Opening comments: ML:
The guys who didn't practice were T.J. Houshmandzadeh with an ankle, Dexter Jackson with a calf and Rudi Johnson with a hamstring. The guys who will miss this week's game are DeDe Dorsey, Eric Ghiaciuc and Madieu Williams. Willie Anderson (hamstring), Dhani Jones (shoulder), Domata Peko (ankle) all had limited practice today. Again, we're probably in pretty good shape, as good as we've been.
As we look forward to the Dolphins ... early on in the year, I noticed a couple things saying that if they were 0-15 at this point, that when the Bengals came, that they would have a great opportunity to win their first game. Our guys are real excited to go down there and play football. It's a chance for some of our guys who are from that area to go home and play. It's going to be exciting and important for us to finish the season on a high note with another win. I was glad we came out and finished the season here at home with a win for our fans, and I know there's a large contingent of people from Cincinnati traveling to South Florida for this game, so it'll be fun.
They're a team that has some weapons offensively. They've had some injuries. But they found a couple of backs who have done a good job when they've gotten opportunities. They make people miss. they run strong. They're good cutters. They have good quickness. They've made some good plays that way. They have receivers that have explosive speed over the top, and have opportunities to make big plays that way. They have a returner in Ted Ginn who's scored four times this year. They have some weapons.
Defensively, they've really put a lot of pressure on quarterbacks throughout the season even though they haven't had leads. Teams have been able to run the football more, so their numbers are more skewed that way as far as rush defense. They've made some explosive plays in special teams. They have the ability to make plays on offense. I'm not sure which quarterback we'll see. And they're probably a little better football team defensively than what their numbers show.
Q: What about Jason Taylor makes him so good?ML:
He's got great leverage. He's got long arms. He's had an ability since he came out of Akron --- you looked at him and you knew he could be a very productive rusher in the NFL. For a guy of his body weight, he plays with good anchor. He's got leverage, can bend his knees. He's a great knee bender. He plays extremely hard and he's a smart guy. So he's what you want as a pro. He's been fun to watch in his career. He's done a fine job."
Q: You get to see another 3-4 defense. Do you have any advantage having seen it so much over the course of the season?ML:
We've played a lot of teams with the 3-4, so their looks and other things, we should be familiar with. It comes down to identification, which our guys do an excellent job at. We are used to it. You're correct in saying that, because of the identification from playing the teams in our division, week in week out.
Q: How do you feel about the rematch between Levi Jones and Joey Porter?ML:
This is a football game. What went on months ago doesn't play much into this, and shouldn't. They're both pros, and both fine pros. We have a football game to play and that's what's important.
Q: Have you seen progress in Levi Jones, since he had a few problems early in the year?ML:
I have been very pleased with what Levi has done this year. He has really kept himself going physically. He's in some pain out there, and he's not quite all the way right. I think it will take another offseason to strengthen himself to where he gets back to the form before he was injured. He's fought hard to keep himself in the lineup. The guys around him see that. They know the pain he's in and that he has to drag himself up to his feet.
Q: How important is it to have Willie Anderson back to finish the season?ML:
It means a lot to the guys. I think he shows the veteran players and the young guys what it is, and that you don't just chuck it in. You come back and play, even if there's nothing on the line. Willie had nothing on the line, except for proving how good he is, which he did last week. We saw the type of quality player that he is.
Q: Leon Hall has really come on lately:ML:
He's made a lot of plays. He does a great job of tackling. He has effective blitzes and he's obviously good in coverage. He's done a better job of playing to his strengths on each and every play, and I think that has enabled him to play with more confidence.
Q: Do you feel that with Leon (Hall), Chinedum (Ndukwe), and Marvin (White) in the backfield, it brings a tougher brand of football?ML:
The guys did a good job last week. This is a physical game, and they did a good job of tackling. The guys are young, and they make some errors, and this will be another week. One week doesn't make a season.
Q: Life in the NFL is all about change. Some of the guys in the locker room right now won't be here next year:ML:
That's part of the way it goes. That's the way the system is set up. It enables guys to go out and play extremely hard and to the best of their ability, and to reap the benefits of that.
Q: Do you anticipate offseason issues developing quickly?ML:
Don't get your hopes up. I think sometimes (media) tend to jump the gun on things. For the most part, we've redone coaches' contracts each and every year. We'll make decisions as we move forward, but we're not going to have any earth-shaking news on Monday that you can run home about. We're going to evaluate our players and coaching and try to move forward. We have to make a better football team. We have to build a team that can win games in this division week-in week-out. That's what we're going to look at. We have to make sure we get back on track. I know injuries have played a part, but that's no excuse. When you have injuries, your good players have to step up. We didn't do a good enough job as coaches.