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Payton Speaks

Excerpts from Coach Payton's Wednesday Press Conference:

On Injuries:

"From an injury standpoint, the following players did not participate in today's practice: Scott Fujita, Kendrick Clancy, Jason David and David Patten. We signed Quinton Smith as a running back to the practice squad, so are numbers are 53 and eight.

How confident are you that Fujita and Clancy will be able to play this week?

"We'll see. A lot of it is based on how they recover in the next 24 to 48 hours. It's a wait and see. There is still some pain and soreness with both of them. We'll know more tomorrow and as the week goes on, we'll list them one way or the other. I think a lot of it is just wait and see."

If Fujita can't play, who would take his place in the lineup?

"We'll see. We have a couple of guys working at that spot. Brian Simmons is an experienced player and we have Troy Evans as well. Those guys got most of the work today."

What is Patten's injury?

"He has a calf strain from the game last week."

With Jason David out, are you looking at more of a rotation at the corner spot or will one guy step up?

"We have some flexibility. We'll be able to put Fred Thomas in there. Jason Craft and Fred both have experience and Usama (Young) has been playing well as well. We'll see how the week unfolds, but we have some flexibility with those three guys. Those are the three guys you saw all during training camp."

Is there any hesitation to give Usama Young significant time since he's a rookie?

"I think we just have to go with who we think gives us the best chance and we'll do that."

On preparations following the bye:

"The emphasis today was on first and second down. We got some work in on Monday and stayed with our base part of the gameplan today and had a full practice."

How have the practices been?

"Practice has been good. I thought today's practice was sharp. Monday we got a jumpstart which was good to have and we'll see how we fare with the week off."

Did you work more than usual on the bye week?

"Maybe a little bit more. We had a schedule laid out a couple of weeks prior to the bye and we tried to stay with that. When it falls early in the season like this one, it's a little bit harder to grab all of your tendencies and try to look at those things. Obviously there are a lot of things that we need to clean up, so our focal point really was more on the specific things that we think are hurting us right now as a team."

Last week you said the bye week was coming at a good time. Do the guys seem refreshed?

"I think the preparation and the approach as we get ready for this game has been good. The focus has been good. I think they have a pretty good understanding of where we're at and what's in front of us and the challenge ahead of us. Hopefully this time off has given them a chance to reflect and all of us a chance to reflect on what's ahead of us. Obviously we're in a hole and we're going to have to fight to get out of it. The only way I know how to do that is to work hard in practice, prepare better, do a better job of coaching, and execute on game day. It's hard sitting on a bye week with that record but that's the way the schedule unfolds."

On Carolina:

Will you put emphasis on pressuring David Carr considering he's been known to take a lot of sacks in his career?

"You have to prepare for the offense. They have some guys that are explosive and concerning. You start with Steve Smith and they do a good job in the running game. They have an experienced offensive line and are well-coached. Any time you lose your starting quarterback like they have with Jake Delhomme, there is an added amount of pressure put on you. That being said, I'm sure they'll come in with a real good plan. They're hungry for a win just like we are. It will come down to eliminating the mistakes and eliminating the turnovers and doing a good job with field position. Those are the things that will be most important. (Carr) got a chance to play last week for them and he'll get more comfortable in that role, as will the team around him."

How many problems would be solved by beating Carolina?

"We're just trying to get the first win. The first chance we have at that is the Carolina game. They say that winning cures what ails you, but that's the first opportunity to take a step in the right direction and at 0-3 we need to do that."

On Reggie Bush's expanded role:

In the running back rotation, will you give Reggie Bush more carries or will Aaron Stecker take over Deuce's role?

"Reggie will get more carries. Stecker will be involved and Pierre Thomas will be involved, but you'll see Reggie get more handoffs."

Is this his opportunity to show that he can be an every-down NFL back?

"More than he has been as a ball-carrier. We'll still have to monitor how many runs that is, but you'll see him more from the running back position."

Can you learn anything from how Philadelphia has used Brian Westbrook?

"They do a good job with his numbers and his balance. He's someone that's used not only at running back like Reggie, but he's someone who can go out in space. He's a big part of what they do offensively. He's someone that would be a model. When he's healthy, he's one of the more dynamic offensive players in our league for a lot of reasons."

Do you have an optimal number of carries in mind for Reggie?

"We'll have a chance to see Reggie from the running back position more consistently. Not exclusively, though; there are some things that we want to do with him that we've done in the past, so that's the mindset. From a numbers standpoint, you're still looking at a similar number of touches but maybe not as many receptions and some more carries - 18 to 20. We're not going to sit there and hand it to him 35 times though. We're not going to do that. Aaron is someone that has a lot of experience and someone that is durable and dependable. Pierre Thomas is someone that we're not afraid to play. You'll see those three guys in some way, shape, or form and we'll see how it goes."

Will his role on offense take away from his use on special teams?

"It may take away from some punt, we'll see."

Are you confident that you can still run inside without Deuce?

"Yes. I think the runners can do that."

Do you see any similarities between Reggie Bush and Tiki Barber?

"The similarities would be that from 1999 to 2000, Tiki went from being that "nickel" running back to more of a first and second down player. I think there were some concerns or questions of whether he could do that. I'm confident that Reggie can do that. We'll try to use him wisely and use him to give us the best chance to score points. I think he's ready for the challenge."

On Devery Henderson:

Do you need a lot more out of Devery Henderson?

"I think it gets back to the point I was making in regards to the big plays. There are some things that he did a real good job with a year ago and part of that is me giving him the opportunities to do that as well. He's one of a handful of guys that can catch the ball down the field. He's not the only one, but finding those opportunities and not forcing it - taking your shots when they come up is something that we try to approach each game with and we'll continue to do that. But he's worked hard and I think in his case, receptions will come. He did a real good job a year ago and he's further along now than he was a year ago."

Have you not had enough calls for him?

"I don't know if it's timing of calls. Maybe it's timing of getting certain coverages, but he's part of our equation of getting the ball down the field. He's someone who has speed and is capable of making those plays. We just have to give him more opportunities."