* (With Driver, is that something that could be serious or are you just trying to be smart with him?)*
Donald Driver's quad strain is something that we're going to at least give him this week. We're going to declare him out for the game. He is on crutches, and just playing the last two weeks has made it worse. But just speaking with Donald again this morning, I think he'll be ready once we come off the bye. That's what we're shooting for. It's something that he has been dealing with the past month and it is best to shut him down.
(How difficult is that to do to a guy like him and was he on board with that?)
I think it tells you the type of person he is. When Donald Driver misses practice, that's a concern because he hasn't missed practice. And now that he is going to miss games, that obviously tells you the significance of his injury. Talking to Donald, he thinks he'll be ready to go for Minnesota, so that's what we're shooting for.
(What do you make of James Jones? He just seems inconsistent.)
I don't think it's fair to single out one individual based on the production of our offense because there are some things we have done very well and there are some particular areas that we need to do a better job in. Frankly, it really starts with third down. The fact that we took care of the football this past week, that's the way it is supposed to be. I think James Jones is no different than some of the other players. They have had some really good games and they have had some games that they wish they could have done a little better job in from a fundamental standpoint. James is a talented young man. He is playing different positions. We are asking more of him now than we have in past years, and I'm confident that he'll step up big against Dallas.
(How much strategy is there in determining who you might sit out this week with the bye week coming up?)
I would say there is no strategy to it. We want to line up with our best 45 to beat the Dallas Cowboys. I'm not trying to save anybody. If I felt Donald Driver could play and contribute in this football game, trust me, Donald Driver would be out there and he would be the first one to make that statement. I'm not trying to play it safe, I'm not trying to save this guy for that game. That is not part of our thinking. Heck, especially after what we have been through here the last month. We're looking at everybody. We have some people that are competing Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to be part of the 45, and that's very healthy. These transactions that we made last week and Atari and Al coming back, practice has picked up. It's competitive, the depth is back where it should be. Practice today looked like it is supposed to look, so that's very healthy. A competitive environment gives you an opportunity to grow and win football games, and that's really our focus.
(When do you expect to make a decision on Bigby and Harris?)
We'll make a decision all personnel decisions on Saturday. It's important to get the three days of practice. It's important to make sure everybody comes off the field Friday healthy, no different than in the past. Sometimes you have to wait until Saturday to see how a particular player responds to Friday's practice. There won't be any decisions made until Saturday.
(Are you going to hold the roster spot from Michael Montgomery open until Saturday?)
(What are your thoughts on how Charlie Peprah has played?)
Charlie has played well. He has gotten better every week. Charlie was fighting through a few injuries there for two or three weeks, and his play has really picked up. That's a tribute to Charlie, but it can also be a factor that it is a little more competitive on the practice field right now. Charlie is an excellent communicator. He has done a very good job supporting the run. He does a very good job directing traffic back there as far as the calls and so forth. You take a lot of pride in someone like Charlie because you have watched him grow as a rookie. We claimed him in there in the first year from the Giants and he has left and come back. It's great to see Charlie have success.
(What is the mood at practice this week? Some people are concerned about it being a 'trap' game.)
How fast it turns. This is no trap game. Last week we had no chance to win it and now it is a trap game. There is none of that, I can promise you that, just the way we practiced and the way we approached our meeting today. We are playing a very talented football team. The same message that I gave the team last Wednesday was 'trust the film' when we were preparing for the Jets and 'trust your preparation.' It's no different this week. There is a lot of productivity on the Dallas Cowboys' film. There are a lot of good players. Things may not have gone the right way if you want to point to their record, but we're looking for a knockdown, drag-out game here on Sunday night. The bye is something we have been looking at. We want to get to 6-3, get to the bye and get healthy. So we are approaching it (as) we're got a five-day season. It was a very energetic, upbeat, physical practice today, so I expect the same tomorrow.
(What do you see when you look at the Cowboys? Are they proof of just how fine a line it is in the league?)
I think that's been very apparent the last decade in the NFL. Parity has been in this league for quite some time, and there's a very fine line between winning and losing, and you have to prepare, practice and train that way. It will always be about the details. It will always be about the fundamentals. It's important to identify what you want your team to look like, practice it, emphasize it, and you have to make sure it comes up on Sundays. This is a very talented football team coming in here. It's a team that we expect a heck of a football game from. That's our mindset.
(Statistically they're a pretty good team. They've had some turnovers and penalties. Is it just that or is there anything else specifically?)
Well, those are things that I always point to. You look at turnover ratio. Frankly, I haven't been happy with our turnover ratio until this week. We're headed in the right direction. We need to be a double-digit, plus-10 or more turnover ratio team. That's what the Green Bay Packers need to look like and are built to look like and practice and train to look like. I think that's a very important statistic. I think it definitely has a lot to do with winning and losing. You look at your productivity on offense. Defensively, they're very stout. They've got two premier pass rushers, and they definitely complement each other. Ratliff is an outstanding player inside. The punt returner leads the league with two punt returns for touchdowns. I was at Dez Bryant's workout down there in Texas, so I have a good idea what he looks like physically. They're a very talented football team. Very dangerous football team.
(You had the two tough losses and a bunch of injuries. Some teams in the league might have gone in the tank, but you guys didn't. Where does that come from? Is that the character of the team, or the leaders?)
Is that a compliment? Thanks. Thank you. I think it says a lot about the character of our football team. That's the type of people that we have, and frankly we're just getting started. We won two games. We feel good about it. We're fighting through a rough spot as a team, and it's important for us to come out of this thing 6-3 and get to the bye.
(What are you thinking at right tackle? Has Bulaga played well enough that even when Tauscher is healthy he's still going to be the right tackle?)
Bryan Bulaga, he's our right tackle this week, and that's my focus. There are some things he needs to do better this week than he did last week. But he overall has improved from his first start to now. It's his job to keep it, and he needs to work with that mentality. Mark's improving. Mark's a proven player here, is an excellent teammate, definitely one of our leaders, especially on the offensive line. I'm focused on Dallas. Frankly I'm focused on beating the Dallas Cowboys and getting to the bye week and getting this team healthy.
(Can you talk about defending a veteran QB like Kitna, who passed for almost 400 yards last week?)
Jon's seen it all. I remember Jon when he first came in the league. He was in Seattle, I was in Kansas City. He's played a lot of football, so there won't be any surprises as far as what our defense will throw at him. He has excellent command of the offense. I'm sure just from a game-planning standpoint they probably didn't take a step back at all as far as the volume and the different things conceptually that they'll probably try to challenge our defense with. That's a tribute to Jon and also the benefit of having a veteran backup quarterback as he is.
(What's your concern level with Clifton's hamstring to go with his knee, Colledge with his back and Quarless with his shoulder?)
Chad Clifton, I anticipate he'll practice tomorrow. I don't have any information that tells me that he would not. Daryn Colledge, his back locked up on him today, so I really don't have enough information to give you an accurate answer there. I can probably tell you more tomorrow. And Andrew, he didn't practice today, and frankly, he's competing with other players that are practicing. He's a young player, and he needs to get back on the practice field if he's going to have a chance to be up this week.
(Do you have some other options at kick returner?)
The naturals are Jordy and Tramon. They've been working back there since the beginning, training camp, throughout the spring and so forth. So we're very comfortable with both of those guys. We're looking at other options too, but we're in good hands there.