Q. It has been a little different for you this week. What is it like getting ready for a game that other than pride, doesn’t count?
A. It still counts for us and we’ve got to play. We want to play well. We want to end the season strong and on a high note. We are going against a good team. We are preparing hard and we’re going out there to compete and fight and see what we can do.
Q. Mentally how important is it to go home with a victory and wash a little bit of the bitter taste of what happened last week away?
A. Yeah, it will be good to end the season just playing well. That is what we want to do. Go into the offseason with some momentum, something to build. We are preparing hard. We had a good day of practice, guys running around. We’ve got to prepare for this team and get mentally right to go out there and play well.
Q. Did you sense that your teammates were dragging a bit this week?
A. No. I think we’ve had a pretty good attitude considering what is going on. For a bunch of us, this is kind of the first time this has happened in a long time. I think guys understand that we’ve still got a job to go out there and play well, prepare, and we are going to do that.
Q. How do you beat the Vikings?
A. You’ve just got to play smart football. Offensively, we can’t hurt ourselves, we can’t shoot ourselves in the foot with penalties and mistakes and turnovers. We’ve got to execute real well and they are a talented front four. They can get pressure on the quarterback easily. They stop the run well. We’ve just got to stay in good down and distance and execute perfectly.
Q. This has to be very difficult, I would think?
A. Well, it’s different. Obviously 2004, I was still trying to get my first win as a starter. I was a rookie and still learning everything. Since becoming a full-time starter, this is the first time playing in a situation where we know we aren’t making the playoffs. I still have gone about my business the same way. I came in yesterday and did my studying. We still want to go out there and play well. We feel offensively we need to end on a good note, see if we can stay in a good rhythm and score some points.
Q. Most fans would question what is the difference between 8-8 and 9-7 if you are not making the playoffs. Why is the game important?
A. Because it is our job to play every game, it doesn’t matter what the circumstances. Going 9-7 and having a winning season is something you can look back and say ‘hey, we aren’t far off from being a good team.’ We’ve got to do some things better and work on some things and fix some things. But, you win a couple of those close games early on and it is a whole new season. Having a winning season is something that you can build on and something we can be somewhat proud of.
Q. Tom said earlier today that it wouldn’t be a very pleasant conversation if he told you that he didn’t want you to play this week?
A. No, that wouldn’t be a good conversation. I definitely want to play and play well. We still have some young guys on this team. There are things we need to improve on and fix after last week. We are trying to fix those things and make sure we get better this week.
Q. Do you think that anything that will happen in this last game can have any bearing on next year?
A. I don’t know if you are playing for next year, but you are trying to get better. Each week you are trying to improve from the last week and fix things. From the offensive standpoint there are definitely things that we need to correct and we need to fix and improve on. That is what we are trying to do.
Q. I understand that it is a team thing and you want to win the game. Nonetheless, you are looking at a 4,000-yard season, Steve Smith is looking at 100 catches. Those are pretty significant milestones. Would they mean much to you?
A. Yeah they mean something. I want to make sure to get Steve his 100 catches. I take pride in having my receivers get that. It is something that is not easy to do and he has worked hard and had a great season. It is something that he can be proud of. Try to get that for him. I know Hakeem Nicks needs four to get 50 catches. That is something that is good for a rookie to get 50 catches in a season. In the long run that is not the most important thing, that’s not why you play the games, but still in this circumstance you try to get those things for your guys.
Q. Does the 4,000 yards mean anything to you?
A. I guess it is something. It’s not something that I was worried about or trying to get or wasn’t a goal at the beginning of the season. I guess it is something nice to know that you have done. To get 4,000 in a season is not easy and has been a big jump for me from last year and previous years. I guess it will be something nice to have.