Opening comments: ML:
Keith Rivers will have his jaw reset later this afternoon. If all goes as planned, he'll go to the Reserve/Injured list. Andre Caldwell has a slight stress facture in his foot, so he'll be missing a few weeks. It may be a little quicker than later with him. Ben Utecht looks like he may be able to play if we have a spot for him. Looks like we'll get a couple guys back, Jamar Fletcher and Corey Mays are both close. Probably lost a couple guys for a while, obviously Keith (Rivers) for the rest of the year and Andre (Caldwell) for at least a few weeks. Others have bumps and bruises and we'll see where they are toward the end of the week. Glenn (Holt) should be ready to go this week.
I said yesterday, it was 12:38 left to go in the football game, where it's a seven-point game, and things began to dissolve in a lot of ways. We go incomplete pass against a spread check, they get pressure (on the QB), a run for zero, and then a sack. We punt the ball and defend against a first down and second down, and on third-down-and-seven, we allow a completion to convert a first down. Soon after that we allow the big play for the touchdown. Very quickly things dissolve with the three dropped passes in the fourth quarter and the negative plays on the sacks and fumble. Defensively, the run off the goal line, where we don't fill the gaps right, was bad. We have to do a better job on that. It really comes down to trust offensively. We have to make sure everybody gets things done the right way, with no compensation. Whether it's the quarterback, the upfront guys or the receivers, everybody has to trust that we're going to be in the right spots. That led to our slow start in the game and not being consistent throughout the game.
I thought we did do some things better. We made some people miss in the running game. Our receivers ran better with the ball after the catch, but we still need to keep working on that. Defensively, we have to continue to not allow teams to execute on third downs, and we have to get the ballcarrier tackled and the receivers covered. Special teams, we got new guys in new spots over the last few weeks, and they're doing the right things more often. We did have penalties that hurt us, although we haven't had many this year. We have to keep that up on special teams. We have to do better punting the football. We lost a lot of field position yesterday in the punting game. Kyle (Larson) is a better punter than that. Over the last couple of weeks he hasn't done that well, and we have to find what we can do to help him improve.
Q: After Carson (Palmer's) broken nose and (Keith) Rivers' broken jaw, is there anything you can do to retaliate against teams?ML: Carson's nose got bloodied when he was in the process of getting tackled.
Q: Still, a team can't stand to have their quarterback injured:ML: When you tackle somebody, you tackle as violently as you can tackle. That's part of the game. If somebody's hand inadvertently gets inside the helmet, there's not much we can do about it. We don't retaliate on the NFL football field. We're not going to condone it. It's not part of the game. It's a personal foul. It's stupid. It hurts your football team. You play within the rules, as hard as you can play.
Q: Was Hines Ward's hit clean?ML: There was not a foul. There were no flags thrown.
Q: You mentioned lacking trust on the offense. Are you talking about guys trying to do more than their assignment calls for?ML: There's a lot of things that go into it. I wouldn't say more, but make sure that you're doing your part and allow it to work. Don't compensate. Make sure that everybody's in the right spots. Don't shorten things down. Don't flatten things out. Let's make sure we get to the right spots, the way it was coached and the way it was practiced. I think that's the most important thing, the way it was practiced all week. Don't compensate and try to farm somebody else's crops.
Q: Cedric Bensons 15-yard run was the longest against Pittsburgh all season. Will you start him again?ML: We'll see about that later in the week.
Q: Chad (Ocho Cinco) said the same thing about practicing well but not executing it in games. Are guys panicking in the games?ML: I don't think panic. But you have to apply it under pressure. You have to be cool and more consistent in your repetition of it, and go ahead and execute it in the framework of the game. Sometimes things appear differently in the games than what they appeared in practice. I think the execution of that, whether it be Chad running a route or whoever it may be, it's got to be the same, because the quarterback is counting on that. Just like he's counting on the ball being in a certain spot, and everybody up front is counting on things being a certain way. The backs are counting on things being blocked a certain way. The same thing happens on defense. That's what we have to do to make sure we can go through those tough times. It's not ever going to be 100 percent, but we want to make sure we get as close to it as we can. We seem to be able to kind of get our way right during the game, but we have to start better and we obviously have to finish better.
Q: Is that a byproduct of a poor start to the game or the season?ML: I don't know. I think that would be stretching things.
Q: Whats the plan with Carson this week, and is he definitely out?ML: Yeah, Carson will be out this week.
Q: Is he going to rest again, or is he back to doing things in practice?ML: He'll rest the arm again this week.
Q: What did you see yesterday in your rookies Andre Caldwell, Jerome Simpson and Pat Sims?ML: Well, starting with Pat (Sims), I think he did better things in the game than he did two weeks ago when he got his first chance to play. And we'll continue to get him more and more snaps. I think it's feeling good to him. He's having fun and he's realizing, 'You know what, I can do this. And they brought me here for the right reasons.' And that's a good thing for a young player because being injured like he was in the preseason, he didn't get a lot of looks. All his time was spent without pads on in the springtime.
I think Andre came in and did a great job, a nice job, returning kicks. He did it just as it was practiced, and there was some trust there that things were going to get done the way they were practiced. He did a great job of reading the returns and setting the returns the way he was coached to do it. I was proud of that, that he was able to handle it.
Jerome got his first catch. Jerome was also in there on kickoff returns after Andre went out. We're trying to get Jeromes role expanded, and were trying to get him more involved in the offense as we go forward here. The biggest thing for him is to be able to handle what's going to happen once the ball's snapped. We're spending a lot of time with Jerome on that. We got him out there early, we got him out there late, we got him there extra, making sure that everything we do, he understands. Everybody thinks it's easy to just throw those receivers out there, but when you throw a guy out there that's not quite sure what to do, you can get the quarterback hit. And we've talked about that before.
Q: Since Bob Bratkowski has been here, the team has protected the QB well, and it's pretty much the same guys upfront that have been here the entire time:ML: They have. We've just got to go back and lean on them to trust that they're going to work in conjunction, seven guys, five guys, whatever it is. Six guys work in conjunction and get the ball up and out.
Q: Cedric Benson seems to run with decisiveness. What do you like about him?ML: He runs well behind his pads. I think he is decisive and quick at the cuts. We want to keep working hard with him in all the other areas, but he's done a good job as a ball carrier.
Q: Cedric is on a one-year deal. Would you like to have him back next year?ML: He is on a one-year deal and he's doing a good job. We'll get to those things as we get later in the season.
Q: Last week you talked about getting to the perimeter guys a lot. You took some shots downfield yesterday:ML: As long as we can keep the ball in our hands long enough to throw it down there. We got some shots off, and we've got to keep doing it. We didn't complete either one. We had to run through a little bit of a holding on the one to Chad, but he did a good job of running through the holding, but just couldn't get to the ball. We're not getting any breaks right now downfield on any of those kind of calls. But he got grabbed pretty good as he was running. We just need to keep it up, keep the timing of it up. We're getting them done in practice, and we're setting them up and we're building them the right way, so we can get it back to being our advantage. We used to be very, very good at that, and we fell off of it a little bit, and we're going to keep working at it so that we can make that part of our offense again.
Q: Do you see Chris Henry improving?ML: I think Chris, assignment-wise, has got to keep coming around. He had some catches yesterday, but we just have to be more consistent in everything that were doing. Obviously it was just his third week back, but we've got things for him designed and we've got to keep working that. He's got to keep understanding all of the looks and the different coverages and apply them (to the games).
Q: Does the trust factor have to do with the speed of the game being different than speed of practice?ML: It's not much different in practice. We don't have a speed for practice and a speed for the games, I hope. Our practices, we want to make sure that they stay that way, and it's important that we practice the right tempo because the quarterback needs that kind of timing. It's hard to practice that, because you can't predict every coverage you get, every look and every front. So with some, you have to have an understanding of what you're supposed to do, based on, 'If it's this, and then it's this.'
We can't dictate exactly how they line up and always put them into the places we had them in practices. If there are 8-10 different coverages that they play, it's hard to predict and get every play matched up, particularly passes against every coverage. So some of it has to come from experience and understanding the leverage and what the route is supposed to be.
Q: It's tough when they are disguising coverages:ML: Right, because some of it happens late at the snap, and you have to understand it, and you've got to be able to convert it in your mind and transfer it to the quarterback.
Q: With Cedric (Benson) getting more involved, and Kenny Watson seeing more action, where does that leave Chris Perry?ML: Chris has got to keep working and doing the things he was doing earlier in the season and keep earning an opportunity. When he's called upon he's got to be ready to go and be ready to do it the correct way.