AJ McCarron News Conference
December 30, 2015
Paul Brown Stadium
Is swelling reasonable on the wrist? Is it a manageable scenario for you?
"Yeah, I'm really just doing what the training staff is telling me. Taking it day by day, and I'll be ready to go."
So you think you can go?
What are your concerns or limitations?
"I'm practicing and just did the walk through. I don't have any concerns. Just ready to get back and playing. Ready to go."
Have you ever had the unfortunate problem of having to deal with an injury to either hand?
"I don't think so. I don't think I've ever had a hand injury. Other than throwing and hitting your hand on the lineman's helmet. Other than that, I think I've been pretty fortunate."
No wrist or anything like that, first one?
"Yep, first one."
How long does it take, when you walk through the last two minutes of the game, to forget about it?
"I mean, it's part of this league. You watch the film, evaluate, and you have to move on. Can't hang on to the good and can't hang on to the bad. Like I said, you have to find a happy medium. There is going to be good and bad. You have to have a level plain and roll with it.
"It's an unfortunate thing and it happens. My eyes got caught up. I was trying to read the defense, and thought we we're going to have a big play, and it happens. It's football. Like I said, it sucks to happen in that moment, rather than play 20 of the game. It's just one of those things, but we still fought really hard. I thought we played a very good game against the number one overall ranked defense and very good team. Tough place to play, and I was proud of the guys."
Have you experienced the good and bad in one game, with the tale of two halves like that?
"Yeah, I've had a couple of those games in college where you feel like you have all the momentum, one little thing happens, and then it swings and it goes back and forth. Late in the game, it might go all the way to them, and then you're trying to fight and get it back. I've definitely been in those games. We had a chance to win. We knew at some point their defense was going to step up and play better. We knew we had to match that, but when it came down to it, they made more plays than us. A lot of that is my fault when it comes to the snap."
A guy like Wade Phillips believes in what he does. You guys made him do something differently and he had to adjust. That adjustment they made was pretty significant...
"Yeah, they did a good job of stopping the run in the second half. The first half, early, we pounded the ball and had some big pass plays. Then, in the second half, for whatever reason, struggled a little bit. Like I said, they're the number one ranked defense in every category for a reason. They can, they've got Pro Bowlers all over the field. But I was proud of the way the guys fought. We never gave up. There was never a doubt in anyone's mind. Everyone was zoned in and ready to go."
There has been so much talk this year about peaking at the right time. How important is it for you guys to compose yourselves here in Week 17, before the playoffs start?
"Yeah, it's huge. It's just like the MLB. The baseball team that catches the momentum at the end, usually rides that hot streak deep into the playoffs. It's big for us to get a win this week, and start that momentum into the first round of the playoffs."
There was so much emphasis on getting that first-round bye. Does it take anything away from winning the north title and does it take anything away confidence-wise heading into this week?
"No, because there is still a chance to get a bye. All we can do is control what we can. Go out, win the game, and whatever happens in the rest of the games happens. We're not doubting anything, or worried about anything. We're going to go out this Sunday and play football like we always do, and try to get a win."
Is there a sense you're going to go all out and put some pressure on Denver and not just sit on the third seed?
"We're going to treat it like every Sunday. I don't think it's anything different. We're still going to have to prepare the same way. We're going to have a big game plan like we always do, and go out and win the game. Like I said, whatever happens in the other games happens. We can't worry about that. We have to take care of our business, and control what we can control, and go from there."
You've had a lot of reps in practice the last two weeks. How different of a QB are you now than in the Pittsburgh game?
"I think a huge difference. Talking to Zamp (Ken Zampese), I think just from coming in from the Pitt game and then being in the San Fran game and how I started out especially against Denver, I felt like we were throwing it all over and we were really taking advantage of a lot of things, and capitalizing on them. I've said this from the beginning: It's all about reps. The more reps I get, the more comfortable I am and the more chemistry we create as an offense. It felt good on Monday. Hopefully it just keeps getting better and better."
Do you feel like you recognized what was happening on the field Monday?
"I don't feel like I'm having any problems. Felt like I saw the field good on Monday and just need to keep preparing and trying to get better."
Aside from just getting more reps, what are the differences since Pittsburgh?
"I think just reps. Taking reps with the guys and being able to see the looks every day. That's one thing: Pittsburgh, when I was backup, you don't take any reps at all. So it's kind of difficult when you're not getting any looks other than just film. You still need some live-action reps, and so I think reps is the biggest thing."
Your success on third down in Denver should be a confidence boost...
"Yeah. Anytime you move the chains, it's always big. It keeps drives alive, it really builds momentum for our team as a whole and keeps the defense off the field. We started off really well, especially in the first half. We kind of fell off a little -- I don't know what the total third-down stats were, but I know we didn't do as well in the second half."
You were very good passing the ball on third down. Was that there for you with the three-receiver looks?
"I just really read the field and took whatever they gave me. I knew where my matchups were, I knew my reads. Receivers did a great job, running backs did a great job of catching the ball and making plays. We were able to convert some big ones when we needed them. Like I said, it's good for our team. It keeps the defense off the field, it keeps the time of possession in our hands, and just builds more and more momentum for us as a whole."
The signature play for you was the third-and-16, and you stick it right on Mo (Sanu), with (Von) Miller coming to put a smack on you …
"Mo did an excellent job of getting over the 'backer and getting to the hole. It was a really good play by him. Von is good for a reason. That's my job though, to stand in there and make the throws and make the plays when they present themselves and go from there.
In your first two starts, the second half execution hasn't been there as much. Is that more game flow or is it something that needs to get better before the postseason?
"It definitely needs to be better. We talk about that. We've just got to come back out and start fast again. We did a really good job, especially Monday, of starting fast and making big plays in the beginning. We've just got to do more of that in the second half. That's the biggest thing, we've just got to come out and start faster."
Does the attacking mind-set slack off a little in the second half?
"I don't know right now. We're just preparing and trying to build on it really. I don't know what it is. Joking around, it could have been the 10-degree drop of Monday. Right now, we just know as a group, we've got to come out and start faster and play better in the second half.
You made some throws into tight spaces, especially in the first half, frustrating their cornerbacks with your accuracy...
"I felt good. I felt like I was able to put the ball where I wanted to, and when you're able to do that against good corners, especially the ones they have, it really gets into their head. Especially when they know how good they are and 'I usually make that play, I usually pick that ball off and he's putting it in a place.' So yeah, it builds confidence for yourself. I think it builds confidence for your receivers especially because they know if I get to my right depth, I get to my right spot, this is where the ball's going to be and it just keeps building more and more chemistry and trust between everybody. Converting big third downs is huge for us as an offense."
Are you not concerned about the wrist because it's your non-throwing hand?
"I'm just taking it day by day, doing what the trainers tell me to do and hopefully be ready to go Sunday."
Will there be a mental adjustment with the injury?
"I don't know. Got to wait until we're in full-speed practice. I feel I'm a pretty mentally tough guy. I've had to play through a lot of injuries, so I think I'll be fine."