Q: What enticed you guys about C.J. Anderson?
Gruden: “He’s been a good player for a long time. Doug Martin hurt his knee and we’re not 100 percent sure about his status for the game, although we think he’ll be good to go. We can’t take any precautions. We’ve got four games left to play and the Steelers blitz almost every play. We needed a back. Fortunately for us, C.J. Anderson was available and we’re happy to have him. “
Q: Do you think it was just a bad fit for him in Carolina this year?
Gruden: “Well, when you’ve got a guy like [Christian] McCaffrey, it’s going to be hard to get any touches. Can’t say I blame anybody for that. I don’t know. I didn’t really study the Carolina tape much, just the plays he played.”
Q: Are he and Doug similar?
Gruden: “I think there are some similarities. They’re both hard between the tackles. They can pick up blitzes. They’re versatile. They’re experienced. We felt with Martin’s situation, already missing Marshawn Lynch, we couldn’t take any precautions.”
Q: Has Ben Roethlisberger evolved?
Gruden: “He doesn’t look any different to me. He doesn’t look any different to me when I was playing against him, when I was coaching last time or when I was in the booth or studying him now. He’s still got a great physical presence in the pocket. He still creates a lot of offense when nothing is there with his scrambling. He’s at his best when they need him the most. They need him a lot right now, so we’re expecting the best from Roethlisberger on Sunday.”
Q: Mike Tomlin has done well for a long time. What do you like about his resume?
Gruden: “He’s an energetic coach. He’s hired good assistants. They obviously know something about talent over there. They’ve been able to draft well. They know what Pittsburgh Steelers look like and smell like, and they’ve been able to develop them.”
Q:Talk about the rivalry here.
Gruden: “When I was a kid, I remember watching those games. For the ‘immaculate reception’, it seemed like both teams were loaded with Pro Bowlers, future Hall of Famers and it was going to be a knock-down, drag-out, no matter where they played. So it will be cool seeing these two franchises go after each other again.”
Q: What’s the best thing about Antonio Brown?
Gruden: “They move him around everywhere. You don’t know where he’s going to be. He can run every route you dream up. I say that about other receivers but he can run double moves, he can run by you, he can run crossing routes, he’s very good after the catch. What’s the greatest thing about this man, I’ve told all of our receivers, if you get a chance to watch him practice, you’ll see what unlocks the greatness in him. He’s the hardest working man, I think, in football. Hardest working player I’ve ever seen practice. I’ve seen Jerry Rice, I’ve seen a lot of good ones, but I put Antonio Brown at the top. If there are any young wideouts out there, I’d go watch him practice. You figure out yourself why he’s such a good player.”
Q: Why do you think Jared Cook is having a career year this season?
Coach Gruden: “It’s all coaching probably (laughing). He’s really a good tight end. He’s always been a good tight end. He’s had good numbers and good statistics at Tennessee, St. Louis and certainly Green Bay. He had good numbers here last year. We’re just trying our best to feature him every way we know how. He’s also doing a lot in pass protection and the running game. He’s got to be a Pro Bowl tight end this year, I think.”
Q: Why did you bring in Damontre’ Moore?
Coach Gruden: “Well we just have some injuries. We’re going to bring Kony Ealy back as well. Damontre’ Moore is a guy that has a little history here. We’ve seen him play. We’ve had some association with him. We’ll put Shilique Calhoun on injured/reserved. He’s hurt. We let Fadol Brown go, so we’re going to bring in Ealy and Damontre’ Moore to fill that void. Hopefully they can deliver some plays for us. We need to improve there. We’re going to put Martavis Bryant on injured reserved. We’ve signed Bene Benwikere, a corner, to help us there with Leon Hall’s injury. We signed Denzelle Good, an offensive tackle from the Colts. We’ve had a busy couple of days here.”
Q: Is there a key to keeping guys in the right frame of mind when the season doesn’t go as they thought?
Coach Gruden: “We’re not alone. We’re not the only team. I know Green Bay is playing, Atlanta, they’re both four wins I think. This is a tough league. You’re going to be in it for seven or eight years, you’re going to have some years where you’re going to have to really prove your mental toughness. But we’re playing for a lot. We’re in our first year here. We feel like we’re making some strides. Internally, we feel like offensively we’re getting a lot better. Defensively, we’re seeing a few players really step up. We’re excited about. We need more of that. We’re going to keep building, laying the bricks, trying to lay the foundation for the future of this football team.”
Q: There’s a good mood in there among the guys. More so than you might think in a year that’s not going well. Is that something you try to foster?
Coach Gruden: “I hope so. I mean I want to have fun doing this. This is a great sport. This is a great time, I think. The Raiders, we’re trying, like I said, to bring the right kind of people in here that can build a championship football team again. That includes the rookies. That includes the veterans. I think there’s a good comradery, a good moral here. It’s a credit to the veterans and the assistant coaches because usually I’m a grouchy son of a [expletive].”