Opening comments: ML:
On the injury front, with the release of Dave Rayner, its evident we feel Shayne Graham will be back and ready to resume his duties this week. Glenn Holt should be back and running this week. Guys in a questionable category would be Jerome Simpson, Antonio Chatman and Nate Lawrie. Jamar Fletcher will get limited work today or zero, but has an opportunity to play this week. And I think that's kind of where we end up with (Andre) Caldwell being down; (Corey) Mays to be down. And Kenny Watson's good to go.
Q: How about Ben Utecht?ML: Ben will try to do some things this week.
Q: What do you think about Eric Henderson's progress?ML: Eric's done a nice job for us. He really has worked. We've been working with Eric at linebacker over the last three weeks, since Corey (Mays) got injured. Because of the 3-4 teams, we've been using him as one of the outside linebackers. He's done a nice job.
Q: You haven't given up big games to the well known WRs that you've played. Is that a byproduct of the cornerbacks' skills or of the defensive scheme?ML: That's a good question there. It's a combination of both, really. Those guys are good players. They've been the focal points of offenses. Ironically, when we played those guys, we were down a little bit because we didn't have Johnathan Josephs services at those points. So we really had to pay particular attention. I thought Leon (Hall) did a nice job in those games when he drew those coverages. So we just have to continue this week do a great job. This guy (Houstons Andre Johnson) is a fine player. And then Kevin (Walter) on the other side is really having a good season. Kevin has continued just to be the player we thought he would be and just keep growing.
Q: Talk about Leon Hall and his steps from last year:ML: Leon had a strong season last year. At the start, some things showed up in his play that really hadn't showed up in the preseason, and early on he was trying to maybe get a little too much done. But he settled down and finished strong, and I think he's picked up basically where he left off last season. He is having a strong year.
Q: Do you think Hall has flourished under Mike Zimmer (defensive coordinator)? He had the same style coaching when he was in college, right? ML: Well, actually, he was not really coached as much that way in college. They did a lot of different things there. I think Johnathan (Joseph) probably had more of that at South Carolina than Leon had at Michigan. They did a lot of things at Michigan. So he came here having a pretty good understanding of different concepts, whether it be man, zones, two-deep, three-deep, four-deeps. He had a good feel for that.
Q: You're somewhere you haven't been before at 0-7. Is there a particular effort to keep the guys focused, keep the locker room?ML: I think it's a concern if you didn't have good guys. And I think we're fortunate right now to still have a good, spirited group. We have guys who understand and want to be looked upon as good players, and so they're competing not only for a chance to play here on this team, but to win and be successful. And I've got to keep a close eye on that, to make sure that if we weren't getting the effort, we have some depth in some places. And I think that also drives guys to do things right and correctly. Myself, I've got to make sure the coaches understand we've got to pay closer detail to everything. That's important, whether it be in the meeting rooms ... everything we do, and how we go about it. We can't let anything slide because we haven't been good enough. So obviously there's something, somewhere that we're not quite getting done. And so we've got to make sure that in no way do we backslide anywhere.
Q: Has there been anything done from the players' level down to help maintain that?ML: I think our captains have done a good job of that. Even Carson (Palmer), who's been injured, continues to be a big voice and a strong leader, which is difficult to do when you're not playing. I commend him for that and hope he continues to reinforce that among the guys. He's been a great supporter of Ryan (Fitzpatrick) and everything Ryan's doing, and a sounding board. The roles got reversed a little bit.
I think Bobbie Williams has just gone over and above in his role to try to shore up some things where everybody's questioning some things. And trying to get that group to continue to play well and play better together. I think Dexter (Jackson) being injured ... it was difficult for him because he gets frustrated. And so I think he did a good job of coming through that period of time, and now he's back playing again and hopefully will play better this week than he played last week.
T.J. (Houshmandzadeh) is a little sore right now with the ankle, and he's got to continue to do the same thing. So I think all the guys elected a captain have their own challenges and their own mantra they've got to carry into each and every meeting, each and every session, each and every practice, each and every period.
Q: Your receivers have a reputation for being volatile, but they've remained in check, and their tempers haven't gotten the best of them:ML: I think that's been good. As we've said in here, you don't have to look any further than the end of your nose to analyze why things are the way they are. And I think they've taken that to heart, to understand that they are two guys or a group that can do something about it, and play better, and they have. I think they've risen to that occasion. Obviously it's like anything else - when you're down in an area, another area's got to pick up and play better. I think it's important for those guys to be better now than they were when Carson was quarterback. I think that's important for our football team to come to that realization. Carson is not there. So in every other area, we've got to do better, because Ryan's got to be Ryan and really take care of his job. Everybody else has to be better on alignments, assignments, and things like that. Which is really what we said after the game on Sunday, that everybody else has to play better in order for him to function at the level where we think he can function.
Q: You're playing the first 4-3 since the Giants. Is there any difference for you at all?ML: There's quite a bit of difference offensively. You've got to go back and look at things again, and that was the first statements made this morning in my team meeting for the offensive players, and in the offensive game plan meeting. The guys came in yesterday to get their initial thoughts and openings, so I think that's important. Yes, it is a transition.
Q: On the Texans:ML: This is a very talented football team. (Mario) Williams, the end, is as good as we've seen. He's a fine, fine pass rusher and has great leverage. They make some things happen offensively. They're very strong. They do a lot of great things in their passing game. They can run the football. (Steve) Slaton has given them another back to go along with Ahman Green. They're doing a good job. Their tight end is really a fine receiver of the football and we've talked about the receivers earlier. And I think Matt Schaub is doing a nice job.
Q: You had your best offensive performance vs. the Giants. Is that a coincidence or was it something where you matched up well against the 4-3?ML: I think it would be more coincidental.