Head Coach Scott Linehan

Wednesday, November 15, 2006



(Opening statement)

“The injury report is pretty much the same as it was on Monday. (T Orlando) Pace was already announced as out for the year. Evaluation of (CB Travis) Fisher was not real positive as to when he would be back. It looked more like six weeks than four. With that in mind, we made a decision to place him on I.R. (Reserve/Injured list) as well. It would have been the soonest back maybe second to the last game, or even the last game, but that wasn’t even guaranteed. You re-injure an arm that’s already got a plate in it; you’re going to be a little more cautious than anything else.”



(On why they placed Fisher on I.R.)

“I think it’s just the logical thing to do. It’s tough for any player to not be able to come back or know that they aren’t going to have a chance to return. You have to make this decision to free up a roster spot too; knowing you’re not going to have that player available, really, six of the next seven games. At best, it would maybe be the last game of the season, but that’s the best case scenario, probably. With that in mind, we utilized the hierarchy rule, and opened up a roster spot.”



(On what WR Willie Ponder can bring to the table)

“He’s a specialist in that area. He’s one of those guys that you set returns up for his running style…he’s a straight ahead, gains a lot of speed, one cut returner. He’s done it. He led the league, or was close to one of the leaders in the league at New York (Giants) at one time with certain return styles and types. I think those are the kinds of things we’ll try to implement with him. I think he can impact the game with not just positive field position, but with a big return, and have the ability to hit the home run.”



(On CB Tye Hill’s performance)

“I think he’s improved weekly. He’s a great competitor. He’s had to overcome ups and downs, as all rookies do, and I think he’s done a great job of that.”



(On where G Adam Goldberg will fit into the lineup)

“Right now we’ll probably just leave (T Alex) Barron on the right side. I think both are more comfortable…and as we talked it through, we were more comfortable not changing. We finished the game that way, so there’s a certain level of comfort there. We’re really not changing anyone’s position. It would be really changing two guys and having to overcome all those issues.”



(On the challenges that Carolina’s team possesses)

“Great talent. You look defensively, they’ve got one of the best, if not the best, front four. They’ve really improved their…they’ve had an injury. I know (LB Dan) Morgan was hurt early. They’ve patched things up nicely at linebacker, and their secondary…they’ve got some really good players there. They added (CB Ken) Lucas last year, and they’ve got a guy (CB Chris) Gamble who’s playing as good as anyone in the league right now; and the (CB Richard) Marshall kid that they drafted is playing real well in there. He replaced Lucas when he’s hurt. Their safeties are veterans, and playing very well actually. Their safeties are actually playing as good as anybody. That’s what I see defensively. Offensively, they’ve got a quarterback that knows how to find…you know that number 89 (WR Steve Smith) is one-of-a-kind. He’s the biggest 5’9” guy I’ve ever seen. He plays so big, and is such a big weapon. They use him a lot of ways; throwing the ball, handing the ball, putting him in the slot, putting him in motion, run screens. They’re dangerous that way. I think they’re playing better offensively than they have all year. Their special teams, the kicker I don’t think has missed a field goal. The punter’s got a great hang. They don’t have a lot of weaknesses. I think they’ve had to overcome some injuries. They lost the heart of their defense early, but I think they’re kind of hitting their stride right now.”



(On what Ponder’s role will be on the team)

“It’s a little bit different with Travis’ injury because that puts our depth a little bit different in the secondary. We’ve moved on knowing he’s not going to be there, and so he really factors into our kickoff returner, which is certainly something that we can improve on. Hopefully with his addition, and us doing a better job with that, that’ll improve. We’ll use him in some backup roles on some other teams now.”



(On if Pace will have to undergo surgery)

“He’s going to have surgery. Probably have it done Friday so we can get a head start on it. It’s not a quick turnaround. It’s about six months, but there’s a high success rate with there being no problems. It does have to be reattached, I think a little bit like an Achilles would; you know how it comes undone. With the tricep, you just reattach it. I don’t think it’s real complicated, but it does take a long time to heal.”



(On adjusting the approach on the line with Pace being out)

“You do, but you can’t just go conservative. We’ve still got to move the ball and score, and be aggressive, and all those things. You can’t replace him, but you do have to be aware that people are going to try to put somebody on a guy that hasn’t been playing that position that much, and try to gain an advantage. So you need to be aware and have those things in place.”



(On if Carolina is a blitzing team)

“I think they’re similar to Seattle. They could come out…Seattle blitzed a number of times last week, and you could see that from them. They’ve got very similar defensive schemes, but they get to the quarterback with four-man rush without any problem, so they don’t need to blitz if they want to still pressure the guy.”



(On how they can correct the false starts)

“I think you’ve just got to own up to areas you’re deficient at and work on it. Work a lot of cadence things, a lot more, maybe, in your individual groups. And I think just the fact of attention and the competitor in him (QB Marc Bulger) and in us is to correct it. Like I said Monday, until we do, we’re not going to have success. I think everybody on this team wants to improve and get over the hump.”



(On the offensive line’s depth chart)

“(G Mark) Setterstrom is in there. We’re really starting our three tackles, so if something happens, probably Mark and (C Brett) Romberg will be the next two guys.”



(On the status of the offensive line)

“I don’t think you get caught up in who’s out there. I think you just have to keep working the schemes we’ve been working. The guys have for the most part, been working together all year and you have to play that game with the injuries and just go with what you believe in and not worry about the drop-off or anything like that. Everybody else has to step up their game a little bit.”



(On CB Chidi Iwuoma)

“He’s played corner and nickel and been a special teams guy for most of his time in the league.”



(On what LB Will Witherspoon brings to the Rams)

“Will leads with his play and his energy. As you saw early in the year, he was always the guy around the ball and had a big hand in our wins. I think he had his hand on the last ball of almost every win. He brings that and his ability to make extraordinary plays, and that’s what you’ve got to have. His leadership and his intangibles really come from his energy and his effort.”



(On DE Eric Moore’s status)

“I think he’s working there behind Brandon (Green) right there. Victor’s starting so he can get you a guy that has some pass rushing ability and so he’ll be evaluated right away in that spot.”



(On the injuries from last week’s game)

“Isaiah’s (Kacyvenski) was fine and a lot of Raonall’s (Smith) was cosmetic. His mouth was so swollen and they wanted to make sure that he wasn’t going to have a lot of scarring and they did it right. He’s still pretty sore and pretty swollen, but there is nothing more that they’ll do with him.”



(On WR Willie Ponder)

“I think he did fine in his workout. That’s really the reason why he’s here. We didn’t really need to work him out again. More of it had to with us wanting to take a look at him if something did happen as far as an injury or roster spot. We definitely wanted to move in that direction as far as returners, so he did just fine, I thought.”



(On G Todd Steussie’s success in switching from tackle to guard)

“I think he’s held in very well, and that’s one of the reason’s we left him there. It helps Richie (Incognito) in the early parts of his career to have a veteran who knows the calls because he’s probably the one that has most background with our offensive line calls, so that helps him. At this point in his career, I think he’s comfortable being a guard. He came in as a tackle and made Pro Bowls as a left tackle. As you get older, you don’t quite have the same skill level, but you’re able to move inside to guard and function and do a good job. I think it’s a good spot for him.”



(On G Mark Setterstrom’s progression)

“He’s improved on ‘show team’. We watch and evaluate our ‘show team’ players, especially our practice squad and inactives. He’s gotten stronger in the weight room. He’s really made a commitment to become stronger. He was a little deficient in his upper-body strength and I’ve seen a noticeable improvement there.”



(On Panthers DE Julius Peppers)

“If you were to pick three guys in the NFL that you have to gameplan around as an offensive coach calling plays against the defense, he’s right up there, maybe number one because he’s second to none as far as the ability to impact the game from his position. There are some other guys too. Jason Taylor was very similar to that, and I think Leonard (Little) is playing at a very high level. Those are the kinds of guys you see that have two guys accounting for them.”



(On what Peppers brings to the table)

“We played against them my first year in Minnesota, which was his rookie year. He was really a guy who ran up the field and rushed the passer, now he’s equally as good against the run and he runs down things from the backside that a young player may not do early in his career. Now he’s one of those guys that can wreck the game in a number of ways as opposed to just third down. I think that’s why he’s really an elite player because there’s really not a weakness. That’s hard to attack when you need one or two extra guys on him.”



(On having enough special teams players)

“You need to have special teams players, but when you lose starters then all of a sudden you have to replace them with starter positions, and unfortunately special teams usually gets the short end of the stick. We try not to let that happen, but that’s really the reason. But the roster numbers are low and that does make it difficult when you get into the season.”



(On NT Jimmy Kennedy)

“I think Jimmy (Kennedy) has improved from a year ago. I think he’s still had ups and downs because it’s a tough transition to a nose tackle when he’s been a three-technique his whole life, but he’s built more like a nose. It’s just going to take time. I think he’s starting to get it at times and at times it’s a difficult position to play. I think he played much better in the second half than he did in the first.”



(On CB Jerametrius Butler)
“He’ll be in the depth, but I don’t know exactly where. We usually make that decision final on Friday, but he’s certainly on the depth chart.”



(On why Butler has been inactive for so many games)

“Everybody has their feelings for why things work out the way they work out. One theory is that he missed the entire offseason and was injured the majority of training camp and you just get behind and other guys earned spots. It’s tough to get back out there and you have to take advantage of the opportunities when you get them and hopefully that time will come.”



(On Panthers WR Steve Smith)
“Steve Smith is not different in what you’re trying to do with (Julius) Peppers. The scheme hopefully gives him a chance, but there are going to be times when Tye (Hill) has to go out there and cover him and there are going to be some plays where he’s going to be one on one. You don’t want a bunch of them in a row, but you have to do the best job you can, but you still have some other things that you’re going to have to try to stop. I’m sure they’re going to try to attack us with the running game and if you put too much attention on one player it’s going to backfire, so you need to have a backup.”



WR Willie Ponder



(On what type of kick returner he is)

“I’m just downhill. I have trust in the guys on my team, I’m as good as the other guys in the return game, and I’m coming downhill full-speed.”



(On how he feels about being a part of the Rams)

“I know that I have to come in and work hard. I know the guys and the people upstairs are going to have a lot of expectations for me and the community will have a lot of expectations for me, so I just have to come in, perform, and do my best.”



(On his 40-yard dash time)

“I can run the 40 in the mid 4.4’s. I came in here a couple of weeks ago and ran a 4.5; it’s midseason. The 40 time has a lot to do with technique and takeoff, but I’m still a 4.4 guy.”



(On being on the same team as Rams WRs Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt)

“I love it. Today I was looking at Torry (Holt) and Isaac (Bruce). Those guys are great receivers and can tell why. I love the opportunity to be here. My first year in New York I had the opportunity to be around Amani (Toomer) and Ike (Hilliard). These are two more great receivers that can help me, and it’s going to be a good thing.”



(On whether or not he thought the Rams would sign him after his initial visit)

“I though it was going to happen a couple of weeks ago, but it wasn’t the right time.”





DE Victor Adeyanju



(On his fumble returned for a touchdown in last week’s game)

“It felt really good and I just knew that I better not run out of gas. Any way I can help the team out, I’m here for them.”



(On how the team would’ve reacted had he been caught by a Seahawks offensive lineman)

“I knew if I would have gotten caught by an offensive tackle they would have talked bad about me for the rest of the year, so I just showed them a little bit of my speed.”



(On what tries to bring to the team)

“We have great coaches out here who can teach me a lot of things and anyway I can help the defense out I try to do. It’s just football, trying to have fun, make plays, and just helped he team out any way you can.”



(On what led to the defensive success in the second half against Seattle)

“We pretty much just calmed down, settled in, and just got after it. Everybody was reading their keys better and things like that.”



(On the mental focus of the Rams)

“Every week we have the correct mindset and we come out and practice hard and get ready to take the field.”





T Adam Goldberg



(On the opportunity to start against the Panthers on Sunday)

“It is a great opportunity. It’s kind of a terrible situation when a great opportunity for you comes at the cost for one of your teammates. Obviously all of our hearts are with Orlando (Pace), we wish him a speedy recovery, and it obviously won’t be the same without him. It’s an evil of the game and you have to move on. I’m excited for the opportunity, I think the offense will keep rolling with me there, and I think it will be a reassuring thing when they see that the mechanism of the Rams offense is still rolling.”



(On how he feels about starting this week)

“I really don’t think I’ll feel nervous at all. I played these guys almost a year ago, last year at Carolina when I was at Minnesota, and I was a starter there too. Given it was at right guard, but it’s the same game, so I’m not really psyching myself out of it.”



(On what type of player he is)

“Versatile would probably be the first thing. I like to think of myself as a smart player. I don’t make dumb mistakes or try not to make dumb mistakes so that I can always give myself an opportunity to be successful. That’s probably how I would describe myself.”



(On possibly having a larger workload because he will be starting this week)

“I prepare myself every week as if I’m starting so it’s not any extra work, just more refined work. Rather than having to know my plays at every position, I only have to know it at one. It’s more refined. I wouldn’t say the workload is more or less, but it’s definitely more focused.”





DE Leonard Little



(On the Rams defense being able to stop the run)

“You have to stop the run first. If a team is able to run the ball on you, it opens up a lot of other things. Our main adjustment is to try to stop the run and just go from their. That’s our main objective every week and it will remain our objective through the end of the season.”



(On the state of the Rams)

“We need to win games, but I’m not going to say that we are desperate. We’re not going to put any pressure on ourselves to win, but if we play like we should and play disciplined then we’ll have a great chance to win games.”



(On what will make the defense more successful)

“Guys just have to be where they’re supposed to be. In the second half of that game we were in the places where we needed to be on every play. That really showed because they couldn’t run or pass the ball against us. We have to come out from the first half to the fourth quarter and play like that and play like our teammate has our back no matter what.”



(On not being concerned about individual sack numbers)

“I really don’t think about it because we’re not winning games. That’s one thing I told myself this year, is not to even look at sack totals or who’s leading the league in sacks. The only thing I want to do is come out, do the best for my team, and make plays for us to win games. We haven’t won in four weeks so those sacks don’t make a big difference right now.”



(On Panthers DE Julius Peppers)

“He’s versatile. He can do it all. He can cover, if they need him at tight end, he could play it. He can do anything that his team wants him to do.





QB Marc Bulger



(On the Panthers defensive line)

“They have a good diversification of guys. They have speed and all the athleticism in (Julius) Peppers and with (Kris) Jenkins in there he’s a load, he’s huge, and can disrupt everything. They just have everything; the big guys that can stop the run and the speed to sack you. Usually you just have one or two of those guys on the line, but they have four.”



(On losing T Orlando Pace for the season)

“Not just because he’s a great player and can be a shutdown guy against the best rushers in the league, but teams know that and they’re going to attack that. Unfortunately for whoever comes in behind him, (Adam) Goldberg is going to be in there, there going to attack him. It’s as simple as that. If you’re behind a guy that is that good people are going to come after you, so it’s going to be a big challenge for him.”



(On T Adam Goldberg)

“He came in last week. It’s tough to come in and play with no reps. I know it’s his profession and he has to be ready, but to get thrown in a big game like that and play as well as he did just shows that he’s a true pro and he’s been doing it for a while.”



(On it being very important for the Rams to win this game)

“We’re getting to the desperate point and the last couple of weeks have been huge. Fortunately for us, we’re still in it, but we don’t have much margin for error. To beat them would be big because they’re NFC and we’d get back to .500 and they’d go down to .500 and we’d have the upper hand beating them. But it’s not going to be easy beating them at home.”



(On it being difficult to win on the road)

“It is. I don’t know what it is. The crowd noise, the momentum, or just as many areas for the home team. In the NFL that and turnovers are huge favorites for teams to win and definitely home field advantage is one of them, but it can be done. People have come in here, even though it’s a tough place to play, and won and we’ve certainly won on the road, but it just makes it a little bit tougher.”



(On C Richie Incognito’s penalty in Sunday’s game against the Seahawks)

“It’s tough when you’re in the middle of the game to get mad at a guy. There was no whistle, the play was still going, and they had three or four guys beating up his running back, ripped his helmet off. Richie was just grabbing the guys back, so to speak, but you have to be smarter at that point. I like his toughness. I don’t think since we had Kyle (Turley) we’ve had a guy do something like that. It’s tough to say. There’s a fine line between being smart and making a stupid play, but on his defense there was no whistle and if there was, the guys were still ripping his helmet off when the play was going on. So I think, at worst, it should’ve been offsetting.”



(On the evolution of RB Steven Jackson)

“He’s definitely making, from my perspective, a lot more reads. Before he would just get it and try to beat everyone with his speed, but I think now he’s plowing in there and making cuts that he wasn’t making earlier in the year. Certainly, I think he’s making a huge impact out of the backfield and his protection skills, I think that’s one thing that’s gone unnoticed, are his biggest improvement and he’s taken pride in that. When you have a guy that big, it’s pretty much like an extra lineman in there. Between catching the ball and his protection, it’s pretty amazing how far he’s come.”





T Orlando Pace



(On having his streak of seven consecutive Pro Bowls coming to an end)

“It’s tough, but it’s just one of those things. In football you have an injury like that. I’ve been really fortunate to be healthy throughout my career to have that string going and hopefully next year we can start it up again.”



(On when he will have surgery)

“I think on Friday. We’re still getting some opinions in and those type of things, but hopefully sometime this week or early next week.”



(On being surprised when he heard the recovery time for his injury)

“I was a little surprise, but with offensive lineman and all the pushing that you do and all the wear and tear on your triceps, I would imagine that it would be a pretty long rehab process.”



(On offering advice to the offensive linemen because he’s unable to play)

“I think so. Like I said, I’ll lend my hand and if I see anything the guys may need, I’ll always try to help them to get this team a victory.”





DT La’Roi Glover



(On Panthers QB Jake Delhomme)

“Jake (Delhomme) is my guy. He’s a heck of a competitor and he’s a good friend of mine. It’s going to be fun going out and competing against him, trying to sack him, and trying to get him on the ground. I’m sure he’s going to have the same kind of fun trying to throw big plays and trying to get their offense going, so it’s going to be a great atmosphere.”



(On seeing potential in Delhomme early in his career)

“He’s a country boy, so he had a little country swagger to him. He’s a fast talking guy, he’s always had the arm, and I think I even played against him in the World League too, so there is some history there. You did see some flashes of him being a pretty good quarterback.”



(On being upset because they are 4-5 instead of 6-3)

“Ultimately, no. It’s been more frustrating because you see that talent in this locker room and the quality of players in the locker room and you see what’s keeping us back, it’s been the mistakes. Whether it be fitting in the run or penalties. If we can get those things corrected, you’re going to see a better performance on the field. I strongly believe that.”

(On the defense’s performance in the second half last Sunday carrying over into this week’s game)

“I think what it shows is, defensively, if you execute your assignments and be where you’re supposed to be this defense can be pretty solid, but if there’s one tiny breakdown it’s going to cost you big.”





LB Will Witherspoon



(On the Panthers RBs DeShaun Foster and DeAngelo Williams)

“DeShaun (Foster) is one of those guys that has a good set of eyes and he knows where the gaps should be and if they’re not there he knows where else he can go and he’s going to take that too. He’s going to take his shot every chance he gets the ball. I think DeAngelo Williams is the same way. Both of them are very quick, shifty backs that like to hit the hole and try to make something happen to get up the field.”



(On DE Leonard Little being so effective at getting to the quarterback)

“I don’t really get to watch that all the time, but it does seem like that. He’s doing a great job of getting off the ball and getting his hands on guys to make things happen for us. That’s what you want. He’s one of those leaders on this defense and he’s definitely doing a great job showing people what he’s got by coming out to play and getting the job done.”





Panthers Head Coach John Fox

Wednesday, November 15, 2006



(On the NFL sending out a special release to highlight all the big receivers in Sunday’s game)

“There will be some big names for sure.”



(On the magnitude of Sunday’s game for both teams)

“Any time you play a conference game and you’re within a game of each other, it’s always big. As you move through the season, the later it gets, they just get bigger.”



(On if last Sunday’s comeback will help turn their season around)

“I’m hoping everything you just said is right. Any time you win it builds confidence. This game’s about confidence and momentum. Any time you can win, whether you pulled it out in the second half, or you did real good in the first half and hold on, a W is a W. They’re hard to get. Every Sunday it’s a dog fight. It’s true no matter what city you’re in. You just hope you can build some confidence and hopefully that will catapult us forward.”



(On Rams LB Will Witherspoon)

“Anytime you have successful people and they’ve been a part of success you’ve had, it’s never easy. It’s part of the business. Whether it’s a walk-on free agent that you have to release in camp, it’s all hard because you get close to these young men. When you’ve been through the battles that we’ve been through with Will and some of the great memories it’s very hard. But at the end of the day a guy has to do what’s best for him and his family. It wasn’t a matter of us not wanting him; he just got a better deal to go there. There are never any hard feelings. In fact, I couldn’t have any stronger, fond memories of Will (Witherspoon) because he’s a good man and I consider him a friend.”



(On former Ram and current Panthers DT Damione Lewis)

“He’s doing very well playing our third tackle. He comes in and he’s had a couple of sacks. He’s been a good addition for us and we’re happy to have him.”



(On how he feels about the Panthers so far this season)

“I like our team. We’ve been just a little bit better than average so far and I’m hoping that we can build on that and move in the right direction during the second half of the season. I’m still getting to know them. One thing about the NFL now, is that it changes every year. The personality of your team changes. You have new players and sorting that out takes time. You have injuries. We had a lot of injuries early and that makes you adjust. Our starting right tackle wasn’t even in camp with us. It takes a while to get a beat on all these guys and get them to come together.”



(On injuries hurting their team this year)

“I think most of the games on offense and defense start up front. You’re not going to be very successful offensively if you’re not blocking well and you’re not going to be successful defensively if you’re not tackling well. We lost our starting left tackle, went out and got a free-agent that got hurt in the first game at center. Your center and left tackle are intricate parts of your offensive line. Some people would argue that they are the two most important positions. In the first week out of the blocks to lose both of those guys takes a minute to recover. I’m sure it’s had its reasons, but the guys have stepped in and now we just have to continue to get better and execute better. We’ve kind of done that as we’ve gone and I think we’ve gotten a little bit better every week and at the end of the day that’s what you try to do. On defense we lost our starting middle linebacker the first game of the season and that’s kind of your quarterback on defense. It just takes an adjustment and hopefully we’ve made that adjustment and we’re moving forward.”





Panthers QB Jake Delhomme



(On turning around the season and being playoff contenders)

“I think it’s easy for me to say, ‘Oh yeah, we’ve turned it,’ but I know if we have or not. We played well enough to win the game Monday night. Certainly, we weren’t hitting on all cylinders. We didn’t score a point in the first half, and offensively we kind of woke up a little bit in the second half. We’re battling through, I think, a ton of injuries. We lost two starting offensive linemen, and some pretty good ones, the first game of the season. We’ve had a lot of young guys playing there, and defensively we lost some players on that end also. We’ve had to find ourselves a little bit. We’ve just kind of been up and down. That last week was up. We just need to play more consistent football.”



(On successful past seasons raising expectations around Carolina)

“I think it should have. I think in our minds, our expectations were high. They were high coming off the Super Bowl when we went 9-7 the following year. They were high going into last season when we went to the championship game. We think we have some abilities here to do some good things on the field, but it’s so easy to say one thing. You’ve got to get it done on the field, and so far this year, we’ve gotten it done five times, and the other four times, we really haven’t gotten it done. You can look good on paper, but it’s all about playing the game. It’s who makes more plays inside the white lines.”



(On the Rams defense)

“I’m familiar with a few of their players on defense. I played with La’Roi (Glover), Will Witherspoon, and Fahkir Brown so I know what type of guys they have there. They’ve got some high-motor guys that can get after it. Jim Haslett’s now the defensive coordinator and Rick Venturi is now the linebackers coach. I’m seeing a defense that will give you multiple looks, they’ll bring a lot of pressure, and they’ll play some different things, so you have to be exact in everything that you do because they are going to give you some different looks. It’s hard in this league because people on the outside looking in can say, ‘look at their record,’ but when you watch them on film and you watch the two tough games that they lose right at the end to the Seahawks, people will have a different light on them than just by their record. They are extremely talented and will give us fits, so we just need to try to be ready to do what we need to do. We’re coming off a short week and they’ve had a whole extra day’s rest on us so it’s going to be a challenge.”



(On WR Steve Smith’s performance in Monday night’s game against Tampa Bay)

“We come to expect that from Steve (Smith). He’s a competitor and he wasn’t feeling well and we knew that early on. It always kind of seems like when somebody’s not feeling well they really just focus in on what they have to do and that’s what Steve (Smith) did; he made some great plays for us. He’s been a very good player for us and everyone knows that and we enjoy when he has the ball in his hands.”