Thursday Practice Transcript - 9/8


Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg

On how defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano has changed since they coached together with the Cleveland Browns (2001-04):"I think one of the things that I have seen about Chuck [Pagano] that has been consistent over the years, is that he has a great football mind. He understands football, and the other part of that – I think that makes him a great coach – is that he understands people. He has a tremendous sense of humor. Even in the most tense moments, he can make things relaxed by just a witty comment. I think probably the thing that has changed with Chuck more than anything, is the defensive systems that he has been in have allowed him to pick and choose what he likes. When I was working with Chuck [in Cleveland], it was more of a 4-3 system, and since that time, he has evolved tremendously because he has been in different systems, including, of course, the Ravens' defense. That has allowed him to really grow in his football toolbox, so to speak. He has a lot of different things he likes from different systems and he is able to bring them all together here now."

On rookie WR LaQuan Williams' ability to return kicks:"The thing I like about LaQuan [Williams] is that it is something he is growing into. He has improved. Every time we have gone out and practiced, he seems to have a better understanding on how to track a ball and what a ball looks like off a punter and how to read the return. I see a lot of growth in LaQuan. What he brings, as I see it, is he is going to be more of a physical returner and have some long-range speed. He is not a dart, so to speak. A lot punt returners you see are short, quickness, change-of-direction-type of returners. LaQuan is going to be able to break tackles and get big plays by his long speed."

On if there is any concern over CB/RS Lardarius Webb's special teams role in addition to his role on defense:"We have a lot of guys that are carrying duties on both [special teams] and defense, and Lardarius [Webb] will be one of those guys. We have other players to play both returner positions, and we have other players who can play corner and nickel. It's going to be a team effort in all aspects of the game, and special teams is no different than that. We expect to play a lot of people at a lot of different positions."

On if he has decided on a primary kick returner:"We have discussed it at great length. We haven't necessarily settled on it, but it's in the process. Did I avoid that answer?" (laughing)

On how the team found Williams:"Give a lot of credit to [assistant special teams coach] Marwan Maalouf. Marwan was the guy that really bird-dogged LaQuan. We watch a lot of video from our scouts that give us names, and we watch guys with an angle of saying, 'Could this guy be a special teams player? He may not be one of the top 20 receivers on everybody's board, but can this guy play special teams and make our team?' Marwan really liked what he saw, and then he brought him to me and I really liked I saw. Of course, when we got into the draft room and then we shared that information with the rest of the room… I thought that our scouts did a really good job of finding him in the first place and bringing him to our attention. It snowballed from there, so to speak."

On if injuries caused teams to overlook Williams:"I think anytime when you are looking at college receivers, you want to see them play at receiver. LaQuan didn't get a lot of exposure in that way, but we did see him at special teams and we found his reps on special teams, which sometimes are not easy to find. He showed us some qualities that we thought he not only could be a good special teams player, but also showed qualities that we thought he could be a good receiver."

On how confident he feels with the new kickoff rules:"I think that the preseason has been good with the idea that at least we are lining up there, and we're running down from there, and we have kind of figured out the angles. The thing that is going to be different in the regular season is I think that you're going to see kickoff return teams approach it a little differently. I don't think you are going to see the ball being brought out from eight or nine yards deep. I think you will see fewer returns – even than you saw in the preseason – early in the regular season. The other part of it is in the preseason, you have a lot of different guys to play, and you are rotating your rosters and getting everybody an opportunity. Now, the teams have honed down into what their 53 [-man roster] is and ultimately their 46. You're going to see players that did not necessarily play on kickoff coverage in the preseason. They are going to be out there covering kicks. All those things change the whole notion of kickoff and kickoff return in the regular season."

On if he thinks teams will solely try to kick the ball out of the end zone for a touchback:"It depends on who their kicker is. Some kickers that cannot kick it out of the end zone without line-driving the ball, they may just go back to what they did before and just try to get hang time and get it around the goal line. Other teams that have kickers that can kick it out of the end zone easily, I'm sure that they will use that tool because it's a great weapon. The 20-yard line is a great spot if you are a defensive coordinator."

On if the departures of LB Prescott Burgess, LB Tavares Gooden and WR Marcus Smith on special teams will be easily replaced:"They are never easy to replace when you lose productive players, such as we lost, but it is a part of the special teams world. Our roster evolves every year. This year is no different in that regard. When you lose guys that are proven special teams players, it really puts it on everybody. The veterans that are coming back, we have asked those guys to help us bring the young players along. Somebody else has to take over their production, and that's really the way we are looking at it."

Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron

On how prepared he feels the tackles are:"Our tackles, we have veteran tackles the way I see it. You know, Michael is very comfortable at the right side, and getting Bryant McKinnie on the left side, you can't throw out… I was just talking to Stan [White, WBAL analyst] on the radio broadcast… You can't throw away 10 years of experience. So, we feel good about our tackles. We feel good about the men we have protecting, and we're fortunate [that] we go against [Terrell] Suggs every day. We go against Haloti Ngata, we go against Jarret Johnson. That helps us tremendously. I feel great about where our tackles are going into this game."

On if they feel prepared to go against Steelers S Troy Polamalu:"Absolutely. We go against Ed Reed every day, and we're fortunate. Does that make it easy? Absolutely not. This is an outstanding group that we go against. But, we get the looks that we need day-in and day-out to prepare us, and now we have to go out and get the job done. It's plain and simple. We, collectively – our staff, our players – are poised to get the job done. And that's what it's all about."

On what separates Steelers players like LBs James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley from other pass rushers in the NFL: "I think the fact that they play every down, basically the whole season. I think that separates guys, when you can play base and sub and play every snap of every game; that's hard to do. I think every guy in this league would agree with that. Obviously, they're big, they're strong, they're compact, and they're built. They're built to defend the run and be effective in pass rush. But again, we're fortunate to go against some guys very similar to that every day."

On whether the Steelers force turnovers more than other teams: "They do. I think… Are they different from anyone else? I don't know. Two years ago, New Orleans lead the League. I mean, they took the ball from everybody. So, to single them out over a lot of the good defense in the League, from that perspective, you'd have to do the analysis on that one. But again, like our defense, I mean, what's the signature of our defense? They take the ball away and then they know what to do with it once they do get it. So again, hopefully we're prepared. Based on the looks we get in practice, I'm confident we are."

On the importance of wearing out the Steelers' defense: "I think there's something to that. It's easier said than done, but I couldn't agree with Joe [Flacco] more. They're going to play 12 guys, basically. They sub guys, so when one guy comes out, one guy goes in. And they play 12 guys the entire game. Common sense would say, the longer you can keep 12 guys out there… There might be some benefit to that."

On the importance of taking the deep shots against the Steelers:"I think every guy is going to stand up in this press conference when they play them and say that all year long. That's where pass rush is critical. Buying time to be able to get those shot plays has its challenges. But, I think everybody in every game in this League feels like you need to get shots on every defense. So, not to avoid the question as it relates to Pittsburgh, but I think that's going to hold true every week."

Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano

Oh how he expects his young corners to perform on Sunday:"I think they're going to do great. You know, they've put the time in. They've done a great job preparing; they're studying. We've still got a lot of time and preparation left, and I can't wait to see them go out there and play. They've got talent – they can run. So, I think they're going to do fine."

On if he has any concerns about how CB Jimmy Smith will perform in his first NFL game:"Yeah, whether he has his pads on right or knows how to buckle his helmet, I think that's probably the biggest concern. (laughter) No, I mean he's going to go out there, again, like the other guys, and compete. He's going to line up. Certainly, there's a reason we took him where we took him. He's got the talent, he's got the athleticism. So, will it be perfect? No, no one plays a perfect game. So, there will be a hiccup here or there, but he'll be fine."

On whether he feels they are at a disadvantage because of the lockout:"No, I think you probably saw, through the preseason and the camp, that we had… We've got so much veteran leadership and so many guys back that the young guys… The only disadvantage would be the young guys getting acclimated to how we practice and the pace that we practice at. Terminology, call standpoint, those types of things… They're at a disadvantage that way, and they had to come in and learn under fire, but they've done a great job, and I don't think we're at any disadvantage. I think everybody is in the same boat, so it's going to see who handles this best."

On his take on the Steelers' wide receivers:"They can all fly; they've got a great group. They've got the wily, old veteran in Hines Ward, who does a lot of the dirty work for them and is still playing at a high level. With [Mike] Wallace and [Antonio] Brown and the rest of that crew, they can all take the top off the secondary. So, they've got a great group of receivers. We've got to do a good job of not only covering them for the first two-and-a-half seconds of the play, but if something breaks down and we have an extended play, we have to do a great job of plastering."

On whether they've asked Smith to put in extra time this week:"We've done that since he got here. He's been putting the time in. [Secondary] coach [Teryl] Austin and [defensive assistant/secondary] coach [Roy] Anderson have been putting in extra time with him and the rest of the young guys. So, they've all been doing extra."

On what S Bernard Pollard has contributes to the defense:"It gives you, as a play-caller and us on defense, it gives you an opportunity to do some things with him, because he's not just a box defender. He's going to show up in the run game, obviously, you saw in the preseason, you can bring him from almost anywhere on the field. He's a blitzer, he's a dynamic blitzer [and] he times up things. And he's a big guy. He's 228 pounds. When he comes, we call him the angry man; he's coming mad. (laughter) So, somebody is going… Something is going to happen one way or the other. It may be good for us and bad for them, or vice versa. But he gives you a real physical presence down in the box."

On whether Pollard has expressed extra excitement about playing the Steelers: "You know what? He just loves to play. I don't think the guy really cares who is on the other sideline. He obviously didn't care, in preseason, when he hit Matt Lawrence. So, I don't think he cares."

On whether he thinks Steelers TE Heath Miller has been overlooked: "You can't. We haven't. Somebody else might. The media might have over looked him, but we certainly haven't. He's one of the best; he's one of the best in the NFL and has been for a long time. He's a great blocker at the point of attack. A lot of times, you find in some of these guys are more move guys, pass-catching guys, but he does a great job in the run game and the pass game, and certainly, we won't overlook him."

On how he expects the defense to play on Sunday: "I expect them to play great. They're going to play with great enthusiasm. The energy is going to be at an all-time high. They're going to be physical. Again, like anything, it won't be perfect, but they're going to play great. That's what I expect."

On the importance of the pass rush against Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger: "It's huge. If you just look at history, you know, I just go back to 2008… We lost all three games on extended plays by him, so it's been a huge point of emphasis. It was in '08, '09, it was last year, and it will be a huge point of emphasis in this opener. You've got to take care of him."

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