SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR DAVE TOUB
Q:How do you think De'Anthony Thomas looked yesterday?
TOUB: "He looked good. You always worry about a guy who hasn't caught a punt in four weeks – how is he going to react. That was something we were looking for, we shot him a lot of footballs and kicked him a lot of balls – he caught them all in our practice, during the practice with guys coming down the field, he did a good job there, too. He looks pretty good."
Q:How ready do you think he is to assume his full-time role?
TOUB: "As long as he keeps progressing like he's doing, I feel good about it."
Q:Is there a difference between catching them in a game and catching them at practice?
TOUB: "A little bit. I was worried about him being rusty as far as ball reads and stuff like that. He's such a good natural catcher that it's normal for him."
Q:Why is it hard for a punter to get consistent recognition with Pro Bowls like Dustin Colquitt?
TOUB: "He's one of those top-three guys, there's no question. What happens is everybody looks at the numbers – he's not going to have the kind of numbers that some of these other guys that bomb the football. He's going to do what we ask him to do, which is be a directional guy. He's such a team guy as far as putting the ball inside the 20 and kicking it out of bounds when we ask him to kick it out of bounds. He's not worried about numbers and he's really been good for us as a team. If you go back and watch how he affected our games – the games that we won or even the ones that we lost – he was a big factor in the field position, great field position."
Q:When you look at the Pro Bowl voting, how much of it is an injustice?
TOUB: "He's one of the top guys, everybody knows it. It doesn't bother him, he's such a team guy. It would be nice for him to get that recognition when he deserves it. And he certainly deserved it this year."
Q:Are you satisfied with the placekicking?
TOUB: "A lot better, it was a lot better. We got one game under our belt where it was clean. Those guys – Colquitt and (James) Winchester and Brock Olivo – adjusted his hand during the week and they got something straightened out on the snap. And snaps were perfect in the game, so hopefully we can keep building on that."
Q:On Winchester's hand?
TOUB: "Winchester's hand, yeah."
Q:Do you see Cairo Santos finishing strong this season as opposed to his fatigue or dead leg last year?
TOUB: "Yeah, the weather has a lot to do with it. Once the weather changes, it changes how far you can kick that ball. So that's really the main thing. I haven't noticed anything as far as decreasing his leg strength as the year went on this year."
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR DOUG PEDERSON
Q:What does it say about Jeremy Maclin that he could record 1,000 yards in a season in your system?
PEDERSON: "I would say it's a great individual milestone. I think, too, when you look at the whole scheme of things – it's kind of a team stat, too. Because you have to have protection, Alex (Smith) has got to be clean, and of course Jeremy has to work himself open and then fit within the scheme. I think it's great, it just goes to show the hard work Jeremy's put in and being the first time this year in our system and understanding what we're trying to do with him. It's just a tribute to him and he and Alex clicking right away."
Q:How much has Jeremy Maclin filled the missing element?
PEDERSON: "I think it's given us, at times, a deep threat when we've used him that way. It's given us that speed factor, it's given us a veteran guy that understands how to run routes, how to decipher coverage. And it's really taken some heat from Alex a little bit from just having to look for one particular guy. Albert (Wilson) has stepped up, Chris Conley has stepped up, our running backs have stepped up, so it's kind of opened up a little bit of our offense that way and it's freed Jeremy up. Now you're also seeing teams doubling Jeremy or doubling Travis (Kelce), so it takes it away a little bit. But he's done a great job fitting in to what we're asking him to do."
Q:Are you looking forward to seeing Dwayne Bowe on Sunday?
PEDERSON: "Oh yeah. Looking forward to shaking his hand and seeing him and watching him play. He was a big part of this organization for so many years and I know he'll be excited to come back."
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR BOB SUTTON
Q: Are you guys going to be ready to go if either Tamba Hali or Justin Houston, or both, aren't ready to go – what will this defense look like?
SUTTON:"We're going to find out. You know, I think one thing we've tried to do the whole year is just kind of operate with one thing – whatever group is on the field, the team on the field, is the team. Like we talked about before, you try not to reduce your standards of what your expectations are. Like I always say, the offense doesn't discount us because of who's playing. We've got to play at a certain level and play in a certain manner all the time. So if that would be the case, the next guy's up – Dee Ford, Frank (Zombo) – whoever is in there, we've got do a great job with and just go get them. We're not going to change what we do on defense, obviously, and we just have to rally and everyone just has to play their tails off."
Q: What do you like about Johnny Manziel when you see the tape?
SUTTON:"He's a unique guy. One, he's got a great arm. He really does. Some of the throws he can make when running to his right or left and back across the field, not a lot of people can do that. So he's got a great arm. His release is extremely fast. And I think obviously, his ability to move in the pocket, to escape, I mean, if that was him and all four of us are right here, it's not a guarantee we're going to get him. Right here, that's that, and I mean you guys are great athletes, but the normal guy would really have a problem. Really and seriously, this guy is one of those unique guys, he can be dipping here and if he outflanks you here, if you just get back up and go, he may be coming back by the time you get off the ground. And that's just a natural gift and he's made a lot of big plays doing that. That's the hardest part of defensing him because he breaks down a defense because of the way he can extend and then the fact that most people who get out on a scramble and get out to the right are only working this side of the field. He's just as likely to throw the ball back to that side of the field as this side. So the pressure on you on defense is really intense, that you have to keep playing."
Q: Does he have traits that you maybe haven't seen before?
SUTTON:"Well I think he's a really unique guy. Like I said, when he gets out, what's different about him is out there. We've played, over the course of time here, some different guys – Russell Wilson has great escape ability, (Colin) Kaepernick had that kind of thing. But this guy is a little bit different I think and he's very nifty in there and then just his arm strength is something on the move."
Q: If Frank Zombo is a regular for you on Sunday, is there something that maybe he brings that you might not have if he wasn't in the lineup?
SUTTON:"Frank's a highly competitive guy, a very smart player. He's obviously done a great job for us on the teams and when he's come in (on defense) done a really good job. So we're like everybody in the NFL, we'd like to have our starting players. If we don't, we're fortunate to have some guys that I think can come in and play pretty well. We have to see what happens and if it happens and those guys don't, the next guy's got to go play and do a good job. I have a lot of confidence, and I think we all do – players and coaches – in those guys stepping up and playing well."
Q: Last week we talked about your depth at pass rusher. Is this where that really comes into play?
SUTTON:"Yeah, I think there's a couple parts of it. Like we talked about, you generate rushes a lot of different ways. You can generate it sometimes with a three-man rush, a four-man rush, adding another player in – a linebacker, an inside backer, a DB, whatever – and you're just always trying to create situations where you're either attacking the protection or you want to change up the look for the quarterback. All those to me, they all fall in that same wheelhouse, you're trying to affect the quarterback in different ways and you just have to be ready. Sometimes you do it based on what they're doing, if it's out like that (snap), then sometimes it doesn't matter how many people you bring, the ball is thrown before you can get there anyways."