Offensive Coordinator Todd HaleyRe: Eagles' defensive line:**
Their entire front four really isn't even a front four, it's a front eight. They rotate guys through. They are always fresh. They are always playing with an extremely high motor. They bring it. Their defensive ends give you trouble but their inside guys create a lot of pressure by collapsing the pocket. That creates issues for us on offense.Are defenses keying in on Chris Rainey?
I would think. When he shows up there is a little alert that goes up. The key with him is that we have to get him into the flow of the offense at some point when everybody is comfortable. When he is making regular carries, I think maybe he won't be noticed as much.What would be a normal number of carries for him?
We just have to get him carries, which he is quite capable of, as all of our running backs are.Re: Rashard Mendenhall returning:
I thought he has looked good for a couple of weeks. You could tell he was gaining confidence and moving around pretty well. Like I said from the start, he is a heck of a football player. He is a difference maker. The more of those you can have on the field the better.Do you have to ease him into the lineup?
I think that will be a game-type situation. Assuming he goes, if he is out there, he will give us pretty good feedback through his actions with how he is doing. We will see how it goes.Re: Early bye week:
I am with Coach Tomlin. There is never a bad bye week. You get out of it what you put into it. I thought our guys worked extremely hard. I mentioned last week that as an offense we have to work on is eliminating some of the minus plays, whether it is offensive penalties, negative runs or sacks. That is a hidden yardage deal. That adds up if you are not concentrating or paying attention to it. We were able to spend a lot of time on trying to make sure we improve in that area, along with the run game. Has your new offense allowed Ben Roethlisberger to have a higher completion percentage?
It's not my offense. I chuckle when people say that. I've made it clear that I am not a system guy. There is a terminology but we spent a lot of time in the offseason going through it with the people we had, and after the draft with the new guys. We worked hard at trying to figure out how we could play to the best strengths of our players. That's the way we will play each and every week. The opponent has something to do with that also. Roethlisberger is playing at a very high level. He is doing a good job. Some of the little and newer things that he hadn't done in a while, the quick throws and things like that, he's been excellent at. He's also been really good at keeping plays alive when we've needed it. The key with him is just to keep getting better and keep working, which he is doing diligently. I expect that to continue.Do the size of their defensive ends and the size of your tackles make you want to run more?
They are also a high-movement front. Are we bigger than them, yes. But when you have an active front like they have and an ability to move inside-out with the twists that they run, it makes it harder to stay on blocks. There are some positives and negatives. The key is that everybody needs to do their job and do what they are supposed to do. Runners need to find the hole where it is and make some yards. They are a good front. They are a little different body type and that gives big tackles issues. We have to be on our game. How does Mendenhall help you achieve more balance on offense?
He is another difference maker, if he is at full speed. He's been a very good back in this league. If he is able to get back to that level and keep improving like everyone else, then you have another difference maker on the field. That's not a slight to any of the guys here. I like our running back group. I like it better with him there. I think that is just common sense. I think we would all be excited to get him back. Now it's just a matter of getting him in the mix. Re: Importance of balance in the offense:
The number one thing is winning. You've got to win the game. Number two, you've got to convert third downs, you've got to score in the red zone and you'd like to possess the ball. We did it in the last three games. We possessed the ball better than anybody in the league. It didn't translate to wins. If you're winning the time of possession in games, and then executing in the other areas, you should have a very good chance of winning because you're keeping your defense off the field. I don't care if we throw it 50 times and run it 10 times, if we have the ball for 35 or 36 minutes, it's the same difference. Now, if you're throwing it 50 and you have the ball 20 minutes, unless you're scoring 50 points it's going to be a little tougher for you. The name of the game is winning. If you can win that time of possession consistently, I think you're doing your entire team a favor.Have you been able to keep G David DeCastro involved while he's been rehabbing?
He's been great. He's been in every meeting and doing all the extra things that all of the young guys are doing. Some of that includes filling the refrigerator for the offensive line room, and the chip bag and the snack box. I saw him today on the bike and that was encouraging. The key thing when you have an injury is that you stay in the mix, and he's all football all of the time. This is what he does so it was never really a worry to us.Re: Matchup between WR Emmanuel Sanders and Eagles' CB Brandon Boykin:
I think their entire secondary is very good. It's right up there with the N.Y. Jets. The young safeties they have both look like really good players. Brandon Boykin has come in and done a very good job in the slot. Everybody is going to have to do their thing to win. Whoever is getting the ball on that specific play has to be winning and make a play. That's the name of the game, because they are a real good secondary that's made even better by those guys up front that create a heck of a lot of terror.Have you ever played against a cornerback where you knew going into the game you were not going to throw at him?
No, I've been fortunate enough to have receivers that generally like to take up the challenge, and these guys are no different. They rise to the occasion and they're excited about playing games. It's going to be a great challenge. Nnamdi Asomugha, I've had a bunch of experience with him out in Oakland when I was with the Chiefs. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, I was with when we drafted him in Arizona so I've seen him up close and personal a bunch. They're a good secondary and they understand the scheme and what they're trying to do, and I think that shows on the tape.Is there a hope that DeCastro will be back into game action quickly once he is cleared?
I think he's no longer a rookie mentally, if that means anything. The key for him is just taking it day by day and getting himself healthy.**
Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeauRe: Having LB James Harrison and S Troy Polamalu back:**
I'm looking forward to having our defense back together. They might not be able to play the whole game but we'll get a lot of quality snaps from them. They both looked real well in the practices the last few days, and I'm anxious to see them play. Re: Having the core of the defense together on the field for the first time in a while:
Really, you go all the way back to last year, I think we only had James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley together for six games or something like that. It's been a while. I think we're a little better when they're in there together.Re: Defending a versatile quarterback in Eagles QB Michael Vick:
He's a proven winner. He's a great athlete and makes a lot of plays with his feet, which is always tough on the defense. I think he has become a much more efficient passer as he's matured. He can get the ball in some amazing places. He's always had plenty of arm strength but now he's got touch to go with it. He's a handful. He's a good player.Re: The abilities of Eagles RB LeSean McCoy:
He's unquestionably one of the top backs in the NFL. He's probably got the quickest cut of any of them. He's very impressive. If you look at their offense, they go best when he's making productive runs and that's pretty often.Re: Having the opportunity to work with the same players year after year:
It's a tremendous plus. We've kept our core of our defense together and that's a tribute to Coach Mike Tomlin, General Manager Kevin Colbert and the management and ownership. They've allowed us to do that and in doing so, it's enabled us to expand the package as we've gone along. Hopefully, we'll give some people some problems. It's definitely a plus for us.Re: Being able to use more packages now that Harrison and Polamalu are back:
We don't necessarily change the package so much but they look a little different at times with those guys in there. Is it as simple for offenses as double-teaming Woodley to protect the quarterback when Harrison is not in the game?
I don't think it's quite that simple. I think when you have [Harrison] and LaMarr in there together, it's more difficult for the offense to single on which side they want to protect because both are very accomplished pass rushers. Is Vick more dangerous in the pocket or out of it?
I think out of it, without a doubt. I just said earlier that his passing skills have really matured along with him. He passes so much better than when he first came up. He relied on his legs more then. He still makes plays with his feet but he's a much better passer. He seems to make more big plays when he's out on the move.