Coach Mike Tomlin looks at this week's opponent – the Tennessee Titans.
Q. The Titans are currently on a three-game winning streak. What have they done well?
A. More than anything, it has been about the addition of quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and the stability he has provided to them. He has minimized negative plays offensively, and he has shown the ability to create big plays to a myriad of guys. He produced big plays to Kenny Britt. But now that Britt has been injured, Hasselbeck has produced big plays to Nate Washington, and he's also produced some big plays with Jared Cook and Craig Stevens at the tight end position. He has done a nice job of quarterbacking this unit, and if you can point to anything that has them at 3-1 I think it's his play.
Q. Is Hasselbeck's strength been his decision-making?
A. Yes, and that's why you go and get a veteran guy like him. He makes quick decisions. He doesn't take sacks – I think he's only been sacked four times. He's inclusive in that he uses all of his eligibles, and he probably also is doing a nice job of leading them in the locker room.
Q. The Titans appear to be struggling in the running game. Why is that?
A. It has been a slow process for them. A lot of people like to point to Chris Johnson and his holdout, but it's probably a myriad of things. They're a team in development in the run game area, and we're interested in them not developing against us on Sunday.
Q. What do you have to do to slow down Chris Johnson?
A. The big thing you have to do is respect his ability to bounce the ball out to the perimeter, or he can cut the ball back. We have to be gap-sound and be where we're supposed to be, but that alone won't be enough. We have to be gap-sound, but we also have to get multiple guys to the party, so we have to hunt.
Q. Tight end Jared Cook has been referred to as a freak. Would you agree with that assessment of him as a player?
A. He has freakish qualities. He has great top-end speed. He's got an 80-yard touchdown play on his resume from last week's game to prove that, if you need video evidence. He's a really talented guy.
Q. Nate Washington is the Titans' leading receiver this season. What does he do well?
A. Nate does everything pretty darn good, and you can really turn the tape on and see that. They're moving him around, he's playing a variety of positions especially since Kenny Britt went down, he's working inside some. On third downs, he leads the AFC in receptions. He's a savvy, veteran player. That's why they acquired him in free agency, and he has provided them with what they were looking for.
Q. Might Nate Washington see a lot of Ike Taylor in this game?
A. That is a possibility. It's always fun playing former teammates and guys you know, and there will be a line of guys wanting a piece of Nate. I'm sure Ike will be at the front of that line.
Q. The Titans play a lot of people along their defensive line. How has that helped the unit?
A. That's their calling card. They're a four-down team that is disruptive. They have a seven-to-eight-man rotation, led by Jason Jones, their fourth-year man from Eastern Michigan, and he is a quality player.
Q. At cornerback, the Titans have Jason McCourty on one side and he leads the team with two interceptions, and Cortland Finnegan is on the other side. Is that a case of pick your poison?
A. No disrespect to McCourty, but Cortland Finnegan is arguably one of the best in the world right now. He's doing it at a high level. He's aware, he's instinctive, he's aggressive. They utilize him some in the slot on third downs. He's showing an ability to blitz, and he's very zone-aware in terms of underneath the defense. Cortland Finnegan is a top-flight player.
Q. How will you cover the absence of Casey Hampton in this game?
A. With a myriad of guys, of course. Chris Hoke and Steve McLendon, but we also have some position-flexible guys such as Ziggy Hood. But the Titans will dictate a little bit of that, because we may spend a good bit of time in sub-package football like in many game, but the bulk of the nose tackle work will be divided between Hoke and McLendon.
Q. Moving Lawrence Timmons outside to take the place of James Harrison, does that change your look on defense?
A. No it doesn't. Really, it's going to be pretty interesting to see how it unfolds. Lawrence adds a little bit of a different skill-set to the position. Where James and LaMarr Woodley are power players, Lawrence is also powerful but he's instant. He brings an element of quickness to the position that I think is unique, and it's going to be interesting to see how that unfolds. The last time he played significant outside linebacker happened to be against the Tennessee Titans, and he played a whale of a football game. He had a sack and many tackles, was very productive, in relief of James Harrison who went down in that game. We're excited about what he's capable of bringing from the outside spot.
Q. Keenan Lewis seems to have emerged as your third cornerback. How does Bryant McFadden fit into the scheme now?
A. He's going to be ready and waiting for an opportunity to infuse himself back into the rotation. The guys have stepped up and played quality ball while he was out, and I'm not interested in disrupting that right now. McFadden is still working himself back to 100 percent, but no question he is a man who will be ready to seize an opportunity if and when it's presented.