HEAD COACH JOSH McDANIELS
On being able to call plays out of a variety of formations
"If you tell somebody that you’re going to run the ball and you’re unwilling to throw it from that personnel group or that formation, I think it’s just too much of an advantage. It’s hard enough as it is to move the ball on a good defense but if they know that 95 percent of the time you’re going to run it from this formation or this grouping, and then they can get their best call in and play it the right way — now it’s even harder. We try to throw it some from the bigger groupings and we try to run it some from the smaller groupings and keep them off balance."
On QBs Brady Quinn and Tim Tebow
"It’s a competitive situation — we’re going to let them compete today and in Minnesota. Both players have done some good things, both players have turned the ball over and both players have been able to function in the two-minute offense — and I think that both players have plenty of room to improve. From that standpoint, I think this game will probably help us determine kind of where we see everything, but certainly I don’t think that either one of them has done so much that the other guy has removed himself from the competition at all. I think it’ll be an important week for them and a good week for us to evaluate both of them in a game."
On the quarterbacks working with different personnel
"That’s what I think it is — a combination of in the preseason, sometimes you’re in there with a lot of different players so it’s never the same group. I also think that you’re in a new system for the first time. We’ve put three game plans together for the three teams we played that really are very different from one another, so it’s not like we’re running the same thing week after week against these three teams. So, it’s been a challenge for both of them to learn what we’re doing quickly, to rep it with different players each week and then to play against a different style of defense too. That’s part of the preseason, that’s part of the competition and it doesn’t surprise me that both of them have had good moments and that both of them have done some things that we’d like them to do better."
On how long the starters will play at Minnesota
"They’re playing — I don’t know, I think last year we played them a decent chunk in the first quarter — maybe right there to the end. I don’t know, we don’t put a play limit on them. There are some players that we want to see — if they can play this week then they’re going to play and they’re going to play more than three or four plays. If the backs are ready to go, we’re going to play them — (OL) Ryan Clady — same thing. We’re going to kind of use today and tomorrow to gauge where we’re at. Those guys will be there and that’s what we’re hoping for so if they can do that and get some of those first hits out of the way and some of the first game action out of the way before we go to Jacksonville, that would be the purpose of it."
On whether he plans on playing the starters against Minnesota to avoid a long layoff between games
"Yeah, if you don’t play them at all, you’re talking about two weeks without playing football, which you don’t really do much of since you start training camp. We’re interested in trying to stay in some type of a rhythm — we had a two-hour crash course meeting this morning on Minnesota and we’ll have another one tomorrow to try to finish up the preparations — It’s kind of like a Thanksgiving week for us. We’re going to keep them into that mental frame of mind that we need to be in during the season."
On whether he thinks Minnesota QB Brett Favre will play on Thursday
"I hope so, I don’t know exactly how they’re going to do that but we got ready for him this morning. We talked about some of the things that they do well — it’s a very explosive football team on both sides of the ball. Obviously, (they’re) very talented — I think they have more Pro Bowlers than anybody in football on their roster right now and they’re the defending NFC (North) Champions and all the rest of that stuff. It’s a challenge for us to go there and play against this team and we’re excited — no matter who is in the game."
On what he’s looking for in the fourth preseason game
"I think there are some situations that will definitely kind of play out — whether it be on our team or somebody else’s. Usually the last so many spots on the roster are competitive across the ball for who can do more in the kicking game. We’re going to let those things play out and see what happens. I just think that we’ll kind of gauge that after the game is over with. We kind of know who is right there on the cusp of making it at different spots and we also know who is competing across the ball from one another. It could determine a lot or it could not change much at all, we’ll kind of see how it goes."
On the offensive line rotation
"(OL Zane) Beadles — same way we did last week — we’re going to move him, he’ll play both guard and tackle. (OL) Stanley Daniels played fairly well the other night and he’ll play guard; Beadles will play some tackle. Depending on (OL Ryan) Clady’s status — it may be a little later in terms of when Beadles enters the game.
On RB Knowshon Moreno’s status
"Knowshon — we’re going to see how it goes here, we’re going to warm him up and if he’s ready to roll, then we’re going to practice."
On how many roster spots are still open competitions
"Fifty-three, like I said — I think everybody kind of knows at this point that there are a certain number of guys that you feel comfortable that are going to be here but at the same time, you know that there is still competition at a lot of spots on this team. I think the players have addressed that by playing hard and playing well in the games when they’ve had their opportunities. So, they’re going to continue to do that this week because they’re not sure — they’re not in those meetings and they’re not sure exactly how the roster is going to be formed finally and I think it’s to their best interest to keep playing hard and I know they will all the way through the end of the game on Thursday."
On what he expects from the run game once players return from injuries
"We may not be in midseason form on Sep. 12, but it doesn’t matter — we can’t take a mulligan. We’re just going to go out and play and do the best we can. We’re going to push hard in the next two weeks to make sure we’re as prepared to run the football and protect — there are a lot of things that those guys haven’t done together. They haven’t protected, they haven’t run the two-minute drill together, they haven’t run the football together. So, there are a lot of different things we need them to do in a short period of time. The good thing is that most of those players are players that were here before so they kind of know what’s going on. They’ve been in every meeting, so it’s not like they’re going to learn a new offense once they get out there, it’s just a matter of playing together and communicating and operating efficiently as a unit, so we’ll see."
On RB Lance Ball
"Well, he’s got a burst to him. He’s shown some good run ability on first and second down and he’s also been the most dependable guy we’ve had he’s been in there and he’s done a nice job in terms of the protections and the pickups that we ask of our backs. We told our backs and I think Lance has really done a nice job of trying to do that."
On RB Knowshon Moreno
"Well, he had a good offseason in terms of what he did in OTAs. I think he came in (to training camp) in good shape. I don’t want to call it a setback, it’s just adversity that he has to push through and we’ve got to fight through. I think our team has handled it well. I think he’s handled it the best that he could and I hope he’s eager to get out there. I think that’s where he’s at mentally and I think he’ll be ready to go as soon as he is capable of playing. He’s missed some time — he missed the same period of time last year in training camp, so he’s gone through this before and he started the season off last year and really hadn’t played much in preseason. So, we’re kind of in that same boat and hopefully we can start faster with him once we start playing the regular season as soon as he’s healthy."
On OL J.D. Walton
"He’s learned a lot because he’s played (against) a lot of different styles of defense. Cincinnati and Detroit were similar — Detroit was a lot quicker in terms of some of the things they did. They moved a lot more than Pittsburgh did and then he got to play against a Pro Bowl nose tackle who lined up over him basically on every snap the other night. I just think that every opportunity that he has, every chance that he gets to go out there is a learning experience for him. I think we’ve seen some progress in a lot of areas from a lot of our young linemen but I also think that there is still a lot of room for him to grow. We talked to them this morning that this team that we’re going to play on Thursday is very similar in their style to Detroit and that seemed to be the game that we struggled a little bit more early and we’re going to focus hard on trying to get off to a better start this week."