Q:Two days off in a row for [Richard] Seymour; he often misses one day a week, usually not two. You still okay with him?
Coach Jackson: Yes, yes I am.
Q: Seymour's kind of that rare guy. He's an A-grouper, he's played enough and he knows what it takes where he could afford to miss a day or two like that…
Coach Jackson: But again, you just have to make sure again keeping guys healthy, I think, down the stretch here is the key for our football team. We've just got to stay as healthy as we can, we've got to get guys to the game and that's part of my job as a head coach…make sure we're coaching as healthy as a team as I can and that's what we're trying to do.
Q: Mike Mitchell got of to a slow start because of injury and he really came on in the San Diego game. He's come on in the past couple of weeks. What's he bring for you?
Coach Jackson: I think he's a very good defender, he's a good man defender, I think he understands their scheme, he's very tenacious, he likes playing football and he's a very physical player. So again, he brings another physical presence to our defense. I think a lot of those guys who didn't have a training camp, didn't have an early part of the season; they're just now hitting their stride. But, he's done a good job. He's been a little nicked up, but he's fought through it and he's playing well.
Q: His play against San Diego was a key moment in the game. Does that give receivers going forward a little pause when they come over the middle?
Coach Jackson: Oh yeah, because he's not afraid to stick his face in there. So, he's done a good job and he's going to continue to get better as we go out through the season.
Q: Throughout the course of the year, how much have you had to give Jared [Veldheer] help with a back chipping on that side; a tight end. How much have you left him out there on his own?
Coach Jackson: Well, I mean there's combination of things we do. Sometimes we've left him out there, sometimes we've helped, sometimes we chip – we do a little bit of it all because I think you have to be multiple in pass protection because if not, the defensive coordinators are too good. They'll find other ways to get those great pass rushers matched on people, but he's done a good job. As a young player in this league, he's battled. He's a battler; I mean that's one things I know about Jared and he's doesn't want a lot of help, truth be told. He wants to be out there on his own, but I have the right to determine that. So, what we'll do is help where our guys need help and we'll try to get our guys out when we think we can get them out.
Q: How has [Veldheer] graded out for the most part?
Coach Jackson: I think he's done a great job. I think the whole offensive line has done a good job. Jared, Stefen [Wisniewski], [Samson] Satele, from Cooper [Carlisle] to Khalif [Barnes] to even [Stephon] Heyer last week. I mean those guys are playing well as a group, so I think they've done a good job. But again, this is probably our biggest challenge. These guys are really good in a hostile environment where it's going to be loud and you've just got to handle that the right way.
Q: Do you expect Samson [Satele] back and having the regular line back?
Coach Jackson: I hope so. I think he'll be up to speed. Obviously, he's practiced a couple of days now but I think he feels better than he did a week ago. So yeah, if he's ready to go, I'm going to put him back out there.
Q: Is that a key to have in a game like this with a veteran in the middle?
Coach Jackson: It's not so much that. I just think he has been the glue of that whole line. He's been the driving force among bringing everybody together so whenever you can have that guy out there, obviously it makes a huge difference.
Q: With that being said, will you still have to give [Vikings defensive end] Jared Allen special attention?
Coach Jackson: No doubt. I mean he's going to get special attention. I mean he's as good as there is in football. The guy has 13.5 sacks and it's been no accident. He makes a lot of stuff happen, so we know where he is and we know how he goes about it. He doesn't make any magical things happen – he just goes and plays extremely hard, and what we have to do is get him blocked. Everybody's tried every form of trying to block him. I mean like someone said to me yesterday, 'Everybody knows this guy's one of the best in the league. Why can't you stop him?' Because this guy plays hard play in and play out, so that's why I said maybe we need 15 guys on offense to slow this guy down. But no, we have to get this job done.
Q: Have you been around many rookies on the offensive line that have come in and been so far ahead in the game as Stefen Wisniewski. I mean obviously with his pedigree, he's going to have the genes to play football. You see him working on his body doing things that you only see from guys in their late 20's, early 30's doing – that kind of thing. It just seems like he's just so far ahead of it mentally…
Coach Jackson: He is and he's done a great job. I've only been around one other guy that I know of that as a rookie could come in and play, and play well – it was Michael Oher in Baltimore. As a rookie, this guy's off the charts in my opinion and again, kudos to our scouting department and seeing those characteristics from him that he demonstrated in college. I mean that's exactly what he's doing up here and he's done a fantastic job but again, we've still got a ways to go here and he is every bit as important playing left guard and center for this football team as any other position on this football team because he's doing it at a very high level at a very young age in this league. So kudos to him because he does have the right bloodline, so he knows how to play the game.
Q: It sounds simple when I say it but if I said keep Adrian Peterson off the field, you got a better chance to win…
Coach Jackson: That's not simple [laughs]. That's not simple. At some point in time, he's going to get on the field. Regardless of what we do on offense, he's going to get out there. Bottom line is we have to tackle the guy. He's a good player – I mean he's the best running back in this league that we have faced, that we've seen. But as I have always said, one guy can't beat 11. We're going to the football with the right intensity, with the right thought process and we've got to get him on the ground. But he is a load to tackle, he's as good as I've seen but it's a challenge. We'll get it done.
Q: At this time of the year, it's still early and all this – how important is it to be in this tight of a division to be still ahead of everyone? To be able to say, 'Really, we are in control of our own fate even while we have plenty of games left?'
Coach Jackson: I think that's all you can ask for is that you are in control. That it's not about somebody doing something for you. It's about you taking care of your own business. We don't have to worry about if this team beats this team, if that teams beats that team – what we have to do is go out, and compete, and play as well we can play every week, and win games. That's all you want to do. That's the only opportunity you want in this profession when you're in these situations because then it's dictated by us, it's not dictated by anybody else.
Q: The team hasn't scored in the fourth quarter since the game in Houston. Is there any thing to put your finger on there?
Coach Jackson: No, I can't. I can't put my finger on it. I just know that's something I've got to get fixed. I've got to make sure we find a way to get in this end zone in the fourth quarter and we haven't; just what you said is true. We have to do a better job – we've been down there but for some reason whether it's turnovers or penalties or whatever it's been, we haven't been able to close it out with a score. So, we haven't harped on it but I know that's true, and I understand that and that's something I have in the back of my mind that we've got to make sure we do a better job of closing out the fourth quarter by scoring points.
Q: Is that a troubling thing for you then?
Coach Jackson: No, it's not a troubling thing because we won. We could go, 'We won some of those games so it's not troubling,' but it's become a trend that we don't want to have happen. So again, you have to make sure you're paying attention to it because that's what we need to do. It seems like we get stuck on this 24 a lot and I know that, so we've got to get off the 24 and get more. We need more points.
Q: Obviously, there was a lockout. Did you have more time to study all these NFC North teams? You've got four out of the next five I guess against them…
Coach Jackson: Yeah. Yeah, we had a chance because those are the guys you need to study because you don't know much about them because it's a different division and it's a good division. It's a strong division. I mean there are a lot of good players in that division – I mean as you all know, there's a lot of good players throughout the National Football League but obviously, we get a chance to see this division up close and personal starting with Minnesota. But, it's a strong division starting with this team. This team is very big, very physical, and they can play football.
Q: So did you coach with [Vikings head coach Leslie] Frazier at Cincinnati?
Coach Jackson: Yes I did.
Q: What characteristics do you expect his team to have based on what you know about him?
Coach Jackson: That they're well coached. They're well coached; that they'll be very physical. They're not going to suffer a letdown. People think, 'Well, they're 2-7. They're not going to come out and play.' That's not true. They're going to play hard and they'll play hard for him because he has unbelievable character and integrity and the people that are around him have the same. So, he'll get those guys rallied up and they'll be ready to play when we get there on Sunday – I promise you that.
Q: How's the overall health of the cornerbacks and how's [Lito] Sheppard going to step up in that regard?
Coach Jackson: I think it's better; it's better than what it's been. We're not totally all the way back yet but we're definitely getting better, getting healthier and Lito did a good job last week. We'll see where we are with him this week if he's out there starting or backing up. But, we're getting some people back but I like what Lito did and I like what Lito brings to this football team. So, we'll continue to monitor the health of those other guys back there. But again, make sure that Lito's ready to go.
Q: What's your evaluation of a guy like Christian Ponder as a quarterback?
Coach Jackson: I think he's a really good young football player in this league. Very athletic, he can make all the throws, he can move around with the ball, and he's got some targets to throw at. [Visante] Shiancoe, Michael Jenkins and obviously when you can turn around and hand it off to Adrian Peterson, you've got a chance to be really good. So, I think he's done well but obviously the more games he plays, the better he's going to get.