Rich Braham and Bobbie Williams will be out this week. Kelley Washington will be doubtful. Keiwan Ratliff has a rib injury and he will be questionable along with Dexter Jackson, Levi Jones, Deltha O'Neal and Brian Simmons. Everyone else will be probable.
Q: Is Jeremi Johnson OK?ML:
Yes. He has a bruise.
Q: The last couple of weeks, you have been getting more long passes. Has that been a function mainly of the defense or has there been more of an effort to look for that?ML:
I think a little bit of both. We've been trying to push the football and we happened into a few things yesterday that just worked out. Carson moved, they dropped the coverage and Chad Johnson was able to get free.
Q: Has Carson been moving around a little bit more in the past few weeks like he did back in 2004?ML:
No. He doesn't seem any different.
Q: Have you seen any difference in him physically since the opening of the season?ML:
No. I don't think there is. He's probably sorer than he was on opening day. Other than that, I don't think so.
Q: If you had known at the beginning of the season that Carson would've had a 97 passer rating after 10 games, would you have been surprised by that? ML:
No. It would have surprised me to the negative side. I thought he would be even better than that.
Q: You got the win and that's the important thing. But giving up all the yards that you did, do you use that as an emphasis during the week?ML:
Yards are going to lead to points eventually. You don't want them to control field position that way. We prefer to start our offense from the 30 and go the other way, rather than inside our twenty. Obviously when they do that, they can control field position in the game, which can make a difference.
Q: Is it gratifying how the subs filling in for injured players have stepped up and given you quality snaps?ML:
It's good that guys continue to take their spot and keep playing steady. The other guys who have been steady performers like Willie Anderson, Eric Steinbach and Reggie Kelly, are helping these other guys feel comfortable. It happens as much on the practice field and meeting room as it does on Sunday. As things unfold, they all feel good as it works together. The pieces of the puzzle fit together and they all see it the same way.
Q: Despite all the new guys who have had to step in, you haven't had to melt the game plan down at all:ML:
You're game plan is your game plan. It comes with each week for each opponent and that's what you do.
Q: After looking at the game tape, how do you evaluate your defense yesterday?ML:
We didn't play well enough. We still have areas we have to improve in. You can't give up explosive plays like we did on the second series, which makes a big difference in the score. They had a couple other explosive throws that we need to limit. Make them check the ball down, which is what they had to do most of the game. Then run and make the tackle. But when you allow the explosive plays, they do change the momentum and field position. And that's a big difference and we have to do better at that.
We still need to play better on third down. We had an easy chance to stop another third down and we didn't get it done because we didn't make the tackle. We have to continue to do those things a little better. When you're up by three scores, it's a little different football game. But you still want to limit them at that point and make sure all 11 guys are playing the defense the same way. Don't take certain liberties trying to worry about what happened on the last play. Make sure all 11 guys still play together throughout the game.
Q: Your first down numbers are second in the league. That seems to skew your numbers on third down:ML:
That's right, because you make a first down on first down. But we still need to play better defensively on first down. Our offense does a good job of getting them on first down. We still need to play better on both sides of the football on third down. We still can make an improvement on execution, catches, throws, blocks, tackles, coverage, blitzing, or whatever it may be.
Q: How do you feel the offensive line played?ML:
We won the game.
Q: Does your schedule change this week because of having three games in 12 days?ML:
We'll adjust things we do.
Q: How is Caleb Miller responding with his changing role?ML:
He played a lot early in the year, and then he played less. You earn what you get. We have no scholarships nor are we going to put anyone on scholarship. Each and every week you need to earn you spot and earn your role. When you get your opportunity, you make the most of it. He did a good job on Sunday.
Q: Do you see Ethan Kilmer settling into any certain role?ML:
No, I don't. He's been pretty good where he's been. We'll probably keep him there.
Q: He's done some wide receiver work:ML:
That's what a backup player does in the NFL. When you get your spot or opportunity, you make the most of it. He's come in here and done what we expected him to do on special teams. Whether it's at receiver or in the secondary, we have to have him ready to go on Sunday for whatever occurs. We know he is going to be dressed, active, and ready to go and that's the most important thing.
Q: So we could see him at wide receiver next Sunday?ML:
You could see him at wide receiver.
Q: This is a guy who hasn't played football for that long:ML:
Every day is a growth day for him. It's a day of learning, a day of getting better, and he really does a good job of that. In the offseason, we'll see a lot of growth from him. I don't know what spot it's going to be at, we'll see a lot of growth from Ethan as we go forward.
Q: It seemed like he has earned to respect of everyone on the team. When he intercepted that pass, the sideline:ML:
Everyone on our sideline knew it was a touchdown. We knew no one on their team could catch him. Everybody sees how hard he works and they've seen the plays he's made all year. We see how he practices each and every day. I'm sure when we drafted him and the veteran guys showed up for mini-camp, they had no idea who he was. He established his presence when he dunked a basketball standing flatfoot, in sandals. He gets their attention with his athleticism. Our guys are aware of it. Tory James walked off the field because he knew it was a touchdown. Everybody knows that you're not going to catch Ethan. If he has to jump over you, he'll do that to score. He's very fast, physical, and he made a great catch of the ball and then a run.
Q: More on Kilmer:ML:
This was his first interception. I guess he had a couple of touchdowns his senior year at Penn State. You wouldn't expect anything different from him. He just wanted to catch his breath so he could go down and make a tackle on the kickoff.