HEAD COACH BILL O'BRIEN
Is there anything significant about a fourth preseason game?
"I think there's things that are significant. No. 1, anytime you take the field in an NFL game, I think it's very important for whoever plays in the game. I think one of the things that I've stressed (and) I know for instance Romeo (Crennel) and Brad (Seely) have stressed, is that over the years, you've seen guys who really showed up well in the fourth preseason game make the team because of that game. Obviously, it's a body of work but they went out and did some really good things to finish off the preseason and they made the 53-man roster. So, I think it's a very important game, relative to – it's not the AFC Championship, but it's an important game."
How do you mesh how a player performs in the fourth preseason games versus the body of work during the rest of training camp?
"You definitely have to look at the body of work. How has the player improved? You have to look at injuries. You have to look at – there's so many different factors that go into what you look at it. It's not about an all-star 53. It's about the right 53. It's always a late night. It'll be a late night Thursday after the game, which is good. It's fun. It's challenging. That's what it's all about. It's tough for the players. Everybody in the NFL plays by the same rules. We all have to get down to a certain amount, 53, by a certain time and that's what we're going to be trying to do."
Do tougher decisions at the 53-man roster deadline than in years past mean you're getting better as a team?
"Definitely. I think the more difficult decisions you have to make, that obviously means that you have a competitive roster. I think all of the positions are very competitive. I think there's just different discussions at certain positions and we'll be having those discussions on Thursday night."
Will special teams play a factor in who makes the 53-man roster?
"Oh yeah. I think if you take offensive linemen and certain defensive linemen and maybe quarterback, obviously, with the exception of Joe Webb, if you take those positions out of it, I tell them, for instance, if you're the No. 1 receiver or the No. 2 receiver that's one thing, but receivers three through however many you decide to keep, they need to contribute on special teams in some way, shape or form. You can say that about outside linebacker, inside linebacker, any positon – corner – any position with the exception of maybe O-line and D-line. So, I think special teams is one of the biggest considerations when it comes to basically, let's just say, player 20 through 53."
How much do you like this team and what do you like about them?
"I've always enjoyed coaching here. Some days better than others, obviously, but I've always enjoyed the players here. This team is no exception. I really enjoy the players. Certainly they don't probably enjoy me every day, but I enjoy coming to work with them. I think they work hard, they compete, they try to learn what we're asking them to do and I've really enjoyed working with this 90-man group."
What did you think of your players' singing talents?
"I didn't know. I had no idea those guys could sing, (Christian) Cov(ington) and Zach (Cunningham). God bless them. Good for them. That's fantastic. I wouldn't quit their day job, though, if I was them."
Is there a possibility that a player who stands out in this game against the Dallas Cowboys could make an impact against the Cowboys in Week 5?
"I think you're always evaluating rosters, so any time you can line up against a roster and play that roster – obviously, not everybody that plays in that game will end up on the 53, but you never know. I think that's what Brian (Gaine) and his crew do a great job of. They're evaluating everybody in the game, and really everybody that plays within the league on Thursday night. That's the constant, is the evaluation of rosters relative to scheme, but most importantly, relative to their skillset."
What determines how many players you keep at each position group when the roster is cut to 53?
"I think there's a lot of factors that go into it. It's by position. It really is. If you look at the offensive line, a lot of it has to do with versatility. If you look at other positons like wide receiver, corner, linebacker, it has a lot to do with special teams. Where are they on special teams? Can they be a core special teams or at least three out of four special teams units? Are they contributing on three out of four? It's by position and you really look at the player and how the player has improved and how they've been able to perform on the practice field and in the games and you try to make the best decision for the team."
How do you view the logistics of the waiver wire?
"That's been something that Brian (Gaine) and his crew really hone in on. They may ask us as coaches to take a peek at somebody, whether it's tomorrow or Thursday or Friday. I'm not going to get into the details of it, but they have projected lists and they've been looking at guys and watching thousands of guys to see what may happen relative to what teams may do. I could be up here all day because it is a great question. That's where you knowledge of each team is very important. What is that team's strength? Where are they overloaded at a position relative to where maybe they need somebody at a position, so who might be released from that team that we might want to take a look at? That takes a real comprehensive knowledge of 31 other teams in the league, which, led by Brian and then Matt Bazirgan, Rob Kisiel, all of those guys – they do a great job of that."
Is there something that has stood out about this team?
"I think there's good chemistry. I think they're a team that seems to get along pretty well, if that makes sense. I think they work hard. I think they work very hard. They do everything we ask them to do. They don't go into it with blinders. They ask good questions about why we're doing things, and as coaches we do a good job, I believe, of telling them why, but I think they work very hard and I think it's a locker room of high-character guys."
Do you expect any starters to play against the Cowboys?
"I would say it depends on what you qualify as a starter. You know, I think – yeah, I think you'll see some guys in there that could end up potentially starting games for us in the regular season, yes."