BB: Closing up the week here on Pittsburgh. Been a long week, it's been a good week. [We] can always use the extra time to prepare for the Steelers - they do a lot of things that are tough for us to prepare for. Looking forward to getting back on the field. It's been a good, productive week. It's good to see some of the guys out there that we haven't seen for a little while. Hopefully we'll be able to tie up a few loose ends today and be ready to go on Sunday.
Q: There was a report that just popped up that you released Leigh Bodden.
BB: We don't have any announcements to make right now.
Q: Can you talk about the importance of assessing the conditions of Heinz Field given how tough it is to play there anyway, but how tough it can be for kickers and the passing game depending on the conditions? Do you do any extra work in assessing what they're like on game day?
BB: We do that every game. We try to familiarize ourselves with all the things that pertain to the game -the lights, the wind, the sun, the field, their 40-second clock, the scoreboard, all those things. That's part of every game's preparation. We played there last year. We play on grass, every day so I don't think it's that big a deal.
Q: Can you talk about Leigh Bodden's play from the beginning of the year to what you see going forward?
BB: No, I think we'll skip that one for right now.
Q: Have you reached a decision with some of the PUP list players?
BB: No we haven't yet. We'll see how it goes today here. We still have a little time to do that. It's good to have them out there. I think they're definitely getting there. We'll see what decisions we feel like are best for our matchup this week.
Q: In the case of Marcus Cannon, is there anything in particular that made you comfortable with taking him knowing his diagnosis?
BB: We looked at the whole total package, the whole situation - the person, the player, the medical situation and based on all the things that came together around that then we made our decision to select him in the fifth round.
Q: With treatments and things like that, what has he been able to do?
BB: He's had some limitations but he's done what he can do. Whatever he's been cleared to do, he has done. Of course, this is the first week he could work out on the field and do anything but as far his conditioning and running and lifting, those kinds of things, the things that he was able to do, he worked at and he did.
Q: As a coach, you've probably seen a ton of situations. How unique is this one?
BB: Unfortunately I've dealt with a few other similar situations to this. It's obviously a difficult situation for anybody to be in, let alone a football player. I think Marcus has handled it with great maturity. He's a very focused individual that met the challenge head-on and never looked for any sympathy or 'woe is me' type of syndrome. He did what he had to do, he attacked it head-on. It looks like he's done very well with it. I think he's certainly earned a lot of respect and admiration from everybody in the organization, certainly myself. Unfortunately we've dealt with situations like this before: John Tuggle, Dan Lloyd, Karl Nelson, Doug Kotar. Guys like that that have had different things. You hate to see that for anybody but some guys did well, some guys are able to come back, some guys unfortunately weren't.
Q: Devin McCourty said yesterday that the extra day of practice this week doesn't really mean anything unless you go out each day and attack it. Do you think the team has used the extra day of practice to its advantage?
BB: Yeah, well time is no good if you waste it. Time is an opportunity and if you utilize it well and you get something out of it then it's productive. If you don't, then it's a waste of time. I feel like overall our team came back with a good level of energy on Tuesday and Wednesday practices. I don't have any complaints or any issues with what they've done. I think that they're trying to get ready to go. Hopefully we'll be there.
Q: With Ras-I Dowling coming out of the draft, there were some health questions about him his senior year and now the way it's been, has that been frustrating for you to deal with? How is he dealing with it?
BB: I'd say that really none of the questions from last year are related to this year but it's still affected his ability to be on the field. Of course, every player wants to be out there and as a coach you want every player out there. It hasn't been easy for him; it hasn't been easy for anybody. I think he's tried and worked really hard, as has the medical staff and everybody else. We'll see how it goes here.
Q: In a non-football related question, did you watch the World Series game last night or see the highlights and what are your thoughts?
BB: No, I fell asleep. Yeah, I did watch it. What a game, what a game. It's just behind five times, whatever it was, scored in the last however many, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh? Happy for Tony [La Russa] and wishing him well tonight. That team has shown a lot of resiliency and physical toughness, mental toughness from being way behind in September and in the Series in various games. They've lost a couple games I'm sure they feel like they should have won. They've been able to bounce back from those and now it's a one game season. It's two good teams. The Rangers are a good team too. It's two good teams. Great series.
Q: How did you become acquainted with [St. Louis Cardinals manager] Tony La Russa?
BB: We have a couple mutual friends, one in particular. It's good to talk to sometimes people in other sports. Coaching is coaching - dealing with players, dealing with coaches, dealing with other situations. There is certainly a lot of common ground there. I'm fortunate to have a great relationship with a person like Tony or [University of Florida basketball coach] Billy Donovan or [Johns Hopkins lacrosse coach] Dave Pietramala, guys like that that are real good coaches, different sports but again I think we share some common philosophies. Unfortunately, where Tony is at and where I'm at, there's not a lot of overlap. I've spent at least a day with him in spring training every year and that's always fun to watch. Unfortunately I don't get to see him at this time of year because it's a whole different type of coaching and preparation and structure and everything. Seeing him at training camp and being able to connect a little bit with his team has been a good experience for me. I've learned a lot. I think he does a great job.
Q: You spend a lot of time on a headset, did you relate to Tony or feel for Tony when the whole issue with the bullpen phone happened?
BB: I don't know exactly what happened on that. Again, there's a lot of differences in the games but again, the coaching, the management, the structure, the decision making, I think all those kind of things, certainly in conversation, there's certainly a lot of things that I think we can learn from each other, I've learned from him anyway when I've asked him about dealing with different things - players, situations and how he looks at it. He's given me a lot of insight. Of course, it's easy to root for them with Carp [Chris Carpenter] over there, he's a local guy. We love to see our New England guys do well.
Q: How has Jerod Mayo looked the past week? Would you say he's recovered or recovering?
BB: He's been limited in practice. He's done some things, other things he hasn't done. I think he's trying to do a little more each day. We'll see how it goes today and then make a decision on this weekend based on the whole body of work but particularly how it's going - again if the player works and continues to get better then that's good. If the player works and kind of levels off or is held back a little bit then that's probably an indication that he needs more time. Stringing days together is important to an overall evaluation of an injury, or a player's readiness I should say.
Q: How did the group of Brandon Spikes and Rob Ninkovich handle not playing with him?
BB: I mean Jerod is an outstanding player but those guys all are good football players too. They've all been here, they know our system, they understand the concepts and the communication and so forth that we use. We expect everybody to be ready to go whether it's Matt Cassel or a linebacker or whoever it is, Dan Connolly. If you're on the team, you prepare and when you're called upon you're ready to step in and take advantage of that opportunity and do your job for the team. That's everybody's job. When's that going to happen, for how long, at what point in the game? We never know that. It's like the relief pitcher going to the stadium - you don't know if the guy is going to go nine innings or if he's going to go two. You have to be ready to go. You don't know if you're coming in with the bases loaded or the beginning of the inning with nobody on. You have to be ready to react to those situations. It's no different for any player on our team who isn't a starting player - they're one snap away from being one.