BUC BIT OF THE DAY: RB Bobby Rainey has 299 yards from scrimmage this season (12th-most in the NFL)HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
"Players had a chance to get away. After a game like that you want to get away for a while. We came back in today – as we group the season together, these are times where you need to look at it that way, finishing out the first quarter, the last game of the first quarter is this weekend. As much as anything, we have to find a way to win a football game this weekend. We saw the Pittsburgh Steelers getting beat pretty bad by one of their division opponents on Thursday night, took the time off and came back and dominated a good Carolina team last night, so it can be done. Plus we're getting players back. Our goal with the injury list: Wednesday, kind of like every other team this week, we got a bonus day today, so I'm not going to talk about any injuries, but we are getting guys back, which we need. All of big guns are out there ready to go and we think we're getting a little bit closer to that."
(On quarterback Josh McCown injury status)
"He's getting better; I'm sure you can see that I'm not going to talk about injuries when no other team in the league is on a Monday. I'm going to follow suit like the rest of the guys in the league, but they're getting better. We're optimistic, sometimes things are as bad they're portrayed."
(On if he addressed the team today about Thursday night's game after they had time off)
"We came in Friday and we went through that horror show then, besides that we've moved on. We're not talking about that game anymore. What else is there to say?"
(On what is the goal going into this week's game besides winning)
"What other goal is there besides winning? As you said you can't answer the question the right way besides that; it's us playing better. Before you can win, it's about us, individually, all doing a better job. That's what we're talking about, that's all you can do. You can't look at the big picture – one play at a time, one good play added on to another good play, that's what we're talking about. You can talk about it, but it's about getting back on the practice field. That's why after a Thursday night game like that you want to get this extra practice in, which we were able to do."
(On if offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford was at practice today)"No, he was not out there today. He's still getting better. He's got an extra day, so we kept a couple of the players out today too. Hopefully Wednesday we'll be full force going ahead."
Behind the scenes photos from Thursday night's game in Atlanta.
(On if the defensive line needs time to mesh together)
"Yeah it can, but it's about individual play leading to a group being good, and, as far as gelling together, I think you gel when guys within the group start making plays, start beating the guy in front of them and I think momentum starts when you see one of your teammates making a play. To see us have successful play defensively based on what one of the guys within the group. As you start off it's about guys having trust to believe in their teammate and just doing my job and that's what we're trying to get across, just do my job. And for the players to know enough about the defense that when a play breaks down or there's a big play – everybody's going 'Hey, I've got to change what I'm doing or I have to do more.' As opposed to knowing who was the culprit on that play and it's no more than that, and we've had a little too much of that."
(On if the quarterback getting hit has been an issue)
"Every team in the league, there's some free guys and you have to get rid of the ball before it comes. I don't think our quarterbacks have taken any more hits than most other quarterbacks, if you look at our sack total and things like that. That's a part of it and that's just part of the position a little bit. We want to protect the quarterback as much as possible and there's only so much that you can do."
(On if the players around the quarterback have done as much as they can)
"We're 0-3, there's not a whole lot of good play right now for us to single guys out. I'm going to go to the amount of times that we've turned the football over; that's what can help us. If you look at every situation, if we can just hold on to the ball a little bit to be able to keep drives going and once something good happens to us, just holding on to that. I think we start with that. Last week we talked defensively about – the numbers we're OK as far as how many points we were giving up, but we haven't taken the ball away. Last week we go that. As a young program, you have to crawl before walk, it's just as simple as that. Yes, players around the quarterback need to play better and just a lot of little things that we need to do a lot better. Hopefully we'll be able to, eventually we'll be able to put all of that together."
(On if he is surprised they are 0-3)
"I know it's tough winning in the NFL each week and I think most games, besides what happened Thursday night, most games you see in the league, it goes right down to the last drive one way or another. The ball hasn't bounced our way yet, but it will and that's what my message has been to the players. Eventually we'll keep making progress and we'll find a way to make a play at the end of a football game and win a game."
(On if any personnel changes have been made)
"On a Monday, we come in here and for me to tell you about changes that we've made, you know what the answer is to that. I stay by what I said then: when you get beat that bad, you need to make changes. Maybe that's personnel, maybe it's not. You're looking at all areas and you feel like you need to go a different direction."
(On if he feels the receivers are getting enough separation)
"Not enough. We need to. Of course, you just look at position, one of the things you want the receivers to do is to get into position and makes some plays. While the team is pressing you away, you need to get separation. And then when you get into position to make a play, you need to, because eventually it comes down to a one-on-one situation between the wide receiver and a defensive back. We haven't done enough of that. Haven't gotten the balls in position to make enough of those plays also. So it kind of goes hand in hand to get guys in that position. Also, you need to hold on to the ball a little bit too. So there's a lot of things we need to tighten up in order for our guys to get into position to make some of those plays."
(On if tight end Ian Thompson is back with the team)
"I'm not going to talk personnel right now. We have some options, some different directions that we want to go. Wednesday, we'll kind of go over all those."
(On if there is added pressure to getting that first win with a new program)
"Everything is validated when you get that [first] win. But, whether you're a new program or not, you start the season, you want to get that first win as soon as you can. But for our guys, they see how close we've been. So it's not like we're so far away that we can't get it. But yeah, we're chasing that first win. You can look at it this way too: the team with the most wins, they have three wins. So what does three wins get you? It doesn't get you in the playoffs. Three losses doesn't keep you out of the playoffs or anything, so we're still close. Everything is being decided. In the first quarter of a football season, you're still jockeying for position. But for us, yeah, we would like to have started off 4-0, but we haven't. But as much as anything for us, still, right now, we get that win; and for us to get that win, you look at the way we would have to win it – going on the road against a good Pittsburgh team. That would say so much for our program as we get started."
(On if defending the opposition's running backs will be a point of emphasis this week in practice)
"Yes they are, but they are each week. And yes, I, just like you, I was watching that [Pittsburgh vs. Carolina] game too. And they rushed the ball fairly well – they did everything fairly well. A week before, they didn't [do] as well. So it's kind of week-to-week. But [run defense] is always a big part of us and our defense and what we try to do. We talk takeaways and different things like that, but it's about stopping the run first. It was impressive to see them. [Le'Veon] Bell is a great running back. Not good; he's a great running back. [LeGarrette] Blount [was] impressive last night, and what their offensive line was able to do. So it opened up a lot of things for them. We'll talk about Pittsburgh a little bit later on in the week, but they have a lot of people. A great quarterback with Super Bowl rings, you can just kind of go down the line. So we'll have our hands full."
(On if Pittsburgh is better than anyone else at being tough and physical)
"I think traditionally they do. And that's what they'll tell you; that's what they want to do. I think most of the headlines is the guys were talking about how physical…I know [Ben] Roethlisberger in his press conference after the game was talking about how physical they were in all three phases. Yes, I think all teams in the league would like to be able to say that. Last night on display, that was definitely the case. I can't wait until the day that we can not only talk about that, [but] we put that out on the football field."
(On the team's nine giveaways through the first three games)
"We haven't gotten the point across to our football team. But yeah, it's disappointing as much as anything. But it's one thing to talk about it. We have to find ways to get that message across a little bit more where it's not OK to fumble the ball. There is ball security on one side of the football. And when I say one side, one side is whoever has the ball at the time. Same thing for us when we get a takeaway: we become an offensive guy then too. So the breaks are going against us right now, but these are things in time we'll be able to clean up, hopefully this week."SAFETY DASHON GOLDSON
(On the mood of the team)
"We had a couple of days off, we got to regroup and we're going to come back out here – fresh start. We've got the Steelers on our schedule and we're going to go here to practice and get ready."
(On how much pride is on the line for the next game)
"You can ask everybody, I'm sure we want to get a win from the top of the building all the way down. It's an important game because it's another game on our schedule."
(On turning things around this season)
"We're going to keep doing what we're doing and focus on the good things that we do and correct some of the bad things and just continue to get better. That's all that we can do at this point."
(On facing Pittsburgh this week)
"Playing against those guys I know – [Ben] Roethlisberger is a big name in our league and he's done some good things throughout the years. I've seen some preseason games, I think I might have caught the first game of the season that they played and they looked pretty good. They got a good wide receiver, their running backs are running the ball well and they're coming off a big win against Carolina. We have to go out there and try and do the same."DEFENSIVE END MICHAEL JOHNSON
(On how frustrating it has been to miss time)
"It's been frustrating, but all you can do is continue to do your best to try and come back and be ready to help this team to victory. I'm going through that process right now and I'm getting better, I'm improving and I'm looking forward to getting back out there with my guys."
(On improving the pass rush)
"We just have to continue to work. There are going to be growing pains when you're putting new pieces together, but we're positive, we're continuing to work, continuing to get better and we're going to see it pay off and it will. Like you said today, we're three games in and we've got a long season. Everybody has to stay positive, keep believing and trusting the system, trusting the guys around you and trusting the work and effort that we put in. It's going to turn in our favor."
(On developing chemistry on the defensive line)
"It has to be even more so [than the offensive line] chemistry with the way we do things here. As you know, there isn't a lot of blitzing. We have to generate [the pass rush] ourselves. That comes with just continuing to work, continuing to learn each other and continuing to just get better week-in and week-out. We'll get this thing rolling and when we get to rolling, it will be like clockwork. I'm excited to get to that point – like I said it's a process."