Opening comments: ML: "It's a big week for a lot of guys on this football team still trying to vie for spots on the team, playing time, positions, or a chance to be on the practice squad down the line. Going into this last game, there's a lot of things still up in the air, which is a good thing. I think we've had a good competitive start, and we have to continue with that as far as competition to be on this football team. Going into the game, I'm looking to play with a great pace and tempo in all three phases – offensively, defensively and special teams.
"As far as the roster goes, today we'll place Ben Utecht on IR and Matt Sherry on IR (if Sherry clears waivers) and go from there. David Jones looks to be really the only guy who's definitely out for this game. The other guys we'll see as we go forward."
Q: So is there a chance we will see Carson on Thursday against the Colts?ML: "It's a possibility."
Q: Will he practice today?ML: "He'll participate in parts of practice today, yes."
Q: How good of a test has this preseason been for your defense?ML: "It's been a good test defensively for our guys. They have had an opportunity to see some diversity in what they've had to defend and go against. They've had to do it with some guys in and some guys out. When they all play together, they play pretty well. They've had to do it with other guys. That's the key to the football season – when a guy goes down, another guy has to step in, and you can't miss a beat. We have the ability to point out now that when you get your opportunity to play, we can't take a step backward in communication, alignments, assignments or production. If we do, there lies the reason you're not getting to play like you think you ought to. We've had an opportunity to do that at a lot of the positions in all three phases."
Q: (Defensive coordinator) Mike Zimmer talked about improving the pass rush this season. What are your impressions of the pass rush thus far?ML: "I think it's been where we want to see it. Defensively, we have to dictate the ball coming out. Our third down percentage has been good. Not great, but good. Last week, we were 33 percent (on third-down conversions allowed). If you can go 33 percent on third down, you're going to win most of your games. Our offense was at 50 percent last week. If you can get there, you're going to be OK. In most instances, we're doing better. We still have a lot of improvement to make. We'll keep working very, very hard at it as the guys who will be playing begin to work more and more and more."
Q: You went through the whole offseason with Kelly and Utecht as your top two tight ends, and now they're out for the year:ML: "I'm sure Chase Coffman thought he'd have a little to say in that, and Dan Coats, too. We had two guys get hurt in the position, and you go on to the next people."
Q: How does that change the character of that position?ML: "We'll see that as the season unfolds. They'll define those things for us. I'm not going to put any limitation on what those guys can do."
Q: Have you seen a lot of growth from Chase since Ben went down with the concussion?ML:"I think Chase has grown a lot. He still has some ways to go, and I think he'll continue doing that as we keep seeing. He keeps getting back and being able to practice once a day and being comfortable. A little more comfortable is a good thing, having been a little banged up like he was in camp early on."
Q: How much did Daniel Coats playing fullback last year help him this year as a tight end?ML: "He played both spots last year and they're almost interchangeable in some of the things that we do. I think there's an experience factor there's obviously a thing with pass protection, some of those things that he had to continue to work hard at. His versatility has been a good thing."
Q: With as many new guys at TE and RB, how does that impact the passing game?ML: "It does quite a bit, because they have to be very good at what they do and be in the right spots. That is an important part. We've also played with two quarterbacks who haven't taken a snap here for the most part. Those three things, all in all, make some things a little iffy. We have to keep things simple, buttoned up and kind of be repetitive in what we do in order to make sure the guys are very sure and can play fast."
Q: How much have you been stressing blocking with your receivers?ML: "We've stressed it quite a bit. It's going to be difficult to play very much on Sundays if you don't get in there and get dirty. That's going to be important."
Q: After the game Thursday, you seemed a little concerned about the things that Chris Henry missed, despite his touchdowns. How do you make those things important to him?ML: "It becomes important when you spend a lot of time standing beside me, or when you don't even suit up. That's when it becomes evident. Chris knows what he's got to get better at. He's worked hard in a lot of areas, and he's improved in a lot of areas. But there are still some things that he has to make sure get done. He's in competition with a guy (Andre Caldwell) who does some of those things very, very well. At the end of the day, I've got to count on who I can count on, and I think Chris understands those things."
Q: How is Michael Johnson holding up physically through his first preseason?ML: "He's doing pretty well. Of the rookies, he has probably played more snaps than anybody. He has a little shoulder issue he has been dealing with, and he doesn't want to miss time with it. He keeps going out there and working at it, but as time goes on he will be a lot like Chase (Coffman), where he will have a chance to grow back up into his skin a little bit and feel it back out as we go, and as things have slowed down over this last week."
Q: (Special teams coach) Darrin Simmons said Michael Johnson, thus far, has been the exact opposite of what his critics portrayed him coming into the draft. He said he has been tough and has worked hard. Do you agree?ML: "Again, I can't comment on other people's comments. That's not my place. My place is to judge the guys we have on what they do here. (Michael) has done very well."
Q: Quan Cosby seems to have made a pretty good impact on special teams. Is that something that will help a guy make the team, to be able to contribute in a lot of ways?ML: "Yeah. There are a handful of guys that we keep filling in to some of those spots in special teams -- coverage areas and so forth -- to see what their production can be. This is a big week for that. They're going to get an opportunity -- some guys side-by-side, one guy behind another guy, and so forth. Just look to your right to see who you're competing with. It's real simple, and that's a good thing. They have an impact on Sundays. That's probably the biggest adjustment. The college player comes here to the NFL and gets to a Sunday in the regular season, and there are only 45 guys and the third quarterback on the sideline, and that's not a lot of people. Your ability to adjust and play different spots, when it gets to fourth down in the kicking game or on offense or defense, really adds to your value and adds to your opportunity both to stay on the 53-man roster and to make your way onto the 45-man roster. A lot of hard decisions will be made because I don't see a way to get a guy onto the 45-man roster on Sundays. So that person might have an edge on this person based on that. That's the thing: I have to make sure we're covered in every area on Sunday."
Q: Has Quan made that kind of impact?ML: "I think he's working at it. We've got another opportunity coming."
Q: You've had a chance to see Roy Williams now for three games and a training camp. So far, has he been the player you guys hoped he would be?ML: "He's been the player I expected. It was in '02 when I was in Washington, and Roy came out (of college). He's that guy. And I think he'll be a good influence on this football team, which also will help. As we're going right now, teamed up back there with Chris (Crocker), they're a very good pair. An excellent pair, actually. And they've been very, very helpful to the two young corners, and they'll continue to help those guys, whoever that next corner is -- Morgan Trent or Geoff Pope -- as we go forward."
Q: If you're saying Williams looks like the player he was coming out of college, that's a pretty high bar. That's a guy who should make a pretty big impact.ML: "He ought to make a big impact. He's already had quite an impact in games, and he'll continue. Having looked now on the video (from the Rams game) -- we didn't have the best video available during the game -- he knocked the ball out on third down, when they ended up getting their second touchdown. That should have been fourth down there. There was Roy coming over and knocking it out, with Leon hanging on the guy's arm and Roy making the collision. Those kinds of plays, they don't go unnoticed here, and they certainly won't go unnoticed by our opponents."
Q: How hard is Rey Maualuga pushing Rashad Jeanty for a starting spot?ML: "He's pushing real hard. He's trying to really do everything right, and when he goes into the game, he's made an impact. That's a key thing. We're fortunate to have two guys right there at that spot right now that are doing pretty well."