Friday Practice Transcript - 10/21


Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg

We hear all the time about quarterback controversies and wide receiver controversies. There is a kick-return competition going on. How is that playing out so far? (Joe Platania)
"That's exactly what it is – a kick-return competition. We brought Bryan McCann in here, and one of the reasons we brought him in here is because he had experience and success returning kicks and punts. So far, we have seen that there is a reason he has had success. He runs hard, he has good vision, and we also have on our team currently, as you know, others that do the same – punts and kick returns. We have had competition every day in practice. It's healthy, it's good. David Reed feels it's healthy and good. 'Webby' [Lardarius Webb] feels it is healthy and good. The more things you can do to help your team, the better your team is going to be."

When you have two players who are, as you say, healthy and good, how do you decide which one returns kicks? (Ed Lee)
"We make that decision every week based on how they practice, what the scheme sets up like, who the opponent is and how they kick the ball. There are a lot of different things that go into it, but those are the key factors."

Would you say that David Reed is maybe inching closer to returning kicks this Monday? (Ed Lee)
"We'll find out on Monday night."

We saw Chris Carr return some punts yesterday. Is he getting into the mix in that aspect? (Jason Butt)
"Chris Carr is working his way back to playing time, and when he comes back he will be another one of the guys that has past experience and past success. We are looking forward to him [being at] full speed."

Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron

How important is it to get Anquan [Boldin] involved early? Joe [Flacco] talked about it yesterday, about how he feels like Anquan kind of heats up when he gets the ball early, and it obviously worked against the Texans. How much do you think about that when you are going into the game-plan? (Ryan Mink)
"I think about it a lot. It's easier said than done, because usually the other team, early on, you are trying to figure out what their plan is for him. Every game we have gotten a little different plan. Some teams have matched him, some people have clouded to him – they are different things. Joe has been smart. When it's been there, he has taken it, and when they have doubled him, he has pushed it the other way. Shoot, he is a great football player. You don't ever want to come out of a game with veteran, proven playmakers, where they haven't been able to get as involved as you would like. I think getting them off to a good start helps."

When it comes to the red zone, you guys have a little trouble moving the ball on the ground. Against the Texans, I think you had nine yards on nine carries inside the red zone. Is there something that you are seeing on film or something execution-wise that is leading to those struggles in that area? (Dan Kolko)
"Yeah, it's no different than any place else out on the field. A breakdown here, a breakdown there… Obviously, four of those carries are inside the 1 [-yard line]. The interesting thing about that, I thought, was we pounded it in there and had an opportunity, and [head coach] John [Harbaugh] said to me, 'Is there a [quarterback] sneak in there?' You're that close. You are actually looking at the end zone, yet you are taking it seven or eight yards deep to try to get in there. Then the second one, we mis-executed a little thing and then John said, 'Are you sure there is not a sneak in there?' The third one was a sneak. That helped get us in the end zone. Overall though, we have been pretty productive running the ball down there. I think those stats can be a little misleading. We ran it in there when we needed to late in the game. Again, that defense [Houston's] is not chopped liver. We are always trying to get better. One thing, I think with the new rule, especially with Billy Cundiff, we are not trying to kick field goals, we know that. We say we want to score touchdowns and preserve field goals. That is our philosophy. We will attack the end zone. If it is not there, get to the next play, get points, let Billy kick it out of the end zone, keep momentum, put our defense back out there with the other team at the 20-yard line. Philosophically, we are going to start scoring more touchdowns – I believe that. One thing we are doing a great job of is getting points. The last couple of years, if you look, we have turned the ball over down there and we are making sure we don't do that. [We are] doing some good things, but obviously, we can get better."

Have you been satisfied with just the whole ratio there [in the red zone] with the run-pass? (Jeff Zrebiec)
"You mean the fact that we are throwing a lot more than running it down there? Absolutely, because I think, ultimately, that is what you are going to have to do. We have to execute better in the passing game. I think most of you that have heard what I have said since Day One, is we are a work in progress on offense, just because of the chemistry element in the passing game, and even the running game – the offensive line coming together. We are a work in progress. We are getting better. We are not where we need to be. Where are not anywhere we want to be. We have no reason to be satisfied about anything we are doing, but at the same time, we are doing some things solid. But, we do need to keep getting better."

With [Jaguars DT Tyson] Alualu's quickness inside, is he a guy that may warrant a double-team? (Jason Butt)
"Absolutely. And, it would vary by play. You are always looking each game plan. The defense is trying to get single blocks, and we are trying to find ways to get double-teams. He would be one of those guys."

What does it mean for Joe [Flacco] to get to 40 wins and reach that milestone? (Ryan Mink)
"This quickly? That's pretty good. I think… I assume Joe knows that, but that kind of stuff, Joe kind of expects. He is a winner. You don't bring a guy into your organization unless you think he is a winner. I still… You guys that know me have heard me say this before: It's a leadership position. It's about winning. Then the stats come. You get the chance to play enough, you continue to improve, you are in good system, you have good players around you, [then] your stats will come. But, it's not about stats first and winning second. That's what makes this guy a great young quarterback and a guy who is going to win, I think, for a long time."

You have expressed a lot of confidence in these rookie wide receivers dating back to training camp. Now five games into the regular season, how would you assess their growth and specifically address Torrey Smith? (Luke Jones)
"Just tremendous growth. Again, we get to see it more in practice and some of it doesn't show up in a game because you haven't had a chance to really see LaQuan [Williams] a lot or Tandon [Doss] a lot. But, those guys have really improved. Torrey [Smith], I think it has been obvious. Everybody can see it. You can see that he can see coverages now. He is not getting surprised by coverages. He is pushing the defense, he is playing fast. I think you can see the mental growth. The physical part pretty much speaks for itself. The six-route he caught the other day was another. He is doing a good job on his fives, his sixes. He has caught a nine for a touchdown, an eight for a touchdown, another eight for a touchdown. He is catching sixes now. He has caught a five-route on the second play of the game. He caught a six-route later in the game. He is really good on shallow crosses and a lot of those things. The wide receiver screens, you have seen him get a little taste of that. He is really expanding his route tree. But, as I told him, now there is more tape for other guys to study, so people are going to start looking at his stance, looking at his shoulders, looking at his hands, looking at his eyes. He has to improve. He has to get better because they have more tape to figure out what he is doing. I think he understands that."

Early in the season, during training camp, you were working with Joe [Flacco] telling him that the wide receiver shouldn't see the ball released when they run their five- and six-routes. Has Joe gotten better as the season has progressed with that there? (Kevin Richardson)
"We are not where we want to be, but we are heading in that direction. It's interesting, because Torrey, that's what you have seen. That six-route, that ball was coming out, it was way out of his hand and Torrey runs into it. The five-route, same thing. I actually had an angle on that second play of the game [against Houston], and the ball was like coming right at me, and then Torrey comes out of the break, and he turns around, and it hits him right in the face – where we are really trying to throw the ball most of the time. We are making progress. Where you really find out how good you are in that respect is when you are getting bump-and-run [coverage]. When you can start doing that versus press and bump-and-run, then you know that chemistry is going to an NFL level. When the corners are off, you should be able to do that pretty regularly. I like to think we will get their eventually – hopefully, sooner than later."

What have you seen from Jacksonville's secondary, what they like to do coverage-wise? (Jason Butt)
"Obviously, we know that they have a great… Their head coach, Jack [Del Rio], is a defensive-minded guy. [He] comes from a great defensive background, not only as a coach, but as a player. They have [former Ravens and current Jaguars safety] Dawan Landry down there, who knows us very well. We know him very well. He is playing great. They are solid. As you guys know, this is a top-eight defense in the league, and it's not by accident. This, for us offensively, this is a great challenge. The secondary keeps everything in front of them, and they are physical up front. They present a heck of a challenge."

Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano

Rookie quarterback this year so, obviously, schemes are going to change a little bit. You're going to try and confuse him as much as possible, I assume… (Mark Suchy)
"You know what? We're going to do what we do. It doesn't really matter who's under center with this group. In our room, yeah, they're well aware of who is under center and who he is, this, that and the other. But, we've watched enough tape on him. He's more than capable, if given time and given a clean pocket, to make some plays. He's athletic. He's big and strong. He can make throws. So, we've got to be on point. We've got to execute. We've got to take care of business."

Last week we talked about containing the edge against [RB Arian] Foster and setting that edge. What is the key for Maurice Jones-Drew? (Ryan Mink)
"The big thing is we've got to gang-tackle this guy. We've got to limit his yards after contact. I don't think there's… He's got 570-something yards. He breaks a ton of tackles. You put on the tape, and this guy is like a rolling ball of butcher knives. He's scary. He runs over linebackers, he knocks guys out, he puts people to sleep. We've got to do a good job, as always, of setting the edge and not giving the outside. He's a downhill guy. He can bounce, jump, cut, spin. He can do everything, and we've got to get as many hats on as possible and hang on for dear life."

Is there an extra advantage – obviously, Jones-Drew is not the same type runner as Ray Rice, but stature-wise, both shorter backs – going up against Rice in practice?* (Luke Jones)*
"You could say that. He runs like [Brandon] Jacobs from the Giants, physically, but he's slight in stature. Sometimes he looks like he's two-and-a-half, three-feet tall behind all those big linemen and he's hard to find. All of the sudden, there he is. He dents you with his Riddell right on yours and he, like I said, puts you to sleep. But, it's hard to find him sometimes. So, again, we have to do a great job of knocking the line of scrimmage back and getting off blocks and taking care of him."

How pleased are you with the development of Terrence Cody and what he's been able to do, and where do you feel he's made the biggest [impact]? (Jeff Zrebiec)
"Off the charts. I mean, our guys see it. [Defensive line coach] Clarence [Brooks] has done a fabulous job with him. He did a great job with himself during the lockout and not being here. We talked about it before: He's got himself in great shape. He's having success. He's gaining confidence with every game and every rep he takes. He's making more plays each week. So, we're extremely excited about where he's at."

I know you guys don't like to set expectations but, what Pernell McPhee has done as a fifth-round pick, it's hard to break into this defense being that late and make this big of an impact. How has he done that exactly? (Ryan Mink)
"He's from 'The Muck.' He's from Pahokee [Fla.], man. (laughter) Look at Anquan Boldin. I told you before, when I was at Miami we couldn't wait for recruiting season to start so we could get over to Pahokee and find as many guys as we could. (laughter) All jokes aside, I mean, he's just… He's a great kid. He's got a great attitude. You could see on tape when you watched him in college, that motor, the way he played the game it's just… It was relentless. We knew, number one, we were getting a guy that had what we called the 'Raven traits.' He had all those things that the rest of those guys have in that room. To be surprised by his success… We're not."

Is he more explosive? He's been really explosive. That's one thing, when he was originally drafted they said, 'Yeah, he's relentless, he's got a great motor.' But, they never talked about that explosion. (Ryan Mink)
"They're putting him in some good situations. Coming in, and doing the things that he's doing, he's getting a few more reps here and there on early downs in the run game and spelling Cory [Redding] some. But, pass-rush situations, with the right matchup, he's hard to block."

How did Jimmy Smith look in his return to the practice field yesterday and your overall thoughts on the mental preparation that he did after being out for so long? (Luke Jones)
"You know, the mental part of it he did a great job. He was in every meeting taking notes and prepared as if he was going to play. He looks pretty good. Like anything, it's like starting over. You've got to knock the rust off a little bit and trust the ankle, that it is healed. Playing the position that he plays, there's a lot of starting and stopping and cutting and those types of things. So he looks good."

Is that an extra challenge being a rookie? We always talk about rookies adjusting to the speed of the NFL. We had training camp, had the preseason games, but over a month out… Is it, in a way, like he's physically starting all over? (Luke Jones)
"It'll be tough again. Being out, again like I said, it's like starting all over again with him. So, [we'll] throw him out there, and we'll see where he's at and see how he continues to progress throughout the weekend and see Monday night where he's at. But, he'll be OK. He'll do a good job."

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