Coach Whisenhunt's Monday Press Conference



(on Zach Mettenberger's status)

Obviously, he left the game yesterday. He aggravated the sprain of his shoulder. It's pretty sore today. I would say that he's doubtful to play this week, but we're going to take it week-to-week and see how he progresses. I know he wants to get back and play. We'll see as it goes.

(on if Zach Mettenberger is done playing for the season)

We're taking it week-to-week.

(on if Zach Mettenberger's injury against the Giants was worse than his injury against the Texans)

I'd say he aggravated it, yes, so that would mean it is.

(on if he is planning on bringing in another quarterback)

At this point, I don't have a plan of doing that.

(on his evaluation of Zach Mettenberger if he can't play)

It's been a tough stretch here lately. I think there will be enough time after the season's over to go back and look at everything in its entirety, and I think that's what you have to do. You don't want to make any judgments based on where we are now and go back and look at a lot of things. He's done a lot of good things for us. I've been pleased with how he's progressing. It's been tough. It's been a tough stretch of weeks that he's had to deal with, and he's handled it very well. I think it's something that you have to go back, and probably what we'll do is take it from his first game to where he was at the last game and look at a number of different things, checks, protection, communication, footwork, all those kind of things, decision making.

(on Blidi Wreh-Wilson's and Damion Stafford's injuries)

Blidi (Wreh-Wilson), as you know about his shoulder yesterday, I don't know what his status is going to be going forward, but his shoulder had a problem with it. It came out and went back in. Not a lot different than (Michael Griffin's), but we'll have to see. I don't know the degree. I didn't talk much about that with him. I know he was in here getting treatment today, and we'll have more information as the week progresses. Daimion (Stafford) went out with a concussion, so he's in that protocol.

(on how Jake Locker should approach upcoming opportunities)

It's an opportunity to play. Jake (Locker) wants that. Prepare it the best he can and do the best job he can. I think that's the way he'll look at it. He's a good pro.

(on if Jake Locker is the starter if Zach Mettenberger is unable to play)


(on what Jake Locker has shown in the last two games to prove that he can be the starter)

He's been in a tough situation to come in like that. He did some good things yesterday. The ball came out quick, moved around in the pocket well, ran with the ball a couple of times. The one interception, he was trying to make a play at the end of the game and fit one in there to Delanie (Walker). He's familiar. I thought he did a good job at communicating with some of the calls. He was what you wanted him to be, which was prepared.

(on if it is mentally tough for Jake Locker going from starter to backup quarterback)

I don't think so. I haven't seen that from him at all. He's been great in the room with Zach (Mettenberger). I think there's a good dynamic with both he and Charlie (Whitehurst), and he's worked very hard on the field. You guys have been around Jake (Locker) a lot longer than I have, but I can't imagine anybody that has handled it more professionally than Jake, and I don't anticipate that it would be any different. My sense is he would be excited to play.

(on if the offensive line did as much as they could to prevent the eight sacks in the game)

Obviously, we didn't do a good enough job. Our plan is what it is. We had some chips in there, and we did better with them at times than we did at other times. Regardless of what you attempt to do, there's going to be times when they're singled up. The biggest issue that we had is we threw the ball too much yesterday. That's the problem. If you're going to throw it as much as we did, you're going to expose yourself to those things. The plan going in was to try to limit that, and we didn't do a good enough job of that.

(on what percent of the time they used maximum protection on offense)

I don't know what the percentage of the time is. Obviously, not enough, but the problem you face when you do that is they're rushing four and dropping seven and you've got two guys out on a route, you're not going to have a lot of success doing that. You have to mix those things up.

(on Antonio Andrews playing over Shonn Greene)

I think part of it's been limited opportunities for Shonn (Greene). It hasn't worked out the way we've wanted to with that role, and that's part of it. If you look at the game before, Shonn only had four snaps in the game, plus Antonio (Andrews) gave us a little bit more from a special teams contribution, which as banged up as we were at other positions, that was important for us, especially in the secondary.

(on if the moves on special teams are permanent for the rest of the season)

I don't know. I think some of it's going to be dependent upon where we are from a special teams perspective, to be honest with you. We're losing guys that have played a lot on special teams, and we're having to use some of our starters in there, and that's made it difficult.

(on if Leon Washington and Dexter McCluster could not have returned kicks in the game)

Well, Leon (Washington) was close. He's probably going to be able to do that coming forward, but we felt like because of the third down capabilities that Leon brings us from a protection standpoint, we needed that out for the game this week. Dexter (McCluster) has been our punt returner. He hasn't had as much experience as a kick returner.

(on if Ray Horton exaggerated when he said defensive players never moved out of place)

I don't know that necessarily Ray (Horton) meant that. I can't put words in his mouth. Just like anybody that's putting in a different system or a new system, we've had issues. We've had plays where we've made mistakes. I think that we haven't had a lot of plays where we've had guys running free, and there have been a couple of times, like yesterday on the long run that he had, where we blew it. We had a chance to make the play, and we didn't do it correctly. That's all part of it, but I think some of it is a continuity thing. We've had a number of different guys playing different spots, and that affects it. Just like yesterday, we had a tackle that had been with us for three days that got almost 50 snaps in the game. Sometimes that happens.

(on if Taylor Lewan, Michael Oher or Kendall Wright could return this week)

I sure hope there's a good chance. I think we'll certainly know more as we progress during the week. All three are getting better. Michael (Oher's) getting checked again tomorrow on his toe, so we should have more information on Michael by Wednesday. Taylor (Lewan's) working, getting better, progressing, and so is Kendall (Wright). It's hard for me to forecast what's going to happen, but we're certainly hopeful that they'll be available.

(on Byron Stingily's injury)

He's got an ankle. I think he's got a chance also this week. We'll see how he progresses, but I know he wants to play. He's a pretty tough kid. He'll work through it.

(on if Michael Oher was on the sideline during the game)

Yeah. I thought I saw him, but I'll be honest with you, I really wasn't looking for him because I knew he wasn't playing. I had a few other things going on.

(on where Michael Oher might have been if he was not on the sideline)

He could have been up in the box. He was at the stadium yesterday, I know that.

(on if Terren Jones will play left tackle if Taylor Lewan is unable to play this week)

He's working on day five, so he may have a better chance of doing that. We'll look at it and see where we are.

(on if Byron Stingily could play at left tackle this week)

He started there when we thought that we were going to have he and Michael (Oher) a couple of weeks ago. He could do that. He had a day's practice at that position.

(on if Will Svitek's performance is falling short of his expectations)

I think it's a function of our entire team right now. We haven't done what we've needed done. We haven't lived up to expectations. The way these games have gone has made it tough on a lot of guys, especially on Will (Svitek), and he's working hard and battling. When you're down by so many points and you've got to throw the football and guys can tee off coming off the line, it's very difficult.

(on how difficult it is for players to be confident)

It's tough. No question it's tough. Human nature plays into that. Our guys are continuing to work hard. They came in today, and I know yesterday was as tough a game as we've had, especially just the way it went. That's part of what you have to fight through. I haven't sensed it from the way they work on the field. We've got to quit making mistakes that hurt us. Offensively, we've got to stop turning the ball over and putting ourselves down. Defensively, I thought our guys did a nice job of holding up in the red zone yesterday, but we've got to be able to stop them on that first drive. Even though we hold them to three points, those are the kind of things that somehow we've got to make a play early in the game that can give us a little confidence.

(on large deficits in games affecting players' confidence)

It's difficult, especially when you've got so many different guys in there. You're playing a number of young guys, you're playing a number of new guys. It's hard. There's no question, but look, I don't think anybody really cares about that. You're expected to get out there and play better than what we've played, and that's what we have to focus on.

(on how much work Dexter McCluster has gotten as a wide receiver)

He obviously got more work, but he has gotten work. We've used him a couple of times in that receiver position, trying to create matchups, and he's played it before in his time in the league. The specifics of it, especially with as much as we were afraid we might have to use him in that role, he did get a crash course, per se.

(on if he used Dexter McCluster as a wide receiver as much as he expected to)

We didn't use him as much as I thought we might have to yesterday.

(on if Kendall Wright returns this week and the risk of re-injuring his hand)

Hopefully the crack has healed up enough that that won't be an issue going forward. I think the biggest thing for him now is not anything else other than catching the football. He's got to be able to comfortably do that. We can splint it up, we can help him with that, and part of this whole process is making sure he's to that point. We were hopeful that he would be to that point by Sunday, but he just still had some pain and some swelling in there, and that's starting to go down now.

(on what he contributes to the team not meeting his expectations)

It seems like a bucket load. I think when you have new schemes, one of the things that's important is continuity. You can practice all you want in the offseason and go through the OTAs and even preseason, but there's no substitute to having to go through a regular season and the problems that you face and having to adapt to those problems, having to adjust to those problems. Once again, for whatever reason, we haven't had tremendous continuity with guys doing that. That affects you. It's not an excuse. I'll sit here and say, we haven't done a good enough job, and we've got to do better, but that is part of the issue as far as where we are as a team right now.

(on if he has seen enough of Zach Mettenberger to evaluate him)

Like I said, when we get to the end of the season, we'll have a chance to go back through and make that assessment. Right now it's kind of a moot point. We don't have to make a decision at this point. There's plenty of time, once the season ends, to do that, and I think it's important that you go back through and look at it.

(on if Zach Mettenberger is the kind of quarterback he is looking for)

Obviously, there's all kinds of different things that make quarterbacks successful, and there's all different body types. If you're asking me do I like Zach (Mettenberger's) body type, of course I do. You like tall guys that can throw the football. Mentally, I think he's done a nice job as a rookie to come in against some pretty tough defenses on the road, handling that, handling the protection calls. He's done a nice job. I think one of the things that he has done really well is knowing where his issues are with protection. Those things have been impressive.

(on where a young quarterback's growing pains come from)

I think part of it is understanding what teams are trying to do to you and how you have to counter that or attack them, and also situational football has been one of the things that when you take your chances and when you live to fight another day, those kind of things, but that's all part of a young player learning the position.

(on why pass completions were down against the Giants)

Probably a little bit of everything. We tried to get the ball out quicker early in the game, just from a standpoint of knowing where we were with our injuries, so that probably contributed to it, as well.

(on if it is unfortunate that he has a shorter window of time from which to evaluate Zach Mettenberger)

It's a valid question. I think in some ways, I could say yes to that, that it would have been nice to have seen him in a situation where we had the lead in the fourth quarter like I'd talked about before, or whether it was a tie game and you see how he handled that situation. On the flipside of that, I think there is value in him being in as probably as tough a situation as you could be in and how he handled that. In games where we're trailing, in games where things didn't go well, he did a nice job in a number of areas. Sometimes I think you get stronger when you go through some of those tough times, and he had enough of those this year. Are you going to know about Zach (Mettenberger) for sure until he gets into one of those situations? Probably not, but he has done a number of good things.

(on if they are taking a chance if they choose Zach Mettenberger as the quarterback going forward)

Especially at that position in the league, I don't think there's ever any certainties, as you can tell by the number of top draft choices that haven't made it. If we go that route, if that is our decision, I don't think we'll have any question that we feel like he would be the guy.

(on wanting to see more of Zach Mettenberger while not wanting to aggravate his injury)

That is an important piece of it, not furthering the injury or making it worse. I'm not happy that we aggravated the injury yesterday. I'm disappointed. I should've done a better job of not letting that happen, but those things happen in games. Going forward, I think we are going to be conservative with it to a certain degree, but I think also it's important that he stays in it and tries to get back. That's an important piece of it. There's a legitimate chance that he plays for us again this year. If he has that and he's healthy, we would like to do that, no question.

(on if Zach Mettenberger has the personality to be the face of the franchise and if a quarterback has to have that)

If he shaves, maybe. Does he have that potential? Yeah, I think he does. Do you have to have that? I don't think so. I don't necessarily think that has to be the case. I think that it is a good quality to have.

(on Bishop Sankey's progress despite his statistics)

Good question. I think Bishop (Sankey) has made a few mistakes the last couple of weeks that you would like to see him get past as a young player. Not anything out of the ordinary with a rookie. He is making progress. He's a talented young player, and it's tough. The first year's always tough, especially when you get to this time of the year, because it's a long season. I'm excited about Bishop and what he can do, the things that he brings to the table. I'm hopeful that he'll get an opportunity to get more carries and really get a chance to see what he can do in the next few weeks.

(on where Bishop Sankey's mistakes come from)

I think some of it's because of where we've been as a team, just the way some of these games have gone and the role that he's had to play. Some of the situations that we haven't been able to protect him from because, quite frankly, lack of depth. There was a week where we didn't have any backs, so he had to play more roles than what he was prepared to do, maybe as much as he could have been prepared. That's part of it.

(on if it is necessary to have energetic players on the roster)

I think we have a few fiery, passionate guys. It doesn't always manifest itself in an outwardly emotion, but you can certainly tell it with some of our guys. What I want from our roster is a bunch of competitive guys that work hard, and I think we have a lot of those guys.

(on the organization's standpoint on the allegations against Sammie Hill)

I'm aware of that. I think we'll have something for you later today, as far as a statement about that.

(on Bishop Sankey and his considerations in the run game)

Yeah, no question that's part of it. I think the injuries at tight end, the injuries at line, those have all contributed to that, and I think that you have to be aware of it when you're looking at it. We're not doing that right now.

(on how tough it is to have the progress that he wants when there are so many injuries)

It's certainly hard for, I'm sure, our fans, for you to see that. I think we learn from everything. I think as you look at our season once it's over and you go back you have the video tape where you can talk about specific situations and see where you can get better. I think the biggest thing, once again, is continuity with that group. If you think about where we were against Kansas City and the group we opened with, how many of those guys are playing for us now. The turnover has been pretty significant. Once again, I want to be clear, I'm not trying to make an excuse. We should be better than what we've been doing, but it does affect the progress that you're going to see, because just all that time we invested in over a thousand plays in the camp, those are all gone. Those guys that took most of those reps aren't playing, and we've got some guys, like our right tackle in the game, who have been here three days. There's thousands of hours of work that they've missed out on. That's part of it, but part of being in this league is understanding you have to deal with that, and we haven't dealt with it as well as we could have.

(on the impact on quarterback evaluations if Jake Locker plays well the rest of the season)

Not to dodge that question, I think that's something that we would talk about at the end. It's not something that really you want to think about right now. We've got to focus on playing better. We understand that Jake (Locker) gets an opportunity this week, most likely. We'll see where it goes from there.

(on if he is dodging Zach Mettenberger's injury status)

I'll be honest with you, I'm really not trying to dodge it. I'm telling you right here that I'm hopeful that he'll be back this year. That's what our expectation is. In talking with Todd (Toriscelli) and our doctors, what we talked about today was week-to-week. I'm not going to rule him out until I know for sure that he can't go. I said that it's doubtful that he would go this week, but we'll see as it progresses.

(on if it is frustrating to see a late hit on a quarterback)

That happened in the game, but you'd have to talk to their guys about doing that. They got penalized for it.

(on if he reassures Tommy Smith that things will get better)

Sure you do. Tommy (Smith's) been very supportive. I think one of the things that's impressed me the most about Tommy is his passion for this team and creating the right atmosphere in this city for our fans. We haven't done as good a job of that, so we've had a number of discussions about it. He's not happy, as he shouldn't be happy.

(on his message to the fans)

90 percent of them, it's kind of hard to say anything that's going to convince them different. All I know is that I believe that we're going to do things the right way, and we're going to have success here, and we're committed to doing that. The only way for me, personally, I've been a walk-on in college, a 12th round draft pick in the NFL. I've been able to fight and scratch and have success on those levels. That's all I know. I'm going to do what I've worked hard to do. I'm as disappointed as they are. This is not what we anticipated, but I do believe in what we're doing, and I know that we're going to have success. I feel very good about our ownership and their support, and to me, that's one of the big reasons why I'm here, is because I was impressed with Mr. Smith and his passion for this team and for getting it right.

(on how far away he is from success with this team)

I don't know. The last time I said something about predictions that got brought back up, so I kind of learned my lesson this time. I can tell you we're going to work hard and that we're going to get better.

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