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Transcript: Mike Smith post-practice interview


On getting ready for the season opener:

"It's always fun to really get into a true gameplan mode and that's what we've been in the last couple of days as a coaching staff. The first game of the season there's always a lot of unknowns for 32 teams in this League and we're real anxious to find out where we're at. We get 16 opportunities, that's what you're guaranteed and we're looking forward to number one this weekend."

On whether or not he sees some more excitement from the players going into the regular season:

"I think that they're very focused. They have been in meetings all day today. I thought they were very businesslike. We came out here and got what we needed to get accomplished."

On DE Kroy Biermann stepping up and being named a starter:

"Kroy has obviously earned that position to be named our starter but we are going to have a rotation in terms of the number of snaps that our guys are going to play. The defensive line is really going to be based on what personnel groupings are out there, how guys are playing, who's healthy and who's not. He deserves to be named our starter because he had a very productive preseason. All of our defensive linemen that are dressed are going to be playing and be very active in the game."

On the sense of urgency to win this first regular season game:

"I think it's important for every team. They want to be one of those 16 teams that come out of the first week 1-0. That's something that we want to do and they want to do as well. They didn't reach their goals or expectations last year, nor did we, so I think it's going to be a really good game. They're a very physical football team, historically, when you think about the Pittsburgh Steelers that's what you think about. I know that (Steelers head coach Mike) Tomlin, (defensive coordinator Dick) LeBeau, and (offensive coordinator Bruce) Arians, all those guys up there will have their team ready. They've got some, I think some very talented players on both sides of the football."

On Steelers OLB James Harrison:

"James Harrison of course had 10 sacks last year, you put that with the 13.5 that the other guy had, OLB (LaMarr) Woodley on the other side, that's a pretty good combination of outside linebackers, left and right outside linebackers. James is a guy that probably, when you put the clock on him, he doesn't run fast, he plays a whole lot faster. He is very, very aggressive. He forced five fumbles; he led the team in forced fumbles. He's a guy that attacks the ball. It's going to be very important for us to secure the football on the offensive side. I think he's one of their game wreckers that they have and I think they have a number of them on defense."

On CB Dunta Robinson and if he'll be ready to go Sunday:

"Dunta was ready to go about 14 days ago. He's anxious to get his first action in games. He's full speed and we anticipate that he's ready to go. There hasn't been a setback in the 14 days that he's been practicing. We're ready to go with him as our starting corner."

On whether they will treat Dunta as a limited player or as if he's been out there the whole preseason:

"Like he's been out there the whole time. Dunta's played in this league. He's got a very good skill set in terms of what you have to do, but he also knows how to get himself ready and how to prepare. He's had time where he's missed some time because of a knee injury a couple years ago, so I'm sure he knows how to get himself ready and back prepared to play the game."

On the injury report:

"We had two guys that did not participate in practice today, WR Michael Jenkins and C Joe Hawley. The other two guys that are listed on our injury report are DT Corey Peters, who had limited participation today as well as CB Brent Grimes. Those two guys had limited participation. We're looking forward to talking with the trainers after practice. I want to talk to these guys myself and see how they made it through practice. From what I saw with the first impression, those two guys made it through with no problems."

On whether he's looking forward to TE Tony Gonzalez getting his 1,000th career catch:

"We certainly hope it happens real early. It's a milestone. It's a great individual achievement for Tony and of course Tony is an integral part of what we're trying to get done here. You know it's going to happen, it's just a matter of when."

On whether rookie LB Sean Weatherspoon will start Sunday and how he earned that position:

"I think it'd become apparent through the offseason. In the preseason games Sean has started all four games, one at Will linebacker, the last three at Sam linebacker. He has earned that position. I think it was very competitive all through the offseason. We're going to give him the opportunity to run out there and play the first play. But I will say this, just like all of our guys that are dressed, we anticipate that they're all going to participate and contribute to what we're trying to get done this season. It's not just going to be the 11 starters, if there's 20 or 21 guys that are active on the defensive side of the ball we want all of them to contribute to the cause each and every week."

On DT Trey Lewis being listed as a starter now and his long road back:

"That's a great story; it's very similar to WR Brian Finneran having back-to-back years missing with knee injuries. That's a tribute to Trey and his perseverance to come back from having two knee injuries in consecutive years. It's great to see him come out and compete. Again, he's earned that spot to be the starter here in the opening of the season."

On Steelers Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau:

"Coach LeBeau went into the Hall of Fame this year as a player, but I really think that if there's ever going to be an assistant coach that goes into the Hall of Fame it'll be Dick LeBeau. He's the guy that put the zone blitz, one of the innovators of the zone blitz, and their blitzing package is very unique in terms of what they try to do. They are one of the top teams in terms of creating pressure on the quarterback with that 3-4 defense. He's seen about everything there is, he's 71 years old, looks like he's about 55. I hope I look like him two years ago. He's a heck of a football coach and he always has those guys prepared to do what they have to do. Again, I think it's going to be a big challenge. I think it'll be a fun game, two teams that like to play physical football. It's the start of 2010, I know it starts on Thursday night for a couple of teams, but for the rest of us we get rolling on Sunday, and there's no better time of the year."

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