HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK
(on anyone who he wants to see step up during game time)
I don't think anybody in particular. I think it's more of the groups and things we have to be successful at. I think we would like to see the first-team offense. Again, like I have been saying the last couple of weeks, they really need to be taking control of the first half, move and stay on the field. That's one thing we have not done yet. So, as a group, you would like to see, this game and the next game, them improve upon that. With our defense, improving on areas that we talked about. It's not just about winning situations. Offense again, in the last drive, the two-minute drive, we didn't score any points off that last week. Third-and-one. Fourth-and-one. It's more of those things, execute on those plays which end up being big situations when we get into real games. We have been practicing that stuff out here. You would like to see that work in the games.
(on how much he wants to see Jake Locker's run-game improve this week versus last week)
We would definitely like to get him to feel the game that way so we can get something going, him and the receivers. We haven't really got that on track in either game. I think we are making an effort to try to get that started in the first half.
(on what will a successful night do to Jake Locker's confidence)
There is no doubt about it. Having success is a huge thing for the offense in general. I think they all just kind of want to move it up and down the field, make some plays and convert some tough first downs. That's something you like to see and we haven't seen enough of that in the first two games.
(on how close preparation for preseason game three is to a regular season game)
It's the closest you'll get, because we are spending more time on it. Still, it is preseason. We are still working harder right now than we normally would. Guys would be fresher for the game than we are probably going to be. You watch a little more tape and just kind of take one for the team. But again, you are still not doing a lot of things that you would probably do if it was a real game or the opener as far as schematically, which you like to try to do. So, you just want to go out and play well. This is the closest, but you are going through the game plan each day. The meetings are longer—that they will get used to. The practices are all carded. Also, they learn how to practice. So, that part is good work for them. Ultimately, Thursday night we just want to play really well.
(on the use of the "big back" in third down situations or will you keep Chris Johnson in)
We could but we went to the big back on fourth-and-one and he didn't get it. So we don't have to find a back or player we just have to convert better than we did on both of those situations. That is something you look at, it is the same thing on the goal line. Chris (Johnson) in earlier years has been successful on the goal line but we have other backs that we like. We may do stuff with different back if we feel one is a match to get that tough yard. Sometimes on a third or fourth-and-one it may not be blocked well, so you have to have someone that can make a play when they are at the point of attack and get that yard, and so far in the two shots we had we didn't do that.
(on Jake Locker's passing game progression)
We think he has done well. From what we can see out here we think it has improved. You want to see it happen in games now when he gets more opportunities so that is something that is going to be important this game and next game and as he gets into the season to put some drives together, to put some competitions together. Like you said, if he is not in the pocket and has to move to make a play then he has the ability to do that, but we still want completions no matter how he has to do it. He wants to come out and get a rhythm going where he completes some balls in a row. We know it's about winning but he wants to get in a good grove and feel like you can make a tough throw. I know he feels like he can, so we just have to go do it.
(on Jake Locker doing things better mechanically versus his rookie year)
Yes, I think they have been working a lot on his footwork, the position he throws the ball from, having a better base when you throw, and that is pretty much all positions. You have more success when you do that and I think he has done a good job working on that it looks like it has paid off. Again now he has to get 20 to 25 passes in a game to see where he is at.
(on if he has sat in on more quarterback meetings because of the quarterback decision)
No I made it easy because I sat in a lot last year all throughout the season. I pretty much sit in all their meetings because the meet a lot early in the morning. So I can make it to a lot of meetings. That is another part that helped me a lot, I am watching these guys, hearing what they have to say when they are being critiqued, what they would do differently and what they were thinking when this play was happening. That is another insight that helped me a lot as far as understanding—even last year with Matt (Hasselbeck)—so I could understand their world a little more and what they go through.
(on the fumble by Taylor Thompson and whether his ball security issues are due to transition)
You never want that to happen. If it happens then you hope he will learn from it so we can get this behind us and hope it doesn't happen in the regular season because it can cost you games. That touchdown drop can't happen and that fumble could have cost us there. We had a chance to get back in the game there so it was two big plays. We never want to see that in preseason but hopefully he realizes now that, catching it, there is no more that he could do. He dropped a tough catch it hit him right in the chest and the defensive guy was there. On the fumble you have to learn how to get down and that guys are good at stripping the ball in this league. Hopefully he learned from it and drops are something that he has to keep working on out here. He hasn't really dropped the ball in practice, so hopefully he can get that behind us.
(on why he enjoyed meeting with the soldiers before practice)
It's fun to see them come out and actually have a day where they can relax. I can't imagine what they go through on a daily basis, stress wise and what's on their minds. I know a lot of them are about to deploy to Afghanistan, so we've been trying to get them out here on a good day for them. Really, this is perfect, because the practice was closed. A couple hundred soldiers wanted to come down, and we wanted to have a chance to thank them for their service and what they've done for the country. Even though they're big fans of ours, we're big fans of theirs. We wish them well as they get ready to head out and wanted to tell them how proud we are of their commitment and sacrifice that they make and that their families have made. I think it's fun just talking and getting to find out where some of the guys are from, seeing them relaxed, enjoying themselves while they're here and seeing them now getting autographs. The players obviously enjoy it also, so it's a great situation for both of us.
(on whether it is nice to see players such as Kenny Britt interacting with the soldiers)
Yeah, it is. We all realize what's important in life, and this is one of them. Football's just a game; these guys are living the real life and doing the real thing. We want to make sure they realize that. If we can help lighten their day by playing a sport, then more power to us. This, I think, is a chance for them where they can relax. I'm sure they would have rather been in their shorts and their t-shirts, but I guess they're getting used to the heat. It was good having them here.
(on whether Akeem Ayers played at the nickel position a lot last year)
Yeah, by the second half of the season, he was playing second-level linebacker quite a bit. Like I said last week, he's playing fast. We feel he can play there and so can Zach Brown, so now we have the flexibility that we talked about at draft time, that we were hoping to get, and I think we did. Now it's just a matter of seeing the best way to rotate Akeem (Ayers), either on the second-level linebacker or rushing at times and helping up front. Because he has had some good rushes, he's getting a good feel for it; he's getting confidence and with Zach there it helps us to do more.
(on if the rookie haircuts are a new addition this season)
I think they waited longer this year. I think they were hoping to get some TV time with their haircuts. I don't think they can cut them until after the game or clean them up, as I should say. That's been going on for a long time. I thought maybe they had forgotten about it, but I see the tradition lives on.
(on if the rookie hazing happened when he played for the Houston Oilers)
Yeah, I think we started it actually. I don't remember it my rookie year, but I remember it after that. Bruce (Matthews), myself and (Dean) Steinkuhler got that baby started. Hazing was a lot worse back then, a lot more things when on. Just like the game has mellowed, hazing has mellowed too.
(on the worst hazing he's seen of rookies)
I just think there were a lot of night visits to rookies' rooms that don't happen these days. Somehow I think veterans got the keys to the dorm rooms, and that was back when we stayed in dorm so you could get away with more. You can't really do that at hotels as well as you can at dorms. I think there were a lot of guys that didn't rest very well during training camp because they know that the older guys had a key to their room. It led to a lot of fun, but as always, things can get out of hand. So it's probably better we're not doing those things anymore.
(on if hazing is good for a team)
I think there is a place for—maybe you don't call it hazing—but having fun with the players. It's kind of like a rite of passage. Everyone's been through this as rookies. You're almost through the toughest part of being a rookie, training camp. I think it's fun. I enjoy it. I thought it was part of the deal. Just so it doesn't go over the line. Putting guys in hot tubs or cold tubs or throwing their clothes in, doing things that don't hurt someone I think is good, and making them sing, making them uncomfortable in different ways and whatever it is. I think all that is part of anything, of acceptance. Just so it doesn't get out of hand.
(on if Brandon Barden will play on Thursday)
He did a lot more today and yesterday. Now we'll see if he got sore or not, but he definitely has a possibility to maybe get some action if he doesn't get sore from what he did the last couple days.
(on how much Brandon Barden set himself back by not being able to play the last couple of weeks)
It definitely has hurt him. There's no way around that. The good thing is he had all the OTA's, so he did have nine weeks with us, so that's helpful. But again, it's hard. It makes it tough for him, but he's worked hard to get back and hopefully he can get a little taste of action this week and definitely a lot more in the Saints game.
(on if he's ruled anyone out of playing this Thursday)
No—other than the usual guys that have been out. I don't think there's anybody else that's a concern. (Jordan) Babineaux practiced today, we're assuming he's going to be a game-time decision. We'll see how he is tomorrow, but we didn't have pads on today, so it was easier for him to get through it. He's running around good. But he'd be the one guy that's maybe a question mark through tomorrow.
(on if Dave Ball is getting any closer to playing)
No, he's just not. As we pick up the stress level of things he needs to do, he's just not getting over the hump with feeling as clear as he should. So we're still kind of in a holding pattern there.