Really interesting game for us tonight. Very rarely can you get a W when you don't win the time-of-possession and you lose the turnover battle. I liked the way we smiled in the face of adversity a little bit tonight. Unfortunately some of that adversity we created for ourselves, particularly early on. But I like the way this team fights. They stayed together. They fought through a lot of tough situations, but that's just the nature of football. The more adversity we face, the more I get to know these guys and what they're about. They like to compete. That was a positive, but we've got to do a little better job from a beating-ourselves standpoint. I think if we're going to be a tough team to beat, first and foremost we can't beat ourselves. I thought we started out slow. We were beating ourselves a little bit. Thankfully the defense kept us in it. We had an interception early; we shanked a punt; we came out of that thing and we were down by three. I think once we weathered that storm we were able to move forward. But we'll grow from this experience. Again, it's always great to get a W and we'll move forward. I'll answer any questions.
Was Willie Parker one of the players who came back from adversity, considering the fumble?
You don't like fumbles. You don't like fumbles in the red zone. He's a competitor. Understand it happens. We're not going to accept it. We're going to try to be perfect in that area. We have to be. Up until this point, the preseason games where we were successful, we didn't turn the ball over. Turned the ball over tonight.
You wanted to see Willie run. What were your impressions?
He's a tremendous competitor. I thought he did some good things with the ball in his hands, some open-field running. We got him the ball in the passing game a little bit. He ran hard. He created power. He squeezed through a tight hole there and got us out of a backed-up situation. Willie's a good football player. We all know what he's capable of. I thought it was important though to give him an opportunity to get his feet wet in this preseason and we were able to get that done tonight.
Would you rather see Ben Roethlisberger take a sack than throw an interception?
Of course I'd rather hold onto possession of the ball. But ideally we'd like to get that ball out of our hands and either throw it to somebody on our team or throw it to no one.
What did you think of Dan Kreider's play tonight?
I thought he did some good things. Of course, I'm not going to have a knee-jerk reaction. We'll study the tape in the morning and grade him, but just an overall response for his overall production I thought he did some good things. He caught the ball in the flat and got vertical. He did a nice job on a few isolations on lead plays.
Are you happy with where you are offensively?
We're never going to be satisfied. We're a developing team. Of course we've got to develop quickly. The start of the season's around the corner. I like some of the things we're doing: explosion plays, getting yards in big chunks. Just got to continue to do a better job in situational football – short yardage, red zone and goal line – and we will because we'll identify it as something we need to work on and those guys to this point have done a great job of identifying issues and making them disappear and that's part of being a developing football team.
Did you throw more than you wanted to tonight?
That's just how the game went. They were throwing it a bunch. I don't know exactly how many times we threw the ball but we're not going to get caught up in specifics in terms of short-sightedness, in terms of stats. We're going to try to win football games and at the end of the day we need balance.
How important was it for the offense to rebound?
I just think it's the nature of the game. You fall on your face a little bit, competitors respond. I thought they did that, but more than that I was pleased with the way the defense stood their ground and kept us afloat. They've done that a few times after we've started slow. And that's really the nature of football. Defenses usually develop a little quicker than offenses. They stood their ground; they gave us a shot; they gave us an opportunity to right the ship and we did that. More important than anything else, it wasn't lack of execution, it was just shooting ourselves in the foot, whether it was turning the football over or penalties. I felt we were capable of moving the ball. I think we showed that. Once we stopped beating ourselves then we could get about the business of winning the football game.
Got a couple sacks.
Yes. I think our young guys got a little tired late, but that's also the nature of it. But I was pleased with the pressure, particularly in our sub-package. We were able to get to Donovan (McNabb), specifically early when they were in field-goal range. We pushed them out of field-goal range. I thought that was a big point in the game.
Are the offensive line decisions any more obvious after tonight?
I'm sure that they are. Again, I'm not going to have a knee-jerk reaction without studying the tape but we'll make those decisions and we'll make them quickly here next week and move forward. I think that's just part of where we are right now.
Will you cut Monday?
A few bumps and bruises along the way but I don't think it's anything even noteworthy at this point. I think everyone that had something happen to them in the game came back in some form or fashion. I'm sure something may turn up overnight but nothing really noteworthy.
With the emphasis you put on special teams, are you disappointed in your punt-return team?
Imagine what it would have looked like if we hadn't. No, you know, we're a developing football team and we've got some young men growing in some areas and that's just part of it. We're not going to make any excuses or come up with any grand ideas or reasons why things don't work. Either we perform or we don't. We're going to go back to work and hopefully we'll perform better next week.
Does Cedrick Wilson have a chance to win that job?
Is Santonio Holmes completely ruled out?
No, he is not. He really is not. We had thought about it. We planned to see him tonight, but he was limited a little bit from a health standpoint (hamstring). We thought it was smart not to have him do that and that's why he didn't return tonight.
With a game Thursday, what's your practice schedule this week?
The schedule creates some adversity for us, but we're excited about what we have to do this week. We'll be faced with this same thing later in the year when we go to St. Louis. We'll have a walk-through (Monday), present some base Carolina things to the guys. I think it's prudent not to run them coming off a game, but we do want to get on our feet and look at some of the things they do schematically. Get our juices flowing in terms of that. Come back Tuesday and get what amounts to a combination Wednesday-Thursday in a regular-game week and hit some of the areas that we would hit. And then on our travel day we've got to treat it like a Friday and (then) get some work done on Thursday morning – mock game issues and things like that. Got a good plan. We've got to execute the plan and make it happen, and more importantly than that we've got to produce results on Thursday.
If you had to start he season tomorrow, would you guys be ready?
No, we're not ready. We're not ready. There's a lot of improvement for us.
How about you, Willie? Are you ready?
You had some nice runs tonight.
I did but can't fumble. You know that. I can't fumble. Running backs don't want to fumble. That's unacceptable.
You had a nice hole on that first down from the 1, but it was play-action.
I know, and that was part of the problem. I just knew there was going to be a big hole again, so … so, I was in the process of jumping overtop and I've got to make my decision a little faster. They made a good hit. I give their defense a lot of credit.
Weren't both fullbacks really popping people?
I noticed that, and they played very well. They won't let anyone get a hit in the backfield on me. Carey and Danny, they really were going out there and hitting guys in the mouth.
We could hear it, but it may have been from the field mikes. Could you?
Even the one they called holding on Carey, Carey got a great hit on him and I saw it. I'm running the ball and I'm like wow, so I had to hurry up and make my decision. I was following him so I chose to go outside of him. They called holding on him. I thought that was a horsecrap call.
Are you getting more receiving action than last year?
I expect to get more passes. I'm in the passing game a lot more this year. Wait and see how that works out.
Didn't you run 60 yards on that one catch?
Yeah, I was in another world then. I was in a zone – 60 yards for about a 10-yard gain.
You probably won't play next week. Do you have enough work in?
Got to go at practice, man.
We had an opportunity to put that game away in the first half at some point. The goal-line play was disappointing. To be on the one-yard line, not get it in and fumble it, it's very disappointing.
It looked like you could've scored on the first-down play before the fumble.
Yeah I know. I think maybe that's why they wanted to run the same play next. The only thing, we had a bit of a missed call on the second play but these things happen.
Is there ever a groan in the huddle when it's first-and-1 and they call a pass play?
I don't know about a groan. You're just in there saying you want to get it in. From a fullback's perspective, you want to be physical and knock it in from the running standpoint, but a touchdown's a touchdown in my book.
It looks like a fierce battle between you and Davis and you're both playing so well. Do you feel the heightened urgency yourself?
Yeah, I think that in this business you've got to use every day to go out there and play well and play hard and hope that you're doing enough that they want to keep you around for it. Yeah, the urgency's there. I'm just trying to embrace it and do well.
You could hear both of you popping the pads.
Yeah, that's what you're called to do I guess. I've been trying to do it a while and hopefully they want to keep me around for that.
That 22-yard reception was explosive wasn't it?
Your word not mine. No comment as far as explosive plays.
Was it important to show them that?
I guess. They've seen me through this preseason. I can catch the ball. They know I can catch the ball. Just haven't had the opportunity in some games here. We just ran a lot more two-back sets tonight. It's good to get an opportunity like that and show you can do it in a game.
Have you shown enough to be the starting fullback?
I don't know. I'm the wrong guy to be asking that. I've had some good plays and bad plays. It's not my decision.
The defense seems to be coming along pretty well, isn't it?
Yeah I think we're clicking pretty well.
Is it where you should be at this stage of the season?
I'm not sure.
Are you ahead of the game or not?
I think we've been pretty successful, but it's always tough when offenses start game-planning for us. It could be a whole different story. It could be even better for us or better for them.
Do you have a bunch of other stuff in store?
I think in game-planning, yeah, we'll have some stuff, but we've pretty much installed our whole defense in camp and then we're out there running everything that we always ran.
How is the quarter defense coming along with Keisel standing up and all of that?
I don't know if we've run too much of that out there. I guess I haven't watched film. Sorry. Have you seen a lot of that?
At times. A lot of times he'll stand up, walk around and get back in his three-point stance. So are you guys holding some of that back?
I think so.
What about playing with the free safeties? Are you settling in with Ryan since it looks like he's the guy?
Whoever they have out there is going to be a great combination. Obviously Ryan's a great safety.