Opening Statement: Good morning. Still morning, right? 10:00 a.m. All right. Couple of practice updates in terms of injuries: Ramon Humber and Jordan Matthews obviously will not practice. They’ll be out for the game. E.J. Gaines will not practice and we will list him as questionable for the game. With that, we’ll open it up for questions.
Q: Are those the only three on the designation?
A: We’ll see after the game. Or after practice.
Q: How much concern do you have about the run game, just in general, where it is and where you need it to be?
A: Yeah, it needs to get better just like a lot of areas on our team. We need to get better at a lot of areas. It’s still early in the process and I think we’d be making a huge mistake to say we’re good enough in this area, we’re good enough in that area, we’re not good enough in that area. We just have to continue to improve and get to know our team. I don’t think you really know your team, and I’ve talked about this before, until the end of October potentially, or the late part of October when you get to know all the guys on your team and what they do best. You can see we’re still tinkering with the roster in some spots, trying to get the right 53, and then you add the practice squad on top of that, the right practice squad. This is a work in progress.
Q: Sean, in general, can you guys sustain this winning with the production you’re currently getting from the offense?
A: Well, we have to continue to evolve in all three phases. We’re a balanced football team and I know a lot is said about the defense and the special teams. We evolve in all three areas. We expect to win in all three areas, and sometimes you get two out of the three, sometimes you get one out of the three, sometimes you get all three. It’s just, we’re confident in all three areas and we have work to do in all three areas, that said too.
Q: In that vein, on the bright side you’re winning but the margin for error seems to be slim. All three areas need to be functioning and have functioned in those three wins, the turnovers and all that stuff. Does the margin of error concern you as far as pulling out these victories?
A: Well, that’s true in the NFL, I think, across the league. Yes, I’m always concerned, like I (have) said before. That’s why I feel like I came into this job with a full head of hair and now I have what I’ve got, right? That’s what keeps me up at night, that we have to continue to improve. That’s parity around the NFL. This is why the league is the way it is. That’s why people tune in to watch, because there’s such parity around the league. There [are] close games every week. I think it’s rare when you find a team that wins by ‘x’ amount of points, as opposed to fourth quarter, this is what the league wants. I think it’s exciting football, it’s highly competitive football, and it keeps us all on the edge of our seats throughout an entire game.
Q: Wouldn’t you like to find out, though, what a three-score win might feel like?
A: (laughs) Yeah, I would. I mean, who wouldn’t?
Q: Cordy Glenn, what’s his status? He’s been limited.
A: Right, he’ll be full practice today. He’ll be full practice today and we’ll see how that goes.
Q: What do you like from Philly Brown so far, a week in, and how much can we expect from him on Sunday?
A: Well, we’ve got to continue to see and evaluate. Philly’s had a good week of practice. He had roughly around about a month off at the close of preseason and training camp there. We’re just going to continue to evaluate today and like we have all week, and he’s done some good things. He’s in the right frame of mind and we’ll just continue to evaluate this afternoon.
Q: You added Shareece (Wright) to the injury report yesterday with a back injury and you have E.J. (Gaines) who is going to be questionable, so where do things stand in terms of cornerback right now?
A: Right. We’re obviously a little bit on the injury bug at the corner position right now. I’m confident that we will figure it out.
Q: Do you think that you’ll have at least one of them for this game?
A: We’ll see. Yeah, we’ll see. I’m confident that, again, we’ll figure it out.
Q: Coach, you have a defense that is obviously producing, but putting up numbers pretty quickly here and gelling, it seems like. Does it exceed your expectation about how quickly the defense can come together? It seems like everyone kind of knows their roles really well. In your experience, putting in a new system, new coaches, new players, has it come along even quicker than you might have thought it would come along?
A: That’s a good question. I think, again, I give credit to the coaches. They do a phenomenal job with outlining the key parts of the system, and so we were able to get those installed early. That said, there’s still room for growth in those areas and then once you get those areas, it’s kind of the boulders and rocks and pebbles we’ve got to start moving and evolving, as was asked earlier about the offense. We have to evolve on defense and special teams as well. I’m encouraged by the early progress and optimistic. That said, day-to-day improvement.
Q: Back to the run game, besides just needing guys to play better across the board on the line and the running backs, is there anything to be said for a learning curve with a different system? What were your expectations about how long that might take to adjust to something that was new for all of them involved?
A: Well I do believe in a learning curve, I think that’s true of anything. No different defense, or special teams, as it is with the offense, and sometimes things take time. Like everything, sometimes when you work hard you don’t get the result right away you might be looking for. That said, I think we’ve had some moments with the running game, to your question, that we have been looking for. We just have to continue to stay after it and adjust to our surroundings, adjust to some new techniques. I’m confident, I know that the results maybe haven’t been as consistent as we would have liked, but I’m confident in the group, I’m confident in Coach [Juan] Castillo and Rick Dennison. I know that our leaders among that offensive line take great ownership and pride in that.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about Shamarko Thomas, what he brings and what his role is?
A: He’s done a good job. Shamarko came in, we were looking for speed, and he certainly has speed, toughness and smarts. I think those three things, when you look at the backup safety position and special teams, speed plays a big factor in special teams, as well as toughness and playing smart football. That’s the characteristics that we saw. Credit to Brandon Beane and his staff for having Shamarko on the radar and bringing him in. We’re getting him going here this week.
Q: I know LeSean (McCoy), he’s big into stats, his own personal stats, he wants to feel like he can carry this team a little bit, do you have any conversations with him because of the run game struggles, from starting off really hot and now it’s tapered off a little bit? Do you have conversations where he expresses frustration, but not in a negative way, but what are those behind the scenes talks that you guys have?
A: Well, I would say this, the thing I’ve been most impressed with about LeSean is his growth as a teammate. And I would say, probably more so for me than anyone because of our relationship and how it got started years ago in Philadelphia. Now coming full circle, ‘x’ amount of years later, just to watch him evolve and mature. It’s not that he wasn’t a teammate, that’s just what happens when you grow when you’ve been in the league for so many years, you really start to understand what this is all about. It’s so much more about team stats, wins and losses, than it is about individual results, individual stats. Certainly, and this is the great part about LeSean, is he takes a lot of pride in what he does. When he’s challenged, he rises to the occasion, that’s the individual part of it. The competitor, I’ll take that every day of the week. I love the fact and the way that he’s embraced this football team in a very unselfish approach, and putting the team first and winning. That’s been a joy as a coach to watch him evolve over the years.
Q: What did you think of his goal celebration last night at the Sabres game?
A: I don’t know, I was either working or in bed, I don’t know. And I’ll say this about the Sabres, what I did see of it, those guys battled. It’s great to see our guys over there put their best foot forward and battle. What they’ve done with Jason (Botterill) and Phil (Housley), in a small amount of time, has been impressive.
Q: Just to cover basis here, how confident are you that Marcell (Dareus), Shaq (Lawson) and Micah (Hyde) play Sunday?
A: Marcell, Shaq and Micah? I’m fairly confident. Again, no crystal ball here, but at this point I think we’re heading in the right direction.
Q: What difference have you noticed in the Bengals’ offense since they switched coordinators after week two?
A: Probably the biggest thing is the success that they’ve had, they’ve put up a lot of points, yards, and the completion percentage has jumped. They do a great job with their screen passes and screen game. That’s something we have to be highly aware of. Coach (Bill) Lazor is a great coach, as is coach (Marvin) Lewis, and coach (Paul) Alexander, their offensive line coach, they do a tremendous job with an experienced staff. This will be a big test for us.
Q: I saw that Eddie Yarbrough popped up on the injury report yesterday with a thigh injury, what’s his outlook for today and the rest of the week?
A: He made a quick turn yesterday, it was just more proactive than anything, so I think we’re headed in the right direction there also.