Q: The season's about half over and you've been able to stay in the lineup. Do you feel like you're back to the level you were before you were hurt last year?
A: I don't know. I really don't know. I think our defense has played well to this point of the season, but you know we're barely to the halfway point. It's tough saying this early.
Q: But how would you assess your own play?
A: I think there are a lot of opportunities for me to make plays personally in games that I didn't make. It had nothing to do with anything physical. It was just, maybe, second-guessing myself a little bit too much. But other than that we're 5-2.
Q: Do you feel that way about the New Orleans game?
A: Yeah, definitely. I feel there were some plays there that I wish I could have back.
Q: Were you just late on the ball? Or reading something that wasn't there?
A: More or less knowing something and not taking advantage of that. There were a couple plays I felt I had a good feel for but I didn't make.
Q: That said, you looked faster. Have you been progressing physically?
A: I feel good. I feel great, as good as I felt going into last year.
Q: Have you heard anything out of New York concerning James Harrison's meeting with the commissioner?
A: I didn't know that he went up there.
Q: It was for a clarification and explanation of what the league wants. Do you feel there's still some confusion about what they want?
A: No. I don't think there's any confusion. I just think the problem is that they're wrong.
Q: Care to expand on that? What are they wrong about?
A: I don't care to expand on that.
Q: Do you think the players need protection?
A: You're being a good reporter. You're trying to go in the back door now. Um, do players need more protection? I don't know. I think in certain instances, yeah, but I don't think you can just completely make every type of hit obsolete, from horse-collar tackling to, well, whatever type of tackling it is. You just can't control some of these factors, like what James did. The problem is if I'm aiming for his chest, and he lowers his head, that shouldn't be a fineable hit.
Q: Would you have liked the opportunity that James got yesterday, to talk to the commissioner about it?
A: No. Nah, sometimes I think it just falls on deaf ears. I think a lot of players have said a lot of things, and I guarantee he heard everything everybody said. But he's got all the power, and that may be part of the problem, that there needs to be some type of separation of power, like our government. There should be some type of players involved and decisions into how much people should be fined, or what they should be fined for, as well as coaches, as well as front-office people. I don't think it should be just totally based on what two or three people say who are totally away from the game. I think it should be some of the players that are currently playing.
Q: Since the edict came down, have you ever thought once about pulling away from making a big hit?
Q: Is there a certain level of paranoia not only for people watching the game but for the officials who feel they need to throw the flag?
A: I don't know about the referees' decisions, but there's definitely a paranoia that's unneeded. Just because we had that big weekend a few weekends ago, which were, somebody said, five hits out of a thousand. Yeah, I think there is too much paranoia. It's football, you know. If people want to watch soccer they should watch soccer. But honestly, overseas, when people are attracted to this game, they're going to see the big hits. They're not going to care about touchdowns and different things, so you're also taking a part of what attracts people to this game.
Q: Are you surprised at the Bengals' poor record? And what's your take on the way they're playing offensively?
A: I didn't go into the season having any high expectation for any other team than ourselves. Of course they're extremely talented. They've been in every game. You'd think they'd have a better record but sometimes things just don't fall your way, as we learned last year.
Q: Do you know a lot about Carson Palmer from having played with him in college and playing against him so much? Do you feel you have a pretty good read on him?
A: No, not any more than any other quarterback. But being familiar with their offense, yeah, we have a good feel for them as much as they have a good feel for us and our defense.
Q: You've had some success against him over the years. Hasn't it been an advantage to you?
A: It's gone both ways. They've taken advantage of us as well.
Q: (Question about instincts:)
A: No. I don't think so. I did give up one big play on the sidelines, but there were a couple plays that I instinctually felt that I knew I had but I didn't take advantage of them and in my opinion they would've been game-changing plays where I was like, ‘Man, I knew that play. I should've done something about it.' But that's also going maybe a little bit outside the defense and expecting a little bit more of myself than I should as well.
Q: Who's more fun to guard, and who's harder to guard, Chad Ochocino or Terrell Owens?
A: Well, neither of them are fun. They're both talented. T.O.'s a downfield guy who's extremely strong. Chad is a precision route runner. But so is (Jordan) Shipley. He's an excellent wide receiver, and they're talented, as so is (Jermaine) Gresham. He's a great tight end as well.
Q: Do you like talking with wide receivers?
A: It doesn't really matter to me. I don't really talk too much anyway. People don't really talk to us too much because we've got guys like James Harrison on our team. You don't want to get him too excited.
Q: Did you see the Halloween spoof on James on one of the pre-game shows?
A: I heard about it. Somebody told me how funny it was.
Q: You were a little feisty with Julius Jones. What was that about?
A: It's an old Notre Dame-USC thing (laughs).
Q: You were kind of hard on yourself after the game, after reviewing it do you have the same opinion?
A: Definitely. You know, you can look at it from one perspective, from a fan's perspective, you can look at it from your perspective as a reporter, and even a coach's perspective may be different. A lot of the times, you can be in the right spot and you can be within the scheme of the defense, but in my own mind when I know something's going to happen, and don't take advantage, that's what's really disappointing to me. And maybe I would only know those types of things. But, yeah, there were those types of opportunities in the game that I didn't take advantage of.
A: Those were just me getting beat. But there is, in my mind, plays that I knew were coming that I just didn't react fast enough to.
Q: You didn't jump them? Or you just got there a little late?
A: I didn't jump them like I thought I should.
Q: Anything off the top of your head?
A: Well, in case we run into them again I would keep that to myself.
Q: When you feel this way about your performance, do you usually bounce back right away in the next outing?
A: I don't know. Honestly, I couldn't tell you how many games, or too many games, that I've walked away actually satisfied with my performance. As I explained to you guys before, in my mind I feel like there are more plays out there that I should make, and this was not the only game that I felt that way. But I felt that in this game those plays probably would've been a little bit more important.
Q: Was the last Notre Dame-USC game the last game you walked away satisfied?
A: (Laughs) Yeah, actually I was. But it was a while ago.