A transcript of starting quarterback Bruce Gradkowski’s session with the media Thursday:
Q: What were your thoughts when you heard the news?
Gradkowski: I’m excited. I’m excited to get this opportunity, go out here and start this week and try to make something happen. Our guys have been working hard. We’ve been working hard all year. So, it’s a matter of just executing and doing what we know how to do.
Q: What do you bring to the equation?
Gradkowski: I would like to say I bring some leadership and command of the huddle, a little spice to the game, maybe a little athleticism. I’m just going to do what I’m coached to do and run our offense. That’s it. And let everything take care of itself.
Q: Is that what the coaches will ask of you?
Gradkowski: Yeah, the coaches see that. They have confidence in me to get the job done. Like I said, I’m just going to do what I’m coached to do, just run the offense, put the ball in players’ hands and let them make plays.
Q: How comforting is it to hear that this move is for the rest of the season and not just for one game?
Gradkowski: Well, it’s good knowing it’s for the rest of the season. But, you also just have to take it one game at a time. In this league, you just got to focus on one week at a time and take it as it comes. That’s all I’m doing right now, if it’s this week or the last week of the season. I’m just going to take it this week and see how it goes.
Q: What are your thoughts about playing against the Bengals?
Gradkowski: Cincinnati’s a good team. They’re playing hot right now. They have a good defense and a good offense. So, we just have to take care of the football, run our offense and just play our game. We’re going to play hard. We play hard every week. It’s just a matter of coming out, executing and getting the job done.
Q: What do you think of your offense?
Gradkowski: We have a lot of weapons. A lot of weapons. I know our guys are young, but they’re going to make plays. They have been making plays in practice. We just got to stay on course, keep doing what we’re doing, keep working hard and things will fall into place.
Q: How much of the offensive woes is because of the receivers and offensive line?
Gradkowski: Our receivers have been doing a great job. They are guys that care and want to get better. As long as you have guys like that, with good character, you’re going to be fine. Those guys are going to make plays. It’s all of us. It’s a team effort. And that’s the one thing that’s great about football, you got to rely on the guy next to you and do your job.”
Q: Did you sign here thinking you would win the starting job?
Gradkowski: As a competitor, as a quarterback, you always view yourself as a starter. As a competitor, you want to start. So, I just came in, I knew the situation, I have JaMarcus’ back. I still do, because we’re a team. We’re in this together. He’s helping me out, just like I helped him out. Whatever we can do to get a couple wins.
Q: Do you have any extra insights to the Bengals since you played in Cleveland? “
Gradkowski: Not really. Ask Charlie Frye. Charlie’s played there for a while. Like I said, we’ve just got to keep studying, keep working and keep practicing hard and we’ll be OK.
Q: What is the mood of the team?
Gradkowski: I think the mood of the team is good. Guys have stayed positive, there’s energy at practice. Guys are still working hard, and that’s a key. That’s what you have to do. I think the outlook looks positive.”
Q: Did you talk to Russell and if so, what did you say to him?
Gradkowski: Yeah, I talked to JaMarcus. I talked to him on Sunday and throughout the week. We’re teammates. We’re in this thing together, and he said it himself. He said we’re teammates, whatever we can do to win. I think he played his best first half of football last week and we just didn’t help him out. We just need a team effort. He knows that. He’s the leader of this team. That’s the way we’ve got to go, and we just have to make plays.
Q: How about your style? Do they have to change stuff for you?
Gradkowski: I think our offense is going to be the same. There might be a couple tweaks here and there, but we’re just going to run the offense, do what we do and try to make some plays.
Q: Will you have to guard against getting to excited and amped up for the game?
Gradkowski: I’m going to be excited starting this game, but also, it’s a little different feeling when I was a rookie and I got the call. That’s what I’m most looking forward to, just being a professional about it and doing my job, doing what I’m coached to do and see what happens.”
Q: What did you learn that rookie year?
Gradkowski: My rookie year was a great learning experience. I had great coaching in coach Gruden and coach Hackett. I learned a whole lot, good stuff, bad stuff, I learned from it all. You can only move on and gain experience. That’s one thing I’ve learned and try to get better throughout the years.”
Q: Have your teammates looked at you in a different way?
Gradkowski: guys are still the same. I think they have respect for me. The main important thing is they know I’m going to prepare and work hard. If you do that, you just have to go out on game day and play hard and let the chips fall into place.” They say the most popular guy on a team is the backup QB. That changes for you now. How hungry do you think the fans are to see some performance out of the position?
Gradkowski: I think the fans are excited. We have some great fans here. We need to give them more than what they’ve been seeing. We need them this week on Sunday. It’s still a big game. It’s a big game every week and if the fans are into that game, it helps us out. They’ve been great all year. We just need to give them a little more to cheer about.
Q: Do you sense their frustration? You’ve heard the boos, right?
Gradkowski: Fans are fans. It’s like that anywhere. They just want to win. It’s football, and that’s the great thing about this game. Fans are going to cheer you when you’re winning and they’re going to boo when they don’t like something. But you just have to go with the flow and have fun and make this game fun.