Opening statement: **"Injuries today: David Ausberry did not practice today with a foot. Khalif Barnes was limited today with a quad. TJ Carrie was limited today with an ankle. Chimdi Chekwa was limited today with a hamstring. Jonathan Dowling didn't practice today with a back. DJ Hayden did not practice today with a groin. Gabe Jackson did not practice today with a knee. Jamize Olawale did not practice today with a hamstring. Carlos Rogers did not practice today with a knee. Justin Tuck did not practice today with a neck. Menelik Watson did not practice today with a concussion. That's where we are right now with injuries. Had a good day at practice today. Guys were in great spirits today and got some really good work out there."
Q: If Khalif Barnes can't go, who slides over there into the left guard spot?
Coach Sparano:"I don't think that will be an issue. Khalif was limited today. He took the majority of his reps. I don't think that will be an issue right now. If it is an issue, we have obviously Tony Bergstrom and Kevin Boothe is a guy that's taken reps at that position. We have plenty of options there."
Q: How concerned are you about Justin Tuck's injury?
Coach Sparano:"Well, at this point in time, not very. Honestly I'm not sure. Just one of those things he woke up with. We'll see how he is tomorrow. At this point in time, I would just say it'll be hopefully OK."
Q: Did you get what you'd hoped to see out of Carrie since you left him out of the game last week? Did you see the progress you wanted?
Coach Sparano:"Yeah, moving around a lot better today than he did before the game on Sunday. Again, that's something that we'll see how it goes. Last week he moved around pretty good in the beginning of the week. Towards the end of the week, that progressively deteriorated a little bit. Hopefully the time off from the game makes it a little bit stronger and he's a lot further ahead than he was last week at this point right now."
Q: DJ had gone a long time with putting practices together. I don't know the severity for what he's got, but are you concerned about another absence?
Coach Sparano:"Any time a young player like that misses practice, I'm concerned about it. From a fundamental standpoint, as we said already, with DJ, TJ, you name it back there in the secondary, they're all young… Well, not all of them, but most of them are young. Any time they miss practice like that from a fundamental standpoint, that hurts you a little bit. Also, when you're game-planning, that hurts you, with how you're going to play this person from a fundamental standpoint. This wasn't a game that DJ was a part of the first time around, so we'd love to have him out there, but we have to see where he is when we wake up tomorrow."
Q: Hayden had this kind of injury last year. Is it a coincidence?
Coach Sparano:"From my standpoint, I can't answer whether it was the same injury. No, I wouldn't say that. That's what I would tell you."
Q: How did he look on tape against Denver?
Coach Sparano:"DJ played a solid football [game]. I'm not going to rehash a whole lot of Denver. We're on to San Diego right now. That game is behind us. We had that day on Monday. That's where we are. He played a solid football game. Obviously there were a couple of players there, fundamentally, that he was in a little bit of bad body position on, deep balls and those types of things. Those are things he needs work on."
Q: How do you have Derek Carr balance taking risks without playing too conservative?
Coach Sparano:"I just don't think you beat him up with those types of things right now. From our end, we're not really concerned about Derek taking risks. In other words, we've never tried to squash his ability to throw the ball down the field or to do those types of things. I want him to be able to do that. I've sat here and said that. We want to be aggressive with the football. Defensively, some of the things that they did dictated some of the throws that he was getting during the course of that game. I don't think there's any fear there of Derek throwing the ball down the field at all. We know that is something that we have to do a better job of right now. The team we're playing has 35 plays over 20 yards right now. We're at about 18, somewhere around there. We have to do a better job of getting the ball downfield."
Q: Last time you guys played San Diego, you probably had the best offensive performance of the season. Does that give the team a little more confidence heading into this matchup?
Coach Sparano:"I think any time you play a team once and you have a little bit of success, it gives you a little bit of confidence. You have to understand that they're coming back off of a bye right now and we're well aware of that. They'll fix some things, they'll do some things during the course of this game that they'll have to adjust to. I'm sure there will be something that comes up in this football game that we haven't seen. In other words, that they've done a study off of their bye and decided that it's something they should emphasize more or do out of this formation or whatever it is that way. I would imagine there will be some things that way that we haven't seen. Any time you play a team once, as I just told our team, you formulate a book. You put a book together. We have our players do that. That book is of the players that I'm playing against, my individual matchup and who they might be, the two or three guys. We study them. Is that the way they played me the first time around? How did they approach me? Because you learn a little bit about their play that way, too. Right now, that's kind of where we are. Any of those things from the first ball game help you. Certainly, when you had success against somebody, it makes you feel like you can go into that environment again and have success again."
Q: It looks like Ryan Mathews is back this week. What does he bring?
Coach Sparano:"Obviously, right now they've rushed the ball around 80 yards a game right now. I'm sure getting him back in this situation gives them a boost within their running game. He's a really good player; a player I've played against several times. I would imagine him being back there now with the way they've had to bounce the running back situation around a little bit, a lot of guys have gotten some playing time. How much he'll play in this game? I would think being the first game that he's back into the mix, they probably have him going on a rotational basis that way. It does give them certainly another element that we didn't have to prepare for last time."
Q: During the practice you had a practice squad linebacker taking reps as a fullback. Is that something you've thought about doing for a while or is it because of Jamize Olawale's injury?
Coach Sparano:"A little bit of both. It's something I thought about doing in the past. We have a couple of guys over there that are young kids that have really been cross training on both sides just when we go to scouts. At the same time, the Olawale injury today, to get another body out there from a practice standpoint so that you're not wearing Marcel out, it just gave us the ability to be able to use him a little bit in that situation."
Q: You guys have done well scoring late in games. Is there anything you can use there as far as building off that?
Coach Sparano: "I think there is something we can use there. Obviously, the scoring late in games comes from being in up-tempo offense, being in fast offense, that type of stuff. That's something that we can certainly use. You have to pick your spots with that. You don't want to go into places like Seattle and try to play an up-tempo offense. I don't really think you want to play the Denver Broncos in an up-tempo offense for the fear of going three-and-out fast and giving them the ball back that fast. But, there are some places for it where I think it can help our offense a little bit and maybe give our offense a little bit of a jolt, and it's certainly something that Derek seems to do really well with."
Q: We've asked you so many questions about players and practices and things pertaining to games. As the one who comes up with the blueprint every week, how are you holding up?
Coach Sparano: "I'm doing really good. That's a good question. I'm doing great. It's funny, I told players today, I got up Monday morning and I was excited to get to work. Listen, we get a chance to coach football every single week. We get a chance to work with great guys every single week. I love this football team. I think they are tremendous guys. They work hard. We're out there today, and we're in the situation we're in – nobody else put us there. We put ourselves there. They came out and gave me a great day's work today. I really love that group of guys in the locker room. I think they do a heck of a job. I was excited to get to work today, or Monday rather, and work on getting win No. 1. I'm doing great, thank you."