Need in the draft?
Little bit of everything. Probably the two things we don't need in great
depth is receiver and quarterback, other than that, just about every position.
What's greatest area of need?
I think the biggest area of depth we need is offensive line, with Leonard
(Davis) entering the free agent market. We got some stability out of the group
toward the end of the season last year but you need quality depth in a 16-game
When you say depth, you want guys who will push to start, right?
That's what you really want to foster. You want to foster competition. We
don't really have an established core group at the position. We have young guys.
You want numbers at the different positions to compete so you get that
environment of pushing each other to play better.
How much look at FA market and know landscape?
We have gotten into that a little bit. There are a couple guys out there we
want to pursue. You don't really know who will be out there until the end
because there are guys who are working on deals as we speak (to re-sign with
their teams). The center in Dallas, Gurode, he was a player was one of those
guys we liked and he signed a deal recently. The landscape seems to change every
Speculation the Cards are interested in Drew Stanton?
It will depend on how everything plays out. We are still in the process of
evaluating everything out there. To say we are specifically interested in that,
I don't know if I could say that.
Looking more offense or defense in FA?
I think a lot of it will depend on who is there when it starts. There are
some needs offensively we need to address, but that doesn't mean there won't be
a defensive player or two that we could also pursue.
Evaluate tight end position being a former tight end?
We are excited about Leonard (Pope), a young draft pick we got out of
Georgia last year. That position, in this league, you want to get guys –
maybe a veteran guy we'd like to bring in – to stabilize the position. For us,
it is key because it is so important for us in the run game. That is an area we
need to address, but one of many positions we need to address.
First two years in Pitt ran the ball a ton, then threw a lot last year. Carry
that philosophy to Az, with star receivers in Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin?
You have to have a mix. If you look at the Steelers season last year we maybe
threw the ball too early and turned the ball over a little more and that
probably crystallized my thinking as far as being a little more, I don't want to
say conservative, but I think running the football sets the tone. We had success
with that in the past and I think you want to carry that over. But you do have
two talented guys on the outside there who can make plays for you and you've got
a good young quarterback who can get them the ball and you certainly want to use
Why pass so much early in Pitt last year?
I think it was a function of the games and how the games played out, rather
than it being the game plan. Obviously turnovers were a big part of why success
wasn't there early. As the season progressed, those things stabilized because we
weren't forced to throw it as much.
Will your offensive line be asked to do a lot of things they aren't familiar
There are some components to what the offensive line did last year that are
part of what we have done, but there are things they haven't done. That's what
the spring, of mini-camps and OTAs is for. A big part of that is what Edgerrin
runs and what he does well. You get an idea of what he does best. Our history of
what Russ and I do, we try to craft our running game to what our players do
best, our offensive line, our tight ends and the running backs. Some of
that may be determined with the guys we get in free agency or the draft.
You want a fullback right? (The Cards didn't use a FB much under Dennis
I think the fullback is important and I have had success with that. But if
you look at what we have done in our run game, it was pretty close to 50-50
whether it was a fullback or a second tight end. There was a big part of our
offense that was a one-back offense with three receivers. And (the Cardinals) do
have three good receivers.
Can you fix Oliver Ross?
I hope so. My impression of Oliver is from that last year we were together
in Pittsburgh (in 2004) and he had an excellent season for us. I haven't really
had a chance to follow him as much since he came to Arizona, but I am optimistic
he will be productive for us.
How involved will you be in the draft process?
The way it has been with the coaches and the scouts, the relationship
between those two areas is important. We are kind of learning as we go, but I
will be involved in the draft.
Impressions of Leinart?
I am very impressed with Matt. I spent some time talking with him the last
couple of weeks, talking about football, talking about where he is. I see a
young man driven to be successful. He's had success on the college level,
and he wants to do that on the pro level. And there is a comfort level for me
from the standpoint of working with a young quarterback (Roethlisberger). We
have worked with a young quarterback with success, and part of that involves
running the football. That is a key component.
Been creative with Randle-El and Hines Ward. Will that continue?
Kind of ironic, Anquan Boldin played quarterback in college too. He hasn't
lobbied me to throw the ball but certainly that is something we will look at. We
have had success with those kind of plays, so those will be part of what we do
Looking at Ben's season, how much accident set him back?
When we started the season, even in training camp, it didn't seem like it
would have an effect. But at the end and when you look at it again, I am
convinced it did. Not because of his health, he is a tough kid and he did a good
job coming back and being prepared. But from the standpoint of being in the
pocket and facing the rush, certainly there was some trauma with him that maybe
we all underestimated and I think it took him longer to get over that than we
all thought. Because of the way we interacted with him in training camp, on the
practice field, we had the tendency to think he was fine and ready to go. Early
in the season, you could tell he wasn't as comfortable as he was in the past,
and I am convinced that was
the result of things that happened in the off-season.
Yeah, I'm sure it did. Look at the history, every time he was starting to
recovering from something he had a setback, whether it was the appendectomy or
the concussion, and it wasn't until it was the end of the year and he was
healthy that he had a stretch of games that you
started to see his play pick back up.
Is Leinart where you can throw the whole playbook at him or do you need to
My sense from having met with him is that he a lot further along than most
young quarterbacks are, because he did play last year and he started. Part of
that is the program he is from, he played in the national championship game and
had success at the highest level in college.
Sense that Cowher will come back?
My guess, knowing how competitive that man is, is that yes, he will be back.
That is an interesting question. I tell you that, I respect him and I think
family is important to him and I think the reason he is not coaching now is
because he wanted to support his family, especially his daughters, and that will
be a factor in it. But he is an outstanding football coach, a very competitive
man, and my feeling is he will be back in it one day.
Success with two backs sharing in Pitt, can do that with Edge?
We ran the ball quite a bit in Pittsburgh and for one back to think he will
take all those carries and hold up through a whole season is unrealistic. I
think we were forced to go with another back. It worked for us, especially in
the fourth quarter where you are trying to run the clock out and be physical
with an opponent. It will be critical for us to find another guy. Edgerrin will
get his touches and be productive, but we need to find a young guy or a
veteran guy that can help carry the load. Especially a guy who can pound it and
get us those four yards, those tough yards, late in a game.
Feelings on JJ Arrington?
From what I have seen of JJ and what I remember of him coming out, he is an
explosive back and a little bit, in my opinion, like Maurice Drew. Maybe a guy
who wasn't as big but a good inside runner.
How about Marcel Shipp?
Marcel Shipp has been impressive to me from what I see on tape. He has had some
injury problems, but I see a good physical young back. The thing that has
impressed me about Marcel Shipp is his contributions on special teams. That is
important to me. Marcel is an unrestricted free agent and certainly we would
like to try and get him back. I think he would be a big contributor for us.
Dealing with Az fans after rabid Steelers fans?
There is a reason the Steelers have a loyal fan base and it's because they won a
lot of football games. That's what it is going to take, win football games
early, because I think there are a lot of people in Arizona who want to support
the team. Hopefully we will put a product out there, a competitive, tough, smart
team that will win some games because we have some people that want to become
fans. It will be tough for me because I am used to the fan support we had in
Pittsburgh. Hopefully we will do our job and the same thing will happen in
What does Antrel Rolle need to improve on?
We are going to change some things defensively this year a little bit that will
help him. The biggest thing for Antrel is technique. From looking at him
on tape, there are a little bit of inconsistency with his alignment and how he
played things. Hopefully we will get those things cleaned up. My impression is
he is a young player who wants to be good and that is a good sign.
Talked to Larry Fitzgerald?
We have talked. He is in Australia right now. We will talk (again) in March and
give him an idea of what we want to do but I am excited. I have seen him play
for a number of years at Pitt and what he has done so far (in the NFL) I am
Ken Whisenhunt Press Conference Transcript
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