Head Coach Jay Gruden
"The three guys that did not participate today were [Terrance] Knighton – he had an appointment, a follow-up appointment for his migraines, T-Rob [Trenton Robinson] did not participate with his hamstring, and Will Blackmon had personal reasons at home. He did not participate. Then, Keenan [Robinson] still limited. Chris Culliver, still limited. D-Hall… Everybody else was… full."
On the reason for NT Terrance Knighton's absence:
"He's had some symptoms but he's been able to deal with them. Just now, it's a routine checkup. It's the only time he could get in to see him [the specialist] – he's at a special place. Hopefully they'll find some answers out for him."
On emphasizing tackling this week prior to facing Panthers QB Cam Newton:
"Well, all you have to do is watch the tape. If you're a defensive player and you're watching the tape and you're watching the Carolina Panthers, you notice that they have a huge quarterback and he breaks tackles. It's something that pops out of the screen at you, you know? We've got to be sure tacklers. We've got to be fundamentally sound like I said yesterday and wrap him up, try to get him down."
On how much of a bigger threat Newton is in the red zone:
"He's a huge threat everywhere on the field. That's why they're 9-0. He's a tough guy to deal with, like I've said. Just the drop-back passes is where he's the biggest threat, where your linebackers are dropping or playing man coverage and you don't account for him, that's when he is a huge threat. We've got to make sure we have eyes on the quarterback and we drive and try to limit his gains to minimal plays."
On what a coach can try to do to improve a team's record on the road:
"I don't know what. We have to travel at the same time. We stay at a hotel. We have meetings at night. We get up and play in the morning — at 1:00. Just a matter of coming out and playing our game and trying to execute better, really. I don't know any magical pep talks that will help us in that regard. We're practicing hard. We're preparing the right way. Now, it's just a matter of we've got to go out and perform on the road, but I don't know what words will help that. I think it's just actions have to take place and we'll have to play better."
On if anything indicated that a 'switch was flipped' for the running game last week:
"Well, we played with a lead for the most part, which helps a lot. We had some success obviously on first down and second down, where we were getting, like I said, the three-, four-, five-yard gains. We were able to stick with our plan a little bit longer. When you have a lead and you're converting on third downs like we were against New Orleans, obviously the possession time is in your favor and your playbook is wide open where you can run it out of different personnel groups and we can get the runs that we practiced all week. When you're in second-and-long and third-and-long, your runs obviously aren't as effective. I just think the ability to convert on third downs, keep drives alive, helps our running game tremendously."
On what has contributed to the rapid development of T Morgan Moses:
"Just his work ethic, his attention to detail and his 'want' to get better and listen and pay attention and work on his fundamentals. Staying after practice, working during special teams periods out on the side, paying attention in the film room, studying what he's doing, study what the opponent does. He's worked very hard to get to where he's at right now and he's continuing to… He's going to get better and better. He's not a finished product by any stretch, but the strides that he's made moving from left tackle to right tackle after the injury are significant for any player. Like I said, I think he's developed faster – at a faster rate – than anybody. He's got great size, he's had great feet. Now he's starting to work the fundamental part of it. Very big man, it's hard to bull rush him, so he's playing with a lot of confidence also."
On the inside linebackers and centers:
"Keenan was still limited, so our inside linebackers right now taking the reps are Will [Compton] and Perry [Riley, Jr.]. And then Josh [LeRibeus] is our starting center. I think when Josh went down against New England for the play at the end of the first half, we kind of all panicked a little bit. We know we needed another center in the building."
On C Josh LeRibeus' shotgun snaps:
"Yeah, we're working on that and practicing every day. But I think he had a few missed targets again Sunday against New Orleans. That's something that we've just got to work through. It's something that's new to him. He hasn't really done it growing up as an offensive lineman. It's new to him, and getting the calls, the snap count was better, we were better with the snap count against New Orleans, so he is making progress. But he still has got to work on the accuracy, just got to keep practicing."
On CB DeAngelo Hall contributing at safety:
"I think you're looking at… you look at the success that [Charles] Woodson is having at Oakland, you know what I mean? He extends his career. He can play until he's probably 45. He's playing unbelievable. D-Hall has got the similar-type ball skills and that's what you look for as a free safety. And we have two corners that are playing pretty good in [Bashaud] Breeland and [Chris] Culliver. So there is a chance that he'll get some work at free safety. We're not throwing him to the curb at corner, by any stretch. But I think it'd be a great transition for him because of his athletic ability and his ball skills."
On the matchup difficulties with Panthers TE Greg Olsen:
"We dealt with it with [Rob] Gronkowski and did a fairly decent job, I guess, but this guy, he can line up all over the field and he runs good routes and is a big target. It looks like he's covered a lot of times, but you put it in a window where he snatches it and uses his big frame and body, and Cam has a lot of trust in him. You can see that. He gives him opportunity balls out the kazoo and he comes down with them. He's just a good target, man. He's got a great knowledge of how to run routes. He's very disciplined in his routes, his depths, how to set people up. He runs the corners, he runs the corner post, he runs the seams, he runs the stick routes, he runs the flat routes, he runs shallow cross, he runs the basics. His route tree is phenomenal and he's very gifted."
On Panthers DTs Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short:
"They both stand out. They're a very active front and they do a good job. Short, he's an explosive player, and that's somebody our line is really keeping an eye on. Their defensive line, they don't have a lot of huge, big name recognition guys, but they are very effective, all of them, when they get in there and rush. And then they bring the backers up in there and obviously [Luke] Kuechly can rush when he wants to rush. They have an effective defense. Then they can drop out and play zone. So their defense is sound, like I said. They're the No. 1 defense against opposing quarterbacks as far as passer rating for a reason. They're disruptive and they play very sound coverage."
Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry
On if CB DeAngelo Hall could successfully contribute at safety in the future:
"Sure, absolutely. D-Hall, obviously the skillset, he's still playing at a high level… It's not like he's exclusively a safety. He's still going to play corner. But just it's good to have healthy bodies and get more guys out on the field and he was great with it. He was excited with it. We kind of did it, started talking about it at the bye week. Then those first couple of weeks when he came back just practicing, he got a bunch of work with the look squad for our offense playing safety, because you spend 12 years playing one position then all of a sudden you go another position, it's a different world. He embraced it with open arms and is doing a great job."
On how he plans to keep all the cornerbacks incorporated:
"That's never a concern, that's a good thing. To have healthy DBs, that's always good. It just allows you to have different packages, move guys around a little bit, have them do different things, so it's good to have a nice, healthy compliment back there. There's no doubt."
On finding the right situations in which all of the defensive backs can contribute:
"Like you've said, it's good when you've got healthy bodies, it's good when you have multiple bodies. Players embrace when you devise a role for them so we're trying to give everybody a role so everyone can compete, everybody can contribute. The guys have been great."
On the struggles with the run defense:
"Well, it gets old after a while just for the simple fact that the common theme has been tackling. We missed a big tackle in the hole last week and then, bam, the guy goes 70 yards. It's obviously addressed every week, it's preached every week — talking about the tackling. As much as we do from a physical standpoint on Wednesday, that's our most physical day, we try to tackle, we try to simulate tackles at least. You can't do any live tackling. It's just we've got to keep preaching it and talking about it because it's something that… I think after that tackle that we missed – which was what, the third play of the game? – we ended up tackling fairly well. You give up 70 yards on the first carry. They ended with 150. We cleaned it up for the most part — moving forward the rest of the game — but you can't do that. You can't continue to give up explosion runs because of missed tackles. We preach it. The players obviously are aware of it and they're working on it with our angles, with our leverage — all the things that you can preach and teach in practice without doing it physically."
On the Panthers' running game:
"Well, it's a different style of running game. It's not the traditional NFL running game. It's a little unique in the sense that the system of runs that you're going to have to defend when you play the Carolina Panthers are completely new and unique to something that you see week in and week out. That's obviously the challenge — different reads, different keys, different fits. Then, you have got the challenge of No. 28 [Jonathan Stewart] who's a heck of a back and then the added element of that guy playing quarterback because you try to simulate that during the week. But it's hard to simulate that position just because that guy is so unique from a physical standpoint — talking about No. 1's [Cam Newton's] physical attributes. But, it's something that you've got to stress and it's a challenge. They're a very good running team — that's why they lead the NFL — no doubt."
On how they get the defense to honor the physical style of Carolina's offense:
"The National Football League, it's a physical sport. It's a physical-contact game, week in and week out. This week obviously is unique in the sense of the style of offense they run. They're a downhill, unique running game, but every week presents challenges. Obviously, two weeks ago, it was Tom Brady and the Patriots. Last week, it was Drew [Brees] and that offense and everything that they brought. This week is no different — very good offense running the ball, they've got weapons. Obviously, we already talked about No. 1 [Newton] and No. 28 [Stewart], but when they drop back and throw the ball, No. 88 [Olsen] is probably playing the best football that he's ever played in his career. He's got 77 targets and I think 50 catches. I think No. 19 [Ted Ginn, Jr.], who's been in the league forever kind of as a reverse guy/return guy, he's catching the ball and playing receiver better than he really ever has. That's the National Football League. You have different challenges and you face different things every single week. It's our job to devise a plan and prepare the players and go execute like I tell you guys all the time. It's about us. If we read our keys, if we get our eyes right, if we play with great pad level, if we get off blocks, if we tackle, it doesn't matter what they do, it matters what we do."
On potentially jamming Carolina TE Greg Olsen at the line of scrimmage:
"That's always the constant thing, especially when dealing with a tight end, sometimes with a wide receiver or a tight end that is an 'out of the core' tight end in a slot receiver position, but when you're dealing with a tight end that is in the core… When I say in the core – in the backfield or next to the offensive tackle – the only guys that you can usually do that with are your defensive lineman, your rushers. You always have to ask yourself, 'OK, do we want to slow down the rush to be able to get our hands on No. 88 [Olsen]?' That's always the thing that defenses have to fight when dealing with a tight end and the common sense thing is, 'Just get your hands on him, jam him, re-route him.' If you do that with a defensive end or an outside linebacker, you take away from their pass rush. So it's always a fine line that you have to work through. There's no doubt he demands attention. He has to be hit. He has to be knocked. Because, again, when he's able to run free release vertical routes, which is what he does, he's tore everyone up that they've played against. Yeah, definitely have got to have a plan when playing against No. 88. Like I said, especially, he's been a really good player his whole career, but he's one of the upper echelon top tight ends in the league right now. There's no doubt, he's playing great."
On Carolina's offensive line and Tennessee's ability to generate pressure against it last week:
"They brought quite a bit of pressure, there's no doubt, and was successful with it. I think you've got to do that with the type of quarterback that you have in No. 1 [Cam Newton] in the sense that you have got to fill rush lanes. You can't make a steady diet, even though we're going to pick our spots. We'll mix it up. I think Tennessee did a fine job not only rushing the quarterback but rushing him smart with proper lanes. That's the thing that makes this – No. 1 is their second leading rusher. He's got almost 400 yards rushing. A lot of times people just think, 'Oh well those are on zone reads, those are on designed runs.' A lot of them are but he gets a lot of his yards just taking off and running. So discipline with the pass rush, whether we're rushing three, four, five or six, it doesn't matter. But you've got to be rush lane - when I say rush, pass rush lane – you've got to keep the integrity, there's no doubt."
On Panthers Offensive Coordinator Mike Shula playing to Newton's strengths:
"Cam's still a young quarterback, that's what people don't realize. I think he's really, like you said, the nine games this year and going back to the last four or five games last year, he's playing the best football of his career. They've got a great defense and he's being smart. He's running the ball when they need to run the ball. When they do drop back he's being smart with throwing the ball. If it's not there, he's throwing the ball away. That's something that you really never saw Cam do in the past. He's also tucking the ball and running but running smart. I think he's just, with any quarterback, the more you play the more you're going to grow, the more you're going to expand. He's playing at a high level right now, no doubt."