On what he hopes to see from LBs Chris Gocong, Stewart Bradley and Omar Gaither: "Of course all we knew was going on preseason and how it ended up last year. We saw what Chris Gocong could do and we saw what Stewart Bradley could do, and of course we moved Omar outside. So far it's not the season yet, but I've been pleased. They've been very consistent. We always want them to make more plays, but they've been consistent and I expect them to do well Sunday."
On how much he expects DE Chris Clemons to play: "I'm not quite sure. I hope we're going to get them on the field. We are going to roll those defensive linemen, the ends and the tackles. He will be on the field. I'm not sure how much he'll be on the field, because he hasn't practiced a lot."
On where Clemons is with his grasp of the playbook: "He's behind. Any time you're behind, it's because you don't get the reps on the field. He's at least a couple weeks behind. It's going to take a little while, there's no question about it. We want to get him in there, especially on third-down situations. If it becomes a passing game and we have to give those ends a rest, he's going to get in there as a pass rusher."
On whether defensive end is a position you can get away with not knowing the playbook well: "The only thing is just learning all the pressure packages. He still has to know that. We've kind of focused on that with him more than anything else—making sure he knows the nickel and dime blitzes.
On whether DE Bryan Smith will get more playing time with Clemons being limited: "If he dresses, yes. We haven't decided who is going to dress yet."
On the Rams offensive line: "If (T Orlando) Pace comes back healthy, that's the key to that offensive line. He has played and practiced a little bit. He's been banged up. He's one of the better tackles in the league. They've got a good guard, (Richie) Incognito, really a good guard. I think between those two, if they're in there and Pace is healthy, that's a good offensive line. They had some injuries last year, which really hurt them, no question."
On having three good cornerbacks and the flexibility it gives him in nickel packages: "I don't think it gives you more flexibility. The thing we have with those three guys is we have really good matchups. We have three corners there who can cover a lot of people. We can maybe play some more man coverage, more man blitzes. That's the flexibility. We have a lot of confidence in those guys' cover ability. That's the only thing it affects."
On how anxious he is to see the defense: "I think I'm anxious. I think everyone is anxious. It's a long season. We don't get a chance to play that much in preseason. All of a sudden you get 60 or 70 snaps and a lot of things can happen. We want to find out what kind of pass rush we have. We want to find out what kind of turnover team we are. I think we are going to be a good cover team. There are certain things we want to find out and you don't find them out until you maybe play 60 plays in a game."
On what is better about the defense this year than last year: "I'm not saying anything right now. I think we will have to wait and see. I think it's one of those 'wait and sees.' We have young linebackers, we signed an excellent corner in (CB) Asante (Samuel). I think you kind of have to wait and see. I'm kind of waiting and seeing too how we are going to play Sunday. I think we are going to play well but we have to wait and see."
On whether he has any worries about how S Quintin Mikell will handle his starting role: "It didn't even cross my mind. I don't even worry about that. He's a soldier, he's a player and he can play every down."
On what he has seen from his linebackers in the preseason that makes him confident about what they can do in the regular season: "I see guys who can run to the football. They are good-sized linebackers. I think all three of them, what they need to do is just make some more plays. More fumbles, interceptions, stuff like that. I think they'll play well, but still this game is about production and making plays. That's what we want to see in a 60-play game."
On whether it concerns him that CB Lito Sheppard is upset about not being a starter: "It can't concern me. I've said this before: every time I walk onto the field, I see three excellent corners, actually four with (CB Joselio) Hanson, but I see three good corners. It gives me a lot of confidence. I don't even think about that. I just think about how we are going to match up and what we are going to do with these three guys. Every day I walk out onto the field, I'm glad to see all three of them out there."
On what he sees out of CB Sheldon Brown that has solidified his role as the starting right cornerback: "Sheldon has been our right corner for a long time. Of course when we brought in Asante, he's our left corner. Those guys will still rotate. Still, all three of them will be on the field. I'm still saying they'll be on the field 60-70 percent of the time. That's how we went with it. I'm not going to say he did this or he did that. That's just the way (we decided to go with it). Sheldon was going to be our nickel and Lito was going to be our right corner at times. Sheldon is going to be our right corner at times. That's just how we went with it."
On whether he thinks the defense could be successful without Sheppard: "I'm not even going to think about it. I'm not going there. To me, I'm thinking about this game Sunday and they're going to be here. That's all I'm thinking about."
On what impresses him about Rams RB Steven Jackson: "How strong he is. He's a very strong runner; breaks a lot of tackles. He's a complete back because he can catch the ball and does a great job on screens. The best thing about him is he's capable of breaking tackles. He's a very strong running back."
On how much he looked at Rams RB Antonio Pittman in preparation for this game: "We look at a lot of the backup players. We are planning on Steven Jackson. How many plays, I don't know. We look at all the players. The backup receivers, the backup tackles, whatever. We spend time on that, too. We've had more of a chance to see Pittman than we have Jackson in the preseason."
On what he expects out of Rams offensive coordinator Al Saunders: "I expect what he did in Washington - a lot of movement, a lot of motion, a lot of shifting and stuff like that. We spent a lot of time studying his Washington Redskins and that's what we kind of expect."
On whether he gameplans not knowing whether Orlando Pace will be himself out there: "No. I think it's more of players studying a position, as far as who he is going against defensively, scheme-wise."
On whether defense is ahead of offense at the beginning of the season: "I've seen it go both ways. I've seen teams open up offensive shows. It still comes down to what kind of defense you are. I think by now, especially as much OTAs you have and all that, the timing, we talk about it. We just don't play as much regular people during the preseason. Offensive players, they've been going timing for the last six or seven months with OTAs and stuff like that. Same with our offense, I think we're in good sync also. I think most offenses think that way."
On what he has seen from Sheppard in practice: "I see a guy competing and playing hard. I don't even think about it. I don't let that outside stuff get me. I keep saying it, but I'm glad to see him on the field every day; him, Asante and Sheldon walk out."