Got quite a bit of housekeeping going on around here today. Had the football team in, made some roster decisions and visited with some young men. Explained to them what it is that we're doing and why. Met with the team, handled some administrative things, and really kind of had an introductory walk-through to prepare us for the Tennessee Titans. Couple things going on and a couple reasons why. Of course roster cuts don't need to be made until tomorrow. Our schedule's a little different than most in the NFL because we play on Thursday. I thought it was important to get some clarity in terms of the men who are going to be working here in the upcoming week, preparing for the Tennessee Titans, so we proceeded and kind of informed guys of our roster decisions and had a team meeting with the guys that are going to comprise the 53. Today is like a Monday for us in terms of preparing for the Titans. From a business standpoint, it's not necessarily prudent to discuss those decisions publicly, to be quite honest with you. We've got another 24 hours here to do some things: manipulate the bottom part of the roster, or maybe even get potential picks for guys who we think are maybe not going to be part of it. So from a team standpoint, it's prudent to make those decisions, get some clarity, so the team can look around and know who the 53 are and we can get all our eyes pushing toward Tennessee. From a business standpoint, I will not be discussing those roster cuts here today because it's not prudent to do so. We've got another 24 hours. To be quite frank with you, I don't want to give the rest of the National Football League 24 hours to take a look at our guys before they deliver theirs.
We're focused singly on the Tennessee Titans of course. We get the honor of hosting a kickoff game, one that we're proud to be a part of. Got a great deal of respect for that football team. A lot to be concerned about when you play those guys. We know what it's like to be on the wrong end of one of those games against those guys. They beat us handily late in the season last year. The quarterback position, Kerry Collins makes great decisions. His quick-game accuracy is spectacular. He can throw the ball into tight spaces. Bo Scaife is a security blanket for him at tight end. Alge Crumpler's another guy at tight end. They've got some weapons outside, Nate Washington being one that we're very familiar with. They've got a high round draft pick in (Kenny) Britt. Justin Gage is a tough, tough football player at the wide receiver position. He got behind us there late in the season last year. Their running back combination is probably second to none. These guys earned the reputation and their nickname that they call themselves. The big thing is, when you turn the tape on, they put it on tape, as they say. I've got a great deal of respect for those guys up front, rock solid offensive line led by a savvy veteran in Kevin Mawae.
Defensively they're a great team. They've got players on all levels to be quite honest with you. Keith Bulluck is kind of their signature guy, high=quality veteran player who runs to the football, makes plays, seemingly always ends up with the ball in his hands. He's one of those defensive guys who finds a way to get after the football, whether he's rushing the quarterback, causing sacks, fumbles, getting interceptions. He's always around the ball. But like I said earlier they've got players on every level: Jevon Kearse; Jason Jones, who had a big day against us, Thornton and some others are very good. Of course they've got a great secondary. Cortland Finnegan is an All-Pro corner. Griffin and (Chris) Hope are a very good safety tandem that do a nice job of keeping the ball in front of them. Chris Hope's tough to deal with. He gets around the line of scrimmage and is very disruptive, a very sound tackler. I think Griffin was near the top of the league in interceptions. They're a good football team. How else would you want it if you've got a desire to be great? That's what we have. We'll find out about ourselves pretty quickly here in the 09 season.
Q: If you have a tossup between a veteran or a rookie, which way do you tend to lean?
A: There are a couple of factors. There's a security factor that weighs in the veteran's favor, where you have a sense of what he's capable of, less uncertainty. You know what his floor is. Then there's the circumstances of the ceiling, what the rookie is potentially capable of being, maybe not today but maybe a month from now, two months from now – his potential, and that weighs in his favor. There's not necessarily a formula that dictates what's going to be the deciding factor, really I look at each individual spot or case in that matter, and I can't tell you there's a formula.
Q: Do the circumstances of winning over building make a difference?
A: I'm always interested in winning. Let's get that out in the open. No, I don't cognizantly think that that's something that weighs into the decision. We're just trying to find 53 that we feel are capable of pursuing and bringing home a world championship for us. There are other factors at times that weigh into the decision. It might be the position flexibility of another person that's not part of that equation that can help in some form or fashion in the job description that those two guys are fighting for. It's a lot of layers to some of these decisions, but it's decisions that we have to make.
Q: Anybody flash last night to make the team?
A: I don't know that anybody burst onto the scene and really surprised us in the way that Pat Bailey did a year ago. What he did in that game was spectacular. You don't see people make four tackles on kickoffs in one football game. But there were some guys who helped their cause no doubt and are here today because they put an exclamation point, if you will, on their work with their performances. You could say that (Stefan) Logan put an exclamation point on stating his case for being here. Ryan Mundy put an exclamation point on stating his case of being here. So there are some of those examples, but probably not to the eye-popping extent of four tackles on kickoffs. And that might not seem like a lot to a lay person, but four tackles on five kickoffs by one man is pretty unique.
Q: Want to give us about 51 more of those names, Mike?
Q: How's your injury situation?
A: I guess all the people that were nursing things that were bothersome, I think are going to be ready to play. It's Tennessee Titans week. Mental health is a big part of it. I'm sure they're going to be ready to play. I feel comfortable where a lot of these guys are. The only guy that may be in question is Lawrence Timmons. He's at the doctors right now. We're going to hold out hope that he's going to be capable of playing. Really, I won't know until later in the week.
Q: When does the 24-hour waiver period begin?
A: We're going to hold on to the paperwork.
Q: So it starts tomorrow?
Q: Would you sign someone you like off the waiver wire?
A: Absolutely. That's another reason why we're kind of holding our cards. We acknowledge the possibilities of those thing occurring – not only waiver wire, but potentially trades here in the next 24 hours. That's just the nature of this business this time of year.
Q: Are you comfortable with the depth on the offensive line? Do you feel that might be an area you may feel the need to add experience?
A: I'm not comfortable, no. But I can't tell you that I was comfortable a year ago, and we lost two starters in September and we found a way to step up and deliver winning football. I'm not looking necessarily for comfort. Comfort's not something that comes with this job. Like I told the team when we were in Carolina, because we're now in a different phase of the season, it doesn't mean that team-building stops. It's a continual process. We're still in the process of knowing one another. Who's capable of delivering quality play for us from a backup offensive line position? That's one of those questions. Who's the third wideout? That's another one of those questions. You know who the candidates are. I'm not necessarily naming who the third wideout is. I'll just let those guys continue to fight and play it out and let it reveal itself to us as we play regular-season football.
Q: Did Logan show you enough to make you feel comfortable putting him at wide receiver?
A: No. He's a kick returner at this point. He's capable of delivering some gimmick plays and so forth but we acknowledge this guy's a work in progress as a wide receiver. He played running back in the CFL last year.
Q: Could you discuss Keyaron Fox?
A: He's really made a case for himself being a reliable football player. Coming into the situation, backup inside linebacker would be one of the places that could be worrisome. This guy can play. He made plays all preseason. Got a great deal of trust in him. If called upon I know he can uphold the standards of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Q: Could you foresee the day when you might use him as you did Larry Foote and use Timmons on passing downs?
A: Not at this point, no.
Q: What do you see differently in the Titans without Albert Haynesworth and their defensive coordinator?
A: They didn't have Haynesworth when they beat us up pretty good in Nashville. There's a guy named Jason Jones who had three sacks against us. He's still that guy in the middle of that defense. They've got a great deal of continuity with Coach (Jeff) Fisher and staff. Chuck Cecil's their defensive coordinator and Chuck's been there since 01. This is not like they've undergone wholesale changes schematically in terms of what they want to do defensively. It's really more of the same. I don't think they're going to miss a beat in regards to what they're doing schematically defensively, and of course we know they can play and play winning football without Haynesworth because they did that against us.
Q: Lendale White stomped on the Terrible Towel. Was that disgraceful?
A: I'm not getting into that. If that is a motivating factor for us as we prepare for this game, we've got big problems. The reality is this is a big game because it's the opener, they're a quality football team. What happened last year for us is in our rear view mirror. What the 08 Steelers did last year is history. It's no different than the 74 or 75 Steelers as far as I'm concerned. So I'm not going to concern myself with something that Lendale White did a year ago. I'm sure Billy "White Shoes" Johnson probably did something that could be viewed as disgraceful back when he played for the Oilers.
Q: Do you like your 53?
A: I do. I think it's been a productive preseason to this point. So I am pleased.
Q: Has Kerry Collins changed his release?
A: His decision making is extremely quick. He's decisive. That comes with being a veteran football player. Very rarely do blitzes get him. When you blitz, the only thing you're assured is the ball's going to come out in a timely manner because very rarely do you catch him. He's very accurate when people are covered. Those are the things that make him stand out. I'm not too into his deficiencies when I look at what it is that he does on tape. I look at how he can hurt us, and those are ways that he can hurt us.
Q: Charlie Batch has been such a good guy. Could you talk about what it means to have Ryan Mundy around? Y
A: ou probably don't want to hear me say this, but I could care less that Ryan is a local guy. I like the fact that he's a quality back-up safety. It's probably a nice personal note for him, being from here, but we don't care by what means people get here. If they're capable of helping us win and capable of putting their hand in the pile and helping us seek victory, than we appreciate that.
Q: How's Dennis Dixon's shoulder?
A: I think he's looking up. I think he's cleared to throw this week, which is kind of right on time.
Q: Will you spend any time preparing for a Wildcat package with Vince Young?
A: We've done that since OTA sessions. It's one of the trends in the NFL. You've got to be prepared for it. You prepare for it just like you prepare for people potentially coming out in no huddle or empty (sets). We're prepared for Wildcat. We've been preparing to Wildcat. I don't think our approach is going to change because we're playing the Titans and Vince Young is their backup, although he is a unique animal.
Q: Do they run the exact same plays no matter who the back is?
A: They're capable of running the same plays with both guys, but there's no question that those guys distinguish themselves differently. What I mean is they run the outside zone play with both guys, but you know that (Chris) Johnson is a dangerous guy in the outside zone. They run the inside zone with both guys, but you know that when Lendale White squares his pads and gets downhill on you, you've got some big-time issues.
Q: What's your halfback rotation?
A: Willie Parker's our runner. Rashard (Mendenhall) has done a nice job. He's going to get his touches. But more importantly than anything else, Willie Parker's our runner.
Q: Who's the short-yardage back?
A: We're still in the process of establishing roles. We don't have anything legitimately on tape, so I'm not interested in helping Coach Fisher do his job this early in the week.