STEELERS vs BENGALS THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2008 KICKOFF -- 8:15 P.M. CONFERENCE CALLS
**HEAD COACH MARVIN LEWIS
What kind of affect does playing in overtime on Sunday have on your team with the short week?
Well you know obviously you go into the week knowing you are going to have the quick turn around and you had to go and play overtime so we adjust a little bit and we had the opportunity for some good meetings last evening and have the guys back this morning and kind of ready to go and adjust what we do today and tomorrow and have to travel on the road.
*Anything lingering with your team and Hines Ward after the first game?
Well I'm sure there is and unfortunately our player was injured and you know there'll be some revisions I'm sure to the rules after the season on that. It's an unfortunate incident and it occurred. It's done and behind us now and we just have to move forward.
As the rules stand now what is your opinion on it?
Well I think Hines was within the spirit of the rules right now. The way it is right now.
That could change; you're on the competition committee correct?
Yes I am.
Do you expect it to be addressed?
Yes I do.
With the competition committee, were you familiar with what Mike Pereira had to say yesterday relative to the ending of the Chargers/Steelers game?
Well one of my coaches said something about it, but yeah I kind of saw what they saw. I thought it was a fumble and it would have gave them a touchdown, but now you know from watching the play. Things happen out there fast and those guys do the best job they can and unfortunately they don't always quite get it right, but of course that would have been reviewable which they should have sort it out I guess.
Have you come across anything that's made you scratch your head replay review-wise or does the process need tweaked?
Well no I think the process is good. I just think unfortunately sometimes the fans as soon as they see a play not go their way everybody wants to yell for the review. And we had one in our game with the ball on the fumble at the one-yard line inside the one and everybody was like well why didn't you challenge it? Well I didn't challenge it because the guy's knee was down. Everybody thinks that just cause you challenge it it's got a chance to be overturned. And the only thing I think we can tweak is to try and make it fair whether you're on the road or at home. Obviously on the road you don't get replays, you don't get looks at plays. And so it's very difficult to make a quick decision when you're on the road in that way.
*As difficult your season has been its obvious your team is still playing very hard. Is that anything?
Well our football team, in most places, is pretty young. And unfortunately we didn't get off to a very good start and we're trying to climb back out of that hole and just do the stuff we can and win as many football games as we can. We're playing a lot of good football teams and obviously we're playing one come Thursday night that's very well-coached, very well-prepared physical football team that makes a lot of explosive plays offensively and defensively. Our guys are excited about that challenge and you know this is a division game this is a team we play a couple times a year and obviously with myself growing up there and coaching there it's always special week for us.
*How much of a concern is the Steelers pass rush?
Well it's always a concern and that hasn't changed and they do a great job so they're getting some free runners on people and we got to do a better job blocking than we did here in our earlier game.
Can you try to block James Harrison one on one?
Well, you can try. And I watch people do it, but he's an effective rusher. And he does a great job. He's got great lower body strength. He's what you look for in a guy that does an effective rusher. And he's got quickness, he uses his hands great, and then he's got a motor that doesn't stop.
You're around decent defenses here and a pretty good one in Baltimore. How does this Steelers current defense compare?
I think they're very good and I think they're as good. And they're trying to prove that their better. And they're playing very, very well. They're one in the rush, one in the pass, and one overall, and one in scoring I believe so I don't think you can be much better than that. They're doing a great job. I think the one thing they're not doing too when you get into that situation is you make people earn everything against you.
TJ was on earlier and said under Mike Tomlin he's noticed a change in how the Steelers secondary covers. Do you notice that as well?
I think that for them they kind of settle into some of the same guys and have been fortunate to do that although they had one little small change, tweak. But I think that's what comes over time and obviously Mike's background with secondary and so forth and Dick's background with secondary so I think there's been a little bit of a tweak of some things and the fact the way they follow into these pressures with the man under pressures and catching the guys down the field and things like that. And that's a little bit different and you know it's a little bit unique to the Steelers and how they play the coverages behind the pressures.
Has Cedric Benson helped your run game?
Yes, Cedric has done a good job since we've had him here and as he continues to learn all aspects of our offense and so forth and the things that we put in game plan wise so he's done a good job.
**How is Levi Jones and will he play this week? Is there a chance we might see Anthony Collins starting in his place?
We'll determine how Levi is as we get closer to game time so we'll kind of leave all those things up in the air right now, but we've sustained some bumps and some bruises and so forth in the game and Levi was able to battle back and come back in the football game so we'll kind of see how we go as the next couple days going forward.
You were asked about the Pittsburgh pass rush, how about your pass protection?
Well, I think I addressed them both at the same time. I said we got to a better job than we did in the other here.
WR T.J. HOUSHMANDZADEH
Can you talk about the short week to prepare?
It is a little different to be honest with you, especially with us coming off of an overtime game where we basically played an extra 15 minutes. It's tough because guys are a little bit beat up, but they are going through what we are going through. Their game wasn't as long but it is physical when you play Pittsburgh so it is very different to say the least.
Did you know there were ties in the NFL?
Yeah, I knew. I am up on all of the rules so I was hoping that we could get a score.
What do you make of the Hines Ward hit on Keith Rivers in the last game?
Personally, I didn't think that it was dirty; it was just unfortunate how it happened. The result of what happened to Keith makes it look like it was worse that what it really was. When he first hit him, I was like 'wow that's a nice crack-block.' With Keith having to have his mouth wired shut and get surgery, it makes it worse than it really was. It was a simple hit where he got him probably in the right spot.
Are there guys on your team that don't share in your opinion?
I am not sure; that has not been talked about. It was talked about initially afterwards, and when you saw Keith a couple of days later, but it hasn't been talked about. Maybe the guys on defense might feel differently but it hasn't been talked about thus far.
So you thought that was a nice block?
Yes, when you see it I think that it was a nice block.
Overall, what do you think of Hines?
Hines Ward gets up there and blocks but a lot of coaches throughout the NFL, even our coaches, say that you have to block like Hines Ward. I say, turn a tape on of Hines Ward, and the first two plays of the game he was walking; they were run plays. He does what every other wide receiver does; he blocks a little bit harder but when the play is going away (from you), you have to take your breaks. He just plays; he played on special teams during his first couple of years in the league and he played so many different positions in college where you develop a toughness. Blocking as a wide receiver, you can't teach blocking. You have to want to do it; he wants too.
So you have seen him take plays off?
I wouldn't say take a play off; that might have been a bad choice of words. Take a break.
How much of an advantage is height for wide receivers? You are listed as 6-1.
I am really 6-2; they cheat me of my height and weight here; they make me skinnier than I am and I appreciate that. This is just my opinion; hopefully one of these days when I am done playing, one of these owners will wise up and let me run their team. Prototypical wide receivers in my opinion are 6-1 or 6-2 with quickness; decent quickness not extreme quickness. Speed is not as much of a factor as people want to lead you to believe that it is. The taller receivers are not able to get out of routes as fluidly as other receivers are. They have positives where they can get the jump ball and they can make the tougher catches but how many jump balls are you going to throw? Football is about a game of running routes, separation; that is what you want in receivers. If you are 6-1 to 6-2, have decent quickness and run good routes, you could play for me all day.
*Does being taller help receivers in the end zone?
It is a plus because a majority of the defensive backs aren't very tall; Ike Taylor is probably one of the tallest ones in the league. How often are you in that position? If you are guarding the taller receivers like Chris Henry if you are in the red zone, I can guarantee you that you can ask Ike Taylor or "Big Play" Willie Gay what they expect, and they will probably say the fade route into the end zone because they have an idea of what it coming. It is not going to be a surprise there; it is who is going to man-up and make the play. They do have an advantage when they are taller, but I don't think that it is as big of an advantage as people would like to think because you know that it is coming.
Is it harder for a big guy to get off of the line?
It is a lot harder. If the quickness and the knee bend isn't there, then you have more of a target and body to hit. Most of the slim receivers, the taller ones like Chris Henry, it is difficult for them to get off of the ball, and that is when you give them a chance to run up on you and surprise you with their speed.
You called him "Big Play." Has William Gay stood out to you on film?
"Big Play" Willie Gay, I like the way that he plays. We have a guy on our team from Louisville who played with him and he calls him "Big Play" Willie Gay so that is what I am going to call him.
Are your shoes clean and will you be bringing a Terrible Towel to clean them again?
I have to be honest with, the way that this season has gone, there will be none of that going on. You can't show-boat when you are 1-8-1. I am just coming down there to have fun. Pittsburgh, they are the number one defense and they are playing to win the division along with Baltimore so we are just going to come in their and try to spoil it for them and put them back in a first-place tie with Baltimore. That is our goal right now.
How do you feel at this point in the season physically?
Today I do not feel as good as I normally do because this is usually the day where I rejuvenate my body and get ready for practice. I feel so good that it is weird; Sunday I was running around like a little kid. I don't know why it felt so good. Hopefully I can feel that again this Thursday. As of today, I don't know who feels good right now because guys that take care of their body, this is the day where you try to get your body back to normal and we are practicing here in a little while.
Would you say that nobody is 100 percent at this point?
No, especially guys like the linebackers and running backs and linemen. Those guys have aches and pains that sometimes you do not feel until you are moving around; you don't realize that you have a bruise here and a bruise there. You do some crazy things and you put your body through some things that you normally wouldn't do to play football.
What is the craziest thing that you do to make your body feel better?
Normally on Monday I will come in and get a lift in; just a total body lift and some core work, then I will get in the cold tub. On Tuesday I will contrast cold tub and hot tub and then I will do some yoga. By Wednesday I usually feel cool.
*Do you have a lot of respect for Ike Taylor and is he playing at a Pro Bowl level?
I like Ike's game; he is big and he is fast. I didn't like him a couple of years ago because he used to talk too much but I don't blame him because I talk a lot. If you talk to Ike today, because you are talking about him making the Pro Bowl, I am going to vote for him as long as he doesn't make me mad on Thursday. I will make sure that he is on our ballot; I will tell him that on Thursday.
Do you expect Ike to follow you around now instead of Chad Ocho Cinco?
I don't care who he is on. With (Coach Mike) Tomlin being there now, they play a little different now. They now drop back while a couple of years ago they were playing more man-to-man and fire-zone. I think that with Tomlin coming in, and him being under Tony Dungy and the Tampa-Two scheme, they play a soft two. I don't think that it matters if you flip-flop the corners anymore because they play so soft in the cover-two shell that they are playing a zone. But if they want to put him on me then that would be fine.
Ike still talks, right?
Yes, he still talks. I think that since J.P. (Joey Porter) left, he is probably the most talkative guy on the defense; him and (Larry) Foote.