Opponent Opinions: QB Philip Rivers

After getting torched by Peyton Manning on Monday night, the Dolphins defense will be facing another top quarterback on Sunday when they go up against San Diego's Philip Rivers. The fourth overall pick of the 2004 draft, who began his career as a backup behind Drew Brees and Doug Flutie, discussed Sunday's game and other topics Wednesday in a conference call with South Florida media.

Here is a team-released transcript of the conference call:

On being able to attack Baltimore's cornerbacks: "We did a lot of really good things in the passing game. Unfortunately didn't capitalize in the red zone, few turnovers there. We didn't get the win, we weren't really too pleased. We were able to do some things successful to a certain extent."

On what concerns you most about Miami's defense: "It is a really good group. Last year we struggled in Miami, 17-3 in the third at third in one point. We had a chance to tie it up late and didn't, mid to early fourth [quarter]. It is a really good defense. I think last year they applied a lot of pressure with a lot of linebackers and this year with [Jason] Taylor and [Joey] Porter, I am sure they will look to do the same. Watching the game Monday with the time of possession and the limited opportunities that the Colts got, we have to be prepared to be efficient when we have the football and get first downs."

On his offensive line's status: "It is still early in the week. I am not in position to really tell you at this point. The guys we had in there last I thought did a heck of a job against a multiple look defense. It could be that very same group or we could get some guys back. We will see how it plays out, but I am certainly comfortable with that group or the other guys will get back in there and play well again."

Editor's note: The Chargers announced later Wednesday that center Nick Hardwick had undergone ankle surgery and would be out eight weeks.

On how the offense changes when Darren Sproles is in the game rather than LaDainian Tomlinson: "I think maybe two or three years ago there were some specific things we tried to do when Sproles was in the game due to the limited amount of snaps he was there and because the flexibility he gave us in the running back position. Now he has turned himself into such an every down back and we have relied on him as an every down back due to LT being injured some and how good he has played. I don't know it really changes any. Everyone in the league knows the threat he is out of the backfield as a receiver, but really has turned himself into a between the tackles runner. When we go into a game with him back there, we treat our run and pass game as we would otherwise."

On who is his "go-to" receiver and why: "It is really [different every week]. With the weapons we have and the way our system sets up, the guy who gets the bulk of the balls is different week-to-week. I think early, outside, Vincent Jackson has been the guy to get the bulk of the balls. Look at what Chris Chambers has done for us over the years. Look at Malcolm Floyd, he has stepped up. Legedu Naanee had five catches in the Oakland game, a couple on that last drive. Obviously Antonio Gates has been consistent and steady for us at the tight end position, our leading receiver over the last couple of years and you asked me about [Darren] Sproles earlier. The balls get spread out a little bit and it can go to anybody during any given play."

On how much fun it is to play with Antonio Gates: "It is a ton of fun. He is not only the player he is, but a heck of a teammate. A guy that is just fun to be around and compete. With being on the same team and competing against the guys, he is enjoyable of a teammate as you can have and he brings it each and every week."

On if he considers Gates the best tight end in the NFL: "I do. Other quarterbacks would answer their tight end. I think he could be argued as the best and I certainly feel he is."

On his competitiveness and if he ever regrets going over the line: "I think I have always played my best when I [am] allowed to be myself and play with passion and fire and enjoy the game as I did when I was 7, 8, 9 years old growing up in North Alabama. I have carried that to every level and there is a fine line there of how to manage it so it is not a distraction, doesn't get in the way of helping your team to win games. For the most part I have found that happy medium, been successful. I think the more I play, the more games I have been it, I think it is being seen as just that; a guy who loves to play the game and has a lot of fun doing it. There is no bad intentions or any planned things week to week."

On if he misses having Jay Cutler in his division: "That certainly got built up more than either of, we intended to. It was a lot of fun. He and I had other things to worry about, like going against each other's defenses. It did spice up that rivalry a little bit. It will be once every four years now. It won't have the same feel as when he was in Denver."

On if he feels any extra pressure because Eli Manning has a Super Bowl victory: "I really don't. I think we will always be connected being the same draft class. [Ben] Roethlisberger and [Eli] Manning have both won a championship. I think we will. You are tied to guys in your draft class and the way it all went down, properly even more so with us. I don't feel any added pressure. There is really nothing that can be added to it from the outside or things here or there that can make me want to help our team win a championship more than I already do. Certainly those are fun tidbits to throw on the side and you are aware of it, but it doesn't add to it."

On his thoughts on having two years as being the quarterback in waiting: "Honestly, I am a fan of having the two years just because the way it has worked out. At the time, I was chomping at the bit to get out there, wasn't really thrilled at having to sit at the two years. Now looking back, I do appreciate those two years. Gathering enough as you can from the starter here in Drew Brees. I would imagine, like Chad [Pennington] in Miami, there is a lot you can learn from a guy like that. When you're a guy who played four years in college like I had, I felt I was ready. I had never really seen a game from the sideline. I was able to learn, how to prepare and take things from Drew and different things to shape my game and me as a player. I think that the two years I had were tough, but definitely benefitted from them. For me, the two years was pushing the limit. Going into year three, I needed to start playing. I had kind of maxed out on what I could do watching. So I was fortunate to get that opportunity in year three and I feel like those two years certainly helped me."

On if there was a point in his second year if he had learned enough and was ready to be the starter: "I think so. Midyear in year two it was getting somewhat frustrating and I was always the first one to congratulate Drew [Brees] on a touchdown and nothing toward Drew, but I felt I need to play, I needed to play football. I know that was the competiveness coming out in me, understanding at that time it was Drew's team and no doubt about it, he was the guy. I felt like the practice reps, the preseason games, the preparation week to week, it gets tough. It gets tough after that 25th game or so you pull out of that stadium and push that game plan aside and you did not get to put it to use. I was ready to get out there in the live action."

On if that ever caused tension between himself and Drew Brees and how to avoid it: "It didn't at all. I think one thing we both knew, neither of us chose to be in that situation. I didn't pick San Diego out and say that is where I wanted to go and try to beat out Drew. Obviously, Drew did not wish that was the case but we were both here and I think both were pros about the whole situation. Drew wanted to make sure I never got on the field and I made sure I got a spot. It was a healthy competition. We pushed one another, but at the same time we pulled for one another. We had golf games in the offseason. There will be the occasional text or conversation to this day. We will talk. I know Drew me a better player and I like to think I was able to push him some and help him out as well."

On what he can take from the Dolphins struggles on defense that he has seen on film: "Well, I think there were a couple of big plays which has been well documented. [The Colts] only for 39 snaps, Peyton threw it 23 times. They had a big play to Dallas Clark to start the game. A couple more [passes] to Dallas and then the screen late for the touchdown. Other than a few big plays, that is a good secondary. Last year we struggled against them. We will obviously come up with a game plan and have to go out and execute."

On what he has seen out of Jason Taylor this year: "2005 was the last time we played them here. I wasn't out there then. He seems comfortable in [his new position]. He is doing a little more. He is in pass coverage occasionally and coming a lot from a standup position. He seems to be comfortable. Anytime you get a veteran player like him who was a defensive MVP, as athletic as he is, there is not going to be much he cannot do. I think those two obviously stand out when you watch the tape. [Channing] Crowder on the inside as well running inside as well. He is a real aggressive inside player. That is going to be a challenge. We knew coming into the season it was going to be a challenge each and every week. We had Baltimore last week, Miami this week back to back, both at home, but certainly tough opponents."

On if he noticed something during his second season that made him think he was ready to play: "I think a little bit of both. Not being able to compete, trying to get it all out in practice with limited reps, because you're dying to get out there and be amongst all of it again, and lead a huddle and go. I think is probably a little bit of both, to be honest with you."

On how much you can tell during practice that you are ready for the game: "I think it's tough. I don't know how it is in different, obviously different places, but the two years that I was here, I got very little work at all. The first year I was the two [quarterback] some of the year, but Doug Flutie was the two, so I barely even took a snap with the ‘look' squad. And then the second year, I didn't take many either. Cleo Lemon took most of the look squad, I took maybe a snap or two a day with our offense. You almost feel like you're – not getting worse – but you almost feel like, you're standing around a lot not – you don't feel like you're really, it's tough. I think you just got to push yourself to keep improving at that time because that's the way it is. Because the guys that are playing got to get their work and you got to really push and stay in it mentally. You don't descend as a player, and you keep getting better."

On leading the AFC in passer rating and not being selected to the pro bowl last season: "Well I think, I've always, my take on individual awards or accolades or whatever has been: the team wins, we go out there and win and play, and the team does well, individuals will be recognized. I mean, our 14-2 season, I didn't necessarily have the numbers as I did last year, but went to the Pro Bowl, and because were 14-2, we had 13 guys. And last year, on paper statistically I had a good year but I did some things that really hurt us throughout the year to cause us to be 4-8 or 5-8 or wherever we were when that voting takes place. So I, yeah I think form an individual standpoint you're a little disappointed, when you have a statistical year that way, but at the same time, I was understanding from a sense of where we were as a team record wise and the fact, and I had some negative critical errors that don't show up on that stat sheet that cause us to be in the position we were in."

On if the Pro Bowl being in Miami this year causes it to lose some of its luster: "I don't know that it has. None of that chatter has been evident around our locker rom. I have yet to make that trip over to Hawaii so I would necessarily know, but I think I really haven't heard to be honest with you both positive and negative either way."

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