Opening comments: ML:
On the injury front, I don't know that we really received anything significant in the game yesterday. Some bumps and bruises. I think we came out healthy and have some guys who have the opportunity to play Sunday. (Antwan) Odom, (Chinedum) Ndukwe, and David Jones will have an opportunity to get some work in this week, and possibly Levi Jones. I'm not sure where Eric Henderson and Ben Utecht will be, so we'll just have to wait on them. Kenny Watson should have an opportunity to play and Chris Perry should see more work, healing up a hamstring. Carson (Palmer) will continue on the plan to rehab and continue to throw more. He had a good week last week and he'll pick up that pace and continue on that pace today and tomorrow, and we'll see where he is for the rest of the week.
Q: Last week you said Carson Palmer was throwing 10-to-12 yard passes. Does that sound right?ML:
He is a little bit beyond that now. He's done well with everything he has done thus far. He excited about it, and we'll continue to allow him to throw farther and harder.
Q: Could you clarify when he started throwing a real football? We heard that he was going to start throwing last Friday, but he said he had been throwing all week:ML:
There was no confusion. It really doesn't matter. There is no reason for us to go backwards in looking at this.
Q: Do you have a time frame on when you have to decide on surgery for Carson?ML:
We would like to do it sooner than later. That's why we've been doing the things we've been doing.
Q: Is the surgery no longer an option?ML:
I can't say it's no longer an option, because he is not 100 percent. He'll be cleared when he is 100 percent, and he is not 100 percent, so I can't say there is not an option for surgery.
Q: How important is it that (Carson) Palmer plays this season?ML:
I don't know if you can put an importance on it. I don't think there is an answer to that question.
Q: Why not shut him down for the season?ML:
Because he would like an opportunity to play. If he is healthy and well, that's what he'll do, play football. That's what players do.
Q: Will you look for him to play at Kansas City?ML:
I don't know. I don't know if you look for him to go for Cleveland or Kansas City, but we'll see as we go through the week.
Q: Is the final test when he tries to cut loose with it?ML:
He has been cutting loose with it, it's just a matter of keeping things going. That is what an NFL quarterback does, so he'll be ready when he doesn't have any of those issues.
Q: Have you ruled him out this week?ML:
Well, yes and no. We don't have to rule anybody out until we get to Sunday. I don't think there is much chance he'll play this week, because he has not practiced with us for a while. He has not thrown the ball the distance and length we would like for him to, so again, it's unlikely he would play this coming week.
Q: Are you gaining an appreciation for the guys who are playing through a rough season?ML:
I think you have that every year, in every season. Guys can keep playing because you're going to have injury and attrition. I think we have a lot of guys doing some good things. I thought Leon (Hall) came back and played a good football game yesterday, and I think that was big for him and his confidence level, to not let the last game worry him. When you play that position out there as a cornerback, you've got to have a very, very short memory, and I thought he did a good job of that. Obviously, some young players are getting some experience that's much needed. Andre Caldwell, I think, has come in and done some good things for us, both offensively and obviously in the kicking game, both returning kicks and also covering kicks. So I think each and every week, you've got some guys coming through and stepping up and getting an opportunity to show what they can do.
Q: What about Jerome Simpson and his play?ML:
This guy has worked his tail off and unfortunately, yesterday, he didn't have all stellar football plays. But he's our guy, and he's going to be our guy for a long time. And I like him and everything about him. We've just got to get him to play better and understand his responsibilities and the competitiveness of an NFL field. You're out here playing for lunch tickets. and if you don't get it, that guy's going to take yours. So let's make sure we get it done. I think it's a good learning experience.
Sometimes the only way they get a chance to learn is to go out and play. He got more opportunity yesterday than he's gotten all year when it counted, and even though it didn't all turn out well, it was good experience for him. Something for him to grow upon. That being said, hopefully we get a chance to keep him suited up the rest of the year. Our injuries have been where they've been, and we've had the extra spots. Even though he hasn't played a lot in the games, we've had the opportunity to do some things to get him in the games. And so hopefully, I'll have some of that latitude the rest of the way with numbers.
Q: If Carson needs surgery, isn't it better to have it done sooner than later?ML:
Yes, but every indication of every football orthopedist that has seen Carson has been that there will probably be no need for surgery. Carson is going on with his rehab plan just like he's been going, and it's going to continue that way, and that's where we are. We've done everything possible, and there's no indication now that he needs surgery.
Q: The Washington Post had something about teams throwing games to get higher draft picks. Would you ever consider tanking the last few games to get a higher draft pick?ML:
I know you didn't ask me that question. Are you kidding me? Seriously. That's disrespectful to the other (media) in this room, and to the people that listen to this on radio. Come on. You're sitting there and asking a professional football coach, 'Would you lose the last three games?'. I don't think people that sit in this chair ever have that philosophy, so I don't think that would ever be an issue.
Q: How much conversation has gone on about the decisions to be made after the season with free agents?ML:
Zero. None from me.
Q: What about upstairs?ML:
I'm sure they visit all the time about things. But it's not a focus I have to deal with.
Q: Have you learned what you needed to learn about Ryan Fitzpatrick?ML:
I think we've learned a lot about Ryan. He's played 10 football games, so we know Ryan pretty well. I think Ryan has done a lot of good things. I think Ryan has done some things he'd like to have back, and that we'd like to have back, but he has not embarrassed himself in any way. I thought he did some good things yesterday. Unfortunately, a couple guys left him out to dry (receivers running wrong routes on interceptions), and it looks bad on his resume at the end of the day. Have we been as productive as we need to on offense? No. But when you're playing with a different quarterback, sometimes other guys need to step up and play better, and obviously across the board we haven't done that.
Q: You franchised Stacy Andrews; how has he done for you?ML:
Stacy's had some ups and some downs. This is the first time he's really had to go out and play for an entire season, and he's done a lot of good things. But then you see once in a while, some things where his inexperience in football shows up a little bit.
Q: How do you weed out those guys who aren't giving you an honest day's work?ML:
We have some chances to bring other guys up and play, so if that ever would get to be an issue, you wouldn't see those guys on the field.
Q: How important is it to have T.J. (Houshmandzadeh) back next year?ML:
I think T.J. obviously has a big importance to the football team, if T.J. conducts himself like a professional football player within the game and without the game, all the time. I think that's big. The guys look to T.J. for his toughness, his leadership. But a leader is a leader all the time, not just when it's easy. I think we all have to understand that. I remind T.J. about that all the time: 'I love your fire. You're ready to go, but that's all the time. Keep doing more, not less. That's important.'
Across the board, we try to get those things done, in every way with him. But he's done a great job since he's been back there returning punts. He's accepted that responsibility. He's helped us in that fashion. He's not flinched with that, and for the most part, he's made good decisions. He's had a couple where, with time on task, he'd make a different decision. I do like that, and that was one thing I wasn't quite sure about him doing, because he's had his ups and downs before with that. But he's really accepted that responsibility, and the guys up front are rallying around him, because they expect him to return a punt for a touchdown. Hopefully in the next few weeks he'll have that opportunity, because when he gets the ball in his hands, he's a dangerous runner. Again, that speaks to his ability of how he goes about and does things. He's played with pain, he plays through injury. He gets knocked around a lot in there with the third-down catches he makes all the time. You've got to respect that. Those are all things the football team needs.
Q: Is it a priority to get T.J. and Stacy signed for next year?ML:
I would be speculating. We'd like to have them both back. Whether we can afford both of them within the cap, and what they're looking for, I can't tell you that. But we'd like to have them both back, and we'll work hard to get them both here and back. Both guys have been starting football players for us all season, and I think they still have a lot of football left in them, which is also important. I think they have the ability to produce at a high level, even a higher level than they are.
Q: With the offense's struggles, how does that affect big-picture decisions? It's a different dynamic now, isn't it?ML:
We should probably focus a little bit more on the Redskins and not worry about what we don't need to worry about right now.
Q: How did Andrew Crummey do?ML:
Andrew was in there the last five, six, seven, eight plays and I thought handled himself pretty well. The biggest thing with Andrew is it's been an adjustment to center. He was obviously with the Redskins in training camp. He played in three of their five preseason games at center, which was really his first experience ever at being a center, so we're still just getting him work with the snaps and blocking and things like that. If I have an appreciation of a position, it's offensive center.
Q: How important is it for you to face the Redskins, since you came from there? Is it personal?ML: Every time I go out there on Sunday it's personal. You know that. Do you think I just go out there because it's fun? No. It's personal every week. Every game is personal. There's not one more personal than the other. It's a big game for us.