Coach Munchak's Friday Press Conference

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HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(opening statement)

Just real quickly, I thought we came out playing well on defense. I thought, and we set the tone again. Getting after the quarterback — we get the sack right away and pressure and then get the turnover by Griff (Michael Griffin). Our playmakers making plays, you know, (Kamerion) Wimbley, who we brought here had a really big night, created a sack early. We got pressure, Griff gets the interception. (From) Jake (Locker), we get the touchdown throw to our first-round draft choice (Kendall Wright), so everybody was contributing right away, I think, which was good, and then the defense for most of the night — as long as the starters were in — played well. I mean (they) were just very aggressive, a lot of pressure on the quarterback. That's two weeks in a row I think we've gotten a lot of heat on the opposing quarterback against the first groups — just the one breakdown in the two-minute where it looked like we had another sack there, the quarterback escaped, and we freed up the receiver for the 50-yard play that set up the touchdown. But we answered right back in the third quarter with the first play (when Colin) McCarthy gets his second interception for a touchdown. So, a lot of good things. I think we're making plays, or guys are starting to make plays, and playing hard. Special teams, again, we gave one up but we got one back at the end, so turnover-wise, we were even there, which helped us, obviously, win the game in the fourth quarter. So, a lot of plusses that way. Guys were playing hard, and that's been good to see. We have one more (preseason game) to go, and we've got some things we're going to work on this week to get ready for the opener.

(on if the way Colin McCarthy is playing makes him likely to make the Pro Bowl)

I think we definitely feel he has that type of potential. He keeps getting better. He's getting smarter, he studies as hard as anybody does. That's why, I think, he's in position to make those plays. Frank Bush does a great job of working with him and Jerry (Gray). He understands the offense and has a pre-read by the formations and the personnel that's in the game, what their tendencies are, and he's a guy that takes advantage of that. That's why I think he's in the throwing lanes quite a bit when they don't expect him to be. So, you hope he can keep that up, but definitely, in the end, I'm sure that's not a concern of his right now, but that's something that if you keep doing the things he's been doing since he's been playing, then those things will come at the end of the year.

(on the plan for Jake Locker's playing time in the preseason finale)

Personally, I'd like to play him more. Just to play, I mean, I said play him more — I'd say probably no more than a half. We haven't talked about it as a staff, but as far as he's exactly what we want. It's not just him; we've got to look at everyone to see what's best for some of these other guys, too, because we don't want him there unless we have the first line and everyone else in there with him, so we'll consider that. I think it would be nice for him to play. I'd like to see him play a half, get into the two-minute warning and then call it a night. That would be the ideal thing to happen, but we'll see.

(on worrying about too much time between the fourth preseason game and the season opener for the starters)

You do, but again, because there is such a break. We're young, too. I mean we're young in a lot of spots. You want to be smart with injuries. We get all that, but you can't get so caught up in that part that you're not ready to play on Sunday in the opener, so I think we'll be smart. We're not going to play, like when I used to, into the third and fourth quarter back when people thought that was the way to do it. We'll just kind of look and see where we are health-wise as we get toward the end of the week and make that decision as far as playing time. We're going to play. It's just a matter of how quickly (the starters) will come out.

(on Locker's performance against Arizona)

Like I said last night, I think he handled himself well, which we thought he would. We were hoping — I thought we came out, we got the field position for him right away; he makes a nice throw to Kendall for the touchdown. That was a check off of a run that we had called. They gave a certain look, and he took what they gave him, we score on it. We haven't done that in a while off of a run, which was good to see him execute along with Kendall (Wright). So, that was good. I thought a couple of other throws were nice, as far as moving us. I think he ran well when we thought he had to. His time clock was going off, and you've got to get out of the pocket at times when there's nobody open. I don't think he took a hit all night. Even when he ran, he slid, which was a good thing. So, that's heady, smart football because we don't want him to get hit. I think there's a bar or two a little higher, but I thought that last night, and one of the throws that was over the middle to Nate (Washington) that looked like Nate was open, the guy, the lineman (Calais) Campbell, he's 6-foot-6, 6-7. His hand was up, jumping. He's the one that batted one of the balls early and (Locker) had to get the ball over (Campbell). That created the ball to sail a little bit more, I think. There's things like that, he's getting it, he's adjusting and finding the throwing windows. We're happy with how he handled himself, how he handled the game, how he checked protections and things like that, that I thought were encouraging. The game within the game stuff, he did a nice job with and the more he plays, the better he'll get as we think. We were hoping last night for a few more longer drives, which would have gotten him, I think, even more into the game, but that didn't happen.    **

(on how Marc Mariani's surgery went)

I think as well as can be expected.  I talked to him today and he is handling it about as well as you can.  He is very depressed and very disappointed, but he has a lot of people reaching out to him and family coming in and players coming over.  As we all know it was an awful thing last night.  Anytime you see that on a football field, it is hard to comprehend all of that.  It is disappointing but he is in as good of spirits as you can be.

(on whether Marc Mariani's injury is career-threatening)

I don't know the details of that.  I think a lot of injuries like that can be hard to come back from, but from what we are hearing that is something he should have a good opportunity to do that.

(on if Marc Mariani's injury is confined to just broken bones)

That is all I know.  We didn't talk to the doctors about that.  I think it went about as well as can be expected and it was what they thought it was.  We will hear more as we get into the week.

(on working on extending offensive drives)

There is not a whole lot that you can do.  You just keep executing.  Games fall different ways.  The good thing is getting turnovers and we had a lot of short fields that we turned into 17 points.  The good news is we took advantage of what they gave us when the defense did a great job of giving us turnovers.  You want 21, but heck 17 is the next best thing.  That is the other thing, plus when you get interceptions for touchdowns, you are not on the field.  So all of a sudden in the third quarter the first group is waiting quite a long time to go out there and get a couple plays in.  Sometimes it falls where that kind of takes away from it, so you hope that all kind of evens out.  This week maybe we get a couple drives.  In the opener we hope we definitely do.  That is something you just have to keep working at and know they will come in bunches at times and you have to create those opportunities by doing well on first and second down.  Last night again we probably had three or four third-and-16's, after a penalty we had a third-and-25.  We had a lot of third-and-longs which we had a hard time getting.

(on whether the team has to look at bringing in a veteran receiver with the loss of Marc Mariani and the potential absence of Kenny Britt)

I think as we get into next week, a week from today, we will start to get a better feel for where we stand on our personnel.  Really if you are going to do something anyway there is not going to be an opportunity to do it until people start making cuts and making moves next week.  If we feel next week that we have a need then we will obviously start looking to address it.  I think right now we feel that we will be OK with what we have.  Kenny's situation will be something that about a week from now we will know more.

(on if Chris Johnson's performance last night was understandable based on the strength of the Cardinals' defense)

You want to go out every time and run well.  Again it wasn't as good as we hoped going into the game.  We felt going in that we would probably throw a little more.  Maybe a little more of the opposite of how the Tampa game was where we actually ran the ball quite a bit more.  We thought we would come out and throw a little bit and maybe that would open things up.  They are a good defense.  Their first team stayed in with ours the whole way.  We were one's on one's the whole time.  There were a couple good runs that we had with CJ and a couple right from the beginning that we got a lot of one-yard gains or one-yard losses.  We just have to eliminate some of the minus one's and have the second-and-seven.  Sometimes when you run something you just have to take what they give you and get the three and get down and we have second-and-seven or third-and-three versus second-and-12.  We have to keep cleaning that up and avoid those situations as best we can.  Like I said, the running game was effective in spurts, but not to where we want it.

(on if he considers safety Robert Johnson a starter)

I think overall he is getting better each week at what he's doing.  It's not just him; it's moving (Michael Griffin) around, too, seeing how he likes being the guy close to the box more so than originally he was back in the first game, playing more of the centerfield stuff.  I think it's a combination of both, seeing how we like them playing together early in the game like that.  We saw two weeks out of them, and the reason we did it, again, was because (Jordan) Babineaux was limited all week and we didn't want him in.  We didn't know how he was feeling, and so we thought we'd start with the guys that got most of the work during the week, which was those two.  We'll continue again this week in practice.  We've got a full week this week.  We can work on a lot of things other than just the preseason game coming up.  We can start looking at other things as far as needs go that we have as an offense and defense to work on.  Those are the things we'll work on, the combinations, because we're kind of coming down the wire now of what we really like.  Those are some of the decisions he'll make, and I thought he was playing pretty solid.  He was getting a feel for the game, coming up and making some tackles.  That (Larry Fitzgerald reception) play I'm sure was disappointing for him because he thought something else was going to happen when the quarterback was out of the pocket.  He lost his assignment, and you have to avoid those things from happening because obviously when you do it in that position, it's a big play.

(on if the safety spot is up for grabs between Robert Johnson and Jordan Babineaux)

I just think it depends on what Jerry (Gray), scheme-wise … I think defenses are so—even when we play them on the offensive side of the ball because we study them—depending on who we're playing against, you play against the Patriots in the opener, well if it's a throwing situation, you don't know how it's going to work out, how it's going to start, or what is the best way to match their personnel.  A lot of times it's about who you're playing, what exactly and who we're going to put on the field to match who we're playing against.  Again, as far as starters in different positions, that's something more that we'll firm up as we go into this week.

(on assuming Babineaux is healthy and ready to re-claim his starting position)

He wasn't starting last year at this time either, when the season started.  Because of injury, he ended up playing a lot because of Chris (Hope) getting hurt.  Those are things that, as a staff, we played the game last night, watched the tape.  We haven't gotten into discussions about going into this week and where we may want to tweak things and where we're happy.  At all positions, some of that will start working out over the next week.

(on how the team is at receiver without Marc Mariani and possibly Kenny Britt)

That's something we're going to have to take a look at now and see who are the guys we have.  The Kenny thing, as we find out more of his situation by the end of the week, then we're going to have to decide if we think we're shorthanded or not.  Right now, even if we thought we were, there's not much we could to about it at this point.  We have a lot of guys who are still on the roster, young guys that may be able to help us in a more limited role, kind of what Marc would have been doing for us, or did for us last year.  Those are the things in that position and some others that we're going to have to see if we're comfortable with what we have going into the season.

(on if he's happy with Kendall Wright and the receivers he has on the roster right now)

Again, the more we play, I think you'll see (Kendall Wright) making more and more plays. He and Jake (Locker) hooked up on the other play. Jake held the ball on Kendall's bigger play after the touchdown. Those two made a play on their own. He's holding and our three-step guys were covered, the time clock was going. Jake had a guy coming for you right in his face. He makes a great throw to Kendall, Kendall makes a first down. Those are the things you hope you continue to see. We're happy with him, obviously, Nate (Washington), Damian (Williams), and (Lavelle) Hawkins. You have four guys that played last year and played very well. We lost Marc (Mariani) who was that fifth guy last year, and we're hoping it's either going to be Kenny (Britt) in that mix, or one of our young guys. Once we find out what's going on with Kenny.

(on if he needs to know Kenny Britt's situation with the league before cuts are made)

I think we'll know that. At this point, something will be told to us I'm sure at some point here in the next 10 days about what's going on there.

(on if he plans to start cutting the roster over the weekend or if he will wait until Monday)

Well we have to be down to 75 this weekend or by Monday. So we'll be doing things, I'd imagine, by Sunday.

(on if he expects Jurrell Casey to miss time because of his shoulder)

He caught his elbow. There's a good chance he won't play this week.

(on how Taylor Thompson is progressing at tight end)

He's done well. Like I've said, he had the dropped ball last week. I think he has some things to learn from. I think the fumble in the first week—he hasn't fumbled since. In the games, his blocking is getting better. Like I said, we're asking him to do an awful lot, probably more so than any rookie. Tight end is a tough position to play in this league because you're asked to do so many things with the blocking and the motions, the pass catching, the route running. But I think he's handled it well. That's what we thought when we drafted him, we thought he was a guy that could probably handle this in a really quick manner. People think, 'Well this guy won't help you until next year. He hasn't played tight end since high school.' Well already I think people get a feel that he is going to help us this year. He's doing a good job on special teams, so he's going to find a place there. He'll get into the rotation at times where he'll be helpful. There will be times when we may want to go with some three tight end set, if we think it's an advantage. He'll get an opportunity to do that for us. I think he's come along well. Like I said, it's been a process for him. The offseason was a huge help for him. If we had had the offseason like last year, it would have been a lot harder to do this for him. I think he's improving like we hoped he would. Now let's see how he does as we get going through the season.

(on if he expects Jurrell Casey to be sidelined longer than one week)

No. Like I said, a couple of the guys that are banged up a bit, this is one of those things where we rest them. If they're not going to play a lot why play if you have something going on. I think the mentality more is with a handful of guys you want to rest because you know they'd be iffy anyway. Let's have them fresh, and the other guys will play. He's one of the guys that probably needed the time to make sure we gave him enough time to get ready for the opener.

(on if the same is true for Sen'Derrick Marks)

(Sen'Derrick) Marks will be the same way, probably limit him this week. Chances are he wouldn't play. We have two weeks until we have to play, a little over two weeks, so there will be a handful of guys like that that we'll evaluate and then decide how much we want them playing.

(on if Leger Douzable is in that same group)

Same thing.

(on if Ryan Mouton is going to play)

No — concussion. He'll be out this week.

(on if Dave Ball is improving)

I think he's making some improvements. I think he's been working out, and that's been going better which has been good for him to be more positive. I think he's feeling better about things when he can start breaking a sweat again and doing things and you feel him getting close to feeling normal again. I think it's just a matter of that. He's moving along, but obviously he won't be practicing the next couple of days.

(on if Lavelle Hawkins is completely healthy)

He's been a little slow through OTA's and the summer with the ankle being a little sore and camp a little bit. But he's been practicing and doing everything. It's just one of those things where again, we didn't have a lot of reps last night. If we had 40 some reps, that's being generous of what we had the whole night. Again, we didn't get a lot of people in the game that we wanted to get in. We didn't get to do a lot of things we wanted to do. We won the football game, we made some big plays — all that was great. In this league, we all know it's about winning games. With how many plays we have in the preseason, you'd like to get both. You'd like to be winning in the preseason even though they don't count. But then, you want reps. The defense got 90 some, so those guys got plenty. They have a lot of film to watch, the offense will be done pretty quickly.

(on what he would like Darius Reynaud to improve on) Well I think it's just the overall running back. Obviously, returner is going to become a priority now because of the injury last night, so he'll get a chance to catch more punts and do things like that, to where maybe he hasn't had as many of those in the past. So now that you're the guy, or have the chance to be the guy, you're going to get more work there. So just overall as a running back, he's never been a true running back fulltime. So again, it's that. That's where he's been progressing as far as in the progressions. I think he's done a nice job with it. He hasn't been tested much, because, again, he hasn't had the reps because you're playing (Chris Johnson) into the third quarter and then there really was about 14 reps or 15 plays the rest of the game for three backs. So there wasn't a whole lot to test guys on. So it's really seeing him in practice, and how he's handling practice. He's played receiver in the past, so all of a sudden, you think you can't overload the guy. He has some versatility, and we'll have to decide when the team is made up, what our final cuts are, then who are some of those guys that maybe can do multiple things for us.

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