First of all, in regards to the players who will be available this week, five players are definitely out: Joey (Porter) and Duce (Staley), obviously; Vontez Duff with his shoulder and then Chidi Iwuoma and Travis (Kirshke) will be out and we'll hope to have them back for the last preseason game. Everybody else, at this time, should be available. Our third preseason game against Washington, we're probably looking at a half for the starters. I think the quarterback rotation, we'll try to get Tommy (Maddox) some playing time in this game. We'll see how it unfolds and how much Charlie (Batch) or Brian (St. Pierre) play. That's pretty much the thinking going in.
Q: Do You need to see more consistency out of your offense, particularly the first-team?
BC: Oh yeah. I don't think there's any question. They still haven't been able to put the ball in the end zone yet. We certainly have a way to go before we're where we want to be by opening day. This will be a grind. This is a good defense. They're very disruptive. They're a good team. And as a matter of fact, they haven't changed much. In fact, they got a few players back. This will be a good challenge for us on offense versus this defense this week.
Q: How important is this game with cutdowns next week?
BC: This is tough. To be honest, it's not going to be as tough as the last cut. But these games are important for each one of these players. We have some pretty intense battles going on right now that every practice and every game is going to have a degree of influence on the final decision.
Q: Will this be the last time you use the starters extensively, or will you go with them longer like you did the last couple of years?
BC: The fourth game we'll use them, but it won't be the whole half. This will be the most extensively we use them.
Q: Can you describe the play of your linebackers?
BC: It's been solid. Clark (Haggans) and James (Harrison) have played very well. You look at Larry Foote and James Farrior, they have been solid. The first group has been very solid. You look at the second group and Rian Wallace has gotten better each game, probably gotten better every practice. He has continually gotten better and better. Clint (Kriewaldt) has been very solid inside. Outside, you're looking at Alonzo (Jackson), (Dedrick) Roper, Andre (Frazier) and Arnold (Harrison). Those four guys, it's a battle. I thought Roper played very well on special teams. Alonzo has been solid, nothing spectacular, and Andre has flashed some. I think these are battles where we're looking at special teams, we're looking at defensive play. We're going to be very cognizant of how many snaps they're getting so that we can evaulate them on an equal opportunity. That's why these final two games are important.
Q: How different has it been for Clark with his hand completely healthy?
BC: Clark's a solid player. Clark has played very well. He's gotten the chance to play and stay on the field. He's a very active guy. He's a physical player. He's a smart player, he's got a good feel for the game. He waited his turn to get to that position and every year, he had a better feel for this defense. For a lot of the linebackers, the longer they're able to play within it, the more they're able to be more instinctive, more reactionary, because there is a lot that goes into it. I think he's a classic case of that. He's a solid player.
Q: Is Chidi the first-team gunner and who will take his place?
BC: Yeah. We're going to put Sean (Morey) out there for some and put Mike (Logan) back at fullback. Mike will be the personal protector on the punt team. We're going to put Ike (Taylor) and Ricardo (Colclough) out there. Ike, Ricardo and Chidi were the guys we rotated last year. Sean's a guy we put back into that personal protector because he's a third guy who's kind of hard to get to. Mike Logan is another guy who's had a pretty impactful camp, so we're going to put him back there and move Sean out there and take a look at him there because he's another option and putting Mike back there as the personal protector gives you some extra cover guys.
Q: (Bryant) McFadden seemed to do a good job the other day?
BC: He's getting better. He's got a way to go, but he's getting better.
Q: Are you a little antsy about how Ricardo was returning punts last week?
BC: I didn't like the first one. He's had a good camp. He played very well on defense last week. It was just that first one. If you don't catch the first bounce clean, let it go. I can see the first one, but the second one, the defender is on you. What was he going to gain? What are we going to lose, another five yards? I'm glad it was in the preseason and hopefully it will be something he'll learn from. Maybe we'll get (Antwaan Randle) El back there this week. I'd like to get him one back there. I've got to get him a punt return. Maybe I'll give him the first one and then get Ricardo back there. I'm fine with him. You've got to have guys who are comfortable. The one he caught at the 10 and I had problem with Nate (Washington) fielding the one where he outkicked the coverage. We're really emphasizing the blocking up front because we feel we have some special returners. I just thought the first one wasn't good judgement. I was fine with everything after that.
Q: Have you been happy with training camp, other than yesterday's practice?
BC: Yeah. It has been very good overall. We have worked very hard. We're getting a lot of productive practices in. That last week, I think everyone is getting a little anxious. But we've gotten a lot of work done. I think some of the young players are becoming more comfortable with the things we're trying to implement. And it's been competitive. We've had good weather. I'm glad we had some heat early in camp, that will serve us well down the road with conditioning, particularly when we go to Houston in the second week of the season. It really has been very good. We've had a good turnout. The fans have been great coming out here every afternoon going out there and providing a little bit of energy for us. It's been a very productive camp.
Q: Can you speak to what it says about this team that they didn't get distracted by everything that has gone on?
BC: It's a very focused group of guys. We have good veteran leadership. It's a group of guys who recognize the opportunity that we have and the challenges ahead of us. They've been able to keep it in proper perspective and recognize the importance of camp, recognize the importance of preparation. At the same time, they've been able to push each other, compete against each other and, at times, push the edge a little bit. To be able to go to that next level and stay at that level, you have to be able to push. This group understood that from the begining. I think for the most part, they've been able to adopt that philosophy.
Q: Will Verron (Haynes) get more work this week?
BC: He'll get his fair share. Him and Willie (Parker) and Noah (Herron). We'll monitor the snaps and continue to do that. I like the way it's balanced out. We've gotten to see these guys express themselves. I like the information we're gathering.
Q: Have you settled on your third-down back yet?
BC: We haven't made a concrete decision. We're getting there, but we haven't made a decision yet.
Q: Is Willie in the mix?
BC: He's a legitimate prospect, yes.
Q: Joey Porter looked good running around yesterday. Can we get a progress report on him and Duce?
BC: Him and Duce are right on schedule from everything I'm hearing from John (Norwig). We had to slow both of those guys down a little bit the first week, but they're right on schedule.
Q: How much of a factor will conditioning play, especially with Duce's comeback?
BC: I like the fact that with the situation we have at running back, we don't have to rush to get him back. I think it's very important that we don't do that. We need him this season. At the same time, we have these other guys. We have the luxury of getting him 100 percent before we bring him back. I think the running back position is a very deep one, which is nice considering where Duce is at right now.
Q: Might you keep one more this season?
BC: We'll see. We have to sit down and make that decision. People will play a big part of it, but numbers as well. It's going to be tough. This week is not easy, but the one after this is really tough.
Q: You went with two quarterbacks for a while last season, might you do that again?
BC: You've got to entertain all of those things. There are a lot of different combinations that come up. I don't know if we're leaning one way or another. Maybe what takes place in the next two weeks may have an effect. You get a couple of injuries in the next two weeks and that may alter what you keep on that 53-man roster.
Q: Is Brian still eligible for the practice squad?
BC: I've got to check with Kevin (Colbert). We'll talk about all of those things a week from now when we talk about our options. I'm not sure.
Q: Did going 15-1 last season give you added motivation going into this season?
BC: I don't know if there's any extra drive. I don't know if (the players) have noticed anything. What we have talked about is putting ourselves in the same position. Try to create as many home games as we can in the playoffs, try to get in the playoffs. And then it's a new season. I'm driven every year. You come back and there are no shorcuts. There's no easy way. You can't take anything for granted, regardless of who you have coming back or even the performances. I told the players, just because you played well last year, don't think you're going to get it done just by showing up. That was done based on preparation, the circumstances and how they performed week-in and week-out. I've adopted the same approach and mentality. We have a chance to be a good football team. We're going to have to overcome some adversity along the way. We're already had a couple of players going down and there is going to be some others along the way. The measure of this football team is seeing how we deal with that. If we keep things in proper perspective and play with a little bit of edge, we'll be fine. But sometimes that's easier said than done. We'll see how they respond in upcoming weeks and go from there.
Q: Is it tougher to get guys going after a 6-10 season or a 15-1?
BC: I don't know if it's tougher. Coming off a 6-10, you've got a little bit of a chip on your shoulder. You come off a 15-1, you feel pretty good about yourself. You feel like you're pretty good. I think when they go back-to-back like that, you realize there's not a lot of difference between the two. You've got to approach it the same way. Maybe the ball bounced a little our way more last year. It's about keeping things in the proper perspective and not taking yourself too seriously and playing with a little bit of an edge and we've got to adopt that same philosophy this year.
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