Opening comments: ML:
"I'll begin with the game coming up on Sunday evening against the Lions. We should have a couple of guys back with a chance to play that didn't play last week, so we're looking forward to that. We'll possibly have Rudi Johnson and DeDe Dorsey as two of the guys in the backfield. Otherwise, our health is pretty good other than (Dan) Santucci, who we won't have this week. I don't know that we'll have any of the other guys back. We're getting closer, but I don't think they'll be available Sunday night."
Q: On that same note, is there any update on (Chinedum) Ndukwe?ML:
"No, other than that he has a lower leg injury and he'll be out until he's healed."
Q: Is there anything on (Antwan) Odom?ML:
Q: Can T.J. (Houshmandzadeh) come back to practice this week?ML:
"I don't know. We'll see. He's progressing well, but he's got to get to the point where he can pass some of the tests we have them pass before they're allowed to practice. At this point he hasn't been able to continually do those things."
Q: When you're dealing with a hamstring injury, how much more on the side of caution do you err?ML:
"You don't err on the side of caution, you just have to make sure the guy is able to come back and practice and sustain it. Then you've got to kind of wean him back through practice. First they have to pass some progressive tests through both the medical staff and the strength staff before you can say that they're even able to spend time with their coaches, because sometimes it's difficult for the coaches to ration out the reps that way. Sometimes the player gets into it and does too much and gets the muscle fatigued, and he has a chance to re-injure it. You just want to make sure that when they come back, they don't do that."
Q: Do you have a big-picture perspective on camp as you wind down?ML:
"Camp doesn't end until you finish your preseason. The only thing that's going to change is that we're going to move back to Cincinnati, but that's not going to change how we do things. I think it's been good. I think we've come out of this camp a little healthier, a little stronger. We will be rested and we won't be tired. As we enter the season, I think our guys have worked extremely hard. During camp, the temperatures haven't been as hot as what we've had during previous summers. That's a little disappointing to me, I'm sure not to the players. We've done good work. This is a great atmosphere, a great setting for us. We have very little distraction here and that's a good thing."
Q: Do you think the 80-man roster has played into the health of the team?ML:
"We're forbidden and we don't need to talk about the 80-man roster. That's what the rules state, so it is what it is."
Q: With Dan Santucci out, you've been practicing some with your emergency centers, Bobbie Williams and Andrew Whitworth. Do you expect them to play in some of the games?ML:
"At some point we'll let those guys take some live snaps, but first we want to make sure they progress through some steps and you feel good enough about them where they can do some of the things they need to do. That includes both snapping the ball and blocking a guy that's either on them or in front of them in a way that really counts where they can touch the quarterback."
Q: What have you seen from Andrew Whitworth during training camp and do you see him utilizing his versatility?ML:
"I think Andrew has picked up where he left off last season. I think he left last season as the emerging leader in the offensive line group. He was there throughout the season last year, played all 16 games. I don't think he's taken any steps sideways or backward, but continues to move forward. He understands the game. He understands playing up front and the nuances of it. He's very blessed with an innate awareness of what's going on across the ball from him. He has a great vision of that and he's able to communicate that to the guys he plays with."
Q: Do you see Whitworth being more effective on pulls this year?ML:
"I think he pulled on powers and things last year all the time, so that really hasn't changed."
Q: Can you shed some light on how Willie (Anderson) has helped some of the guys in front of him?ML:
"I think Willie's been a great pro. Last year he was injured. I've stated this 20 times now, there was kind of a changing of the guard, which there had to be. He's been able to come back and compete to play and start, and he's working hard at that when he gets his opportunities, so that's all you can ask from him. He wants to have a chance to be on this football team, he wants an opportunity to start on this football team and if he doesn't, you know he'll play whenever and wherever he's needed. He's done a good job of that. He's been a great lighthouse for those guys, almost a watchtower for those guys on how to do things. He's shown them the way and how to prepare, both physically and mentally, so he's been a great mentor for all those guys up front."
Q: How would you grade the overall experience at Georgetown College?ML:
"It's a good experience for us, it really is. They go out of their way to do everything they can. The players kind of get in their own niches. They'd like to have a certain sandwich grilled a certain way, for example, and the food service people go out of their way to do that. There are not many places where you can go to training camp and have the linens and towels in your room changed every day like they have here, or have individual rooms like they have here. It's a good set-up for that. Everything is in walking distance; you don't ever have to drive anywhere. We can lock this place down as tightly as we need to, and if someone is intruding from outside, we can see them coming a mile away."
Q: You and Chad (Johnson) both mentioned the fact that he talked to Ray Lewis and got some good advice. Can you rehash exactly what you know of that conversation?ML:
"That's really personal to Chad and Ray, so we'll let it stay at that."
Q: Did you help facilitate that conversation at all?ML:
"No, Ray and Chad have had a relationship since Chad came to the NFL, and they talk quite frequently."
Q: What do you know about Ray's character that can help Chad?ML:
"I know that Ray was a very, very good player on a team that wasn't very good for a long time, that never won eight games, never won a division championship. He never said a word other than, 'How do I find a way to make my team better? To make the players around me better, to help them get better? How do I get better?' That's all he worried about. He didn't worry about anybody else and I think that's a great lesson. He never pointed a finger; he never said a coarse word. He didn't worry about himself; he just worried about how his team could get better. When he went to Pro Bowls, he tried to suck all the knowledge he could from the guys around him. He was a great learner that way. He wasn't interested in going and doing things he wasn't involved in. He learned to limit the people around him. He really went about his business that way. He's put together differently, there's no doubt about it. Ray was a natural leader from the day we drafted him and the day he walked into that facility, and he's never changed."
Q: Can that attitude become contagious at the NFL level, or are guys set in their ways by the time they get here?ML:
"I think a strong leader such as he (Ray Lewis) is, there can be some of that, where he can help mentor and steer guys the right way and they can follow his lead. You have to be strong because you have to stand out in front. You have to be willing to take some of the bullets and not let that affect you. You might have to duck and let them go over your head every once in a while, but you have to keep taking them and that's what a position of leadership is all about."
Q: Do you have enough similar players like that?ML:
"I think we're gaining some guys like that, and that's good."
Q: How impressed have you been with (Ben) Utecht and what he's done in the preseason?ML:
"Ben's doing a good job of learning in a new offense and knowing what his responsibilities are, who to block and how to block them, where to line up in formations, and so forth. When he gets an opportunity, he's going to do a good job receiving the football. We know that. He'll add another aspect to our offense. He's been, as we thought, a great addition. He's also a great pro and a fine young man. He's good to have."
Q: Where do you think Chad (Johnson) is physically? How close is he to being ready?ML:
"He practiced a lot better yesterday than he did last week. He now has some confidence that he didn't quite have. That was good last night, to see him practice the way he did. I think in all areas of his life, things opened up for him, which is good."
Q: As you leave Georgetown, where do you think you are defensively?ML:
"I think we're in good shape. I thought the guys did a nice job when we played Monday night, and we just have to keep building on that. We need to do a little bit better job on third down. I think the disappointing thing was we allowed them (Green Bay) to covert a couple of third downs and we have to do a little bit better in that situation. Otherwise, I think it was a good start. We didn't have a lot of missed assignments and I think the coaches were pleased with that. I think physically, they'll continue to get better and be a little sharper at things. We had a guy or two that missed some tackles and that's something that's an innate part of his position and his job. He's got to get it done."
Q: Were you surprised that (Keith) Rivers stepped in and played as well as he did after going through just a few practices?ML:
"I wasn't surprised. I expected Keith to play well. He's playing a spot that he's played his entire life. He had a couple of things that he could do a little better, but he played well. He and Brandon (Johnson) both played very well."