Opening Statement:"Injuries, today: David Ausberry did not practice – he'll be out; Vincent Brown was full today and he is probable; TJ Carrie, with an ankle, was limited today and he's questionable; Chimdi Chekwa, with his hamstring, did not practice – he'll be out; Gabe Jackson, with a knee, did not practice – he'll be out; Keith McGill, with a groin, was limited – he's probable; Jamize Olawale, with a shoulder, was limited – he's probable; Carlos Rogers did not practice today – he's out; Justin Tuck, with a knee, was limited – he's probable; and Kenbrell Thompkins did not practice and that's excused, again – he's probable. Another good day on the practice field, today – ready to go."
Q: Will you catch yourself even for a minute of the game looking out and seeing Charles Woodson and Peyton Manning on the field at the same time, noting a sense of history?
Coach Sparano:"Well, without sounding ridiculous, probably not – meaning I wouldn't catch myself doing that. I'm aware of it. To be quite honest with you, I made my team aware of it on Wednesday and felt like that would be something that would be talked about a lot this week, justifiably so. Both players – tremendous careers – I guess came into the league at the same time and just [had] unbelievable careers with what both players have done. You've got two Hall of Fame players out there playing in a game, and it's a quarterback and a DB, so you would expect that that would be a topic of conversation. I know from my end, it's a real honor getting a chance to coach the guy, yeah."
Q: Is the level that he's playing at – it almost seems like he's getting better every week – kind of remarkable?
Coach Sparano:"He really has played at an outstanding level. We made, obviously, a few changes a little bit with what he was doing from the bye week until now. Charles is playing – like I said before, I'd love to drink from the fountain that he's drinking from. But he's played at a tremendous level right now, and really is getting and better each week. More importantly, it's just been really good for me, personally, to have a veteran player like that on the team. I have really good veteran players, but to have a guy like that with his experiences on the football team, at this point has been really good for me and has been really good for our younger players."
Q: You brought in a lot of veterans in the hopes that you would get the last couple of good years out of them, as well as to serve as mentors to the younger ones. Some of them have not had the type of year they hoped for, but have you gotten the mentorship and leadership out of them that you like to see?
Coach Sparano:"I have, yes. I believe that to be true. They're really an unselfish group of guys. In fact, I had a meeting with them not too long ago here and that's exactly what I told them. I have a great guy in my room named Kevin Boothe – that's just an example of a veteran player who hasn't played one snap, is side-by-side with [Stefen] Wisniewski every single day brainstorming – really just a positive, positive influence in that room. Those kind of people on our team can only help your football team, no question about it. Now the real meddle of that group is tested now, second half of the season here. We're where we are; we're where we put ourselves. That group has to continue to stay strong right now and keep our younger players focused, but more importantly, keep themselves focused as well."
*Q: In what ways has Brandian Ross improved? He seems like he's playing much better than he was a year ago. *
Coach Sparano:"He is. I think probably in some of the ways that he's improved, my opinion is – and again, I wasn't directly involved in this in the past, but I'm a note taker, I'm a writer, I listen to all the things that were said in the meetings and that's all important to me in the past – I think that a big part of him was just the maturity of kind of… He's a smart player, he's all those things. But the maturity you make in the next step towards playing regularly and the maturity of when I'm around the ball affecting the play. Some guys can be around the ball and not affect the play, particularly early on in their careers. Then all of a sudden, you make that next jump to where you're affecting the play, and he's been affecting the play as of late. That's been a real positive thing to see. I think sometimes when you get – this game is humbling, and I've said this before, I've told my team this and I've told the line this: It's a game that makes grown men cry at times. When you've been bounced around and you've been released or you've been on a couple of teams and those type of things, all of a sudden when you get that opportunity, that one more opportunity, it's time to really make the most of it. He's done a good job of that right now. I'm really proud of him."
Q: When it comes to Latavius Murray, is it a situation where it's just a numbers game and there's not enough carries to go around with the two guys ahead of him? Is there more he can be doing to become a bigger part of the offense?
Coach Sparano:"No. Latavius works his tail off in practice right now and he's really shown us good things, as I said. Last week, his snap count went up a little bit, we got him involved a little bit more, but it's really about opportunities. At the end of this whole thing, when you're not getting a number of snaps – as of late, we had, I don't know, 80-some-odd snaps, maybe, against – I think it was 84 snaps, maybe – against Cleveland. Then last week, we had 62 snaps in the game. Now we're kind of getting to the numbers where that's a little more doable. Unfortunately, in last week's game, we fell behind early. So I think it's more a result of number of attempts. You're seeing Darren [McFadden] go and as Darren gets going, you're feeling like he's running the ball pretty good, so you ride him for a little while. Then, next thing you know you get Maurice [Jones-Drew] into the ball game. It's gotten to a point where we haven't just been able to stay the course there. We need to be able to do that and get him involved a little bit more. He's a young player that we certainly need to get involved, has good talent. I think at the end of this, what you don't want to do is to be asking questions about – those same questions – about him in February."
Q: Do you expect a similar rotation at cornerback as you had last week with Carlos Rogers being out, in terms of TJ Carrie being the number three guys if you have him available?
Coach Sparano:"It all depends on what happens here. He was limited today – TJ was limited today. We'll have to see how he is tomorrow. Those things, as I said before, those things can go either way really, and today was the most work he's taken. So we'll kind of see how he is tomorrow before we figure out how we want to rotate those guys and what the scenario is there."