Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley
Re: QB Ben Roethlisberger had his baby:
That’s one less thing we have to worry about. [Laughs]
Re: WR Plaxico Burress:
I think with Plaxico, number-one, you’re talking about a guy that’s played a long time in the league. It’s funny because when I was a receivers coach with the Jets in 2000, when he came out, we were set on taking Plaxico and we assumed the Steelers were taking Chad Pennington. They were a couple picks ahead of us and it turned our room into a tizzy in a hurry. We’re 12 years late getting to work together, but we’re excited about having him here. He’s a veteran guy that brings us size, and we’ve got to get him up to speed. That’s the challenge.
How much is easier is the learning when a guy has been around as long as Burress?
It’s not easier from understanding the terminology and things like that. It’s easier from techniques and understanding what routes we’re looking for and those types of things. The real challenge is just trying to get him into a position mentally to compete, and also understand the guy hasn’t been on the field in a number of months. But we’re excited to have him. Brian [Hoyer] is a sharp guy. There’s some carryover with him, having been in New England where they still use a bunch of the same terminology that we use here. He’s a quick study, and he has been around and backed up on a really good team behind a really good quarterback. You can tell that he didn’t have big eyes, so to speak. He steps in the huddle and takes control. He’s a smart guy who’s working his backside off to be in a position to help us if he needs to.
Will you adjust the offense to play to QB Charlie Batch’s strengths, and if so, what are those strengths?
Absolutely. That will never change, and like I said last week, especially at the quarterback position. Charlie’s a well-rounded quarterback that has a lot of experience and he’s comfortable running the majority of our offense and the majority of things we’ve been able to practice through the offseason, training camp and the season. With him, I think you just let him go through the lists of things he likes and is comfortable with, and comfortable with what the guys are doing. He’s done a good job this week. He’ll be ready to go. He’s a veteran, savvy guy that’s an accurate thrower, short and long, and I think he’s excited to play.
Is it like having a coach on the field when Batch is playing because of all the experience he has?
We have to teach him the art of not over-coaching. [Laughs] That is an art, too. Charlie has been around a long time. I’m joking but I’m being serious. You’ve got to understand everybody you’re working with and not over-coach. We’re on that.
How much work can you give a quarterback that has only been here three days?
It will be limited. But like I said, because of some of the carryover and a lot of people run very similar concepts, and once he gets it translated, which he’s worked hard at doing, he’s got that part done. So, understanding where the football goes, the protection and protection issues, he’s good at that. Like I said, he’s experienced enough to know where the ball needs to go in those concepts. Really, it’s just narrowing down a package for him that he’d feel comfortable with, run and pass.
Can you expand Burress beyond just a few packages with limited practice time?
I don’t know. We worked hard at trying to get him as much as we could without overloading him. We’ll have to see on Sunday exactly where he’s at. There’s the physical aspect of not having practiced every day for the season, and there’s a lot of factors going into it. Like I said, we’re excited to have him and he gives us a size presence that we don’t have other than Heath [Miller] or [Leonard] Pope and those couple guys. The key now is just getting him up to speed where he can come in and compete fairly.
Are you expecting to see Browns CB Joe Haden play this week?
Yeah. He was limited yesterday. I don’t know how he was today. But I would expect that he’d be out there.
It would be big for Cleveland if he plays, right?
Yeah. He’s a heck of a player when he’s in there. He gives them another guy that has experience and makes plays, and they do some matching and things like that to the receivers they feel are the number ones. And he’s the guy. Between him and Sheldon [Brown], they’ve got two pretty solid, veteran corners that know how to play.
What allowed the Browns to get a good pass rush against Dallas?
I think Dallas threw it a bunch, number-one, and number-two, it starts with 97, [Jabaal] Sheard, the guy from [Pitt]. He is a high-motor guy that is relentless, and he’s got a couple very good moves that he uses. He’s not a one-trick pony. When you add motor to skill set, those are usually your premier rushers, which he is. They’ve got the rest of the front four, which is a quality front four that keeps some pressure off him and keeps him in some one-on-ones. I think you’ve got to be aware of where he is and make sure that you have a couple bodies on him, generally.
Re: Impressions of G David DeCastro’s first practices since a knee injury:
I’m just excited to see him, number-one. I think it was a pretty significant injury and to have the new rule in place, which is great, and it allowed him to have a little light at the end of the tunnel, whereas most of the time when something like that happens, most guys just go and wonder the halls waiting for next year as they work on their body. But that was a real positive that he had a carrot dangling there to chase, and he’s obviously a tireless worker as a football player, and I think the same holds true in rehab and things like that, at least from the things I’ve heard. He looked good. He said he felt good and obviously we weren’t in pads or anything like that, so he hasn’t hit anybody since August. I’m glad that there’s a window but I wouldn’t set a bar on it with him, because I’m surprised that he’s even out here practicing right now.
Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau
How much does their offense go through Trent Richardson?
He is their leading rusher and their leading receiver in terms of receptions, so that’s a lot. He’s not unlike Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens. He is carrying the weight on both sides. They have some nice young wide receivers that they are getting the ball to deep. They use Richardson a lot.
Re: It looks like the Browns have a West Coast offense but they throw the ball deep more:
I think that’s because they have such a good runner. The core of their offense revolves around him. So your passing game is going to be play action. It is formidable because the linebackers have to respect the running threat and it gives them a little more space to work. That’s where you see them throw that deep ball. We will have to be on our keys, especially in the secondary. We can’t go chasing rainbows or they will be floating something over us.
Re: Rice being similar in size to Richardson:
I think that’s probably accurate. But the differences aren’t much. Maybe Rice is a little faster and maybe Richardson is a little bigger. Between the two of them, they are pretty damn good backs.
Re: Brandon Weeden:
He is getting better every week. He has done a good job from Week 1. You look at their scores in the last four or five games, they could have, and you maybe could say they should have won all of them. They won a couple of them. It’s going to be a close, hard-fought game. They are playing good football and he is playing good football.
Is he a pure pocket passer?
He scrambles some. He is a little more athletic than you might think. He can keep a drive alive. I don’t think he looks to do it. He isn’t that type of a quarterback but he can definitely keep the play alive in the pocket. He can scramble if he has to. I have been impressed with his speed and agility.
Re: Will Allen:
I think he’s done a great job, along with Ryan Mundy. Allen has been getting the majority of the snaps between the two but they’ve both done a great job in Troy Polamalu’s absence. In recent games, Allen has made a lot of tackles all over the field. He plays hard. He has continued to be productive on special teams. He is just a really solid veteran, and professional that can go in there, get the job done and let your defense function. He has definitely done a good job.
Re: Comparing and contrasting Allen to Polamalu:
I don’t think you should compare anybody to Polamalu. In my mind, he is as different as any safety I have ever seen. He can do everything. Allen has the speed and tenacity that Polamalu has. Allen has gotten to a ton of footballs and has played very well. I think Allen has his own style of play. You’ve all seen that it’s very productive and effective.
Re: Challenges and advantages of facing a rookie quarterback:
Early on there may be some but by the time you get this far into the season, I don’t think there are any. Weeden has had the whole training camp, all the coaching sessions and now all this game experience. He is just a young veteran quarterback now. It will come down to who plays the best football.
Do you have any advice for Ben Roethlisberger on being a father?
It’s the greatest thing in the world, absolutely. He and his wife will discover that. Don’t miss a minute of it because it goes pretty fast.