On using all of the healthy running backs: "We'll see. We can only suit up so many in a game. Marcel's [Reece] done a fine job that if Darren [McFadden] or Mike [Goodson] can make it back, you'll still see Marcel primarily as a halfback in this game because those other guys will still need some time to get their legs back underneath them."
On the Browns defense: "They're a classic AFC North type of defense. They're very tough, very gritty. They don't show a lot of different schemes or complexes. But what they do, they do well – an outstanding third down defense. You saw last week's game against Pittsburgh; they had eight takeaways. It's a tough, hard-nosed defense that makes you earn your keep."
On Darren McFadden's recovery: "First of all, his energy on the field has been a positive. Sometimes if a guy comes off an injury and is still struggling a little bit he's quiet and doesn't show much. But his energy has been great on the field and his attitude. He's been into the meetings. I do little pop-quizzes quite often in the meetings, and he's done a great job with that this week. He's shown us that he's, mentally, getting his mind to the spot of playing."
On McFadden physically and his burst: "It's good, but not 100 percent yet. He's definitely shown improvement from what was being displayed in front of the trainers for the past couple of weeks, which I didn't see as much. I did see improvement in day one to day two as far as progress for him."
On Goodson's recovery: "It's about the same. Because we've used Marcel so much in practice still, it's hard to get them reps to get evaluations. I'd say it's about the same with those two guys."
On confidence that Carson Palmer will be fine: "100 percent confident he'll be fine."
On Reece's playing time at halfback this week: "He's earned the right to make you ask that question, and for us to ask the question - is he worth playing at halfback more? As a play caller, as a coordinator, I want to be able to use him in many facets. There's an advantage to having as a fullback. If you're the defensive coordinator, and he plays fullback, they've got to keep a base defense on the field. Then we can get him matched up on linebackers and safeties. Whereas, if we just put him at halfback, they treat him as a third wide-out sometimes. I threw out the phrase to the guys on the field, 'Here comes our renaissance man, he does a little bit of everything.' He's done a fine job of it. I'd like to keep him in that flexibility role for us where he can play fullback for us, and can play halfback. If we go to displaced sets, he can be outside and get a one-on-one matchup."
On Terrelle Pryor's development: "We've dedicated a lot of time to him. John DeFilippo, our quarterbacks coach, will get bonus workout time with him on the mechanics of quarterback play almost five days a week. We're trying to find a way to help improve his game in the pocket and build a foundation of technique and fundamentals. He is really gravitated to that belief. It's a great role model to have in Carson Palmer, one of the most textbook-sound mechanic quarterbacks that's played the game. He sees the benefit of building those same fundamentals on a daily basis in practice. His attention to the game plan, even though he hasn't got a lot of plays in practice, has been very good. I've seen progress from the mental standpoint of him improving his game. There's nothing like improving in a game, like there is anything else. In practice we're seeing improvement with the mechanics. Even in the scout team we're seeing the mechanics being developed there."
On whether they have missed out on utilizing Pryor's abilities: "It's a hard question to handle for the team because if you put him up on a 46-man roster you're taking something else away, usually from special teams or a backup role somewhere else for how many plays? That's what you have to always argue. That's the hardest part is what's best for the team? Well we've had a few injuries this year and there's a need to have some other positions available, backups available, for special teams as well as the position plays. It's made it a harder situation to bring up a third quarterback to play."
On if Palmer's injury was caused by hitting a helmet: "Yeah, I think it was during one of the plays in the Cincinnati game where he actually got hit there. He actually got all the reps yesterday and was fine. We decided to rest it today. This time of year it's good to get your backups a little more reps. So Leinart got all the reps on offense and that actually gave Terrelle more reps on scout team. It was good to get them some reps. This time of the year it's not that big of a deal for me."
On why McFadden struggled in the first half of the year: "You know what? I thought the same thing. I self-reflected this week, made some progress in the run game, and I'll go back to what I mentioned at the beginning of the year. It is so hard to start your offensive line when your center doesn't get any reps in the off-season. He only got two weeks of reps in training camp then he got hurt. I'm going to give credit where credit is due. The O-line, [Stefen] Wisniewski has really made progress in the run game for us to help spot us right, and his technique. The fact that we got our starting right tackle back in Khalif Barnes, rather than playing with a right tackle that we picked up right before the season began, has really helped our run game more than anything else. Fortunately for us, the backs have benefitted from what's happened up front. They've done an excellent job of executing the run game up front.
On if zone-blocking was an issue: "No, just like I said back at the beginning of the year, you don't change two-fifths of the front line and expect to have a great run game to begin, and protection. That's a major deal. The starting center of your group makes all the calls in protections and the run game. That was a
On Mike Brisiel: "He's still just as physical, still just as intense, but he's had too many penalties this year for us. Part of that is just wanting to try too hard. We try to relax him. 'Hey, just do your part and we'll be fine.' It's not due to lack of effort, or any foul play. He's really trying to do the right thing all the time, almost to a fault. We're just trying to say, 'Hey, do your assignment, don't go and try to help the other guy out.' Him having Khalif come back with a veteran presence there instead of a new tackle next to him has helped his play as well."
On struggles on first drives of games: "Early on it was the third quarter situation that was an issue, but now we've finally turned the corner a little on that. When you look at the first quarter, it's a similar deal. What is our run-pass ratio? What type of runs have we used? What type of passes have we used? We're going back to what has been most successful, and let's apply that for the next couple of weeks. We came out last week and got a good start with a couple of runs for a first down. But we need to find some explosive gains, whether it's run or pass, and that's what we need to do to help the team. I've addressed the offense during the spring training and training camp. I've been advised by some good coaches in years gone by. The first drive of the game, if you get two first downs on offense, it's a very successful drive. The reason is you've flipped the field. It's hard to score, typically, on the first drive of the game when you're a brand new offense. If you're established, and you've got enough experience around the quarterback and the line has been together, you can hit in sync and you can solve some issues. Because if you think about it, what does a defense do on the first drive of the game? They have some new looks. They're showing new stuff too. That, along with us having some new players together, makes it pretty hard. If you get two first downs in the first drive, that's a successful drive. It might not be on the scoreboard, but it does flip the field and changes field position."
On Juron Criner getting more snaps: "Yeah, we did make a switch in our three-wides package. We've wanted to try to develop all of these new guys, and the young guys we've had. Juron had earned the right because he had made some plays in his limited role before to say let's put him on the field a little more in three-wides rather than Streater. It wasn't because of Streater's performance, it's that Juron had earned it, and we want to get these young guys developed. That's why you saw him more on the field last week."
On the challenges Carson faces in the Raiders offense: "His patience has been outstanding. If you think about who he's working with, in the receiving corps, it's a very young receiving corps. Outside of DHB, it's a second year guy, or younger, that has been out on the field quite a bit. Occasionally you get Derek Hagan out there, who has some experience. The patience he's held up with these receivers learning the routes and learning the timing has been very good. He's actually done a fairly good job, when it comes to yardage thrown, done a fairly good job. When you put the ball accurately on our guys, we've actually been pretty good on yards after the catch, I believe, as it ranks in the NFL. That, along with the changes along the line up front, and I've been very impressed with how he keeps his cool throughout. He's taken some hits where you say, 'nope, that shouldn't happen,' and yet he doesn't come up and start finger-pointing or yelling or screaming. He's been a Steady Eddie for us to help develop. He's doing a lot of good things for us. Unfortunately, we have not paid the benefits because it is a team game. Some of the plays he's made have not resulted in points for whatever reason."
On Palmer's recent increase in interceptions: "I think a lot of the credit and blame goes on the quarterback for the ups and downs of the season. Whether the good or the bad. As I mentioned to the group last week, both interceptions were because of protections issues. We've got to protect the quarterback better. Both turnovers I should say, we had the one interception where he was getting hit on the deliver and the fumble-sack where he was getting hit on the throw with the ball. The number has been high, but it hasn't all been attributed to his decision making. It's been some attributed to catching the ball and protecting the quarterback."
On Denarius Moore's struggles this season: "I think part of it has been that teams have recognized his yards per catch. We are getting coverages favoring his way whether it's rolled coverage, or getting doubled by the safety and the corner that's covering him, he's actually earned some respect in the league in my opinion. It's allowed the quarterback to read his progressions to Brandon Myers and DHB and the young receivers because they're looking to cover Denarius a little more."