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John Harbaugh Rookie Camp Transcripts

Posted May 17, 2014

Head Coach John Harbaugh

Opening statement: “It’s good to see everybody. It’s a beautiful day for a little football, but every day is a great day for football. And we’re happy with our guys. We have all the rookies out here, except for Terrence Brooks, who had to be excused [because] his fiancée had a baby. But he was here all week and did a nice job. And then some of the veterans that are eligible to be at this camp are here – guys like Gerrard Sheppard and some others. I thought they did a really good job. We push them. We don’t slow them in and ease them in like some other teams do. We go right at it as much as we can. It’s not real football. It’s not tackling and all that, but we try to throw a bunch on them mentally and really physically as well in terms of the running. Lorenzo Taliaferro told me that he had never been so sore in his life without hitting. (laughter) I said, ‘Yeah, we run a lot in the NFL.’ But they’re in good shape. They’ve stayed healthy. We did have one injury – Michael Campanaro. This was before we even started the minicamp. He tweaked his hamstring during the second day, so he is going to have to work that back into shape, and hopefully he’ll be back out there next week. So we’re pleased with where we’re at. Our coaches have done a great job. Our coaches have really been outstanding. They’ve been working really hard. They’ve really been getting after it in terms of trying to get the rookies up to speed quickly, so I’m really proud of those guys.”

Kapron Lewis-Moore was one of the veterans out there. How did he look to you, and how is his knee coming along? (Matt Zenitz)

“Kapron looked good – no side effects from the knee that I could see. Now when he starts to load it with double-teams and things like that, coming off of them, I think we’ll see more. But he said he’s had some soreness in his hips and his lower back and things like that, which is expected, but nothing in his knee, so that was good.”

Lorenzo Taliaferro looked pretty smooth running the ball. What were your early impressions of him? (Aaron Wilson)

“I thought Lorenzo was very smooth running the ball. He did a nice job picking up the aiming points and the reads. He looks like he is a big guy, a downhill guy. I was very impressed with what kind of shape he is in. There is not an ounce of fat on him, and he is 230 pounds. [He is] very good at pass protection. I thought he showed excellent hands and get-away ability on his routes when he went against a linebacker. So [it was] all good that way.”

[Assistant general manager] Eric DeCosta said last week that Lorenzo has similar abilities to backs that [offensive coordinator] Gary Kubiak has worked with. What are some of those characteristics that you see? (Matt Zenitz)

“I’m thinking maybe Eric is referring to his size and his one-cut ability. We run the stretch zone a lot; that is the staple of Gary’s offense. And we’ve run that here; you’ve seen that here with our guys. But the ability to take it to an aiming point and then when that defense starts to open up a little bit because you’ve expanded a little bit, the ability to put a foot in the ground and go north – that’s the one cut they’re referring to – and do it with some volume behind your pads because he has some power [is crucial]. I’m sure that is what he’s talking about.”

One tryout player who has drawn interest is Jerry Rice, Jr. Has anything stood out about him? (Jamison Hensley)

“I’ll tell you, Jerry Rice, Jr. has done a nice job. First of all, he is a really good athlete. He doesn’t have his dad’s size, but he sure has his athleticism. When you watch him run, he runs a in a real similar way. And the other thing is he has that West Coast offense down. He has probably had that playbook since he was in the cradle. (laughter) He knows all the rules on the crossing routes and what to do, [He has] very good hands – very smooth athlete. He did a real nice job.”

Is there any timeframe on making decisions on tryout guys? (Jamison Hensley)

“We’ll probably have some word after practice today and then tomorrow. It will be hard for too many of those guys to make it just because of numbers. We’re limited to 90 [players], so we have to balance the roster, and we have a lot of guys already on the team. But some of those guys will go on to a short list, as well, as we look over the next couple of months as we need guys. We have them trained up a little bit.”

What have you seen from Keith Wenning so far? He looked like he had some nice touch on some of his deeper balls. (Ryan Mink)

“Keith Wenning, quarterback – two things: really nice touch, as you put it, and also he has a strong arm. He is a big, strong guy. Those guys are all under siege right now from [offensive coordinator Gary] Kubiak and [quarterbacks] coach [Rick] Dennison to have their eyes and their feet where they’re supposed to be, and he is no different. But he has talent.”

What are your early impressions of C.J. Mosley’s leadership? (Luke Jones)

“Probably the first impression is that he seems very comfortable in a defense. He understands the game very well. So, he’s been really well-coached, obviously, down [at Alabama]. That was a big plus coming out – we knew that. But it’s not like he doesn’t know what gap he is fitting in. It’s not like he doesn’t know what adjustment to make. That’s a long way ahead for a rookie. Plus, he is athletic, and he moves around really well.”

I know you guys wouldn’t mind if a corner or two came through this process. Did you notice anything about Deji Olatoye? He’s a guy that has some pretty good size. (Cliff Brown) “It’s interesting, when you have a need at a position, and you don’t draft a guy, the interest from the undrafted free agents is pretty high. The same could be said for the offensive line. Both those positions are really well stocked with the rookie free agents, and those guys make it every year all around the league. We have three big, long guys that we signed, and those guys have looked good. They’re fast; they’re all low 4.4s [40-yard dash speed]. They have long arms, they have pretty good hips, good feet, all of them have good ball skills. So, I think our scouts did a really good job of finding those guys. And then [CB Avery] Patterson from Oregon, he’s not as big, but he has really good feet. And we have a tryout guy in here – maybe we’ll sign him, we’ll see – who looked really good, too – [Kenneth] Gilstrap. So, it’s a good group.”

John, how about the undrafted offensive tackles? (Aaron Wilson) “All three of those guys, [we’re] very happy with them. Parker [Graham] has been swinging into guard and tackle. [Brett] Van Sloten and [James] Hurst have both been playing right and left tackle. [We’re] very happy with all those guys; I think they’re all going to make a run. Of course, Hurst at the left tackle draws my attention a lot. He has very good feet. He seems like he’s picking it up quickly. He likes to practice. He has a heavy punch. So, he has a chance.”

Can you describe the craziness that happens when you’re trying to sign undrafted players right after the draft? (Jamison Hensley) “It’s a year of college recruiting without the home visits and the campus visits and the meals and all that. It’s a lot cheaper – it doesn’t cost as much. (laughter) College football should think about that. (laughter) You get on the phone and you say, ‘Hey, you’ve got to trust me.’ And he’s like, ‘Well, who is this again? What team am I talking to?’ (laughter) But the agents do a great job. They understand and they make a plan for their guys and what would be a good situation [for them]. What it really came down to for most of these guys is the guys we got and the guys we lost. Where was their best opportunity to make the team? Some of them, they worry about $1,000 here or there, but most of them are concerned with their opportunity.”

Is James Hurst somebody you guys were particularly excited about signing as an undrafted rookie? (Matt Zenitz) “That would be a comparison, and then we’d be diminishing the other guys that we signed if I answered that question, which I wouldn’t want to do. (laughter) But we’re excited. We like him, and we really … I’m going to tell you what: I told the guys this in the meeting this morning, that there’s not a guy in any of those seats that couldn’t play in the National Football League. Will they be able to, will they have what it takes mentally and be able to make it happen under the lights and those kinds of things? But physically, they all would have a chance. Some guys would have a greater chance than others, but they all look good. And our scouts – [Northeast area scout] Mark Azevedo heads that up for us – they did a great job with that.” 

Does James Hurst look like he’s 100 percent? (Cliff Brown) “Hurst does look 100 percent, yes. I saw nothing with the leg at all. He looked really good.”

John, are you getting good reports on some of the injured veterans like Kelechi Osemele and Bernard Pierce? Are they coming along and do you know any expectations for training camp? (Jeff Zrebiec) “Yes, K.O. [Kelechi Osemele] looks good. He’s been out here; he’s been 100 percent in what we’ve been allowed to do so far. So, we have seen really no issues with him at all. Bernard has the shoulder, and he’s been allowed to move around a little bit, but we just can’t risk him falling on it right now and getting a setback. So, you’re probably looking at training camp for him, which shouldn’t be an issue as long as you don’t get a setback.”  

 

 

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