(on the performance of the offensive line in the first quarter)
We went into the game and our thinking was to establish the run. We’ve been working hard in practice. We’ve been talking about it a lot. We felt that’s where our identity was going to come from, being physical up front and with our receivers blocking all 10 guys being involved in the plays. Our second series, I mean obviously CJ has the big play, that 60-yard run that was very well blocked and he makes that last guy miss and that’s what you preach. When you put eight in the box there’s only one guy for him to make miss and he did that. It was very well executed and we came back on the next drive and did the same thing. So, again, touchdowns back-to-back with the run game being predominantly what happened there, converting on a fourth-and-one down there in the green zone and finishing with a 19-yard touchdown run on the next play. That’s what we’re hoping to be all about, what we’d be able to establish and we did that. That was good to see with the first group.
(on whether he wanted to see the passing game take shots downfield)
Well I think they’re playing off quite a bit. We were kind of taking what was there and not trying to force anything. Since we were running the ball well early we thought we’d stick with that. But the screens, that was another part of the game that was very good. We converted two third downs because of screens which is something that’s going to be a big part of the offense also. (Jackie) Battle did a great job on his. I’m not sure who was the other one, but the two screens looked good. We just took what they gave us and didn’t force things that weren’t there. There will be plenty of opportunities to throw the ball down the field and do those things as we go into the next second, the next game.
(on relying more on the run game)
Well, like I said coming out we thought coming out we were going to emphasize the run just to see where it went from there. It just so happened that we felt we got some momentum running the football, so we stuck with that. And again, when your starters are going to probably play 20 snaps, there’s only so much you can do in that time period that they’re in there. So, the way this game developed the run was what we thought was the best way to go, and I think we said many times in some games we may pass the ball 20 times in the first half and run it 10 and flip flop in the second half. So, we have to be a team that we’re going to do it if it’s there. If we think it’s there, we’re going to run the ball and take over on the line of scrimmage. We may run it 10 times in a row if that’s what it takes to win or we feel we can take a game over. We pretty much, that’s almost what we did here. We had two plays in a row where we scored, opposing our will on them. We had a chance to bust it on the punt return which we could have gone 21-7 there. If we don’t have the penalty then we come back, then we have a penalty on another big run. So, we kind of hurt ourselves with the momentum. We had a chance in that period right there in that window to have three scores in a row because of the run game, which was our thinking. We had them on their heels to some degree at that point in our game, so we weren’t going to change up and go to something else. We wanted to take what was working, and that happened to be the running game this weekend.
I mean, no, we’re not worried about it. I think it’s just something like I said, the way the game flowed he handed it off to CJ and he goes 50 yards. It’s a one play drive. You’re not going to be throwing the ball a lot, so you’re going to have less plays, and that’s what we had. I just think that’s the way the game went and he had some pressure early, which I mean the first couple passes, we didn’t block very well. He had some breakdowns and that’s why we kind of got away from the pass there because the run game was obviously producing. We stuck with that and we had some drops that could have been some big plays in that second quarter. So, that’s not a concern. Obivously, if we’re not winning games down the road then we’ll decide what the concerns are, but right now we’re fine.
(on whether the plan was to play Jake Locker the entire first half)
It’s just because of the plays. He ended up playing until then I guess because of the long drives, playing everything but one snap I guess. But, that wasn’t a lot plays because we had that one-play drive with CJ scoring, so offense was on the field less. And then Washington ended up eating about seven minutes of the second quarter there when they went down with their long drive before the half to tie it up. So, we were just thinking numbers and plays. I think he was in the 20-22, 23 plays, and that’s kind of what we thought. So, that’s what he got.
(on Jake’s playing time next week)
Probably around that same thing. You hope in that area, maybe a half. I mean if it becomes a half or 30 plays, somewhere around there.
(on who stood out this week)
I was thinking CJ had two runs and that 60-yard run making that guy miss. I thought that was pretty good. I thought Shonn Greene ran well and played well with that dump down pass I think we showed, we talked about. Things we weren’t taking advantage of last year where when nothing was open we’d throw it down to the back. This time (Shonn) makes a 12-13 yard run. I think Shonn played well. I thought (Andy) Levitre played very well. There were 14-15 plays that he blocked well and pretty much did everything we thought he would. It was fun to watch him play. Some of the guys on defense. I thought the defensive line, the first group played pretty well. Ropati (Pitoitua) did a nice job against the run game in there. I thought (Jurrell) Casey did it, (Karl) Klug got some good rushes, hit the quarterback. (Derrick) Morgan had some good rushes. I think Fokou, Moise did a nice job when he was in there handling the group and running the show. Again, some of those guys were in there playing 12-15 plays so it’s hard to get too caught up in how anyone did. But I think overall, the guys played hard which you’re looking for. We turned the special teams’ wheels on. The guys ran hard, worked hard for all four quarters. Again, we missed some opportunities. There are some good teaching opportunities in that game about how penalties can hurt you at the wrong time, and I think that’s what we’re going to learn from as we watch the tape. There were many opportunities where we could have obviously scored more points than we did. But, that’s what we’ll learn from. Overall, they worked hard, and did what we asked them to do.
I thought he was a little tentative. I think the first time out a lot of times, I think even like the first pass rush, when he got the sack, it wasn’t necessarily everyone got beat. The first one of them was kind of soft like just kind of feeling the guy out they’re playing against. You’ll have a lot of that especially when you’re playing against the unknown. You don’t really know this person, you don’t know what they’re going to do. It kind of ends up leading to something bad happening, which was a sack on the third play of the game. For Tommie, I thought again maybe he was a little tentative at times. Again, when he watches it he’ll probably say, ‘Yeah, I could have done this or done that.’ But, I think as the game wore on he started playing better and better.
(on penalties acquired Thursday night, particularly
That’s a bang-bang play to me. He had one foot in, one foot out when he hit him. It’s just like when you touch the quarterback, you have to go to the hands versus the helmet hitting him. I think that’s it. They look for body language a lot with those types of things, a lot of those types of penalties. That’s one that if he had let up, done it full speed, but brought his hands rather than his head…even though he didn’t hit him in the head, because it was so close to the line of scrimmage. If you’re running that hard, as a defensive player it’s hard to tell if he’s in or he’s out. It wasn’t like he was obviously out. It was just one of those close one’s. You have to be smart with that. Even the one at the end of the game, the game is over there and our guy didn’t really nail the guy, but his hands were up high around the head area, so they’re going to call that and that cost us the ball. We had the ball back at that point with two minutes left and chances are we would have won it (the game). Those are things that you have to learn from. (Craig) Stevens’ is one. The one that (Craig) Stevens had when we had about a 20-yard run, they called holding on him. It was one of those things where it looked like holding, really wasn’t. You can pull your hands out so it doesn’t look like you have your hands in a bad spot. A lot of it is body language and learning those things this time of year that that’s what the officials are looking for. That’s the stuff that we’ll watch (on) the tape and get better at.
We’re really looking forward to it. I thought Stewart would be able to play on Thursday, but I think it was a good idea not to play him. He’ll definitely be available next weekend if this week goes well for him. We want to see where we’re at with that, with Delanie (Walker) especially, knowing that he’s probably part of that third preseason game, in that area, probably practicing down the road, not too far off. Real excited, because I want to see Chance (Warmack) and (David) Stewart in a game together. That’s what we need to have, just like having (Andy) Levitre and (Michael) Roos together was nice. We saw some good things. We saw some good run lanes. We saw linemen running out leading screens. We saw offensive linemen trapping; we saw them running the zone game. We saw a lot of versatility in what these guys can do this year and with the type of backs we have and a quarterback that is mobile and can take advantage of that play action, we have a lot of things, we feel, that will open up as we get into the season.
(on evaluating the competition at the center position)
We haven’t determined exactly what we’re going to do, but they’re all going to have an opportunity. You have an opportunity every day to prove you’re the guy, so they’ll have plenty of opportunities starting tomorrow for us to try to determine who the best guy is to start.
(on David Stewart’s injury)
It’s just his ankle. It’s just soreness from his ankle.
He may be able to practice some in the next couple of days. To what degree? It’s one of those things where they say he can practice then he’ll get out there and do some individual (work) and then we’ll see how he progresses. The encouraging thing is there is a good chance he’ll hopefully be available next weekend.
We assume he’ll be available next Saturday. At this point, (Zaviar) Gooden would be out again. (Brian) Schwenke would have a chance to play next week. (David) Stewart should play next week and Colin (McCarthy) probably wouldn’t play next week.
I think when you know a player well, running out of time…He’s going to be in the mix, no matter what we do, no matter when he’s ready. Whether it’s the Minnesota game or if it’s the Atlanta game, the linebacker position is a position that you can help in some capacity. You’re going to be part of the rotation and be in there, so it’s just a matter of when he’s back in there and how he’s feeling.
(on Colin McCarthy starting upon return)
We’ll have to wait and see until he’s out there. If he’s healthy and competing then we’ll play who’s the best at that time.
It’s hard to say with (Colin) McCarthy not out there. Right now, yes, he’ll start, because Colin (McCarthy) is not available. Once they’re both competing again, we’ll go with who we feel is in the best position to help us win. Whoever it is, however it works out, that’s one spot that’s not like an offensive lineman where you either start or you watch. At linebacker, you may not necessarily start, but you’ll end up playing a lot.
(on Delanie Walker’s return)
As far as back on the field, I don’t know. (Delanie) Walker will probably start some drills in a week or so, next week…it’s hard to tell. He’s doing very well, it’s just a matter of when he starts practicing. Soon, hopefully, we’re thinking that he’d be able to be involved for the Atlanta game.
(on Gregg Williams and Jerry Gray’s communication during the game)
That was good, really smooth. There weren’t any problems with that. It was really basic, we didn’t do a lot on defense. We played all four-man fronts and mixed in a blitz here or there. It went smooth. A lot of guys playing, so the goal was to keep it simple so guys can just show what they can do. Washington was the same way. They didn’t do a lot of things. They blitzed here and there. They blitzed when they wanted to try to get the ball back and things like that, but it wasn’t like it would be on a normal Sunday.
(on overall play during Thursday’s game)
Same thing on defense. I think we came out and one first down then got off of the field, which was good. Gave the offense the ball back. The second drive was really where we didn’t play well. We struggled there. We gave up the one big boot play for 15 yards, then with the penalty on top it ends up being a 30-, 35-yard play. They score there and then the good thing was that after that score we had three three-and-outs in a row. That’s where we kind of took over the game. The offense scores two touchdowns during that time span and had a chance to score three. Really, that was that window where the defense did a great job coming back from having a bad series and the offense took over and started making plays. We started feeding off of each other and that’s where I felt that thing was going to go to 21-7. If we’re going to be a very good football team this year, we have to take advantage of those situations. Even though we’re changing all of the personnel and different guys are playing as the quarter goes on, we have to find a way to finish the game at the end of the fourth quarter or take advantage of opportunities we had in the second quarter. With the defense getting the three-and-outs, three in a row, and the offense putting together some drives, it really came together in that little time span. We were about to explode with points I felt. That part was good. Then the second half was kind of the same. We got some stops, defense hung in there, and then they gave up the big, long drive at the end of the game. We lose in the two-minute drive. I was hoping even when they tied it up or they went ahead by the one point that it’d be a great opportunity for our kicker (
(on if he was pleased with the pass rush)
The guys that you’re counting on to play this season, I think played pretty well. I thought
(on if they were avoiding overtime)
You’re starting to run thin because you’re pulling out guys. It’s almost like you’re trying to time the length of the game because you’re trying to rotate guys in, and you’re not going to put guys back in the game that have been sitting out for two quarters or three quarters because of the chance of them getting injured. You obviously don’t have that problem during the season. You want to win. It’s a great opportunity to win in a precious situation to get the two-point play to work. That play was covered and we had it all blown up and they make a great play to win it. We had plenty of opportunities on that play to make a stop there, missed a sack, had pressure on them, we had the guy covered, and then they make a great catch. You’ll see most teams look at the end of the game that way, trying to find ways to win it avoiding another quarter.
I know when I was a rookie I was nervous. I told the guys yesterday about my first game playing. You don’t know what to expect, you’ve never been in that position before. It’s your first time in the NFL. It’s not the regular season game, but it’s still an NFL game that you‘ve never been involved in. The game is a lot faster, there are better athletes, you’re not really quite sure what to expect. Justin Hunter and everybody else, Chance (Warmack) was nervous, all those guys were nervous. They’ve never been through it before. It’s something that you’re going to be a little tentative at first just like he was when he first got here for practice. Same way when you come to your first training camp practice, you’re kind of tentative, trying to feel your way around, and then all of sudden you realize you belong, and you’re just getting better and better. I think that’s what he’s done in practice, he’s gotten better and better every day. The more he plays the better he’s going to get and go from there.
(on the possibility of Tommie Campbell starting the game against the Bengals)
We haven’t really talked about that. I think
(on changing the guys on kick and punt returns)
That’s something we’ll decide by the end of the week how we do that. Marc (Mariani) did a great job on his, on the one that was returned, that unfortunately had a penalty that was away from the play. Again, that was a good return by him, coming up and catching the ball and not allowing it to hit the ground, which was smart by him. On one of the kickoffs he had an open lane where he almost broke one. He was close on two of them, so that was good to see. Overall, I thought special teams did a nice job. When you’re playing a lot of guys it’s a huge challenge to Nate (Kaczor) to organize that on the sidelines and he and Steve (Hoffman) did a great job all night with that, especially when you start having injuries and you’re trying to change that roster throughout the game. I thought that was good, even on the last time when we punted on the end, the guys rallied and did a nice job all night.
(on the team feeding off of
I think everyone has been excited for him since we started the offseason program, having him a part of that. Especially the players that have been here and saw what he’s been through this past year and know how hard he’s worked and how important it’s been to him to get back. It’s amazing what he’s accomplished and that positive attitude he always has, and great spirit. He’s been competing out there every single day as the return guy and as a receiver with all odds against him. He’s one of those guys that doesn’t quit, and he went in there and he did exactly what we thought he would do, what Marc Mariani does, he make plays. When he gets the ball in his hand things happen. That’s why he’s in this league, that’s why he’s been to a Pro Bowl, and that’s why he bounced back from a really tough injury.
(on injuries from the game)
We had some guys with some hamstrings. Right now we’re having a lot of guys checked out but no one that we know that should be missing next week. It’s more we’ll find out this afternoon.
(on when to expect those players to return)
(on being a part of the Bengals ‘Hard Knocks’ and if the team has to sign waivers)
I don’t know. They haven’t contacted me yet, that’s probably something Robbie (Bohren) will have to deal with at some point. We just know we’ll be showing up Saturday night to play.