Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley
How did Ben Roethlisberger look today?
He looked good. I don’t think there were any setbacks, so I think it was a positive day.
Do you see him being able to make all the throws?
I think yes. Yesterday was the biggest test with the wind, and it was cold and all the factors that were involved. You didn’t see any major limitations. That’s a decision Coach Tomlin will make. I thought yesterday was a positive day and today too.
Does his rib injury limit his mobility?
I haven’t seen any of that. You have to ask him. Just watching him move around, he looks like himself, for the most part. I don’t know how he is feeling when he does some of those things but he looks like he is moving pretty well.
Are there limits to what plays you can call because of his rib injury?
We might keep the quarterback draw out [Laughs].
Do you have to pull him aside and tell him to be extra careful this week?
No. Ben is a pro. He is a tough guy. I think he understands his body better than anybody. He is the one that has to make the decisions. We will just try to put him in the best positions to succeed.
Re: Injuries to receivers:
They call themselves the “Bugatti Crew.” I call them the “Boo-boo Crew.” Today they were back out here and were moving around a lot better. As the week progresses they should feel better. Hopefully by game time we will have the full cast and crew.
Would you anticipate dressing four or five receivers this week?
Again, that’s a Coach Tomlin question. We try to get as many as we can at all offensive positions but special teams and those things factor in.
Is Willie Colon going to be back this week?
You guys are all asking me head coach questions. That will be a decision made by Coach Tomlin, Colon and the doctors. Today, he was out here. He practiced. That’s a good thing as far as I’m concerned.
Does getting the ball out of Ben’s hands this week serve him better due to his recent injuries?
I think that will serve him well all the time. That will give us and him the best chance to succeed. That’s why we were doing it. The fact that he had a bunch of games under his belt, and it’s obvious he was getting more comfortable with how we were trying to do things, and try to limit “Ben being Ben” plays, although they are still there and necessary. I am grateful he has that ability. In certain situations and times you need it. I think he is going to get back on track. He needs to get out there, first of all, then get into a rhythm and get back to doing things and progressing the way that he was, and have success doing them.
Are there any throws you would like to see from him before the game that you haven’t seen?
By the time we get through a week of practice, if he is taking most of the reps, like he is now, you see [the throws]. He’s testing himself now. We will watch the tape and see what we all think and see how he feels. Hopefully there are no setbacks and that he is feeling better tomorrow than he did today, just like he was better yesterday than he was last week. The name of the game is to keep making progress and avoid any kind of setbacks for any of these guys.
Re: The reps he has taken this week:
I’d say he took probably almost the full boat today.
Re: Plaxico Burress having chemistry with Ben:
Burress came in at a time when Ben wasn’t throwing. Really, today and yesterday, and you have to think about the couple of times they are in there together at the same time, and the ball happens to be going that way, there has been limited exposure. They are both veterans who know each other. They know each other’s strengths and tendencies. Burress is still trying to get his feet under him and get comfortable with the terminology and calls. But he’s been working hard. He looks great, physically. We will just have to see how things play out and when those opportunities arise. Hopefully he is ready to step up and make plays.
Re: Throwing the ball to Heath Miller:
I said it early on, as an outsider and someone that did some work on him when he was coming out of college. Then I had to compete against him in a bunch of different settings. He is a really good football player, specifically a really good tight end. My opinion of him has only escalated. Everything about him – when you hear the term “true professional” or “real pro,” those phrases, he is everything you want in a football player. He is tremendous in the run game for us and excellent in the pass game. He is just dependable and reliable. He is the same guy every day. That same guy is pretty good.
How difficult is it for a guy like Burress to come to a team and have a secondary role?
I would think [it’s tough] but you also have to consider he hadn’t been on a team for most of the year. I think he has been around long enough to understand where he fits right now. That doesn’t mean it’s going to stay that way. With injuries and things like that, he could be playing more or less. He has been around long enough to understand how it goes. He is mature enough to handle it. He is a grown man that understands what he is trying to work towards, and he’s just getting ready for his opportunities for when his opportunities come.
Re: San Diego Chargers’ defense:
They are a good defense. They are a top-end defense that’s really good against the run. Their front 4-5 guys – and I know number-98 just went on their Reserve/Injured List, so I’d expect to see more of Larry English, but they have a bunch of really good front rushers and run stoppers. They are a complete group up front. I think it shows why they are really good against the run. They have Quentin Jammer, a big-time cornerback that has been in the league a long time. Antoine Cason has become a real good player that is a consistent performer every year. Eric Weddle is kind of the guy that makes it go, along with Takeo Spikes. You can see those two guys are the leaders of their defense. They get after it. We have our work cut out for us. We need to come out and play one of our best games, because they do a great job against the run and we obviously want to run the ball. They are good at creating turnovers. They have returned a bunch of interceptions for touchdowns. We have to be on our game and play really good football against these guys or it will be real difficult.
How did Jonathan Dwyer do last week?
He did a good job. I thought he answered the bell. With the opportunity given, he went out there and he made a real big play for us. I thought he did a good job across the board. He obviously is being tested but he passed that first test. Now he has to come out and back it up.
Does it give you a little more freedom on offense knowing that Shaun Suisham has been so consistent all season?
It’s always good to have a guy at that position. I was with him in Dallas when he was a youngster. He has really developed into a heck of a player. As an offensive coordinator, any time you move into field goal range, whatever it is on that particular day and direction you are heading, it gives you great comfort that if you do the things the way you are supposed to do them, and you don’t take sacks, you at least know you are going to have a good chance to get three points. That kind of gives you an opportunity to move the ball towards the endzone a little bit. I think it’s a very comforting thing for everybody involved when you have a kicker you can count on.
Re: Suisham now compared to five years ago:
He’s come a long way. He was young. That was in 2005 or 2006. You can see he has developed into a heck of a kicker. When those young kickers come into the league, it’s big, especially when you come into Dallas. He was filling in for somebody that didn’t pass the test. I think we were shuffling kickers that year. That’s a lot of pressure. He is doing a good job.
Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau
Re: Getting S Troy Polamalu back but losing CB Ike Taylor:
There’s not much to say. They’re both great players. We’re sure happy to have Troy back. We’re sure sorry to have Ike sitting on the sidelines but I know he’ll get back as quickly as he can. Just count our blessings that we’ve got Troy back. The guys that are in there will just have to step up and play well, and Ike will get back to us as quickly as he can.
What’s it like not having Taylor since this is the first time you haven’t had him available?
I don’t think he’s ever missed one game since I’ve been here. But he got hurt in the first series, so that was technically one game.
How much tougher is it to play pass defense now as compared to when you played?
I would say day and night. I think we would have lasted about one year under these rules. It’s significantly more difficult. You can’t make contact after five yards, that’s the biggest difference and it opens the game up for the passing game. We’ve become pretty efficient at passing and catching in this country, so it’s difficult to defend. I’ll never argue that.
How have you been able to have success limiting other team’s passing attacks when it is much tougher to defend?
It’s team defense. You’ve got to have pressure, you’ve got to play coverage together and you’ve got to hold up in the back end. We’ve got a pretty good bunch of guys. We’re not always where we want to be all the time. If you take the record overall, they’re fighters and I’m proud of them. We’re looking to get better.
How close is LB James Harrison to getting back to where he was a few years ago?
I think some time ago James turned the corner in terms of complete rehab and football conditioning and things like that. He’s been getting better every week. But I think he’s playing at a very high level right now.
What did you see from Polamalu against Baltimore, and did it seem like he had an appreciation for being back out there?
It’ll do that for you. You never miss the water until the well runs dry. You’re playing every day and then you’re not playing for a while, you do miss it. Troy’s instincts are so great and that’s something you don’t lose. From the first snap that he went in there, you could tell it was Troy in there. He’s just a special player. We’re happy to have him back.
Is it frustrating that rules change for the offense and not for the defense?
It’s not frustrating. Everybody wants to tell you how hard their job is. If you look at the popularity of our National Football League game, I guess they know what they’re doing. It’s just harder on the defense, that’s all. It’s the same for everybody. It’s the same for all defenses.
Is the plan to exploit the Chargers’ offensive line since they have been battling injuries?
Yeah, that’s what we do. I never answer any questions about game plan.
Re: Guys stepping up when other guys are injured:
Well, we’ve got a long way to go yet and we’ll see how we shake out here this last month of the season. We start from the coaching sessions, right up through training camp. We don’t try to get four defensive backs ready to go, we try to get 8-10 because we know before the season is over, we absolutely will be playing 9-10 defensive backs in the games. Experience has proven that. These guys are taught by Coach [Carnell] Lake from day one as if they’re going to be starters and that they have to embrace their role for that day that they’re going to be. Never did it pay us more benefits in Baltimore than when Ike went down, literally, on the first snap.