go down and practice with them was so that our guys and Andy (Dalton) could observe Matt Ryan, and we could observe their players, and how they go about their work and their profession. The guy played lights out even last season, if you look at statistically what they did last year, it was very good on offense.
"It was just hard for them to overcome some of the injuries they had a year ago. It's a team that has two young corners that have played very well that they picked a year ago in the draft (Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford) -- not this past year but the year before -- those are very talented guys and guys we felt really good about. They've added some bigger guys up front on both sides that really make them a more formidable front on both sides of the football. We're going to have to play good football, great football."
Can you pull anything from the joint practices you had with them last year? Do you feel like you learned anything from that?
"We know they're very competitive, and they've got a lot of good players. They've got a good backfield, a strong backfield, two big physical outside receivers, then you put Harry Douglas, who is very experienced doing what he does as their third wideout, then they added Devin Hester as both as a return man and an offensive threat. Our guys are a little familiar with them just because we spent a couple days with them."
There's a lot of commonality between the two coaching staffs, isn't there?
"There is. They've got Wade Harman there now. Mike Tice I've known for a long time. Mike Nolan I've known for 30-something years since I got into coaching. Probably my second or third year, I met Mike Nolan. I've got a lot of friendships with a lot of people, but this week we're competing, and we can go back to being friends next week again."
After 11 of these, does the home opener still mean as much to you?
"It's an important game for us. It's both the home opener, and we've got to do a great job defending home, and secondly, we've got to get off to a great start in 2014."
You guys come back here after an unbeaten run here last year...
"Actually we lost the last game here. You guys reminded me of that a bunch so I can't believe you forgot that now (Laughs)."
Do you guys come back here with a certain edge that maybe you didn't have in past years?
"We need to have an edge. We lost the last game that we played here that mattered. This is an important game for us."
Are you surprised at how easily Devin Hester was able to flow right in there as a receiver?
"In my opinion, they've got one of the best receiver coaches in the NFL in Terry Robiskie. If you look at wherever Terry has coached, his players have played at a very high level consistently, both young players and old players. He's able to bring the best out of guys. He's very demanding and he's done a great job. He's gotten Devin, too. He never quite turned the corner in Chicago as a wideout. He made some explosive plays this preseason and then obviously in the game Sunday."
When you guys were studying the 2011 draft, A.J. Green and Julio Jones were far above the rest of the receivers. How much time did you spend comparing the two and how challenging was that, as those two guys were fairly elite as far as the receiver draft class goes?
"They were. They were in the top four players we felt that year. We've been proven right to have the right four or five guys that we knew we were going to get a good player when we stayed at No. 4 and picked."
What makes Julio such a challenge?
"He's big, he's got long speed, he's tough at the catch, he's a young guy who is just willing to keep learning. Sounds very similar to another guy...
Were they pretty similar guys?
"Yeah I think coming out they were very similar. The difference is, Julio goes to a team that has another experienced wideout and an experienced quarterback. He went into a different situation than what A.J. came into. A.J. came in as the bell cow of it all. He was the most experienced guy. It's good to have a good leader."
In your mind, what made A.J. the fourth guy in that draft?
"We picked A.J. It doesn't matter. Really we don't need to revisit that. We could've ended up with either player and felt really good."
You've got to be happy that Jones didn't end up in the division?
"We're very happy he didn't end up in the division. Once every four years is enough."
They've got a bit of a four-man running back rotation. What does that do for their offense and what does Steven Jackson bring?
"With Steven it's his style. He's a big, physical guy. He's been a great productive pro. Speaking of old draft comparisons ... (Laughs, referring to 2004 draft when Jackson was picked two picks prior to the Bengals picking Chris Perry). We'll let that one go, too. He was a great prospect coming out, a great person, he's had a great career. The other guys they have are smaller in height, but just as powerful in stature and explosively fast. We've got to be conscious of them."
Do you figure Jeremy Hill will get more work this week, or will it just depend on the matchups?
"Yeah, it will depend on how we call the plays on offense and how we mix him in."
What makes Matt Ryan so good?
"He's got great height, he's got great high release of the football, he's got command of his offense, he knows where the ball should go right away. I've watched those Hard Knocks episodes where he takes the receivers in the room and talks to them about their routes, their stems, their breaks and everything. You can tell he has a tremendous command of what they're doing offensively, and they fact that they trust him to put him in that situation."
Do you expect Vontaze Burfict to play Sunday?
"He'll go through the concussion protocol."
How big of a luxury is it to have a guy like Vinny Rey, who can move into any of those spots?
"Vinny has carved out a great niche in the NFL. It's fantastic. From the time we brought him here from Duke he's done just what we expected him to do. He's a smart guy. He's got great energy, great effort. People used to look at Vinny as a smaller guy, but Vinny's not small at all. He's done a great job."
You mentioned seeing Matt Ryan on Hard Knocks. Are you able to glean anything from that?
"Shh. I don't want to make NFL Films have a hard time getting people to volunteer for that."
Did you recommend Hard Knocks to Mike Smith and those guys?
"I didn't recommend." (Laughs)
Did you say they didn't have anything to worry about because of your experience?
"Mike and I talked a few times."
Devon Still has the number one selling jersey according to reports. It's just a good vibe overall. Can you talk about that?
"Devon came to me in May and said 'Coach, Leah's got her dance recital. Can I be gone on Monday and attend?' I said 'Yes, please do that. You don't get a chance to do that as much as we need to.' Then he gets back there, and that's when her cancer was identified. It was that particular weekend. She wasn't feeling right and they took her to the hospital.
"It's been quite a ride for him. Coming back and overcoming what he had last season with us as far as injury-wise, going through the offseason surgery, and then this is dumped on to him. This is bigger than all of that. He's been a great father. He's done everything he can to be a part of the football team. He's got himself back again healthy. Last week was a good week for him, just to clear his mind and have an opportunity to spend time.
"We'll continue to allow him to do what he needs to do as far as attending to her care, because it's important. I sat down with him yesterday, and we were looking at some players on tape, and I said 'Who is better, these guys or Devon Still?' He said 'Devon Still.' That's what I believe, too. I said 'Where are you? Are you ready to do this again?' And he was, so that's good."
Was that kind of what convinced you that he was back mentally?
"Yes. That was the first time I really saw him, other than talking about his daughter, that you saw the brightness again in his face because it's been tough. You could see it in his face."