What do you think of the new coaching staff?
They're about one thing: winning. And with that approach, we'll be all right.
They've talked about spreading things out on first down and using four wide receivers with you on early downs. What do you think about that?
I think that will be good for our running game, opening up more holes. It's putting an extra cornerback on the field, so it's an extra fast guy that I have to beat. At the same time, I think that's great.
They've changed the terminology too. Is that tough for you?
It's hard on the running backs, but it's not that hard. They've made it easy for Ben (Roethlisberger) and that's a great thing, and made it harder on everybody else. But it's pretty much the same as last year, just different terminology and word calling and different meaning. Once you learn that concept, you're all right.
You went from being the guy who scored the longest touchdown in Super Bowl history to a guy who set a team record for touchdowns and made the Pro Bowl. Are you starting to get a sense of your place in this league?
I don't look at the records and all of that. I glance at that stuff and say that's what I did, but I've got to keep going and strive to be the best I can possibly be. I'm on a roll. When I'm no longer trying to be great, I guess I'll fall off to be good. That's what I'm going to keep saying, that's my motto. I want to do everything I can to be great. I'm a longshot away from that. The records and accolades that I've gotten so far, are nothing. I've got to keep focused and keep working. I came from nowhere. I don't want to go back. I want to be remembered for something, whether it's with football or something else. I want to be remembered for something. Football is in my corner right now and I want to be the best in football.
Do you still have that chip on your shoulder?
Yeah, I've got to. I came from the bottom and I'm always going to look at that. I do look at myself as a starter now. For a long time I said that I didn't look at myself as a starter, but now I do. Now I've got to prove everybody wrong every year. There's still criticism. "Can he do it again?" Now I'm not hearing can he do it again anymore. Now I'm hearing, which I would ask the question, "Can he keep doing it?" I think the only answer to that question is for me to keep working hard in the offseason, keep working harder and harder. That's what I'm going to keep doing.
So you don't feel like you've arrived?
No. I haven't arrived. I think a lot of people respect me and respect what I do. But for me as a person, I just have to keep working hard.
Do you see yourself stepping into more of a leadership role this year?
If it happens, it happens. Off the field I'm working hard. I've got guys working with me. I've been working out twice a day these past couple of weeks, just working hard. And more guys from the team have been coming with me. That's the kind of leader that I want to be. As far as being a vocal leader, I'm not the type of person to shout and tell people what they should do. But I am trying to get into that mix to help make us better, working out, pushing them running. I think I can be a leader that way.
Are you now more comfortable with your role here, being the main guy?
I don't want to say that. That sounds a little arrogant.
But you don't have to prove to anyone that you can be a No. 1 running back.
No. I''ve got to prove it every year. The thing about this game is that everybody has to prove themselves every year. I think me coming from the bottom, I just got to keep striving to be the best. I'm never going to quit saying that. I'm always going to say I've got to be better than the last year. Last year I rushed for 1,400 yards. But if I rush for 1,200 yards this year, but I do other things better like blocking and things like that, I can still say I got better.
Happy with your first mini-camp?
Very. I thought the energy was impressive. Guys came with a willingness to work and get better. Nobody got hurt. So it was a great mini-camp.
The players had a lot of enthusiasm. Was it because they were starting over and it was new and different?
I'm sure there was some of that. But at the same time, we have to make that our personality. Football is an emotional game played by emotional men. We've got to use that for good.
What was that excitement at the end?
We had a little fun. I let (Jeff) Reed break them down. He's a character. The guys appreciate what he brings to the group from a personality standpoint.
The word in the locker room is that you are in charge. Is that something you've worked hard to establish, or is it something you've just let happen?
It's something that comes with the territory. I don't focus on it, but at the same time, I don't take it for granted. People don't respect titles, ultimately. It's about what you do on a day to day basis. I intend to do that and I expect them to do what they need to do. It's a great start from that standpoint. We're going to have clear, clean communication. That's the basis of any relationship whether I'm dealing with them individually or as a group.
You have some holes to fill and some position battles. Do you envision having that sorted out before training camp, or will you use training camp to do that?
In no way will we have that figured out before camp. Football is a game that's played in pads. It's a physical game. It's a violent game. Sometimes you can get enamored with what somebody is willing to do or capable of doing in shorts. It's a little different when you play the game. We're not going to rush to judgment with these guys or stacking these guys. Yes, you do have to have some sort of depth chart so you know who has to go into the huddle and those things, but we're not going to look too deeply into that. This is a physical game that is played in pads, so it's got to be evaluated in pads.
Alan Faneca not being here was obviously a big story. How much of a problem does it become if he's not here at the next mini-camp?
We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. We have to approach it that way. We've got to focus on the here and now, specifically when it came to this weekend. We wanted to be enthusiastic and honor the guys who chose to be here to get better. We'll worry about that when it happens. We're not going to have any preconceived notions about how that situation is going to develop.
Will you try to reach out to him?
Certainly. That's my job. I'm looking to establish personal relationships with all the guys, Alan included.
Have you talked to him face to face at any time?
What did he express, if anything, about not being here?
We had a personal conversation. I'd like to leave it at that. But it was good. I anticipate us doing that again.
So you knew beforehand that he wasn't going to be here?