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Q&A with Todd Haley 10/5

Posted Oct 5, 2011

OPENING REMARKS: “Alright, Wednesday, getting ready for the Indianapolis Colts, a team we have some familiarity with. We played them last year about this same time of year at their place. It’s not an easy place to play – indoor, extremely loud. They’re a team that is built for their stadium in my opinion. They start around the front four on the defensive line, specifically a couple guys in [Robert] Mathis and [Dwight] Freeney that are as good as you’ll see ever, in some cases. They have some good young linebackers that look like they are going to be real good players, a secondary that understands how they play defense, really an entire defense that plays that way. They’re a very complementary football team in general in that offensively and defensively they kind of complement the way that they want to play and the way that they want to win. They’re a team that has won a ton of games over the last decade, a ton of games, and they’re playing very hard, very physical. They’ve had some of their own adversity, much like us and they’re a very dangerous opponent because of that. Offensively, they’ve got a really good back in Joseph Addai that I like a lot, that makes a lot of yards after contact. They run the ball very well on first down specifically. They’re averaging close to five yards a clip. We’ve got to prepare for a couple of quarterbacks this week, I think – unless somebody knows something that I don’t – in [Curtis] Painter and Kerry Collins. We’ll just, as the week goes on, we’ll try to figure out how that’s going to go, but as of now, we’re preparing for two. They’ve got as good a group of receivers in the league as there is, led by Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark, Pierre Garçon, Austin Collie. They’ve got a really good group of receivers that can hurt you in a number of ways. And a young special teams group with a couple really good kickers. This is a matchup that is going to be very difficult for us. We’re starting the second quarter of the season. I think the guys are focused, ready to go to start the week. They understand that we are a team that’s got to continue to improve every day, and today is Wednesday, so we’ve got to start that progress.”

Q: Looking back to when you got here, was there a guy on that roster that you less expected to still be around and still helping you win games than Jackie Battle? Not counting Larry Johnson, of course.

HALEY: “No, I wouldn’t say that. That’s your thoughts on it. I think when I came here this was a group of guys that I didn’t know a whole bunch about, really, to be quite honest with you, and Jackie fell in that group. Through time, I’ve seen a lot from Jackie that I really like. I really feel good about where Jackie is right now. He’s weathered some adversity himself through the first couple years. He’s a guy that wants to play, wants to contribute. He’s been one of our best special teamers up to this point. That’s kind of been his calling card, but I know that he wants to be a running back and wants to contribute and he’s a guy I’m excited about. That’s why he was in the game there at the end, and I thought that he did just a tremendous job of running the football the way he needs to. They were arguably as big as any plays in the game that we made.”

Q: You said he’s been one of your better special teams players. Is that why you kept him around or did you see there might be a day that he was going to help you as a running back as well?

HALEY: “He’s like a lot of other guys on this team. He’s a young, developing player that is big and fast. He had a couple qualities, attributes that made him noticeable early on and then you saw some of his other attributes like toughness and mental toughness show up through his time here. He’s a guy that Mo Carthon has done a terrific job with in developing and he’s had to take a back seat to some pretty good runners. He knows he’s going to get more and more opportunities here and he’s kind of known that here as this year began, so I think he’s just all about trying to seize those opportunities and help our team win.”

Q: Is he the most versatile back you have in that he can play fullback if needed?

HALEY: “We’ve got a couple versatile ones, but he is and that probably as much as anything is what helped him hang on early on when we didn’t know a lot about him is that fact that No. 1, he’s big and fast, No. 2, that fullback, halfback versatility is a big item for us because as you’ve seen here, fullback is not a spot we carry heavy at very often and that’s been a reason why. Even game day rosters, as you go through the last few years, there were a lot of weeks where he made a difference in us kind of gaining a roster spot. I’m just happy about his progress, I’m happy about where he is right now and I know he’s excited about the opportunities in front of him.”

Q: You hear often that you just have to get that first win to change the course of the season. Now you’re trying to get your second one and that isn’t as big and juicy a number as the first one. How do you get these guys just as fired up over No. 2 as No. 1?

HALEY: “They’re all big and juicy, those W’s. Really, our mindset is we don’t have one. I understand the point and getting that first one, especially when you start out on the slide a little bit, becomes a big thing. It was a relief to get it, but more importantly, I think for our guys, they’re looking at it as a stepping stone. We wanted to really finish that quarter in a positive manner. We felt like the game against San Diego was a real positive game for us, that we made a lot of progress and we didn’t get the result we wanted. We wanted to build on that and end that quarter the way we did. Though not a successful quarter, it ended in a positive manner. Now, really, we’re trying to stay focused. This is a four-game season right now, the second quarter of the season, and we’ve got to do things a lot differently in the start of this quarter than we did in the start of the first. I think that’s one of the most important things that has come out of this is our guys understand that. They learned the hard way, but they seem to be understanding what our team needs to do to win, and that’s a real important aspect and item for our guys to understand.”

Q: Is there a danger that when QB Peyton Manning isn’t able to play that you think the offense isn’t as potent?

HALEY: “I think that that’s something that as coaches you ponder about but our players, as you watch this team, you can see they’re a good team. Whoever is in there at quarterback, they do what the Indianapolis Colts have done for a number of years and they’re very potent when they do it. Our defense is just trying to make progress and now we have to go into a very difficult place to play against a team that has won a ton of games and we need to play a better game than we did last week to be in a position to have a chance to win. That’s already started, but it starts today as far as practice goes and I know our guys are excited and upbeat and ready to get at it.”

Q: You talked about how excited T Branden Albert was about last Sunday’s outcome. That celebration’s got to be over because now you’ve got another game coming?

HALEY: “Yeah, and we talked about that pretty quickly after. We could enjoy that win for a brief 24-hour rule period and then we had to be moving on and like you said, as good as last week’s defensive line was that we saw from Minnesota, this is every bit and more of that and like I said, at home, it even looks better. They’re kind of built for their surroundings and how they’re going to play football. Those guys up front can disrupt the game fast so our guys will do a number of different things to try to prepare for those guys but it will take even a better performance this week.”

Q: Does WR Jon Baldwin have a chance to play?

HALEY: “He’s going to be out there practicing today in what I hope ends up being full with his teammates throughout, as opposed to not being in some of the team stuff. He’s excited. I know he’s been really working hard and I’m excited. It’s hard to sit there on the sidelines and not get to do much and this is another kid that really cares and wants to be in there trying to help. So we’ll see as the week progresses where he is. I hope to get him reps in the actual practice, so that would be good.”

Q: Is he going to have to play some special teams to get on the 46-person game day roster?

HALEY: “Yeah, he’ll be practicing some today. That’s part of the equation there for those guys and we’ve been shuffling them a little bit, but special teams is an area that we’ve got to continue to keep improving and making progress. I think we’ve done a lot of good things but I don’t think we’re near our potential and that’s an area we need to play to the full potential on special teams and he would be competing with a bunch of guys to be a game day roster spot if he’s good to go by the end of the week.”

Q: Not from an injury standpoint, how has he proved that he’s ready to play?

HALEY: “I think he’s being evaluated every day just like everybody else. His evaluation has just been a little different. It’s been interesting because he’s over on the other field most of the time just having the play read to him of what the rest of the guys are doing on field one, he’s on field two, breaking his own two-man huddle because there’s a coach in there giving him the play, and then running the play, run and pass. It’s kind of like his OTAs I’d say that he’s just had a month of. Hopefully that accelerates where he is and like I said, we’ll just have to see where he is physically but I know that he’s in good condition and he’s been really working hard. I’m just excited that he’s able to – for his own personal self – to be able to get out there and start practicing again full on with his teammates.”

Q: When you’re preparing for the Indianapolis Colts offense, do you treat Dallas Clark as a receiver or a tight end?

HALEY: “He’s a tight end that really catches the ball well. You have to see him for his abilities and his number one strength is just his playmaking ability in general. He’s got a great feel for the game. They rely on him heavily and he’s just a great competitor that can hurt you in a number of different ways and you have to account for him and a bunch of other guys. They’ve got a lot of really good players that can catch and run the ball.”

Q: You’ve had trouble covering the tight end at times this season. With their tight ends, and not having Eric Berry in your defensive backfield and kind of adjusting, is that something you talk about with your players going into this game and is that something everyone is still getting used to?

HALEY: “Yeah, I think for sure, you see some of that result is that component. But the fact is the component is not going to change. We just need to continue to improve and understand how we have to play defense – each player within the scheme and the way that we’re kind of doing things now and we’ll still game plan accordingly to who we’re playing. There has been a slight adjustment in philosophy and we just have to keep getting better.”

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