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Turner Shows Confidence in Team's Ability to Bounce Back
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No matter how demoralizing Sunday’s loss was – and it certainly was a disheartening defeat – head coach Norv Turner refuses to let the game get him down. Instead, during his weekly Monday press conference, he stressed how encouraged he is by the effort the Bolts put forth and reiterated his belief that they will be an outstanding team.
"I love the way our team is preparing,” he said. “I love the way our team is aggressive. We’re playing extremely physical and extremely fast. We’ve got to take the next step and overcome the adversity that happens in a game and be able to finish a game. We’ve done that in three of our games, and this week we weren’t able to do it. But this game to me is what our games are going to be like. It’s the National Football League. It’s the same game Monday night against Denver.”
A major positive to come out of Sunday’s loss was the play of Ryan Mathews. The third-year pro enjoyed his finest performance to date with 12 carries for 80 yards and one touchdown along with a team-high six catches for 59 yards. Overall, Turner was pleased with the job all of his running backs did, including Jackie Battle and Ronnie Brown.
“I was really excited about the way Ryan played,” he said. “Ryan had 18 touches for 140 yards and he handled it extremely well. All together, the three backs had 31 touches for 230 yards. I don’t know if you’re going to get that production every week, but I was excited about the production we got from our backs in the running game and in the passing game.”
While Battle received the start the last two weeks, Turner has been adamant that the distinction of being a starter is overblown. What is important is how you perform once you get your opportunities. That being said, Turner indicated that Mathews very well could reclaim his starting position after spending the last two weeks on the sideline in favor of Battle.
“We brought him in awfully fast last night,” said Turner. “I think seeing Ryan from the start is something we’ll consider going back to. We need him to play at a high level.”
Turner also addressed the pivotal roughing the passer penalty against Melvin Ingram that erased a Demorrio Williams pick six and gave momentum to the Saints. The head coach explained how he wants the rookie linebacker to keep playing hard and with passion, but that they need to reign him in a bit and make sure he channels his energy in the right way. After all, it was the second such penalty against Ingram in the team’s first five games.
“We’re going to fix that issue,” said Turner. “It’s coaching, it’s technique and it’s him understanding the way the games are officiated. There’s no question we addressed it after the Raiders game. It’s something that we’re going to have to deal with. Everyone in the league has dealt with it (including) the great pass rushers in this league who have all learned how to handle it. We’ve got to get Melvin to do the same.”
Overall, the head coach was pleased with the team’s mental toughness, exemplified most when the Saints were given great field position after Nick Novak missed a 55-yard field goal late in the first half and the defense responded staunchly.
“The great thing to me, and this is what we have to do as a team, is we missed a field goal and no one blinked. Our defense went out there and stopped them in three plays and got us the ball back. They punted to us and we took the ball I think 90 yards in a two-minute drive to go score.”
On the injury front, Turner was relieved that no one came out of the game with a serious injury. Jared Gaither pulled his groin on the final series, but luckily it was just a strain and not a tear. The left tackle hopes to be able to practice this week.
"We'll see where he is as we go through the week,” he said. "He has a chance to be able to practice and play."
In addition, defensive ends Vaughn Martin and Corey Liuget were diagnosed with minor bumps and bruises, but both aren’t expected to miss any time. Perhaps most important, cornerback Shareece Wright is expected to return to practice for the first time since spraining his ankle in Week 1 against the Raiders.
“I’m hoping Shareece can practice this week,” said Turner. “He’s made strides in his physical improvement and I’m hopeful he can play. If he comes back for practice, we’ll evaluate and see how he does and he may be able to play on Monday night. We won’t rush him though, and the bye is the next week. But if he practices and is able to go, we’ll have him out there.”
In the NFL, it’s easy to get down on yourself after a bitter loss, especially when you have seven long days to stew over it. However, Turner is refusing to let that be the case for the Chargers. He is passionate about the positives that came out of the game and he expects his team to rebound with a fierce effort next Monday night when the Denver Broncos come to town. Read