Q: Was it good to have QB
HALEY: “It was good to see him out there. He is one of the guys that have to get better to help us become a good team and to see him out there and get through with no issues was a good sign. He didn’t look overly rusty although we all had cans of Rust-oleum in our pockets but we didn’t pull them out too much so that was good.”
Q: Would there ever be a scenario where you would move the linebackers around to make sure the best men are on the field to help you win or do you look at position and keep them at their spot whether inside or outside?
HALEY: “I don’t know if that would be a scenario. It could if they are the best guy for the position and where we are as a defense. I think ideally at some point you would like to be able at some point to just play outside backers and inside backers (at either spot) but you are seeing that less and less because of the nature. Number one, you have a lot more 3-4 teams searching for the same types of bodies and players. I think it is a good question but there is just too much involved and too much difference between the two inside positions right now that I would be more inclined to say the outside positions we would like to get to where we can just play right and left and line up the same way all the time.”
Q: Would your ideal linebacking group with the two guys on the inside be able to play both positions on the inside, same with the outside?
HALEY: “I don’t know the answer to that. I don’t think over time there has been many that can do it. I don’t think that has been something that has happened at many places. It may have happened and I don’t know but I think there is enough of a difference between those two spots that there is a reason why you see certain body types at each of those two positions specifically.”
Q: Do you think LB
HALEY: “I think Mike is kind of a special case. He is a unique player in that we probably could line Mike up at all four spots. I know that he has played inside at both spots at one time or another and I know he has played both outside spots but that is not the norm. Mike has proven to be a pretty unique player over time to stay in the league the way he has and be productive as well as part of good defenses. I think that is more a tribute to Mike right now and why he has been a great player in this league for a long time.”
Q: Could LB
HALEY: “When you are talking about outside backers you have to understand that one guy is going to be on the tight end. So if you are playing any type of man coverage that guy better be able to play some man coverage on (guys like) Antonio Gates or any other tight ends you want to talk about that run really good routes and you have to cover. Again, that is if you are playing man. If you are a zone team you can probably do more of it. You have to take those things into account. I think Andy Studebaker is developing into what appears to be a pretty good player. The more you can do is what we say and I know Andy is working at it. Hopefully we get to a point where you can do some of those things and that would be good.”
Q: One of the things LB Mike Vrabel brings is leadership. He takes charge. That is another thing he brings, right?
HALEY: “He is a unique player and one that I am happy is on our team. This guy is a football player; he is a smart guy in general. You can probably have a conversation on a number of different topics with him and he can probably spin you into a thought coma. He is a unique individual and I am bragging way too much about him. He is a unique player and individual and I am glad that he is on our team and I am glad you all were able to see a little bit of that because he brings a lot to the table. He just talks too much when the plays aren’t going on. He got me last night pretty good so I have to get him back.”
Q: Does Studebaker have a chance to start?
HALEY: “Andy has proven when he is in the game he has made some really good things happen and he has continued to show that and that is a good thing. The relationship between Mike and Andy is what we are trying to establish across the board at that position. You have a veteran player that is teaching, coaching, schooling and working with a guy that could take his job or take reps from him. You see from Mike that it doesn’t matter because when more of your team is worried about one thing, and that is winning “the” game, championships, then I think you are on your way to being a pretty good team because that is when the selflessness and those types of things really show up.”
Q: Is this going to be a difficult year to get the roster down to 53 men compared to last season?
HALEY: “Without knowing for sure, if these first few players we had to release are any indication, yeah it is going to be much more difficult and I think that is a good thing for our team. Letting guys go that have put so much into it is always a difficult task and there isn’t a guy that hasn’t given his heart and soul to what we are trying to get done here and wanting to be a part of a good team. That part is difficult but if the first four we had to go through are any indicator, I would say it is going to be more difficult and that bodes well for the team because I think the harder those decisions are, generally the more competition, the better team you are becoming.”
Q: For the upcoming cut to 53, is it possible you could cut down past that number to leave room for potential pickups from others?
HALEY: “I think from the start we have said we are always looking. This period here we have a pretty considerable length of time before that date, before we are starting this real season. Really, this is for the most part last chance shopping. This is the last chance to try and improve your team outside of trades or something like that. That process has not stopped. You haven’t seen our scouts here for a number of weeks and that is because they are out. Not only do they have to get started on college but we have a lot of guys at a lot of games just trying to figure out if something does happen, you have to start making some of those decisions which are difficult decisions. There are some unknowns. We have a lot more information on most of the guys that are here and you tend to grow fond of or develop a relationship and get a comfort level with guys and those are always difficult decisions to make. We are on it and we will do the work necessary and have been doing the work necessary to be ready to pull the trigger if we have to.”
Q: For this game Thursday night, is there a balance that has to be made between finding the right 53 and preparing this team for the season opener?
HALEY: “Yeah, there is some of that. Again, because of the nature of the schedule this year the fact that we are playing this game on Thursday and we don’t play until Monday night to start the season is really giving us time. Having a game from Friday to Sunday is a couple days less than what we are going to see. Going Thursday to Monday we have a little cushion there and it is very important for us as a team. We have a lot of guys that we are trying to develop fast that we need sooner rather than later. That goes all the way back to last year, that hasn’t changed. Because we do have a few days extra, we have to take that into account that it is more important for development. Game snaps are more important to them, we feel as a staff, than some of the other factors. The bottom line is to be ready at the start of the season when the games start counting and that is what this whole process has been about.”
Q: Do you have enough depth on the offensive line?
HALEY: “We don’t have enough depth anywhere, but that is just life. It is becoming that way across the league and coaches are never going to be happy with the depth. When you step back and start to look at other teams, even though you may look at a team you think is a really good team you will find some of the same depth issues just because the numbers you are allowed to keep. We don’t have enough depth anywhere. We are going to have to win games a certain way, they are not going to be pretty and we are going to have to do a lot of things right and then have some things go right for us. One of those would be staying healthy.”
Q: From a leadership, swagger, in-the-huddle presence, how far off is QB
HALEY: “I don’t know that I’ll talk about how far off because we don’t know. This is a guy who by experience levels; generally speaking, he doesn’t have a lot of game experience just because of his story, as everybody knows now. Every snap in a game counts for him. What I will say though is the guy is getting better. He got better as last year went on, he got better throughout the off-season, he got better through training camp and now that’s got to continue. I would say that I’m encouraged with Matt that he’s doing the things necessary to be a good quarterback in the league that helps us win hopefully a bunch of games. The bottom line for this entire team and not just Matt is we have to get a little better every day. That won’t stop when the season starts. It’s a long, long season. It’s a marathon, things change. There’s good and there’s bad but if you continue to work and improve a little bit each day, you’ll be happy when the year ends one way or another because you know you’re making progress and you’re becoming a better team.”
Q: Is 23 attempts for 83 yards concerning to you for Cassel?
HALEY: “Again I’m nothing but encouraged with Matt Cassel and the offense in general. I think that we are making progress as an offense and that hasn’t stopped. I’ve said in here, somebody told me that Pittsburgh got ahead of us last night; we’re looking like we’re going to be able to run the football. We’re going to have to throw the football obviously. I think we’re making progress. We’ve not been a game plan team through the preseason. I think the opportunities that Matt’s had to run the team he’s looked more efficient each time out there, he’s handled adverse situations the way you’d like to see him handle it, he’s responded which tells me he’s getting better, his accuracy looks like it continues to improve and all the factors that go into being a good quarterback that are around him, I think they are improving. I’m encouraged. We’re getting better and that’s what’s important to me.”
Q: I know you don’t talk about injuries really, but because of the situation with LB
HALEY: “I don’t talk about injuries but hey I’ve never had to experience that. I was in the box in 1997 the last game of the year, Jets vs. Detroit, when that Texas A&M backer Brown went down and that’s really the last time I’ve been a part of anything like that and that was enough. To have two in two weeks where guys are in a compromising situation laying on the field and the way that all went or appeared that it was going as we were standing on the field, for things to be where they are right now, you just thank God and you know that the power of prayer works. I know he had a lot of people praying for him simultaneously, me included. Like I said I went to the hospital the night of the game late, 2:00 a.m., somewhere in there and I walked through the curtain and he’s sitting up eating a Jimmy John’s sandwich. I had heard that things had taken a real good turn but when you’re standing there and you don’t know… Mike Vrabel came up to me in the game ‘You think they’re going to run or pass right here?’ Generally, that’s Mike. I said ‘I don’t’ know Mike. I’m not thinking about it right now.’ It was not a situation you ever want to be in, as an outsider, let alone the guy. He was lifting yesterday. Everything looks real good, real encouraging. We’ll ease him back into things. The important thing is does he want to get back on that horse and ride?”