Q: **Vince Wilfork obviously creates a big void in the middle and did for most of the game on Sunday. Can you comment on how Joe Vellano and the others who filled in for Vince did? I would assume their role going forward might become a little bit bigger.
MP:I think any time we're in a situation where someone's got to go into the game, whether it's a backup position and play a little more during that game, or that's your role during that particular game is to sub in and out, we're just expecting you to go out there and do your job to the fullest of your ability and to be able to produce in the scheme or the particular play that we're asking you to run from a defensive standpoint. And obviously that's why you're hopefully here and active for the game: so that you can go out and help us do whatever is necessary to win. So I think no matter who it is that goes out on the field, obviously everyone does a great job here defensively of trying to prepare like you're going to be in the game for all the snaps, and then when your opportunity comes you've got to go out there and do the best you can with it.
Q:In speaking with players, they often say about Vince Wilfork that he's the type of player that you can't really measure his impact in stats, whether it's tackles or stats. How would you sum up his impact from that perspective in terms of why he's so important?
MP:Obviously, first and foremost Vince is just a phenomenal player both on and off the field for us. Defensively from his leadership to his ability to - his work ethic, which is such an incredible example, all of which all of our guys look at and try to model themselves after. Certainly from that standpoint, he's phenomenal as a professional and someone that takes his craft very seriously and works extremely hard to improve himself every day. It's a great work ethic for everyone to see, whether you're a younger player or an older player that's maybe just gotten to our program to really take a look at and obviously see someone like Vince prepare himself week in week out. For the particular game, certainly he's someone that we rely on heavily, but like in all situations and cases, the situation is what it is and the next guy has got to step up and perform to the best of his ability and go out there and obviously execute whatever it is we're asking him to execute. Certainly injuries are an unfortunate part of the game of football, but that is what it is, and we're obviously going to expect whoever's out on the field to perform to the highest level of their ability. But certainly Vince Wilfork is a phenomenal player for us and certainly someone who we rely on week in week out to really attack each opponent at a truly very professional level.
Q:Tony Gonzalez proved to be a handful to try to contain last week. Going forward, the Bengals have a couple tight ends in Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert who also will pose a challenge for your defense. Do they go out together? Do they have a lot of two-tight-end sets, and what type of challenge do they pose?
MP:I think that's a great question. Obviously Cincinnati offensively has a lot of talent and ability and is certainly a big challenge for us this week. You can start with the quarterback position: Andy Dalton, who obviously is really developing under the system that Coach Jay Gruden has offensively there, and is really trying to take ownership and leadership of the offense and distribute the ball appropriately. To their running game, BenJarvus Green-Ellis is obviously someone we have familiarity with who's just a tough, physical runner, can really get the ball downhill and push the pile and get that positive yardage, which is certainly a challenge for us. And then the young guy they have, Giovanni Bernard who is extremely athletic, great speed, good ability, good vision, a very gifted runner and obviously part of the passing game. Big challenge there combined with a very big, strong, powerful offensive line, so certainly we'll have our work cut out for us there. Moving into the skill position, I mean A.J. Green is a phenomenal wide receiver who will be a big challenge for us along with [Mohamed] Sanu opposite him. And then the two tight ends, which they obviously have a lot of confidence in to go out and perform. They're out on the field a lot, whether they're together or individually out there in their different packages, but they certainly definitely create a challenge for any defense to try to match up against and really try to handle the combination of their size, athleticism, their speed, and just the ability for them to get on the edge and block. So certainly another huge challenge for us this weekend, and something we're working hard to try to get ready for.
Q:You mentioned how you've relied heavily on Vince Wilfork, and now that you can't do that anymore how does its alter your approach?
MP:I think we rely heavily on everyone that's here in the building, from the coaching staff to the players to all the sports staff, so I think we come in and we obviously rely on everyone to come out and do their job and to work hard to try to execute whatever it is we're executing for that particular day. Certainly injuries happen all the time and it's something we have to deal with, so we just kind of take our approach of getting after it and trying to prepare the best we can to compete the following weekend.
Q:So it won't alter your approach, is that what you're saying?
MP:I just think, again, our approach for everyone that comes in the building is to try to do whatever they can that week or whatever we're looking to accomplish to help us win, so certainly that's what we're going to ask everyone that comes in to prepare for this week, is to go out and try to do our best against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Q:Vince Wilfork has been here since 2004, he's an All-Pro player and one of the best in the business. Can you specifically address him instead of everyone in the building in what you have to do in terms of missing him? Not general, not everybody in the building, but him?
MP:I think obviously Vince Wilfork is a phenomenal player and someone that has had tremendous success around here and will continue to in the future, so he certainly is a big part of our defense and someone, like I said earlier, that we can take a great example of and follow every week for his approach. But certainly we're trying to get ready here for Cincinnati and just do what we can to try to handle all the different players they have, like I said, in the run game with the two running backs and the offensive line, and then obviously handle the tight end situation and the skill players. So specifically what we're going to do is try to come in and get everybody to improve and step into their roles and take their roles to the best level they can and try to execute fully in whatever it is that we're asking them to do.
Q:You guys have had some success on red zone defense in keeping opponents out of the end zone. When you're back there and the margin of error is so thin and the focus is amplified, what gets you in trouble more - a mental mistake or a physical one?
MP:That's a good question. The red zone is an extremely difficult area of the field to defend for us. Everything happens extremely fast down there from a standpoint both offensively and defensively, so certainly I would say both of those things obviously can hurt you, whether it's a mental mistake or a physical mistake or anything scheme-wise there. It just happens very fast, so you have to do a great job of preparing and studying and really ahead of time understanding what you're trying to accomplish in that area of the field and be able to do it at a very up-tempo level.