QB Eli Manning
Q: Over the last many years, the Steelers have been known for having multiple fronts and different kinds of blitz packages. I saw they have nine different guys with sacks. Are they still very multiple up front? How difficult is that to decipher?
A: Yes, they are. They show a lot of different looks up front. A lot of different linebackers and guys that can rush the passer. They blitz a number of different guys. They are very multiple and do a good job at disguising. They do a good job a lot of times only bringing four guys. Different guys and all their defensive ends and linebackers in their base defense. They can all play base defense. They do a good job with their blitz packages. We have to have great communication this week.Q: It also looks like at this point they've done a pretty good job at stifling people's running game to make them one-dimensional. How much more aware do you have to be of that?
A: Well, we have to run the ball. We've been better these last few weeks. I think three weeks of over a hundred yards in a row. We just have to continue to get positive yards in the run game and stay with it. Eventually we'll break some big ones. Stay strong and keep running the ball well. That'll help everything else from the play action and will slow down their pass rush.Q: Do you get any enjoyment out of playing Ben Roethlisberger just because you're both in the same draft class?
A: It's always fun to go against good offenses. With Ben and the Steelers, you know their offense can score points. We have to be good offensively. We have to do our part and keep up. You always keep up with your draft class with Ben and Philip Rivers. Don't get to play against them a whole lot with them being in the AFC. Every four years you get to play one of them. I enjoy these matchups, get to see him a little bit. He's had an unbelievable career.Q: Do you have a friendship with Ben? Do you talk to him ever being from the same draft class?
A: Just really talk to him after the games when we play. I think you always have a special connection and bond with your draft class guys. I think you're always rooting for your guys to do well. You always want your quarterback draft class to be well thought of and respected down the road. You hear about the '83 draft class and other certain years. You want to be thrown in that mix some day. Besides that, haven't seen him a whole lot outside of football. Our paths haven't crossed that much. I have a lot of respect for him and his game.Q: It appears by the numbers over the last few weeks their secondary has tightened up significantly from what it was earlier in the season. Have you seen the difference in growth in the secondary?
A: I'm still breaking down some film. Seeing the last couple of games, they've done a good job. They did a good job against Indianapolis and the Browns. They're doing a good job getting a pass rush, which always helps out the pass defense and getting sacks. We have to make sure we block things up. Hopefully have some opportunities to get our receivers one-on-one. We have to win those matchups. It should be a good contest.Q: James Harrison, no matter how old he gets, he still seems to be making some plays. How much do you have to be aware of him?
A: I don't call anyone old because I think we're about the same age. He's got sacks, caused fumbles, interceptions. It seems like he's on a little bit of a pitch count. He's not in there but maybe 25, 30 plays a game. When he's in there, he's effective. He does a good job rushing the quarterback, dropping in coverage and you have to be aware of him.Q: Do you have to do anything to get Sterling Shepard's confidence up after a game that he didn't have a catch?
A: No. I talked to him. I apologized for not getting him a catch. We need to get him the ball and get him catches. That's just the way the day kind of went. He's done a good job all year and we have to get him involved in the offense.Q: Why do you think Sunday was different for him?
A: It's just all based on coverage. What we were trying to do and the coverages that we were getting, we had other guys that were the primary. We just didn't get it down to him. Had a couple of opportunities that we could've possibly got him the ball.Q: Did that other old quarterback (Peyton Manning) give you any advice at practice today?
A: It was good to have him here. I hadn't seen him in a while. He has something to do tomorrow so he popped in and sat in on a few meetings with us today. Just good to catch up. I'll get some time with him later on.Q: Is he ever going to get into coaching?
A: You'd have to ask him. I'm not sure.Q: When you see him like that, how does it look like retirement is treating him?
A: I think he's doing well. He seems to be staying busy and enjoying the down time. I think when he gets in this environment, he was kind of drilling the coaches his own questions. I know he liked being in there and doing a little install on Pittsburgh. I'm sure he misses that environment. Just the game plan, how you're going to do things, how you're going to deal with protections, how you're going to pick things up. Just really getting back into that flow of things, I'm sure, is a little reminder of how special it is to be in this situation.
Q: Is this a game that you know you have to score because they're going to score?
A: I think every game you know you have to score. We have our expectations of what we want to do and how we want to score. We feel we can score. We've been good the last few weeks protecting the ball, that's number one. It's not about forcing things trying to score. We have to execute well, play smart and make the plays that are there.Q: The fact that the offense still hasn't clicked 11 games in, have you been able to identify the reason for that?
A: We've clicked at times. We're just a few plays away. You score 21, it's not like we scored 10. We're just not getting down in the red zone enough. That's the deal. Last week, had a couple of opportunities to throw some balls down the field and really only hit one of them. One of six. If you hit another two of those, you're down there in the red zone and scoring more points. It's just a matter of it could be a play or two that's a difference in whether you're scoring enough points and getting down there in the red zone enough.Q: Do you think you guys think you're mixing things up enough personnel wise to keep defenses off balance?
A: It's kind of what we have. We don't have a fullback. We got into some two-tight end stuff last week. Had a few plays of it. We're going to stay with that personnel and be really good at it. That's what we're doing.
WR STERLING SHEPARD
Q: When your quarterback comes to you and has your back even though you didn't get the targets, that must make you feel good, right?
A: Oh, yeah. I know that I am going to be able to touch the ball, especially next game and moving forward. That is why I am not making a big deal about it. It was kind of weird because I usually get that first touch and get hit the first time and I hadn't had that feeling and I was like, 'Ah.' But I know it is going to be alright and we came out with the W, like I said, so that is all that matters at the end of the day.Q: Does a game like that do anything to your confidence?
A: No, not at all. I can only control what I can control and that is running routes and getting open, so that is what I have to continue to do.Q: When Joe Haden talked to us on the conference call last week he mentioned that you seemed to be the go-to guy on third down. Do you feel like they put more attention your way than other teams have?
A: Yeah, they were trying to eliminate the slant. That is one of my big routes that I get open on and they had a guy looking at me on the inside and they had a guy over the top of me, especially in the third down area. But those are different looks, teams are giving us different looks as it is going on, so we have to be ready for them.Q: Is there anything that you could have done differently in that game?
A: No, I feel like I did everything like I was supposed to. It is just the way it goes sometimes. You have Odell having a big day and we came out with the W.Q: Does the fact that it was a win make it better?
A: Yeah, the fact that it was a win, so I don't want to make a big deal out of it.Q: You probably expect that this Sunday the offense has to score a lot more points, right?
A: Oh yeah, because I know their offense is going to put up a lot of points, so hopefully I don't have a week like that again. I can't afford to.Q: Do you kind of approach the rest of the games like that?
A: Yeah, I am not putting any pressure on myself. I am just taking it every week just like I have been, preparing for the next game and the next week.Q: When did Eli come up to you?
A: It was today. He just came up to me in the weight room. He didn't have to apologize to me.Q: Did he say anything else?
A: No, he just said, 'You are a big part of the offense and we need to get you involved.' He was just apologizing to me, but it is all good.Q: Does it feel different in here now that the final five games are here?
A: Yeah, this is a crucial part of the season for us, so we have to be locked in. Coach McAdoo is doing a great job of taking care of our bodies this late in the season. A lot of guys are banged up, especially some of the older guys, so he is doing a great job of keeping our bodies fresh and we have got to be able to run on Sunday.Q: Having a game like that, does it make you look forward to the next game even more?
A: Yeah, I want to get to the next game and get my hands on the ball. But yeah, it gets you ready, but you have to stay focused.Q: How hard is it to go through a game with no touches? Do you feel like it will make you more antsy?
A: Nothing. I just kind of flushed it down the toilet. It is over with, we are on to the next week and we are focused on Pittsburgh.
GUARD JUSTIN PUGH
Q: On re-aggravating his injury.
A: It just got clipped on a play by accident, someone went down and fell onto my knee again.Q: Adam Gettis?
A: No (laughs). A defender. It was literally the first play when I went back out there. I got some reps, did some one-on-one's and it felt good. So I was trying to push to get more reps in practice and I was trying to play against Cleveland and it just wasn't going to happen. Once I got hit...that's why I was out there practicing on Wednesday and I wasn't even out there on Thursday.Q: Is that going to set you back for this week in the sense that you probably can't go this week now?
A: I got to see how it goes when I get out there. I got to take it day-by-day and really just see where my knee's at, just keep stacking good days; and that's what I had done, I was doing that and I had a good day and I tried to push it a little bit, I wanted to get those reps on Wednesday instead of just doing individual and then next day take some practice reps. So that's what I'm going to do this week, make sure I go out there and get some individuals tomorrow and if that goes well, get some team reps on Thursday and then just keep pushing. If you try to be too aggressive, you try to come back too soon on it, and that's what I did, I tried to come back too soon.Q: How did it feel before you got clipped?
A: It felt great. My knee was feeling fine, I had no issues with it. I just got to keep stacking good daysQ: Did you have to go get tests to re-evaluate to make sure you didn't make anything worse?
A: We did some stuff for it. Coach (McAdoo) will get into it. I don't really want to just get into it too much.Q: You don't feel like structurally, anything changed?
A: No, I'm good.Q: So you would think that there's no way for Sunday?
A: I wouldn't say no way for Sunday, but I wouldn't say 100% I'm in for Sunday. It's really how my knee responds to going out and doing more and more. I know for sure I'm not going try and push it too much because I don't want to keep having setbacks and missing extra weeks so I'm going to make sure I'm 100% and doing it the right way.Q: So Wednesday was jumping in too soon?
A: I went out there and did individuals and I was feeling good and I was like, 'can I get some team reps,' and the first one I went out there, I did two one-on-ones and felt good and then I went out there for another team rep and kind got rolled up on. My knee wasn't ready to go back out and be out there. It is what it is. That's me trying to get back too quick and it was a learning experience for me, I've never had this type of injury.Q: Is that challenging you mentally?
A: It sucks. Obviously I wanted to get back and obviously last week Brett Jones was out and Marshall Newhouse was out so I'm thinking, I can help be a part of the reason we're going to win this game. I should have made sure I was good for this week, 100%. It's tough but I learned from it for sure and I'm going to make sure I do it properly and make sure I'm back for this whole stretch.Q: Are back to where you were last week?
A: I think I'm probably about where I was at last week so I don't think I went too far back. I had some swelling in the knee and got one of those PRP shots this past week, so hopefully that'll work out for me.