Dungy: In Good Shape And Ready To Go

Tony Dungy talked to the media Wednesday as the team hit the practice field to begin preparations for the Pittsburgh Steelers. See what Tony had to say about the status of Ryan Lilja, playing against Pittsburgh's 3-4 defense, Tuesday's elections, and more inside!

"All in all, I think we're in pretty good shape and ready to go. It's another, just like the last two weeks, tough team, very physical, a team that is playing well and it's going to be a big challenge for us. Another 3-4 defense that brings a lot of pressure, and keeping your quarterback protected is probably paramount. Offensively, they run the football well. They have (RB) Willie Parker back, which really helps their running game. They're a physical group and that's the style they play and that's what we're going to have to be ready for."

On OG-Ryan Lilja:

"Ryan is activated to practice, so we'll see how that goes. We have three weeks to watch him and see how he does and make a decision. I think we can activate him at any point during that period, but we have to do something at the end of three weeks."

On how Pittsburgh's 3-4 is different:

"It's a little different than New England. It's the same type of thing, they try to create confusion, they bring a lot of different people, but this one has just a lot of heat from their outside backers and guys that you have to block. They're very active and they're very fast, so it's a pretty good combination they have going, fast and physical. They don't give up a lot of big plays. Baltimore gave you a lot of things where you said, ‘Hey, if we can figure this out, we have a chance to get some big plays,' but these guys haven't given up many."

On if the 3-4 defense is an assignment problem:

"It is identifying people, and it's not so much assignments. You still have to block those guys. We did a good job of blocking New England's outside backers. These guys are a big test the same way."

On talk that the 3-4 defense works against the Colts' offense:

"That's how it is, yes. We've played Baltimore and New England this year and we've beaten them, so you haven't heard much talk about how the 3-4 is the way to play us and how the matchups are bad. We'll play San Diego and Pittsburgh and if we beat them, you won't hear anything else about it. But, if they beat us, then the 3-4 will be the thing that gives us problems. It's not really that, it's the people that you have to block, for the most part."

On if Pittsburgh's defense depends on talent over scheme:

"It's both. The talent could probably play in any defense. Those guys are good players. We'd love to have a bunch of them here. They would fit right in perfectly."

On TE-Dallas Clark having a good last three weeks:

"It's partly our wide receivers being healthy and attracting attention and getting some favorable matchups inside, plus the fact that he's playing well. The middle of the field can be big when people are really trying to take away your outside receivers."

On the running game:

"You have to be able to run effectively. We need to run better than we have, but I thought we ran well enough against Tennessee (Oct. 27) and put ourselves in position to be in 2nd-and-shorts and 3rd-and-mediums. We ran the ball and controlled it, we just didn't have enough runs. We didn't run well enough against New England (last week). It's the same thing as the run defense. You have to do it right and sometimes you have to block good people. It'll be a tough test (at Pittsburgh) because these guys are good and they aren't giving up a lot of run yardage against anybody. But, we have to run well enough to keep them off balance to run when we want to, to stay out of 2nd-and-11s, 2nd-and-9s and get in 2nd-and-7s and 2nd-and-6s."

On if the team has to improve the running game to contend for a championship:

"I never say that. I always think there are ways you can do it. People said we couldn't get to the Super Bowl with our run defense the way it was (in 2006), and it never did get straightened out until the playoffs. We won a bunch of games that year and played well enough in the playoffs to win it. There are always ways to win. You can win with the return game, you can win with special teams, with take aways, with big plays. Obviously, the better we run it the easier it's going to be, but if we're not running any better, we have to find other ways to win."

On if there could be a better balance between RBs-Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes:

"Every game is different. That was really a strange game (vs. New England). We were going to try to keep Joseph rested, but unfortunately, he got a lot of rest in between times we had the ball. It was just one of those days where it worked out that way, but, yes, we would anticipate Dom getting more carries."

On the roster move:

"A guy named Antonio Johnson who we liked coming out of school and had some pretty good grades on. We're at a point where we're looking for defensive interior linemen, and he was a guy that we liked that was available. We had a chance to sign him, and we'll see how he does."

On how easy the transition will be for Johnson:

"He should be able to acclimate pretty quickly. Matter of fact, he was on Tennessee's practice squad so he got to play this defense for a whole week before he got here."

On if there is any thought of replacing Addai with Rhodes as the starter:

"No, not at all. Joseph was injured and actually did pretty well and felt good. He's going to be fine."

On his reaction to Barack Obama winning the presidency:

"That was kind of amazing to me. It was something that I thought would happen, maybe for the last month I've been pretty convinced it would happen, but there was a time in my life where I didn't think I would see that. It was great to see. I think it was historic. I really got enjoyment out of seeing the crowd in Chicago (Tuesday) night because it was a very diverse crowd. That was probably the biggest thing to me, that even though we got our first African-American president, I didn't get the sense that this was really a racial campaign. There were a lot of different issues, and the country chose this guy who happens to be African-American. I think it is going to open up a lot of things and a lot of light in people's minds.

"I was talking, with my wife also, talking to our seven-year-old daughter. She was asking about electoral votes and what that means. She's interested in it. I think that's going to pull a lot of African-Americans into the process that may not have been interested before, and I think that's good."

On if this was a big deal to the players:

"I don't know. They were off Monday and Tuesday, so I don't really know. I haven't talked to a lot of guys. We're concentrating on Pittsburgh, but it'll be interesting to be around the locker room today and get their reaction."

On what makes Pittsburgh a good football environment:

"It's just the fan base and the way that they've grown close to the team over the last 40 or 45 years, the fact that it is still in family ownership and has been for a long time. The way they play, the style of play, I think, really fits the city. It's just unique, it really is."

On if it matters which QB Pittsburgh starts Sunday:

"No, it really doesn't matter. Byron (Leftwich) came in and they ran the same plays and did everything the same, and he gave them a big lift. (Ben) Roethlisberger has played a lot without practicing. My sense is he'll be in there if there is any way possible, even if he doesn't practice, so that's who we're preparing for. But, you're going to have to defeat that system, whoever the quarterback is."

On Pittsburgh Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau:

"I remember when I was a little kid and Dick LeBeau was a player, Dick and (DB) Night Train Lane. I remember watching the Lions. That seems like ages ago, and he's been coaching since then. He brought a lot of things into the NFL and done a great job there for a number of different years. They've kept the same system, kind of like we have done on offense. They just keep restocking it, and he does a great job of maximizing the talents of the guys that they bring in. You can go back a lot of years to Greg Lloyd, Kevin Greene, and all the way through. Different linebackers seem to have come through there and played well, and a lot of it has to be Dick."

On Pittsburgh Head Coach Mike Tomlin:

"Mike was one of those guys who really understood the game. He was very smart, and he had a great way of communicating to his players. He was the guy you could tell was smart without him telling you he was smart. I just felt very quickly on that he was going to do some special things, and he has."

On how gratifying it is to see former assistants becoming head coaches:

"It is great. You always think you're a pretty good judge of talent, and you hire people that you think are pretty good. To see other people hire them after you do, it makes you feel good, especially for the African-American guys that have gotten a chance, an opportunity. Mike, I don't think, got any special privileges, any special treatment, it's just that people got the opportunity to see how good he was, and that's great."

On how often Pittsburgh blitzes:

"They blitz a lot. They don't put themselves in coverage with no help and all man-to-man. They bring a lot of different people and try to overload you. It is a chess match. That's what they do, that's their system. They do it against everybody, so they'll do it against us. You have to hit your share of plays and hopefully get them blocked up, but it'll be a big challenge."

On if QB-Peyton Manning handles blitzes as well as anybody in the NFL:

"Probably. But, they've played against all the good quarterbacks, and they don't change what they do."

On the defensive headset:

"It's been OK. It goes in and out a little bit more than it does with the quarterbacks, probably with some of the hits that the linebackers take. But, for the most part, I think it's been good and it probably has helped the defensive communication."

On if it was long overdue:

"I'd probably like to see the game without either one of them having it, really. But, I think since the offense had it, it probably should have gone to the defense right away. If the quarterback has one, why shouldn't everybody have one? Why can't all the coaches talk to their players out there? Where do you draw the line? I guess I'm just old school and feel like basketball players and baseball players don't have radios, why do we need them?"

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