Thursday, September 15, 2005

Head Coach Mike Martz

(On whether CB Chris Johnson will be ready after a rough opening game)
“Yeah. He just got here. We just have to work with him a little bit. If we didn’t feel confident with Chris [Johnson], obviously we wouldn’t leave him out there, which we are. We’re going to stay with him.”

(On what he likes about Chris Johnson)
“He’s had to make a transition in different philosophies between football teams and how we do things. There’s a learning curve for him that has had to be sped up for him. I like his competitiveness, and of course his speed and athleticism is really outstanding. His issues haven’t been any of those things. He was injured. They just couldn’t wait for him. They had already replaced him. He fits in for us real well. He has a lot to bring to the table for us. He’s a veteran who hasn’t played a lot, who has great ability.”

(On how WRs Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald’s roles benefit the offense)
“Both of these guys can start just about anywhere. We’re fortunate, in that respect, to have those kinds of receivers. Those guys are really playing at a high level. I’m very pleased with them. The biggest issue would be the emergence of the running game and the offensive line. We just have to play better everywhere. We just didn’t play well last week, but they are a terrific, terrific addition to what we do offensively.”

(On whether he has any secrets on fighting the heat gained while coaching at Arizona State)
“No. Not really. I was there for 10 years, and I promise you it was a lot worse here last week than it ever was down there when it was 113 [degrees] during the day. My challenge to them is to come back when it’s 98 [degrees] in this humidity. If you want to make it a distraction, you can. It is what it is. It’s still 98 [degrees] on that other sideline. It just is. What we are concerned about is when we practiced in it, it beat us down. [At the] beginning of the year we really played particularly well because we worn down by the heat. Team would come in fresh and the heat didn’t seem to bother them. It’s kind of an odd thing.”

(On how Arizona’s changes to their defensive front complicate the Rams’ offensive approach)
“It’s what we saw in the opener. We knew what they were doing. I’m sure they will have something specific for us. They have had the offseason to prepare. We are in a little bit of a different situation, and I think we should be able to adjust and focus in on what we are trying to accomplish. Every week you play, there is a potential of doing that, and everybody does that to you.”

(On if there is an advantage to knowing how QB Kurt Warner plays)
“I don’t think so. That could be a distraction, because you start to guess, oh he’s about to do this, and it never works out that way. The best thing to do is just to prepare the game plan and go play. You aren’t playing that guy. You are playing that football team. It is too easy to get wrapped up in that. It’s the same for anybody, really. You have to be careful of that.”

(On what he sees when he watches tape of QB Kurt Warner)
“He’s really playing at a high level right now. He’s much further along than he was in New York. I think this is a much more familiar offense for him. He looks more comfortable with it. He’s taking the ball down the field. He’s quick with the ball. He’s got some real leadership that you can see on that team. I’m proud of him and where he is right now, and, other than two weeks out of the season, I hope he’s spectacular.”

(On the differences between the Cardinals and Rams offensively)
“Joe Gibbs runs the same offense. Norv Turner runs the same offense. Kansas City does. Actually, Cincinnati does. Everybody has their own twist to it. The three-digit system is that way. It is kind of like an erector set. Here are the pieces to it and you just kind of go with what your personnel allows you to go with, so to speak. That’s what makes the system itself such a terrific system. You don’t run the same plays as everybody else. You kind of bend it to what you have, and that’s why I like it so much, and I’m sure [Head Coach Dennis Green] will do the same thing.”

(On if he targeted a couple of return guys in the draft)
“Not punt return. DeJuan [Groce] is an outstanding. On the returns, you have to block them. I think [Chris Johnson] brings a unique element with his rare speed. So, if he hits a crease, he’s like Tony Horn in that respect, and that’s what I think we have there now. We have so many other areas to deal with in the draft other than getting a specialist just for returns. As much as you’d like to do that, it’s pretty hard to do.”

(On CB Terry Fair’s progression)
“He’s progressing well. Who knows? He’s running, right now, at full speed. As long as he doesn’t have any neck soreness, and he feels good, it’s really kind of based on him and then we’re ready to go with him. But, it will all be based on what he has to say. We’d love to have him back as soon as possible, but not a minute before he’s ready to play. Anything that has to do with the spinal column or the head, you just want to give them every opportunity that you can and go past what you think is safe. These are people’s lives that you are dealing with. It’s way more important than a football game. The running kind of got him tight in the shoulders. He’s been through that before, and that stuff just doesn’t go away in a week. They say I’ll be back next week, but it never works out that way.”

(On preparing for LB Karlos Dansby)
“The mark of an outstanding defensive linebacker is the fact that wherever the ball ends up, that’s where that linebacker is, and that’s what he is. He’s a spectacular player. I think he is absolutely going to be one of the premiere defensive players in the league.”

G Adam Timmerman

(On the difficulties of having a new starting right tackle this week)
“It is, because you’d like to be next to the same guy all the time. You get used to working those stunts together, that’s who you’ve practiced with, and the communication, you get used to where he’s going to be. He knows what a one word call is, rather than something that is going to take an explanation on the way to the line. But Blaine [Saipaia] has played there before, and that should be a pretty easy transition.”

(On the importance of winning this week after last week’s loss)
“You can’t get too shook up about it, really. It’s just one of those things where we have to focus in on the task at hand, playing the Cardinals this week, and really not put too much pressure on ourselves. Although at the same time it is big. It’s a division game. There are a lot of repercussions down the road, but we just have to focus on really playing our best football, putting the whole thing together on all three phases, offense, defense and special teams, and I think we will be fine.”

(On the causes for the difficulty in the redzone at San Francisco)

“Not really. I’m sure tomorrow we’ll work more on redzone and stuff like that, but it’s sometimes hard to put your finger on exactly what is going on. It may be something they are doing on defense too. I’m sure we’re going to put in our redzone plays and analyze that a little more than we have in the past just because we had trouble the first week.”

WR Kevin Curtis

(On whether the mood has changed at Rams Park after a loss)
“I think so. Anytime you come off a loss you’re eager to get back out on the field. You have that bad taste in you mouth that you want to get out, and get the feeling of winning. I think everyone is just eager to get out there and get a win.”

(On the frustration of being able to move the ball, but not get into the endzone)
“It is frustrating to move the ball like we were at the start and come away with a field goal every time. Usually that’s alright once in a while, but we have to get in endzone. Three points instead of seven points, it adds up after four strikes in a row.”

(On being in a game with as much passing as there was at San Francisco)
“I like when we throw the ball a lot. It’s not always ideal when you have to throw it, but that usually means you’re behind and that. Yeah, especially if we go four receivers a lot toward the end of the game, we’re looking to score fast and we need people to make plays. Definitely in that situation you realize they are looking to you to make something happen.”

CB/S Michael Hawthorne

(On the Cardinals’ offense)
"Of course everyone knows about the quarterback. The receivers: we faced the same thing playing in Detroit [in the] preseason. They’re big, physical receivers that are going to go get the ball. But, we just have to play our game. Tweak it a little bit, but play our game and not worry about the other stuff.”

(On differences he sees in Kurt Warner since he played against the Rams while with New Orleans)
“He seems to be a little bit more mobile now. I don’t know if that is because he has to be, but that is showing. He’s showing a little youth.”

(On what he sees in their receiving corps)
“They have youth with experience at quarterback. They have the youth at the receivers spot. However we can’t overlook the running backs. They have two pretty decent running backs that have a one-two punch, two different types of backs, so they have an all-around offense. They have to start clicking, but we on defense have to start clicking before they start clicking.”

CB Chris Johnson

(On being the starting kickoff returner)
“I didn’t think I was actually going to be the starter, but I was just trying to get in there, contribute to the team and help the team out.”

(On being nervous in his first NFL regular season game)
“I was so nervous. You could see it on the first play. I should have let that ball go out of bounds, but my instincts told me I wanted to pick it up and try to run it. I kind of messed up on that one. After I got settled in a little bit I started feeling the returns and getting comfortable back there.”

(On not letting mistakes affect him)
“Like the coaches always say, you have to let mistakes go, because if you hold on to them, you are going to keep making mistakes. The best thing I could do after that first one was say it was over with and done with. So, all I can do now is look forward and make everything else positive.”

LB Chris Claiborne

(On getting a victory in Arizona)
“We need this victory. It’s a division game on the road. So, to me, that is the most important thing. I think this team is good enough that if we take care of our business, we’ll be ok. It’s not really about the other team. It’s about us doing what we need to do to be successful.”

(On how effective the run defense has been)
“We’re playing well on the run. I think that’s important, but the other thing is being consistent. We have to do that week in and week out. That allows Leonard [Little] and [the defensive line] to get off as far as the pass goes. Hopefully we will try and blitz a little more. Last week we kind of sat back. We’ll see how it goes. Every week is a new challenge, and we’re looking forward to it.”

(On the effect QB Kurt Warner had on St. Louis)
“He’s got stats and that’s what it is all about. He was a two-time MVP, so that speaks for itself. But I think most of the things that he used when he was here are still here. I would be worried if some of those weapons weren’t here. If Marshall Faulk wasn’t here or if some of those guys on the line weren’t here. I’m happy to be playing here with the guys that are here. We have a great quarterback here in [Marc] Bulger, and we’re going to go to war with him.”

DE Anthony Hargrove

(On the loss of momentum after giving up a punt return touchdown)
“It is always deflating anytime anybody scores on you, period. It hurts a little more on special teams because there are only a few times you get a chance to get on the field and if one of those times they score, you don’t know if you are going to get another chance to go back out there and fix that.”

(On the Rams’ problems with special teams)
“We are aware of the problem with special teams. That’s why we come out here everyday, you know, Coach [Bob] Ligashesky has a good system, and once everybody adapts to it and gets it, we will be fine on special teams. We are not nearly as bad as we were last year, but there are still a couple guys running out of gas and not squeezing them right, but we’re getting to where we need to be.”

(On going after QB Kurt Warner against Arizona)
“Anytime you get a chance to get after someone who was here, you always try to get back at them. He’s a quarterback, and that’s what I get paid to do, is get quarterbacks. So, yeah, I’m going to get it. I’m just going to line up and play some ball. It’s just another conference game, and we just want to go out and get a win.