Q: What might you have learned from Scott Pioli during his time?
NC: Scott hired me back in June 2001, so obviously he had a lot of experience - just how to approach it day-to-day. Scott's a very meticulous, very detailed oriented person and I think those are qualities, departmentally, that we've tried to keep in place with the things that we do. Scott worked hard at his job, he's really smart, so you just try to observe and watch people in position and try to do the right things along the way. Whomever you work for, you always take a little bit of everybody with you and you try to utilize different things along the way. But I would say I learned quite a bit from Scott and it was a great experience working for him [and] got a ton of respect for him. He gave me an opportunity, so I'm certainly thankful for that.
Q: Did you scout Tyler Palko?
NC: Yeah,we sure did. He was a real productive player at Pittsburgh and actually, he and [Joe] Flacco, their careers sort of crossed paths at Pittsburgh and Flacco ended up transferring to Delaware - not exactly sure what the circumstances where, but Palko stayed and Flacco went to Delaware. Tyler was a productive player. He's kind of been patient and waited for his opportunity. He's been in the league since 2007 and he's been with a few different teams. He's been with New Orleans, he had a short stint with Arizona during the offseason and he's been with Kansas City. There's one other team that he was with along the way that kind of escapes me right now. But, he's a smart player, really competitive, football was really important to him coming out. He was kind of a football junkie, football nerd. He's stuck around and teams have kept him around. He played well in the preseason for them and I think he completed over 60 percent of his passes in preseason. He runs the offense, accurate with the football, can get rid of it [and] has an understanding of what they're trying to do. I think they would expect him to come in and not really change too much with what they did with Matt [Cassel]. He's obviously left handed, there's a couple of things that are different, but I think they have a lot of confidence in both he and [Ricky] Stanzi that they're going to be able to both run their offense effectively because he's shown the ability to do that at least in the preseason and towards the end of the game last week when he was inserted into the lineup.
Q: Can you talk about
NC: Jeff was a player who had some injury issues his senior year at Iowa. He was slowed a little bit his senior year, but he was on the field. He was productive in their defense - was a smart player, pretty instinctive, ran well. Like I said, he just kind of had his season short-changed a little bit. He came into camp and was making some progress and then he got stalled there a little bit along the way, but he played and started, played in the kicking game for us when he finally got on the field. He played about, I want to say, 15-20 snaps defensively. I think he, along with a lot of other players, made the most of their opportunities. Hopefully, he can learn from what happened during the game on Sunday and make some of the corrections and try to improve and get ready for the next opponent.
Q: How did you think
NC: I think he played the whole game, I think he played all 72 plays - there were some plays that were better than others. The reality is there's things that are specific to, let's say corner or safety, but the defensive backs in general, I would say the skill sets are fairly similar with a little bit of carryover - just in terms of understanding a defense, seeing the field. He played star, he played the nickel position during the preseason for the Raiders, primarily played corner. Even when we had [Eugene] Wilson back there a few years ago - Eugene had never played safety at all. He was a corner in college but was a pretty smart, pretty instinctive player that ran well and he made the transition fairly smooth. I'm not saying Sterling is Eugene Wilson, but I think there are examples of players on our team or even in the league if you look at Charles Godfrey who played corner in college for Iowa is playing safety for Carolina - Tyvon Branch [Oakland Raiders]. There are examples of players that maybe they played corner, but end up making a position switch to safety. I think it depends on some things maybe you're doing defensively. Just in terms of carry over, really I tell the players you have to be prepared for anything, whatever the coaches ask you to play. Then you go ahead and try to execute whatever you're being asked to do. I think there are some things that he can improve upon and we'll see how it goes. He hung in there for the most part during the game.
Q: Bill Belichick mentioned that a
NC: There are a lot of people that had their hand, probably the least of which are myself or Bill for that matter, but there's a lot of people that had their hand in getting him ready between the trainers and the doctors and really Marcus himself. He's done everything that he's been asked to do; he's controlled the things that he's controlled. This is a player that we liked coming out of TCU [Texas Christian University]. A big guy, he's athletic and like we talked about back with the draft, football was kind of the least important thing at the time. The most important thing was for him to get healthy and we're at that point. We'll add him to the mix, we'll put him on the roster and he'll be no different than any other player. We'll ask him to do the same things that everybody else does - work on his techniques, work on his fundamentals, improve as a player, prepare to play. When is he going to play, when is that opportunity going to come? Nobody really knows at this point, but expectation is that he comes in, works hard, prepares to play, and does his job. It really speaks volumes to him as a person and the doctors and the time that they've invested. It's a credit to Marcus and I think there are a lot of people that are happy for him and look forward to working with him here in the future.