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Coach Munchak's Monday Press Conference

Posted Nov 28, 2011

HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK 

(on if the running game getting back on track was as simple as everyone doing what they were supposed to do)

Somewhat, I think we just got a good push early and I think we got a couple runs out after the first run. I think we got one yard on the first run then a couple of runs. He only had about 10 carries in the first half or close to that, but his yards were better. We had three or four really nice runs where there were some good lanes for him to hit and he had some nice yards after the initial contact also, so you could tell the energy level was up there so it was fun to watch. I think even in the first half, even though we didn’t have as many carries as we would have liked to, even though we had some of the turnovers, you could tell it was a different speed. It looked like we were all just kind of…it looked better and that continued as the game wore on. It’s great that you can do that in that kind of weather. We knew that we couldn’t rely on the pass game all day to win that football game. We know we needed more points but we were able to control the clock and control the line of scrimmage most of the game and it ended up working out well for us. 

(on if the weather helped the running game)

I think the field was in great shape. I think (head groundskeeper) Terry (Porch) did a great job with the field. It was covered and I don’t think guys were slipping a lot. I think Chris (Johnson) ran hard and I think (Javon) Ringer did also, and their back ran good. I think the field was in great shape so other than the fact that there was obviously more fumbles than you would have liked to have seen, and some of that was hard hitting and not just ball being wet I don’t think. I don’t think that it had anything to do with why we ran the ball better, I just think maybe it’s football weather and it’s time to start playing better and doing things better and we did all of that. 

(on if the running game is “fixed”)

Like I said, two of the last three weeks we have run the ball pretty well. The one in between wasn’t what we would like in Atlanta. I think we are thinking that we are heading in the right direction. We would rather be running the ball well now than in the beginning of the season, so we will look at it that way. We think we are doing a lot better things now than we had been earlier in the season. We need these next five weeks to be our best games that we have had. We said that about yesterday’s game that it had to be our best game as far as offensively running the football and it was and I just think we need to keep building on that confidence. When you have success at something, and we have two out of the last three weeks anyway, then the confidence builds for everybody, for Chris (Johnson), for the line, for the play caller, the whole bit. Going up to Buffalo you feel good about what you are starting to become and now you see what happens the next five weeks. 

(on if he challenged the offensive line any differently this week than before)

No, I think the film speaks for itself. These guys held themselves accountable. We are going to bring it up as coaches and hopefully we are stating the obvious to guys that the game means a lot to and guys that have been playing well for a long time when they are not playing as well as we would like them to or they would like to. I think the effort on the field was what it has been, so whatever it was we played better as a group overall and that goes for the tight ends, the backs, we are all in this together. They came out and had a good week and were focused and results were better than they had been. 

(on Mike Otto’s play)

He played well. Anytime he has had to step in, he has done a great job. A lot of times in the past it has been more preseason games and preseason starts for him, or playing some tight end. We have been using him a lot of ways the last few years because we trust him. He is a smart player, the quarterback and everyone feels comfortable with him in there and we didn’t feel like we would have a big drop off. David (Stewart) is our guy and our starter and all of that good stuff and he is a great player for us, but we felt that we had three good tackles and he went out there and proved us right and played well yesterday and played well in the Atlanta game when he had to go in in a hostile situation. He did a good job on the back side and had a lot of good cut blocks and just did a lot of things well in the game and you need to have that. It’s just like when Jake (Locker) stepped in last week for Matt (Hasselbeck), he did exactly what we hoped. When Colin McCarthy has had to step in he has done his thing and (Jordan) Babineaux, the list goes on. To have a good team you have to be able to do those things when the starter gets hurt. 

(on getting Dave Ball back)

I think he just brings energy. He plays at a fast speed, he loves competing, he obviously loves trying to get to the quarterback, and that’s why we are glad that even when we signed him during the offseason what a big plus he would be because he brings that energy, and he has a good work ethic on the field. We have a lot of young players playing on the defensive side of the ball and we needed his leadership and how he plays. I think it’s more of how he plays than anything. We had to be careful not to give him too many reps. I think Tracy Rocker did a great job of rotating those guys where he didn’t get overworked or he wasn’t getting too many reps. He played quite a bit and he made a difference in the game. We have missed that the last couple of weeks, his contribution, and obviously he made two big plays in the game. He did a nice job in the run game. He was around the ball quite a bit so it was good to have him back. 

(on if he sat down and talked with Dave Ball when he was thinking about retirement)

He and I talked last week once we knew that he was officially going to be able to play, once he got cleared on Monday of last week how he was feeling and all of that before we got started again. Anytime you have had concussions, that is a conversation that you are going to have because you get nervous about those kinds of things. We had a nice talk and he knew there were six games left in the season and he wanted to go out and play the best six he could play and that is all that he can control right now. He was excited to be back playing again and I think he kind of put it behind him and he knows that he can’t control all of that to some degree. I think he was just excited about going out and playing and contributing and getting those sacks going and he came out and did a great job of getting two right off the bat. He is going to be a big part of us down the stretch here and I’m sure at the end of the season, like all players, then you kind of take a look at health or what’s going on. I think it’s all about him now and he wants to quit worrying about that now and he wants to just put all of that on the back burner and go play. 

(on if David Stewart will be able to play next week)

I think when he practiced last Friday he got a little sore from that and that’s when we knew on Saturday that the chances were he was not going to be able to help us. He is back to feeling better than he did before he practiced so we are thinking that that is a good thing that we rested him. Hopefully Wednesday he will be able to start doing some things and then see how his calf responds to more activity on Wednesday and Thursday. 

(on if Jared Cook passed concussion tests)

I think initially they were a little nervous about one of the hits he took at the end of the game there and just being very cautious. I think he is a lot better than we thought and we assume that he will be fine for this game. 

(on if Chris Johnson suffered a concussion during the game)

I know at one time he got the wind knocked out of him. Originally we thought it was something with the helmet to helmet thing also but I think that ended up being something with the wind knocked out of him. 

(on the health of Tommie Campbell)

He is the same thing, a shoulder sprain. He didn’t dislocate or anything. He has an MRI today. That’s going to be more about soreness and how he comes on in the next couple of days. We will get more information on him tomorrow, but that is just one of those things where you see how the strength comes back in your shoulder as far as lifting it and those types of things and that’s something that we will find out probably over the next couple of days for him, where he is at. 

(on if his touchdown made Tommie Campbell a target on the following play)

No, I think on the play he actually got hurt on he was just aggressively blocking and doing a good job of playing hard. He has done a great job on special teams. He is a weapon because of his speed. He gives teams problems with matchups. On those plays he has been making plays and he is learning the game. He has never been asked to do a lot of these things. Just like he learned the cornerback position during preseason, he is learning all of the ins and the outs and the strategy that goes into special teams plays and we are trying to be smart and find ways to use his speed. Like I mentioned, Alan (Lowry) and Chet (Parlavecchio) did a good job of coming up with a good way to use his speed in this game which ended up converting into points for us. He is just a guy that is going to get better the more he plays.

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