What did you like best?
I thought we threw the ball pretty well. I thought the protection was good. I thought defensively that we had a chance to get off the field, but we had 12 guys on the field. And, really, the defense, on the second drive after they came back out, we couldn't get off the field on third down. We had some third-down breakdowns. But I thought the effort was good. I thought there was some good hitting going on out there and I thought it was pretty good at the line of scrimmage all night.
On special teams:
I wasn't happy about that, not even given last year. I mean this is this year. I'm not going to refer to last year. This is this year and I was not happy about that.
I guess we'll have to look at it and find out why, make sure we rectify the problems.
The 12th man?
Brent (Alexander) wasn't sure if we were going with a return or going with the defense staying. He was looking at the side. I don't think he could find Kevin (Spencer) and Kevin was looking at Hank (Poteat) so it was a kind of breakdown in communication.
Impressions of Randle El and Mathis:
I think both of them are playmakers. We know what Terance Mathis can do. I think he's a very, very good football player. Antwaan played very well tonight. To be honest with you, I expected him to do that. He's never not done that. He dropped one; Plax dropped one. I thought overall that we threw the ball pretty well tonight.
Tommy was very sharp. He did a very good job. Like I said, I thought we threw the ball very well and I thought Tommy played very well.
On kicking at Heinz Field:
I feel, obviously, that the more I get down here the better off I'll be, ideally, but then again I trust Josh's (Miller) perspective and he says that you'll never guess what it's going to do. So really the bottom line comes down to what it's going to do come November and December.
Feel any winds at all?
Not really. It was a little bit opposite of what it had been the other times I'd been down, but it wasn't significant enough.
Well, it seemed like towards the river, when I'd been down here in the past, the ball would drift right. Whereas today, it seemed like maybe if you'd kicked deep left, going towards the river, it would've been a decent kick. And going the other way, deep left, it made sense, but tonight it seemed like a couple times deep right was a good kick. They showed that. They hit the ball deep right. It wasn't enough to having it be an impact tonight, but I think it shows that it kind of does whatever it wants.
Maybe you shouldn't think about it at all:
Exactly. I mean, you just come down here and kick and do the best you can.
Were special teams problems due to confusion of having so many players on and off each unit?
It's the things we need to work on every day. We addressed those things in camp and paid attention to all the details. We need to watch film and see what happened and correct that so everyone knows because you could be out there at any time with different players if someone goes down or someone needs a blow during the season, so if you're out there you're going to be ready to go.
Do people need a kick in the pants?
We'll look at things. We'll be ready to roll. We're working hard and that hard work will result in some good play.
On special teams:
It will get fixed. It's preseason. We can't dwell on it but we have to really rectify it because that can't be the same [stuff] carrying over. It's going to get fixed. Coach Spencer's a great coach. He's doing everything he can. It will get fixed. It was eerie, though, to get that again. I mean, I thought we were past that. It's just something that needs to get fixed and I know Coach Spence and Coach Cowher will go get it fixed. We'll get it fixed. We're the players. They can only tell us. We have to do it. We'll get it fixed.
Ever want to run when it looks like a block?
No. I'm not going to run. The thing is, if I start looking at them, I won't think about the ball. I can't worry about that. I really didn't see him to tell you the truth. I thought I hit it clean and I thought it was going to be a good punt, then you hear that double thud and it all plays back to you that that was the problem from last year. It'll get fixed.
Is a double thud the worst sound in football?
Well, actually, the thud-thud-snap of the left leg is. It's amazing. It's stuttering. You know me, I'm never at a loss for words. I'm just irate. It's a new year. We've got to do everything. We have to take care of it. I mean, it's unreal. I refuse to let this be the problem that we had last year.
Could it become a snowball effect?
No. It can't be. I think it's just ironic. We all know from last year what happened, and then this year, first preseason game, boom boom. I mean, my God. If I was in your position, there you go. There's my front page. But as a player, I can only say we can fix it. It's preseason and with Coach Spencer and Coach Cowher -- as much as he's spending time with the special teams this year -- it's going to get fixed. It's just ironic that it took place on the first punt of the damn game and it'll get fixed. I have all the faith in the world in the guys and hopefully the coaches have all the faith in the world in me, and, hopefully, I really think within our unit we can find the answers.
How are you?
Not happy. I don't like getting a punt blocked, 12 men on the field. Those are mistakes you'd rather not make.
Being new here, you probably don't feel as bad as those back from last year:
Oh, I understand. Believe me I understand. But I also believe those were critical mistakes and regardless of what happened last year in Pittsburgh, or even San Diego, I'm not happy. Fortunately, you learn from it. It doesn't count right now. And you get better. I'm not happy.
How do you prevent a snowball effect?
You don't even address that avenue of it. You've got to play good football. It's no different than a quarterback getting his reads straightened out. It's just football. You make a mistake, you identify the mistake and then you fix it. I'm not into that phobia. I don't even want to address that. There's a four-letter word for that and I don't want to say it. That's just BS. I don't buy that. We'll get it straightened out.
On 12th man:
We were trying to get the free safety off and the punt returner on. Brent wasn't sure of the signal I gave and so he hesitated and we were running out of time, so that's what happened. That's my fault.
That's an easy one to fix, right?
Yeah, but it was the first series. We stopped them. That was just a mistake that should not have happened. Yeah, you're right, it can be fixed but it should not have happened. That's my responsibility.
We had a zone thing and Amos (Zereoue) thought it was a man-up situation. Amos chased the looper and the guy came off the edge, so it was a breakdown in identification technique.
What happened on the blocked punt?
I got kind of confused. They showed us a new look and I don't think me and Zereoue communicated.
What do special teams problems mean?
It means there's trouble coming up this next week (laughter). That's what that means (more laughter). That's what that means. Special teams will be out there, whoa. But, nah, we'll be fine. It's the first game. You have that feeling in mind when it's Monday night and you see it going the other way but that won't happen.
ANTWAAN RANDLE EL
Any confusion at all?
No. That's the biggest thing. If you get the plays down, everything's easier. You know where you're supposed to be.
Surprised Kordell Stewart was looking for you every third down?
I'm not surprised. That's something we work on. On our offense, everybody can get that ball. I was open and he got me the ball.
Surprised you took a seat so early like a veteran?
That's not my decision. As a rookie, you've got to come in and gain respect from the coaches and players. It's not something that's given to you. I'm still gaining it.
Feel like you've gotten some?
I've gotten a little bit, but I've got to keep doing it.
How long do you have to carry the veterans' helmets and pads?
I'm a rookie. That's part of it. For the rest of the year, it's ‘Carry the helmets. Get dinner.' I've been to Popeye's several times.
Will you get comfortable playing DE?
Tougher than you thought?
I knew it was tough. The game I had, I probably had two sacks - but I didn't get it - off the game. We ran a game, me and the tackle, and I saw the quarterback, but I was slow. I was so anxious to set the guy up, I ended up being the trailer and being slow and I didn't get the sack.
Get locked up more being on the line?
No, actually I didn't. When I play inside, I get more. I've been rushing so much, it kind of gets you out of using your hands so much.
Do you have to come up with pass-rushing moves?
Yeah. You've got to do all that. You can't just be a one-style type of guy. If you rush up the field all day, tackles will basically just jump back and ride you around the quarterback.
Are coaches committed to this?
I think I do a well enough job where we can stick with it just to have Joey (Porter) on the inside. I think I can make the pressures. I'm good with the games and things like that, just do it a little faster. But I think we can think with it. Joey's a better pass-cover linebacker right now. He knows all the drops and calls and everything like that, things I still have to work on.
In your element at the goal line?
Yeah. I had to calm down. We've got James (Farrior) in there. I had to remind him to back up because that was a problem I had last year. I would be up in the line and miss tackles because I was caught up in all the trash and everything.
It was a situation where I overlooked Randle, based on the progressions, and went back a little too quick, got antsy and the ball got away from me. That was the first thing I said to coach when I saw him, that I got beside myself a little bit and that was something I wasn't supposed to do. If I stay front side, it would've allowed me to throw to Randle, who was wide open. If I would've taken my time, going front side first, it would've came open and developed a little better.
On problems at goal line:
Because we didn't score, it doesn't mean we have to go try something else. Because if we do score, you say it was a good job.
How aware are you of battle for second team QB?
It's healthy. Both guys were starters in their time. They're helping each other, along with Tee (Martin). So it's healthy for the team. If you can keep that competitive spirit around here, it's going to keep me on my game; it's going to keep Tommy on is, as well as Charlie (Batch) and Tee. It's not a bad thing at all. People have a tendency to pick their favorites, but it's about guys playing their best. It'll come down to Coach Cowher making a decision.
How much of a weapon is Randle El?
He's been a weapon for a long time. We got him and now we just need to put him in the right positions to make those plays. Getting the ball in his hands is key, but we can't force it. It's hard to watch a young man like himself go out and play as well as he did his first game and say we need to peel back a little bit. It's hard to do that because he did so well. But we have to be smart with him, because if we try to feed him too too much, teams will catch on to him and we'll be fresh out of luck and that's not what we want. If Coach Mularkey continues to do it the way he's been doing it, we'll be fine with getting him the ball when necessary and not trying to force it to him.
On going to him on three straight third downs:
Because he was open. Not because I wanted it. It was because I needed to, based on coverage. The one time I didn't go to him, it cost me. He was open on that one, so he would've got it four times.
You want to feed everybody, but if a guy's wide open, and you've fed him six times in a row already, give it to him a seventh time and let him go on about his business. Yeah, I should've given it to him again.
He's still resisting your nickname for him, Mini Me:
He's going to fall into it. You guys are going to create it, you guys are going to start it, you guys are going to talk about it for a long time. I'll keep talking about it. Before you know it, he'll submit himself to ‘Mini Me.'
What about Randy? Bobby Knight called him Randy:
I wouldn't call him Randy. It's kind of soft. He's a tough little guy. ‘Mini Me', I think, he may like a little better. I may have to get creative and call him ‘Li'l Me.'