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Press Conference Transcript - Practice 9/30


Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg

On Pittsburgh's special teams units: "[There has been] a lot of change from a year ago. They've performed very well in the first regular season games. You can see that new coach Al Everest has done a really good job of installing his systems and doing it his way. They've been very effective thus far. I think it's both in the fusion of personnel and also Al's influence."

On whether the Steelers have addressed their coverage teams: "I think they did. You look at the change in their special teams roster, and there's a number of moves they made to try to – in their opinion – shore up that area. They're getting help from some starters. And again, the new coach… His system is now in place, so it's a different look to it than it had a year ago, certainly."

On whether he is seeing more north and south running from S Tom Zbikowski on punt returns: "'Zibby' had a very good return last week. We got the gunners blocked, and he got a good, positive return, and we hope to continue that. I think he's growing into his role. When you're playing full-time safety, and then you're in at the end of a drive and then you go out there and return punts, it's not like you're coming off the bench to do it. So, I think he's now becoming used to that aspect of the punt return game."

On whether there is a plan to get CB Prince Miller involved in the return game: "We brought him back because we obviously think he has ability, and he showed well in the preseason games. Just like every week, every roster spot is a valuable spot. It's not just the returner aspect of Prince's game. It's, 'Can he help us at corner? Can he help us on the other special teams phases?' So, this week will be the same way. The roster spots will be determined by how many guys can do how many things."

On what he's seen from CB Josh Wilson in the return game during practice:"He's done well. He shows burst. I mean, he's got good vision. There's a reason why he was successful in Seattle doing that, because he shows in practice those same attributes."

On whether Wilson is a guy that could potentially find a bigger role:"He's a guy that could potentially have a bigger role."

On how K Billy Cundiff could have improved his leg strength so drastically over the past year, with all of the touchbacks he's getting on kickoffs:"Well, one thing if you recall, when we played Cleveland earlier in the season at home [last year]… We remember Billy in Baltimore from when Billy got here, and it was later in the year, and the weather changes, and later in the season is different from earlier in the season with regard to that. But if you remember, Billy had a touchback against us – when he was kicking off for Cleveland – that was very similar to the two balls that he hit at the end of the game last week. Now having said that, I think Billy has also been a beneficiary to being in a club during the offseason. We can all imagine being out there on our own, being a free agent, and trying to train and trying to do the nutrition and doing the practice facility. And all the things that you gain by being in a club during the offseason, Billy has really taken advantage of."

On whether he sees Sunday's game being decided by three points or less, much like the past few games with Pittsburgh have been decided:"Well, every week in the NFL, in my view, it is that way. The margin between the teams, top to bottom, is so narrow. And every little aspect of the game, you try to use to your advantage. And if the kicking game becomes another advantage that's to our gain, I expect this one to be the same way."

Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron

On how the offense plans to offset Pittsburgh's pass rush with LB James Harrison and LB LaMarr Woodley: "Obviously, [they are] two of the best in the league. You come up with what you think is going to be a sound plan. Sometimes you double them, sometimes you single them, sometimes you triple them. And then you rely on the trust between the quarterback and the receivers to get the ball out quickly. Obviously, they do a great job of coverage on the back end. Obviously, [Troy] Polamalu does a good job of disguising things and trying to create indecision. I think they're whole deal – like most good defenses – it all plays hand-in-hand. The back end coverage helps the front; the front helps the coverage. They're a lot like our defense. They do a nice job."

On whether any other team in the league presents as many problems on defense as the Steelers:"We've gone the first two weeks this year – I think time in this season is going to prove it out – the first two defenses we saw this year are going to be good defenses because they've got good down linemen, and they've got multiple players that can do multiple things. I think that's where defenses gain advantage. We have multiple players that can do multiple things, and then they can make the adjustments from week to week. One week they're bringing these guys and dropping these guys. Then the next week, they do the exact opposite. Most teams don't have that luxury. They rush the good rushers and they drop the coverage guys. Pittsburgh is a lot like our team and a couple teams we faced, and I'm sure there are others out there. There's probably a handful of them."

On whether he had to do a double-take when he saw T Jared Gaither practicing yesterday:"No. No. Not at all. I think that's just part of the process that we're going through. And it could happen to any guy in this league. Injuries are a part of this game – it's a 100-percent injury sport. You just kind of work yourself through it and really pull for the player, because players' careers are very short. Coaching careers, you hope, have some length to them, but players have a small window. And you want guys to be able to maximize that opportunity."

On how Gaither looked in practice:"From what I saw, it was solid. [He] wasn't out there a lot, but a step in the right direction."

On whether it would be too soon for him to play this Sunday:"Yeah, I think that would be asking a lot of anyone. It's nice to have him back. I think Greg [Mattison] used the word, 'It's nice to get the feeling like he's back in the mix.'"

On his reaction to hearing people say that the Ravens are still looking for an identity:"I think that's great, because that's… Everybody's view of an identity is different. We've done it… Some people want to throw it more, some want to run it more [and] some want to be balanced. Everybody has their opinion. And I think that's what's great about football in general – about the National Football League – is everybody has opinions of what someone's identity is. For us, it's going to vary from week to week, and that's just the way it's going to be right now. You don't attack every defense the same. Does it always look the way you want it to look? Unfortunately, it hasn't. But we go with the plan. I think the fact that we stick with a plan, our players know we have confidence in them. We've got a lot of guys that can help us win, as you saw all the way down to the last few plays of the game where we had one player have to make one play. And our guys are buying into that – that you've got to be ready to make that one play that can make the difference in the game. If two come, then be ready for two, then three, then four. You work from there. We've got a great group of guys that… I guess our identity is, 'Be ready when called upon, and execute the play call.' And I think our guys are doing that."

On how he deals with three big-name WRs:"It's a good question. Some would say an obvious question. The important thing for me, because stats don't always tell the story… If you look at what guys do to be a good offense, most guys are blocking to some degree. So we still look at it… From what you say, it's about Todd Heap for the last couple years. People downplay Todd at times because they don't put value in blocking or the little things. I've probably got to do a better job of making sure everyone knows all the little things that our receivers are doing to help us win. You don't measure them completely in number of catches. Now, with that being said, they've all caught a lot. The important thing for me is that there's a chemistry between Joe [Flacco] and the receivers, and that continues to grow and develop. And I've talked to those guys about it – they know it. You really don't have to talk a lot about it. But that's the important thing. I like the fact that when it doesn't work out one way or the other, it's, 'OK who's calling the plays?' Put it on me. I'm OK with that. That's what I do, and I like that responsibility. The important thing is the chemistry between Joe and the receivers. If it affects that, then we've got an issue. As long as there's no chemistry issue between Joe and our receivers, we're going to be fine. And we don't have that right now. We've got great chemistry between those guys. We've got to get the numbers. We want those guys all to be able to contribute. That's my job; that's our staff's job. If a guy gets shortchanged in his mind here or there, put it on me. Alright? Let's get ready for the next week and see what this week entails."

On whether the Steelers are using S Troy Polamalu to blitz as much as before and how he accounts for that:"You always account for him, No. 1., so you don't have to get into if you're going to account for him. You just account for him, because we know he's got some freedom to play plays at times and do what he thinks can stop any play. So you have an understanding of that. And everybody's on everybody's radar. You can't overreact to it, but you can't minimize it either. Know where he is, be heads-up for basically anything, stay within the structure of the play and play ball."

On whether Polamalu is rushing as much as in the past:"They're mixing him up. The minute… They do a good job of their tendencies. If they're not rushing him a lot, here he comes. If he's been rushing a lot, he's probably not going to do as much. But you better account for him every snap."

On whether this is a type of game where he values having multiple TEs:"I think having multiple tight ends is always good. Sometimes it's a lineman though. Le'Ron [McClain], as you saw last week, Le'Ron McClain was graded at the highest of any player on the offense last week – graded at a Pro Bowl level. He had a Pro Bowl performance last week. You really just get your best players out there. And the good news is we've got a lot of players to choose from, so it'll be a mixture of personnel groups. Two tight ends fits when those are your best guys, and we're fortunate right now we've got some good young tight ends."

On whether he is encouraged about how RB Ray Rice looks right now:"It's hard not to be encouraged being around Ray Rice. He's just an upbeat guy. There aren't many things that get him down. Is he in the mix for this game? Absolutely. I think we all know what we're dealing with [when it's] with Ray Rice."

Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison

On the New York Jets supposedly signing former DE Trevor Pryce:"Oh, I hadn't heard that. I didn't even hear that he was [signed]. But if that is true, we loved having him here. He was a tremendous addition in our meeting room, and we wish him the best of luck."

On what he saw on film from the run defense last weekend against Cleveland, and what they've done to correct that this week:"The thing you see when you look at it, obviously, those numbers aren't acceptable in our defense. And so, we immediately look at that very closely, and the thing you look at – first of all – is [Peyton Hillis] had three runs that accounted for 80-some yards. And of those 80-some yards, those could have been held to 12 or 13 yards or 14 yards, had you made a tackle. Usually when a team does gain some yardage running, there are missed tackles involved, and we've addressed that. And I think you've got to give credit to Hillis. He ran very hard against us. But we definitely have addressed it, and we'll work very hard on it this week."

On whether he expects Pittsburgh to test the run defense:"Oh, yeah. I think that's the thing that happens more than anything. When a team does have success at one phase or the other, you know in this league you're going to get it coming back again to see if you've fixed it. And I'm very confident in our players and their ability to do what we have to do that way."

On where DE Paul Kruger is in the whole defensive process at this point:"Well, Kruger has been banged up. The first thing, Kruger was doing very well in camp, and then as we went through the preseason games, he had a labrum problem or something like that, with his shoulder. And this week he's just now coming back where he's, I think, 100-percent. He's a very important part of our defense. He's improved a great deal in the [position] switch, and we're looking forward to – if he is one of the guys that is in the active this week, and that's again a decision we have to make later in the week – he will be, again, a big part of this game, as he was last year when he played against them."

On whether rookie NT Terrence Cody could be active this week:"He's another one that's in the mix. We're not sure [yet]. Terrence Cody is back. You know, he's working very hard, he worked very hard last week, and I'm really excited about seeing him play again. The thing I'm proud about Terrence Cody – and this doesn't happen a lot with young guys – is he came back off that knee [injury] and he's worked extremely hard to come back. And a lot of guys don't do that, and he's done all of that he can do."

On how much differently you prepare for the Steelers defensively without QB Ben Roethlisberger:"Well, you know it changes in their strategy, and really, you don't go by who the quarterback is when it's over a three-week period. It's more the tendencies of that offense. And there [is] definitely a way they do things with the quarterbacks they've had in there in the last three weeks. So, our whole thing is to prepare for whoever shows up out there with the way their offense runs their offense."

On whether they really are a different offense without Roethlisberger, however:"Well, Ben Roethlisberger is one of the best there is. And with a guy that's a veteran like him, has played as long as he has and has been as successful as he has, there are so many more things that you can do with him. And so, that would be the case at any team that lost the guy that's such a great quarterback."

On what problems QB Charlie Batch presents:"The thing that you've got to respect about Batch is he's been in the league, and he's played in the NFL for 10, 12 years. So, already you've got a lot of experience. He's a very intelligent quarterback [and] he's been very successful in the past. So, anybody that plays in the league this long has earned respect. And you respect anybody that's done that."

On what RB Rashard Mendenhall brings to the Steelers' offense:"Mendenhall is a great running back. He has the ability to make you miss in the hole, and at the same time, he can run very physically. So, you've got that combination, [and] usually they don't go hand-in-hand. He also shows that he can break it away once he gets in the opening. He's as good a back as we'll play against, and so that's going to be a very big challenge for us, and that's what we're looking forward to."

On what he's saying to the defensive backs, among others on defense, about interceptions right now:"Nothing. The thing you talk about in defense – and all the years you've done this – you know they come in bunches. You can't press and say, 'Boy, look at the stats. We haven't gotten many turnovers; we haven't gotten many interceptions.' You know what? All of a sudden, the thing you've got to look at is, have you gotten as many as you could have gotten? And we had a couple we've dropped, and that's two of them, but other than that there aren't a lot of other ones that we could've gotten had we played something differently. They're going to come. Our secondary is doing a tremendous job. And as long as they keep doing what they're doing, and we get the other parts cleaned up – which we will – I'm looking forward to it."

On how tough it is to clean up tackling during the season:"A lot of tackling is mindset. A lot of tackling is you just going a little bit extra, and them knowing that, 'OK, hey, I've got to make sure against a bigger back, that I have to wrap him harder.' Those kinds of things. You've got to have a little different mindset about who you're going against, that way."

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