On how having DT Fletcher Cox has improved the run defense: "What's nice is with Fletcher we now have two groups that can stop the run. The important thing is that both groups that go in have to be able to stop the run so they can be rotated. When you take him and (DT) Cedric (Thornton), that's two pretty big guys, probably two of our bigger players and they both have done a good job just like (DT) Cullen (Jenkins) and (DT) Derek (Landri) inside."
On how offenses have adjusted their game plans to counter the potential of a disruptive pass rush: "I think the biggest thing is before, even last year, people would try to chip and keep seven guys (in) to protect whether it's man protection or slide protection. I think the biggest deal is just the timing for the quarterback that's different. I think we always talk about five-plant and five-hitch and I've always said to you (if the) quarterback takes five-plant or five-hitch no rush is going to get there. You may be lucky and hit the quarterback but you're not going to get there and we've talked about that. What you're doing is seeing the quarterbacks throwing on time more. Making sure the ball is getting out on a plant or a hitch."
On where the Steelers and QB Ben Roethlisberger rank among tough offenses in the NFL: "Well the Steelers we are playing on Sunday so they're the best we've ever faced. I think that's important to understand. They're very talented, they're very confident, (and) the quarterback, Ben, is playing with a lot of confidence. He's a competitor, he's tough. You can see the way he plays ball. He loves competition. The thing we have to take care of, and I think we saw it the first series (in the preseason), he was able to extend plays. We had a third-and-nine and third-and-11 and he broke out of the pocket and was able to extend plays and was able to throw the ball. One he got it down and it was fourth-and-one and the other one made the first down. That's what we have to be able to take care of."
On whether opposing teams are trying to pick on CB Brandon Boykin: "I think what ends up happening is when you have (CB) Nnamdi (Asomugha) on one side and (CB) Dominique (Rodgers-Cromartie) on the other side, I think other people and their passing game they might not throw the ball outside as much. It just depends on (the) packages (teams run). I think it's a couple of things. When you have two Pro Bowl type corners on the outside and then you have a rookie (in the slot), it's not Boykin's fault it's his first year in the NFL. (General manager) Howie (Roseman) did a great job when they scouted him. I met his parents this past weekend. I can see why he's the individual that he is. His parents did a great job. Besides being a talented young man, he's very confident, he works hard, he's here in the morning, every morning at 7:30 studying. Those are the qualities that he has and it's not his fault it's his first year in the NFL."
On the improvement of LB Mychal Kendricks and his increased playing time: "The thing with Mychal (is) we're not surprised. Again, Howie and his scouting department, they talked about Mychal. I think the key is Mychal is playing the way he played in college. He's having a lot of fun. I go back to (LB) DeMeco (Ryans). Meco has really helped him as far as his growth as a professional."
On what qualities allow Kendricks to play more like a veteran than a rookie: "Well let's say, how much does a heart weigh? Do you know how much a regular heart weighs? How much? His heart has got to be about 10 pounds. I don't know if that says enough but I know you catch what I'm trying to say. He's got a big heart."
On what his message is to the players about bringing Roethlisberger to the ground: "The thing is that we have scramble rules that we talk about in training camp. Matter of fact, we did that this morning. We went through the first series in the preseason with a good example. We talk about what we have to do. We have rules too just like the offense has scramble rules. We have rules except for us it's hard with temptation that when you see the quarterback running to the line of scrimmage it's easy to come off of the wide receivers. You cannot come off the wide receiver until the quarterback crosses the line of scrimmage. And then you avoid the big plays. He may scramble, and he may get eight or nine or five or ten (yards), but if you come off your guy that could be a touchdown."
On whether the defense needs to rush Roethlisberger differently than other quarterbacks: "The way (defensive line coach Jim) Wash(burn) rushes, every week he tries to rush properly. He tries to rush the protection. The key is doing that consistently every play. That's really the goal. His goal for his group is being able to rush the protection correctly every play."
On what LB Jamar Chaney demonstrates that he continues to find his way onto the field: "He's an athlete. He can run, he's explosive and that's what gives him an opportunity. He's got good size, he can run and that's what gives him an opportunity to get on the field."
On whether he feels vindicated now that the defense is playing well in his second year as defensive coordinator: "This is a day by day process for our defense. We talked about this on Sunday. Our defense wants to be the best defense in the NFL. To be the best defense in the NFL you have to win the Super Bowl. For us right now it's one day at a time. Our practice this afternoon is very important. We are working on nickel which the Pittsburgh Steelers are the number one team in third downs. So this afternoon's practice is going to be a very intense practice for us so we can get better so we can win third down because they are the best in the NFL."
On how much of a leadership role S Kurt Coleman plays on the defense: "You talk about big hearts. Kurt is one. He was a captain at Ohio State. Sometimes when you see him come up and deliver a blow you say there's no way that little body can deliver punishment like he does. I think for me Kurt has always been an overachiever. He's always working to prove people that believe in him right. I think now he just has a lot of confidence. The key is he understands what we are trying to do. We've talked about this before (about) the OTAs.
"You have coverages (and) within every coverage unfortunately there is a weakness to the coverage but what happens is you may have five or six coverages. We have a few more than that but every coverage takes away certain things and Kurt right now is to the point where he understands that, 'Okay, we're using this coverage to take this away but we know that this is a weakness so they catch the ball here (and) we'll tackle for three or four yards and move on to the next play.' Now we have this and certain times during the game where the coverage call is on Kurt and he can change the coverage where we're playing man coverage to zone. We've gotten to that point with him."
On where the defense would be without the presence of Asomugha: "I think when you look at it with both corners, when you talk about Nnamdi and you talk about Dominique I think they're both having really good seasons. The things we talk about in our room is the first thing we talk about is we want first downs (to be) three or less yards. Then we talk about stopping the run. Well when you stop the run you have to have eight guys in the box or you have to have seven guys versus a one-back set. What that means is your corners are basically on an island. I think if you go through you'll see that our corners are on an island basically every play and they've done a great job of handling that. With that being said, when you're on an island like that you're going to give up some plays. We all understand that. We understand we're trying to get tight coverage to put pressure on the offenses and sometimes we're going to give up a play. We don't want to but that happens."