CEDRICK WILSON, Pittsburgh Steelers
JW: How do you feel about the season you've had and whether you've fulfilled the role as the team's deep threat?
CW: I think I've made plays when they've been called. That's basically all you can do.
JW: Are you still frustrated by the limited number of chances you get here?
CW: Well, it's not as frustrating as losing. Winning helps everything, and I think that's where my biggest frustration came in. We weren't winning doing the things we were doing. Now that we're winning it's really hard to complain. As a pro, especially playing on offense, everybody wants statistics. Even playing on defense you see guys like Joey Porter and Clark Haggans and Larry Foote, Troy Polamalu, those guys want to blitz so they can get stats and that helps their stats and that helps them become Pro Bowlers and things of that nature. You can't just make tackles and make the Pro Bowl. It all goes hand in hand. You want statistics so you can be rated as one of the best in the league at your position and definitely guarantee yourself another year of playing this game. That's the reason you want statistics, but the ultimate goal is to win games and that's what we're doing right now.
JW: You've shown lately that you can get open deep. Is it starting to click for you?
CW: Going from flanker to the split end position, I've learned that it's a totally different game. I played flanker in San Francisco and I'm playing split end here. At flanker, I was able to get off the ball, go in motion on different plays, things like that. At split end, I don't get to do those things so I've really got to work my splits and stuff like that, so I've really come into my own. I'm on the practice field working on different splits and running the routes different ways. Now, my coaches, they've given me a little leeway at how to run the routes instead of just running it like it's drawn up. They've given me a little leeway to run it the way I think I can get open. I think that's the biggest thing.
JW: Was there a particular point at which you began feeling better with your position?
CW: Well, you look at the first couple of games. I was able to get open deep over 40 yards, and then there was a course where we weren't able to get over the top. After the first Cleveland game, I've been averaging a deep ball a game. I think there's only one game when I didn't get an opportunity to catch a deep ball. The whole thing is the quarterback having confidence that I can make that play. The more and more they throw it to me and I make a play, they'll throw more. So I've gotten a lot more opportunities and I think that's the biggest thing. We can all make the plays. We just need to have the opportunity to make the play.
JW: Am I the only reporter who thinks you guys are ready to take off as a passing team?
CW: The biggest challenge was the week some guy wrote something in the paper saying that (Antwaan) Randle El and myself were third receivers in the NFL. I really didn't take offense to that because I've been called it my whole career. But you see guys go from first to out of the league. A guy I played with in college, Peerless Price, he went from a No. 1 receiver to out of the league like that. The thing I focus on the most is I try to get better every day. I figure if I can gain the full confidence of the quarterback, make plays for him, I'll get more opportunities. We're a running football team. People are always talking about ‘Well, hey, Plaxico's gone, this and that.' And Randle El says all the time that we have more big plays than we've ever had this season. I've got four plus-40-yard catches and that's in the top five in the NFL. I don't have a lot of catches. I've got a lot of yards, just not a lot of catches.
JW: Playoff teams can stop the run, so this team will eventually have to pass to win. Can you guys do that?
CW: We've shown we can throw the football against one of the best pass-defensive teams in the NFL. That was in Cincinnati. We threw for 396 or something like that .
JW: But you lost the game.
CW: We lost the game and that's the whole thing. Can we pass the ball and win? Until we're able to prove that, it's the question. Here, we want to run the football because we believe in our defense. We want to rest those guys. We want those guys to go out there fresh. So we want to take as much time off the clock so they can get as much rest to provide them with as much energy they need to go out and do a three-and-out. That's what our team feeds off of. And I'm learning that as I've been here. I'm learning more and more about Steelers football.
JW: It sounds like coaches have to sell that philosophy to people like you in the passing game. Do they do that in meetings and such?
CW: Oh, yeah. You've got to. But like you said, we are coming around. And we can throw the football with any team in this league. Our record isn't 15-1 but we're going in the same direction that we were going in last year, and right now we're playing good football. Other teams, the ones that had great records, they're losing right now. I think we're at the point right now where we want to be. We've got a ton of confidence and going into the playoffs that's what you need.