HEAD COACH JEFF FISHER, AUG. 10, 2008**
(On how Nick Harper is doing after sustaining a concussion in last night's game against the St. Louis Rams)
He's pretty good today. He came in and at this point has no residual effects. Different people respond differently to those types of situations. Sometimes we've had players where those types of collisions will result in them having to miss some games. Or sometimes they come back in. Nick, after half the game, as I said, cleared up and was fine and appears to be in good shape today. It would make sense for us to watch him for a couple of days before we turn him back to full contact, so I think that will be our approach.
(On the degree of the concussion Nick Harper sustained)
I don't make a habit of going into the specifics regarding head injuries, but he is okay.
(On the run game seen during the St. Louis Rams matchup)
Well in the first drive, in particular where LenDale [White] was carrying the football, we did a nice job covering people up and cutting the ball back. He broke tackles and he ran north and south, which is good to see. We got execution out of everyone upfront which includes the wide receivers. Of course you have a couple of big runs. We split the defense several times. Chris Henry did it for 10 or 12 [yards] and then he pushed piles for six or eight [yards]. So we did a lot of different things. We beat them with speed, we bounced outside, and we went right at them. A lot of different types of runs and we executed fairly well over the course of the game.
(On Quinton Ganther and his performance in the game)
You know [Quinton Ganther] is here and he's stayed here because he's got that type of potential, he's got that type of run skills. His special teams production is improving. He's the kind of guy you want on your team. He's prepared, he knows what to do, and he's flexible. Last year, if you recall, he played some fullback for us. So, he's just a good teammate and he's fun to watch. Last night it was good to see him have some success because he really had a good off-season.
(On whether or not it is tough to keep Quinton Ganther on the team with the current depth at running back)
Not necessarily. People said it would be tough for us to keep seven receivers and we've done that a couple of times. We have some things we have to sort out and we're a ways away from those final roster decisions. But they will come down to 'is your fourth in whatever position better than your seventh in another position." And then you take into consideration future and other things like that. So we have some good decisions to make.
(On if he'd like to see Quinton Ganther against starting-caliber defenses)
I don't have any questions marks regarding Q, I know what he can do. I'd like to see Chris Johnson earlier, I'd like to see Chris Henry earlier and hopefully we can do that in the next couple of weeks.
(On who the starting running back is)
I probably should clarify some things as far as the starting running back position is concerned. We're going to use a number of running backs and the starter, as far as I'm concerned, will be the guy that plays the first play of the game. It won't be because one guy has earned the privilege to start over another. It will be based on what we decide to do as an offensive staff to start the game. They're going to play. Obviously, we're going to have two players and as it looks right now it's going to be LenDale [White] and Chris [Johson]. We're going to interchange them throughout the game and then back them up with the other guys.
(On if Chris Johnson will start next week)
There's a chance. But we haven't got there yet as far as what the first call is going to be Friday.
(On Chris Johnson's potential playing time in the regular season)
There's a good chance he's going to play a lot. We drafted him to do that. There will be times when he's on the field and LenDale's not. There will be times where LenDale's on the field and he's not. There may be times when they're both on the field.
(On the dropped passes in the game)
We had two or three opportunities. We had the two drops and then we had the play on the sideline where Biren [Ealy] should have got his feet down. But that's part of the learning process. They're playing a lot. When you typically get to the second group of receivers, and even the second group of defensive backs, most of the skill positions for that matter, if they're playing on offense or defense guess what? They're also covering a kickoff or returning punts so they don't come off the field. They keep playing. They were tired but they have to learn to concentrate when you're winded to make those plays. Part of the preseason is correcting mistakes and learning from your mistakes. As we comb this tape, were going to be very conscientious of the minor mistakes and make sure they're pointed out as well because we have to learn from that. There's reasons for the drops. Biren can get his foot down, he's done it before in practice. We expect improvement. Sometime you want some of those things to take place so you can learn from it. The veterans can even learn from those things.
(On if Chris Carr has established himself as the starting return man)
Well we're going to continue to evaluate those guys and Chris was just first in the rotation. I'm completely comfortable with him. He's very calm, he's a good decision-maker, he understands returns and we brought him here to do that. We'll probably give Chris Johnson a chance to return kickoffs this week and see how instinctive he is at it.
(On if Chris Johnson and Jason Jones studied the playbook enough to warrant their playing time)
It's the luxury of being able to have access to your draft class starting May 16 and working through June. Spending time with them and involving them in the OTAs. The system is winning, they understand what to do, the entire class did and they're making plays. We're happy where they are right now and we have to continue to push them and give them the opportunity to compete against starting offenses and defensive players.
(On Albert Haynesworth saying Jason Jones is a starting-caliber player)
I think Jason is making progress. I'm going to hesitate to overreact based on 30 plays in a ballgame. I want to continue to see improvement out of Jason as well as the rest of his teammates.
(On how Albert Haynesworth played)
He was fine. He played the number of plays we hoped he'd play and he did a nice job. Overall, I thought our front seven played particularly well when they were in the game.
(On William Hayes' progression)
He played quite a bit. He covered kickoffs and did a nice job. He's improving. What he did for us was carry over some of the things he's done on the practice field into the game. He'll get more of an opportunity to play each week.
(On what William Hayes has to do to play in the regular rotation)
I can't tell you how many defensive ends I'm going to keep on the roster, whether its three or four. If it's three, he's got a ways to go. If it's four, he could potentially be in the ballgame. That really depends on how he progresses.
(On whether the turf was soft)
Not soft, it was sandy, but it wasn't soft, the footing was excellent.
(On whether the turf was the same as in years past)
Yes, it's in good shape. If my memory serves me right, when we have re-sodded, specifically last year, there was a little more sand on the re-sod. But this surface was good. The Rams were especially pleased. They were especially pleased with both surfaces, the practice field and the playing field.
(On whether he looked at the Ingle Martin dive replay after the game)
No I haven't had a chance to look at it yet.
(On whether he was pleased with how Ingle Martin ran the offense)
Well, he knows what we're doing and he has huddle presence and he understands the play clock. And we asked him to do some different things and run the clock down and use the clock. And as Mike [Heimerdinger] always does, he does a great job of getting the play in early and had plenty of time to talk to him and he did that. So Ingle fared well in his first outing.
(On other things he wanted to fix from last night's game)
Well we had a lot of technique things on special teams. Minor things but they could potentially become major things. This is a game of technique and this is a game where technique has to improve and remain consistent even when you get fatigued. So there's a lot of things as far as the younger players are concerned. How they respond to certain situations. Defensive players, how they respond to formations and run schemes and things like that. So just a lot of little things we have to continue to work on.
(On focusing on special teams and how you can fix those mistakes)
You put the tape on and show them what we are teaching them in practice and ask them why it didn't carry over into the game. That's the normal part of preseason. When you are teaching technique on the practice field as far as special teams goes, you expect it to carry over into the game. Oftentimes it doesn't. Oftentimes there are missed assignments. Those are little things. As far as the special teams play yesterday compared to years passed in the opening preseason game, we're way ahead of where we've been. We've had some horrendous efforts on special teams in years past. We didn't [last night]. We had people in the right place for the most part. You don't play a play in the game where you don't have an area where you that can be better or improved. And that's our approach. And that's what we do here as we grade those tapes.
* (On how many of the guys who didn't play in the game will practice this week)*
I think [Justin] McCareins, [Kurt] Campbell, Roydell [Williams], Tony [Brown], Josh Miller, and you know Rob[Bironas], I just can't say on Rob. And I think Cary [Williams] will know later in the week. So we have a chance to get a lot of guys back. And we didn't have any significant issues in the ballgame.
(On whether he'll hold Rob Bironas out of the entire preseason)
You know we've got three games left. So the game I'm concerned about right now this week. So if he can get back and start swinging and get some leg strength back then yes, he has a chance. I'm not ruling him out for this week.
(On whether John Vaughn's kick was good)
Yes, it was good, it split the uprights. But yes he hit it a little thin.
(On wanting Vince Young to pass more in future games to see where he is)
I know where he is. I'm fine with his production and his performance. I see it on the practice field. I was pleased with how he handled the ballgame. The only thing I would correct as far as he's concerned is that I expect to see him flatten out and get out of bounds on that long run and not take that hit.
(On whether he was testing Lendale White's conditioning)
He said I was testing his conditioning? No, we're building his conditioning, we're building his carries. I thought he ran pretty well. He was strong and heavy and hit the hole quick, just like he's been doing here at camp.
(On being able to use the combination of Lendale White and Chris Johnson)
Well we've only had one preseason game. Again, we kept things simple, we kept things basic, didn't try to out-scheme anybody. We got both of them on the field and as an offensive staff we are working to try to create a situation offensively where we can raise the stress factor on defense. You have to put players in position to create mismatches. And that's what we're going to do.
(On whether he's ever had a duo of two so dissimilar running backs)
No, we've had similar backs. Eddie [George] and Rodney [Thomas] were somewhat similar. Rodney Thomas was a little quicker. Skip Hicks came in for a year or so and had a little bit more quickness than Eddie did but Eddie was always our power back, so we haven't had the extremes from a quickness, size and speed factors. One of the misconceptions or misunderstandings about LenDale [White], and LenDale is a big back but he's got great quickness in the hole. And so we can do similar things with them. So as a staff we were curious like you all were curious after the first couple weeks of practice, you see Chris Johnson on the play in practice and you say, 'if that was in a real game would he score?' You don't know that, you don't know that in practice. Well, yesterday we found out. So you can assume a number of those plays over the last couple weeks would have been touchdowns.
(On whether Chris Johnson would have scored a touchdown on a screen pass if one more block had been made)
I think when he gets the ball in his hands in the open field he always has a chance [to score].