HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
"When we started training camp, there were so many questions. We had a plan of what we thought about our team, but we needed to play these games. We have a long way to go still. Whenever you keep score, of course, you want to score more points as often as you can. But we needed to finish tonight, and the plan was to play the guys a little bit more. I think offensively I know Davis (Mills) went all the way in. I think it's important to come out, play the first half and then come out at least one series of the third quarter, which we were able to do. We're a running football team. Offensively we have a good offensive line, even though we held a couple of our top-line players out. But running back wise, Dameon Pierce has been that way every time we've given him the ball. He's a good football player. There's some other good things we did on the offensive side of the football. Protecting the ball of course is important to us. Defensively, whenever you get a shut-out, that's big. You've got to take the ball away. You've got to win that turnover ratio. There's a lot of good things we did tonight. Injury-wise, we had a couple bumps and bruises. We'll kind of see where it goes tomorrow. I'll take your questions."
What do you feel like RB Dameon Pierce has done to make his case to get the starting job?
"We'll be announcing starting lineups and all that, but our plan through the preseason was to let all the guys play and then normally you let players play. They show you who should start, who should play. Dameon (Pierce) has taken advantage of every opportunity he's gotten. I think everybody that's seen him play, the few games he's played, you've been impressed. I thought Marlon Mack did some good things, too, carrying the ball, Royce Freeman. We have a strong running back room. We started camp that way, and they've confirmed everything we thought before camp."
Is the reason DL Roy Lopez didn't play because of injury?
"Yeah, a little soft tissue injury. Shouldn't be much. Nothing to keep him out of the first game, anything like that. Going into the third preseason game, if guys aren't 100 percent or close to that, we held them a little bit. He'll be fine. Nothing serious."
What did you see from OL Kenyon Green in his first preseason game?
"I can't wait to see the video, but the plays I did see, there's a reason why we drafted him in the first round. He's a good football player. I thought he did some good things out there, made some good plays. But he's capable of that. Eventually Kenyon (Green) will be in the lineup. Kenyon will be in the lineup. LT (Laremy Tunsil) will be back out there. Justin Britt will be there, AJ Cann, and of course Tytus Howard. I like what the offensive line has done, but I can't wait to see our starting group start playing together."
Did you have to say anything to QB Davis Mills going into halftime?
"The plan all along was for him to play first half and get one series in the second half. That was just what the plan was along. He knew what it was. We all knew what it was before. In an ideal world, we wanted him to have some success, come out, one drive, do something good and then get out of there, which we were able to do."
How does having an undrafted free agent like DL Kurt Hinish benefit your defense?
"It helps. It's about making plays when you get an opportunity. When you say 53, I say 70. We're going to have 16 practice squad players, one international player, so we're going to have a 70-man roster. We're going to try to do whatever we can to keep as many of the players that we like as possible. Kurt (Hinish) has taken advantage of his opportunities, too. But he's been like that just about every day of training camp."
Did you see anything tonight that you were hoping to see?
"I'll tell you what it is, no problem. We don't have any secrets in here, do we? There's a lot that we liked. I can't say that anything really surprised us. Going in, all of our players knew we had one more opportunity. Is there something you haven't shown the coaching staff, to do it tonight. I felt like someone was going to do something that maybe we haven't seen. It's always exciting for some of the guys a little bit farther down the depth chart to get an opportunity to make a couple plays, like a Jake Hansen getting in, getting a big interception there. You're always excited about those kind of things that happen."
Can you talk about DB Jalen Pitre tonight?
"What we notice, is when you're making a whole lot of big flash plays. Jalen (Pitre) has been consistent throughout. He's a smart player. He's been like a sponge as far as learning. But he's going to be around the ball. That's what we've seen since OTAs. I'm excited about going forward with him and him lining up for us when Indy comes into town."
Can you talk about the impact DL Jerry Hughes had on the game?
"We talk about the plan for Davis (Mills) and some of the other guys. The plan for some of our players that haven't played, Maliek Collins, Jerry Hughes, Mario Addison, our defensive ends, we wanted to get them just some time. We didn't want the first game against Indy to be their first action. But we've seen those guys throughout practice. They've been outstanding. They can rush. I like what they did early on while they were out there. What we wanted to get accomplished with some of those players, we were able to do that tonight."
What are some things you guys need to improve on from tonight?
"I thought we did improve on some things. We had 11 penalties in one preseason game, and the guys have really concentrated on that. We talk a lot about the turnover ratio. They made a couple good plays, at least one to take the ball away. I thought we protected the football fairly well. I just thought it was good, hard-nosed football. Two teams with fullbacks on their rosters that like to run the football. It's not going to be a whole lot of passing in some of these games, so that was the kind of game we wanted to play tonight. I like a lot of what we did."
What's the balance in not getting too much confidence because it is the preseason but still allowing that to boost your defense?
"We have professional guys in the room. We realize it's preseason. But I look at it just like practice. Every day you go out for practice. We had fans, a lot of fans showed up for our training camp. But they're not going to keep it in the permanent record, but whenever you're competing you want to do well. That would be an immature team that would say 'hey, let's not get too high'. I tell the guys to respond and react to what has happened, and what has happened is we've done some good things, which has allowed us to win all of our preseason games. We know we've got to start over, but we'd rather be 3-0 instead of 0-3 right now. There's a lot of answers to some of the questions that we had. That's what we're going to be along. Tomorrow the guys are going to come in, we're going to watch the video, we're going to clean up what we need to and we're going to go from there."
Without seeing the tape, just talk about what you saw about the defensive effort and the pressure you got up front throughout the game?
"We're a four-man front. Defensive line is the engine of our defense. It starts there. In an ideal world, yeah, we have every manageable blitz. We want to be able to get pressure with four guys. It's an insult to our defensive line if we do blitz. They've been rushing the passer like that throughout camp and in all the preseason games we've liked the pressure we've been able to get. It's just not the starting four. We're talking about everybody that's played and the guys that have finished the game, played hard. Our numbers were down, and we were searching there at the end, but that's how the guys have performed. We're going to dress at least eight each week, and they're going to need to perform well for us to win games."
At the end of the first half, why did you decide to punt instead of seeing QB Davis Mills in a two-minute drill
"Well, there's a lot that goes into it. First off, it's the third preseason game. A lot of players aren't playing. We wanted to get a look, but we didn't want to do too much, try to limit the opportunities maybe for an injury or something like that. During the regular season, we may have a different game plan in that situation, but that's exactly what we wanted to do tonight."
QB DAVIS MILLS
How does RB Dameon Pierce make things possibly easier for you?
"Yeah, when you have somebody (Dameon Pierce) running the ball like that and the offensive line blocking like that for him, we're consistently running the ball well downhill. It opens up a lot in the pass game but also just keeps the defense guessing. I mean, obviously we want to be a run-first football team, and with him back there, we're really confident doing that."
Coming out for halftime, did Pep Hamilton tell you anything that led to the quick score?
"I mean, we just kept calling our stuff. Obviously you get a little mental reset at halftime, make sure what you thought you were getting in the first half from the defense, making sure that's accurate with what you thought and what you're actually going to get in the second half, too. Just wanted to come out and put together a drive at the start of the half and go down and get points. That's what we did."
On the interception play, was it supposed to be thrown more to the outside or was it just bad timing?
"No, it was the right route. I've got to give him (Chris Moore) a better ball there. If you kind of compared quarterbacking to golf, it's where you miss, not where you make every throw. I've got to give him a better ball there."
What are some of the moments that you're replaying in your head both positive and negative from your own performance or from the offense as a whole?
"Obviously you'd like to see the film to confirm some things, but that one, that throw to Chris Moore down in the end zone after our defense got a turnover, that was a big one. Like I just said, it's where you miss, not where you end up throwing it. So got to give him a better ball away from the defender's leverage. The other throw I want back is probably the go ball to Nico (Collins) on the right sideline that we ended up getting pass interference on, but I just hung that one up and underthrew it and would like to put a little more on it so we can probably end up scoring on that play rather than just getting the pass interference call."
Did you know it was up?
"Yeah, it ended up being a positive play, but it could have been much better."
What about positively, some of the things that you liked tonight?
"I thought we handled our operation really well with the centers that were in there and the offensive line. I don't know if we had any MEs (mental errors) today from our guys out on the edge and in the backfield, so just want to continue to execute at a high level and play a full team football game."
After three preseason games, what do you feel like you need to improve on going into the regular season?
"Game plan-wise, just want to keep executing our offense at the highest level possible. Like I said, missed that one throw today. Want to continue to up my accuracy and make sure I'm getting my guys out on the edge chances to make big plays and just play, like I said, full team football game all around. I can lead the offense and make sure the guys on special teams and defense are doing the same."
What were your impressions on OL Kenyon Green getting the opportunity to play tonight for the first time?
"It was awesome. Excited for him to get in there and get some more live action. He's been banged up a little bit throughout camp and out of school so it's exciting to get him finally in there. I think he had a pancake on one of his first plays, so that's exciting finally getting his feet wet."
How much more confident do you feel from the beginning of camp to where you are right now going into the season?
"Very confident. I think every rep you get adds to your experience level, your memory bank. The more reps I get, the more and more comfortable I am out there. I mean, it's exciting just with what we have moving forward."
How much better do you think this offense can be and what are some of the things you're working on that can really help push the ball down the field?
"Yeah, I think the sky's the limit with what we're capable of doing on offense. I think it's going to be very unique to what we're going to do here compared to different teams around the league. It's going to be really exciting kind of pulling some of those tricks out of the bag once we get to Week 1 versus the Colts."
How does not having WR Brandin Cooks out there get you more familiarity with guys like WR Nico Collins, WR Chris Moore and other players?
"Yeah, when you have a No. 1 receiver like that, you know once we get into game plan he's going to be the No. 1 guy in a lot of progressions. We're trying to find ways to get him the ball. When he's not available like he was throughout preseason, it does give you valuable time with other guys to continue building chemistry and timing and getting on the same page with those guys. It's exciting just continuing to develop with those other playmakers."