Opening statement**: "Injuries: Khalif Barnes, he had a quad and did not practice today; Vincent Brown, hamstring, did not practice; Derek Carr, ankle, knee, was limited today; Keith McGill, groin, did not practice; Sio Moore, ankle, limited; Marcel Reece, quad, did not practice; Justin Tuck, knee, did not practice; and Usama Young, a foot, and he was limited today. Had a good practice out there today, guys worked really hard out there today and getting ready to go here and try to win a game."
Q: How nice is it to have DJ Hayden back?
Coach Sparano:"It was really nice to have him out there today, so, good to have him back out there. He actually had an interception at one point today in practice, grabbed the ball and got halfway down the field and stopped, so I asked him if he forgot what to do with it after he catches that thing. But, he did a good job today out there and in his time out there today, so I'm sure he was excited to be out there and we were excited to have him out there today."
Q: Do you anticipate using the entire window to get him back?
Coach Sparano:"I'm not sure of that. I anticipate taking it day-by-day and kind of evaluating it with the coaches and with Reggie [McKenzie] and really seeing kind of where we are right now with him. He hasn't played, obviously, in a long time, so we don't want to hurry the process here if we don't have to, and we don't right at this second, but when DJ is ready to go, we certainly can use him and we're just going to make sure he's ready to go and make sure everything is right, see how he feels tomorrow and take it from there."
Q: In the past Charles Woodson has said that he's given DJ Hayden 'tough love,' what kind of advice can you give him?
Coach Sparano:"I think one of the big things is just, DJ needs to just get out there and start having small successes. Small successes every day on the practice field. Today was a small success. He went out there and he got a chance to run around a little bit and be with his teammates and do some of that, so that's an important first step. Then I think there's some more small successes coming up where maybe his workload increases a little bit, and then whenever we decide, hopefully as we get to that point, that he gets involved in a ball game and what his role is in that game at that time. It really depends on where we are and when we'd bring him up. But, to create some small successes I think would be the biggest factor for him right now, as far as confidence goes. As far as outside criticism goes, I wouldn't worry too much about that. There was outside criticism a year ago on Menelik Watson, and here he is now, he's really had a good training camp for us and he's playing some really quality snaps for us right now and so on and so forth, so I've seen that happen before. Sometimes it just takes a guy a little bit longer, and when he does come back we'll need him to factor in though."
Q: Is Derek Carr's injury situation the same as last week? Did it get any worse from playing?
Coach Sparano:"No, I wouldn't say worse, in fact, I would say probably today was a little bit better than it was last week this time. That's what I would say."
Q: Did you see any hindrance in the game because there didn't seem to be any from an outside perspective?
Coach Sparano:"That's what I was going to ask you, if you did. No, not really. I think in the game, honestly, I'm not trying to be a wise guy, but I think in a game, the adrenaline and all that that is going on and the way that he started the game, I think that probably got him going a little bit and he didn't feel it as much. There was one point in a game where there was actually a timeout where there was just a little grimace there, but nothing major I don't think from that end, and then he just kept going. I would say that most of the time an injury like his or Sio [Moore]'s or anything like that, it's the next day when you kind of feel that soreness, which is a little bit why we also pushed practice back and made some changes was so that those guys could do a little bit extra today prior to getting out there and yesterday."
Q: Carson Palmer was coming off of an arm injury and played last week. From what you saw on film was he throwing it like he always does?
Coach Sparano:"Yeah, I felt like he looked very comfortable, particularly as the game went on. When he started the football game, I had seen one thing and then the way he finished the game, I had seen a complete different thing. I thought as the game went on he got more confident and more confident and more confident it looked like to me. Looked like the Carson that I saw when I came here and I watched him on film here."
Q: Was Marcel Reece's injury a new one?
Coach Sparano:"It's really the same thing that lingered from last week. I chose to keep him out right now."
Q: What will it be like having Jared Veldheer on the opposite sideline this time?
Coach Sparano:"Honestly, we're playing the Arizona Cardinals, and not Jared Veldheer or Tommy Kelly or any of those guys. We're playing the Arizona Cardinals and we're getting ready to play that football team and he's an opponent. Every week in this league, if you've been to enough places like I have, unfortunately, you find somebody on the sideline that you're playing against or that you've had or that you've coached or that's a teammate or any of those things. That's not a factor as the game goes on and as the game starts. At the end of the game, you go over and you hug them and you wish them the best and that's it. Right now, he's a left tackle at Arizona and we've got to figure out a way to win those one-on-one matchups."
Q: Andre Holmes put together back-to-back productive games. Do you hope that he can be that consistent go-to guy?
Coach Sparano:"Yeah, I hope he can become a guy that the quarterback continues to feel really comfortable with. I think somebody brought the question up, maybe a couple of days ago, about Derek [Carr] mentioned that he'd throw that ball 95 percent of the ball to him or any of those type of things, and that's a comfort level that develops between a receiver and a quarterback, and that's kind of good to see right now. That's happening with Derek, with he, and with James [Jones], even Brice [Butler] right now, that's starting to come around, it really is. I like him to be that kind of guy that creates some of the big plays for us because he's a big-bodied guy. In my time in my previous life there, Brandon Marshall was a guy that was a big-bodied guy that would go up and front the ball up and kind of climb up the back of defensive backs and do those things and you like to have those kind of players. The catches that he's made since he's been here, which is really been since I've been here, have been those kind of catches, contested catches, down the field, ball is in the air and he's jumping over somebody, he's making the really hard catch. So, that's been good to see and it's a comfort for the quarterback when he feels like he can throw it that way and that guy is going to come down with it."
Q: It seems like he sometimes has a hard time with the easy catches…
Coach Sparano:"Well, I think one of the things is sometimes you get a receiver that can track the ball well down the field. He can track the ball well down the field, particularly when he's fronted up that way, so he tracks it pretty well that day. I think sometimes in short areas for young players, when the ball gets on them fast, that takes a little bit more work sometimes in those situations, where a guy like James [Jones] in a small area, like the touchdown catch the other day, in a small area, small window, he knows how to use his body, he knows how to get his head around and his hands, so those things happen a little more natural for him. So, that's something that I know Andre is working on right now. He spends an awful lot of time out there on the jugs and doing those type of things, trying to catch those kind of balls. He spends a lot of time at it, works hard."
Q: What do you see as the strengths of this Arizona team?
Coach Sparano:"Honestly, they have strengths in a lot of different areas. I think the runner right now is running the ball very well. He's a guy that we have to contain. It doesn't look it when you look and you say, look at the rushing yardage as opposed to the passing yardage and that type of thing, but he's made some big plays. He can get out of there and bounce out of there. He's got great quickness and they use him in the pass game quite a bit and he catches the ball out of the backfield, and he creates matchup problems that way. So, he's going to be a handful for us. Obviously, they've got two big, skilled receivers in [Michael] Floyd and [Larry] Fitzgerald, that are guys that are solid, really good players in our league and I have a ton of respect for both those players, playing against Fitzgerald and I did a lot of work with Floyd coming out of the draft, and he's a guy they like to try to throw the ball down the field to when you look at them. On the other side of the football, their defense is playing really well, but that secondary, they've got a lot of players back there with [Patrick] Peterson and [Antonio] Cromartie. I was with 'Cro' before, a solid player. The two safeties, they're big kids. They're guys that look like linebackers playing safety out there. This is a tough group and they play really good together."
Q: Has Derek Carr shown any inclination at all to stay away from any specific cornerback?
Coach Sparano:"No, Derek is doing exactly what Greg Olson and John DeFilippo are coaching him to do, and that's go through his progression which is a good thing right now. It's a good thing for a young quarterback to continue to go through progressions and work through progressions and whatever my read tells me to do, that's where the ball should go. He's not being spooked really by anybody that way. It's not a disrespect to any of our opponents or anything like that, [Darrelle] Revis is Revis and so on, and so forth. I think that it's just a good thing for us right now that he's going through the progressions the way he's going through them and making his reads and not letting a player spook him as opposed to this is what my read tells me to do with the ball."
Q: With Mychal Rivera having a few dropped passes this week, is this a chance for David Ausberry to get a few more snaps this week?
Coach Sparano:"We actually got David into the ball game a little bit last week and the week before in London. He played a little bit, so his snap count has been going up. He probably, in the game last week, played 18 or so offensive plays and then maybe another 15 on special teams so he was probably in there around 33 plays. But, we'd like to get David involved a little bit more as well. It's not a knock on Mychal. We have all the faith and confidence in the world in Mychal Rivera. He's made a lot of big catches for our football team and he'll continue to make those catches. Nobody is tougher on themselves than Mychal is. He holds himself to a pretty high standard out there. He spends good time at it."
Q: Is he sometimes too tough on himself?
Coach Sparano:"No, I wouldn't say that. I just think it's a good thing. I think it's a competitive thing. He doesn't want to drop a pass. He wants to be that guy that the quarterback can throw the ball to and feel comfortable throwing the ball to. Derek [Carr] feels very comfortable throwing the ball to Mychal, that's been obvious. It's just one of those things where he dropped the ball. Unfortunately, we had five of those in the first half of the game, so that's an area that we've got to clean up."
Q: What has been your assessment of Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley?
Coach Sparano:"I think at times they've both played well. Again, I'm looking at it over five games now. I'm in those meetings when we wrapped them up before last week's game obviously, and I'm a writer. I write everything down on every player and all that stuff that was said. So when we were giving our wrap up to the head coach at that point, I would write a lot of information down. Both played well and are playing better right now. In other words, we're starting to see more progress right now. That just comes with understanding our defense a little bit better, understanding what we're asking them to do a little bit better. They're two new players, even though they're veteran players, it's a new system for them, so I'm starting to see a little bit more production from both of those guys at this point. So, they've been getting better and better."