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Saunders Media Session


Q: Does it help having a quarterback with Carson's [Palmer] experience level heading into a game of this magnitude?

Coach Saunders: Yeah, it is always, when you have a meaningful game, to have someone who has probably been there before, it adds a little bit of a dimension of experience and it is reflective experience when you reflect on the times you have had an opportunity to be in situations like that, I think it is real positive.

Q: What are your thoughts on Jacoby Ford and what he has been able to do and how he has been able to make an impact this week?

Coach Saunders: Well, he has practiced and we are excited to see that. He is a very talented young man with great speed and he adds another dimension when he is able to be there. He has done a nice job this week. He hasn't practiced fully, but he has been worked in and is very, very good at what he has done so we are excited about the possibility of him making a contribution.

Q: What have you seen from the defense you are going to face this week? Is it playing better than it was the last time you saw them?

Coach Saunders: Well you know, it is interesting because last year they were the number one team in the league in defense, and offense. How many times does that happen? That is unbelievable and they have got the same players for the most part and we have a great deal of respect for what they can do. They are 10th in the league in pass defense. I think it is 212 yards per game against the pass. Those are pretty strong numbers and they can be very physical up front as a defensive unit so how they are playing I think obviously how they play depends on the people that they are playing against but they are physical, they can run. We have a great deal of respect for those players that we are going to be playing against. They are a very good defense when they are in sync and when they are in rhythm. So we are going to have our work cut out for us this week.

Q: Obviously the goal is to win, but as an offensive mind, how satisfying would that be for you to see Michael Bush get 1,000 yards?

Coach Saunders: Oh gosh, for him personally it is well deserved. He has been a workhorse for this football team since he has been here and this is the first time he has had an extended opportunity to be a starter. I think our offensive line is excited about the possibility of him reaching that goal mark, and we are all excited for him too, so hopefully that will happen.

Q: You talked after the last game about how battered Michael was, his shoulder was sore after the last game that he fought through it. Since his back to back 30 carry games, his numbers have kind of dropped off a little bit, but how much of that is just the fact that teams are loading the box more against you in situations and how much of it is just that it is a big workload?

Coach Saunders: Yeah, it is. It is a workload for anybody that is why it is real difficult in this league to be the lead back and the lead ball carrier for game after game after game. You need to have some people that can go in and spell him. He has been a workhorse there is no doubt about that. Defensive coaches generally look at what you do well and take away that first. What we have done early on when Michael first started in the absence of Darren [McFadden] he was our workhorse and he did carry the ball 30 times a game. And in fact the game against San Diego I think he gained more yards than anybody had done in this franchise and that includes Bo Jackson and that is a pretty special guy. As a defensive staff you are going to see what you can do to take away him first. Which they did load the box and in this league, each week you don't get any healthier, either you maintain what you are or you are a little sore or a little beat up and he has had a lot of hits. So how does that equate to his production? We think he has been very productive, maybe not number wise but certainly in what he has been asked to do. But it takes a toll on you after a while.

Q: Coach you have been through this many times in your career at this point in the season, a lot to play for, a lot on the line. What wisdom do you impart on the players as somebody that has been through it as many times?

Coach Saunders: Well, it is an opportunity that you are in the game for. The whole reason you play 16 games in the National Football League is to see how high you can get seeded for what we would call the tournament. And we have an opportunity to get in it if everything goes right for us and there are opportunities that you don't want to let go. I think this is the 20th time I have had an opportunity to be in the playoffs, and it is special, and you can't, like I told some of the guys the other day, you don't understand what it is like until you have been there. It is like having something and then you know what it is like to have it and all of a sudden if you don't have it, it is really disappointing. So you never want to reach that feeling of not having an opportunity to finish what you started and what we started to do was we wanted to win the division, we wanted to go to the playoffs, we wanted to see how far we could go if that opportunity presented itself, and it is all in front of us right now. This is what we have been playing for since we reported to training camp at Napa, we have been playing for the opportunity to be among the best teams in the NFL and that's what we'd like to see develop for us over the next couple of days.

Q: Given all the scenarios, are you someone that likes to know what is going on? Like with the two early games that play a factor or do you stay away from it?

Coach Saunders:You know what, that is funny because somebody asked me just before practice, what are the scenarios of the wild card? And in all honesty, I really don't know. I just know that we have to win. And I know having been in this league for 30 years, you can't control anything other than what you do. And all of our focus and all our attention and all of our energy has to be spent on what we need to do against the San Diego Chargers. And then after the game, the chips will fall where they may, but I really don't know, and I don't look at those things, it is wasted energy. We have got enough to worry about what is going to happen over there on Sunday at 1:00.

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