JOHN HARBAUGH MONDAY PRESS CONFERENCE
Opening statement: "Good seeing everybody – appreciate you guys coming back. Everybody have a good weekend? Yes? Good? Watch a little football, watch a little lacrosse? No? I didn't see you guys at [his daughter's youth lacrosse] tournament. (laughs) I watched a little lacrosse and a little football. It was good. Guys are starting to trickle in and work out right now, getting in the training room. We'll be practicing tomorrow; we'll start installing for Green Bay tomorrow. We looked at the Bears game, mostly, today and are tying that into our game plans. We pretty much have our game plan together for tomorrow's practice."
What have been your impressions of Green Bay QB Brett Hundley now that he's had a few starts replacing QB Aaron Rodgers? (Luke Jones) "He looks like he's plugging right into the offense. I think that's why it seems like they brought him along. He runs the Green Bay offense that they've been running for a number of years, and he's running the offense in his way. He looks like he's getting better every week."
Looking around at this weekend's games, does it reinforce your feeling that it's all there for you if you do what you need to do? (Peter Schmuck) "It does. We understand that about the National Football League – it's week-to-week. You have to find a way to win some games. There are going to be weeks that you're not going to win, but you have to string together some wins at some point in time. That's the difference between making the playoffs and not making the playoffs, winning your division or not. You have to string together a run of wins, and sometimes they don't have to be pretty, as we all know here. You watch games yesterday, and you see the same thing: just find a way to win. There are different ways to do that from one week to the next, but that's really where we're at right now."
How beneficial could the bye be, not only for the injured players, but for some of the guys that are battling through that could use an additional week off?* (Jeff Zrebiec)"We're hoping that's the case. That's what we need right now. We did have a tough travel stretch there around that [London] game. How much it affected us or not is hard to say. But, just as important, is this time right here to have a chance to get healthy. Is this the last bye week for teams?" *(Reporter: "Next week is the last week.") "So, one more set of teams has a bye. We're almost as late as you can get, I guess. So, hopefully, it'll pay off for us."
**Any update on RB Danny Woodhead? Do you expect him to be activated this week? *(Jamison Hensley) *"I don't know for sure. He's going to try to practice tomorrow. Throughout the week, we'll have to see how he comes along during the week with practice and see what happens – it's kind of hard to predict."
Do players continue to rehab during the bye week, or do they rest up? (Todd Karpovich) "No, there were guys in rehab. That's definitely part of it, through the bye week. Some guys went through the weekend and some guys didn't, depending on what [head certified athletic trainer] Mark Smith needed. But, they do – they're in rehab the whole week."
Lambeau Field has a legendary aura about it. Is it known among coaches as a particularly tough place to play, or is that just because the Packers have been good for a long time?* (Peter Schmuck)*"I tend to think it's probably the latter. They've been good; they've had good teams. They've had a great quarterback, and then before that, they've had a great quarterback. When have the Packers not had a great quarterback? [Don] Majkowski had a great season – remember? Is that in 1986 [or] '87, when they were coming back? So, that seems like that's the key there. They've had great teams, and they have a great fan base, too, of course. It's been around a long time. It's a pretty neat place to play. You walk down that narrow tunnel … There's some tradition to it. But, once the game starts, it's 100 yards long and 53-and-a-third yards wide. It's football."
You have watched and dealt with a lot of great kickers over your time. Is there something that K Justin Tucker does that maybe sets him apart from the other great kickers you have worked with? (Jamison Hensley)"We have been very fortunate to always have great kickers. To me, the key with the kickers that we have had is the consistency of their leg swing. It is being able to take all different variables out of it and replicate that swing time and time again – probably just like a good golf swing – under pressure, in [bad] weather, even if the snap is not exactly right or if the timing is not exactly right. The other thing that has been consistent is the operation. When you have a snap and a hold that is very consistent and very good, that makes the kicker a lot better, and sometimes that is an underrated part of it."
You talk about the swing. I think with K Justin Tucker, the thing people talk about is the leg talent he has. Technically-wise, other than the leg swing, where does he rate for you? (Jamison Hensley)"That is great. Both of those things are right. The leg talent is phenomenal for Justin, for David Akers, probably the two best guys that I have had a chance to coach. The technical part of it is also at the highest level for both of those guys. Those are the two guys, to me, that put those two things together the best, and therefore, they were the most consistent over a long period of time."
Bears head coach John Fox had a little bit of trouble on a replay challenge, where he challenged something and it ended up going against the Bears. Can you speak of the difficulty of knowing when to throw out the challenge flag and when not to? (Ed Lee)"That is kind of a broad question. Generally, with the replay challenge, the biggest thing is getting a look at it and knowing that you have the look that will overturn it. That is the key. Sometimes you are able to get that, sometimes you are not. On the road, it is way more difficult than it is at home to get that. By the same token, it is really what the TV cameras who are doing that game are able to get, because that is what the replay is based on. So, you can know you are right, but you can also say, 'I don't think they have a look at it' and know you are not going to get it. Our basic rule is that if we don't believe there is a good look at it, we are not going to throw the flag, unless it is a situation where we don't have much to lose."
Is it meaningful to you that you are 2-of-2 on challenges? (Ed Lee)"Is it meaningful to be 2-of-2 on challenges? Sure. Yes, we want to win everything. We aren't trying to lose anything out there; we are trying to win. I will say this, though: There are other situations where you might throw the [challenge] flag just because it does not hurt you to throw the flag. It may be late in the game, you are going to take a timeout anyway, there is a little bit of a questionable call, and you might throw the flag instead of taking a timeout just in case you are going to see something that may make you want to challenge it if you are going to call the timeout anyway. Knowing that you really don't have anything or you don't have anything yet, you are hoping for something – that might be a situation where you lose, but you are willing to lose there because you were going to take the timeout anyway."
You have not dwelled on injuries all year, but as you look forward here, do you feel like this is a good a situation as you have had health-wise, maybe since the first day of training camp, given all the training camp injuries. (Jeff Zrebiec)"I do feel that way. I could probably stand up here and give you the politically correct 'coach speak' and say nothing changes, but I'll be honest with you: I'm excited. I'm excited for the fact that we have our offensive weapons back – the ones that are still with us. I feel like we are as full strength … We are more full strength than we have been all year. We finally have a chance to be full strength, and that kind of goes back to your question about Danny [Woodhead]. I am excited about that. We need guys on the field. We need our guys out there making plays, and our guys want to be out there making plays. Yes, I am more excited now probably than any point in time all year in that way."
OLB Terrell Suggs has always talked about how when he joined the Ravens, former S Ed Reed and former LB Ray Lewis were his idols. Do you think when it is all said and done for Suggs, he will be remembered along those ranks? (Jamison Hensley)"I do. That is a great question. I do think Terrell Suggs will be in the same hall, so to speak, of … Where will we put those pictures of those guys in the building with the renovation? I feel like Terrell will be in the same hall as Ray and Ed and the guys that came before that – Jonathan [Ogden], [Michael] McCrary, [Peter] Boulware off the top of my head. Those guys, he will be in that same group."
**Just another thing about OLB Terrell Suggs: When he shows up for team pictures with a mask on and all of that, do you think, "Oh, that's just 'Sizzle.'" Or, do you sometimes think, "This is a 35-year-old man!" *(Jamison Hensley) (laughing) *"I just know that we have the technology to [Photoshop] it out, to put his regular face in there, so I know we're going to be OK with the team picture. It used to be back in the day, when I grew up, Bo Schembechler had the team picture … He would run the team picture and get everybody organized, get them in the same spot, and they'd all listen to what he said. I kind of came in here and saw these guys the first year, and I stayed back and I let [senior vice president of public & community relations] Kevin [Byrne] handle it, and I'm out. *(laughter) *These guys have all the fun they want. But it never ceases to amaze me, his creativity. 'Sizz' makes me laugh every day, and it's just fun. It's just fun being around him. But you know, you don't mind that when you've got a guy who is working so hard every day, and playing so hard. When your best players are your hardest-playing players, I think you have a chance. And to me, that's how this football team is built right now."
John, you've talked a little bit about being more excited with where the team is health-wise. Obviously, these next seven games, the whole stretch is critical. Do you like the way it lays out with where you are, who you are playing and feel good about that? (Peter Schmuck)"Yes, I do. In the National Football League, that stuff can be a little overstated, just because everybody is good. And so many times you'll see teams go in there expected to win big, and they get beat. Or teams that aren't expected, and they win. You just can't predict this league. I feel like every week we're going to go win. There's never a game where I don't feel like we're going to go in there and win. And it doesn't have to be close. That's just the way I always feel. You always understand what has to go right, or what you have to avoid, and the mistakes you have to manage. But, I never feel like we're not going to go in there and win, and if we play like we're supposed to, we're going to be running the clock out in the fourth quarter. And on a knee for the last two minutes – that's the plan. So, it's no different for the next seven games. That's how we feel; we're confident. We believe in our guys, and our players believe in themselves, and now let's go do it. It lays out in a way that we expect to get the job done."
John, there have been some weeks where you've had maybe one or two decisions to make with inactives, as you'd have five guys [injured]. When players see that you're almost at full strength, can that kind of effect the competition level at practice, because they know how tough some of those roster decisions are going to be an hour-and-a-half before Sunday's game? (Jeff Zrebiec)"It probably does. Most of the time, our guys, man, they always practice hard. I've never really seen anybody taking it for granted that they're going to be active or not. But I don't think you can minimize the fact that we've probably been mostly unhealthy scratches – there have been very few healthy scratches all year. [That's] probably pretty unusual. We have a lot more healthy scratches probably normally than we've had this year. So, if we're going to have a bunch of healthy scratches coming up, who are they going to be? It's going to come down to some decisions about who gives us the most on gameday, and some of that probably will be based on practice."