A transcription of Raiders’ coach Tom Cable’s press briefing with the Bay Area media Monday:
Cable: Heyward-Bey has got a sore hamstring, some tightness from last week. He’ll be questionable come Wednesday. Schilens will not practice on Wednesday. Murphy is cleared ready to go. Zach Miller is much, much better and should be ready to go on Wednesday. Gradkowski is now cleared and ready to go. John Henderson, questionable, but on course or on pace to be where we need him. Same with Asomugha. He’s much better. Is doing some jogging now and running, but seemed to be improving now dramatically with every minute. So we’ll see how it goes.
Q: Is John Henderson is on pace for this week?
Cable: Yes. What I just commented, I’m talking about practice for Wednesday.
Q: What are the odds of Nnamdi practicing on Wednesday?
Cable: I just spoke with him. He’s much improved. It was kind of the old-school ankle sprain, so pretty severe, but doing fine. So we’ll see when we get to Wednesday.
Q: How do you weigh the dilemma of wanting Asomugha to play but not wanting to bring him back too soon?
Cable: I would take the same approach I had with Bruce. Let’s do it if it’s right, and if it’s not right there’s no real reason to do it.
Q: What type of homework did you give these guys to keep them on point?
Cable: We did so much self-scout last week on ourselves and then introducing Pittsburgh to them on Wednesday before we left. Kind of gave them a couple things to chew on, just where we’re at and what we’ve done to this point as a team, the big negatives – the penalty issues, the third-down offense, the red-zone offense and continuing to stay focused on defense and not allow the big play. Those were kind of the approaches to the whole thing. Today we’ll kind of follow up, this afternoon follow up what we did Wednesday in terms of introducing Pittsburgh . We’ll get a day ahead hear. Really, just getting them thinking about what we’ve done, what we’ve accomplished to date but what we can accomplish ahead as we move forward. And I think that’s the most important thing I want them focused on.
Q: What did you send home with the guys, DVDs, playbooks, what?
Cable: Some information. Some guys asked for it, some guys didn’t, some guys (got) stuff on Wednesday as group, different groups, really just to keep their minds in what we’re doing, more than anything. But the thing we wanted to accomplish, which we did, was to get them refreshed, kind of get them away from football a little bit, too.
Q: How much of a head start did you get on the Steelers game?
Cable: “We’re in good shape that way. We introduced kind of their favorite things, what they are offensively, as well as defensively, Wednesday. And then we got to see them play again last night against a very good New England team. So, that was kind of the talk this morning, just being around the guys, was pretty much everybody watched that game last night. Then, today you have it on film. We spent a good amount of time in meetings today with film.
Q: Lot of excitement over being tied for first place?
Cable: Yeah, it is. And it’s exciting. As we talked about it, whatever we’re going to accomplish, it’s in our hands, and we control it. We don’t have to have someone’s help or any of that. We just need to go back to work, cut it loose and go to work. That’s the biggest thing. We’re getting where we understand what that is. Just stay the course and do that.
Q: Do you have to caution team about getting too caught up in its success?
Cable: You never can answer that until you go through it. We’re handling it fine because we’re staying grounded to what our principles are, what’s brought us some success and making that our focus rather than all the other stuff.
Q: Has changing the culture been easier because you’ve turned over so many players who weren’t a part of all the losing?
Cable: I think it’s a lot of things. Some of it is personnel change, some of it is staying the course, the same message – being consistent about it, not wavering.
Q: Does the game last night give you a blueprint for what you want to do against the Steelers?
Cable: It’s two different styles in many ways, but certainly New England was playing at a really high level last night. But it does show you some things that are interesting. You’re playing a physical opponent, a team that like to throw the ball has the ability to run it. A team that prides itself on stopping the run and likes to rush the passer. New England just happened to do a better job of it.
Q: Different players stepped up in last 3 games, how much does that boost the team’s confidence?
Cable: I think that’s huge. We’ve talked all along about if someone’s down, someone’s gotta step in and do it. But we’re living it. It’s actually happened. What’s been really interesting is it’s also been young people who have stepped in a few times and really brought it up for us when we needed it most. What that’s doing to this team is there’s a bigger trust going on, a bigger belief that you know, we’re OK, if we lose one there’s enough guys here to step in and we can trust that it will get done. So in terms of confidence I do think it’s a big lift for us that way.
Q: Can you pinpoint a turning point?
Cable: Really when they started to buy into communicating with each other, whenever that was in camp. I think it started maybe in the very beginning but it seemed to permeate and go all through camp. I felt like from the day we went to work to the last day when we left we had become closer, we had learned to appreciate each other and respect each other’s opinion. That’s hard to do sometimes at this level. But when you get them willing to talk to each other and learn about each other, it kind of makes you understand where a guy’s coming from sometimes. Once we started communicating then we gave ourselves a chance.
Q: Who starts at QB?
Cable: Quarterback will be Jason. He will start at quarterback. He’s earned the right to do that. Four out of the last five games are wins. And Bruce will back him up and we’ll move forward from there.
Q: Any carryover from the Pittsburgh win there last year?
Cable: What winning last year in Pittsburgh does for us is there’s less unknowns right now. We’re a year away from that, having gone back there and done that. It was cold and all that. We handled it. We were behind, fought back in the fourth then made some plays at the end to win it. So I feel like we’re not going into unknown territories much as you normally do sometimes, particularly when you don’t play someone all the time. So I think that helps us. Yet we know how good they are this year and they’re playing very well. It will be a great matchup but I think the fact that we just did it a year ago will help us. Less unknowns.
Q: Does it make it more difficult to establish offensive leadership when you don’t have a set starting QB?
Cable: I don’t think so. I think this team probably looks at both those guys in the right frame of mind when it comes to leadership. I think both have proven to this team what they’re capable of and what they bring to the table, and I think guys respect that.’’
Q: Can you talk about the motivational bits of movies you splice into game film?
Cable: It’s just something we’re doing this year. It kind of came out of camp, really. It was part of that communication I spoke of, listening to them. We all had dinner together in camp. At one point in time during camp, I had dinner together with every player on this team, so I got a little more insight into them other than just on the practice field. I think you learn more about each other and what we’re all about. One of the questions was, What’s your favorite movie and why? So you learn things about people when you ask questions. The videos kind of come from that and they’re just a thought for the week and that’s how we take it.
Q: What is your favorite movie and why?
Cable: I have a lot of them. ‘Miracle’ is my favorite. It’s a sports movie about the U.S. hockey team in ’80.
Q: How’s your comfort level as a head coach now?
Cable: I’m very comfortable now. You have to kind of find your way through it a little bit, it think that’s true, having done it. But I’m comfortable with it, understand what it takes to succeed. The opportunity has been given me to try and get this thing going, so we just stay the course and keep working towards what we believe in. But it’s definitely something you gotta go through and learn. Every day is learn.