Q: What do you tell your guys to get a ready for a game like this, and not
to get it overblown in their minds?
A: Well, you talk about the playoffs. You talk about the second season. You talk about the fact that these games are played with so much more intensity. They are much more physical, they are faster. Every play is a critical play in these games. It is a single-elimination tournament. That is exactly what it is. So getting yourself ready to play ' making sure that you don't get beat by a mental error, doing your extra study and your extra work ' that is basically what you are trying to do. You are trying to convey to them ' to the younger players ' a sense of what I called the other day, 'respect.' And it is respect for the fact that 20 teams go home and 12 remain and the fact that if they don't get it, they soon will if they are around long enough. The older players know that it is a precious opportunity and it doesn't come every year and there is no guarantee when you start the year out that it is going to be that way for you at the end.
Q: Eli, of course, is the young player that everybody is going to be
watching. This is his first experience. Is there anything you have told him, or
other guys have may shared, to get him ready for what is coming this week?
A: He will be ready to play. He knows the quality of the game that it will be. He has prepared himself the same way he has prepared for every other game. I think he has an awareness of the importance of playing well and giving your team the best chance to win.
Q: When you have two even teams like this, how much of a factor is special
teams, especially in this game?
A: It is always going to be a factor ' in January ' depending on what the temperature is, what the wind conditions are like'the scenario of the ball and how the ball will bounce and that type of thing. But special teams, with the punters and kickers and the return people that are in this game, field position will be critical.
Q: Were Moore and Robbins the only other two that weren't able to
practice? Pierce, obviously, missed.
A: Yes. Carter didn't practice, either.
Q: Is that a setback?
A: You have to name them by name; you can't get a general category like that.
Q: Is it Carter's hip?
A: He practiced yesterday and he was sore today and they felt it was better to rest him. We will see how he does tomorrow.
Q: Is Shockey limited or is he close to 100%?
A: He is limited, meaning that he took more reps today than yesterday. The process goes on.
Re: the focus of last year being on him as opposed to this year
A: Probably the idea that the whole process had a year's worth of communication getting to know one another. The importance that I have placed in preparation and winning and all I want to do is to win. There is no agenda, it is just to win.
Q: Have you changed?
A: That is the seven million, seven hundredth and forty-ninth time I have been asked that.
You had better change. You change each year you are in this business. You change just based on the quality of trying to be better. There are certain values that I have which are not going to change and the players are well aware of that.
Q: You haven't lightened up at all, though, right?
A: None whatsoever; especially if I get a few more questions like that.
Q: With their defensive front, with a guy like Eli, is there any concern
that maybe he can be overly concerned with everything they can do upfront and
that takes away from being focused on other things that you are trying to do?
A: I don't think so. His job is recognition up front. The remaining people ' their job is the protection aspect of it. His responsibility, of course, is to get us into the right protection, or the right running play, whatever. He does have awareness, obviously, of the quality of their front, which is very good. But his eyes need to be downfield.
Q: We talked about this a little bit yesterday about Steve Smith. Is it
almost where you know that they are going to throw the ball to him, but you
cannot let this one guy beat you. It sounds easier, but you have to somehow,
take him out of the game.
A: True. But I think they would like you to totally commit everything you do to that one guy, because somehow, someway, he still makes his catches and then the other guys ' Proehl, can hurt you. Carter can hurt you. Colbert can hurt you. The tight end Mangum can hurt you. So you have to, no question, have great respect for Steve Smith and what he has accomplished this year. And you do have to, by design, know exactly where he is in every formation. But you have other people to defend as well.
RE: Drew Carter.
A: He is a big, strong, fast guy. He has had a couple of big plays of late. So you have to be very much aware of that.
Q: Will Kevin Lewis be the middle linebacker?
A: Likely, yes.
Q: Is that a definite?
A: We'll see. We'll see who trots out there on the opening play.
Q: It has been about five years since this home crowd has had a playoff
game. What do you expect?
A: They have been great down the stretch. The fans have been great and we are counting on them. We really are. I remember, not as if it was yesterday, but I remember what it is like to play here in a playoff game and the way in which the 12th man has responded. I know how they were down the stretch ' all of the fans were great. We really are expecting to have their support on game day. Again, as I say, make it so it is the toughest stadium in the National Football League to play in if you are the opponent coming in here.