Q: What is your game plan going up against a Dallas defense that has a new coordinator?
A: Well, that's the million dollar question and the wild card to the whole equation. I think there's going to be some differences, I don't think there's any question. There are always some differences from the first time you play an opponent and the second one. I think the time span not being that great limits it, I think. The parameters are much narrower than they could have been. I would be shocked if there weren't some changes. Is it just nuance changes or is there a philosophical change? Unless you're in the meeting room, you don't know if it's just him adhering to what the coordinator says and supporting it, teaching it and implementing it and maybe thinking it's not the best way, or maybe he thinks it is the best way and he needs to light a fire under these guys, get them going, and execute a little better and that's enough.
Q: If Steve Smith is out, who is the next guy who steps up in the slot?
A: We'll rotate and move guys so we're not pigeon holed with one guy. Depending what the route is and what we're asking with the play, we can move different people in there. Whether it is Mario, Hakeem, Ramses Barden, Duke Calhoun, it can be any of them.
Q: What does he bring to the lineup that's hard to replace?
A: He's the most polished receiver we have. He's a guy who has really earned the respect of the defense to such a point that so many of the things they do are designed to stop him. That's what has helped open up opportunities elsewhere. Whether it's a double-team, or last time we played them, they were playing two zone but manning him up inside the zone and bringing the free safety over in case it's a double move on his part. I think people basically have said it's hard to cover him one-on-one inside, so people have committed other people and additional resources, whether it's another person or a schematic adjustment, so that either opens up running opportunities for us or passing opportunities for other people. It's a huge loss, but we'll make do.
Q: What's your level of confidence on the left side of the line right now?
A: We went in thinking that Shawn could really play well and it's a matter of how far he's advanced in the system, with knowledge of what we're doing. Would he be able to take what we think his level of knowledge was on the practice field into the heat of the battle on game day and not be overwhelmed with it? There is no question of his physical ability, it was how he'd be able to handle the stress of the game. Would he be able to maintain his poise and know what his assignments were, and be able to handle when we change plays and all the things we do on a regular basis. He did a very good job. Now you compound it because the guy that went inside, David (Diehl), was helping him and they worked and did an exceptional job together on some of the stunts we encounter. They did a terrific job. Now, you have Kevin Boothe and Mitch Petrus. Either way, it's a new guy both next to him and a new guy for the first time in a starting position. It's not the ideal world by any stretch, but they've been studying hard. Kevin has been here before and Mitch has been working his tail off. Regardless of how we'll go, it won't be as easily achieved as it was last week. We expect them to step up and continue to play. Now, it's up to him (Shawn) to help the guy to his inside as opposed to vice versa.
Q: How does Bear Pascoe block from the left side of the line?
A: It depends. We won't do things unless it's necessary and we have to move a guy over there. Mostly, he's in a two-back scheme and that's when it'll happen. When it's a single back, it'll be Ahmad or Brandon. One way or the other, if we have to go over there and help, but again defenses can take that person out of the equation, too. Whether it's Bear or one of the other two, we'll do what's necessary.