(How was practice today?)
Good practice today. We actually stayed on the field 20 minutes longer than a normal Friday structured practice for us. This is just such a great environment for us to train in. I think a big part of our success, particularly over the years developing these young players is the resources and how we train here, just the environment that’s been created. I wanted to get as much work done as I possibly could today. We saved a piece of our installation still for Dallas, so we still have work that needs to be done. But we worked longer today than we normally would on our Friday practice schedule – I know it’s Sunday – but our Friday practice structure.
(How did it feel being on that field for the last time this year?)
Didn’t look at it that way. It’s a great resource for us. I always enjoy looking at the banners as you walk off the field of all the past championships here. It was quality work. We’re vVery blessed to have these resources that we do have. But our guys are ready to go to Dallas, they really are. They’re excited about cleaning things up tomorrow and getting on the plane tomorrow afternoon.
(How much is your offense looking forward to playing indoors, and why has your offense had so much success indoors?)
It’s more the skill positions. They were telling me about the weather, that it’s supposed to be cold in Dallas. It’s in the 40s and 50s. Heck, it will be like a heat wave for us down there. Just that weather in itself is great weather for us. But I think all perimeter players like to play in domes. Just the fact that the surface is the same, the ball, I know quarterbacks, the ball comes off their hand a lot more consistently because they don’t have the factor of the elements. I know Aaron likes to throw the ball indoors. If it was up to him, we’d practice in the Hutson Center year-round. Obviously we don’t play in it. But I’m sure if you asked Pittsburgh’s specialists, they’d probably feel the same way.
(You have the indoor facility available down there. At what point do you go inside? What are the guidelines?)
Just if it affects practice and really, the thing I always look for in weather is injury risk, and anytime the risk for injury increases, then it’s time to go inside. That’s the No. 1 factor, and second is the quality of practice. I don’t really worry about the temperature, or even moisture. Wind is usually the indicator that takes us from outside to inside.
(Do you anticipate going inside at all?)
I don’t anticipate going inside, but we’ll see what happens.
(Still planning on getting Walden back Wednesday?)
We’re shooting for Wednesday, but he’ll go through an examination Wednesday morning. The plan is to see if he can go Wednesday, just to see where he is.
(Super Bowls are a little different in terms of noise. You didn’t do any noise this week, did you?)
Yes, we’ve worked noise the last two days.
(Can you do it in Texas, too?)
Sure, if we need to. We probably worked it a little too much. We worked both sides of the ball, because we anticipate having a lot of fans there also, and we know Pittsburgh Steeler fans travel well. So we worked both sides of the ball this week.
(Does it bother you there’s still talk about these injured reserve guys going on?)
Not really. It’s a non-issue. It’s a non-issue with me. I know it’s a non-issue with our football team. I know Aaron and Nick spoke yesterday, so it’s not an issue.
(What did you make of Aaron saying what he did? He was pretty critical of those guys.)
I don’t share that viewpoint. Once again, it’s a non-issue. Frankly, we’re really ready to get to Dallas. Everybody is. It’s been a good week of preparation.
(Did you have to smooth anything over?)
No. We’re all grown men. Sometimes little things turn into big things, and that’s one of the messages that you share throughout the season, and that’s a clear case of it.
(This week B.J. and Pickett said
He’s the best I’ve ever seen. All my guys are the best. I love our players. I think Cullen Jenkins is a dynamic individual. The only thing that’s ever held Cullen back is his injuries, and just to see him healthy, he’s such a buzz-saw the way he plays. He’s definitely someone that creates problems in one-on-one situations. When Cullen is healthy and he’s roaring, he’s definitely a Pro Bowl player. There’s no question in my mind. It’s great to have him back.
(Was last week was the first time he was really healthy and had a productive game?)
Well, he obviously had the significant injury that he was able to fight back through, and I want to say Philadelphia he even said after the game he didn’t feel like he was all the way back. Then I think Atlanta is really when he started showing himself, and then last week I felt that he was 100 percent.
(Do you expect some good news when you arrive in Dallas that Clay will be Defensive Player of the Year?)
I think it would be great. I think he’d be well-deserving. Didn’t realize that’s when it was released. He’s definitely deserving of the award, and anytime an individual on your football team gets an award like that, you’re happy for him, but you also know his teammates had a lot to do with it also, too. He’s had an incredible start to a career, and like everybody on our football team, and I know speaking for Clay, the biggest game is ahead of us. He’s definitely deserving of the award.
(You said Aaron was very sharp this week in practice. He had some plays in the Bears he’d like to have back. What was your point of emphasis looking at the film of the Bear game?)
Really, you correct it the same way every practice, every game. You go through the mental responsibilities as far as the run decisions, the protection decisions, if he makes an adjustment there. No different than the passing game. You grade the footwork, and you grade the throws. That grade sheet, that process, that evaluation was exactly the same as it’s been throughout the postseason and the regular season. We were able to do that Wednesday with the football team, and really even in that meeting Wednesday, the corrections were made for Chicago, but everybody was ready to get on to the Steelers. Aaron is very coachable, is very in tune with the things he needs to do from a fundamental standpoint, and I look for him to play very well in this game.
(How similar or different will the practice structure be down there compared to what you do here?)
The biggest thing that will be different for us, the practice, we won’t be on the field as long. We’ve taken the jog-through component of our practice and moved it to the hotel. So when we hit the stadium field, we’ll go right into practice. There won’t be a jog-through and so forth, so we’ll be operating probably 15, 25, depending on the day, 20 minutes shorter.
(So the jog-through at the hotel will be in the morning?)
It will be part of our morning schedule. We’re on the a.m. schedule as far as with the media. We’ll have a team meeting, we’ll meet with the media, then we’ll go into our normal special teams, offense, defensive meetings. Then we’ll have a jog-through, which will be part of the meetings. We’ll flip that offensively and defensively, have lunch, and get on the bus and go practice.
(What was your understanding of the conversation between Aaron and Nick?)
I just know they talked. It’s fine. Trust me. I know you guys are doing your job, but it’s a non-issue.
(Did Aaron call Nick, or …?)
It’s a non-issue. I’m not going to tell you.
(If Walden can go on Wednesday, is he the starter?)
We’ll be fine.