Q: How tough is it to prepare for a team that you know, but you also know that they’re going to come out and probably do different things in week one?
A: It’s a little more complex than usual because obviously the start of the year, they’ve seen what we do. We’ve had some success. There’s going to be the natural modifications or adjustments that take place, but here it’s been made a little bit more challenging because you’ve got two new corners, so now you’re trying to incorporate what you saw in preseason and what they did to us schematically last year. What are the normal adjustments and changes that are going to take place? Well what is going to take place because of the presence of those two corners that they’ve invested a lot of money to get, so you’re gambling. You got to have enough answers so ‘if they take this approach, we’re going to do this.’ If they take another approach, we’ll do something different, but to be quite honest, you don’t know and so we’ll wait and see. You’re playing the odds or your hunches that they’re going to do what we think and devise your game plan accordingly, but you certainly have in your hip pocket the ability to go to something else if they’re doing something much radically different than what we anticipate.
Q: In the two games that you played them last year, Hakeem and Victor combined for 500 yards receiving. Do you sit there and say try and stop us?
A: It’s funny. The first game, they had a very different approach than what they did the second game. You have your base defense, but they committed very much to a lot of man coverage and a lot of doubling of Victor and Hakeem and basically said you’ve got win somewhere else and it got even more radical at the end where they just look edlike punt, where you’re punting and they got viced up on Vic and that’s when really Jake Ballard made two great big plays for us that enabled us to come back and win the game. The second game, they still played man, but not nearly as much. The percentage wasn’t and the doubling, when they played man, was the same but it was a much, much lower percentage and it was much more zone and a more conservative approach and let those great pass rushers, if you can hold the ball a little bit, they have some tremendous, tremendous pass rushers that maybe they can get to the quarterback and have some success that way. We started off the game and we played great, but then we slowed down in the third quarter and it looked like their approach was winning and we were only up 21-14, I don’t remember. Then we made the big catch and that changed the momentum again. It brought it back to our side, but it was looking like maybe that different way of going about defending us was working because we didn’t do much the third quarter.
Q: Can you talk about the job Sean Locklear has done at left tackle and Beatty and Brewer?
A: Sean, I won’t say has been a surprise, but he’s been what we’ve hoped. You bring him in here, hopefully he’s going to be your third and he’s going to be your swing tackle. With William out the entire preseason, all of a sudden he moved up to the starting position and has played real well. He hasn’t hurt us in the pass game at all. His protection has been excellent. He’s been one of the better performers in pass protection. He’s still learning some of the things with the run game the way we do it, so I think he’ll get better and better, but he’s been a bona fide pro. We haven’t fallen off because when we’ve erred, it’s not been something that he did that hurt us, so I’ve been very, very pleased with him. Obviously William coming back is a huge factor for us to have some depth and then play it out. This is like, I hate to say it, but it’s like his first exhibition game, but of course except it’s for real and so you’re going to be tentative watching how he plays and watching him today, he was excellent at practice and he volunteered to do some scout work so he can get some quality work against Osi and those guys and he looked pretty good. So that was an encouraging sign and then James Brewer has just been in and out and hurt and we’ll see where he’s at health-wise before we make any decisions.
Q: Did you guys ever consider flipping Locklear and Diehl?
A: We did. We did. Very much so, but right now Sean is playing very well, so he’s been really as good as anybody we’ve had… pass pro up there and that way we can protect to the other side and we’ve been doing that.
Q: Do you have any idea what you’re going to get from the running game?
A: It’s something we’ve been striving to get, there’s no question about it, and we had a couple big runs, which was encouraging, but there really wasn’t the rhythm that you’re looking for. We got it the second half with the second unit, but we didn’t get it with the first group. What they were doing defensively in the beginning of the game, they were basically challenging us to throw and we had some opportunities and we misfired on a couple of third and short. We did get two cracks and we were trying to seal everybody off and get outside and we didn’t get anything. We lost yardage. I never felt like we got in a rhythm with the first group, so we were very disappointed in our performance. I know all of us were. We had hoped to come out of it feeling really good. O.K., we’re right where we need to be and exactly the opposite happened. I just think it was one of those days where we just didn’t make enough plays. Usually with the first group, at least the way we’ve been, sooner or later we get it going and they’ve been very, very resilient and we’ve come back from whatever the circumstances and I wouldn’t believe that would’ve happened in that game, but you only had one quarter and you were done. It was disappointing the way we played last week.
Q: Is Domenik Hixon your third receiver?
A: Right now, yeah.
Q: How has he progressed coming back from the knee injury?
A: Good. He’s a consummate pro. He’s always going to know exactly what to do. He’s always going to be technically very, very sound. He’s very dependable. You can trust that he’ll do the right thing and right now, there’s no evidence that there’s any residual limitations because of his injury. Anything we’ve seen has been very positive from him.
Q: What kind of dynamic does Martellus Bennett present? What was he able to show in the preseason?
A: I think that he’s raw for a guy that’s been in the league, but he’s got a lot of potential. He’s got great passion. He wants to be good. He’s got all the ingredients to be a very good player for us and I think it’s just a matter of getting acclimated. He missed the whole spring and so that really hurt him not going through the OTAs and everything else, but he’s a hard-working physically-talented guy that wants to be good and those are usually pretty good starting points.