November 3, 2004

Haslett says Brown will stay in lineup

Transcript of Haslett's Monday media session.

Q: Can you update us on the injury situation?

A: "Darren (Howard)'s just starting to run right now, and Boo (Williams) had a hamstring last week and hopefully he's ready to go but I'd say he's questionable right now. And, Darren is probably questionable, too."

Q: Will Ashley Ambrose start in place of Fakhir Brown?

A: "No, I already addressed that last week. Fakhir will remain the starter along with Mike (McKenzie). Fred Thomas will be the nickel corner."

Q: You haven't usually taken away players' starting jobs due to injury in the past, have you?

A: "I don't have a rule like that. I think you put the best players in and whoever is playing the best at the time. I think Ashley's done a nice job, but Fakhir stepped in and did a great job last week, so we're going to stay that way this week and see what happens."

Q: Does Fakhir Brown have a speed advantage over the other guys?

A: "He's fast, he's extremely fast. But I've said this all the way back to last year; he's probably deserved an opportunity to start and we just never really gave him one. When he did it two weeks ago, he did a nice job."

Q: Can you talk about the seasons of Charles Grant and Joe Horn to this point?

A: "They're both having good years. Charles has seven and a half sacks. He's been a lot more consistent than he has been in the past; he's playing the run extremely well. I think he's really only played one bad game - for him but, we've got a lot of high expectations of him also. He's a very talented kid and he can get a lot better and better; the sky's the limit with him athletic-wise. Joe's been steady; I think he's second now in the NFL in receptions behind (Antonio) Gates who has one more game on him. Joe's been big on third downs, he's been consistently catching the ball and he's working hard. If he can continue to do that, he can lead the NFL in receptions this year."

Q: What do you think about Antonio Gates?

A: "He's a talented kid; he's played one year in the NFL and didn't play before that. He played in high school, he was a basketball player at Kent; he's very athletic, can jump out of the roof and he's fast. He's a much better blocker than I would have guessed watching him on film. He's their go-to guy and he can do almost anything he wants to do. Their other tight end is very good too; a kid they drafted in the second round named (Justin) Peelle, he's a good football player. So, they have two very good tight ends."

Q: Overall how do you think San Diego is playing right now?

A: "They're on fire, the quarterback looks great to me; he was 22 of 25 last week. They've got two running backs, (LaDainian) Tomlinson might be as good as anyone in the league, if not the best, and that should be a pretty good battle between him and Deuce (McAllister) this week. (Jesse) Chatman is a good player, they've got a couple of guys who are unknown; Eric Parker is a good football player, and everyone knows (Keenan) McCardell. And their line is playing real well, so our defense will have its work cut out for it."

Q: Is it too soon to know if the time off has helped Deuce's ankle?

A: "I won't know that until we line up and play. He looked better today just in the short period we were out here."

Q: What's been the difference with Drew Brees from last year to this year?

A: "Probably the interceptions more than anything. But if you look at his numbers, he had pretty good numbers (last year). He had 3300 yards passing, 17 touchdowns, and a 63 percent completion percentage which is outstanding. This year, he just really hasn't thrown the interceptions; he's done a great job. We really liked him coming out (of college). The negative on him that everyone talks about, is his height. But I don't see that affecting him in their offense, he's got great arm strength and he's very mobile; he runs around with the ball."

Q: Are you ready to get back into the weekly schedule?

A: "Yeah, I enjoy coming out here for practice and sitting in the meetings. When you're away for a few days, especially coming off a win, you want to get going again."

Q: Is that especially true given that you need to turn things around?

A: "Not necessarily. I think everybody knows the situation. We had the same situation a couple of weeks ago and we went out and did a nice job."

Q: What do you think the key is to getting Deuce back on a roll like he was last year?

A: "He's the one that's got to get healthy. I think he made progress this week with the time off. He just needs to go back and relax and run like he knows how to run, because he's a heck of a player. He's a great kid and a heck of a football player, and if he just runs like he's supposed to run the ball, he'll be just fine."

Q: Do you think Deuce will ever be back at 100 percent this season?

A: "Yeah, I think he will and I think he can put up some good numbers in the second half."

Q: This week will be a big challenge for him going against this defense, what do you see in them?

A: "They're the number one (team) in the league in run defense. They're strong up front, they shed blocks really well. (Igor) Olshansky and (Jamal) Williams are good football players up front. They've got a number of different guys that they play on the other side; (Adrian) Dingle and (Jacques) Cesaire, and the linebackers are very active. (Terrence) Kiel, the safety, is a good football player. I think the best thing they do on defense is they get off blocks and they make plays."

Q: How has Derrick Rodgers come back from his injury?

A: "Derrick's fine. In this business, you're always going to have something that's nagging you until the end of the season, but Derrick's a tough kid and he'll fight through everything."

Q: With these great running backs coming up in the next few weeks, what's the key to improving your run defense?

A: "We've got to gang tackle these guys, especially the one this week. He's strong, he's powerful, he's quick, and he had 100 receptions last year. He can do almost anything he wants; he's an exceptional player and you can see why he was drafted so high."

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