Super Bowl XLIII -- Arizona Cardinals Thursday Transcripts


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Super Bowl XLIII -- Arizona Cardinals Thursday Transcripts
Super Bowl XLIII – Week 1

Arizona Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Thursday After Practice 1/22/09

Cardinals Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt

On how it felt to be back on the field today:
“It was good. Seems like it has been a long time since we had the championship game, so it is good to get back out there and get ready for this game coming up.”

On the fact that QB Kurt Warner said it was not a great practice today:
“It is no different than a normal Wednesday practice. Especially after they have had a couple of days off, you are not sharp. You are not as sharp as you would like to be. We were aware of that going in. I’m not going to make something out of it.”

On the Anquan Boldin situation:
“Nothing has changed since Monday. I said it wasn’t an issue. I said we have had things like that this year. It is part of football. Nothing has changed.”

On what he saw when he hired Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley:
“I thought Todd was a good coach. When you spend a year with someone in a little office together, you find out a lot about him. I think working together, knowing how he thinks, because we have similar ideas on philosophy in what we are trying to get done. I felt from staying in touch with him all of these years I know that he is a good football coach. We tried to get him in Pittsburgh when I was there. I’m not surprised that he has done a good job for us. That is one of the reasons we wanted him here.”

On how far his game plan for the game has been instilled so far:
“We are doing it like a normal week. That is my experience in doing this, and we have an opportunity to do it again next week. We are putting things in. I’m sure there will be things that come up like they normally do. We are getting a good bulk of it in this week and we are excited about that.”

On how to simulate Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger in practice:
“We have Brian St. Pierre who was in Pittsburgh, so he has seen Ben do that. I’m not saying that physically he can do the things that Ben can do, but as far as scrambling and moving around in the pocket and those kinds of things, extending the play, we are trying to give them a picture for that. I think it’s not just Ben. It’s their receivers too because they are on the same page as Ben as far as where they are going when he scrambles. You are trying to give (the defense) that look, but it is not always easy.”

On the difference in the running game since the playoffs started:
“I think we have just run it a little bit more. I think what happened to us earlier in the season is in some of those games, we got down. We were forced to play catch-up. When you do that, you have to abandon the run game. I think really what has happened, if you look at our run vs. pass ratios in these games, they have been a little bit more balanced. What has happened is that we are able to repeat some runs and we have run them a little bit better. I think that we have become better because we have actually had more runs. A lot of times, earlier in the season, we would run a play, get not much out of it, and we weren’t doing a good job in getting back to those runs. We talked about that earlier this year. Obviously, our focus has been a little bit better on that, knowing that we’re going to have to do it. I think because we have had a little bit of success with play-action pass tied into that, (the run game) has worked better as well.”

On if Edgerrin James has played a part in the resurgence of the running game:
“There is no question that Edge has played a part in that. He has done a very good job of getting extra yards after contact, which gives us a little bit more confidence in the run game to go back to certain plays. A lot of the things that we knew Edgerrin was and said we would need him later in the year for, is what has happened for us. Once again, I am very pleased with Edgerrin and his approach and how he has continued to work and that he has had success.”

On what James brings to the table as a veteran:
“(James is) a veteran player who has been in the playoffs this time of year and understands the work and the focus that it takes. He brings a lot to the table for us. That has been seen in the improvement in our running game. You have seen Tim (Hightower) improve and get back to doing some of the things that we were excited about Tim doing earlier, and J.J. (Arrington) as well. Edgerrin, as far as getting the run established, has been a big part of that.”

On what it must mean to James to make his first Super Bowl after years not making it to the game in Indianapolis:
“It has got to be an exciting thing. You can go to the playoffs, but to get to the Super Bowl is a hard thing to do. To finally do that, especially to what he has contributed in the playoffs for us, I’m excited for Edge. I’m excited, obviously, for this team.”

On the biggest difference he notices between an experienced Super Bowl team like the Steelers and a team new to the routine like the Cardinals:
“There are a lot of things that we are going through for the first time. We are lucky because we have a number of people on the coaching staff and in the organization who have been there before and that helps. There are a lot of things you have to experience yourself for the first time because you can never answer every question ahead of time. A lot of times when you have been there before, like the Steelers have, if there are issues that pop up or questions that maybe are not football related, they have a process that they are used to dealing with those things. These are things that we are all experiencing together for the first time. It is not a bad problem to have.”

On how helpful it would be to have LB Travis LaBoy healthy for the Super Bowl:
“Based on what I have seen Travis do for us when he is healthy, it would be exciting to see him out there. We are going to need something like that to help try to slow down this offense, especially with the quarterback and the way he moves around and runs that offense.”

On Steelers safety Troy Polamalu:
“I have been frustrated with Troy many, many times in practice going against him for what he does. He is a very talented player, there’s no question about that. He is all over the field. He is a guy who can really hurt you. We have to be very disciplined about knowing where Troy is and how we handle those things; understand what he can do. The biggest thing with Troy is underestimating his ability to make a play on the ball from the line of scrimmage, which we have all seen him do a number of times. He is an outstanding football player and a big part of the reason that that defense is so potent.”

On the health of the team:
“We are in pretty good shape, health wise. Travis (LaBoy) was limited in practice today a little bit trying to work through the issues with his bicep. J.J. (Arrington) is coming back off of a knee, but we still have time. It is good that we have the benefit of this week to get guys back and healed up and really get into it next week. Those were the only two who were really limited in practice that were significant. We had some other guys that were just limited, but nothing that I would think would keep them out of the game a week and a half from now.”

On if Anquan Boldin is back to full strength:
“Yes. Today was probably the first day he has gone through a full practice, and he looked good. He did a good job. We still had him on the injury report because you want to make sure that something doesn’t pop up tomorrow. He did a nice job today.”

On the health of DE Antonio Smith:
“Antonio was limited in practice, but I don’t think it is going to be an issue.”

On if it will be more difficult to keep them focused this week compared to the NFC Championship Game:
“Yea, it is hard. It is a little bit more difficult. It is not because it is the week before the game, but because everyone is trying to get prepared to go to Tampa. Whether it is trying to get tickets, or travel, or family. Those are all things that we tried to make a point to get out of the way before practice started, and a lot of guys have done a good job with that. Usually, that Monday, that Tuesday beforehand, or that Wednesday this week, is spent preparing for the opponent. We haven’t had as much time to do that, and that is why practice today was a little bit like a first day type practice. As the week progresses, I think we will be able to get focused back in and those distractions will obviously be minimized.”

On the connection between Steelers’ QB Ben Roethlisberger and TE Heath Miller:
“It is not hard to have a chemistry with Heath. When you throw any ball in the air, he catches it. I will say that for him. I know from being around that young man for a couple of years, he is a very good football player. He is probably one of the best combination blocking and receiving tight ends in the league. I know that he has made a number of big plays for Ben in the past. He runs very good routes, has outstanding hands, hard to get the ball away from him because he is a big guy. There is no question in my mind that Ben has a very good rapport with him as far as being able to understand where he is going to be and put the ball on him. It is going to be a tough match-up to stop, as with all of their guys, because he has the same thing with Hines (Ward) and even Santonio (Holmes).”

On if he enjoyed or became annoyed with facing Steelers’ Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau’s blitz defenses in practice:
“I enjoyed the match-ups. I always felt that they made us better as far as being able to understand how to pick things up. Especially with playing teams in that division that brought a lot of pressure, it prepared us for that. Even coming here, playing Philadelphia this year and playing the New York Giants, I really believe that the pressure type things that they brought against us, having gone against Dick LeBeau in practice, no question in my mind helped prepare us to handle those types of things. I am very grateful for that opportunity. At times it was frustrating in practice because they did a good job, especially when Coach (Bill) Cowher would yell at us when we weren’t doing anything good against them. I really think that it did prepare us.”

On if he saw everything he could possibly see a defense throw at him after going against LeBeau in practice every day:
“There is no question in my mind that we said that we couldn’t see a whole lot more than we saw from a training camp. I felt that way from our training camp too because of some of the things that Clancy (Pendergast) and our defensive staff have done against us. When you have guys that can move personnel around and give you different blitz looks, it is difficult in training camp, but it does help make you better.”

On if he feels like the players are mentally prepared to start getting ready for the game:
“It seems that way. The last three weeks for us have really been a great experience as far as how we have to prepare. Being able to get that focus back and understand what it takes for us to be successful; that is important and has helped us do that. Our guys are excited about the opportunity to play in this game. They understand that, in order for us to play well, we have to practice the way we have been practicing.”

On if he allows himself to think about what it will be like to go up against his former team:
“They are a good football team. I think about all of my friends, players and coaches, within that organization. I know that if there is anybody out there that I would want to play in the Super Bowl, it would be these guys. There is no question, always, that you want to win the game, but if we didn’t, there is no other team that I would want to see win it than those guys. From that standpoint, it is an exciting thing.”

On why players love playing for Dick LeBeau:
“Coach LeBeau cares about every player who plays in his defensive scheme. He is very consistent with his demeanor and how he approaches it. He is also not afraid to get on you. I think the players respect that. I think if you look at what he has done in this league as a football player and the tremendous stats that he has, Hall-of-Fame stats that he has, I think they have a great deal of respect for him for that too.”

On if he has gotten any phone calls from former Head Coaches that he worked with:
“I have gotten a call from some of them. I have gotten a call from Coach Cowher and a couple of others. You get so many calls at this time because people are happy for you. I am very thankful for that.”

On what Coach Cowher said to him:
“He just wished me good luck. He just gave me some advice on how to handle it, how to minimize any distractions. I had some questions for him about some of the things that we had done when we went there; just some of the details on what clothes I wore to what press conferences. He is such a snappy dresser.”

On where he feels Coach Cowher’s allegiances lie:
“I think that he is happy for me. I think that he is happy for the team. However, I have no doubts that after 15 years with that organization and what he did there, it is hard not to pull for his old team.”

On if he feels good about J.J. Arrington being available for the game:
“It is hard to rule anybody out for the Super Bowl. I would hope that he will progress rapidly as the week goes and get some good work in next week. I think the most important thing is that we don’t rush it too much this week to make sure that we can push it next week to counter-balance.”

Cardinals Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line Coach Russ Grimm

On what he attributes to the growth of the offensive line and run game:
“It all depends on how the game pans out in the first quarter. There have been games where we fell behind and got away from the run. There have games where we jumped ahead in the playoffs that let us run a little bit more. But just the fact these guys have been here for two years and luckily we’ve been healthy, so they have all played together. The consistency factor has been good and they’re a lot more confident in the offense we’re running – this is their second year in it. We just have to keep working and it goes one day at a time.”

On Lyle Sendlein:
“Lyle caught on quickly last year. He was a rookie last year and we liked the fact that he was a free agent and he started four years at the University of Texas – so that was a big plus for us. We knew the toughness factor was there, he was smart enough and he picked it up and played a couple of games for us last year and then really went to work in the offseason and made some big strides forward as far as this year in camp. (Former Cardinal) Al (Johnson) got hurt, Lyle stepped in and that’s where it’s been ever since.”

On whether his and Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt’s knowledge of Pittsburgh helps:
“Both teams have an extra week to prepare. You know the defense – (Pittsburgh Defensive Coordinator) Dick (LeBeau) brings it from everywhere. You turn it one way one time and he’ll bring it on the backside and you turn it back there and they’ll bring it on the front side, so it becomes a bit of a guessing game. Knowing the personnel probably helps a little bit better than anything else, but with the extra week, I think everyone knows everyone pretty well.”

On practicing against Dick LeBeau:
“I’ve always been a guy, even here last year in training camp – some teams go to camp and they say, ‘can you just play a plain nickel defense until I get everyone on the same page.’ But I’m just the opposite – it’s like, ‘go ahead and bring it, we’re going to see it during the year, lets start picking it up now and see how we handle it and what adjustments we need to make and we’ll go from there.’”

On what the practices were like:
“Some of them you’re going to turn people loose. But there are certain rules that you give them – there are different number counts, they disguise it from one side and bring it from the other. You have to look for tendencies and little things that will help you and Kurt (Warner) does a good job getting the ball out.”

On Deuce Lutui:
“There’s always going to be questions and you always like to have competition behind someone to push the guy in front, but Deuce has picked it up. He started a couple of games his rookie year, so last year was really his first year. Plus it was a whole new system, so he had to learn two systems in his first two years in the league, which is tough on a rookie. But he’s picked it up. I think everyone is more confident assignment-wise and a little more comfortable with who they’re playing beside and you’ve got to take it one play at a time.”

On his relationship with Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt:
“We played together in Washington. He was a friend of mine and he was a teammate. We were on the same page as far as the system we were running under (Joe) Gibbs and (Dan) Henning, but he went to the Jets, Browns and bounced around. But when he came back to Pittsburgh, the last six years we were together built the relationship a little bit better.”

On whether he’s talked to Bill Cowher or any current Pittsburgh coaches:
“No. I have friends back there and some of the players have friends – I coached with a lot of those guys for six years. We had some good times, we won a championship in Pittsburgh and a lot of those guys are still there, they’re good friends and you always wish them well – except for this coming one.”

On whether he stays in touch with Cowher much:
“A little bit, but not as much as I’d like to. But that’s by design. He’s retired, he’s relaxed, he’s doing his TV thing and it’s good to see. A guy who has coached and had that much success, to be able to walk away when he wants to walk away from it and decide if he wants to get back in when he wants to get back in it – I think that’s great.”

On if the line reflects his personality:
“I hope not. We’ve got some characters, so I hope it’s not my personality.”

On Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau:
“Coach LeBeau has been around a long time. He’s played the game, he’s coached it for a long time, with a bunch of different clubs and some good defenses and I think the guy is still a student of the game. He studies film and he has certain things he knows hurts offenses. I was with him in Pittsburgh, so I know his work ethic and we’re going to have our hands full picking up some of the things they throw at us.”

Cardinals QB Kurt Warner

On how practice went today:
“Not as good as I wanted. It’s one of those things you kind of expect. The last few days have been busy, taking care of everything you have to and taking a few days off. I can understand how guys’ minds might wander a bit but it’s something that we’ll have to get better as we move forward.”

On what the biggest piece of advice he can share with the team:
“Enjoy the moment. There is a lot of stuff that goes on down there that can be a distraction and you can allow it. To deal with the media or deal with the fans when you go out, having to sign autographs. You don’t want to shut yourself off and look at everything as a negative and affect your preparation, compared to what you would do on a normal week. Enjoy the moment, understand what it is and prepare for the fact that you’re going to be asked for autographs when you’re at the hotel. Prepare that you’re going to get a million questions from the media and they’re going to be the same ones. Don’t get frustrated by it. Let it be and enjoy the moment.”

On if it is gratifying to help a guy like Adrian Wilson reach the Super Bowl?
“It’s gratifying to be a part of what we’ve accomplished this year and to get to this point. Guys have played well and coaches have coached well and people within the organization who have worked hard and never been there before. It’s gratifying to be a part of that and watch them get that opportunity because you know how special it is.”

On what he thinks about the situation with Anquan (Boldin) and Todd (Haley)?
“I don’t think anything more about it. Those things happen. I don’t know how many times. It is what it is. You move forward and go back to work like we did today. To all of us, it’s over with. (The media) are the ones hanging on to it. Once you leave the field it’s over and you try and win a championship.”

On what he feels it does to Anquan’s reputation:
“I know him and that’s all I can base it on. I’ve had plenty of people make assumptions on me about something that I’m not and that’s what it is. It’s one of the things that happens when you’re in this business. People are going to have perceptions of you that aren’t necessarily true and there’s nothing you can do about it. The one thing I can say is that the people who know him – the guys in the locker room – know who he is and know that what happened on the field is what happened on the field and it’s over. We love the guy and we know what a character guy he is. The funny thing is you see what he’s done all year and the character he’s displayed all year and one instance, that I’ve had six times this year, becomes a defining point of the season is crazy. He’s too great of an individual.”

On taking a lot of abuse and if he is staying in better shape:
“It’s one of those things. Sometimes you can play with injuries and sometimes you don’t. In my career, I haven’t suffered any serious injuries except for my right hand. I can play through a lot of things, but not to my right hand. It all worked together for a purpose… to get here and for the next few weeks.”

On Larry Fitzgerald’s ability to get open and the trust they have developed with each other:
“The trust comes from an understanding of what he does and what he does well. He’s so good with the ball in the air. I know what it takes for Larry to be open. I can put it in certain places where only he can get it or a place where I know he can get it. With that you have the ultimate confidence. If you put it in the right spot, he’s going to make a play on the ball. I’ve seen him do it time and time again. All he has to do is get a step on you and he’s so big and strong and athletic that he’s going to get it. I understand what it means for different guys to be open and for Larry to be open. We try to take advantage of that.”

On when he discovered what he just described:
“It took a few years. When I first got here Josh McCown kept telling me that. Open for these guys is a little different. You can throw it up there and they’ll get it. Coming from where I was with Isaac (Bruce) and Torry (Holt), I could always tell someone was open based on the separation they got from the defensive back. When I saw some of Josh’s throws I asked ‘What made you make that throw. It looked like he was covered.’ As I worked with these guys I came to understand you can make that throw. It’s one of those things I’ve had to change in my game with these guys because they play the game a little different that other receivers I’ve played with. It took me well over a year to understand that. I can put the onus on them by putting the ball in the right spot and letting them go make plays.”

On how the running game is different from the regular season:
“Confidence. It’s all about believing what you can do. We gain confidence every week that we can run the ball. I don’t know what clicked. In the last few games we just found that we were having success. Now we’re running a little more and the guys up front have more confidence and the guys in back are getting more patient waiting for the line. Each week we gain more confidence and we can be a more balanced football team.”

On how much of that is about Edgerrin James:
“Edge is a huge part of it. The way he runs and his ability to make something out of nothing are huge keys. The difference between a zero yard gain and two yard is huge within the course of a drive. He does that as well as anybody. I’ve seen him when there’s nothing there but he puts his head down and moves the pile. He’s been a huge key to that.”

Cardinals WR Anquan Boldin

On how his days off were:
“Good – I went to see a movie.”

On what movie he saw:
“‘Gran Torino.’ I heard all the other movies weren’t very good.”

On what he makes of the negative publicity surrounding him:
“For me it’s hilarious. I don’t want to sit here and dwell on it, because for me it’s in the past, but that’s something goes on every week in the NFL – whether people know it or not. Every week someone on the sidelines gets in an argument. But it’s in the heat of the moment, it’s a part of football and once it’s all done, it’s dead on both sides. Like I said, it’s not something I wish to dwell on or will let distract this team, because that’s not my priority.”

On celebrating after the NFC Championship Game:
“I celebrated and I celebrated with my teammates – I just tried to avoid this (the media). But me leaving earlier than everybody else seems to have made it worse, but it is what it is. The guys in the locker room know what kind of guy I am and they know exactly what went on.”

On whether he has addressed the team about the sideline argument:
“No. Like I said, it’s common and once it’s done, it’s done. There’s no need to dwell on it and go back and forth.”

On whether he’s spoken to Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley about their argument:
“No – like I said, there’s nothing to talk about. You can ask me 100 times, but there’s really nothing to talk about.”

On whether in retrospect he wishes he had stayed on the field:
“Yeah – but like I said, I congratulated everyone on the team before I left. And I didn’t want this to be a distraction, which is why I tried to get out early.”

On what happened with the sideline argument:
“I was mad because they took me out of the game. I think any competitor would have the same reaction. A game of that magnitude, how close the game was and us potentially driving to score a touchdown – I want to be in there. That’s just the type of guy I am.”

On whether he wasn’t in on the last drive because of his hamstring:
“I was able to run the entire day. I didn’t feel like my injury played a part in anything. I was able to finish the game, came out of it healthy and didn’t have any problems after the game or the next day. I felt like I was fine.”

On arguing with Haley being a common thing with the team:
“He’s gotten into it with a couple of guys. Like I said, it’s normal. He gets into it with Kurt (Warner), he gets into it with defensive players, he gets into it with tight ends and he gets into it with other coaches. It’s common around here. So for me to be getting calls from everyone saying, ‘everyone is blowing it up and making a big deal out of it,’ – it was funny to me. My little brother called me and I had a couple of cousins call me and they were mad, saying ‘did you hear what Jim Rome said?’ But I don’t really pay attention to that, because it was a minute thing and people took it and ran with it.”

On his reaction after seeing the footage of the argument:
“That it was common. It’s something that was really minute, but guys got a hold of it and tried to blow it up.”

On how the argument is an example of something small being blown up this far into the playoffs:
“Most definitely. There are only two teams left now, so all the attention is on those two teams. Week one we didn’t have this many (media) out here. The attention has grown. Do you have to be careful? I guess so. But at the same time, you can’t alter who you are. You can only be you and let the rest take care of itself.”

On his injury:
“I’m fine. My hamstring is not an issue at this point.”

On whether he is still mad for being taken out of the last drive:
“No. It’s a new day, we’re in the Super Bowl – which I’m excited about – so no, I’m not mad.”

On saying ‘next question,’ when asked about coming back to Arizona next season:
“The reason I said, ‘next question,’ to that was because we had just won the NFC Championship. We’re going to the Super Bowl and a guy brings up a question of, ‘are you coming back next year?’ First of all – that’s out of my control. I’m playing in the Super Bowl.”

Cardinals SS Adrian Wilson

On the last few days:
“We really didn’t have a lot of time off – we got the tape of Pittsburgh and got started with those guys. It’s going to be a difficult game, a tough team to prepare for, but we’re just really, really happy for the opportunity.”

On whether he’s spoken with Anquan Boldin:
“I think it’s a non-issue. I think people are making a lot out of nothing and that type of stuff happens all the time. ‘Q’ is very dedicated to this team and very dedicated to the people that play on the team, so I think it’s a non-issue.”

On Boldin:
“He’s a standup player and whenever you get into a situation like that, maybe he needed some time to cool off. Maybe it was something he didn’t want to hurt it any more than what everyone is making it out to be. But ‘Q’ is a standup guy and I think it’s a non-issue.”

On being in this situation:
“It feels great. It’s a sense of accomplishment and I think everyone is happy for the opportunity. It’s a great opportunity for the franchise and a great opportunity for a lot of the guys on this football team.”

On whether there were years he thought this would never happen:
“All the time – but you always keep hope and you always keep faith in the team and the organization.”

On the confidence he has in the coaching staff to break down the Steelers:
“They’ve been doing a great job all year breaking down teams and I think this week it’ll be no different. We’re prepared for these guys and I think we’ll have a pretty good game plan going into the game.”

On whether having former Pittsburgh coaches is an advantage:
“I think it is, but if the players don’t know what the coaches know, then we’re kind of behind the eight ball. We definitely have to get in there and study and know everything the coaches know.”

On saying Monday that the Boldin situation had to be taken care of before leaving for Tampa:
“It’s taken care of. It’s a non-issue. It’s Thursday and it happened Sunday, so we’re moving on.”

On whether Boldin addressed the team:
“No. Everyone knows the type of guy that Anquan is, so for us, it’s a non-issue. Everybody in the locker room knows the type of guy Anquan is and the type of player he is, so for us, as players, we don’t think it’s an issue.”

On how you defend Ben Roethlisberger:
“It’s tough. He’s a tall and big quarterback. It’s hard for us, or any defender, to bring him down. He does a great job of looking off the safety and he’s been in that offense for quite a long time now, so we’re going to have our hands full. Luckily for us, we’ve got enough time to try and prepare and hopefully we’ll have a good game plan going into the game.”

On what makes Roethlisberger so dangerous:
“He can read coverages and whenever you have a quarterback who can make the right reads and get the ball in the right areas, it’s hard to contain a guy like that. We’ve just got to make sure we’re on our P’s and Q’s.”

On his celebrating with Karlos Dansby:
“It’s just something Karlos and I thought of. I made the play and got the guy to do it, so it was a lot of fun.”

On Dansby:
“I hope we can re-sign him. To me, I think he’s one of the top five players on this team. And whenever you have a guy like that who kind of comes into their own, you always want to keep your own in-house and do the things necessary to get guys locked up and get guys signed for the long haul.”

On the 2004 draft:
“It took them some time to develop. Those guys had pretty good coaching and have developed into some pretty good players. Whenever you have a core group of guys like we do have now, it’s very beneficial for the whole team. The team can kind of come together and build together and you’re able to have the type of camaraderie with the guys that you already have in-house and bring in a good draft. Just having guys on the same page and knowing you have guys you’ve played with in the past and not having to rotate guys in and out of key positions.”

On people still doubting the team:
“It’s cool. It’s been like that the whole playoffs and it’s just fuel for our fire. It’s a great opportunity for us to play in the Super Bowl.”

On how he has evolved as a player and a leader:
“I’m getting a lot more interviews. For me, it’s just keeping my head down, working hard and trying to be an example by the way I work. I’ve always been like that, I never downplayed the organization or ever talked bad about them, because this is somewhere I want to be and somewhere I want to finish my career and it’s all about working and making the team better.”

On Kurt Warner:
“It’s a great opportunity and we have a chance to showcase some of the guys and some of the leaders we have in the locker room. With Kurt being able to go to a Super Bowl before and give guys like me an opportunity to do things like this and open up and show the world the type of people we have. We have quality people and good character guys in that locker room and just being able to be on the national stage and being able to showcase who you are as a person – it’s great. To me, Kurt is the ultimate team player and my hat is off to him, because he does a great job of getting guys ready for these situations.”

On who his mentor has been for the playoffs:
“For me I always listen to what Kurt has to say. He’s been on the big stage and just being able to take in the things he’s said leading up to the game. Not getting over-hyped about these interview sessions, not getting overly concerned about the game plan, because obviously a lot of it is going to be done this week and the distractions you’ll have next week, you have to put a lot of those things aside to get ready for the game. That’s what I think everybody in the locker room is concentrating on – getting prepared for this football game and cutting down on the distractions.”

On being so committed to the Cardinals:
“I also have a wife and two kids. You never want to move your family around – you want to be as stable as possible. For me, I think it’s very important and important for my kids, more than anything, to have those grounded roots and not have to move around everywhere. Just the dedication that you have to one place I think is very important. It means a lot for your character.”

On the Arizona winters:
“I’ve been here for awhile and obviously my winters have been worse, since we haven’t been practicing this late. It’s great to finally get this opportunity.”

On Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie:
“I hope I have a pretty calming influence on him. I believe he’s a very confident player and he does a great job of listening to the veteran players – not only me, but Rod Hood, Ralph Brown and a lot of other guys that we have in the locker room. Being a calming influence on him and helping him grow and come around that learning curve so he can be a consistent player. I think he’s done a great job this postseason.”

On Rodgers-Cromartie:
“He’s an ascending player and hopefully he’ll continue to get better for us.”

Cardinals WR Sean Morey

On how special teams players approach the Super Bowl:
“I think everyone has a job to do – you have to be accountable and approach it as you would any other week: understand your opponent, try to understand their tendencies, their strengths and what they like to do and their personnel. Pittsburgh is a very physical and tough team. They’re going to hit you in the mouth, they’re going to play physical, play to the whistle and maybe even a little more. They’re a very good team, they play well together and it’s going to be a big challenge for us on special teams. For me, as a special teams guy, I’m going to make sure I’m prepared to do my job.”

On being familiar with Pittsburgh’s special teams:
“They have a lot of new personnel and new faces and guys that do a really good job for them. It’s been two years since I’ve been there and there has been some turnover and I think they’re a very solid core special teams unit and they do a really good job.”

On similarities between the Steelers and Cardinals:
“I think the identity of the Pittsburgh Steelers over the past few decades has been sort of blue collar, smash-mouth, hit-you-in-the-mouth and a really tough, physical, disciplined and smart-situational football team. They’re well coached and I think the identity of the Arizona Cardinals is following suit. I think the mentality and approach that (Head) Coach Ken Whisenhunt and (Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Line Coach) Russ Grimm have contributed to that, but I think there’s also a lineage of coaches that have come from Bill Parcells that have coached with similar styles of football. I think our staff has done an amazing job of changing the culture here and I think our team has really risen to adopt that mentality and approach. Guys have been working really hard, paying attention to detail and preparing. I think it’s very similar, to be quite honest.”

On every part of the team becoming more physical:
“Even in that sense our O-line and our backs have picked up the physical-ness, the possession receivers are physical and so I think that has followed suit as well.”

On the team not getting any respect:
“I don’t really think anybody in that locker room cares one way or another. They might hype it up and some guys might have a chip on their shoulders. You have to understand that this league is comprised of highly competitive people in every game. Any time you get called out, guys are going to do their job and be physical and do all the things that analysts or whoever say they can’t, like stopping the run. I think that our team has answered the call for a lot of those criticisms – we’ve shown every team that we can do the things people didn’t think we could do and that’s playing smart, situational football, being aggressive, being tough against the run and being a complete team. I think a lot of players have held each other accountable and taken it upon ourselves to work together in practice and play hard on Sunday.”

On making every play count:
“You don’t know what plays are going to impact the game and the number of reps that special teams get are limited, so you have to go out and think every play could possibly impact the outcome of the game. Every single time you step onto the field, you understand your reps are limited and you have to do everything you can to make an impact.”

On Larry Fitzgerald:
“I think it’s pretty obvious – his athletic ability – you can’t deny how good of an athlete he is as a physical and tough receiver, but also his leaping ability and his ability to track the ball. I’m not sure I’ve ever played with anyone who can catch the deep ball as well as Fitz. As a teammate, I think he brings a level of focus and he’s very driven to be the best. The way he works on the practice field shows an example for a lot of young players. I think he’s just one of those special players who really desires to be the best at his position. He’s very driven and one of the most focused players I’ve played with. As a player, he reminds – his preparation and focus reminds me a lot of – Troy Polamalu.”

Super Bowl XLIII – Week 1

Arizona Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Thursday After Practice 1/22/09

Cardinals Defensive Coordinator Clancy Pendergast

On the biggest challenges going up against Ben Roethlisberger:
“The breaking containment, not letting him get out of the pocket. Every play is live until the ball is out of his hands. What we are telling the defense is, ‘if you don’t hear the whistle blow, the play is still active. Until that ball is blown dead or it is in somebody else’s hands other than his, everything is still live. I think the biggest thing is just getting him on the ground. We had an opportunity to get him on the ground a couple of times last year, and our guys just kind of fell off him like flies. Just like I mentioned earlier, until that whistle blows, everything is live with him because he makes a lot of plays, loose plays, once he gets outside the pocket, scrambling, throwing back across the field. He has a big time arm and can get that ball wherever he wants.”

On if he knew that Darnell Dockett, Antonio Smith, and Karlos Dansby would be so good coming out in the same draft together:
“There is no question. Darnell was very active in college, made a lot of plays. He penetrated a lot in the running game, played on the other teams’ line of scrimmage. Obviously, he has done that for us. Karlos, being a linebacker at Auburn, initially he was a safety, so you could see his athletic skills. Those guys have really matured into great players. Antonio has really developed. He played defensive end for us initially, then we moved him to slash-three technique and five-technique. He gained a lot of valuable experience when Bertrand (Berry) got hurt and he ended up starting the second-half in both of those seasons. When he moved into a full-time starter role last year, it didn’t surprise me at all.”

On if he will try to pressure Roethlisberger or lay back off of him:
“That is part of our game. We will do a little bit of everything. The biggest thing is that we are going to have to go out and execute.”

On the Cardinals’ linebacking corps:
“I think our outside linebackers, Chike (Okeafor) and Bertrand Berry and Travis LaBoy, the combination of those three guys, veteran guys, that played a lot of football, gives us a lot of flexibility in that position. Inside, Gerald Hayes has played well for us. He has been a down-hill presence in the running game throughout the course of the year. He has done a nice job in the passing game. Karlos just gives us that athletic presence so we can use his skills in a lot of ways. I have been real happy with the way those guys have played.”

On how hard Roethlisberger’s escapability and big arm will be on the secondary:
“We have to be on the same page in terms of flashing in front of the receivers. Once the coverage is there and the play breaks down and he starts to move around, the receivers are obviously going to look to get open. That is something we are going to try to assimilate this week, to crash to the receivers and get our defensive backs on those particular guys. If you are not on a guy, find a guy.”

On how much he can take from last year’s game against the Steelers:
“There are some similarities there. (Offensive Coordinator Bruce Arians) is doing some things differently, has some different personnel along their offensive line and the receiver position. He is doing some things differently. Some of it is the same, some of it is different.”

On if there are similarities between Roethlisberger and Eagles’ QB Donovan McNabb:
“They are different style scramblers. Both are trying to extend the play, but there are a lot of things that we preached last week that will carry over into this game in terms of keeping the quarterback contained. Hopefully, that works to our advantage facing guys two weeks in a row that have that kind of escapability.”

On if he thinks pressuring Roethlisberger can force him to make mistakes:
“He makes a lot of good throws. I think he reads coverage’s very well. We are just going to go out and play our game, obviously.”

Cardinals CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
On all the extra attention:
“I like it, but I’m not getting a big head. I’m staying grounded and staying humble and just keep on pressing and taking it as it comes.”

On looking forward to returning to Tampa:
“It’s a trip back home and I haven’t been home in so long, so I’m really looking forward to it.”

On what have been the easiest and hardest adjustments:
“I would say the easiest thing was just the ability to run with people. If I mess up, I’ve still got that speed to run with anybody. The hardest thing is just the transition coming from college to the NFL and learning the playbook and understanding where everybody fits in the defense.”

On realizing this success doesn’t happen every season:
“I’m just really enjoying it. They say you don’t get here often, so I’m just going to cherish this time.”

On preparing for the game:
“This is going to be the toughest week. This is the last game and it’s the big show. Somebody like me, who’s goofy and likes to play around a lot, I have to cut that out. Guys who see me joking around are going to get serious with me. I think this week will be more of a focused week for me.”

Cardinals WR Steve Breaston
On having consistency in the offense:
“Everyone gets in the same rhythm. Just having the same group of guys and if there’s an injury that happens during the course of the season, it throws a lot of stuff off. We have a collective group of guys that have been playing together and on the injury front we’ve been alright – so everyone knows what each other is doing and that’s good chemistry and that’s when good things happen.”

On Kurt Warner:
“Kurt is calm the majority of the time, but he has his moments. If you do something wrong, he’s going to get after you a little bit, but he still re-focuses. But the biggest thing, I think, is he’s all about the focus and he’ll tell you what you have to do. He might scream a little bit, but he’s the same Kurt after that. He goes back there and just leads the team.”

On who is the better screamer: Kurt Warner or Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley:
“They’re equal. I’ve had my run-ins with both of them. I had them come at me from both sides one time, but they’re pretty much equal.”

Cardinals FB Terrelle Smith
On his relationship with Hall-of-Famer Jim Brown:
“Me and Jim Brown are very close. Over the years, he always told me he was an emotional guy when he looks at us play. He told us just to control our emotions. Use your emotions when you play. If you let yourself get too involved in your emotions, you are going to get beat. I met him a few times before I got to Cleveland, but when he came to Cleveland, we became really close. I talked to him last week. He congratulated me. He just had surgery on his hip, and he is feeling a little bit better. He just went down to the inauguration. We talked before he left. He said, ‘I’m down here watching this history and you guys are down there making history. Keep up the good work. Just keep working hard and you will get what you want.”

On his biggest memory watching the Super Bowl growing up:
“Seeing Maurice Carthon play. I was the biggest fan he could have had back in that time. I remember when they beat the Buffalo Bills and (Scott Norwood) kicked it wide-right. I was one of the happiest kids in California. I continue to think about it and now I have the opportunity to play in one myself, so I have to take full advantage of it. It is going to be tough. We are playing against a tough team.”

Cardinals DE Antonio Smith
On if he always has had fun and enjoyed himself playing football:
“I always have fun. That is why I’m always out there dancing or doing something. I just enjoy life. I enjoy being able to play this game. I enjoy being in this situation that we are in. I am naturally an up-tempo, fun, outgoing type of person, so this is just everyday me.”

On his CPR celebration on DT Darnell Dockett:
“That was just off the top of the head. I saw him fall off the goal-post; I just ran up to him, he laid out, so I figured I would revive him. I never planned anything. I think we just work well together. I have been trying to come up with something new to give to the people; it hasn’t popped in my head yet. I promise you, I will have something for the Super Bowl. Guaranteed, I will have something by the Super Bowl. I have been neglecting the right arm; it has been getting mad at me. I am going to have to pull it back out for the Super Bowl to let the world see the strongest right arm.”

On what changed for the organization and the team that helped them succeed after past failures:
“The atmosphere. The mindset changed. The people we brought in made me think, ‘this is a legit thing. We can really do it with this team.’ We all believed in each other and starting out the season, we were on fire. I liked the new personnel we had brought in, the edge rushers. We had more depth, for sure. I thought we could at least make a push for the Super Bowl. I knew that we would get to the playoffs. We found our stride and found a way to band together like brothers. This is the result of that. This whole locker room is good.”

On if he is playing at the highest level of his career:
“I think, late in the season, it is the most focused I have been. So yea, my focus has been the highest level I have played at. My focus and my attention to detail is a lot higher than it has been. I always play fast and all out, but I think the focus and the attentiveness have made a big difference.”

On if he is surprising himself with his play:
“I wouldn’t say I am really surprising myself. I feel real confident in my game. I have always felt real confident in my game. I think Karlos (Dansby) and Gerald (Hayes) came to me and talked to me about controlled aggression. There was just a new part of my game that I had to figure out: being the same player I am, high tempo, but learning how to control it. How to control my emotions; my aggression in the games. You can miss plays on stumbles and falls just on overdoing things. My game has gotten a little bit more controlled and a little bit more detailed.”

Cardinals LB Gerald Hayes
On if reaching the Super Bowl is like a dream come true:
“Pretty much. As a young kid, we have some guys that have been here 13 years, some coaches for 17, and this is the first time they are playing in this game. It is a big accomplishment, but it is not over. That is the main thing. We can talk about getting here, but you have to finish. I don’t want to get too high on us being able to make it. Now we have to be able to finish it.”

On the difference between last week and this week preparing for the game:
“It’s the same thing. Just a lot more (media). Other than that, you just go through your normal routine. Most of us here talk to media guys all throughout our careers. There are just some more guys coming. Anyway you look at it; it is still the game of football. You have to tackle the person with the football, and the same person with the football has to score a touchdown. The way you look at it, it is still football.”

On if he is prepared to handle the media frenzy in Tampa next week:
“I can’t say that we are going to be ready for it. It is just one of those things that you have to take it as it goes. You can’t prepare for it because we have never been there, so you just take it as it goes. Act like you have been there. Coaches have told me that for the longest time. Act like you have been there. That’s what we have to do; just act like we have been there before. We have been in situations that have been similar. It is just another game. You can’t take it to the point where you just throw yourself out of control. You have to be calm and cool. Do what you do and do it well.”


Jan 21, 2009
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Hmmm, that's a very interesting thought about St. Pierre running the scout team offense.