(What kind of player is Roddy White?)
I clearly think Roddy is one of the best receivers in the game. He has size, speed, excellent ability to go get the football in tight spaces. He's had an incredible year down there and has really come into his own the last couple years. Special player.
(How did you handle him the first game? He didn't have his customary numbers. Did you do that with one guy or focus more on him?)
Well, the biggest thing for their offense in the first game was they were able to stay in favorable down-and-distance. It was not an aerial show where he was given a lot of opportunities. We feel good the way we match up, and we'll go about it accordingly. It's important for us to stop the run and make sure that we're playing in favorable down-and-distances.
(How have you seen Tramon develop since 2007 and what has allowed him to take this step this year in becoming a real elite corner?)
He's been a young, developing player, and you just watched him come into his own as he's moved forward. He arrived with talent. He's always been a very talented individual, and he's just really a testament to hard work and staying the course. Very consistent personality, very consistent work ethic, very consistent in his approach. I think playing in the old system helped him learn bump-and-run, man-to-man skills and was able to develop that part of his game, and now playing in our new system of defense, the ability to play with vision and using that ability to break on the ball. Tackling was an emphasis for him coming from last year to this year, and he's definitely improved in that area. Very coachable, works very hard at his craft, and he's a product of talent, consistency and hard work.
(What have you learned about Dom Capers working with him the last two years, and does having a strong guy in that position allow you to focus more on the offense?)
Just the way we're structured as a staff, you have to have a defensive coordinator that A, has total command of the assistant coaches, because that's where it starts. It doesn't start when you get in the classroom. It starts up on the third floor, pulling assistants together, teaching them the scheme, make sure everybody's on the same page, and Dom does an excellent job of that. Then obviously taking it to the next step, and that's with the players. He's been doing it so long, very detailed, knows exactly what he's looking for, and I think that's really the true mark of an excellent coach. You have the vision and staying true to that vision and make sure you do not get off the path to accomplish what you want. I just think the success we've had in the two years is a big credit to Dom.
(Is there some concern with Ryan Pickett? He was downgraded today.)
Ryan Pickett's fine. We're in a little bit of a different week. I know everybody understands it. Just the workload of some of the older players. Just calculating what personnel groups we anticipate playing in and just getting the proper reps needed.
(What challenges does Tony Gonzalez present to the defense?)
Tony, he's a prime-time player, and he's been a player that's a mismatch on a linebacker and for quite some time was a mismatch on most of the safeties in the league. He plays with excellent body position. He has the ability to separate. Having an opportunity to be around him in the beginning of his career, I appreciate all the hard work he's put into his craft. He's definitely one of their big targets. Tony is a potential Hall of Fame-type tight end in my opinion. He's done it for a long time and he's done it at a very high level.
(Could you tell how the players' legs were today in practice?)
The players' legs? We'll be fine. I think our players, … I know it's Thursday on their body, but we also have 56 hours from the time we talked off the field until the time we play in the game. We have a plan for the next 56 hours to make sure they're ready to go. Their practice reps have been cut way back. We were able to get in the full complement of offense, defense and special teams, the game plans. I thought we were very smart with them from a physical standpoint. Their rest and recovery is intact and they'll be ready to go Saturday night.
(Does the emergence of Desmond Bishop surprise you at all?)
I don't think anybody's surprised about Desmond Bishop. Desmond is a football player, a very instinctive, tough football player that really, every opportunity he's been given, he's taken full advantage of, and that's no different with the last one of being a starter. Been very productive, all the way throughout his career. I'm just very happy for him personally, and he's earned everything he's accomplished so far.
(Does the loud noise in a place like the Georgia Dome affect the way you make the calls on offense?)
How I make my calls? No, I don't think so. It doesn't affect the way you call the game. You really stay focused on the matchups. The communication part of it, it really goes back to your training, the way you install your offense and how much time you dedicate to communication in noisy places. Playing in Minnesota every year and playing in Detroit, we have two games every year that are going to be in domes that are very loud. So we spend a lot of time at that, and I think we do a very good job with it.
(Where would you rank the Georgia Dome as far as noise?)
Well, Minnesota is probably … I think if you went around the league, people would say that's probably the loudest. The loudest in my personal experience was probably the Superdome in New Orleans. I just remember when we won the first playoff game down there, I've never heard anything like that. But the Georgia Dome, they've done an excellent job with their gameday, just in the last 10 years, really since Mr. Blank has taken over. He's added a different dimension to their gameday that I recall from prior years. They're all loud. I don't know how you measure them, just based off opinion. It's loud.
(You mentioned earlier you've had the same punt team for three straight weeks. Is that the case with the kickoff coverage team too, that it's been mostly intact?)
Pretty much. It depends on … the biggest thing, as far as having the exact same people line up is not as big an issue as having the individual do the same techniques, asking them to do the same thing based on how we play in our punt protection or how we cover in kickoff coverage. That's the consistency that I'm really referring to. When you have to move guys around and play a player that is normally better as an R-3 and he has to be an R-5, that's where I think the experience level is not where you'd like it to be. Our biggest issue has been health, and we've been moving guys around. That has not been the case the last three or four weeks.
(That kickoff return at the end of the game down there, you were down a bunch of guys. At some level was that an issue?)
It's over. There's a number of games where we had injuries during the game that you wish you would have handled differently or better. But we had a good call, as far as the coverage we had for the return. We just didn't execute it as well as we should have.
(When you reviewed the Eagles game, at the end of the half do you think you should have used a timeout before the field goal?)
Before their field goal? No, I don't think so. They were playing with the wind, so that's something you're factoring in there too. I know I was getting the ball at the beginning of the second half. Then when we did get the ball, from a time standpoint, we set up the shot play we didn't convert. When we had the delay of game, that's when I felt like we needed to just get to the half. The field goal by Akers earlier in the game, there was a lot of wind in that end zone. So just based on calculating the risk there we felt it was best just to go into the half after the shot play that we had and come back out 14-3.
(Are you satisfied everything's OK with the replay situation when you go there?)
I'm not worried about it.
(How would you describe the mindset of your team?)
Confident. Confident and ready to go. Looking forward to Saturday night.