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Coach Munchak's Aug. 25 Press Conference

Posted Aug 25, 2013

HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(on if anything has changed in the battle for the starting cornerback spot between Tommie Campbell and Alterraun Verner)

We haven’t made any final decisions on that position, no.  As far as yesterday, they both played about the same amount of time.  Again, we are just evaluating that now as we just watched the film today as a staff and deciding how we are going forward in the Minnesota game.

(on if Alterraun Verner hurt himself with his performance against the Falcons)

He got beat deep on the one ball.  The penalties are questionable probably, of the calls that happened there against him, but they were called.  Luckily, we were able to overcome those.  I think it is something we are evaluating it and we haven’t made any final decisions on that position.  We will do so here in the next few days.

(on Rob Turner’s performance)

He played good.  Again he was solid and I thought the offensive line in general played pretty well.  Again, some things here and there we have to get better at overall, but I thought he did a nice job.

(on Brian Schwenke’s performance)

He looked good.  He looked sluggish a little bit, but he’s physical and reactions to things happening around him and some of the line stunts, and you saw it coming as the game went on he got better at those type of things.  It was his first time seeing things at that speed.  For him it was good.  I know he was just enjoying himself.  He is kind of like Chance (Warmack) and those guys just enjoy playing and love the game.  We left him at center the whole second half and he did a nice job.  He is just going to continue to get better and it is just unfortunate that he missed so much time.

(on Bernard Pollard getting another personal foul penalty)

I think he has to be careful with it.  I think it is something on that play in particular, after talking with the official, he thought it was helmet-to-helmet and it wasn’t.  To me it was bang-bang and when he was hitting the ground, he was hitting him and he hit him with his shoulder-to-shoulder.  I think he saw it differently from his angle and watching it on tape, it wasn’t the hit he thought it was I don’t think.  Again, we can’t have those penalties.  We have to be careful.  Anything even close to being a call, especially someone who they know is aggressive, it probably adds something to it.  It shouldn’t, but I’m sure it does.  He has to play smarter.  There is no way around that, we can’t have 15-yard penalties in this game.  It is hard enough to win as it is.  We can’t help an offense by doing that like we did in the game this weekend.

(on his thoughts regarding the Keith Bulluck arrest)

I haven’t heard much about it, so I probably don’t know as much as you guys even know about it.  That is something I will wait to hear exactly what happened there.

(on if the Keith Bulluck arrest is surprising)

I don’t want to comment because I really don’t know what Keith did or didn’t do.

(on what Keith Bulluck was like personally)

When he was here I was the offensive line coach when Keith was playing, so great football player and great guy, a leader in the locker room.  He showed up every day and worked hard and had a great career.

(on if anything involving Keith Bulluck and the police would surprise him)

Yeah, anything at all.  When he was here playing as a football player, he made good decisions, so again I will wait to hear the information on what happened.  I’m sure it will all get worked out hopefully and that is something he is very innocent in.

(on when roster cuts will come)

We will do that the next two days.

(on the defense responding with multiple starters out with injuries)

I thought they did a nice job.  I thought they knew the challenge, they knew it was time to step up as a team in general.  I thought it was good with the opening drive that was similar to the opening drive against the Redskins.  They had a run and we missed a tackle right off the bat.  They had a nice run on us and we had a penalty for 15 yards and we had another penalty this game, but this game we held them to a field goal and last time we gave up a touchdown.  That was the theme of this day was that even though giving up those first couple drives it could have easily been 14-0, especially with the offense turning the ball over on their first drive with the fumble by Jake (Locker).  We gave them the ball in their territory at the plus-46 or so and gave them a short field and again held them to three points.  It was 6-0 instead of 14-0 makes a huge difference and that to me is what changes the mentality of the game.  Then the offense gets the ball and scores and we are winning 7-6.  I thought the defense did a nice job in the first half.  I think their offense was one for six on third down.  We won the two-minute battle before the half, the defense got off the field with a sack.  We won in the red zone; they were zero for three in the red zone scoring touchdowns.  There were a lot of good things that happened with that group making plays and having the success getting to the quarterback and sacking (Matt) Ryan five times while he was in there.  There are a lot of good things happening on that side of the ball.

(on what the difference is for Jurrell Casey this year compared to last season)

I think it is his health. I think it’s being in his third year. He hurt the elbow in the third game last year in preseason. I thought he was playing well like he is right now then. That definitely set him back last year somewhat. This year, he has a great attitude. He works hard in practice. I think that’s why Chance (Warmack) is going to get better and better because he’s playing against him every day in practice. I think he’s helped Chance improve a lot since they’ve been working against each other in OTAs and training camp because he has great quickness and does a great job with his hands. That’s when that leverage thing comes in handy being a guy that’s 6’1. He gets a natural leverage on offensive linemen also, that helps him, too. Hopefully, we’ll keep him healthy and he’ll have a big year.

(on how many plays the starters played yesterday)

Close to probably in the high 30s like 38 plays maybe or somewhere in there.

(on how many plays the starters will play Thursday at Minnesota)

We haven’t decided yet. Less than that, but probably more like the first week.

(on whether it is tough deciding how much playing time starters will see in the final preseason game)

It is. I think it is. I think I’ve been part of both ways. When I played, you played in the fourth game. The fourth game was now what the third game is these days. When I was coaching the offensive line, I think we did it both ways. We started off where we didn’t play much at all then kind of went through a span where we played a lot and went into the halftime. I think that so many teams are concerned for injuries these days. It seems like players are getting hurt more for whatever reason. I think it makes coaches more cautious because they don’t want to be the guy that had someone playing and got questioned about why a guy is playing in a preseason game. But, we’re going to play. I think for us it’s going to be more of where we need to play, how many reps do we need as groups, as players, maybe guys that haven’t had enough reps with certain groups. I think we’ll take a look at our roster that way and decide how much we’re going to play as we go through the next couple of days.

(on whether Colin McCarthy will be ready to play Thursday night)

Yeah, I think so. I think he practiced well last week. I think he’s anxious. I think he was hoping he’d play in the game last night, but he wasn’t quite ready for that. I know he’s anxious. I know he wants to play. He wants to be part of the defense and help out. So, to do that, we need to get him on the field.

(on whether Chris Johnson has taken more to coaching this year)

I hope so. I think he is. I think he’s always been someone who takes to the coaching. When I worked with him as the offensive line coach, I know when we talked about designing the play he was very receptive. He knew exactly what the thinking was behind the play, how it’s set up, where his read is. I just think he’s enjoying the type of offense and enjoys what we’re doing as an offense and the way we’re trying to run the ball in preseason and how we’ve done throughout training camp. So, again, I think he’s off to a great start in preseason, and hopefully this will be a good season for him.

(on whether Chris Johnson’s decisions are better)

Well, there’s spots. You can watch tape of a running back and always question should they have made this cut or that cut. I think he’s been making…maybe the blocking is better. Maybe there is less leakage, so he’s making better decisions. There are a lot of factors. Maybe it’s that he’s hitting certain plays. We can always sit here and say ‘CJ should have done this on that play.’ But I think overall, the blocking is better and on the runs he’s had, he’s made good decisions for the most part running the,. I think we’re running the same plays. I think I talked about that last year a lot that when you’re running the ball 12 times in one game it’s hard to get a feel for anything. He’s gone three games now and he’s run a lot of the same runs and he’s getting a lot of touches early in the game while he’s in there. He’s getting a better feel for how these plays develop in a game, and he’s running better.

(on the importance of first down success on offense)

I just think it’s a big part of our success. That’s why we struggled last year. It seemed like it was third-and-eight or more way too often, and it was put on the quarterbacks’ laps to make something happen. I think the philosophy is different on offense. I think you’re going to see that evolve as we go into the regular season. You’re going to see the differences on how we do things. I think you’re seeing some of that now. I think when you have success running the ball, when you’re moving the pile in a positive way, you look up and it’s second-and-six. I mean Jackie Battle’s run looked like it had no gain, but it was second-and-five after the push ended with the second group. I think we’re a lot more physical football team. We talked about accomplishing that in January, and I think we’ve shown that we are accomplishing that. We still have a ways to go, but we’re a way more physical team in a lot of areas. I think it’s showing in how we’re playing and how we’re running the football and how teams are figuring out a way to try to stop us. I think you saw yesterday when teams try to stop us, now we’re getting 15, 18, 20-yard completions down the field. Kenny (Britt) caught a couple 20-yard passes just about. Nate (Washington) caught one for 25. Those will start coming as teams have to figure out how to stop our offense.

(on Jake Locker throwing in first down situations)

I think that’s what we should be doing. When you go out there first-and-10, most people sitting in the stands and think ‘oh, you’re going to run the football.’ Well, you’re hoping teams think the same thing. We’re passing the ball, we’re changing it up more, we’re booting, starting the game with the nice play action for a nice completion on the sidelines, and come back to run the ball. So, I think the changing things up is how you have success. You have to keep the defense thinking and guessing. You have to make things look the same. When the defense is looking at you by personnel packages and by the way they study you, when we run the ball, and pass the ball, and play action, it needs to look the same. The formations need to look the same, the motions. I think that’s what you’re seeing, and I think that’s why even though it’s preseason, you’re seeing aspects of that that are slowly starting to get better.

(on whether he knows the challenge rule with regard to the quarterback being called end of progress)

Yes I do. I know the rule. The official I asked about what happened said he was down. (Ed) Hochuli came over and told me it was forward progress. Since the official next to me said he was down when he fumbled it, I was able to challenge the call.

(on using multiple refs and reviewing seemingly indisputable plays)

I know that the league is trying to train other officials so they’re ready if needed. They told us about that back at the owner’s meetings that they would be doing some of these things with the officials as they’re making changes to that group. So, I mean, no. I know they’re going to check. It’s just part of the process. I’m fine with that.

(on whether there was anything about the interception that lent itself to further review)

No. Just because it’s a turnover. I just thought it would be quicker, but I think they’re trying to get ready for the season also. So, I guess they’re going through all their steps.

(on whether Delanie Walker will play against the Vikings)

He’s practicing. He’ll keep going forward and then just depending on how much everyone is playing, we’ll make our decision on him.

(on how badly Shonn Greene was hurt in Saturday’s game)

His ankle was just sore. Him and Nate (Washington, sore foot), but neither one of those should be a problem. Nate felt really good today, saw him, so he felt good. Shonn’s ankle had been a little sore during training camp, nothing new there when they took X-rays, so just general soreness. So if those guys wouldn’t play or not. I mean, I think they’re both going to be able to practice this week from what we know now and then we’ll just see how they are come Thursday.

(on Jake Locker’s progress and decision making)

I think each game he’s gotten better in the three games, from what you can assess from not playing much in the preseason, but I think each week some of the decisions he’s made have gotten better, as far as when he’s put in similar situations. I think the pass blocking is getting better also, so he’s having more time to make decisions, which is a big part of it too. I think the play-action, when you’re running the ball well and defenses aren’t quite sure what you’re doing and there’s eight (defenders) in the box it makes things a little easier. He’s been very accurate with his throws when he’s on the move and last night I thought he threw well. He’s been in some different situations where he’s got to make some decisions of what to do with the ball. He ran a couple of times, which was big. In the two-minute drive, he kind of took off and that kind of got that started. That was nice. The last two weeks really, he drove us down in the Cincinnati game for a field goal that we missed, but last night he did the same thing with a 1:02 from the 20-yard line and took us down for a field goal and made good decisions on that drive of when to run, when to not, didn’t force a ball when we got beat for a sack or beat for pressure, he didn’t do something stupid with the ball. He took the sack and the next play, he makes an eight-yard completion that gets us into field goal range. So things like that are good to see. That’s the game experience stuff that will help him in his decision making as we go through the season. So far so good. You see him getting better each week, and that’s all you can ask for. Hopefully that means when we get to Pittsburgh, he’ll be better and keep going from there.

(on Rob Bironas bouncing back with two successful field goals)

I think it was good for Rob. I think anytime a player, like we mentioned, we’ve been around Rob for a lot of years and that’s why we were so surprised that he missed two field goals (at Cincinnati) that he would generally make very easily. Like I said, he came back, had a great week, and to me, that field goal he made before halftime was a huge kick. It was 53 yards, which obviously means, not many kickers, that was a great kick there, but if he doesn’t make that, they have the ball at the 45-yard line and could have easily made a couple of completions and could be kicking a field goal to have momentum at halftime, so it was a big kick for a lot of reasons, for him, for us, for that game and our momentum going into halftime. 

(on if Ryan Fitzpatrick or Justin Hunter was more responsible for the interception)

I think it was probably more on the quarterback.

(on if the receiver should do more to break it up)

Yes. Yes. He should attack the ball more, definitely. The ball shouldn’t have been thrown there, but it was, and when it is, he should have come back more for the ball.

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