Tackle, Nate Solder
Q: Can you talk about home-field advantage? So much is made of it. How much does it matter in this game, and what are you expecting from the home crowd for this game?
NS: We have awesome fans. It is a real pleasure to play in front of a crowd like we have, but I can't make any more of it than it actually is because the most important thing is how we perform. We know that they are going to come in here giving it their best shot. I don't think it really matters where you are, they are going to be playing well so we need to be playing well, too.
Q: You look at the game last year in Denver. That crowd had something to do with helping them, didn't it?
NS: Yeah, but I don't know if I can make excuses like that. I think that you just play the best you can and keep going.
Q: Can you describe Patriots QB Tom Brady's demeanor in the huddle, and does it change at all as the game gets a bit more intense?
NS: The thing about playing with him is he is very steady. The way that he controls the huddle, the way that he composes himself and things like that bleeds off on all of us. We all just stay focused on the game plan and do one play at a time.
Q: How fast can you guys make adjustments on the offensive line when it seems like they are doing stuff that maybe is getting to you, like last week?
NS: As fast as we can (laughter). A lot of times, you have to go back to the sidelines, and they draw it up, show you what is going on and how to fix it and everything. The next time you come back out, hopefully, you can improve that.
Q: There is no guarantee that you can keep Tom Brady upright, but I am sure that going into the game you are saying, 'The more we can keep him upright, the better it is.' Is it easier to say, 'OK, this is not working, let's run the ball' or is it easier to say, 'This is how we are going to pass the ball'? Is it easy to come to an answer of what is going to keep him upright?
NS: The good thing is they haven't come and asked me what plays to run (laughter). That is probably a reason that we have a lot of success (laughter). With all of that, it just comes to when they call a pass play, I need to block the pass. When they call a run, I need to block the run. I don't have to worry about all of the different 'why' they did this or that.
Q: Many of you have acknowledged it wasn't your sharpest game against the Texans. When you start out the week and you try to fix some things, is there a point in the week where you stop trying to fix things and just move onto the Steelers tendencies?
NS: The things that you didn't do right sometimes can be a gift. If you didn't get them right, they can help you for the next game. The things that we didn't do right, we have been working on in accordance to how they are going to help us this week. The whole week has been based on the Steelers, but the things that we didn't do right, if we correct them, they can help us this week.
Q: What does this latest opportunity mean for you and for your teammates?
NS: It is tremendous. It is very difficult to get where we are and in this position that we are. We have an awesome opportunity to do some great things as a team and as a group. It is just a lot of fun. This is why we all play.
Q: When you look back to just last year and you weren't there, was there ever a point where you were thinking, 'Oh, man, I am missing an opportunity'?
NS: Personally? Yeah, it was tough because I have this newfound appreciation for what we get to do. When you are gone just for a year from football, there is not a whole lot of other areas of life that are as much fun and exciting as what we get to do. I have an appreciation for that, and I am very glad that I have the opportunity to be in this game.
Q: I believe the Texans were credited with eight quarterback hits. I guess it is a two-part question - do you guys take that personally, and how do you try to not let that happen Sunday night against the Steelers?
NS: We take a lot of pride in what we do because we try to do it the best that we can. We always have really high standards, and I think one quarterback hit is too many. When it comes to the gameplan and everything like that, you just play to win the game and you can't worry about every little thing that goes wrong.
Q: Does Tom Brady say anything after those?
NS: Not usually. He doesn't need to.
Cornerback, Logan Ryan
Q: How important is tackling to your game?
LR: Tackling is a huge part of my game. I feel like, first of all, they made it clear when they drafted me here that if you don't tackle at corner, you're not going to play. It's not one of those schemes where we have guys who just cover and don't support in the run. So, that was made clear to me as a rookie, and I feel like that was part of why they took me in the draft, for tackling. I feel like the harder I'm playing, the better I'm tackling and the better I probably cover. So, being in the inside a little more, I'm closer to the run, so I'm able to throw my hat on there and [I'm] not always picked up in the scheme, the offense doesn't always account for me. So, it's good if I'm able to get some tackles and help the other guys out.
Q: Can you touch on the talent that you're facing on the other side of the ball this weekend?
LR: Yes, there's a tremendous amount of talent. Probably one of the most talented teams in the NFL, especially offensively. We're all well aware of the guys that they have at their position, and they have a great quarterback leading the way, so it should be a great test for us. This is why you play the game. These are the games you want to be in, against the talent that you want to see. To move on at this level, this is what you want to see, and this is the best of the best, so we're excited for it.
Q: What is the particular disadvantage, if any, having not seen a quarterback like the caliber of Ben Roethlisberger in the first 17 or 18 weeks of the season?
LR: We play who is on our schedule. I don't really control that, and I see a good quarterback every day in No. 12. So, at the end of the day, I see a pretty good one daily. So, I think that's an advantage.
Q: Different guys have different stories in the locker room about playing with a chip on their shoulder. Do you have a chip on your shoulder, or something that motivates you every day to prove somebody wrong or prove something to yourself?
LR: Yes, I think everyone does. I feel like you have to to play defensive back, to play at this level. You're not just going to go out there and just think, 'Just because No. 26 is on the field, I don't have to bring my "A" game.' So, yeah, that motivates me. The birth of my daughter last year, trying to feed my family, trying to maintain my job - I've been on this team for four years and I've seen the roster turnover. I see how hard it is to play at this level consistently, and to play at a high level. I see what Tom Brady and Devin McCourty what those guys do, and they have to bring their game every day in practice, bring it every Sunday, and they have to bring it in the biggest games of the year. That's what it takes, and just like you guys, I'm a professional and I want to be the best in my job and do a good job and support my family. So, that's just enough motivation right there to do everything it takes to have good performances.
Q: Would you say you had a good week of practice? You could say there was some rust against Houston.
LR: Practice was good. Practice is the time to make mistakes and you clean it up. At the end of the day you see how it goes on Sunday. Practice is a time to go out there and have fun, work on what you need to work on, work on your weaknesses. Practice isn't always going to be perfect, but that's why it's practice.
Q: Earlier today, Bill Belichick said your unit has good chemistry and that you play with passion. Does he ever share that with you?
LR: I don't know. You have to have passion to play. Bill is going to put players who want to be out there. I think we want to be out there. I think we're playing for each other. I think that wasn't always there in a sense. I think it had to be built through time, through adversity. I think there are a lot of guys who know what's at stake and we're willing to risk it all. I know when I'm out there I'm willing to get my head in on every tackle, cover whoever they ask me to cover, and do whatever is called to try and help the team win. I know if I can do my job, we're one step closer getting to where we need to go.
Q: How much fun is it to have this game at home?
LR: It's great. I think last week was the loudest I've heard our stadium in four years. It actually gave us some trouble hearing each other. Something we're working on with the crowd noise, but that's why we're excited because it's trouble for the offense as well. I think we feed off of that a little bit. We know that us, as the players, it our performance. We need to execute in order to win these games. But the crowd can play a part with the crowd noise and energy. I feel like we're feeding off that.
Q: Do you have a message to the fans this week?
LR: Show up, be loud, be proud and we'll be alright.
Q: Is it contagious in the defensive backfield when you see one guy get rolling and other guys start to get rolling too?
LR: Turnovers we talk about all the time. I think they are contagious. But it's the effort. When you see guys playing with extreme amount of effort, playing extremely selfless, sacrificing. There might be a play where a guy goes and hits a guard so someone else can make the play and that's football. It's the ultimate team game and when guys are willing to sacrifice for one another and go out there and share the success, I think Malcolm Butler and Duron Harmon were so happy for the game I had last week and that made me happy that we're excited for one another's success. It's the team's success, but when your teammates are excited for you for a good play and I'm excited for the matchups and the play that they make as well, I think that's a true sign of a team.
Q: When it comes to Antonio Brown how difficult is it to corral him even if you do have multiple people covering him
LR: It's tough because the thing about Antonio Brown and players of that caliber is that they're used to the multiple attention. He gets doubled, he gets attention. Every team tries to do it and he still has the numbers he has because he's a great player. That's what great players do. We just need to execute a little better than what other teams do. It's possible. It's not impossible. But he's not a guy you're going to completely eliminate from the game, and we've just got to corral him as a team and he's going to make some plays and we've just got to keep it going. And then when he does catch the ball we need to be able to surround him so not one guy has to make a tackle because he makes a living on making one-on-ones and making guys miss. He makes a living on making plays so we've got to limit some of those. But at the end of the day we completely give credit to great players and what they do. They get paid too.
Q: It seems like you've done a good job of not allowing big plays this season. Does that go back to tackling or what's the key to not allowing those big plays
LR: Just situationally. I just think through time as I grow older I realize at [defensive back] you can't take away every pass, every play so just realizing situation, time and score, what the lead is, if we're behind or ahead, how much time, what part of the field they're in. A lot goes into it, in my head at least. But just trying to maybe allow them to catch a short one on this and take away something a little deeper. And then you limit those and you look at the stat sheet after the game, we have more points than them and you limit somebody to fewer yards, fewer catches and I think that's good. But I don't go out there and try to pitch a no-hitter because I feel like if you go out there and try to pitch a no-hitter you're going to let up some home runs.
Q: Their success on the road, Pittsburgh's offensively, really doesn't compare with how well they've been at home. Do you guys notice anything different about them, play calling or anything in particular?
LR: No, they just won a road playoff game at a tough place to play so I think they're playing well enough to win. Wherever that may be. And I just think that we need to bring our best game because I've just seen them play the Chiefs on film pretty well. I don't think any of that stuff has much bearing on the execution of the plays on Sunday.
Q: The Patriots and Steelers have two ownership groups that are pretty well-regarded in the League with the Rooney family in Pittsburgh and the Kraft family here. As a player, what do you see from Robert Kraft that helps you maybe on a day-to-day basis if anything?
LR: There's a lot of stability in a sense with Robert Kraft. He's been the owner here for quite some time. He's pretty stable with his head coach and quarterback, but he's around and he's a charitable guy. A lot of guys do charitable things because we want to, not because we're forced to. I think we're connected to the community because we see him out in the community, we see him here at practice shaking players' hands, knowing a little bit about everything. He asks me how my daughter's doing and stuff like that. I remember him calling me when I got drafted. So I just think he's a genuinely good person who cares about the people in this organization as well the business side of it, and I think that makes us want to be good people as well.