Opening comments: ML:
The guys who didn't participate in today's practice were: Caleb Miller, Justin Smith, John Thornton and Kenny Watson. I expect to have half of those guys back tomorrow. Willie (Anderson), we'll list as out for this week, as well as Ahmad Brooks. That's where we are injury-wise.
Q: Is it nice to have Rudi (Johnson) back?ML:
Yeah, it was good to have Rudi. He seems to be at full speed and is ready to go.
Q: With Kenny Watson out with concussion, what is your policy on concussions?ML:
Kenny will be back tomorrow. He cleared during the game, but our medical staff here has had a really high, high standard on that stuff, at least since I've been here. Anybody that has ever lost consciousness for whatever brief period has never been allowed to return to action, which is why they wouldn't have allowed Kenny to go back into the game if we had gone back on offense, because for a brief moment he did (lose consciousness). That's out of my hands, it's in their hands, and as soon as that occurs it's a done deal. They've already had a very high standard on that, and it's nothing that I have to worry about in that way.
Q: How do you integrate both Rudi and Kenny into the game plan?ML:
We'll just integrate them both into the game plan, and go from there.
Q: Has Kenny earned himself more playing time, even with a fully healthy Rudi?ML:
A healthy Rudi hasn't played in five weeks, basically, or four weeks, so we want to make sure we're not going to overload Rudi at this point. So we have to use both guys – actually use all three players. We'll use DeDe (Dorsey) as well. We'll use all three backs and try to give everybody a little piece of the pie.
Q: Will you share who is starting?ML:
No I won't. It will be dependent upon what we're in and what we're doing.
Q: Your running game appears to be hitting stride last couple of weeks. What do you attribute that to?ML:
Well, again, each and every week, let's make sure we let the plan unfold and we've done a good job. It's something we know is important, to be able to run the football more productively. We have to keep at it and make sure it's a priority. I think, as I said when we got Eric (Ghiaciuc) back, Alex (Stepanovich) filled in admirably, but to have the guy who spent the majority of time in there was good. Settling into the same guys makes a big difference. I think all of those things are important. Making sure that it continues to be a priority. We've huddled more, which is important. We've had more called plays. And Carson's ability to check things at the line – we've given him that ability and the direction that way is to get us into more runs. He's done a good job of doing that.
Q: I guess that's why huddling has helped the run game?ML:
Yes, and that's about all I want to talk about that.
Q: Despite some explosive plays do you see any progress with the defense?ML:
Well, there is no progress until you finish things out the right way, correctly. As I've said, we do a lot of good things, but not enough of them to win, which is the No. 1 thing, whether it be offense, defense or special teams. When you don't win consistently, you've still got a lot of work to do. We have to keep working at finishing, of doing a better job of tackling, of winning on third downs. If there is a 60-snap, game we're probably pretty good on 50 snaps. We might be excellent, sometimes, on 50 of those snaps. But our margin of error is such that those 10 snaps may get us beat. We have to eliminate those 10 snaps. As has been the case in recent history, these things are coming in the first half of these games, which is putting us a little bit behind the eight-ball when we go in at halftime.
Q: Do you expect Chris Perry to practice this week? And what is the time frame for when you have to make a decision?ML:
We're not going to return Chris to practice this week, so we'll wait until next week.
Q: Is this game going to be a challenge for you?ML:
A big challenge. In all four phases. In all six phases, actually. We have to get some returns, and keep getting better at our return game, where we've had a lot of progress, and keep moving forward that way. We need to continue to be consistent in putting the ball where we want when we're kicking. Our coverage people are doing a great job with pad level, running with speed, and getting the returner on the ground. That will all be important this week.
Q: This may be a question for later on in the year, but, if this season doesn't turn around , do you anticipate a lot of personnel changes on defense and coaching staff?ML:
Your first statement (about the question being for later in the year) was the answer to your question.
Q: J.P. Losman -- what does he bring to their offense after being hurt and now coming back?ML:
I think they were pleased with how he finished the season a year ago. He got off to a good start this year. I thought he played well in the game against Denver. He didn't have a great game against Pittsburgh. There was a lot of pressure on him. Then, he was hurt in the third game. I'm sure he's energized and ready to go. He's fighting for his job. He has a strong arm and the ability to move within the pocket. He's done well.
Q: Is he similar to Ben Roethlisberger in his pocket presence?ML:
I think he's a little different. He's a good athlete, he can run the ball if he needs to. He keeps plays alive.
Q: A smaller Doug Flutie?ML:
Somewhat. (Laughing) He's a good player. He was a great prospect coming out of college.
Q: What was your favorite Halloween costume as a kid?ML:
If I were a kid once, I don't remember. It's been a long time.
Q: You had to have a favorite costume:ML:
I don't remember. I'm going to have to pass on that one.
Q: You've talked about big plays on special teams. Lee Evans has been a big playmaker for the Bills on special teams:ML:
Lee Evans and (Roscoe) Parrish both have made a lot of big plays. They're both guys with great speed, and they do a lot of double moves and stutters, both big parts of their offense. They use the reverse, gadget screens, and wide receiver quick screens. And, they beat us with a flea flicker here a couple of years ago. It's something we have to be conscious of at all times and know where our leverage is. Just being sound. Execute what your job is on that particular play.
Q: What do you tell a guy like Leon (Hall), who has probably been the best player wherever he's been?ML:
He's going through life in the NFL as a corner. Just keep doing things the right way. Just keep playing proper technique. Get your eyes where they belong, and keep them there. Believe in what you're supposed to do. Leon will be fine. It's been a tough baptism at times, but he's getting a chance to do it instead of watching someone else. I think it's a great chance to have.
Q: Is there anyone you can point to as an example for him? You've coached a lot of good corners:ML:
I coached the guys who were in Baltimore. It's tough out there as a rookie, but you've got to do it. You have to go play. All three of our guys out there on the corners need to step up and play well. This is an important week.