Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley Do you feel well prepared for this Sunday considering everything you've faced this season?I do think that if there is a positive it's having gone through it when we were shuffling some parts in and out, guys being ready to go. That's a positive. We are preparing like we do every week. The guys that area ready to go will be out there fighting their butts off to figure out a way to win.Have you ever had a week where your QB and top RB and WR could be out?I don't know [Smiles]. But they are all fighting to get back. We are fighting to get better every day. We had a good day today.What did you like about today?I thought the guys went out and executed for the most part. They were sharp, doing the things they were supposed to do, both in the run and pass. Obviously we aren't in pads, but I thought we were at a very good tempo, and we had very good execution for the most part.**
Re: More confidence in the running game without Le'Veon Bell now: Yeah, I think when the bullets are flying, so to speak, that earns respect from the guys. That being said, we've made it all clear that once isn't enough, potentially, depending on what goes on with Williams. Our guys are going to have to step up and do the job again, and do it a little better, hopefully. That's what they are working towards. How comfortable is it knowing Ben may not need a lot of practice time to play on Sunday? It's very comforting. The Cleveland week he didn't get a bunch of reps. But he was able to step in when Landry Jones got hurt, and Ben got the job done. It doesn't mean it's going to happen again because it happened in the past. But like I said, all of those guys are fighting to get back. We will take whatever we can get out of them from a practice standpoint. Whoever has a helmet on Sunday will have to be ready to go. Is there a certain yardage that Ben has to be able to throw the ball to? That's really a head coach question. As a staff, and after getting word from the doctors, we will make a determination. And we aren't at that point yet. Does your play calling get limited if Ben can't go? No. Again, I would expect if he has a helmet that we are ready to go, full-go. We aren't at that point yet. We are preparing, schematically, what we need to do to play our best against Denver, who has a very good defense. Having seen them once, we know them up close and personal. Everybody that could go today was out there working hard. Everyone that couldn't was working hard mentally. What's different from Denver now than when you played them last? I think I said before the first time we played them, they are very good at what they do. They don't do a lot, meaning they aren't a defense that is going to trick you a whole bunch or give you a bunch of exotic looks. You pretty much know what you are getting. But they are very good at doing it. So those types of games, we need to be on our stuff and be ready to win our one-on-one battles, whether it's a lineman up front with protection, a running back on a linebacker or a receiver on a defensive back. Re: Confidence in Landry: I've seen him come in and do a good job. He's helped us win games. Arizona, arguably one of the better teams in the league, he came in and played about a half. He made the plays necessary to win. He's done nothing but get better. It probably wasn't his best outing last week but it's one to learn and grow from. I know he was in here first thing this week studying his butt off. He's gotten ready to go, and he's had a couple of good practices. Re: Importance of protection from your o-line: It's a great challenge. We had the benefit of being in Heinz Field the last time, being able to use the cadence a little more. So it will be loud. I've been out there in a playoff game before, when it was Mile High Stadium, but even this one seems a little louder. As I've told our guys, we've been preparing for this all year, having to go to Seattle and some of the other games that we've had to play, like last week in Cincinnati, on the road in adverse conditions. We have to be on point and be at our best from that standpoint. As far as the challenge for the guys up front, it's a great challenge. As I said before, the statistics don't lie. They have a ton of sacks. They bring it in waves. They have some young guys that come in and play and spell DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller. The guys inside are very good players. So, we have our hands full. We have to probably play our best game. Re: Receivers eager to be the No. 1 if A.B. can't play: I don't know. I can't speak for them. I know they've had a couple of good practices. This is a group that has shown they are pretty mentally tough. They prepare the same every week. You never know what is going to happen. That is how they are preparing this week. They are preparing to go out and play their best football. They did some really good things at times last week. But we need more out of them this week, obviously. Re: Dressing three QBs: Those are game-day decisions regarding helmets. We aren't even to that point as a staff yet. Does practice feel any different without A.B.? **He's a great player. We get a lot of balls to him. So you are always going to miss somebody like that. That being said, I thought the guys went out there today and moved around really well. They were sharp and precise in what they were doing. They caught the ball. Landry did a good job getting it to them. Not from that standpoint, practice didn't feel different. But you are always going to miss a guy like Brown.
Defensive Coordinator Keith Butler Re: On the playoffs:This always goes on every year, you advance, and it gets a lot more fun, a little bit more hectic. You have to step it up a little bit more every time you advance in the playoffs. But that's what makes it fun. Re: On if Ryan Shazier's game last week is what they envisioned for him:Well, he's got all the talent. A lot of times, it takes a little while to learn the system and do what he's supposed to do in the framework of the defense. And sometimes, he's playing by the seat of his pants, he's starting to cut that down a little bit and he's starting to do what he's supposed to do. He's doing a pretty good job of it. **
Do you see that with Bud Dupree too? Bud has still got a lot to learn. I keep telling him he's not a rookie anymore, he's played 16 games. So, he's still got a lot to learn. He does some good things, though. He does do some good things. You draft him No. 1, you expect him to do good things. Re: On if film helps when he can point to on-file results as confidence boosters: For us to win defensively, we have to create turnovers. We always tell them, we have to stop the run, we have to create turnovers, we have to try to keep the ball in front of us and stuff. All of those things, and when it happens for you, you feel good about it. But sometimes, it doesn't. So, you have to adjust and those guys (young linebackers) have played pretty well for us and they need to continue to do that. Re: On facing Peyton Manning: He's a coach playing football. It's trying to compete against another coach out there, except he's controlling the things on the offensive side of the ball. He's seen everything. We're not going to fool him on anything that we do. We're just going to try to execute and do the best we can and see how it turns out. Re: On if Manning changes plays more than other quarterbacks or if it just looks like it: It looks like it. Sometimes, he gives dummy calls and stuff like that. Figuring out which ones are the dummy calls and which ones are the real calls, that's a task right there. But, we don't worry about that. We try to do what we're doing and focus on what we're doing and not what he's doing. Re: On checking the defense: We have different ways out. We always do that. It doesn't matter who we're playing. It doesn't matter if we're playing Peyton or anybody else. We try to get in the right defense as much as we can, if that requires a check, we'll put a check in for it. This week, we're just trying to play fast and be where we're supposed to be. Re: On if he wants to force Manning to throw: I mean, we don't want them running the ball and he does a good job of getting them in the right runs, because he's able to read the defense and where the safeties are and stuff like that. Being a field general out there, and like I said, a coach on the field helps them a lot in the running game. But, he knows where to throw the ball, he knows the soft spots in the defenses. So, it makes it a little bit harder for us. Re: On what he remembers from the first time he had to prepare for Manning: We prepped for him a long time ago and we beat him when he was in Indianapolis. If you think about Super Bowl XL, we won Super Bowl XL. It's a lot like this season, a lot like this season. There's a lot of parallels to it, in that we beat the Cincinnati Bengals in the first playoff game and our second playoff game we went to Indianapolis and played Peyton Manning and beat them there. In the third game, the AFC Championship, we went to Denver. We won the game at Denver in the AFC Championship. So, there's some parallels to that season. Playing against Peyton Manning is really an honor, because the guy is a first-ballot Hall of Fame guy. A very smart guy, a guy who really represents what the NFL is all about. So, it's always an honor to play against him. Re: On if there's any part of his game that's better: He's always better, because the experience that he's got, he always learns. The more games you play, you learn something every game that you play and the more you play, then you gain a wealth of knowledge, in terms of what people like to do, different defensive coordinators in the league and what they like to do different, head coaches in the league and what they like to do. So, he's got a wealth, a bank, of knowledge, in terms of what people have done to him and what they're trying to do to him. Do you try to be different just because of that, from the last game?**
You're going to do some different things, but you're not going to fool him. We don't expect to fool him. We're just going to try to execute a little bit better than we did last game.Re: On if it feels like it's him against Peyton:No. I'm not playing. The difference between me and him is that he's playing and I'm not. You have to try to call a game against this guy and we're just trying to get our guys in the right position. I'm not really worried about trying to call a game against him. I have an idea, we have an idea, of what we think they might do, but it doesn't mean it's going to be right. So, my thing is we need to play better in the first half of this game and be ready in the first half of this game. When they come up and they up-tempo us, we're in good position and we have a good feeling about what we're doing.Re: On how much of the first game was confusion:A little bit, it was a little bit. We tried to prep our guys going into the game that it was going to be up-tempo and it was up-tempo and we were a little bit late in the calls sometimes, and sometimes we were not on the same page. So, we got that straightened out and those guys ended up playing really well in the second half, and we have to do the same thing in the first half of this ball game.Does some of that fall on Shazier?Some of it does, but not all of it. Some of it does. He's doing better job of it as the year goes along. It's hard to do that. I did it for five years, but I had five years in the league before I had to start doing it. It's not as easy as you think, because a lot of people are depending on you to make the correct call to get the defense in the right defense and stuff like that. There's lot of pressure to it.Re: On Denver's two backs:I think they're both different types of backs. One of them can get in the hole and get out of the hole real fast, the other one is probably thicker, strong, runs a little more physical. So, we're going to have to try to stop the running game. It's always been that way here. We have to stop the running game before we can get them into passing situations.Re: On the biggest physical difference between Manning now and 5-10 years ago:I think he still likes to do the things that he wants to do. The thing that's probably hurting a little bit is he's been hurt. When he's technically perfect, he throws off his front foot and when he can do that, he's still effective in what he's doing. What happened to him during the season, I think, is he hurt that foot and it's hard to step up and throw the ball. Sometimes, his pocket collapses on him and it's hard to step up and throw the ball. In those cases, it's been harder for him to get the ball down field. When he can step up and throw the ball, he's just as effective as he always is. Re: On if he thinks his defense is playing with more confidence:I'm more confident in them. I think they're trying to do the best they can. They understand they have a good idea, and that this doesn't come along very often. You get a chance to go to the division playoffs. Each step you take in advancing toward the Super Bowl, you have to raise your level of intensity a little more. I think they're enjoying that part of it, to be honest with you. And those guys are competitors. I'm proud of them for that, being the competitors they are. We're not always a great defense, but they do a lot of good things a lot of times.Re: On if the defense relies more on a guy like William Gay:Yes, I think they listen to him a little bit in terms of what it takes to get to where we want to go. Those guys have been there. Certainly he has the experience and can certainly express it to them, maybe in a different way than we do.Re: On his secondary:They've been pretty good. We changed a couple things in terms of the coverage and stuff like that, but they've been good adapting and doing what we ask them to do.Re: On the play Denver ran against him in the playoffs five years ago:Let me forget that one please. They did a good job of it. We didn't fit it right. We tried to go under a block and they took it. It was the first play of overtime as a matter of fact. They took it all the way down the field and we were out of it in overtime in one play. That was disappointing. But, they're still doing that, they're still good at doing it. So, we have to be able to defend that.