Q: When you were evaluating Matthew Slater as a special teamer a couple of years ago, how much time did you spend looking at him as a safety, which I think he played some at UCLA?
NC: Whatever snaps you have of a player, whatever position they play, we're going to evaluate those plays in college and then figure out what may be the best role for that player moving forward. He was a player, he had experience on special teams, he had experience on defense, he had experience offensively; he kind of did a little bit of everything. Sure, you're going to take a look at those situations with any player as you go through the evaluation process.
Q: Can you talk about going after Nate Jones and what you saw in him and what piqued your interest about him?
NC: Nate's played a lot of football; [he's an] experienced player, pretty instinctive. He played star with the Dolphins. He played some star and some weak safety when he was in Denver when Josh [McDaniels] had him. He was available. He was somebody that we were familiar with having played against him, even in Dallas. He played in Dallas - I think in '07 he was with Dallas when we played them down there. He's an experienced player, had some position versatility, pretty smart guy, pretty instinctive guy. He was available, so we made a decision to add him to the team. That's why we did what we did.
Q: On Ryan Kerrigan, when he was coming out, did you view him as a 3-4 outside linebacker or more of a 4-3 defensive end?
NC: Ryan can play in any system. Good football player, tough, smart, instinctive, strong, disruptive player, causes a number of fumbles, which he's caused four [of] to this point in this season for the Redskins. He can play in any defense. It doesn't matter what front you're playing, what defense you're playing; he can probably play in any of them.
Q: What about Brian Orakpo a couple of years back?
NC: Yeah, similar. He was another end of the line of scrimmage player. He was athletic, productive rushing the passer. They're similar size-wise just in terms of their overall measurables. I think really any defense you put those two players in, really it doesn't matter what you're doing, they can play in any defense. I think they were productive players in college and they've been productive players to this point with their respective teams. Orakpo obviously has a little bit more experience, just having played, this is his third year. Kerrigan is out there for every snap, I don't think he leaves the field. Both of those guys were good football players coming out and they've been good football players to this point in the league.
Q: Do you remember ever having to utilize so many players on one side of the ball, obviously I'm talking about the defense? Can you chalk it up to injuries?
NC: It's always a combination of things. Really, going into the season, you really never know how it's going to turn out. We use plenty of guys on the offensive side of the ball - just as many on the offensive side of the ball as you do on the defensive side of the ball. When you're putting your team together, you just try to figure out what the best spot for a player might be. If he can do more things, maybe you put him in a position where you might be able to utilize some of those skills. Really, you have to be prepared for anything, we're no different than any other team in the league, every team kind of goes through injuries they're going to lose players. I think we've always used a lot of players around here at different points, whether it's offensively, defensively, in the kicking game, whatever the case may be. That's the job of the player; their job is to prepare to play wherever they're asked to play, whatever their role is going to be. A lot of it, the player is going to decide what that is ultimately going to be. Their job is to come in here, to work hard and prepare and whatever their opportunity is, whenever they get that, to go out there and try to maximize it.
Q: You don't think it's odd that in Week 14, you still don't have an exact feel for what the defense is going to look like?
NC: I mean, really every week it's somebody different. Some guys are ready to play some weeks; some guys aren't ready to play. The only thing we can do is put the players on the field that are healthy, that are ready to play. That's all we can really control. One week this guy is healthy; another week, this guy is available. It changes every week, so we' just try to do the best we can to prepare for the game and go out there and ultimately win the game. We'll do the same thing this week.
Q: We haven't seen much of Ron Brace since his return. Developmentally has he regressed, progressed or stayed static?
NC: Those guys, there are a lot of guys that play on the defensive front. We shuffle guys in and out of the game. Ron is a smart guy, he's strong a strongguy, he's got good playing strength. When he's had his opportunities, he's been productive. He started the year a little bit behind relative to some of the others, but he works hard, he prepares and when he gets his opportunity, our expectation is that he's going to go out there and perform.
Q: Is it too late for him to overtake some of these guys or does that opportunity only occur when players in front of him get hurt at this point?
NC: A lot of it is contingent upon the opponent, what the game plan is, what type of defense are we going to be utilizing. Certain players fill some roles relative to others, so I think it all depends on the week and the opponent. We'll go through practice and we'll see how the week evolves and when we get to Sunday, we'll utilize the players that we have at our dispense.
Q: Have you had any dealings with Morocco Brown, the director of pro personnel for the Redskins? His brother coaches out here in Worcester at Holy Cross. I was just curious if you'd had any dealings with Morocco or any insight you could provide.
NC: Yeah, sure. I don't know insight necessarily but we've dealt with Morocco. I would say during training camp when you're compiling information on teams or you're just trying to gather some information on different types of players or they might call and express some interest on some players. At different points in time, he's been a point person on that. Most of the dealings that we've had with him have been just on the telephone, they haven't been personal interactions. He's a professional guy, a lot of experience, he's been with the Redskins for a long time. They must think pretty highly of him to keep him around for as long as they have. He's done a good job. They've brought some good players into that program and I'm sure he's had a lot to do with it.
Q: When you guys tried to evaluate Antwaun Molden when he was on waivers before the Giants game, how much time do you spend looking at his Texans film and how much time do you spend looking at his college film? What do you remember from that process?
NC: I think you utilize the information that you have. Antwaun played quite a bit; he played in the kicking game quite a bit. There are snaps of him defensively. Whenever he played, whenever he was on the field, whether it was in the preseason, which most of his snaps are during the preseason, you try to go back and just evaluate that player when he's had his opportunity to be on the field, whenever it may be. In the end, regardless of if it's the preseason or the regular season, you're going to evaluate that player's skills, whatever they may be. I would say [he's] somebody that we certainly did work on coming out of the draft. He played at a lower level competition but he was a big guy, he ran well. Level of competition, you're kind of projecting that element a little bit so it's a combination really of everything. Whatever information that you have, you just try to utilize that the best way you can.