HEAD COACH MIKE SHANAHAN
On where the Panthers' running attack ranks on his all-time list
"They are right up there. They have two great running backs. What makes their running game go is their offensive line, tight ends and wide receivers that take as much pride in blocking as they do receiving. They have a unit that is working very well together."
On if they are better at running the ball than any other team the Broncos have faced this season
"Atlanta was very successful, but I don't think that I have seen any team run like that against Tampa Bay. That was one of the better games I have seen since I have been in the National Football League against a top opponent. They dominated the game with 300 yards between two backs and that doesn't happen very often against any team, especially the Tampa Bay Buccaneers."
On if he was surprised TE Jeb Putzier was available
"No, I knew he was available because I saw the week before he was out on the streets. Jeb can make plays and obviously with Nate (Jackson) being out and having some guys banged up, we thought we needed some more depth at the tight end position. We know what Jeb can do and he knows our system. Being with Seattle, Houston and our team in the past, he can come in and feel very comfortable right away."
On the reason QB Jay Cutler is taking fewer sacks this season
"As a quarterback, it is just a matter of time. It is all about going through the situation and putting him in a game situation where he doesn't have to think, he can just react. We improved in the offensive line and a lot of different areas but Jay improves just knowing what to do and not having to think about it. We are talking about terminology, a different language, and the more reps you get, the easier it becomes. Things become automatic and you don't have to go through a process to make a decision it comes naturally. The more reps he gets, the better he is going to get."
On the offensive line facing Panthers DE Julius Peppers
"We see great defensive ends every week, but Peppers is probably a cut above most of them. It will be a big test for us. He is very powerful, he can bull rush, he can go outside or inside. He was very worthy of where he was picked in the draft."
On the injury status of S Marlon McCree
"He practiced today. Hopefully there is no setback. It was a full practice so we will see what kind of football shape he is in and we will evaluate him. He is coming off of an ankle so he is probably not in great football shape but he practiced a little bit last week. We will come up with a decision on Saturday whether he can go come game time."
On waiving S Calvin Lowry
"With Marlon coming back it, gave us a little more depth at that position. We felt like we needed some more depth at the tailback position and that is why we brought up (Cory) Boyd. We also needed more depth at the tight end position and that is why we brought in Jeb (Putzier). Sometimes when you lose some players, you have to be pretty flexible week by week depending on who goes down or comes up, especially with some of our injured players."
On the status of CB Champ Bailey
"He is limited right now. What I mean by that is that I want him to practice but I don't want him to go full speed until Saturday. He can run but I don't want him to burst full speed just yet. We will try it on Saturday and kind of get the direction we want to go there as well."
On WR Brandon Stokley's injury
"He didn't practice today. I am hoping he can practice tomorrow. He has a bad heel bruise. Will that keep him from practicing tomorrow or out of the game? I can't tell you for sur,e but it was sore enough today that he missed practice."
On if RB Selvin Young will return to play
"Any time you are out eight weeks it is hard to be sure what type of football shape a guy is in. He is feeling better and he feels like he can go. He got limited reps today and we will get a chance to evaluate him and see how he does. We have a few guys back that we are evaluating. D.J. Williams is in the same situation."
On RB Cory Boyd
"He has been on our practice squad for a while, so he is in football shape. He has had a chance to learn our terminology and we have watched him run against our first defense. He is a big strong kid and he has skills that I think give him a chance to compete at this level and do quite well. With a kid that has never played a football game in the National Football League your not sure if he is ready. We will see how he handles our game plan and decide if he does dress or get any playing time."
On why the Panthers have been dominate at home
"They have won the turnover battle every game at home. When you win that, you always have a chance. Just like us, we are unbeaten with an even or positive turnover ratio. We managed to win two with a negative turnover ratio. It has been a big difference for them at home besides having a good football team. They are doing a great job when you take a look at their total offense and their production running the ball. Their defense gave up seven points against New Orleans, who I think has a great offense. They have some talent."
On Panther WR Steve Smith
"I am really impressed with Steve Smith. He is a complete football player. He can do it all, beat you 1-on-1, in the press and in the 2-deep. He competes in the running game and takes pride in everything he does. If you are looking for a great wide receiver, his picture is next to it."
On Jay Cutler's leadership
"Just being a quarterback in the National Football League is a growing process, and it doesn't happen over night. You learn a lot of different things on and off the football field like how to handle the press, how to deal with being really good or bad. It is a growing process that quarterbacks have to go through. I think you learn as much off the field as you do on the field, but he is getting a chance to get right in the thick of it. He has learned a lot this year."
On how often he has to tell Cutler to slide
"He is pretty smart. He understands down and distance. He is a good-sized kid at 235-240 lbs. He does slide in the right situation and at the same time when he feels like he needs to get that first down or the situation is not head on in the open field he is not afraid to do it. He is very competitive."
QUARTERBACK JAY CUTLER
On how the T Ryan Clady is preparing for Carolina DE Julius Peppers
"We have a lot of confidence in Ryan and his ability to block against the high-profile defensive ends. It will be a good test for him.
"He's been tested from the first preseason game (at Houston - DE Mario Williams) and all the way through. He's passed all the tests. I'm very comfortable back there with him taking over the blindside against anybody in the league right now."
On whether T Ryan Clady is blocking at a Pro Bowl level
"Absolutely. I think a lot of the guys on the offensive line are blocking on a Pro Bowl level. Ryan Clady definitely deserves consideration.
"We knew that he was going to be good. You just don't expect a rookie able to step in there and play at that level right away and play as consistently as he has been. There were some times when he had some rough games and he missed some assignments, but his consistency level has been incredible."
On the possibility of clinching the AFC West and a playoff berth on the road Sunday
"Four weeks ago, you guys (the media) were running us out of here. It's been up and down, but the guys stuck together and we won some tough games and we battled through it. We are in a good position right now and we just need to take advantage of it."
On the injury situation at running back
"I really don't know what to say about it at this point. We have so many of those guys hurt. It seems like we add a new guy each week. We are bringing (RB) Cory (Boyd) up and we still have (RB) Tatum (Bell). I think we are going to be fine playing with those two guys.
"I think our offensive line has done a great job not no matter who is back there by making holes. Some weeks, the running game opens up something for the passing game and vice versa. Through all the injuries and all the different tailbacks I think we've done a good job of consistently trying to run the ball."
On only being sacked eight times this season
"You never want to take sacks and that comes with time. You just have to understand protections and where your hots (routes) are. Obviously the line has done a great job for me all year. As far as taking hits and sliding, its 50-50 out there, sometimes I do it and sometimes I don't."
On being considered for the Pro Bowl
"Obviously you hear a lot about it. Just to be mentioned with some of the quarterbacks out there is an honor because there are some good ones. Whatever happens, happens. We are in a good position to make the playoffs and that's my first concern. If (WR) Brandon (Marshall) gets in or (T) Ryan (Clady) gets in or someone else on this team, that'll be great."
On what it would mean to be selected to the Pro Bowl
"It would be great. Especially in the AFC, there are a lot of big quarterbacks there. It would be nice, especially in my third year, and I'm still a little bit young at this. It would be an honor."
On the pressure to play well in the next two months
"I think any quarterback in the league has a lot of pressure. It's a quarterback-driven conference and league. Everything kind of runs through us. Offensively, (Quarterbacks Coach) Jeremy Bates has done a great job of calling plays, keeping the pressure off my shoulders, keeping the running game involved, getting the ball out of my hands quickly, getting it to the playmakers and making stuff happen. "