Opening comments: ML:
As far as the injury front goes, obviously everybody saw we put Corey Lynch on injured/Reserve and signed John Busing to fill that spot. We'll sign a fullback later today to the practice squad, so we'll be back at full strength. As far as our guys on the mend, (Ben) Utecht, (Corey) Mays, Jamar Fletcher -- all those guys should return to practice, so it should be a lot better than it had been. Some guys should be a little bit limited today because of some different ailments, but should be good to go come Sunday.
Q: Kenny Watson has seen limited action this year after leading the team in rushing last year. Is there something you saw that is not getting him playing time?ML: I think we've gotten Kenny worked back into the offense. He came out of training camp a little bit slow, and then he got injured. Then, since we've had him back and going, we've been able to work him back in. His role is usually on special teams or third down. We struggled a little bit in protection two weeks ago against the Steelers, so we'll just lean on him to pick it back up. You get opportunities as you go, and I think Kenny understands that.
Q: Chad (Ocho Cinco) said if anybody needs proof that you haven't lost the team, it's that he hasn't said anything. He said he wants the team to rally around you and win for you. How does that make you feel?ML: It feels good. I go back to a question that came up in here the other day: 'You said you like this football team' .... Well, we haven't won a game, and that part of it is difficult to like. But the things that we do and how we work and how we prepare have been very positive. We don't have the malingering that can start. You don't want that to occur. We just have to keep looking very closely at it. The guys want to win a football game, and I want them to win a game for themselves. Don't worry about me.
They can win a game for themselves would be the most important thing, because they are putting in a lot of work and time, and the coaches put in the work and the time. But their effort and energy has been there. We've got to get it channeled in the right direction and positively for 60 minutes to win a football game. We can't have the lulls or the bad plays and so forth, and if we do have a bad play, we have to be able to come out of it and get back on track. I appreciate that, and that's what our goal is this week.
Q: Do you think it is a more mature locker room (than last year)?ML: I do think in times of adversity, you can look around and see who scurries away and who's looking to hide, and I don't think we have any guys looking to hide. So in that fashion, that's good. I think the guys have taken the responsibility on themselves, and they're not pointing fingers, because there is enough to go around that we all need to do better. I think that's important.
Q: Chris Perry doesn't have a carry in the last two games; is he hurt?ML: No, he's not hurt. Obviously we moved Cedric (Benson) ahead of him. We continue to have things in the offense for Chris, but after being down 21-6 last week, we kind of get off kilter a little bit, so we don't get as many of those things off. But there were some special things when Chris was in there in the first half, and he will continue to be in there on all downs. We just had the same conversation about Kenny: Again, you've got to earn your opportunities. Chris just has to keep playing and do better at everything he's doing.
Q: What did you like about Keith Rivers' progression through the first seven weeks?ML: I was very pleased with what Keith was rounding into. Keith had his jaw wired shut Monday evening, and he was in here Thursday, and he's been here every day since. That's how important it is to him.