The Pittsburgh Steelers look primed to face the Baltimore Ravens in the wild card matchup on Saturday at Heinz Field. Steelers coordinators Todd Haley and Dick LeBeau highlighted the team’s readiness, key players and questions about the Ravens on Thursday in their weekly press conference.
DC Dick LeBeau Post-Practice Interview – Thursday, January 1, 2015
How gratifying was it to see your young secondary players step up last week vs. Cincinnati?
They had a good game. They had three significant turnovers. Good to see them play well. We have to get better. We can’t afford any mistakes now. They’ve grown, they’ve worked hard (and) we’re in the right direction. We’ll keep working.
Does Joe Flacco throw the deep ball about as good as anybody?
I don’t think there’s any question about that. He can throw it as far as he wants to. He’s got a different style of ball that he throws deep depending on what he sees coverage wise. He’s as good with the deep ball as anybody.
Are you anticipating Troy Polamalu playing?
Will he be able to play?
I think he will. Yes.
Is there any difference in what you get out of Will Allen than Troy Polamalu?
(Laughing) Well there’s only one Troy Polamalu. But Will Allen is a very good football player. He had a great game last week. (It) was one of his better games he’s had for us, but he always plays well. I think with both in there we have some good safeties.
Re: Brice McCain’s progression:
You can see it on the field. He’s getting better (and) a lot better every week. He’s not a brand new player. He’s been in the league. He’s a veteran player but he’s played really well for us particularly down the stretch here. That wasn’t his first interception. I remember him scoring with a pick when we needed it (and) kind of sealed the game. But he’s done a great job without a doubt.
Re: Polamalu, Ike Taylor, James Harrison and Brett Keisel and do you think that this may be the last game that those four are all together as players at Heinz Field:
I wouldn’t even want to speculate on that. Just go one game at a time. One thing is for sure in every roster in the NFL every year that you go out there the last game is going to be the last game that that group of men is together because there are going to be changes. As a direct answer to your question I wouldn’t even want to guess on that.
How do you juggle Sean Spence, Vince Williams and Ryan Shazier at the inside linebacker position opposite of Lawrence Timmons?
I think it’s a good situation for us to have enough people to go in there to keep everybody a little bit fresh. Therefore more energy and you’re going to be a better football player in those circumstances. Sometimes you don’t have the luxury to do that, but these guys are getting healthy at the right time and it’s helped us down the stretch.
Is Shazier getting close to the form that he was in early in the season?
I think so. Yeah. I think he’s moving real well. I think the speed and quickness is right where it should be.
What kind of talent does Justin Forsett (of the Ravens) possess and how much did you know of him before this season?
I didn’t know much about him to be totally honest with you. We’ve seen the other guy all last year but he’s definitely taking over as the No. 1 guy. They still run the other two backs. He’s extremely quick. He makes a lot of people miss and he makes them miss in tight quarters. That’s the thing you see, and you see he’s got that burst. You don’t have to block anybody for him. He can create a lot of space for himself. But I think they lead the league in what we call splash plays or plays over a certain amount of yardage, and he’s one of the big reasons that they do. He’s been a great player for them.
Were you completely satisfied with your defensive backs eliminating the big plays vs. Cincinnati or were there still some errors there?
Well a coach is never completely satisfied. That’s not our business. Our business is getting better. But if you look at the stretch run that this team has made you’ll find that the big plays have by in large gone away. That’s enabled us to stay in games and win games. We’re going to have to continue to do that. Am I satisfied? No. We have to get better.
What has Jarvis Jones given you since he’s been back?
He’s getting better every day and feeling more and more at home. Jarvis is going to be a very good NFL football player. Very good. He’s just back picking it up. At the end of last year he was starting to impact games pretty regularly and he’s going to get back to that level, in my mind, without a doubt.
Re: (LeBeau) saying back in May that some of the answers at cornerback may be in the building and was Antwon Blake one of the players that you were talking about then:
I knew Blake had tremendous speed and quickness and I knew Brice had that. I had seen Brice a little bit. Athleticism is something that you need at that position and you never know how players are going to play but I could see that athletically these guys could compete. They’ve done a great job for us.
OC Todd Haley Post-Practice Interview – Thursday, January 1, 2015
Re: Le’Veon Bell possibly playing Saturday:
I am trying not to worry about it a whole bunch. We are preparing as if we aren’t going to have him. So if we have him we know we could handle that. It’s more a matter of getting these other guys ready and being ready to go.
Do you have to see him practice at all to play or could he play without practicing?
I think he could. I don’t know if he could go in and execute everything but he would be able to handle a bunch.
Has Ben Tate picked things up pretty quickly?
Yeah. You can tell he has been in the league. Teams use different words and terminology but they mean the same thing. He is in the translation period of ‘this means that’ and ‘that means this.’
Does the offense change in the least with Le’Veon out or is it different parts combining to do what he does?
I think it’s not just one guy coming in and doing what he does. I think it’s a group effort, and that includes other positions. That would be too much to put on any one guy what Le’Veon has given us through the course of this season.
Re: Still having weapons on offense if Le’Veon doesn’t play and being okay:
I would hope so, through the evolution of the season guys have been developing, young guys and new guys that we would be. You don’t want to ever have to deal with it but I would say we are probably better equipped.
Re: Having a cohesive and healthy offensive line:
Good offensive football starts up front. When you are not interchanging parts on a weekly basis it does nothing but help you. The way those guys communicate, the extra work they are putting in together as a group, and it’s hard to put a price tag on it, so to speak. The more guys together the better. That being said, there are a couple of times this year when we have lost a guy and guys have been ready, whether it was Mike Adams or Cody Wallace. They have stepped in and played at a high level for us. Depth and continuity is a great thing.
Re: Mike Munchak’s impact:
He’s a great coach. He is great at what he does. I said it when we hired him. Nobody was more excited than me, because on top of that he is a good person. Our staff got better. Our staff meetings got better. The more good coaches you can have the better. He is obviously a good one, and the stability and confidence he has given to that group has been great.
Are offensive linemen generally the tightest group among teammates?
I would say that, generally speaking. They run in a big pack. They eat together. They do everything together for the most part, at least everywhere I’ve been. This group is no different. They are led by Maurkice Pouncey, and you can’t have more energy on a daily basis than he has. It’s a good combination.
Re: Those guys maturing together:
There were a lot of young guys that came in at the same time, high pedigree guys for the most part that have had a chance now to be together for two, three or four years. They are being coached by a great coach who sees the big picture, not just with his group. It’s a good combination. I think that’s why we are seeing good results.
How will the game plan be affected this week?
We will try not to let it affect us a whole bunch. We have a quarterback that is a mudder, so to speak, that can play in all conditions. He has proven that over time. It’s just a matter of coaching the guys are making sure everybody understands the focus that is required, whether you are running the ball, throwing the ball or catching the ball.
Re: Ben getting the ball out early and if that has helped avoid the pas rush.
I would like to think so. I think that Ben has done as good a job as anyone in the league in getting rid of the ball fast and in a timely manner. That’s important too. It’s tied with the guys going out on their pass routes that they have a sense of urgency and they win in a timely manner. That allows him to anticipate, get the ball out and make good decisions. It is one thing getting it out fast, it’s another making a good decision and throwing it to the right spot. He has been as good as anybody in the league in my opinion in doing that. At the same time we’ve been able to block for him and get the ball down the field when we want to. Again, it’s kind of the balance you are looking for.
Does Dri Archer get more reps in the passing game like Le’Veon since Le’Veon is so instrumental in the passing game?
I think we will do a little bit of everything. It will just be a little bit here and there that again will try to take up some of the slack that would be there if Le’Veon isn’t able to go.
Is Dri getting more comfortable?
Yeah. I think he is developing no different than any other young guy that has come into the mix this year. His has been a lack of opportunity as much as anything else. When you are out here on a daily basis and you see him working, you know he has good weeks on top of good weeks. There just haven’t been a lot of opportunities in game situations. And when he has, things haven’t gone maybe exactly the way that we had planned, so maybe a little snake bit at the same time. He is a smart guy that is working hard, and he understands the process. He has been biding his time. I am sure if he gets more opportunities he will be looking forward to taking advantage of them.
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