Head Coach Hue Jackson. Photo by Tony Gonzales
Coach Jackson:First day back, guys are working, getting ready for a big game – Minnesota.
Q:You guys getting healthier? You've had a few days off.
Coach Jackson:I think so, yes. Now we've got six more days to get healthier, you know, get stronger and get better. Guys came out here with a good mindset for the first day, ran around a little bit, got the cobwebs out a little bit and guys are excited about playing again.
Coach Jackson:He's not out here, that's for sure, but again, as I keep telling you, we're getting closer. Exactly when it's going to be, I can't tell you.
Q:Small chance he plays?
Coach Jackson:Honestly, I don't know, I mean I'm going to leave that to the medical - our doctors. I think he's getting closer though, I do know that and we'll see what happens.
*Q: *Still in the boot?
Coach Jackson:When I saw him he wasn't. Again, that doesn't mean that he's not still using it, but when I saw him he was not in the boot at that time, but again, I know we're getting closer to getting him back out here. I know he's working his tail off. When I saw him this morning he looked good, but again, I don't want to -- until we get closer later on in the week and know exactly where he is, I don't want to speculate.
*Q: *Any indication either way on the severity of [Jacoby] Ford's injury?
Coach Jackson:No, I just know he's still in the boot, I can tell you that. But, again, we're going to know more as we move through the week. I don't know exactly what it is. When I say that, I mean every time I think it's this it's that. So I think, again, we're just going to evaluate it as we move through the week and see where he is.
Q:How closely do you follow that kind of stuff as to what it is and how often do you just say, 'Look, tell me when he's clear and then I'll go?'
Coach Jackson:I have some of that in me as you guys know because I have a team to coach and I can't worry about all the injuries and those things. We have a team of doctors that handle that and they normally are going to tell me when a guy can play and I trust their judgment and what they do, that's their job. I'm not a doctor. So, there are times I want to know right away because as you start to build a game plan you need to know, but we're early in the week; it's Monday. By tomorrow, when we really start laying all the foundation for a game plan, do I have to know who has the possibility of playing, at least. So, nobody's been ruled out as of right now so we'll go through the week and see where we're at.
*Q: *Minnesota Vikings -- team you don't play very often. First thoughts on them heading into this week's game?
Coach Jackson:Adrian Peterson, Kevin Williams, Jared Allen, I mean, these guys are a good football team. They're playing tonight so I'm going to sit there and watch them as closely as I can. At this juncture of the season I don't think you get so caught up in somebody's record. They're playing hard. They won a big game last week; I mean they had a bye last week rather, but they won the week before that. I think this team is poised to play good. They have really good players and it's going to be a fun challenge.
Q:You just won a big game in a hostile environment; what's the key?
Coach Jackson:The key is to pack the best team and to go down there and be very focused and very determined and understand what you're playing for and our football team does. I think they get it. We're in the down side of the season and in order to keep playing you got to win and I think our players understand that.
*Q: *You came out of the weekend in first place all by yourself and still a ways to go; is there any discussion of that at all in terms of, 'hey look where we are, let's maintain it,' or do you just go week to week and don't even worry about that?
*Coach Jackson: *Well, obviously it's written so our players see it and they know exactly where we are and I think any pros in pro football, you want to know where your team is and I think we all recognize that right now we're in first place. But we also recognize as fast as you're in first place you can be out of first place. That you have to do everything you can to keep it and hold on to it, which is winning. There is no other avenue other than winning to stay where you are and I think our players understand that and we don't have a lot of conversations about it, but I think we do respect and know where we are, know what we're trying to accomplish and that's what we do.
Q: Can you help us out any with the guys you are working out?
Coach Jackson: Well, obviously we have a couple of spots because we moved some guys. Obviously we moved Boyd up, so we might have some spots to fill. That's what that's all about. Again, we are always going to look around and check on players, but it's just making sure that we check on people, maintain whatever holes we have, fill them and continue to move forward.
Q: Are they all cornerbacks?
Coach Jackson: I don't know that yet. I will let you know once I go out there and stand next to them and see what they are.
Q: Can you run out there?
Coach Jackson: No, I can not, I can't. I will let you know after I leave there.
Q: You mention Adrian Peterson -- the first name you mentioned. How rare is it that a guy that big has that speed and quickness?
Coach Jackson: He is as good as there is. He is a rare player. He really is. I've gotten to know him a little bit, gotten to know his dad, they are great people. He is a really good young man, and a tremendous football player, loves playing the game, is as good as there is so what a challenge for our defensive football team.
Q: To be 5-4 and in first place, have you found yourself at any point this year after any of these wins saying - I know you always think you can play better so your never going to think you played a great game, 100% across the board, but have you had in any of your wins, have you walked away thinking 'man, that is almost as good as we can play?'
Coach Jackson: No, Jerry I haven't. No, because I have a high expectation for this team. I have a high expectation for the team, for the staff, everybody connected with this organization. And we're not close yet. We know that, we are chasing it. And that's the beautiful part, it's out there somewhere. We just have got to get in it and do it. Now do I think we are playing better? Do I think we are playing a little bit more consistently? Yes, we did in the last game. But that was one game. We have got to now start stacking those games together to become a consistent football team. What we hope to become, I still think is out in front of us, and I think we can with a lot of hard work, lot of determination, a lot of discipline. And you know we have to fix some things, the penalty issue is still an issue. As you go down the stretch here, we have got to get better at some areas, I think we recognize that. We are poised to do that.
Q: As far as defensive end goes, Jared Allen leads the league in sacks, he is there every year. Everybody knows this guy is a dominate pass rusher. What makes him so good?
Coach Jackson: He never stops. He never stops. He doesn't take a play off. He works at it. It's important to him. He wants to be the best. He has a burning desire to be one of the best at what he does, and he is. And that's why he doesn't get stopped and he is an issue for our football team. We played some pretty good pass rushers, not saying we played Jared Allen, we will see what he is. We respect his talent and what he brings to the table, but at the same time we have make sure we get him blocked.
Q: What stands out about their rookie quarterback [Chris] Ponder?
Coach Jackson:I think he is very talented. Obviously he can throw the ball. I got a chance to watch him last year as he was coming out, he has a real good arm, he is athletic, he is smart. And I think Bill Musgrave does a great job of putting him in situations where you take advantage of his ability. That's what the real good coaches do in this league, they take players and give them an opportunity to be successful by doing what they can do. Obviously, what's good for him, he has a great running back he can turn around and hand the ball to. It makes him a little bit more effective than most places.