Q. Is there any carryover in your mind between this game and the one in Denver in last year’s playoffs that ended the Steelers’ season?
A. No. I don’t carry over the good, so I don’t carry over the bad. Each September, things start anew for us, and we’re excited about the journey that’s ahead of us.
Q. A lot of the Steelers defensive players have admitted they have watched video of Peyton Manning when he was the quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts. Has the coaching staff done the same thing?
A. Absolutely. When you’re talking about a guy with the kind of resume that Peyton Manning has, he has a certain style of play, a certain level of effectiveness, that’s going to show up no matter what jersey he has on. So as part of the preparation, it’s obvious that we should look at some of the things he has done in the past.
Q. Is Manning running the same offense that he was running in Indianapolis?
A. You see a lot of similarities. There are some things within his comfort zone that the Broncos have implemented, some of it is simply Football 101 – good, sound offensive football. But there also is a great deal of carryover from what you’ve seen from him in the past.
Q. Does Manning have one quality that seems to stick out over all of the others?
A. He’s unbelievable above the neck. Not only is he a great anticipator, but he does a nice job of preparing himself for those anticipation moments. It allows him to do things that others don’t in those circumstances, i.e., look centerfielders off and still get the ball out there in a timely manner. He has distinguished himself by what he does above the neck.
Q. Do you think Manning’s histrionics before the snap are a way to get defensive players to do more thinking and less reacting?
A. Sure. It’s the chess match, if you will, the game within the game. And he’s the best in the world at playing it.
Q. Are Manning’s weapons comparable to the ones he had with the Colts?
A. They’re different but they’re effective. When you look at Demaryius Thomas, you’re looking at a first-round pedigree guy. Big, strong, tough to deal with. Eric Decker – same thing. Big, 6-foot-3, and he plays big. Obviously, Peyton has a great rapport with a couple of guys who play in the slot in Jacob Tamme and Brandon Stokely. So it’s different, but nevertheless a very effective group.
Q. The Broncos running backs – Willie McGahee and Knowshon Moreno – seem to have contrasting styles, but do they have similarities as well?
A. They both run extremely hard. They both pride themselves on being strong blitz-pickup guys, and McGahee has really distinguished himself in that area over a long career in the National Football League. But I think they both have a run demeanor that’s aggressive.
Q. Much has been made of the absence of free safety
A. He’s three years in the league now, and so he has played a bunch of defensive football for us.
Q. Will you do more rotating of personnel on defense than you might otherwise?
A. It’s September football, and that includes rotating people and keeping them fresh. You don’t want to see some of the things you’ve seen in college football over the last week with guys on the ground and cramping up. We intend to play a lot of people. The 11 on the field represent us, and they understand what the standard is. We’re excited about seeing everybody who is capable of playing putting their hand in the pile and being part of the reason why we win.
Q. How concerned are you about the linebacker position being thinned by injuries?
A. I’m not. Injuries are as much a part of the game as blocking and tackling. Those are circumstances that are outside of our control. We’ll focus on the healthy linebackers and the ones who are capable of playing. The bright side of that is we think
Q. The team signed cornerback
A. We were interested in this young man when he came out in the draft in 2011. Obviously, we ended up with
Q. How much will
A. We anticipate him playing quite a bit. We have a definitive plan, but we’ll be light on our feet for the unexpected. He has demonstrated great physical conditioning this week and a pretty good understanding of his assignments, so we expect to let him go and play a significant amount.
Q. Do you have a specific plan with regard to the distribution of snaps for the running backs?
A. Again, we have a definitive plan, but we’re going to let the flow of the game dictate how we play people. We’ll go with the hot hand, but we expect a lot of those guys to contribute.
Q. How much has Denver’s defense changed under new coordinator Jack Del Rio?
A. There have been some minor changes, but it’s still predicated on the abilities of guys like Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller. They set a pace for the other guys to follow, because they have a great edge presence. I like their corps of linebackers, with Joe Mays in the middle. Of course, Champ Bailey is an 11-time Pro Bowl selection and the anchor of the secondary. He is rock-solid.
Q. What’s your biggest concern tonight?
A. That’s hard to identify. More than anything, I don’t want us to ride the emotional roller coaster that can be associated with early play, to trust our preparation in ourselves and each other. I truly believe this group is capable of doing that.