Opening Statement: **"As always guys, I'll go through the injury report real quick. Guys that didn't practice today – Mike Brisiel, Kaluka Maiava, Darren McFadden, Denarius Moore, Jeremy Stewart, Usama Young. Guys that were limited in practice – Tyvon Branch, Menelik Watson with an illness, Jason Hunter, Rashad Jennings with a concussion and then Miles Burris with a toe. Guys got some time off. They got a chance to regroup both mentally and physically. I thought we had a good practice. I think we understand the challenge that's set forth in front of us. We have to go travel to the Eastern Time zone and try to win a football game. Our guys understand that and they're prepared for that and ready for that. It'll be a tough football game. This is a team that we're playing that's obviously played really well on defense. Their catalyst for their defense is really their front seven. They do a great job of stopping the run. They're able to get after the passer. They have a multitude of looks that they have on defense that create some challenges for us offensively. Offensively, it's a football that they're 10th in the league in rushing the football, so obviously it'll start there. We're going to have to be able to stop the run defensively and be able to get off the field on third down. That'll be crucial for us. We have to do some things in the kicking game to try to win the field position. They've got a good football team and it'll be a challenge for us."
Q: Is Darren [McFadden] a hamstring issue again?
Coach Allen: "No, it's an ankle. He actually injured the ankle in the game the other day. It's more than what we had initially had thought, so he wasn't able to go today and hopefully we'll be able to get him out there soon, but I don't know."
Q: Taiwan [Jones] looked like he changed jerseys and he was back on offense. Was that like, 'Alright we need a body kind of thing?'
Coach Allen: "Taiwan has played running back for us here so it's not something that's new to him. With Rashad's situation with the concussion, with Jeremy and Darren's situation not knowing what their status will be for game day, we have to be prepared with the guys we have to have somebody step up. Taiwan has done a great job for us all year long for us on special teams. He's played at a Pro Bowl level so having a guy with that type of versatility that can go over and play defense, but yet can be a guy that can get us some snaps on offense if need be, will be big for this game."
Q: Where is Rashad Jennings in his [concussion] steps?
Coach Allen: "He's cleared a lot of the hurdles. He's still not totally been cleared, but it's really going to be something that we're going to have to evaluate throughout the week and see if he's healthy enough to go this weekend. He's gotten better every day so our hope is he'll be good to go for Sunday."
Q: Can you talk about how big it is having Tyvon Branch back?
Coach Allen: "Any time you lose a player of Tyvon's ability and the way that he plays the game and he stands for the things we believe in here and the way he takes care of his business, that's a tough guy to replace. Just getting him back out on the field, I thought he moved around pretty well today. I'll go up and kind of look at the tape and see exactly where he's at, but just getting him back out on the field I think is a big boost to obviously to him and to all of us."
Q: I'm sure he wants to play, but what are the chances?
Coach Allen: "If he's healthy enough to play, he'll play. I think that's what we've got to do as we watch him practice and see where he's at physically and can he go out and play at a high level in an NFL football game? If he can do that, he'll play."
Q: Was his absence longer than you guys had originally anticipated?
Coach Allen: "Probably a little bit, but you never know how those things are going to respond. Obviously he had a significant injury. He was in here every day rehabbing it. We felt he was at a point now where we could get him out, start practicing, and really start evaluating him playing football. When he shows that he can play the game of football and play it at a level we need him to play at, then he'll be ready to go."
Q: Was it a bone fracture?
Coach Allen: "Yeah, I don't know exactly what the … I'm not a doctor so I don't know. There were a couple of issues that he had."
Q: How important is it to get Terrelle [Pryor] in the mix as well so you know exactly what you have these last four games heading into the offseason?
Coach Allen: "Obviously, you go into a game and you have a game plan. You have some things that you have designed to do within the game and then really the game dictates a lot of times what you end up doing. We'd like to see Terrelle at some point again and give him another opportunity and continue to evaluate him. The biggest thing is we want to utilize the guys and do the things we feel like gives us the best chance to have success offensively, defensively, in the kicking game. If we feel like he gives us an advantage, then we'll try to use him."
Q: How would you like to see Matt [McGloin] evolve? What's the next step you want to see him improve on?
Coach Allen: "I think the biggest thing for Matt is to continue to go out there and learn from the mistakes. He made a couple of mistakes in the game the other day. You want to see him learn from that and not repeat the same mistakes. He's been pretty good as far as getting the ball out with timing, throwing the ball accurately. We've been able to get some explosive passes down the field, so I just really want to see him continue … He's still a young player. Unfortunately for us, both the quarterbacks that we've played the majority of the season with are really relatively young at the position. You want to see those guys continue to grow."
Q: You used both [Andre] Gurode and [Lucas] Nix when Brisiel went out. Which direction would you go if Brisiel can't play?
Coach Allen: "Lucas Nix took the majority of the reps at right guard today, so I kind of see us going in that direction."
Q: Anything new with Denarius Moore's situation?
Coach Allen: "No, he's better. He's still not ready yet. Again, those things take time and hopefully they'll heal up quicker and we can get him back out there."
Q: Is there a concern that either Stewart or McFadden could be, with four games left, longer term?
Coach Allen: "I think any time you have injuries at this point in the year, there's obviously that concern. Again, nobody has a crystal ball. You can't tell exactly when a guy is going to be well, so we'll go through the rehab process. We'll try to get them back out as quickly as we can and we'll just go from there."
Q: Their end [Muhammad] Wilkerson, 10.0 sacks I believe, and he's having a real strong year. Do you recall evaluating him when he came out for the draft? What kind of player is he?
Coach Allen: "He was a big, physical player that had, for a guy of his size, has exceptional athleticism. He's strong. When you watch him, they play him at a multitude of positions. They'll play him at end; they'll play him inside at nose. They change up where they put him so it's hard to really identify exactly where he's go gin to be on every play. He was a big, physical athlete that had some pass rush ability but also had the ability to anchor against the run. We thought he was a talented player when he came out and obviously he's proving that right."
Q: Do you see Geno Smith as a player playing with confidence or do you see some hesitation in how he goes about … ?
Coach Allen: "Listen, when you evaluate the whole season and you watch him throughout the whole year, there's been times where he's looked exceptional. And there's been times where he looks like a young player and he's made some young mistakes. I think we have to recognize that you don't draft a guy where he was taken without having ability, and so he's got ability and we've got to take that into account. Hopefully we can give him some looks and give him some confusing looks and maybe we can get a takeaway or something. I think we have to respect that he's' a talented player."
Q: Your offense has had a lot more success early than late in games. Have you looked at the scripted plays and looked at what's going on there? Any analysis or things you guys are doing?
Coach Allen: "You go through the process. You script a certain amount of plays coming out to start the game and then you go into halftime and you kind of do the same thing. Our issue really, from a team standpoint, is we haven't done as good a job on third down, getting off the field defensively, so therefore we haven't had as many opportunities on offense. And then offense we haven't done as good a job of converting on third downs. Last week we were 7-of-9, I think it was, in the first half and 0-4 in the second half. That's really an area of emphasis that we have to do better at because if we're able to convert a few third downs on offense, we can keep drives alive, we can hold onto the ball a little bit longer. Conversely, defensively, if we're able to get off the field, we eliminate points and we give our offense the ball back."