Opening statement:"Good to see everybody. Thanks for coming. Hope everybody had a great Thanksgiving. Everybody looks well rested. We got a little time away, everybody did. We worked Friday as coaches, and then we were back today – coaches and players. So, everybody got two days off, which was great. I had a chance to watch a little football, which was interesting and entertaining. And our team got a little bit of rest, which is positive. A chance to heal at this time of year going into December is a big plus for us. It's a big challenge that we have with December football in front of us. It's the most important time of the year. It's what we build our program around. It's where we try to be at our best. So, we're going to try to prove that in the next four weeks starting this week with the most important game of the season against Minnesota. So, that's where we are."
**You'll be facing a Minnesota team that is 3-8-1, but they do have one of the best running backs of the past decade in Adrian Peterson. What makes him better than the rest? *(Joe Platania) *"I haven't really done the analysis of Adrian Peterson versus all the other backs that have ever played, but obviously, he's a great, great player. And it's not just him. They've got a very good football team. Just watching their offense today, they have a heck of an offensive line. They've got playmakers at wide receiver. They present you a lot of different challenges. Defensively, they can rush the passer really well. They're stout up front, and they've got some playmakers in the back end. It's a team, and [Peterson] is definitely the building block for them. They want to run the ball. We've got to stop the run, but it's not just that. It's the play-action passes, and it's the big plays out of the rest of the guys. They are a very formidable opponent."
**How is Jimmy Smith doing after the time off? *(Aaron Wilson) *"Jimmy [Smith] seems to be doing really well. He was doing well right after the game. He's going through the concussion protocol now. That was what it was during the course of the game. But everything looks really, really good for Jimmy. He should be fine. You never know with that. But it looks like he is even going to be able to practice on Wednesday, so we're feeling good about that."
**You're getting closer to the window to active Dennis Pitta. Do you think it will come down to the end of the week before you make that decision, or do you have a good idea on his status now or in a few days? *(Matt Vensel) *"It will probably come down to the end of the week. I've got a pretty good idea that he is doing well. It's just a matter of how well. Is he feeling good enough that the doctors feel like he's ready to play? That's really what it's going to come down to. He ran around well last week – you guys know that – and we'll go through the week this week and see how he does. And if he can play, he will, for sure. We want to get him up; that's our goal. But it's not 100-percent certain at this point."
**Is there a situation where you could activate Pitta but he may not play? *(Jamison Hensley) *"What's the rule on that? With this rule, does he have to have three weeks and be activated? Is there a closing window? I don't think there is. That's something I will have to check with [executive vice president/general manager] Ozzie [Newsome] on. We haven't had a chance to talk about that. But I'm under the impression that that is open-ended."
**Before the situation with Mike Tomlin in Thursday night's game, it was reported a memo was sent reminding coaches of sideline protocol. How aware are you of that? Do you have someone who watches to be sure you're not on the field during games? *(Jerry Coleman) *"There is a video tape that they send out every week, and that was part of it. There are always five or six points that relate to the game every week that [NFL VP of officiating] Dean Blandino and the league sends out that is helpful. We share a lot of it with our team, as a matter of fact, every Saturday. We want to keep our guys updated on what is going on as far as what's important with the officiating. No, I don't need anybody to keep me back on the sidelines, especially when the play is coming right at me. I'm pretty adept at getting out of the way. Those guys are big, and they move really fast. It's good to stay out of their way."
**As a follow-up, do you believe that someone on the NFL Rules Committee should be held to a higher standard? *(Jerry Coleman) *"You certainly can follow up and ask that, as you did."
**Do you believe that someone on the Rules Committee for the NFL should be held to a higher standard? *(Jerry Coleman) *"I think everybody should be held to a high standard. We're in the National Football League. No matter what the issue is, I know that every coach in this league believes that, certainly. So, [I'm] probably ready to leave it at that."
**A new video came out today. I don't remember who exactly put it out, but it was a different angle of Mike Tomlin stepping out onto the field. I just wanted to see if you had seen that, and if you had, just your reaction to it? *(Matt Zenitz) *"I don't know how you could not see all that stuff. Of course you see it all. Truthfully, we've moved on from that. We have. It's out there; it's something that's in the league's hands. I thought it has been addressed a lot. Everybody has talked about it on every angle. I really don't have anything to add to it. It doesn't matter what I think or what anybody else thinks. It just is what it is, and the league will handle it. Our focus really is Minnesota; it's really not that play. In the end, the good thing is it worked out. We won the game, and we had enough points to win the game at the end, so we can move on from that."
**Two wins in a row, and you control your own destiny as far as playoffs go. After all you have gone through, are you OK with where you are, looking forward knowing that you are entering December with some momentum? *(Dave Ginsburg) *"We're excited about where we're at. You can't really look back and say, 'We wish this would have happened, or we wish that would have happened.' What has happened has happened, good and not so good. But we are in position to control our own destiny. That is what you try to accomplish going into December, so we've accomplished that. Now it's up to us to make the most of it and to go ahead and control our destiny, win the games we have to win, starting with this one – and this is the only one that matters right now – and take it from there."
Do you think facing adversity early in the year may be good for a team in the long run, in terms of being battle-tested or something along those lines? (Garrett Downing)"Everybody faces adversity in this league. It's a very tough league. But you definitely are a product of your experiences, and adversity definitely is a strength-builder, character-builder. What we've been through has made us who we are right now. I like to think it has made us strong emotionally and mentally. I think our hard work has made us strong physically. We want to be at our strongest right now."
**You mentioned building the team around December football. How do you go about doing that? *(Ryan Mink) *"I just think you work hard. We work hard from beginning to end. The idea is to be at your best when it means the most – not to say that you're not trying to be as good as you can be in September, October, November – but you're always trying to build to a position where, when it means the most you're at your best. That's what we try to do. How do you go about doing that? That's a thousand different things – things that you see here every day. We'll find out whether that is the case for this football team."
I'm sure you don't get many opportunities to sit down and watch a bunch of games. Being how many teams are in it, was it kind of conflicting? Did you know who to root for? What was that like watching a bunch of teams who may be coming down into competition with you guys?* (Jeff Zrebiec) "I've got a big advantage because our owner, Steve Bisciotti … That's a big part of what he does. He tells me who we need to be rooting for and who we need to be rooting against. He takes all emotion out of it, so I knew exactly who to root for this weekend. I was prepared." *(laughter)
So with that being the case, I'm sure you would have wanted Cincinnati to lose. How well did you feel like, even with them winning, that it worked out for you guys yesterday?* (Matt Zenitz)"Well, the interesting thing – as you know – is that everybody is playing everybody right now. With so many teams involved, it's going to be the way the way it's going to be. One team wins, another teams loses. A lot of times, it helps us either way, and it hurts us both ways – it doesn't really matter. The fact of the matter is, what matters is us; we just have to win. If we win games, things are going to work out for us. If we don't, things are going to be tough. That's what we have to take care of; we have to take care of ourselves."* **
John, did Elvis [Dumervil] come out of that game OK? I know he went back in, so is the outlook on him positive going forward? (Jeff Zrebiec)"He got through the game and he got back in and played. He looks OK. We're going to have to nurse some things, just like we do with a lot of different guys."* *
I know with [Brandon] Stokley, you said you were going to check the next day because of a knee sprain. Anything, structurally, a major concern? (Luke Jones)"Nothing structurally with [Brandon] Stokley. Everybody came out of the game with bumps and bruises, like we said. I expect all those guys to play on Sunday. We'll just have to see if something fires up between now and then."