Coach Pat ShurmurAny appreciation with Cleveland and Pittsburgh, or are you still just trying to figure things out week-to-week?
I have a huge appreciation for the rivalry. I think it is a very important game for everyone, regardless of what our records are. I have a growing appreciation for how tough and physical this division is. We had a chance, obviously, to play the Bengals twice and the Ravens once. There are a lot of fine teams in this division.
What are some of the similarities and differences between the Baltimore defense you just faced, and the Steelers defense you will face this Thursday?
I think they are similar. There are a lot of very talented players there, where they have a really good chance of winning their one-on-one matchups. I think that is pretty obvious. I think both schemes, even though they are both 3-4 type schemes, we are going to play one this week that is more of a traditional. I think in terms of the pass rush, that we are going to see this week, the outside backers obviously make it go, and they are darn good players, so it is going to be a challenge for us, blocking them on the edge. Then the schemes are both extremely good. The Steelers have done a great job for many years of getting pressure with the their fire-zone, and they bring a combination of one, two, three and even sometimes four linebackers, and then they play coverage behind it. It's aggressive, but yet they don't get exposed too much. So that is an outstanding scheme, and it has proven over years to help the franchise win Super Bowls. So, very talented players and a scheme that is time tested, makes for a big challenge.
What are the challenges that Mike Wallace presents?
I think first of all, he has skill and ability to just run right by you, and I think that is the first thing that defensive coaches look at when they are trying to defend a skill player, and I think he has developed into a fine route runner. So then now, when you stay behind him, you know they can throw it in front of you, and I think that is a big challenge.
Back in college, were you aware that you were wearing the "S" on one side of the helmet only because that is how the Steelers did it, and how much stuff did George Perles feed you guys?
I was well aware of that. In fact if you just looked at our uniforms, with the thick green stripe, and the matching side stripes, and the socks, it was a Steelers uniform in green and white. But I was well aware of it. Coach George Perles was very proud of his years in Pittsburgh, and he brought Steve Furness with him to coach the defensive line. He used to bring in Jack Lambert to practice, and Mike Webster, Jack Ham and Mean Joe Greene. They used to come around to see coach Perles and we were able to hear them speak. So he was very proud of his years there, and we were well aware of the influence that the Steelers history had on how he was coaching us.
This used to be one of the best rivalries in football, and it has kind of fallen off in recent years. What do you think it will take to get it back to that level?
One team has to start winning more games. And I think we are referring to us. We have to find a way to rekindle it by coming down, and playing a game we have a chance to win. That is what it takes. I think regardless of the records, both teams are going to play extremely hard. We understand it. We understand the region. We understand the history, and we understand the division. I think that is what it will take.
Is it still in the locker room and in the city? Do you guys still get up just a little bit more for this game?
Well it is an AFC North opponent, of course. Anytime, I think as coaches, we all talk about how we count one, and we are working on the next one, and that is really true. But it is important, and if you are going to win your division, and that is our number one goal, first and foremost, to win the division, because that guarantees you a spot in the playoffs. So they are very important.
Quarterback Colt McCoy
What are the pros and cons of playing on a Thursday night?This is my first time. I think it's the first time for a lot of guys on our team, because we are playing with a large group of young guys. So it's all new to us. It's probably a question I can answer after we do it. It's a short week, a short turnaround. Today was very similar to what a Friday would be on a normal week. This is also the first time we are going to play at night this year. So there's a lot of firsts for us this week.Re: Your first NFL start against the Steelers:I've learned so much from then until now. I was kind of thrown into that last year. I just remember they beat us pretty easily. It's a tough place to play, a tough environment. But I know it means a lot to us and to them. It's a big game, a division game, and we are excited about Thursday.
Re: James Harrison:He's a very good football player. We need to know where he is at all times. I think Pittsburgh does a nice job of how it uses him, as well as other guys. They walk around, and they move around. They have him line up at linebacker or at the edge for pass rushing. We have to account for him. As a unit, as an offensive line, we have to know where he's at. My job is to trust them that we will have protection and be good to go. He is a really good football player, and he makes a lot of plays.
Did the Steelers' defense try to trick you last year?I don't recall a lot of things from last year, because I was in a completely different offense. Now we are doing completely different things. The few things I remember is that Pittsburgh is going to do its stuff. They are a veteran group of guys. They've played together for a long time. They have a coach who has been around the game forever. They blitz you. They play good coverage in the back. They stop the run. That's what they do week-to-week. I don't expect them to do anything out of the ordinary against us. I expect them to be the team, the number-one ranked defense that they already are. We've got our hands full. We know the challenge ahead of us. We need to go in and make plays down the field. That's the only way we can give ourselves a chance.