HEAD COACH JIM CALDWELL (General Comments) Wednesday* *
"We had a real good practice today. It was a practice in which we tried to focus in on ourselves as opposed to our future opponent. We did a lot of competitive drills and offensive versus defense. We did seven-on- seven, team blitz, first- and second-down, third-down pass, and two-minute (offense). We worked those scenarios and situations and tried to improve upon them. I think our practice was very crisp and sharp. Guys seemed to have a little extra energy today. It may have been because this is the only practice they are going to have this week. They certainly performed well today. Last week, (Adam) Vinatieri felt his knee was giving him a little bit of a problem. He had an MRI. He tried to fight through it. He wanted to fight through it because he's obviously a real warrior. We felt that the best way to handle the situation was to get him operated on. We saw some loose cartilage in there and they straighten it out. We felt if he got it done now, it gave us a little bit more time with the extra week, so it's going to be somewhere around four- to-eight weeks as opposed to having it linger and pop up later on in the year. We felt that was the best course of action. In doing that, we had to go out and look for someone to take his spot in terms of handling our kicking duties. We found Matt Stover. Matt is a true professional. He's a guy that certainly has been around the block a bit. He has 18 years in the league. He's a true professional in everything that he does and the way he conducts business. We've competed against him a number of times over the years. We know what kind of craftsmen he is and his ability to kick. We are happy to have him. In order to bring him on, we had to make room on our team in terms of a roster move. We released (DT-)Ed Johnson. I know some might wonder whether or not it was a character issue. It was not. We had to take a real good look at our roster and see where we may be able to make an adjustment here or there to get another guy on it. (With) Ed (it) was more production than anything else. The other thing that may pop up is Peyton (Manning's) knee. He practiced today with no ill effects, and he performed well. Bob Sanders may be another one you want to know about as well. Bob did practice. Bob looked good in practice, and we'll see what happens as the week goes on. He looked fine. He performed extremely well. Kelvin Hayden also practiced. He also performed well."
HEAD COACH JIM CALDWELL (On if DT-Fili Moala will be in the rotation) Wednesday
"Yes. Antonio Johnson is still there and Dan Muir along with Fili will rotate along with Eric Foster. We will still have a four-man rotation. I believe he (Moala) will do just like we expect him to do. There are a lot of young guys who come in and step up and are able to do the job, and we expect the same from him. He has shown, the last couple of weeks in particular, he has really come along. He has made some strides. We are going to have an opportunity to get him out there and see what he can do."
HEAD COACH JIM CALDWELL (On the reason for the DT-Ed Johnson release) Wednesday
"It was production or lack thereof."
HEAD COACH JIM CALDWELL (On when K-Adam Vinatieri injury came about) Wednesday
"Last week is when the issue arose where it required a MRI and from that, we made a decision on what to do and how to go about it. He wanted to fight through it and continue to go, but we felt this was the best course of action."
HEAD COACH JIM CALDWELL (On the defense bending but not breaking) Wednesday
"It's a standard around here that we talk about those issues quite a bit. Our players refer to them as, 'Surviving the storm and fighting your way out of them.' We expect them (storms). We embrace them. Rather than fear them and loathe them, I think our guys look at it as an opportunity as opposed to a crisis. They do a tremendous job of coming in and getting focused and getting their job done. They understand their job is to stop them. That's what they focus on. Even in the Arizona game we started a bit slow on offense, but our defense stepped up and held them to three points in situations where they had some pretty good drives. Last week was the same thing. We had a turnover off the punt and a turnover off the interception, and they (Tennessee) came away with six points. It could have very easily been 14-7. Our guys have just done a great job of taking care of business and making them kick field goals instead of letting them score touchdowns."
HEAD COACH JIM CALDWELL (On his plans for the weekend) Wednesday
"I am going to get away for a little bit at least. I have a grandson that I have not seen or held yet. He's 22 days old, I think, today. I have an opportunity to go down and see him, and I'm looking forward to that. I'll watch a lot of college games on Saturday and watch quite a bit on Sunday as well."
HEAD COACH JIM CALDWELL (On working a different schedule due to recent night games and the physical challenges the games presented) Wednesday
"We are very mindful of those things. I don't think there has been any other team that has had three night games in such a short period of time on national television. We've never had it here throughout our years. It was highly unusual. I think it takes a lot more out of you than what you realize. Our guys have been playing well. Losing a bit of the rhythm is always something you're concerned about, but I think we have a mature enough team that this little hiatus will keep them hungry. They will come back focused and refreshed and ready to go."
HEAD COACH JIM CALDWELL (On the health of the team after the bye) Wednesday
"We should get a few more guys back we haven't had in a little while, hopefully. We'll see how that goes. About mid-week (next week), we'll have a real good sense of that. Hopefully, we'll be a healthier team than we are today."
HEAD COACH JIM CALDWELL (On if WR-Anthony Gonzalez would be among the returning injured players) Wednesday
"I would not say that right now. I'm not real sure. I know he's feeling good about his progress. He's out there running and those types of things. I'm not certain about him at this point in time."
HEAD COACH JIM CALDWELL (On DB-Bob Sanders return) Wednesday
"He is hungry. There is no question about that. I think he has been preparing diligently. He looks good out there. He was moving around today. He looks like Bob. We'll get him in there at some point in time."
HEAD COACH JIM CALDWELL (On the mindset of the staff and players for practicing and improving as the season progresses) Wednesday
"Here's the good thing about our team. We analyzed the film and took a good look at it. The thing you have to understand around here is we have very high standards. The standards we have in terms of excellence and play is pretty high. They (coaches) set that bar really high. We have a lot of things we could get better at, seriously. That's the good thing. We believe that as a coaching staff, and the players do also. Our guys are hungry. They are always looking for ways to improve. That's what counts. I looked at the five-week point from 2006, 2007 and 2008. There were a number of teams that were 4-1 at that time and playing pretty well. They ended up not making the playoffs. Some of them started at 6-2. Another team started at 7-2 and didn't make the playoffs. As we look at that, we have to understand 5-0 really doesn't get us anything. They are not handing out any trophies or bonuses for that record. We have a long way to go. The other thing around here is, it's not like we are doing something that is brand new. In 2003 we started out 5-0. Since then we went 7-0, 13-0 and 9-0 during the stretch between 2003 and now. They've had some pretty good experience with some streaks. Right now, we are scratching the surface, and we have a long way to go."
HEAD COACH JIM CALDWELL (On QB-Peyton Manning's 73% completion percentage and can he get better) Wednesday
"That's exceptional. He's been extremely accurate. I would not say that would be an area of improvement in terms of his accuracy, but there are other things we can get better at. He's just taking what they (opponents) give him. The guys are doing a great job of catching it and running with it."
HEAD COACH JIM CALDWELL (On maintaining a high completion percentage) Wednesday
"That is a difficult task. There are some many things that go into that. It's pass protection. It's the guys catching it when you throw it and you putting it in the right spot as well. There's a collective effort in order to achieve that goal. He's (Peyton Manning) doing things unlike he's ever done before. He's always been excellent, and he keeps getting better."
HEAD COACH JIM CALDWELL (On if P-Pat McAfee's duties will change) Wednesday
"He will punt and kickoff. That's what we'll have him do."