Defensive Coordinator Coach Dick LeBeauIs Cortez Allen coming on quicker than you may have expected or hoped for a rookie?I don't know if it is quicker or slower, but he has done a nice job. I think there is a lot of football in front of him. He is just a beginning player, but he has done a good job when we put him in the games.What do you see in Cortez Allen that gives you that confidence to put him out there? Is this that time of year where rookies stop playing like rookies so much?We are already into their second season, if they were in college. They would have turned the corner and started around again. But he has just made steady progress and has done a great job. Coach (Carnell) Lake has done a great job with him and we are confident that he can go in there and do a great job.Was he ever close to not sticking around, when you had veterans at training camp?You would have to talk to Mike (Tomlin) and Kevin (Colbert) on that but we always thought that he had good ability, good coverage ability. We liked his size and speed ratio and he has a nice feel for the ball. So those are the kind of guys, when they display something that you really can't teach, you like to see what they are going to end up becoming. But he was injured up at training camp, so that put him behind the ball a little bit, slower to progress, but he has made constant progress since he has come back.How do you catch-up. Is it time in the classroom and so called mental reps?I don't know that he had to catch up, he just had to get some experience and the only way you can get that is to live. To get out there is the only way you can get it. He has done a nice job and Coach Lake has done a nice job with him.Are you seeing signs when he is in? Is he getting more snaps?We are happy with how our young guys are doing as a general statement on defense. Curtis Brown has made great contributions on special teams weekly. He makes two or three tackles. It seems like every time I look out there, he is making a play. We are happy with what our younger guys are doing and we are excited of what they may become. Is it hard for a young guy to come in and do this or is this locker room pretty open to bringing these guys along?I think we have a great chemistry in the locker room. I think our veterans are great, teaching our younger players. But let's face it, this is the NFL. It is hard for any young player to come in and start playing in the National Football League. You need some time to mature, and get some experience.
Re: Cortez Allen playing in the nickel?He is playing in the dime. But he has been playing since the New England Game.What do you like about him?He is playing good football. That's what I like about him.And he missed some time early in the year at training camp.Yeah, he missed quite a bit in training camp, but he hasn't missed much since he has been back. He had a pulled muscle. I think it was a hamstring or a thigh. But once he came back, he hasn't missed a snap.Seemed like you eased him in. We saw him more in the second half of the Patriots game, more so than the first half.Well, some of that was what they were doing, and what people they put out will determine a lot of the times who we put out there. He has done tremendously well. He really has.
What has Chris Hoke meant to this team through the years?Chris has been a real solid contributor, always. He has been a wonderful locker room teammate and is very dependable. We count on him just like a starter.
Re: Chris Hoke's injury:We always hope for the best, and hope that he still has some football in him. He has been a great contributor and a great teammate. He is very quick, you can't replace quickness. So we will just see what the doctors have to say.
Were you aware that it was that bad, that he needed to have surgery, because he has been hurt since October 16th.No, I don't think anyone was.
Offensive Coordinator Coach Bruce AriansAre there any concerns about the number of sacks on Ben Roethlisberger?No. I am not going to try to change the way he plays. We'd like to protect him better at times but that's a product of a bunch of different things. I don't think there's a reason for concern.Ben said the sacks he takes are because of how he plays:That's the part that we aren't changing. I am not going to try to change that. The number of sacks doesn't alarm me. If it were all offensive line sacks, we would be looking for a lot more offensive linemen. Those things are a product of how we play.
Are the sacks on Ben like the strikeout record in MLB?If that's the case, then hopefully you're the home run leader. It's a product of how we play than who is blocking. It's never been a concern. If we had given up that many sacks as a blocking unit, we'd all be fired. It goes with the territory. We have a quarterback who likes to extend plays and make plays. And he does a great job with it. A lot of sacks are because of that. It's never been an issue. How do teams run the ball well against the Browns, considering they have a heavy defensive front?I think it's because they are young. They are big and active. I think learning the scheme, going from a two-gap, 3-4, to a run gap 4-3, is hard on some young defensive linemen. But I think they are going to be really good. Coach (Dick) Jauron is one of the best there is. They are ranked pretty highly as a defense but they have given up some rushing yards.Talk about their defensive ends:Yeah, they are young. They had some guys hurt. Jabaal Sheard is an excellent pass rusher, and he's playing the run pretty good too. He's stunting a lot. Every time we play a team that's ranked low in run defense and high in pass defense, we end up throwing it all the time.