Monday Press Conference Transcripts

Head Coach John Harbaugh

Opening statement: “Good to see everybody; I appreciate you guys being here. Forgive my voice. It was gone, but it’s coming back just in time.”

*It looks like a hurricane is happening in Miami. How much do you, as a team, monitor things like that? _(Jamison Hensley)_ *“We look at all that. In this case, it shouldn’t be an issue, so we’re not looking at it at all, other than praying for those who are going to be in the way of it. We’re hoping for the best for them.”

Have you decided who will start at left guard?_ (Bo Smolka)_“Yes, we’ve decided. We have our starting lineup all set up, but we’re not going to share that information. Why would we? What would be the advantage for us to do that?”

You’re facing a team with a new head coach in Miami. What are the challenges in preparing for a team that is starting anew? (Mark Viviano)“They’re new in a lot of ways, no question. Obviously, they have Coach [Brian] Flores in there from New England. All three coordinators have ties to that system. I would say that’s kind of their philosophy, scheme and strategy. It’s built along those lines. I have the utmost respect for it. Of course, we studied a lot of that as well. A lot of the study that we’ve done has not just been Miami tape, but it was also a lot of New England tape. We’ve had to take a hard look at the new players they brought in this week. That’s something we’re in the process of doing right now. It’s a big challenge. They have great schemes, excellent coaches and excellent players. We don’t really know what to expect, but I don’t know if you ever really do in your opener. You never know. You expect to get things that are off what you expect, and you just have to apply what you do and try to do as best as you can the way you play the game.”

One of the things about the 53-man roster that was different from previous years was choosing five defensive linemen as opposed to more. What were the factors in going with five?_ (Aaron Kasinitz)_“There is no real factor. We took the guys that played the best. Five is not a low number. If you look at it from an even front standpoint, that would be 10 D-linemen, if you count five defensive ends, which is really what those guys are. None of those guys would be off-the-ball linebackers. We usually go a little heavy in the D-line, to be honest with you, especially with the way the game is being played now. You don’t really see too much base defense anymore. It’s less than 20 percent.”

One player a lot of fans had questions about was RB Kenneth Dixon. He played so much in the preseason, what happened that he wound up on Injured Reserve? (Luke Jones) “He’s hurt. He has a knee … It’s actually a bone bruise that is a fracture. He has a fractured knee. That’s not to say he would have necessarily made the team. It would have been based on how he played. He’s on IR. He’ll be released injured, so Kenny will be moving on.”

You mentioned that there is a lot you don’t know about an opponent in an opening game. How about what you don’t know about yourself right now with a lot that is new with the Ravens? (Mark Viviano) “That’s true, too. It’s unknowable. [It’s like the] Donald Rumsfeld quote from a few years back: You have to know what the unknowables are, and you can’t worry about them too much. I don’t know what’s going to happen on Sunday. We don’t know how certain things are going to look or how guys are going to respond. We might have confidence. Whatever happens, we’ll deal with it. But that’s the beauty of it. That’s what’s exciting. That’s the drama. We’re going to go out there and find out a lot on the first Sunday. We’ll come out of it, and there will be a lot of good things that we can build from, but there will be a lot of things that aren’t good that we’re going to have to get straightened out. That is knowable. I do know that. We’ll have to see what those things are.”

As you were looking ahead to everything you wanted to do with QB Lamar Jackson, you entrusted a lot of that to offensive coordinator Greg Roman. At this point, with the season here, how pleased are you with the progress they have made together? (Childs Walker) “I’m very pleased. I’m very happy with it. I don’t know how to elaborate on that. What do you want me to talk about? Pleased, yes – happy. I’m looking forward to seeing how it plays out.”

What challenges do the Dolphins present after naming QB Ryan Fitzpatrick their starting quarterback? What challenges does he pose? (Jamison Hensley) “He’s always played well against us if you go back and look at it, so we have nothing but respect for Ryan Fitzpatrick. He’s been good. He’s proven. He’s had a lot of big games. He opened up [last] season with a couple of 400-yard passing games. He’s a little bit of a swashbuckler, I would say. He’s not afraid to throw it in there, run around. He tries to make plays. Every single play, he tries to make a play out of [it]. A lot of times he does, sometimes he doesn’t. Sometimes he hurts them. We’re hoping we’re able to cause that and do some damage that way. But we have a lot of respect for him. He’s a great pro, and I’m not at all surprised that they chose him to be the starting quarterback.”

Throughout training camp, you eased WR Marquise Brown along. Where is he at now? Is he full-go going into Week 1? (Aaron Kasinitz)“Yes, he is full-go.” (Reporter: “What are the challenges he has to overcome to get off to a good start?”) “He’s a rookie. He hasn’t had a lot of reps. He’s going to have to get up to speed quickly. We’ll have to be vigilant in what we ask him to do, things that he can do well. It’ll be a challenge for them, too, to cover him. He’s really fast. He has great hands. That’s the challenge the other way.”

*You said the expectation with QB Robert Griffin III was that he would be ready for Week 1. Has he been officially cleared? _(Luke Jones)_ *“My understanding is that he’s cleared. That’s my understanding right now. We’ll practice on Wednesday, and I expect him to be out there full-go.”

Similar to the defensive linemen, the choice to leave ILB Otaro Alaka at the fourth inside linebacker … What did he do that earned him the spot there? Was there concern with keeping just three inside linebackers? Was that part of it? (Bo Smolka)“It really wasn’t. That was the plan originally. Anthony Levine can play in there. We have a lot of options with our fronts. We’re not just back here lined up and playing standard defense. We could play with one linebacker if we want. We have a lot of ways to manipulate the front and alignments to handle any kind of a shortage that we might have. A few teams have kept three inside linebackers, you may have noticed that. [We took] the best guys. He played really well. He’s a big, fast guy. He played well on [special] teams in the preseason, and he earned it. That was really the reason.”

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