Have the last few weeks given you cause to think about the offseason and the changes the team may make? Also, what has the problem been with the failed comeback attempts?
In the past, I’ve prided myself and our team in the fourth quarter comebacks. We’ve always said you don’t want to have them because then you’re usually not doing so well early-on in the games. But we’ve always been good at it. This year just wasn’t. I don’t think there is a rhyme or reason why. Just was a year where I wasn’t [good]. I don’t think there’s any reason to go panic. I’ve been pretty good for eight years doing it. I had one not-so-good year at it. I felt like I played pretty good football though, other than those situations. There’s not going to be any panic. I know that this offseason, when it gets here, will be a focus on really striving to get better.
Have you found a little perspective in the days since the Bengals game?
A little bit. It’s still pretty tough. I still go over a lot of things in my head but that’s the competitor in me.
Were you still dealing with injury-issues down the stretch here?
I’ll never make excuses. We can talk about that in the offseason maybe. I feel good enough to play.
How do you prepare for a game that has no bearing on the season?
Well, we want to finish strong. I want to finish strong. I’m going to go out there and give it my all. I’m not going to quit on this team or this franchise or the fans. They’re going to get everything I’ve got and I think everyone in the locker room feels the same way.
How disruptive was the three-game layoff?
It’s unfortunate. Injuries are never fun. But you know me, I won’t make excuses. I’ve got to be able to step-up and perform afterwards just as well as I did before.
Have you felt the same since you came back as you did before the injury?
Obviously, as you progress throughout a season everyone is a little injured and everyone is a little banged up. Every week you get a little more banged up. But no excuses from me.
How important is it to avoid a sub-.500 season? Or is it playoffs and Super Bowl or bust for you guys?
Obviously the playoffs and Super Bowl are always our goal. One of my goals coming in was to never be below .500. I know we want to try to avoid a losing season at all costs.
What are the chances that if we were to talk to you a week from today that you will have had surgery already?
I have no clue. Hopefully nothing happens this week. [Laughs]
Have you thought about who may or may not be here next year?
No, because, I know it sounds crazy, but I’m not looking past this game. This game means a lot to me. It means a lot to a lot of the guys in here. I’m not going to quit on this team or the fans because we at least owe that to them, to fight all the way to the finish.
Can you put something on film this week to convince the team to bring certain guys back?
We hope so. We would love to put a good showing out there. I think everyone wants to go out and play their best. Obviously, every year we want to have everybody back. We know that never happens. I think we’ve got a great group of guys and I know who you’re talking about. I hope he’s back.
Why did this team not finish strong this year?
I don’t know. If I knew I think we would have fixed it. I think a lot of it has to do with my play, not playing well down the stretch and fourth quarter drives or last minute throws, just not making it happen. I guess my best is answer to you is probably because I didn’t play well enough.
Are injuries just sometimes an explanation and not an excuse as to why things snowball and pile up?
They can be. It just depends on who says injuries were an issue. We have a lot. We’ve dealt with it in the past. I’m proud of the way guys have stepped-up this year and fought through injuries. We’ve had other guys step in spite of injuries. It is what it is. We have a lot of them and we just have to hope that we don’t have as many next year.
Re: The possibility that a number of guys are playing their last games as Steelers:
I don’t like to think negative because to me that’s negative thought. You never want to lose anybody and you don’t want to think about it being the last game. I’m just not going to think about it. I’m going to cherish the time I get with these guys and go forward from there.
Are you looking forward to working with Todd Haley and this offense next year?
Yeah, we need to continue to grow. We need to get better every week. I know in the offseason it’s not like every week is a game week but we need to continue get better and grow in all aspects – our run game, our pass game and every position needs to get a little bit better.
Are you happy with the offensive system?
Yeah, I think it works for us. When we’re executing I think it works.
What gives you belief in the core group of the team?
I know the competitiveness in myself. I know it in a lot of the guys around here. I think that we know what we have and what we can have and how good we can be. It’s hard for us to really sit here and look at next year because we have a game but we’re going to try and start next year, next season, this week, if that makes sense.
Do you want to play the whole game, and do you think all the starters should?
Everyone has their different perspective and they have injuries and whatever. But, I want to play. I want to be out there. I would love to only play a half because we’re up so much, but I don’t think that’s going to happen in an AFC North game because it’s always going to be a fight. But, yes, I want to be out there.
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