How long do you expect to be without DE Michael Johnson and C Billy Price?
“We’re not sure right now. It’s just a matter of how long it takes for them to heal. We’ve got a little longer time this week until our next game, so both guys will get an opportunity (to recover) and we’ll see how they come back.”
How’s HB Joe Mixon? He came in and out of the game a couple of times ...
“He said something was bothering him in his knee after one play on the goal-line. We have a little time for all of these guys (to recover), so we’ll see how they come back.”
With Johnson and Price, are their injuries season-ending?
Mixon has showed a lot in these first two games from an intangibles standpoint ...
“He could’ve been a lot better this week. He had a better game in Indianapolis, as far as doing exactly what he needed to do in the run game. He was a little bit off, we are leaving some yards out there in the run game. We could ramp up a little bit.”
It seems like he has no problem playing hurt ...
“He kept wanting to go back into the game. They (the trainers) found nothing wrong last night, so we’ll see.”
Was that first-and-goal play in the first quarter one of the plays where you thought he could’ve done better?
“No it wasn’t (laughs).”
The offensive line didn’t allow any sacks last night after the Ravens’ defense got six last week vs. Buffalo. Throwing out the preseason, do you feel like some of the chemistry is starting to develop?
“We keep grinding and keep doing better. Luckily they can’t read, which is a good thing (laughs). They just focus on football and keep getting better.”
How’d you feel G/C Trey Hopkins did snapping for the first time in a game?
“He played in the preseason too.”
In a regular-season game this time ...
“You guys think those (preseason games) are different (laughs). They count differently, but if you’re out there playing football, I don’t think it’s any different. He went into the game and handled the situation well. Trey has been able to step up to the plate and do a good job for us. He did that again for us last night.”
Are you relieved to get the Thursday night game out of the way?
“To have it at the beginning of the season is probably the best time. Your team is freshest, you can plan for it right out of the gate and, knock on wood, work through any foreseen injuries. We lost one guy in the first game who couldn’t play in this game — Preston (Brown). You’re pretty fortunate that way. We’re all going to play Thursday night games, so this is a good time to play them.”
Was LB Preston Brown ultimately a game-time decision after you saw him warm-up?
He seemed optimistic that he would play ...
“If we were playing on Sunday, he would’ve had an opportunity to play. But on the short week, he wasn’t able to come around enough for us to feel confident that he wouldn’t re-injure himself and set himself back. He was willing to try to play, but it wasn’t a good point to set himself back, so I had to make an adult decision there.”
LB Hardy Nickerson played almost every snap on defense last night. He’s come a long way since he got here. For you to have that kind of trust for him in that spot, has to speak volumes of where you think he’s at as a player ...
“Hardy has shown that literally since his rookie camp a year and a half ago. Last year, we started Vinny (LB Vincent Rey) in the spot in place of Vontaze (Burfict). Now we’re starting Jordan (Evans) in that spot. Both guys have grown to where we feel good about them. It’s not too big for them, and they’ve proven that. Hardy did a nice job last night. Nick Vigil handled the communications for the first time in his career, which shows his maturity in the things he’s doing.”
It’s kind of wild to think last year we sat in this room a year ago and things were very different ...
“They probably cancelled this (news conference) last year (laughs).”
Does last year’s 0-2 start make this year’s 2-0 start more gratifying?
“This is a new season. We didn’t get off to a very good start last year. Obviously, we were at a low point a year ago at this time. Unfortunately, we had to make some changes that were hard, and we have moved forward from there. I think the changes in the offseason (this year) have continued (to move in a positive direction).”
The coaching staff was revamped in the offseason. Is the staff coming together as you envisioned?
“From the onset of this offseason, we (knew) the things we needed to do to get better. I thought we have done a fine job at that. We are only two games into the season, so we get to prove it over the next 14 (games) as well. The things we set out to do, we have accomplished thus far. We are checking those boxes, so we feel pretty good about things.”
What was this upcoming weekend like for the coaching staff last season following the 0-2 start?
“Bill (Lazor) spent a lot of time (working in fit into his new role). We spent some time on Saturday and Sunday (last season), then we came back with the players on Monday. It was a hectic time. We were getting ready to go on the road again, just like this week, and we needed to go win a football game.”
Is it too early to start self-scouting?
“You self-scout all the time. You look at what (opponents) are looking at when they look at you, through the preseason and through the first two games of the season. Most of the time, they combine the second and third preseason games when No. 14 (Andy Dalton) is in them (with the regular-season games) to see what rhythm we have.”
Are you worried about traveling to Carolina next week with the hurricane?
“I think we should be OK. Unless (the storm) sets a record for sitting in one spot.”
They say it might. There will be a lot of water in the area ...
“I don’t know if we can worry about what we can’t control right now. That probably would be a waste of time.”
What kind of growth have you seen from CB Darqueze Dennard?
“Darqueze had a really strong season last year, and he has continued to grow. More importantly, he has been the quarterback, defensively. He (performs) a great deal of verbal communication between the corners and safeties. That’s the thing — it’s pretty cool to see him grow in that way. At one point early last season, he thought playing that spot (nickel corner) was a downgrade. I said, ‘No, no, no. That’s the most important guy. That’s the guy that’s setting a lot of things (in place) and making a lot of (decisions). He works with the corners, linebackers and the safeties.’ When I told him it was a position, where I have coached, that was always the most valuable spot, I think he embraced that.
“We need to do a better job on third down. We have not been as good (as we need to be) in (the first) two ballgames this season. We aren’t very good on third down right now. We have to do better.”
Did C Billy Price have a sprained ankle?
“It was a foot strain. Last night, they (the medical staff) were unsure which it was.”
What is a foot strain exactly?
“When you step on somebody’s foot (and strain it). Your foot, just like your wrist and hand, are the most intricate parts of your body (structurally). A sprain is an irritation and an inflammation (of the that area). It’s just a matter of how quickly he comes around. He seemed to be OK as he was (rousing) the crowd on (laughs). I was surprised he couldn’t come back in an emergency situation, but they felt like it was best for him not to do that.”