(What is your understanding of the timeline for Jermichael's injury?)
I'll just address all of the injuries. Jermichael Finley had successful surgery Tuesday. Also, Nick Barnett had successful surgery this morning, and they both frankly fall into the same category. Jermichael's surgery revealed more than we initially thought, so his timeline for recovery is longer than we expected. It was a procedure that Dr. Pat McKenzie did in the best interest of Jermichael's long-term health, so with that we are looking at all of the options involved there, and IR is definitely an option, and the same with Nick Barnett. His surgery was performed with the same mindset, with his long-term health as the focus. He is going to have a significant rehab also. As far as what we are going to do, we're looking at a couple of rehab options, just making sure that Jermichael and Nick are comfortable with that. So we really don't have a decision on their roster position today for you. Derrick Martin was also placed on IR today, and with that we brought up Robert Francois from our practice squad.
(Do you think you will wait a week or two to decide what you are going to do with those roster spots?)
I don't think we need to decide this week. We're gathering information. You have to, No. 1, it is about the player. He is going to gather as much information, and then from the organization's standpoint, we're looking at our 53-man roster and what are the appropriate steps that we need to take for Miami. We're getting the current players that we have on our roster healthy to win this football game is our focus. Now once we get to next week I think we'll probably get a little more urgency on what we are going to do with the 53-man roster.
(Is Rodgers going to get independently tested this week and what is his situation?)
Aaron is going through the protocol that is in place with Dr. John Gray at the helm. He went through the conditioning aspect today, the testing. I have not talked to Dr. John yet as far as how Aaron did. Then from that he'll go through the final I think two or three final steps. So I probably won't know his situation until tomorrow morning, as far as his availability for the game, let alone practice.
(Would you have any problems playing him if he didn't practice?)
That's a good question. I would think he is probably to that point in his career that he could handle that. Last week's plan was cut back volume-wise, and we have gone with the same approach this week for different reasons. But yeah, that would definitely be an option.
(As far as him being cleared, is that something you have to take up until Sunday morning?)
We're not working on my timeline. I'm working on the doctor's timeline, so that is probably a better question for Dr. John Gray.
(What is Donald Lee's status?)
Getting better. I think today and tomorrow are obviously big days for a number of players, and Donald Lee definitely falls into that category. He is getting better each day. He is very optimistic, but I think the doctor feels not as strong. That is the case on a couple of our players, and that's just part of our job as coaches, you kind of have to sort through that and make the plan for the other combinations of players that are available. We've got a couple players that are in the same category as Donald Lee.
(Would Matthews fall into that category?)
Definitely. I think Clay will probably go all the way through the weekend. I don't foresee him getting on the practice field before Friday.
(Where is Mark Tauscher at?)
Mark is getting better. He was able to have another opinion, so I think he feels he has the information that he needs and he is comfortable with. He is still working on the range of motion and getting the strength back in the shoulder. I couldn't tell you, one or two weeks, I don't really have that.
(So it isn't a season-ending injury?)
Not as I stand here today. He is making progress with his particular injury. As long as you are making progress, there is definitely a chance for him to come back.
(How did Chillar look on his trial return?)
Frankly I didn't really watch him a whole lot. We did a lot of work separate on offense on defense today just because of the health of our football team. We only had the two team periods, so I could probably better answer that tomorrow.
(How frustrating is it for you to have to change your practice structure and do you think you will be satisfied with the preparation this week?)
That's part of our responsibility as coaches, preparing our team to win football games. It's been different each week because of our situation with injuries, but it's all about getting into a rhythm, the regularity of the season it now creates for you. I like playing games every seven days and not have to worry about night games and things like that because I think that really helps you as a team as you progress through the week. That has been a little bit different. It's just another challenge, but I'm very comfortable that we're giving our players the proper time and the looks and just being smart. I'm listening to the doctors and the strength coaches, talking to those guys way too much but I think it is in the best interest of the team.
(Do you have to worry about a 'woe is me' attitude creeping in?)
There is no 'woe is me' here. This is the National Football League. It's a dynamic business. Not at the extent of getting players hurt, I like where we are at as a team. I think this is an excellent opportunity for us to show what we are about. I know there is probably doubt outside the room. The way they practiced today, the way they are working to get back on the field, the guys that have been here Monday, Tuesday, and again this morning. So we'll be ready to go Sunday, I can promise you that."
(How much do you tailor your offense if Flynn is the quarterback instead of Rodgers?)
Matt would run the current plan that we have in today. We didn't put it together thinking that Aaron was not going to play. He would run the full plan today, and it wouldn't change if Aaron Rodgers was in there.
(How do you feel about him possibly starting a game?)
I think he's ready, but you could take the same question that you asked me a couple years ago when Aaron Rodgers stepped behind center for the first time. You don't really know until they go out and play extendedly. I think Matt is definitely ready to play if this was a one- or two-game type situation. Again, I do feel he has starter ability in the NFL. I've been around long enough, I feel I can recognize that. So I feel very comfortable with Matt Flynn as our quarterback.
(Why is Miami's 'Wildcat' so good?)
They do a good job schematically, and the players they have, the way they use their players involved, with the two running backs. I had an opportunity to coach Ricky Williams. He's a fine football player, a smart football player. Same with Ronnie Brown. It's the combination of the scheme and they do an excellent job of stressing the extra gap that that formation has a tendency to create, as far as when you're running the football. They do a good job with the self scout and changing it up. They run a full complement to it. They don't just dabble in it, where some teams may have a series of plays. They have a full complement of offense that they've now been running for a couple of years.
(They had major breakdowns on special teams at New England. What do you make of that? Is that just one of those things that happens, or did New England find something they were doing?)
That's the game of football. They had some plays that did not go the way they wanted that particular game. We had a chance to watch it with our special teams units this morning. We're not going to line up in the exact same formation that New England did, if that's what you're asking me. It's part of your game-planning, it's part of how you evaluate their scheme, how you evaluate their players. I think the reality of it is they're coming off a bye week, so they've had an opportunity to spend more time on their self-scout, they've had an opportunity to spend more time preparing for us. That's what we're preparing for. We're working on our fundamentals, really working on the rotation. Special teams has really been the biggest challenge from a personnel standpoint going through this phase that we're in right now. We're just trying to get our personnel right, working on our fundamentals, being ready for unscouted looks, which the tendency would probably go up this week anytime you play a team that comes off a bye week.
(You had an uncharacteristic number of drops last week. Is there anything you can do to reinforce that or make it better?)
Absolutely. We emphasize. I just had this conversation with Greg Jennings walking off the field. We need to do more. That's a group that we count on. With the way the Washington game went, with the two injuries to the veteran tight ends early, it was a sub game, and those guys were in position to make some plays, and we did not get that done. I know that they don't feel good about it, and I have all the confidence in the world that they'll do the extra things and just get back in the rhythm that we all know they're capable playing in as a perimeter.
(At the end of Sunday's game, the completion to Quarless, did the offense do a sufficient enough job spiking the ball? Or were you satisfied that you were in field goal range with 8 seconds left?)
Are you asking me if we spiked it too soon, or too late?
(Too late. Would you have liked to get another play off from the 35?)
No … that's a game situation that we practice, and it's called a church play. But it usually entails when you have a timeout. To spike that ball at 12 seconds and then take the chance of getting the play completed for another 7, 8 yards and relying on another clock play, that's not practical. You can't get the offense lined up. Now, if you're up around 20, above 18, that's a different story. Now if you have a timeout, we're spiking it at 12, and now we're in a church situation is what we call it. I don't know what other people call it. But the game management, frankly, we probably should have spiked it later, if you want to be critical. It should have been spiked at 3 or 4 seconds.
(With how much you game plan going into a season, not having Jermichael for so long, how much does that change things for you going forward? Is it simply a matter of plugging Quarless in?)
You know, anytime you lose a player, it doesn't feel good. And anytime you lose a primary player in your planning, that's obviously another challenge. But I've always looked at the game of football, as far as game-planning, as primary and secondary. You have primary concepts, and you have secondary concepts. You have primary personnel groups that you're operating in each week, and you have secondary groups that you're operating in. Really, you can use Jermichael and really Donald Lee in that particular game. Anytime you lose two in one personnel group, that's a challenge. Because you usually don't want to be one injury away from being out of a personnel group. So when you take a primary concept or a primary playmaker out, it creates other responsibility for your other primary players, and frankly, the responsibility now falls on Andrew and Tom to step up. There's a reason we kept four tight ends. Andrew Quarless was banged up in that game, and stepped up and played well. This is a great opportunity for him to step up and play a role. Now, will he be in a primary role? Time will figure that out. I don't really want to get that detailed into it. We've lost a primary playmaker. That's a fact. But we're fortunate where we feel we have other players that we can go play with, and we'll put them in position to be successful.