Defensive Coordinator Keith Butler
Re: Ryan Shazier and if he can play this week:
I don't know. He is practicing right now. He is moving around good. We will have to wait and see in the next couple of days if his shoulder is still bothering him. We will see. We don't know right now.
What did you see in Ross Cockrell when he was cut from the Bills?**
I didn't see anything in him. Coach Tomlin had seen him on film and brought him in. What I saw when he got here, the thing I was most impressed with was that he would always jump up. When they were doing one-on-ones with receivers he would always try to jump up and take Antonio Brown. That showed me the kid had confidence. That's a big thing when you are trying to play cornerback. You have to have a short memory and have a lot of confidence. He did pretty well against A.B. in practice, and he started refining his technique a little bit. But he got better and better every day.
Re: Keeping the ball in front of you and if it's due to the zone scheme or pressure:
It's a little bit of both. I know Coach Tomlin spoke to how we attacked them last week. We felt like at the time when they maxed up like that, we felt that we had to make the ball come out a little bit quicker, so we used that some, and some we kept the ball in front of us. Carnell Lake has done a good job with the secondary, every week, preparing them. Week to week it will be different in terms of how we play people. The game plan has always been different. We will see how it goes.
Re: San Diego using three wide receivers and Antonio Gates is back:
You get Antonio Gates the ball as much as you can. If he was playing for us, I would guarantee that. So they are going to play, instead of three receivers, I don't know if they will play three receivers and come out with Antonio and play what we call "Ace," which is two tight ends and two wide receivers. That's more likely to happen against us, but who knows what they will do. I don't know what kind of health their wide receivers will be in. I would assume they would all be healthy, and that's how we are preparing.
Re: Philip Rivers:
He is a very sharp and studious young man. He knows the game very well. He's been in the league a long time. He and Ben Roethlisberger, as you all, were drafted the same year. They came in the same year. Ben has won a couple of Super Bowls. Philip's dad is a high school coach. He kind of grew up in football. He knows basic football very well. He studies the game. He knows what we are going to do or try to do. It's going to be a challenge for us to try to reel him in on some stuff. It's going to be tough to do with him, because he is very sharp. Plus he has the autonomy. He can do about whatever he wants to out there.
Re: Antonio Gates and Heath Miller:
He is very smart. He plays above the neck. He might have lost a little speed. Everybody says it. I don't know about that. He does a great job of using his basketball skills to be a tight end/receiver in that he can body you up and move in front of you. Smaller guys, he can body-up. You can't get to the ball. He gets between you and the ball. He makes sure he catches it and you don't. He is a very competitive guy, a guy that has a lot of pride in the way he plays. He is an excellent football player. If you've watched Heath's development over the years, when he first came in he was playing off of talent. In the middle years, and it's the same way with many football players in the league, in your first three years you play off of talent. In the next three years you play off talent and knowledge, which should be your most productive years. And your last three years you are playing off of talent and you appear to be as fast as you were your first three years, but really you aren't. You are just anticipating a little bit quicker, and playing better sometimes.
Re: You've played on the West Coast:
I think it's an advantage. I hated going east. Playing in Seattle, we used to leave on Fridays and try to get used to the time period here. We are going to play at 8:30 our time. It will be 5:30 their time. It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter what excuses anybody wants to have. You either win or lose, and that's all that counts.
Re: Having Shazier healthy and how that helps defending Gates:
He puts a little bit more speed on the field for us. Most of the time speed is the winner. But we will see what happens with him. Sean Spence has done a good job for us backing him up. Vince Williams has come in on occasion. Both of those guys have done a good job for us. They are very smart football players. If you know the game well enough, you try to keep yourself out of positions that are going to hurt you or the defense, and those guys are starting to learn the defense well enough to be able to do that.
Re: Defense being good enough to keep you in games, particularly the Baltimore game:
Any time you play Baltimore – we didn't care that they were 0-3. They are always going to play a good football game. That game is always the epitome of what the NFL is really all about. That's competiveness and being physical. Really, an all-out hard fought and hard played football game. We knew that going in when we play these guys. Our guys were pumped for it. It was on Thursday night, and they played well, especially on some of the third-down and fourth-down stuff. I think they learned to trust each other more and more, and the more they do that the better off we are going to be and the better we are going to become. For us, that's what we are trying to get done, just get better every week a little bit.
Re: Defense having interceptions in two straight games:
I hope we are trending in the right direction. I hope they throw us a couple more. Joe Flacco threw us one in the game. He kind of misread what we were doing at the time. But he is a good quarterback. We got one with Will Allen off of Nick Foles with a little bit of pressure. So it's a combination of pressure and good pass coverage in order to get interceptions. That's what we need to do. We need to create more turnovers to put our offense in position to make plays. Had we won the game we would have been a lot better off, but we didn't win the game. We didn't make enough stops. It's as plain and simple as that. Sometimes, you have to rely on your defense. Sometimes you have to rely on your offense. That's how you win games in the NFL. You don't win strictly because of offense or defense or special teams. Every once in a while during the season somebody has to stand up, whether it be offense or defense and win the game for you. We weren't able to do that. As well as we played, we are still very bitter to lose that game.
Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley
They (San Diego) give up a lot of yards. Are you going to run a lot on them?
We're going to do what's necessary to win. That's always our philosophy, whatever gives us the best chance to win versus the opponent that week. They have a good, aggressive, attacking defense. They have a number of guys I know pretty well from past experience, starting with No. 32. Eric Weddle. He is a heck of a football player. Having been in Kansas City, I saw him a couple of times a year. He's one of those guys you have to know where he is at all times.
Re: On having an extra three days of practice to prepare Mike Vick:**
It's great. As I said last week, it was a tough deal for a guy who hasn't had a lot of reps at all, period. Actual, meaningful, Pittsburgh Steelers reps that is. So, to be able to be out here and make calls in the huddle, from an operational standpoint for him, his comfort level of what the words mean and what they mean to him. All of those things are so, so important. Having an extra day this week is huge.
You haven't used DeAngelo Williams much. Is that just because of Le'Veon Bell being back?
We have two really good backs and they both have a different skillset, so to speak. Again, depending on the game plan and where we are from a situational standpoint, things just haven't fallen that way. But, we're definitely excited about having him here and he's excited to be here. He had one really good opportunity last week and he made a nice run for it. I'd like to see him carrying it more. It is difficult though when you have Le'Veon. Do you give it to him? Do you take him off the field? All of those things factor in. We have to balance and have a feel within the game. As we continue to move forward, I'm sure it will work itself out.
Do you rely on Le'Veon to let you know how he is feeling?
No, because he never wants to come out. So, it's the head coach, me, Coach Saxon and we are all kind of in the same bind at times.
Do you expect to have Martavis Bryant on Monday?
I'm excited to have Martavis back, first and foremost. Anything related to guys not practicing, you need to talk to Coach Tomlin.
Re: On Mike Vick picking what he's comfortable with this week:
Last week was an extreme situation, in my opinion. We really had to be smart about what he was comfortable with, what we liked versus the Ravens and what they were trying to do defensively. This week, with the extra time, it's more about continuing to build on what we were able to do last week, obviously, tailored to the San Diego Chargers. Like I said, the biggest thing to me are some of the fundamental, operational things you take for granted. Then, all of the sudden you have a new guy who hasn't been around much who has to spit out words, formations and plays. And do it in a timely fashion. I thought he did a great job. For the most part, I thought he did a great job on giving us a chance to win the game.
Re: On the clock ticking down being an issue for some plays going haywire last week:
I don't know that to be a fact. I just know that doing it after practicing for two days and making the calls for two days, I thought Mike did a terrific job. That was not an easy situation and it became a high-pressure situation, and he was able to get us in and out of the huddle and run the plays called. Again, I thought he did a commendable job for the short week of work.
How familiar are you with John Pagano?
We played them a couple of years ago here. Other than that, I don't know him really well. I'm much more aware of his brother, Chuck, but he's done a great job. It looks like he has guys playing hard, physical and aggressive. Like I said, it will be a very good test for us on the road against a defense that throws a lot at you.
Re: On players adjusting to a left-handed quarterback:
I definitely think it is different catching a ball from a right-handed quarterback than a left-handed quarterback. The spin, the tilt of the football, there are a lot of little things that are different. Again, it's like breaking any other habit, or getting used to anything else. It takes time and repetitions. That's another thing with having the extra day, they're getting to spend extra time between periods and work another couple of individuals together. All of those things are just priceless, as far as getting ready to go out there in the heat of battle and competing together.
Because Le'Veon is such a patient runner, how much of that factors into him needing a high volume because he is figuring things out with the line, communication pace?
I think any back, any line, they're going to want reps. The more they see, the better they fit and the more comfortable they get with what they are seeing against the guys they're doing it against. I can't speak that it's necessarily different for him. He's got great vision and sees what's happening, gives you great feedback. So, he's one of those backs, like most of the good ones, who get stronger the longer they go.
How do you feel about Bell as a receiver in this game?
I always love Le'Veon as a receiver. I think that's what really makes him unique and above and beyond his ability to run the football. He's just a natural guy, who can run routes and catch the football. He's always part of what we're trying to do.