Opening statement:"Good to see you guys. Obviously, we've been hard at work, really, since the game yesterday. We got a lot of work done on the plane coming back. We're getting ready for Cincinnati – divisional game, a very important game for us. We look at the rest of the season as a six-game season. In some ways, this is like our opener. All eyes are really looking forward to become the best team we can be over the next six games. That's our attention. That's our focus."
**You have had a day to look at the film. What did see from G Marshal Yanda at left guard? *(Joe Platania) *"He played well. He kind of looked like he's played it all long. He didn't have any problems in there. It was a good move for us."
Do you think he got out of it OK? I know it's a pain tolerance thing with him, but is he OK? (Luke Jones) "He got out of it well. I talked to him this morning, and he felt really good – felt strong. He got a lift in this morning, so that was a good sign. He got out of it 100 percent."
How difficult is it to switch from one side of the offensive line to the other? (Jamison Hensley) "I don't know if it's quite as drastic as this, but in some ways, it's like you're a lefty all of those years, and now, you have to go over to the right of the plate and hit. You're going to play golf the other way. You're going to play tennis the other way. I don't think it's that drastic, but it's different. You have your other hand down. You have your other foot back and everything is backwards; you're setting to the left instead of to the right. All the plays are flipped. I think for him to do it … I was weary of it early in the week. I was just watching him in individual and seeing how he moved, but he did look natural doing it. I think he's been on the left side at times during college and things like that. It just shows you what a phenomenal athlete he is and how determined he is and really what a good football player he is."
Was this something that he suggested, or did a coach suggest it? (Jamison Hensley) "It was something that he suggested. He felt like it would be better for his situation with his shoulder to be on the other side, and that that would give him the best chance to be strong and stay healthy. We said, 'Yeah, let's do it. Let's try it.'"
Is that because his first punch is with that right arm? (Ryan Mink)"I think that would be a good question for him. He would probably have a better feel for that than I would. I'm not sure how it reacts exactly."
John, was there a time when you thought you might not have Yanda for the rest of the season? Did it ever get that severe?* (Jeff Zrebiec)*"I don't know. I think that's always a concern. You worry about everything like that when it comes to things like that. Shoulders and knees and hip joints, you always wonder about stuff like that. I'm just happy to have him out there right now. He played well."
*S Eric Weddle talked after the game about how he hopes that guys come out of the Cowboys game with some confidence, knowing that everything is right in front of them. How much is that the attitude that you guys need to take through the rest of the season? (Jeff Zrebiec) *"I think that's exactly it. Exactly what you're saying is exactly the way we need to look at it. If you look at the big picture, you just work hard to do as well as you can and be as good as you can. Confidence is a big part of that, and confidence is reflected, a lot of times, in success. You do things well, you build confidence. It's that simple, but also, you work hard. That's builds confidence as well. Our guys have done that, and they have also had a lot of success at times. They have done a lot of good things, especially our defense and our special teams. I feel like our offense is improving. I feel like we're getting better at the things we're trying to do right now. It's all about the next game. It's all about getting ready to play the next game and going out there and playing as well as we can. I don't think we need to ask our guys, 'Please, be confident.' Our guys are professional football players. They know they're good football players. We believe in ourselves. We believe in one another. We know that everything is right in front of us. This is our opportunity to go win the division. We won the Pittsburgh game to tie the division at 4-4. Since then, we both beat Cleveland and lost to Dallas, so we're even, and there's six games left. The same thing goes for Cincinnati, who is right behind the both of us, and we're all going to play each other over the course of the next six games. It's going to come down to that. It's probably what we knew going into the season that it was going to come down to division games, and that's what it's going to come down to. I'm excited about that. Our guys are as well."
**John, how do you address the issues with penalties differently than you already have this year? *(Mike Preston) *"[Be] very specific. I think you talk to … Jeremy [Zuttah] had the three penalties. Each one is different. Each one you try to address specifically. I think, in the end, the thing that he recognizes is that three is too many. Those are drive-killing penalties. To me, that's the same thing that happened earlier in the year. The first four or five games – the first three or four games – were about penalties on offense. It can't be about penalties on offense. That's going to slow us down. We're going to be moving the ball and have a penalty. That's not the idea. You can look at the officiating all you want. You can look at the calls. You can ask yourself whether the calls are being made on both sides all you want. That's not going to fix anything. We just have to find a way to do it our way, play in such a way that we don't have penalties. I think it comes down to every coach and every player. I think it's a reflection of the coaches. It's what we need to do as coaches to get the job done to make sure our guys play without the flags flying."
*You have had glimpses of dominance this year, but are you still chasing a full 60 minutes of dominant football this year? We have seen solid halves, but there hasn't been one game where you can say you have played a complete football game this year. Is there any reason why? (Jerry Coleman) *"I think you said it. That's the fact. That's the way it's been, and I think it's well stated on your part."
You have not been able to pinpoint why? (Jerry Coleman)"Everything we talk about every time is [that it] is a number of things. We talk about it every single week. If you are looking for one thing … If you are looking for the 'pin point' – there is no pin point. It is not one thing. If it was one thing, that would be easy. Look all across the league. Look at every team; it is football. Every game is different. Every game stands on its own two feet. [There are] 22 guys out there playing; special teams are playing. It is a play here, it is a play there. It is getting the job done. No, there is no one thing. There is going out the next week and competing and fighting and doing everything you can to overcome the challenges that you face and the opponent that you face and trying to win what ends up being … In a lot of ways – it is sports – but it is kind of like an epic struggle. I have said that before. That premise that you are dealing with; that is not our world. That is not the world we live in. That is not how football works. As you well know, that is not how life works. We will just keep fighting and try to find a way to win the next game."
Do you feel good about getting CB Jimmy Smith and OLB Elvis Dumervil back for Sunday? (Jeff Zrebiec) "We will see. I don't really know. It is up to the doctors."
With OLB Elvis Dumervil practicing fully on Wednesday and Thursday and then limited Friday, did he have a setback? (Ed Lee)"No he didn't. Like I said, it is up to the doctors. It is the medical staff that makes those decisions. That is how it works."
With six games left in the regular season, what are you expecting in terms of production from OLB Elvis Dumervil? (Ed Lee)"I'm expecting … I have no expectations. I am hoping he gets out there and plays, and I hope he has 10 sacks. That is what I am hoping for. I am hoping he just lights it up and dominates. I am hoping he is the difference. I am hoping he is the 'pin point' that Jerry [Coleman] is looking for. *(laughter) *That would be great. It is a fair question; I get where you are coming from on it. But, I just don't have the answer for it. If he is out there, I expect him to play great."
You have six games left and two are against Cincinnati. They are a team that has had its share of injuries, but also is very desperate at this point. How do you look at the Bengals knowing that you have to face them two times in this six-week stretch? (Dave Ginsburg)"We respect the Bengals, obviously. We have not beat them for a while. It is a big game for us. It is a big challenge for us. They have always been tough for us as long as I have been here. I'm sure [they were tough] before that as well. It is a rivalry game, a division game. [They have] a very aggressive defense, a very hard-nosed, tough, fly-around-type of defense. [They have] a big, physical offensive line, an excellent quarterback – Pro Bowl guy. We have to find a way to beat them. If we do not start beating the Bengals, then we are not going to win any division championships. That is especially true this year. To me, the whole thing goes through Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. We are going to have to win a couple other games, too, but it is the division. This is a division game. It is as simple as that."
You have said many times that you enjoy challenges and you get excited about building towards a challenge. There is probably no bigger challenge in the division than covering WR A.J. Green. It looks like he may not be there. How do you balance relishing that challenge with the fact that he may not be there and it might help you? (Joe Platania) "We have had to play without players. Everyone has to play without players. So, they have to play without players. That is just the way it goes. We just look at the players that are going to be out there, which will be plenty of good players that they have. We will have to defend them. That is really it. There is no really relishing or not relishing or anything like that. There is no way that goes into our thinking as much as we just have to go win the game against the team that they run out there. It is going to be a really good football team that is going to come out of that tunnel, and our job is to be better. They are going to look at it like their job is to be better for three hours on Sunday. It is going to be one heck of a tussle. I can't wait. But I can't wait for tomorrow when the players come back and we start going to work on the meetings. I can't wait for that."
RB Kenneth Dixon had some strong runs again yesterday. How have you seen him evolving over the past couple of weeks? (Todd Karpovich)"Yes, he has some explosiveness, he makes people miss – quickness. I think he is getting better. I would like to get him the ball more. That is the goal – to get him and Terrance [West] the ball more. To do that, we have to score points and extend drives and get the lead and do all those kinds of things. But I like what we see in both of those guys."
You were asked yesterday about the situation with the lack of runs in the second half, and you said the circumstances dictated that. After having a chance to review everything, are you comfortable or uncomfortable with the lack of runs? How do you feel about that? Was it the circumstances and the possession that they had? (Jerry Coleman)"Cleary it was [the circumstances]. I do not think that is even hard to figure out. I want more runs, because if you have more runs, then you have more plays. We had 51 plays. If you have more plays in the second half, you are going to run the ball more, especially if you have the lead. That is on us. We have to get off the field, and we have to extend drives and score points. If you do that, you are going to have more runs."
WR Mike Wallace talked yesterday of trying to maybe convince WR Steve Smith Sr. to come back for another year. Has that thought crossed your mind at all? (Jamison Hensley)"It has crossed my mind, of course. That is one that has crossed my mind that I will actually admit to. *(laughter) *I don't know, I am just thinking about Sunday really. Are you asking me if I have talked to Steve about it?" *(Reporter: "No, if it has crossed your mind.") *"Yes it has crossed my mind."
Last year, WR Steve Smith Sr. announced that it was his final season. Has he indicated to you that this is going to be his final season? (Jamison Hensley)"Yes. That is what he has told me. I think he has pretty much told everybody that."
Will you lobby and maybe make a speech [to get Steve Smith Sr. to come back]? (Jerry Coleman)"If he wants to come back, he is welcome, absolutely. You like every good football player you can get, but I don't want to speak for Steve. He has had an unbelievably awesome career. He got his 1000th catch, so he needs to be commended for that. Congratulations to Steve on that accomplishment. I am looking for many more this year."
What are your plans with TE Nick Boyle this week? I assume he is going to get back at practice and then you will make a decision Saturday? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes, that is probably it. I think we have a week to make the decision, so it is not for this game that we have to make the decision. It could be after this game, is my understanding, unless I am wrong about that, which is certainly possible. He will be back practicing this week. We will see how he looks. He has not been here for 10 weeks, so it has been quite a while."
Is the constant shuffling at tight end and needing to use T James Hurst there and TE Darren Waller … Has that been difficult, because that is a position that you guys rely on and QB Joe Flacco obviously loves involving tight ends? (Jeff Zrebiec) "It has not been ideal. We had a number of tight ends to start the season, and we ended up being thin there the last four or five weeks. I feel like Darren [Waller] has done a good job; he has actually blocked pretty darn well. [We] just play the guys we have and go win games with the guys we have."