How does the team react to Ben Roethlisberger being out?
It's part of the business. The craziest things can happen all the time. You never know when they're going to happen, so you've just got to go out there and step up and play. It's Charlie [Batch]'s turn to go out there and lead the team on offense and we expect him to do that.
How does the personality change without him?
The personality over here doesn't change at all. Our defense is always going to go out there and do what we have to do. We're not going to ask Charlie to go out there and be a hero. We're going to ask him to run the offense, execute like he's supposed to, and lead the offense down there and score points, and the defense will go out there and do the job.
This team has thrived on adversity in the past. Is this something else you can hang your hat on?
Not a big challenge. Each week presents a different obstacle, and this is just kind of weird because it's fresh out the gate. Everybody's so fired up about playing that first game, then you go out not having your quarterback. But we're definitely ready. It's not going to stop what we do at all.
Can you guys play better to compensate for the loss?
That's just a natural mentality. When you lose somebody that's valuable to the team, you obviously want to go out there and try to pick up the extra little stuff you can do just to help the team overall. But we're not going to be doing anything that's going to hurt us on defense, everybody trying to make the play. You've got to make the play you're supposed to make. That's pretty much going to be it. Now we'll come out there fired up like we're supposed to, and do all the little things that we need to do, but I don't expect Charlie to go out there acting like he's Ben. He's going to do what Charlie Batch can do and run the offense like he knows how.
Did you guys pick up your level at practice yesterday?
No. This is not preseason. That's how we practice anyway. If anybody should know, you guys have been around here. You're one of our writers so you know how we practice anyway. Preseason is preseason. When we're out there during the regular season we want to practice hard. It's a whole 'nother level to have to step up anyway. There's no more twos and threes coming in. When you're a starter you play the whole game. So when we're out there practicing now it's not for fake; it's for real. That's just how we work.
How's your confidence in Charlie?
My confidence in Charlie's the same. Charlie's a proven starter. It's not like he's new to this game. He's taken Detroit to the playoffs before, so it's not like he's stepping into this situation and will be nervous. He's been in this league for about nine, 10 years so I have all the confidence in Charlie. This is the opportunity for him to go out there and show the rest of the world that he's a solid guy that, if something happened in an emergency, you can always put him in the game and he's going to prove that out here Thursday.
Does Miami look like you'd expect under Mike Mularkey?
No. He's doing what he do. It's hard to judge the preseason film so you can just see a little bit of the same packages he used to do when he was in Buffalo, but you never know what to expect in the first game. Whatever he shows in the preseason might not be there in the regular season. So we're just trying to prepare ourselves for everything we see on film and then we'll get a feel for it in the first quarter.
Are they a complete offense?
Yeah. They do have all the weapons an offense needs and that's going to be good for them. But I definitely feel like we have all the weapons that we need on defense also, so we're going to be ready. That's all I can say is we're going to be ready.
Can you exploit their line the way you did a couple years ago?
That's not the same line. Each year they're going to make some arrangements. They have some different players on the offensive line that weren't there a couple years ago. This is a totally different line under a totally different coach so when we get out there we'll see what happens.
Does Daunte Culpepper present a different challenge than a lot of quarterbacks in the league?
Yeah, he's a proven quarterback. He proved that he can throw the ball. He's a Pro Bowl player. He has all the credentials of saying that he's a good quarterback so I expect nothing different out of him but to go out there and play like Culpepper knows how to play. It's up to us to go out there and try and make him not feel as at ease as he normally would. So we're going to try and apply as much pressure and make him feel as uncomfortable as possible.
He said he's going to unveil a new touchdown celebration. Any reaction to that?
Nope. I'll just have to see what it is.
Does he look nimble to you? Spry? His leg?
You're using these crazy words ‘nimble' and ‘spry.' Just say what you mean.
Is he moving alright?
Well just say, ‘do he move pretty good?' You don't have to give me ‘spry' and ‘nimble' and all that. Yeah, he looks like he can run. It looks like his leg is holding up. He scrambled one time and he looked pretty good. That's preseason. Everything changes when the live bullets are coming. This is not preseason anymore. This is the real season.
What do you remember from him in the 2001 game? And how would you compare him with that now?
He was a much bigger guy. Much bigger. A healthy Culpepper and how big he was, instead of running and sliding he'd try to take you head on. I remember playing against him in the Pro Bowl game and Jason Gildon had him on the sideline. I just knew he was going to slide and he dropped his helmet on him. That's the difference from Culpepper then to Culpepper now. Back then he was still about 260 pounds and could run real fast and didn't mind taking on the head-up with a linebacker, so the difference now is he'll probably slide instead of going head-on with you. His arm hasn't changed. He still has a gun. And he still has the wits of a smart quarterback, so just whatever we can do to try to make him frustrated back there, show him a lot of different coverages and try to get after him.
Will the crowd help?
It's a Thursday night game. We're all going to be fired up. The preseason's over with. They got on us for losing the four preseason games so now we're fired up to really game-plan for a team and really go out there and show what we've got. It'll be a perfect opportunity to do it: national TV, Thursday before everybody's playing. It's going to be the only game on TV.
What about your knee? Are you feeling nimble and spry?
I'm ready to go. That is no longer a problem. Whenever I get out there on the football field, I make no excuses for nothing. I'm ready to go.
You said your team will show everybody what you got. What do you got?
We got a great team. If you get a chance to see it, check us out on Thursday. We are what we are. We lost a couple people but nothing really changed. I still feel like we have a championship team and we have a chance to go out and prove it Thursday.
What did you think of the Sports Illustrated cover story on you being the NFL's most feared player?
I talked my way up on it I guess. You know what I mean? If you say it enough and do enough, somebody's going to recognize something. But how they recognized it is pretty cool. I thought that was good for them to do that, because, you know, whenever you get something like that it's a good thing.