Press Conference Transcript - Practice 12/2


Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg

On CB Fabian Washington's role on special teams: "Well, Fabian's been working. He played full safety, and the last time he was up, he played hold-up corner on punt return. At this point, that's what he's been contributing."

On whether Washington came to him wanting to help on special teams: "Yeah, that was quite a few weeks ago. Yeah, he did."

On how Washington's attitude has improved: "I don't think it necessarily improved. It's always been good. It's never been down, so there really wasn't anywhere to go. He's a team guy. He wants to help the team, and he continues to be that."

On how much he monitors weather conditions: "Every day we look at it. We look at it before the day's practice, and we look at it for the weekend. Then, as you know, the closer you get, the more accurate it becomes. But you try to pay attention to it because it affects the kicking game. The wind affects the kicking game. The temperature affects the kicking game, so we pay attention to it, with the exception of if we're playing in Minneapolis or we're playing in Indianapolis. Then, we're just concerned about the airplane." (laughter)

On whether it can be overemphasized how valuable K Billy Cundiff has been with touchbacks: "I don't know if it can be overemphasized. He's done a fabulous job for us. He's been a big difference in our kickoff coverage drive start. Our defense appreciates trotting out there and the ball is on the 20-yard line in the middle of the field. I know our kickoff coverage team appreciates it. It's certainly something that we've been fortunate to have. As the weather changes, as we all know, it'll have an effect on it, on how [far] the kickoffs [travel]. So, we anticipate covering a lot more kicks down the stretch in December and January than we have up until this point."

On whether the amount of touchbacks has exceeded his expectations: "It really has. It's been great. He was kicking off so well during training camp, but the difference in training camp is you don't do that much in practice. Because you're in training camp, you have to limit the number of kickoffs you actually practice. You kick an 'x' number of kicks, and you chart them, and it's training camp. Then, you get to the season and they start piling up and you go, 'This is really something.' He's really having a great year, both field goals and with kickoffs."

On whether a kicker's leg wears down during the season: "Billy takes really good care of himself. In some kickers, that may be the case. I'm not sure. Billy takes great care of his body. He's a fit athlete, and I think probably what's a little bit different about Billy than a lot of kickers, is Billy is a year-round trainer. A lot of kickers – when they get to 30 years old in particular – they take off the winter and they start kicking again when March or April comes around. Sometimes, even in June, guys will take off if they don't go through OTAs. But Billy kicks year-round. He goes home, and he kicks there. He comes back here, [and] he kicks here. He's had the benefit of having a view from the outside in, and he's had a plan on how to do this, in how he's trained and how he not only physically trains, but how he kicking trains. He's followed it through and it's really paid off for him."

On whether he worries about a starter like FB Le'Ron McClain getting hurt on special teams: "I wouldn't use the word 'worry.' I'm concerned about every player that's on the field. Injuries are a part of football. I don't want anybody to get hurt. I don't want Le'Ron to get hurt. I don't want Tavares Gooden to get hurt. I don't want anybody to get hurt, but it happens. Le'Ron was really doing a good job with our kickoff return team. He had made a difference for us since he had been in there, and we'll continue to use the best players. Le'Ron is a very team-oriented guy. He's trying to do the best he can. He really brought some spark to the unit, and it helped us. As soon as he's healthy, I'm sure he'll be right back on there and be excited to do so."

Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron

On how valuable it has been to have continuity on the offensive line: "It always helps. I think that's the key – keeping your offensive line healthy, keeping them working together and making sure you've got tough guys that will play banged up. And all our guys are that way. Most linemen are all beat up this time of year, but our guys, they don't miss any practice, they don't miss any treatment, they're in the building early, they're in the building late. That's what I think great offensive lines and linemen do, and we've got enough of those guys."

On whether they went out and got a player like WR Anquan Boldin last offseason for big games like this:"Yeah, no doubt. And I think there's a little bit of that in everybody we bring into the program, especially offensively. You know, you've got to win your division, and you better be able to play and beat Pittsburgh. We know the kind of game it is, we know the kind of game we want it to be, and we've got guys that kind of fit this kind of game."

On what the key was to holding the Steelers to just one sack in Week 4 this season:"That seems like a long time ago, it really does. But, it's week-to-week. I'd like to say that it was something magic we did, and there really isn't. The minute you think you've got protection solved in this business, forget it. These defensive coaches and defensive players are too good. They're going to try to find a weakness, find a scheme to get you. Here's what we do: We reinvent ourselves every week from a protection standpoint. That's what we do. We don't take anything for granted, we cover all our bases, try to anticipate the things we haven't seen, make sure our guys have answers. And then one of the keys to protection is separation by the receiver and great decision-making by Joe [Flacco] so the ball could come out quickly and on time. And against this defense, that's easier said than done."

On how comfortable he would be plugging new FB Jason McKie in if FB Le'Ron McClain can't play:"I think, again, I don't know how these guys [in the pro personnel department] around here do it, but they went out and found a veteran guy who picks things up quickly, has the basic concepts down of what we do in our regular package, because that's where we would need him, and that's what nine-year guys do. I think the minute you start worrying about it, then you might as well not play the guy. So, if he's in there, we won't blink. We'll run the offense that we run [and] expect him to know what to do. I think he expects to know what to do, and I think it's done all the time in this league. And I think that's what the great pros do, and this guy's a pro. And I'm really amazed that you can find a guy like that at this time of the year."

On where he thinks improvements need to be made in the running game that is down slightly from where they were at this time last year:"We always want to be above 4 [yards per carry]; the goal would be 5 [yards per carry]. I think long runs really taint those stats. We're as productive as we were a year ago running the ball, with the exception of the long runs to boost the stats. So, we've just got to continue this time of year, where the weather changes, and you've got to find ways to run the ball collectively with all of your [running] backs – make sure you don't get a tendency going one way versus the other, because people have a good self-scout on you. We just need to continue to get better. Sometimes those stats really can be a little misleading."

On what the Steelers do that makes them so effective against the run:"They're good players and they've got a good scheme. I mean, they really are an eight-man-front team. [Troy] Polamalu is always lurking, and when he's out of there the corners are coming in. It's an eight-man-front defense, and they've got good football players that are good tacklers, and that's what most good defenses are, and this is one of them."

Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison

On what kind of message he gave LB Terrell Suggs at the end of last season:"I've said this all along: I think if you remember, when that question was asked at the end of last year, it was asked by a number of people. Terrell Suggs last year did exactly the emphasis that we wanted. We wanted him to be an unbelievable run player, and he played… When we watched the tape, he was as good a run player as we had during that [time]. Now, the thing that happened is – and he's the first to tell you – he probably got a little too heavy, which probably [made him] a step or two away on his pass rush. He, on his own, and that's a real credit to him, decided, 'I want to have a great year, and I can play the run at this [set] weight.' And he got to that weight, and that's what he's done. I think he's probably 20 pounds lighter than he was last year, and you can see it. Going back to that, he was a tremendously unselfish football player last year in the way we asked him to play the run and to really buy into that. That's what he did, and now he's doing both of them."

On whether he has to game-plan differently for Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger than he would for other good quarterbacks:"Only with the idea, the emphasis, that you have to make sure you tackle him. You don't try to knock him down. I think in the years that I've been here there's been a number of times when we have had clean shots on him and we have hit him as hard as we could hit him, and it's like he bounces off of you. Last year was a pretty good example of the guys buying into what we said, and that is: Get him to the ground. Just get him to the ground. Last year when we played against him, the guys did a really good job of keeping him penned in. The other thing you've got to be careful about doing is overemphasizing his ability to scramble, [or] pretty soon you don't get any rush at all. The thing you have to do is you have to go after him like you would all good quarterbacks, but know that he's going to be a little harder to get down than other guys."

On whether Steelers WR Mike Wallace is tough to defend:"His 4.2 speed is what makes him a good receiver. When you watch him when he comes off the football, you say, 'This guy's a good receiver.' But, he doesn't look like other receivers until all of a sudden he's running by guys. He's got really, really deceptive fast, fast speed."

On whether he studies the Steelers' defense:"No, no. The only time you'd watch them is if you're playing an opponent who is playing their defense, and that's what you're scouting off of. The one thing I do know that I think you'd see is that there are a lot of the same calls, the same defenses that we run. I think the last time they played us they rushed three most of the time against us, if I'm not mistaken. And at times they blitz, so it's the same kind of thing. When it's there and when you think they can cover them to do it, you can bring pressure. When you don't [think you can cover them], you want to maximum drop to help your secondary. And I think that's what they've done."

On whether the Steelers are running the same offense after losing players on their offensive line:"Yeah, they're running the exact same offense. They're running the exact same offense, and they just plug in the next guy to run it the way they run it. It's the exact same offense in our [film] breakdowns when we see it as it was two years ago, as it was last year when [Roethlisberger] was in there and when he's played this year."

On his assessment of DT Arthur Jones' play against Tampa Bay, and what separates him from NT Brandon McKinney or DT Lamar Divens as the player to activate:"Those are tough decisions, and that's what makes this job with the Ravens probably one of the best, if not the best job in the NFL: When you have talented football players that are not active, and you have to make a decision on one over the other, but it's a really tough decision. A lot of places, [it's] the next guy's up. It's easy; you pick him. Our thinking in [activating Jones] was I felt in the Carolina game, I kind of hung the D-line out a little bit, in that we had four defensive linemen up. And our guys are such tremendous players and people, they said, 'OK. We'll go. We'll go.' But what happens is as that game goes on, when you've got only four guys playing three positions, it takes its toll. We talked a lot about it, and I said we're going to go with five guys. We've got to get five defensive linemen up, and that way we can rotate guys and [they're] not going to get worn out against a running team. The thing that separated Arthur, and it's a real, real close decision, is he's a little bit more active on the pass rush. We felt like he could give us a little bit more. In teams that throw on first and second down against us, you don't want three nose guards in there or three guys like that. You want to have somebody that can probably get to the passer, and he showed that in practice. But McKinney has stepped it up also. Again, it's always going to be a tough decision between those two, but that's a good problem to have."

On how S Tom Zbikowski played in practice this week:"Very well. 'Zibby' looks great – 100 percent. Zibby looks good. It's good to have him out there even though he can be a pain in the butt sometimes, and I know that from recruiting him [to Notre Dame]. (laughing) I got to go through that at the early stages, and he hasn't changed one bit. But I love him."

On whether OLB Terrell Suggs jokes with him: "Oh, yeah. It's just him. He'll say something, or he'll shove me or something like that [and say], 'Old man, get out of my way,' or something like that. I said, 'Hey, I'm not 70 years old.' He'll do lots of things. If something goes wrong during a practice, he's always [saying], his favorite thing is, 'Coaches, you're screwing us. Come on.' You love that part of it because when a guy – and our whole defense has been that way – when they give you everything, it's fun to have that. It doesn't make it so down, and we have a room full of those guys."

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