Offensive Coordinator Bruce Arians How did Ben Roethlisberger look today?A little better. He's moving around okay. Not as good as he was, but okay.Are you worried about Maurkice Pouncey being able to play?Yeah I am. We will see what happens with the response of his ankle tomorrow. Did Pouncey have a setback in Cleveland?No.Did it happen yesterday during practice?Yeah. With these things, you never know. It could be weather related. It could be anything. He didn't sting it in practice. It just got sore, and we will see what happens tomorrow.Does Denver have great defensive players or just a great defense?They have both. They obviously miss Brian Dawkins and his leadership. They have outstanding speed on defense, and they have outstanding pass rushers. They have solid cover cornerbacks, and they have a very young group of safeties trying to take Dawkins' place. They have cleaned up some of their mistakes but I think they will be more than ready for us. They are an outstanding group. Do you think (Brian) Dawkins will play?I have not heard. I know he didn't practice yesterday. That's the only word I have.Whether he plays or not, do you think that will affect how much they will blitz?No, they will just blitz the next guy. They are kind of like us, next man standing, next guy in line. Their young guys have played really well for them. They have made some mistakes but they play extremely hard and fast. Dawkins is special, because he's like a linebacker when he is blitzing. Do the young safeties come to the line of scrimmage?Yeah. They do everything. They have every package in the book, two-deep, three-deep and zero coverage. They have it all. Will you be watching Roethlisberger in the game to see if he needs to come out?We will just see how it goes. That's not something you decide on Thursday. That would be a spur of the moment situation of how we both feel about it but we cannot make that decision on a Thursday.Did Roethlisberger suffer the setback in the game last week?No, because he was moving well in the fourth quarter. He moved around and made some great throws on third downs. Adrenaline does a lot for you in a football game that you don't have on Monday. When you wake up, the adrenaline is not there. I am sure it happened during the game. He thought it was some time in the third quarter. Adrenaline gets you through football games, especially tight ones like that one was.
Do you have any regrets on letting him play in San Francisco?None at all.Has he changed his mechanics at all with this injury?Obviously he is not as mobile as he was. A lot of the plays we make outside of the pocket are not happening. The biggest thing is that the football he throws is going higher. But that's nothing out of the ordinary. Has his injury hindered the offense's ability to move the football?I think field position has a lot to deal with it. We are gaining yards but we aren't scoring. Our red zone offense has really slipped. The other night, the clock ran out. We had two more downs but we only had five seconds. There were times when we could have played better in the red zone and scored more points.Re: Confidence level in Isaac Redman and John Clay, and concerns with Redman's fumbles:Gosh no. I am not concerned at all. He's had two fumbles all year. I have all the confidence in the world in him as a runner, receiver and blocker. Clay is a young guy that is earning more time. He is earning our trust. As he is playing well, then we will play him a little bit more.When will Redman get rest?He will get rest when we are on defense [Laughs]. There's no time for rest now. We are in the playoffs.Have you faced a lot of teams that use press coverage like the Broncos do?Oh yeah, many. The Cleveland Browns are probably the best at it. The Browns do a great job of holding, grabbing and pulling on the receivers within the five-yard frame, and they were a really good warm up for the Broncos.How important is it to beat that press coverage?If we can't beat it, we won't win. It's as simple as that.Re: Using Clay on third downs:He can handle the blocking part of it. It's the assignment part of it that young guys like him struggle with sometimes. He's been more than ready the last two weeks. When we've had to have him in there he's done okay.Would Chad Spann only be used in emergency cases only?We might use him in a special situation but we don't want to throw him out there too fast. When the Broncos play man coverage, does that make the wide receiver screen harder to execute?It does. It takes us back some. They don't play it all the time. They mix it in and out. There are other answers to that too. We will use what we have to when getting the ball out to those guys.Can you remember a season with this many injuries?We are close to last year's number but no. Last year we had more guys on the Reserve/Injured List. This year, it's week-to-week and day-to-day injuries, and who can participate and who cannot. You just go with the flow. You take what is there and go with it.
**Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau
You've had a lot of different looks and challenges throughout your coaching year. What challenge does Tim Tebow's offense present?
They are unique because he is unique. They are a challenge. I have a lot of respect for what he does, and the people around him. They have other people that can run. They are leading the league in rushing, so it is more than him. They are just good at run blocking, they are three deep at the running back, and Tim gets his yards in there. They are different.
When did you last have to prepare for option?
Probably when I was playing. We've got some good college coaches on the staff. They had to play it all the time.
How has the defense been able to stay on top through all of the injuries?
I think it is a credit to the guys that stepped in there. I think you have to give a great deal of the credit to Lawrence Timmons. He played about four different positions for us this year, that's hard to do. Sometimes two or three of them in the same game, and that is really hard to do. He has been the guy that we have wheeled around as we have lost some of our players. I think the other factor is that they have all been in the same system, and they play it pretty well. The whole group has assimilated to each new guy as they came in there, and I am very proud of them.
On your team you have seen a couple of running backs find their gear again later in their career. Is that is what is going on with Willis McGahee too?
I think really he is just getting more opportunities, and more carries. He has always been a really solid NFL back. He is certainly running as well as he ever has. But I think the reason his productivity is up is because he is just getting more opportunities to carry the ball.
When you reflect now, what happened in that first week, and what happened since then?
I wish I knew the answer to that. We try to keep it from happening again. The NFL is a weekly challenge, and every week is different, and some weeks just don't go the way you want them to. The secret, if that is the correct word, is to not get too high when you play good, and to not get too low when you don't play well, and just focus on the next game, the next snap, the next quarter. And we have a bunch of veteran guys. We didn't like what we did, and they changed that.
That first game produced an awful lot of doubt outside of the building about what this defense would be did that infiltrate at all, and do you think that maybe you wouldn't be the top defense?
We have been around long enough to know that one game is not a season. We always just kind of let things sort themselves out, and we always try to control what we can, which is the game coming up. Everybody has games that they are not proud of, and that is certainly one of ours. But the guys did a great job in a 16-game season, and we are looking forward to a second season.
How is the James Harrison that you have now, different than the one you first coached?
James is one of our very, very best players. He has tremendous experience now. That is probably the biggest different. He has always been a solid player. When he got that confidence, and the knowledge that he knew he was a dominate player, he has been a really strong producer for us, and I would say that that has been for seven or eight years. He is going to play good every week.
Because your guys are veterans and experienced as they are, do you have to preach to them at all the discipline of not overextending themselves going after the quarterback, and letting him get undisciplined with their pass rushes, or do they know that already?
We don't do much preaching to our guys. We try to stay out of their way and not mess them up. But each week we study the opponent, and people we think we have to defend. We talk about that. I wouldn't call it preaching. But it helps to have a veteran group. We try to present the problems that are inherent with that opponent that week, and certainly this is a different offense and no one has really completely handled it, but some people have done pretty well against it, and we hope to be one of those people.
Aaron Smith was talking about how agonizing it is to sit out because there is a sense among some of the older guys that there are not many runs left. Is there a sense to that and maybe give a sense of urgency?
I leave that to the poets and the philosophers. I am just going to coach the guys that we've got, and we are grateful for the guys that we have. We have a nice mix of young and old, and nothing lasts forever. Not coaches, not players. I think the league will last for awhile, but probably not forever. So we don't talk about it, we don't think about it. We go with what we got. The group does that, and that is one of the reasons we can handle adversity, and one of the reasons we can take a punch in the jaw and come back and play the next down.
What do you expect from LaMarr (Woodley), coming back after he has missed so many games?
I think he will play well because he is a very good player. Our training staff has been working with him constantly on the aerobic part of it. Trying to get him as much heart and lung conditioning as we can without having him on the practice field. So hopefully that will be minimized and we will just have to monitor how he is doing. But a good football player does not forget how to play football just because he has not been in there for a couple of games.
Can you talk about Ryan Mundy and his challenge playing for Ryan Clark this week.
Yeah, but not only this year, but for several years now, Ryan has gone in and he has always done well and we look at him as a starting player. We also feel good about Will Allen, who is also a veteran safety. So we are blessed there at the safety position. We have four veteran guys that can play. We wish we had Ryan Clark, but we don't. But I am sure that Ryan Mundy will do an excellent job for us.
What is your take on all of the Tebow mania that has been happening?
It is pretty unusual what he has done. All of those games that they have won at the end, that is a testimony to their team, and their teams' character and the character of the quarterback. But you look back to the guy's career and he has been winning everywhere he has ever been, and that is why we have a lot of respect for him and you have to play four quarters and 60 minutes because he is going to keep coming. I think they have won six in a row, and five out of the six they came from really looking up a tree, but they won. I think that's all you need to say. The guy is a winner.**