Mike Pouncey – October 14, 2016 Download PDF version

Friday, October 14, 2016

Center Mike Pouncey

(On playing against his brother, Steelers C Maurkice Pouncey) – “I’m looking forward to it. This is going to be a special moment for both of us. The last time we went up to play the Steelers, he was out with an ACL injury. We have a lot of family coming down. It’s going to be a special weekend for our family. They finally get to get together and see us both on the field at the same time in the NFL, so we’re looking forward to it.”

(On if they have ever played against each other) – “No. This will be the first time we ever played against where both of us have been on the field at the same time.”

(On if he ever played against his brother even in Pop Warner) – “No. We were always on the same team except in the NFL.”

(On what his teams were like growing up with him and his brother together) – “When we were on the same team? (We won) three state high school championships (at Lakeland High School), one national championship (at Florida), so you tell me. Pretty good, huh?”

(On something he’s always been better at than his brother) – “Better looking (laughter). No, I always say my brother is a better football player. He’ll probably say that I’m a better football player, but we push each other to be the best that we can be each and every day in the offseason. During the season, we watch each other’s film, tell each other what we’re doing bad throughout each game and stuff. He’s been a real help for my career the way it’s gone. I’m sure he’d say the same for me.”

(On if he or his brother got into football first) – “I think we both started at the same time. We started when we were six years old. Our parents put us into it. We learned to love the game by starting out as such young kids playing it. It’s really, really paid off for everybody in our family.”

(On looking a lot alike his brother and how their personalities differed growing up) – “Leaving out of the hospital, we kept our wristbands on for the first few weeks because our mom couldn’t tell us apart. We looked so much alike and my brother had gotten sick so he had to go back into the hospital for a week and that’s kind of how they figured out, ‘Okay, this is Mike and that’s Maurkice.’ Who knows if I was the one that was sick and went into the hospital and he was the one that stayed at home. I don’t remember, but my brother is my best friend. I love him to death. I hope he plays really good but I hope their team doesn’t.”

(On if both of them played guard and center at Florida) – “Yes. Well when he was at Florida, he played guard his freshman year and I played d-tackle. In our sophomore years, he played center, I played right guard for the next two years and then once he left (Florida), I moved over to center. Then he got drafted to the NFL.”

(On if they are identical or fraternal twins) – “Identical. Yes.”

(On if there were some pranks they played growing up) – “We were good kids. I mean other than acting like I was Maurkice or he going to one of my classes, I go into his. But for the most part, we didn’t do too much tricking people.”

(On if they were able to fool their parents) – “Our parents? No. Our parents are really, really strict on us. So we didn’t play with them like that.”

(On how would he describe practice his freshman year at Florida when he was a defensive lineman going against his brother) – “I was killing him. I knew all of the calls. They would call out, it would be a slip block, I knew that the center was going to try and reach me so I would just blow him back. It was cheating. I knew all of the offensive calls when I was playing defensive tackle.”

(On if there is a part of him that wishes he was playing on the defensive side this week) – “(Laughter) Just a little bit, but I hope he goes out there and I hope he plays really well. Obviously, I hope their team doesn’t play well but I hope he does play good and injury-free, obviously.”

(On if there is any chance he’ll line up for a play at defensive line this week) – “Unless we get up by a lot, but I doubt it. (Laughter)”

(On if his brother has ever shown up to the Dolphins facility as a prank) – “In the offseason, he comes in. Our team welcomes him in. We know that we have no chance of signing him, but he comes in the offseason, spends time here and all of the guys get him confused when he comes in and they think he’s me whenever we’re not around. It’s the same when I go up there. Their team is very welcoming to me coming into their facilities, working out and stuff up there. They’ve been great. Just to have a brother in the NFL and be able to experience this together, it’s been awesome.”

(On if they ever lifted weights for one another) – “No. Heck, no. We do it all together. We’re both going out there to accomplish the same thing and that’s to be the best players we can be. We can’t miss the workouts. So we do them together.”

(On if they’ve tried fooling the team) – “No, there isn’t no fooling the team. I wouldn’t want to go out there and then try and learn their plays.”

(On who got the first tattoo?) – “We went at the same time. We were 13 years old. We both got one tattoo on our arm. The rest is history.”

(On how his parents liked the first tattoo) – “They didn’t like that too much.”

(On rumor having it that his brother had some reps at left tackle in practice) – “Oh (goodness). He’s been telling me about that and I hope he doesn’t have to take any in the game. But if he does, we’re going to line ‘Cam’ (Cameron) Wake over him (laughter).

(On if he’s the biggest trash talker in his family) – “Oh, yeah; heck, yeah. There’s going to be a lot of trash talking out there on Sunday too. I’m friends with a lot of guys on that football team. I had the luxury of spending seven years with those guys and I know a lot of them – coaches, players – and I can’t wait to get out there. There’s going to be a lot of trash talking but it’s going to be a very exciting, physical football game.”

(On what the hardest thing he and his brother have went through together) – “I think the hardest thing we went through together was probably him leaving as a junior and me staying my senior year. It was the first time we were ever separated. I kind of took it a lot tougher than he did because he was the one … he was making money. I was still in college. That was the toughest transition was being apart from each other.”

(On if he was freshman roommates with Maurkice) – “We were freshman roommates. We were sophomore roommates, junior roommates and he left me hanging my senior year.”

(On the last play of the game against the Steelers in 2013) – “I was like, ‘Please, somebody tackle him.’ Once Antonio (Brown) got the ball in his hands, it was like a punt return. (It was a) good thing it snowed a lot that day because he would have never stepped out of bounds if it didn’t. We won that game. That was a great game. My brother was hurt that year but we’re looking forward to being on the field this week.”

(On if he was freaking out during the final play of the 2013 game in Pittsburgh) – “I was just like once they said no touchdown, let’s just get in the locker room and get back to Miami as fast as we can – other than it being cold as hell.”

(On how much of his family will be there on Sunday) – “We bought 79 tickets so we’ll have a lot of family and friends at the game. It’ll be very exciting for everybody.”

(On who paid for the 79 tickets) – “Me, of course. It’s a home game so … When we went up there, (Maurkice) paid for all of the tickets and he brought our whole offensive line up that year because he wasn’t playing. He had us over for dinner and we had a really good time.”

(On if he is going to have his brother over on Saturday night) – “(Heck) no. He’s playing in the game. None of them (are coming) to my house.”

Mario Williams – October 14, 2016 Download PDF version

Friday, October 14, 2016

Defensive End Mario Williams

(On Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph saying that he would like to see him play better) – “First and foremost, the coaches … we’re an open book here. We’ve talked and things like that. The biggest thing is (for) myself, I want to be more free to do different things and cut it loose a little bit. That’s just my personal … I’ve been in a situation where the scheme and stuff like that and thinking too much. I’ve got to play faster and play harder and it definitely starts with me. I came here to be a piece of the puzzle to help the defense. Obviously up front, we’ve got great players, I can say, in my room. I don’t want to speak about anybody else, that’s why I say that. At the end of the day, me being a veteran and everything, I’ve got to have more of an impact and create more chaos out there at practice and in the games.”

(On why this year hasn’t gone like he expected it would) – “I think as a whole, we’ve all got to get better. We all have to really focus on the details a lot more. There have been things that I can’t really explain how, on average, as far as the passing game and stuff like that with how fast the ball’s coming out and looking throughout the league (at) how fast the ball’s coming out when you look at the sacks, which is what us as defensive linemen, it’s what we get praised and ridiculed about. We’ve got to find a way to get more pressure, faster, more efficiently, whether if it’s different coverages or different disguises or whatever in the backend to get to the quarterback. That’s something that all of us, we’ve had a really hard time doing at this point. We all recognize it and something’s got to change. Doing more (and) focusing on those little details I was talking about will help benefit us as a whole. I think that’s the biggest thing, with Game 6 now, we’re nowhere near where we should be with the level of players that we have on this team.”

(On if it angers him when a coach says he needs to play harder publically) – “No, it motivates me. Like I said, all of this stuff is being translated in the meeting rooms, on the field, things like that. The way I take it is, I just need to be me; be loose. Don’t be up tight; don’t over-analyze every little thing because that only slows me down. That’s been (the same) situation in my past and I’ve been the first in the meetings to speak up about it or say it. ‘I see this or what if that,’ and then I get into a slump. The coaching that they’re giving me is pretty much allowing me to get back to loosening up and just go, and don’t think about things so much.”

(On if he agrees with Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph saying that in order to rush the passer, you have to stop the run) – “You know the biggest thing is, stopping the run is actually tackling. We’ve had guys there, in position to make plays – and myself or anybody who is out there on the field – we have to make sure we make that tackle. The first hit needs to make the tackle. It needs to go backwards not forward. The games where we bled in those situations, it was not breaking down our feet, missing, falling off of it, letting the guy go forward. That’s something that we definitely can’t have. We’ve got to be going the opposite way, run and pass.”

(On how he would describe his single greatest motivation right now today) – “My teammates, definitely. Just going out there and us talking about the things that have occurred so far this season and the situations we’re presented with as a football team. We have to do something to change because it hasn’t (gone) the way we expected it at all. I think everybody in here can say that. I’m pretty sure that nobody is satisfied with anything that has happened to this point. The motivation is to go out and prove to them what I can do and the motivation for them is to prove to me what they can do. That’s something that we are really harping on because this is past the fifth game of the season and it’s either put up or shut up.”

Adam Gase – October 14, 2016 Download PDF version

Friday, October 14, 2016

Head Coach Adam Gase

(On S Reshad Jones’ chance to play Sunday) – “I think it stays (a) game-time decision. We’ll see how he felt today afterwards, and then tomorrow the same thing. Just because he was out there and moving around a little bit, we need to go through our steps and make sure we’re right.”

(On if RB Arian Foster is in a similar position as S Reshad Jones in terms of playing Sunday) – “I think so. I think it’s the same thing. I’m going to keep talking to him and see where he’s at. We’re going to wait until Sunday to make any of those decisions.”

(On how rare it is for brothers C Mike Pouncey and C Maurkice Poncey to both be top centers in the NFL) – “That’s a tough one to answer. And not only that, but they’re the best there is in the game – both of them. It’s arguably, ‘Who is it? Who is the best guy?’ Those two guys, they’re special. Obviously, it’s not (just) as players; it’s as leaders and the way they go about their daily business, and the way that they battle back through adversity. It’s not like they’ve had easy runs through all this. When you play those interior positions, there are a lot of things that can go wrong. They’ve had ups and downs, and usually it has been because of something happened to where they’re going full speed and (it is) just a mishap where you get rolled up on or something freakish happens. But both those guys, they’re resilient and as tough as they come. Obviously, both those guys love football a lot.”

(On what is a suitable amount of time for pass protection in this offense) – “I think it’s really what part of the game you’re talking about, what’s our concept – everything is different. When you have play-action, you’re trying to hold on to the ball a little longer. Hopefully, you can stymie the rush a little bit by thinking run-pass in those situations, formations and things like that. But every play is different. There are certain plays where you want to get the ball out quick. A lot of times you can tell by the routes – how deep they are and how fast guys are coming out of them. Sometimes you can tell by the quarterback – the way he sets up, the way he’s looking at things, the way he starts moving his body as far as if he gets off the first progression and then the second progression. It varies from every play. Obviously, the longer that you can hold onto it, the better.”

(On whether the two-point conversion is more difficult to defend than any other goal-line play) – “I think it’s a mindset for the most part. There are certain teams that have a great mindset to where they feel confident with the plays they have, but also the execution. You can have the best play drawn up versus the best coverage that you want it for, but if you don’t execute it, it won’t matter. The crew they have and the scheme they have and the ability to have the confidence they have to go and do it when they want to do it, that’s an important thing to have. Not everybody has that type of confidence are a willing to sacrifice the points.”

(On how valuable it is to have a player that can break down the defense on third down with his legs if necessary and whether it is something he has talked to QB Ryan Tannehill about exercising on occasion) – “It just depends who you have. I’ve been in offenses before where I haven’t had a quarterback that’s mobile. I’ve had a couple guys that, that was one of their strengths. I know there have been times where Ryan has wanted to escape the pocket, but sometimes there’s nowhere to go. You can get bottled up in there and guys are pushing the pocket and you got guys up the field. There has to be a lane. There has to be the ability to do that first before you can try to escape. Any time that you get a lane, it’s the down-and-distance, the situation of the game. You’re calling plays usually to try and complete a pass. If things break down, you want to be able to move and find a way to get the first down.”

Adam Gase – October 13, 2016 Download PDF version

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Head Coach Adam Gase

(On if S Reshad Jones is doing any better) – “Yes. I mean we’re still going through his rehab process and trying to strengthen the whole groin thing. You do as much as you can, just to try to make it feel better. We’ll see what ends up happening.”

(On RB Arian Foster) – “He’s been doing well. We’re just kind of going through this week and making sure when he feels good enough to go, then that will be when we get him back up. We just have to get through the week and see how it finishes up.”

(On S Reshad Jones down and S Michael Thomas or S Walt Aikens potentially replacing him, how do you decide between experience versus a younger player) – “It’s tough because you’re trying to rep all those guys and you’re trying to come up with a lot of scenarios of if this happens and this guy has to go in this spot, obviously we need some guys to step up if it goes down that way on Sunday. So I know they’re all getting ready. We’re just trying to make sure if (Defensive Coordinator) Vance (Joseph) decides to go with certain packages with certain guys in there, we try to make sure that we keep all those guys involved. Obviously Walt’s got a huge role in special teams as well. When somebody goes down, it affects a lot of different positions, including special teams and kind of the number count there.”

(On where S Walt Aikens’ development has been this year) – “Well I think he’s made … I mean for as good of a special teams players as he was, I think he’s really, really made some strides there. It seems like he had some nagging injuries early in training camp and early in the season, and now I feel like he looks as close to 100 percent as possible. I think back in the backend, he really has a better feel for what we’re doing – his role, his assignments, other people’s assignments. So when you kind of understand the entire defense, it makes your job a little bit easier because you understand where everybody’s supposed to be.”

(On if he anticipates having his original starting five offensive line) – “I’m not going to talk about it. You guys jinxed me last week. (laughter)”

(On if, in theory, he will go with the five starters at offensive line on the depth chart on Sunday if they are available) – “I don’t know. We’ll see. We’ll see on Sunday.”

(On if it’s true he’s going to make the players shower on Saturdays) – “I don’t know if we’re going to let them shower this week. (laughter)”

(On if it’s a little bit funny now) – “That’s a bad phone call to get. Just trust me. It’s awful.”

(On when RB Arian Foster gets back if he envisions him trying to get carries with RB Jay Ajayi and if it is challenging to work RB Kenyan Drake in) – “Yes we’re just going to … I don’t want to make too many plans and get too far ahead myself. I want to get through the week. We’ll have a plan as far as how we want to do the reps and how many plays we get. If we get more plays in the game, that helps us get more guys in there. We’ll see how it shakes out at the end of the week. I just don’t … I don’t want to plan on one thing and then something pops up on Friday or Saturday. You really have to use the entire week to evaluate.”

(On how RB Arian Foster looks) – “He looks good to me but I’m a couple of credits short of my M.D. (laughter) He looks as good as he possibly can in practice.”

(On if RB Arian Foster looks as good as he did in Week 1) – “He looks normal to me. It’s just sometimes … The way he runs, it’s such a smooth stride, it’s almost … you can’t tell is he full speed? Is he not? He’s so good at what he does as far as that outside-zone scheme that he just makes everything look slow and then he hits it and then blows by everybody. He’s got a real patient running style.”

(On what WR Kenny Stills can do better) – “Well, the last game, that wasn’t really on him. I had him in there quite a bit and we really – let me think, what did we throw the ball, 18 times or something like that? And he didn’t really get a chance to have many targets. We had a certain way we wanted to play that game. Obviously it had to change as kind of things unfolded leading up to the game. He was supposed to be more involved but a lot of the things that he does is more down the field. We weren’t able to do that and it kind of takes away his strength.”

(On if he can plan for or develop QB Ryan Tannehill’s ability to step up in the pocket and buy time) – “It can be developed, definitely. I went through a little bit of that last year where we were kind of doing some things where Jay (Cutler) would be stuck in the back of the pocket a little bit. We just kept working on some drills to where you work on getting a feel of where some bodies can be. You try to do some of those drills where it’s just chaotic, to where you have to start moving around. I think so far (the pocket) hasn’t been as firm as we would like it to be. Obviously, we’d like to get a little bit better in that area. It’s always a point of emphasis. You want to make sure that you can set the apex of the pocket and let those guys run around and step up. You’ve got to be able to step up. Sometimes it might not be directly right in front of you. You might have to slide and find those lanes between the guards and tackles. It’s one of those things, you’re always trying to work on and when you go back and watch some of the film, there might be a couple of times where maybe he could’ve stepped up. But we’re constantly looking at that reel of sacks or pressures or hits to say what could we have done differently? It’s been a little bit on everybody. That’s where when we start cleaning some things up and when teams blitz us, we can actually take advantage of it and beat it. That’s going to start making things a little bit easier, because now when you get some four-man rushes, it creates a little bit of different passing lanes.”

(On how good QB Ben Roethlisberger is at extending plays) – “He’s probably one of the better ones in the league. I think a little bit of it has to do with his size as well. He shakes off, I mean there will be free runners and guys will just fall off of him. He’s a tough guy to bring down; he always has been. Obviously the longer he’s playing, he’s not going to try to move as much because you’re going to get hit a lot and it kind of gets old to you, especially when you start to get years in the league. He still has that ability. He’s a hard guy to bring down.”

(On if the Steelers defense has changed now that Dick LeBeau isn’t there) – “It’ll look similar at times, but there are some things that they are doing different. It’s just like anything else in this league, everybody evolves. Coach LeBeau last week, that looks different than what I saw in 2011 and 2012. That looked different. Sometimes you have to look at the personal you have and you make some adjustments with your scheme. You’re not going to just run the same thing to run the same thing. When you’re together for 12 years with the same group of guys, that system is going to look the same year in and year out. Then all of a sudden Troy (Polamalu) retires and you get a whole bunch of guys moving in and out, that defense has to look different.”

(On how the process works for a veteran player playing in a different position such as DE Cameron Wake playing Sam linebacker last week) – “I think sometimes it depends on who it is. Some guys are not comfortable with doing something that is a little out of their norm. Obviously with his background, he has a lot of flexibility. We were looking to figure out a way to maybe throw something in there that could help us stop the run. He has that flexibility as a guy that can play the position we needed him to play the last couple of weeks. He’s the kind of guy that wants to do whatever he can do to help us win. That’s what he wants to do. That’s why he’s one of the leaders of the team.”

(On if having a safety as one of the league leaders in tackles speaks well of the defense) – “It’s something you’d rather not have. It would be different if it were tackles for loses and things like that; but you’d rather your linebackers being the guys that are leading your team up there in the league. The one good thing is, you know if something does break through, he’s going to figure out a way to get him down. If we improve on our run defense and start fitting things up better and making sure that we’re consistently sound in what we’re trying to do with our defensive scheme, then hopefully those numbers go down.”

(On what he has found to be a good way to motivate a guy to give max effort the majority of the time)  – “I think a lot of times, it’s just in you. If you’re a guy that’s not a max-effort guy, it’s tough to bring it out. That’s why you try to draft guys, you try to sign guys that if you have experience with them, you’ve seen them do it in the past, you just try to get that consistency. Sometimes it’s inconsistent. If you can get it to where play-in and play-out and you say ‘Hey, maybe we have to cut the snaps down to where you’re full go all the time,’ then that’s what you do. You try to figure out a way to make it work. You sometimes know when a guy has it in him. You’ve just got to make sure you’re constantly staying on him to give that full effort.”

(On what he has done to address setting the edge and whether he has considered moving DT Ndamukong Suh to the other side of the defensive line) – “I think you have to be careful of taking one of the best players at his position and then trying to put him in a different position or out of position. Now you’re really hurting two spots. Doing something like that, that’s probably a little extreme. You really need guys to do what they’re coached to do (and) execute the scheme. Like I keep saying, until we execute our scheme fully and do it right consistently, it’s hard to evaluate the scheme to say, ‘Is this good or bad?’ Right now, we’re kind of at that crossroad where we’re doing it right enough to where we see a lot of positive, but then we’re doing it wrong too many times to where we have things that happen like last week. The week before in Cincinnati, we were feeling good. And then last week, obviously, we didn’t do it good enough.”

(On whether defending the run is more mental or physical) – “Sometimes it can be mental sometimes, because when you play a team that’s shifting, they start going unbalanced, and they have all kinds of things where they’re trying to figure out ways to get you a little bit out of position. That’s where you can have some of the mental issues occur. A lot of times, it is … For us, it’s being sound with what you do (and) sticking with what you’re being told. The hard part about defense is at the end of the day, it’s about making plays. So, sometimes guys feel like, ‘If I can make this play,’ and when you’re wrong, it really is a problem for a whole bunch of different guys. The really great players, when they decide to make a play, they make the play. Right now, sometimes we’re shooting our gun, and we’re missing. You can’t do that, because now you leave three or four other guys hanging out to dry.”

Cameron Wake – October 13, 2016 Download PDF version

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Defensive End Cameron Wake

(On what makes Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger so good and if it is because he is big and hard to bring down) – “I don’t know if I’d go all the way there, but he’s a good football player. It’s always the goal as a defensive player, a defensive end, to get after the quarterback, make him uncomfortable and hit him. I’m sure no quarterback enjoys that, so any time you have a good football player, that’s what you have to do.”

(On why Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is so difficult to bring down) – “Again, I don’t know if I’ve personally experienced that. I’m a big guy, too. I do my best.”

(On Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger having him beat by a few pounds) – “I don’t know if quarterbacks are built the same way defensive ends are built. I’ve had quarterbacks that are hard to get. Once you get in the backfield, the job is to get the quarterback on the ground, whether they’re big and strong or they’re small and they run fast or if they spin and throw the ball before you get there. There are a lot of issues once you … The first job is beating the tackle – or whoever the protection is – and getting back there. That’s the hardest part to me. Usually, the second part is a little easier.”

(On what is the issue with edge setting and what the team needs to do to get better against the run) – “I don’t think it’s any one particular thing, I think it’s just consistency. I feel like we’ve had spurts, where we show … whether setting the edge, clogging the middle, playing pass; whatever the situation is, we’ve done that. Now doing it for 80 plays versus 73, that’s the issue. Those other seven plays that you don’t do it are the plays where you get big plays. You get explosive plays, you get long passes or long runs and that obviously screws everything up. Even – not to go back to old stuff – (but) in the past, one play here or one person here not being in their gap and not being where they are supposed to be kind of ruins the rest of the plays you did well and the rest of the guys who are doing it well.”

(On Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Le’Veon Bell and WR Antonio Brown and if this team is capable of as many explosive plays as any team in the league) – “Have you been around the last 5 weeks? (Laughter) We’ve played some teams that have some explosive players and news flash, we’re going to play some more coming up in the next few weeks. It’s not anything new to me. It’s life in the NFL as a player. You’re going to have the best players in the world doing what they do. You – whether it’s running back one week or a quarterback the next week or a receiver the next week – have to do whatever you can to contain those guys. Also another news flash, we have some pretty good players here on our defense that are tasked with that and I think it will be a good game.”

(On if it is tougher to tackle a big guy like Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger or an elusive guy like Seahawks QB Russell Wilson) – “The hardest thing is beating a big, fat, ugly o-lineman that is trying to keep you from getting to the Ben or the Russell. That’s the hard part. Once you get back there, they’re defenseless, so you’ve just got to do whatever you can to get the ball on the ground.”

(On not being on a winning team since he joined the organization in 2009 and how much of a toll it takes on him) – “It’s frustrating; but the great thing about football is that you have to have a short memory. You can’t think about even the last play, let alone five years ago. When I get on the field, I don’t think about that. I don’t think about the last play. I think about the situation right now, whoever’s in front of me, whatever my job is and getting that done. The reality is, to be a good pass rusher and to be a good football player, if you’re concerned about how great you did last week, last play, two years ago or how terrible you did, in that same time frame, it’s going to affect your output coming up. I kind of erase my memory, go forward and kick butt.”

(On if it is more important for him to spend his entire career in Miami or being with a winner) – “It’s not which one is more important. I just want to win. Obviously, I’m here in Miami and I’ll be here as long as they’ll have me. I’m doing everything I can to make sure Miami’s a winner. I’m not concerned with going anywhere else or doing anything else. Like I said, as long as they’ll have me, I’ll be here, and as long as I’m able, I’ll do whatever I can to make this a winning team.”

Byron Maxwell – October 13, 2016 Download PDF version

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Cornerback Byron Maxwell

(On his level of confidence with how he’s playing personally) – “I’m very confident. That’s where I’ve got to live at, just the position I play and everything.”

(On if the last five weeks have tried him and made him do some soul searching) – “No, I mean you have to be confident in your ability and what you can do. I’ve been a good player in this league for a long time. I know at the end of the day, everything I do has to come back to technique when you’re out there on the field.”

(On Head Coach Adam Gase praising how he bounced back emotionally after the Cincinnati game and if he has been on board and completely locked in) – “Yes, obviously it’s the next game and we’re getting ready for the Steelers. I’ve got to bounce back. This is the NFL; it’s a long season. I’ve just got to be ready.”

(On what keeps him steady after the start of the season he’s had) – “You know it’s a long season and you’re just trying to win some games, basically. That’s how you stay steady. Just go about your work, really just focus on working, really. That’s all you can do.”

(On if he feels like his shoulder is 100 percent) – “Yes, my shoulder is good.”

(On him favoring his shoulder during the game) – “Yes, my shoulder’s good. There is nothing wrong with it.”

(On if he feels like he could tackle better) – “Definitely I feel like I can tackle better. That’s ball though. Teams are going to try to make corners tackle. You have to know that coming into the game and be ready for it. It’s just a mindset, really.”

(On sitting by himself for a while after last Sunday’s game) – “I was just waiting for the traffic to go out.”

(On the challenges of the Pittsburgh passing game) – “Obviously yes, it’s a challenge. Obviously they have 84 (Antonio Brown) but they have a bunch of guys that can take the top off the defense and work the intermediate (routes). It’s a great challenge. They’re going to throw the ball. We’ve got to be ready.”

(On playing against Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, who can move around and extend plays, and how difficult it is for a cornerback to cover) – “Yes, it adds an extra two or three seconds and he can get guys off and he is just flinging that ball up. At the same time, it’s an advantage but it can be a disadvantage too. You can get your hands on the ball if you stick with the guy. It’s really just ball skills at that time.”

(On what makes Steelers WR Antonio Brown elite) – “He’s quick. He doesn’t stop; he just keeps going. He can run all of the routes. Not many guys can do that. You can really key on a guy but he can run all of the routes, he can run 9-balls, he can run slants, he can run the whole route tree.”

(On what has gotten him through a slump in the past) – “Just keep working. Just put your head down and keep going and when you look up, you see where you’re at.”

Laremy Tunsil – October 13, 2016 Download PDF version

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Guard/Tackle Laremy Tunsil

(On what happened Sunday morning) – “I slipped out of the shower. I walked out of the shower (and) slipped. Things happen. That’s the only thing I can say, things happen.”

(On if he was actually in the shower or walking out) – “Yes, I was walking out of the shower and I slipped.”

(On if he was at the team hotel) – “Yes.”

(On how bad was his injury) – “I thought I twisted my ankle, the same one I dislocated in college – the one I had surgery on. It was pretty banged up. I thought something was wrong with it. I went to the training room and had a lower sprain so everything is good. I’m ready to be here with my team Sunday and play against the Steelers.”

(On how disappointed he was to miss the game Sunday) – “It was very disappointing not to be out there with your team and a freak accident like that happens, it was very disappointing. I wish I was out there with the guys.”

(On what he sees when he looks at the Steelers defense) – “The Steelers have a nice defense. They are a pretty good team. They play together; they’ve been together for a while. We have to come in there with our A-game and that’s what we’re doing – preparing.”

(On the difference it could make to potentially have all the projected starters on the offensive line on the field together Sunday) – “I think it makes a big difference. It’s very exciting to have all five guys back on the line and be there together.”

(On if he was emotional Sunday when he was told he couldn’t play) – “Like I said, I just want to be out there with my teammates.”

(On if he felt like he let his teammates down) – “Yes, I feel like I did.”

(On if he felt like he could’ve played) – “No, like I said, I twisted my ankle. It’s the same one I had surgery on so I was in pain.”

(On when he had surgery on his ankle) – “2015 – January.”

(On if he dislocated his ankle at that time) – “Yes.”

(On how long was he out with the dislocated ankle) – “I was out that whole year until the season started.”

(On if it was an eight month recovery for him) – “Yes.”

(On if his ankle is still coming back a bit or if it’s fine structurally) – “It’s fine now.”

(On the injury being worse the first time he injured it) – “Yes.”

(On what he was thinking while sitting on the floor) – “Things happen.”

(On when he saw how the offensive line played last week if he thinks he can make an impact) – “There’s always room for improvement. Not just me, we have the whole starting five back. I feel like we can just bring more to the game, more to the offensive line.”

(On if every starter on the offensive line is ready to go) – “Yes, we should be ready to go.”

(On how difficult it was to find out that two of his offensive line mates were released on Tuesday) – “It’s crazy. You build that relationship with those guys and then they get cut. It’s crazy.”

(On if he apologized to his teammates after it happened) – “No, they knew that it was a freak accident. Like I said, things happen. You can’t do much about it.”

Darren Rizzi – October 13, 2016 Download PDF version

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Darren Rizzi

(On the DT Chris Jones blocked extra point and how much tinkering did they do to get to that) – “First of all great, great effort by him – individual effort. We had a little bit of a schemed up rush on, and the one thing I’ve said about that unit so far this year is we’ve gotten credible effort out of that unit. Not only have we blocked two in five games, but we’ve come close on many, many others. Chris Jones is just one of many guys on that unit that has really given phenomenal effort. If you watch the play, Chris Jones’ hand is here and Jason Jones’ hand is right behind it. I think actually statistically, they initially gave it to Jason Jones and have since changed it. But it looks like Jason Jones might block that if Chris Jones doesn’t. Really, kudos to that whole unit on the effort number one. Number two, again on the scheme part of it, again Chris Jones just gives great effort. It just goes to show you that he’s not the tallest guy in the world – he’s 6’1” and change – and he got himself three yards back into the backfieldn great penetration and then got his hand up. Just really timed it up. We’ve really done a good job on that unit this year of getting our hands up, getting into the peoples backfields. Great job by (Assistant Special Teams Coach) Marwan Maalouf who really handles the front guys in that group. Great effort by the guys in that unit, and again, hopefully we can continue to have success in that area.”

(On how would assess P Matt Darr this season so far and his roughing penalty against Tennessee) – “I’ll start with the roughing penalty. I’ll start with the bad and go to the good. We can’t have that. That can’t happen. I think Matt (Darr) was probably a little bit frustrated (with), maybe, the way the game was going or maybe his bad punt or whatever. Regardless of what he was frustrated at, it’s a bad penalty. It doesn’t matter if it’s the punter, d-tackle, quarterback, receiver. It doesn’t matter who it is. We got to be smarter than that. Matt knows that. (I) talked to Matt about that. We’ll get it corrected. Again, was it frustration? Looked like it to me. I probably was at the time. Things weren’t quite going our way. He probably wasn’t real happy with the result of the return and got to the sideline, got in a little scuffle. I think specialists in particular are a little bit touchy, feely with the physical stuff. So, I think he was a little … He got caught up in there. But the bottom line is we can’t have that. That’s the bottom line. (We) can’t have 15-yard penalties after the whistle. (It) doesn’t matter who it is. It doesn’t help the team. As far as (how) Matt’s season is going, statistically he’s obviously having … If you look on paper, he’s having a really good year. He has been a really good situational punter so far through five games. He has got some really good going in punts, plus 50 punts. We’ve had a lot of punts down inside the 20 (yard line). Something he really tried to improve on this year from last year was some hang time and location. I think we’ve done that. Not every ball has been exactly where we want it, but he has really improved in that area. Kudos to our coverage team so far. Knock on wood. That’s been a pretty good group right now. (We have) got some guys giving phenomenal effort in that group as well. You look last week at guys like Walt Aikens, Bobby McCain, Mike Thomas in particular getting down the field, Mike Hull. (We have) a lot of guys around the ball, and we’re going to have to continue to do that throughout the year, particularly this week. But overall, again, I think Matt is a guy that has been pretty consistent throughout – since the time he got here, from his first preseason last year, right up through this year. In every game we kind of know what we’re going to get. Again, kickers are humans, too. Punters are humans. Every kick is not going to be exact, but again, I really like his approach. I really like how he prepares for games. I really like how he handles himself in practice. He has got a great routine for a young player. People forget he only punted one year in college. He only had one year as a starter at Tennessee, because of their competition there and all that. So, you’re talking about a guy that hasn’t had a great body of work since high school, and that’s pretty impressive.”

(On whether he ran down the field with WR Jakeem Grant on his punt return for a touchdown and if that one play is really an indication of what Grant can do) – “I’ll start with me. Ironically enough – I know you’ll be surprised by this – I was standing still and actually he ran right by me. I had my feet in the ground on that one believe it not. I know that comes as a surprise to some people. As far as Jakeem (Grant) goes, the thing that when we evaluated Jakeem on college film – and I think I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again – for a small guy, usually little guys are shifty and quick and don’t have long speed. It’s just kind of the nature of those smaller guys. Jakeem in high school, if I’m not mistaken, ran like a 10.3 100 meter. He has got long speed as well. So on that particular play, I think he did a hell of job making the first guy miss and then obviously got around the corner. Now, we had some great blocking as well. I think people tend to forget that he didn’t do it by himself. But he did a hell of job once he got into the wall on the sideline of making those last few guys miss. Number one he made the first guy miss, got himself to the sideline. And then number two, the in-and-out cuts. One of the most impressive things I think about the play is his last burst. He makes the last guy miss and his acceleration to finish was outstanding. Yes, you kind of get the whole package here. You see a guy that can move laterally, can finish vertically. He’s still a work in progress. Again I think the one great thing … The one kick return we had later in the game, we should have had a lot more yards. There was a line drive that kicked right to us on the goal line, and he kind of misread that a little bit. So, there are still some things to improve on there. But I think from a talent standpoint – I think when you watch that play – you can certainly see.”

(On if he has ever coached a player with WR Jakeem Grant’s skillset) – “That’s a great question. I’ve been here … I guy like Teddy Ginn certainly was … When I first got here, Teddy won a game for us against the Jets with two kick returns in one game. Teddy might be the fastest goal line-to-goal line guy that we’ve had since I’ve been here in terms of 100 meter open up and run. But ironically enough, Jakeem is not that far behind him in terms of just straight-ahead speed. Now, Jakeem is more shifty and maybe has some more lateral quickness. A guy like Devon Bess was really lateral quick, but he didn’t have the home run speed. So, we’ve had some guys that have had the different skill sets, but Jakeem, again, kind of has that entire package.”

(On how he has helped Head Coach Adam Gase in his role as assistant head coach) – “That’s a great question. Number one I try to take as much off his plate as possible in terms of around the building. (I) try to help him out a lot in that stuff. I think people also forget that not only is he a head coach, he’s calling the offensive plays, so he’s our offensive mind there, too. We’ve had some great conversations throughout – not just this week – since he has gotten here about the daily duties and my thing. Again, I try to take some of that management stuff off of his plate, so he can really concentrate on the things that I think are important. I told him it doesn’t matter … I’ve been a coach – certainly not the NFL level, but I was a Division II head coach and a IAA head coach. The one piece of advice I gave him when he first got here I said, ‘It doesn’t matter where you are, what level – whether it’s high school or Pop Warner – there is a funnel that goes to the head coaches desk from the rest of the building, a funnel of crap, if you will.’ I’ll say it nicely. I think as a head coach when you’re a head coach for the first time – and it happened to me when I was really young at the Division II level – but you have to really do a great job of understanding how to divvy that out and how to delegate, especially in his positon. I think he has done a great job of that. (I am) just trying to help with little things like that around the building. Again, talking through, obviously, the football aspect of it is easy I think – the x’s and o’s and all that stuff. To me, I think, I try to help him with a lot of the other things in the building where he can concentrate on the football part of it and not have to worry about some outside stuff.”

(On whether they will use the defensive or special teams unit if Pittsburgh attempts a two-point conversion and whether it is difficult to include in the package) – “If they leave their offense on the field, that’s going to be the defensive unit. As far as the numbers go, overall statistically in the NFL, it’s still just shy of a 50 percent play, probably in the mid to high 40 percent. Pittsburgh did a hell of a job last year. They’ve done a hell of job when they have gone (for it). They are certainly ahead of the curve, and they’ve also done it more than anybody else. But usually that’s going to be, depending … I would talk to (Defensive Coordinator) Vance (Joseph) more about that. What’s the offensive personnel in the game? Who do they have in the game? You’re going play matchup there in that kind of situation. Usually – I’m not speaking for Vance (Joseph), but just generally speaking – usually people are going to have their red zone-type calls in that situation depending upon the offense’s personnel and things like that.”

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