Our most serious injury yesterday was Frostee Rucker with the hamstring injury. We should know later today just how serious the injury is. Stemming from a week ago, Johnathan Joseph's foot has flared up, and we will know evaluate where he is. Ben Utecht had a hip pointer, he will just be sore. Robert Geathers and David Jones will also be sore and we'll see how they go as the week progresses. That's where we are injury-wise. Some of the guys who missed last week are better and we should know more on each of them on Wednesday.
Q: Is (Antwan) Odom seriously hurt?ML:
Well he is hurt to the point where he has missed the last two weeks. He seems to be coming around, so we'll see. We might be able to tell you a little more on Wednesday.
Q: Does he (Odom) need surgery?ML:
He hasn't had surgery yet, so no.
Q: Is (Robert) Geathers a knee?ML:
Yeah, he had a hyperextension of the knee.
Q: In last night's game, Pittsburgh came out and had the ball 11 minutes in the third quarter:ML:
They were able to control the clock. We had a couple three-and-outs offensively, so that was a factor as well as what happened when they had the ball. We missed reads, dropped some balls, and had some balls tipped at the line of scrimmage which kept us from getting completions. We really didn't possess the ball in the third quarter. We let field position get away from us, but still we are only one score behind going into the fourth quarter. We allowed them to physically finish the football game on us, both by completing third downs and our inability to get the ball in the end zone.
Q: Do you know if there will be any change in Carson (Palmer)'s status this week?ML:
Well, his status is changing. It's been good. Like I said before, it's been pretty positive, and maybe I can give you a little more information on that Wednesday.
Q: Sounds like you are more optimistic than you have been the past few weeks:ML:
I've always been optimistic about it. I think you guys are the ones always pessimistic.
Q: Do you think he has a shot at playing against Baltimore this week?ML:
I don't think so, no. Chances are slim that he would play against Baltimore.
Q: I want to go back to the NFL.com story from yesterday. If I may, I would like to get your intent right -- are you putting blame on yourself again? ML:
It's always my fault. Yeah, I am.
Q: Are you saying you're on the hot seat?ML:
I'm not saying I'm on the hot seat. I have a responsibility here. We are not playing well offensively. We dropped two passes (at Pittsburgh), we missed assignments in the running game, we missed tackles defensively. These things happen every game, but when you lose a division game, a game to the Steelers like that, they hurt more. We had some chances -- their guy errantly touches the punt, so we get the ball right there before halftime, and we have an opportunity to get some points on the board. We can't advance the ball very far to even get a chance at a field goal. So there are some things. And those things matter.
One of our things coming into the year was to be the least-penalized team in the league. We're pretty good at that, but we have careless things still occurring that we have a chance to eliminate. When you're playing on a small margin of error, those things are important. We did a better job protecting our passer, but we still didn't get the ball downfield. Conversely, their touchdowns were plays that were very easily defensed. To see us make errors in the game, it's saddening, but it's reflective of me. It comes back to me. It's my job to get it right.
Q: Is there anything bigger-picture that has to be done differently?ML:
Bigger-picture wise, I think everybody had a false sense of how good some players and some positions were here. I think that is evident. We have to better job of looking harder, and pushing harder, and getting people in the right spots all the time, and deeper, so when we have injuries, we can overcome that.
Q: Did Chad (Ocho Cinco) let the team down?ML:
I think any time a player has a thing that occurs like that you let your teammates down.
Q: Was Chad (Ocho Cinco) back today for treatment? ML:
Yes. He is dealing with a sore knee right now that cropped up on him later last week. He worked on Tuesday, and he was sore on Wednesday. So next week we want to make sure he is 100 percent ready to go.
Q: Is there going to be more discipline from Chad's incident?ML:
I don't foresee any more at all. I think the incident is behind us. He understands why it happened and how it had to be rectified. He accepted his punishment, as you know.
Q: Deion Sanders said that Chad (Ocho Cinco) apologized to you and the team. Is that true, and does he need to do that?ML:
How he deals with his teammates, he's going to have to handle that. It's hard for us to sit here and try to figure out whether it's necessary or not. I think everybody understood what I did and why. Our conversions, per Chad and I, don't need to be for public record.
Q: Does the deactivation send a message to team members?ML:
I think any time that you have to sit a player down, it sends a message to players because that's the only thing they get and understand. I don't know how many times I've said that. Money sometimes isn't as important to players as people would think it is, but playing time is very important. That's their livelihood, that's how they extend themselves, that's what they do, and that's important to them. So when you take away playing time, that's the loudest voice they hear.
Q: Chad had a 113-game streak of not missing a game:ML:
Well, he's been durable, and it is what it is. It's over and behind us. We'll move forward and I'm sure he'll be open to answering your questions very briefly next week.
Q: Other coaches around the league - John Fox at Carolina with Steve Smith, and Tom Coughlin at the Giants with Plaxico Burress - have had to deal with player discipline similarly this year. As the head coach, where do you draw the line to take such a step?ML:
Well, there are steps in the progression that you need to take through things. It's a matter of the degree of the incident; whether it's a fine, whether it's you don't start, you don't play this quarter, you don't play this half, you're inactive for a game, or you're suspended by the club. Whatever it may be, there are some steps along the way that you work through and progress through.
Q: To clarify, the deactivation was not a suspension and did not cost him a full game check, correct?ML:
Well, he will be fined, but you cannot fine him 1/17 of his salary. It's not a suspension. He will be fined for disciplinary action that usually comes for all players.
Q: How do you change how players are evaluated?ML:
I didn't say that. I said sometimes people make it through on what they did in the past, and you have to be careful to watch that. We tried to change some of that, and we made some change, but you've got to be careful, and we've got to make sure of that. It is difficult because you can end up with some injuries at different positions as you leave training camp, so maybe you're not able to address an area that's weaker than you'd like it to be because you're too busy addressing an area that's injured right now. You're trying to tape that one together, and you have to go without somewhere else because you're not able to move the right people in and out at the right spots. I think we've already addressed a lot of that, because we'll go into the offseason with a much younger football team because of all of the rookies and the guys we have right now that are playing, rather than some of the 7-to-12 year veterans we had a year ago at this point.
Q: Cris Collinsworth said your team needs to get tougher to succeed in this division; do you question the toughness?ML:
I don't question our toughness. I don't think anybody has questioned the toughness of our football team here in Cincinnati. You've got me responding to somebody else's comments again. If you want to ask the question, don't frame somebody else's name on it.
Q: What did you learn about Anthony Collins and Nate Livings yesterday vs. Pittsburgh?ML:
I thought they handled the situation, the bright lights, well. Obviously there's a way to go, but it wasn't like they wet their pants or anything. They stayed in there and fought and played very tough. That was good. But, again, we didn't win the football game, we didn't run the football very effectively, and we didn't get enough first downs offensively, so there's not a lot to be real happy about.
You have a lot of young guys playing now because of injuries; how much can you see from them over the last five weeks and how will it impact your decisions in the off-season?
I'm going to try to see as much as I can. We're going to try to get as many of the young guys involved as we can, to get their feet wet, so their second year is not like they came off a redshirt, that they had a chance to get their feet wet and understand what it takes, the physicality of the AFC North Division and what it takes to play in it and win football games in it. Certainly, we thought we were the most physical team for a long time, but we lost that, because we lost to the Steelers twice this year. We'll get it back, though. I can promise Cris (Collinsworth) that. We'll be fine.
Q: It sounds like you are anticipating being here in the offseason; you said in the nfl.com story that you want to see some changes here:ML:
Well, I wish it wasn't quite framed that way. But sometimes, as you know, some things get taken a little bit out of context from where the question was going, and it looks better framed the other way. The big thing is, for everybody -- Cincinnati Bengals fans and the organization -- it's important that all of us put together a better football team. We're going to continue to work at it these last five games, try to win these last five football games and end the season with a better taste in our mouths than we have right now after losing the game last night. So that makes a big difference. That's what's important to me: if we win these last five games, starting with Baltimore coming here next Sunday in front of our fans, who were very loud and disruptive a week ago against the Eagles. We've had the same kind of atmosphere when we've played the Ravens here. Four of these five teams that we're playing have an opportunity to get to the playoffs. We have a chance to say who goes, and we're going to do everything in our power -- everything in my power -- to win these games and help determine that.
Q: And then after those five games:ML:
After those five games, it'll be the offseason and I'll have to answer a whole different bunch of questions from you.