BB: We made one roster move. We signed Kole Ayi, the linebacker from UMASS so we will try to get him ready. Had a couple of things come up yesterday in practice Matt Chatham and Je'Rod Cherry both had their legs tighten up on them a little bit and Ted Johnson hurt his knee so we are going to have to add those guys to the injury report and just update it later on as we get a little more information.
Yesterday we talked a lot about the offensive players at St. Louis and they are certainly worthy of a lot of conversation. Just thinking about it a couple of things that I didn't mention yesterday I will throw out to you today would be, number one, the coaching there. I think that Mike [Martz] has really done a tremendous job of being able to utilize the talent and be able to get everybody performing at a very high level of efficiency. A lot of times you see players some guys are more productive than others and it kind of goes up and down a little bit. I think the one thing about St. Louis over the last three years is that you can kind of see the real balance that they have in their production. Whether it be [Az-Zahir] Hakim or [Ricky] Proehl or [Torry] Holt, [Isaac] Bruce, the running game, the passing game. They ran for whatever it was, 350 yards last week. Whether it is [Trung] Canidate or [Marshall] Faulk or [Ernie] Conwell, to be able to balance all of that off and utilize them and get production out of everybody and make the defense defend everybody and really establish a role, I think he has done a terrific job with that. Defensively, just going back and looking at the Carolina game again, it is about as good as you can play defensively. They really bottled them up. I think that the St. Louis defense is a good, solid group. They have, again as I said, a lot of speed on defense, but they also play very well and the scheme of course is the Tampa Bay scheme. The defensive backs do a good job in coverage. They have a lot of speed up front in their pass rushers and they put a lot of pressure on you. It is a good solid effort. I think that they might get a little overshadowed by the offensive group, but this is a pretty good defensive team too.
Q: The Buffalo defense did a good job against your wide receivers, does St. Louis have the personnel to do the same thing?
BB: Totally different game. I don't think that St. Louis plays one coverage that Buffalo plays and I don't think Buffalo plays one coverage that St. Louis plays. Night and day, both good schemes, but they are coming from two different directions. I can't imagine St. Louis really defending us like Buffalo did and at the same time I could never imagine Buffalo defending us like St. Louis will. They are coming from opposite ends of the philosophical spectrum.
Q: What did Buffalo do?
BB: They did a good job. They did a good job. They played well. They mixed things up and the caught us in some things that didn't match up very well and their players played well. They tackled well, they rushed the passer well and they did enough in coverage to make us hold the ball and pull it down and the pass rush got to us a few. That is their system, but they played it well.
Q: How are they at opposite ends of the spectrum, in terms of pressure or…?
BB: I would say that probably St. Louis' lead coverage would be cover two, Buffalo does not play cover two. They have not played it all year. I don't think they are going to start playing it this week and I don't think St. Louis is going to stop playing it. So there is one big difference right there.
Q: In terms of your receivers who may be overshadowed, the last couple of years Troy [Brown] has been piling up not only the catches, but the yardage. Is that development on his part or how he is utilized in the scheme?
BB: Troy is just a good football player and anytime you have a good football player you want to get the ball in his hands. That has been an emphasis for us from, I think if you go all the way back to last year even the first game where he ran a reverse against Tampa and returned punts for us, he is a productive guy, you just want to get the ball in his hands.
Q: Is he doing more with it now after the catches?
BB: I don't know, he has been pretty good with it before, he has been pretty good. His strength has always been his quickness, his overall balance, he is a tough guy to tackle, he can make people miss. Even guys that have a shot at him he can run through those tackles because he has good leg strength and good balance and he has been able to be productive after the catch and on returns and reverses and those kinds of things. I think those are real strengths for him, they have been strengths and they continue to be. I don't really think, Troy is a good football player, but I thought that two years ago and we signed him last year to a contract that would keep him here and we thought that was an important move for a lot of reasons, but he has continued to show why we have a lot of confidence in him and why he is a threat with the ball.
Q: Since he is a local guy can you talk about Ayi and what you saw in him?
BB: We liked him coming out of college. I think, I don't know, I would say that he is probably UMASS's all-time leading tackler or something like that. He has almost 500 tackles in college. Very productive player, a fast guy. I think he was a high school track, state champion type of guy, which is unusual for a linebacker, for a guy to run that well. He is a little undersized for the linebacker position, but in terms of the kicking game he really kind of fits the bill and we have had a couple of injuries that have affected us on special teams and our expectation is to try to get him ready to play for us in the kicking game more so than as a lot of playing time as a defensive linebacker, but that would be his first role. We saw him preseason and thought he did a good job and we have kind of had our eye on him, but we just haven't had the roster spots and other guys have been here and now we have a couple of injuries and some things have opened up and that was kind of the process.
Q: Can you get him ready in time for Sunday?
BB: Well we are going to try, yeah we will try.
Q: Was the fact that he was with the Rams earlier did, that factor into this at all?
BB: No, no, no.
Q: How serious is the Ted Johnson injury?
BB: I don't know. We will just have to wait and see. It is questionable for the game so we will just have to monitor it as we go through, usually takes 24 to 48 hours to see where we are at so we will have a little better idea as we get to the end of the week. I mean if we have to downgrade him or upgrade him then we will do that later in the week.
Q: What do you do with that spot? Do you move Tedy Bruschi over?
BB: Yeah Bruschi and [Roman] Phifer will both have to take some reps and of course Larry [Izzo] can play in there as well. If we have a two-linebacker set then Larry would be able to play it.
Q: Might this more of a game for Larry given his speed and Ted isn't really someone who is going to be running around covering guys, is this a spot for Larry maybe to play more?
BB: Well I don't know, we will see where Ted is at. Ted is a good football player, he has played well for us, but so is Tedy and Larry is a guy that, he stepped in for Zach [Thomas] a couple of times last year in Miami. So we know that those guys, if they are called on, we expect them to step up and if need be that is what we will ask them to do.
Q: How did Drew [Bledsoe] look yesterday?
BB: Well we will evaluate everybody at the end of the week, we'll evaluate Drew at the end of the week. I am not going to do it play by play.
Q: It seems like you are increasingly in a bind without a tight end to rely on, is there anything during this season that you can do to give yourself an additional threat?
BB: I think unfortunately you have described it pretty accurately. You can just go down the stat sheet and see the guys that are getting the ball and guys who have made plays and it is a fairly short list. We have got to try to either get a little bit more production from somebody else or find ways to keep getting the production that we have gotten from the people that have given it to us. I think everybody that we play recognizes the same thing. We have got certain playmakers who are the key playmakers and if they can take them down then force somebody else to beat them that is probably what they are going to do. I think that is one way to look at it. I think the other way to look at it is the running game versus the passing game and if we can run the ball then that will force more people down and will open up some opportunities for us to throw it and vice versa. To me I think if we can continue to manage the run/pass ratio and the production in the running game and the passing game regardless of who the passing yardage is going to I think we will still be okay if we can keep the running game going. If we have to do one or the other then I think it will be not that hard to defend.
Q: Can [Arther] Love factor in at all? I mean he was a project when you took him?
BB: Right. He has got a long way to go. You are talking about a guy that played at a small school, that played in a wishbone offense, that hasn't had any mini camp, training camp, he has only practiced for a couple of weeks and I think for him realistically to step in and be a contributor this year would be stretching it pretty far.
Q: Is there any interest in [Pete] Mitchell?
BB: Not right now, yeah, not right now.
Q: Did Ted [Johnson] twist it, bang it, how did it happen?
BB: He hurt it.
Q: So I can assume the decision on Drew being two or three will be after Friday's practice?
BB: Right, right. We are not going to do it play by play. 'Gee that was a great pass let's make him two, that wasn't a good one let's go with…' you know we will wait until we get through…you know we practiced on regular first down stuff yesterday, we will do some third down stuff today, some red area tomorrow, take a look at things at the end of the week and make a decision.
Q: Is that pretty much the way it is going to be throughout the year?
BB: That is the way it is this week. We will talk about it next week.
Q: Do you think Damien Woody has a shot at the Pro Bowl this year?
BB: I don't know. Those Pro Bowl questions are tough questions because I just don't get to see all the teams play. Really, I am not trying to give you the run around on it, but there are a lot of teams in the AFC that we don't see play because if they are not on our schedule we might catch them against another common opponent, but you are not really looking at Baltimore's center or Oakland's center or Kansas City's center, you are trying to look at more the scheme and that type of thing. The only thing I could to would be to compare him against the guys that you get a better look at. Guys like [Kevin] Mawae and [Tim] Ruddy and guys like that that we are in direct competition with twice a year or even once a year if it is a guy like [Tom] Nalen. There are some good centers in the AFC and there is some good competition there and then there are some other guys that I haven't even seen play, but…
Q: How does Woody stack up against those guys?
BB: Well I think those guys are pretty good. I think those three guys…Mawae is pretty good, Ruddy is pretty good, Nalen is pretty good, so how the votes would come in, I don't know. I think that there are still some areas of Damien's game that he needs to improve on. I think he does some things well, but there are still some things that could be upgraded. Speaking of centers I think that we are seeing another pretty good one this week too, not that he is in the NFC Pro Bowl race, but Andy McCollum is a good solid guy for them. I think the St. Louis line is a little bit underrated, certainly not with [Orlando] Pace, I think we all know about him, but [Adam] Timmerman, [Tom] Nutten and McCollum they overall do a pretty solid job in there. Andy is a guy that…one of the kind of guys that I like. We signed him in Cleveland. He played at Toldeo, played in the Arena League and some other league, but he was on the practice squad and then New Orleans signed him off of our practice squad and he kind of sat down there for a year and then started playing and has gone on to have a real good career, a kind of Keenan McCardell type guy. I think there are a lot of good players at that position. I think what you are basically seeing is you're basically seeing teams taking the best players and put them at tackle and then the next best inside players are going at center. Overall there is probably more quality at the center position, I am talking about league-wide now, overall more quality at the center position then there is at the guard position.
Q: In the Atlanta game he pretty much handled [Keith] Brooking for the majority of the game and on your pitch plays he is the one on the edge sealing off the outside?
BB: Damien does that well. Well you will see, well you will never see Denver do it but that is something that the Jets do a lot of with Kevin and Miami doesn't do it much because that is just not their scheme, but I think what you are seeing is there are very few teams that play the defensive tackle head up the center. So you either have got one or two choices, either the center has to block the guy, if you are running to the right the center has to block the guy who is already lined up over there to the right which is a tough block or somebody has to block down on that guy. Like the guard would have to block down on that guy and then the center would have to pull around and take the guy that the guard would usually get. If you can't make that block then you can't run to the right. In other words if the center can't reach the guy to his right or if the center can't pull around and let the guard block down and the center can't pull around and get the ball you can't run the ball. So that is a problem. Now guys like Nalen and guys like Ruddy are quick enough to reach that guy front side and not pull and then there are other players like Damien and he is very good at pulling where you can block down and then Mawae and those kind of guys, Dermotti Dawson was another one at Pittsburgh that did a lot of that, could pull around the corner and make that block and as an ex-center I have a real appreciation because I couldn't make either one of those blocks. But I think that is where that center position is really a critical position for every team in the National Football League because the guy is so seldom on the center, head up, he is offset into the gap and unless the center can get him then you are always a guy short on that side of the play. You either get them by pulling around or you get them by reaching