The focus now is on the last preseason game as we go over to Indy, and it's kind of a twofold thing, with some guys really fighting hard for positions, and a couple key guys having their first opportunities to play in the preseason. We have this time, and a long week next week, to get guys healthy and back. Playing the last game on Thursday hits us at a good spot this year. It gives us an extra day before the final cut and an extra day to be on the mend prior to the Sunday game (Sept. 7 at Baltimore). We've had another good week, and I see some of the younger guys, particularly the draft pick players, progressing well, which is what we want to see. Unfortunately, two of them (Andre Caldwell and Pat Sims) are injured. But the guys that are out there and practicing are making some strides.
Q: How much are T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Rudi Johnson going to play?ML:
I'm going to play that by ear, let my eyes work and do it that way. We'll see how things go. They've been able to practice, get through the practices and do pretty well.
Q: Carson Palmer won't play?ML:
He will not play. He didn't practice today or yesterday, so he won't play.
Q: Any updates on Rudi?ML:
No updates on Rudi other than he practiced the last two days. He's splitting the work. I think he's come through the practices pretty well. I didn't detect that he had any soreness yesterday, and he practiced better today, which is good.
Q: Is Rudi still in the plans for this season?ML:
He's still working, fighting for a job just like everybody else is, right? That's the way it is. This is his first chance this year. I haven't seen (him), so that's the big thing. That's the thing I think I told you guys about last year. We counted on some guys who weren't able to do much in the preseason, and they didn't necessarily come through with flying colors. I think that's important for where we are this year as a team, particularly that we see and have a feel for that. If you enter the season a little beat up and injured, it can take a toll on you as you go down the road. Sometimes you may have no choice. I wish (Rudi) had been able to play last week, but hopefully this week he'll be able to show us that he's ready to go.
Q: We saw that Dexter Jackson had a boot on:ML:
He sprained his ankle yesterday. Hopefully it'll be resolved by Monday. As you know, the protocol nowadays is to slap guys in the protective boot so they don't reinjure themselves just walking around. He was very diligent with it, in here early this morning. Our plan is to get him ready for Monday so he can be ready for next Sunday.
Q: Antwan Odom also?ML:
Antwan should be ready to go Monday at practice.
Q: Any reaction to the rumors that Rudi is on the trading block?ML:
No, because you just said it - it's rumor, and it really makes no sense for me to confirm or deny anything unless something is done one way or another with a player. The time of the year it is, everybody is a rumor right now.
Q: Is Chinedum (Ndukwe) making progress?ML:
He is. He's making good progress ahead of schedule. He and Chad (Johnson) I think are both doing well. Chad obviously will be out there Monday, but if we can just hide his gear and make sure he doesn't have a uniform this Thursday night. I don't know that Chinedum will be out there Monday, but I think he will be a little quicker than we expected.
Q: So you'll be willing to hold a roster spot for Chinedum?ML:
Yes... Don't tell him that (laughs).
Q: A lot of players were saying the offensive line wasn't the lone culprit in all of the sacks given up in the Saints game:ML:
Yeah, there were some other entities, as I alluded to after the game. There is no advantage for us to be very specific, but we shared the blame pretty well. It's a little bit like where we were at the beginning of last season, until we got everybody ironed out and straightened out. But they all shared the blame, including the quarterback. We just have to do better, and we will. It was a good test, and I knew it would be. I told you guys in a press conference that it would be a good test for us, to check some things out and make sure we were on point about some things. It worked out that way. No pun intended, but when you get your nose bloodied you get ready to go.
Q: It seems that the visual of Carson and his bloody face stuck with a lot of the players:ML:
The fact that he stayed in for two more plays, I think is what he is all about. If we'd had the ball for six more plays, he would have been in there for six more plays and finished the drive. Unfortunately we didn't, but that just shows the guy he is, how he goes about his job and his business.
Q: How did Jeremi Johnson fare in his first snaps of the preseason?ML:
Once he got going, he did pretty well. We didn't make enough first downs for anybody to get very winded. We're going to try to get Jeremi some more snaps come Thursday night, definitely.
Q: Can you clarify the gray area regarding the right side of the offensive line?ML:
I don't think it's been very gray over there. It's been Stacy Andrews (at T) and Bobbie Williams (at G), with Willie (Anderson) as one of the backups (at RT). Scott Kooistra would back up both guards. Andrew Whitworth (starting LG) would be the first backup at (left) tackle. I think we are in pretty good shape in the depth of our offensive line and maybe better shape than we've ever been. Scott Kooistra continues to show his value to the team as a veteran player we can count on.
Q: You were adamant during the offseason about running the football. But the last couple of games, it doesn't seem to have played out that well:ML:
I thought we ran the ball real well against the Lions. We did a nice job running the football in the first half. We didn't do as well as we wanted last week. We had eight or nine guys doing what they were supposed to, but we had one or two guys who missed, and they made a play, and we didn't. Again, we are still in the preseason. When it counts, we'll see what happens.
Q: Last week you mentioned that (Chris) Perry would be likely to start the opener (against Baltimore). What would Rudi (Johnson) have to do Thursday to get the start?ML:
He would have to come in and show that he is a better ball carrier and everything else that we ask that position to do. Also, to see if he can withstand the pounding.
Q: Could he do that in one night?ML:
I can't answer that question. We'll see.
Q: It seems like the Saints decided to one-on-one the receivers, fill the box on running situations and blitz some people. With the receivers that were out there, do you think that anyone of them could have the advantage with one-on-one victories?ML:
We didn't prepare to get into the one-on-one matchups. Jerome Simpson has been performing very well. We've had three practices since the game, and he continues to impress us. I've been very pleased with him, and he continues to grow every day. All the athleticism is there, it's just learning what to do in certain situations. You keep seeing the progress, and the bright light of him playing faster. Glenn Holt has turned it on as well, and that has been good. Those two guys have risen up and done some good things, whereas I was disappointed with Glenn in the earlier weeks; he must have been hearing me.
Q: Is Jerome (Simpson) catching on more quickly than you thought?ML:
Every time we turn on the lights, he plays better. He has responded very well in the games. It hasn't gotten too big for him.
Q: Have you put any thought in a backup center yet?ML:
We have, but I'll let that one go until we need a backup center.