Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley
Re: G David DeCastro’s progression:
I think it’s been a great story, other than the negative of getting hurt. The fact that the new rule was made kind of kept him alive, gave him something to work for and a goal. We didn’t know for sure whether he’d be able to make it back or not. It was a testament to him and the trainers for the hard work that he put in for a chunk of the season. To even get in a position to get out on the field, I think is terrific. Now that he’s been out here, I think every week he’s done a good job and got more and more comfortable with is feet under him and practicing football. We had pads on yesterday which was good, and he’s passed every test, so to speak.
Re: OT Max Starks’ impact and him being a rock on the offensive line this season:
Don’t jinx him. He’s been the rock for us over there. He’s got a great test this week against the rushers we’re going to see in DeMarcus [Ware] and Anthony [Spencer], and everybody they bring at you. Max has been a great re-addition for this team and for the offense. Now, we just have to get him ready to play his best game.
How did QB Ben Roethlisberger play on Sunday? Was there any rust he needed to knock off?
I think early on we knew that it was going to take him a little bit to get into the game, and I thought in the second half, we all felt comfortable that he was back to speed. It’s unfortunate we were in the situation we were in, but he had to get back out there and get back into it like everybody does when they’ve been out for a chunk of time. The good thing is he made it through with no setbacks. He’s having another good week of practice, and I expect him to be ready to go.
How did you feel about Roethlisberger scrambling and running the ball?
Once he was given a clean bill of health, we all felt good about that. I think it was more, for us as coaches, just getting him back into the speed of the game.
Have you ever had a situation where you have two rookies on one side of the offensive line with so little experience this late in the season?
I’d have to go back and look through the seasons but we’ve been in some pretty sticky situations. That’s kind of how this year has been for this group. I think it’s served us well in that we haven’t always performed the way that we’d like or up to our abilities. I do think that when some of the adversity that we’ve had to face through some of these injuries and changing, moving parts, that it’s forced the guys to become extra cohesive and look out for their own. We have to be ready, and this is a big game for us. It’s on the road against a team that has some premier pass rush guys. They know they need each other right now, and they’ve learned that over the year. It’s time to stick together and make good things happen.
What did you like from OT Kelvin Beachum coming out of training camp?
I think we were all excited from the start. We were excited when we drafted him and were able to get him where we did. You only have so many picks, and you’ve got a long list of guys that you’d love to have on the team, and he was one of them. When he was there and we were able to get him, I can remember clearly on draft day that there was some fist-pumping and high-fiving because we were able to get another guy that we wanted. He hasn’t disappointed. He’s a hard-working, nose to the grindstone type of kid that you don’t hear much out of, and he got his opportunity to play. He’s done a commendable job. He needs to get better like everybody else, but for a young guy being thrown to the wolves, he’s done a good job. He’ll be facing the ultimate test this week. Just like I said, these guys rushing outside in Dallas are the real deal.
If DeCastro hadn’t gotten hurt, would it have been close whether Beachum would have made the team?
That’s ancient history at this point. He’s somebody that’s done a good job from day one. Usually those guys that you know have a chance to make it and play, you find a way to keep them around one way or another.
Re: Having two rookies on the offensive line this week:
That’s what everybody keeps reminding me. My answer was that this whole season has been a challenge one way or another, as they always are. Obviously, some years you have a little more adversity and moving parts than others, and we seem to have had a bunch of moving parts. At times, we’ve handled it real well and other times not as well as we’d have liked to. With three games to go and going down to Dallas, another team that’s fighting to find their way into the tournament, we’re going to have to play our best game. It’s going to be all hands on deck. Whoever is on deck or is able to get on deck is going to be expected to go out and play good football. We’ve got to do some things to help guys all the time, so this will be no different from that standpoint.
Is it any more difficult with the rookies lining up next to each other on the offensive line?
The good thing is they came in together. Those guys that come in the same class tend to have good rapport right out of the gate. Obviously, they’re going to have to count on [Maurkice] Pouncey, David will. But they’re both smart guys, and Beachum has been in there now for a couple weeks. I don’t know who will be helping who but I know they’ll be communicating and they’ll be ready to go mentally and physically.
How much further along is Roethlisberger this week than he was at this time last week?
I think a great deal. The biggest part is just having that game under his belt after missing a significant amount of time. I think that we all knew going into last week that it might take a little time to kind of get up to the speed of the game. It did, and I think he probably would say the same thing, but he got comfortable as the game went on. Unfortunately we were in a situation we didn’t want to be in but he’s got a game under his belt. He’s been back to practice for a week, so I’d expect him to be ready to go.
Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau
How much will change on defense, considering the injuries to the defensive backs?
Hopefully, we have some quality depth. It’s a challenge for us. One thing is for sure, they aren’t going to cancel the game. We think we have a plan. We have some good people that will step in there and pick it up. The game is still about tackling, keying and knocking down passes. We are going to show up. We know we have a challenge but I feel these young guys are going to make something good out of it.
With this situation, does it give guys like Ryan Clark or Troy Polamalu more responsibility?
Only in a communicative sense, but they are great communicators. I don’t think it’s anything different for them. I will say from the coaching sessions, which began back in March, we tried to develop depth at every position, and we tried to teach these young players like they are going to be starting. We know someday they will be starting. This has happened before this year. Unfortunately, we got a couple hits at the same spot. Generally speaking, throughout the course of a season, this happens every year. It’s not a surprise that some of these guys are going to be starting and taking a significant amount of snaps. Hopefully they will be prepared and answer the challenge.
Do you ever scratch your head, thinking about all the injuries this season?
Not the injuries, but I do scratch my head every day [Laughs]. Injuries are a part of the game. If you look around the league, we are close here, because it’s our team. I think most teams go through an injury process throughout a 16-game season.
Re: Josh Victorian’s play last Sunday:
He made a play. I thought that he knew his assignments well. We have had him since training camp. He’s always impressed us as a playmaker. I think that he will make a good account of himself in there.
Re: Victorian said he thought he could have been more physical on the play he gave up a touchdown:
I thought he saw the ball well. He had his key well. Maybe he mistimed it a little bit. That’s the way I saw it. I didn’t see a lack of physicality in the play at all.
Do you see Curtis Brown factoring in this game?
We will need every one of them, without a doubt. They will all be playing.
Re: Getting back LaMarr Woodley:
For several years now, he has been one of the better pass rushers in the NFL. Whenever he is not in there, you are going to feel his loss with the pressure. When he is in there, you are going to pick up the rush. Add to that the fact that he’s so big, teams have a hard time blocking him to run the football. He has a lot of assets. We are happy to have him back.
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