Post-Practice Transcript - Aug. 31

On how he plans to proceed with the kickers:"I think we're proceeding as usual right now. We feel like we have two guys here, and I would give Steve [Hauschka] the edge, in all honesty, based on what he's kicked through camp. We think both of those guys are going to be starting kickers in the NFL sooner rather than later. And we've said all along that were hopeful… I would say right now we're hopeful that one of those guys is the guy. But we're going to see how this week plays out. I think Steve will have the edge again this week going in, based on what he's done all through camp. We'll see what happens."

On whether K Matt Stover is a factor at all:"He's always been a factor. Until someone else signs him – as long as he wants to kick – he's a factor around the league."

On whether he would cut any players early who he knows won't make the active roster in order to give them a chance to play elsewhere:"Yeah, you do try to do what you can to give guys the best chance to catch on somewhere. But really, the main thing is what's best for the Ravens. We don't let a guy go until we have to, because you just never know what's going to happen. Somebody could get hurt. [If] we let a guy go so he can catch on somewhere else and all of a sudden somebody gets hurt and we need that guy, we'll be sorry we did that. And these guys here, they want to make the Ravens' team. Every one of these guys wants to make this team, and that's what they're fighting to do. And I think they understand – especially at certain positions where we're really deep – they have a chance to make another team. No doubt about it. I think the quarterback position has become that. We've got some depth at quarterback now, too, where some guys are going to play in this game and they have a chance – if they don't make this team – to make another team. And that's a credit to Ozzie [Newsome] and the personnel staff. And it's a credit to the coaches who have developed these guys."

On how special teams factors into that:"Special teams roles are huge, and those positions that are big, core special teams positions, that becomes the tipping point, without question. You've got to be able to play your position, but whatever the primary role is, that will probably be the deciding factor."

On if it is harder than he thought it would be to tell a guy that he doesn't fit on the team right now:"Even as an assistant coach, you work with a guy and it's devastating when all of a sudden he's not a part of things. Every single guy here is a part of our team. Every single guy here is a Raven. You're right. When you sit down as a head coach now, and you have to break that news to him, it's painful. But then again, the guys we've had a chance to do that with, they have been unbelievably professional about it. So many of those guys end up coming back to you. You just try to let a guy know where he stands. Is he a practice squad guy? Maybe we're going to try to bring him back for the practice squad, if he doesn't get claimed. Is he a guy that two or three weeks down the road, if so and so gets hurt, if you're not picked up by somebody else, you're part of us. We plan on brining you back if we can. Or not, or you need to look elsewhere, and just be honest and let them know. I think guys appreciate [us] being straightforward with them."

On if he likes the way the wide receiver competition has panned out and if anyone has distinguished himself:"We think we have a group of wide receivers we can win with, that's for sure. Are we happy with it? In that sense, we're happy with it. We think we can win with the guys we've got. And you look at four guys, maybe, maybe three, four guys… [If] one of those young guys emerges to be the next guy in line there, that's what we're really hoping. We're trying to develop those next young guys in that position if we can, so it's an ongoing process."

On if this final preseason game will determine if WRs Kelley Washington or Justin Harper make the team:"This last game is going to be… I think when you talk about the last three, four, five spots, six spots, whatever those spots are, how many are you going to keep at a position, it depends on how guys play. So, you look at that next wide receiver vs. that next defensive back vs. that next linebacker or that next running back, and you take the best player for your team at this time. Special teams are a big part of that, but it's also being able to play your position effectively and being ready that if somebody gets hurt, you can be the next guy in that game at that position and play well enough for us to win."

On his philosophy for playing veterans in the fourth preseason game:"I don't have a philosophy. We'll have a strategy."

On if the strategy will be to protect the veterans:"We're not going to play them the whole game, obviously. Yeah, you've got to protect them. We've gotten a lot out of all our players in the preseason. Our starters have played all the full… In the three games, they've played the full amount in each one of those games. How much we play them in this next game remains to be seen. We're not ready to make that decision yet or announce it, so we'll just have to get close to the game and see how that goes."

On if he thinks about an undefeated preseason:"Not until you just mentioned it. What's the track record?"

(reporter answers) "The 2000 team won all of them. 1999 and 1998 did, too."

(Harbaugh continues) "Really? OK. How did 1999 and '98 do?"

(reporter answers) "Not as well as 2000."

(Harbaugh continues) "We'll go by the 2000 team, and we'll try to win this game. (laughter) Yeah, we want to win, and Atlanta's going to want to win, too. We have certain goals for each game. We had certain things we wanted to accomplish for each one of those games, and we really felt like we accomplished, in each one of those games, the things we wanted to accomplish. Those are very specific things to each position and each side of the ball. But also, with that, we want to win the game if we can. So yeah, we want to win this game, too."

On if WR Kelley Washington has showed him he's capable of being the No. 2 receiver:"Sure. I think he has. He's played that role in these preseason games and played it very effectively. Kelley Washington has had a heck of a training camp."

On if some element of the short-week practices are factoring into sharpness in the games:"I don't know what… The fact that we were sharp in this last game is a credit to everybody, obviously. But what is the one thing? It's probably a hundred things. It's probably the fact that our guys come out and practice every single day, and they build a good foundation under themselves, and they like to play football, and they get ready to play. We expect them to be sharp. We weren't worried about the short week or making any kind of a game plan. But it was good to see guys come out and be sharp. At the same time, we weren't as sharp as we needed to be on a couple of plays in the red zone, so we've got to get better at that, too."

On if there is an appreciation for guys who are fighting for their football lives in this last game:"Yes. A lot of guys are fighting for their careers. Every guy in the room is in a different seat, so to speak. It's really important. It's important to everybody because we need to come out of this game the best Ravens we can be. If a starter plays a little bit or doesn't play at all, he's still got a role this week in making himself a better player. But sure, it's different than the guy who's trying to make this team or another team in the NFL. I think our job in the room is to help everybody get the most out of this week that they can for each other, and what that means is we've got to help those guys who are trying to make this team or another team have their very best football week of their life. If we can do that, then that's what teammates do."

On if OLB Terrell Suggs is planning to play this week:"We want Suggs to take part this week, and he wants to take part this week. He's out here on the walk-through. He's going to be out here in practice, to some extent, seeing what he can do. We just have to see how [the foot/heel] responds to whatever work he does today. But if we can get him out there in the game, we will. If we can't, if we need to be safe with it, we won't. The most important thing is Kansas City, but we want him to be the best player he can be at Kansas City."

On what the status of WR Mark Clayton is coming into the Atlanta game: "Clayton – I'd say, less possible. Probably the same philosophy, but less possible to play in this game."

On anything new regarding CB Samari Rolle's neck injury:"That's good that you brought that up. There is something new with that we just found out today. As a matter of fact, Samari came up, and we sat down with Ozzie, and we talked – Samari separately from Ozzie. Samari has a chance to come back and play this year. He will be on PUP – the non-counting version of PUP. He's going to have more work done to the neck and try to sure it up a little bit in there. Then we'll see. I think when the time comes, we'll be safer than we are risk-oriented. So, if there's any risk at all, he won't play. But if there's no risk, reasonable risk, then he'll have a chance to help us down the stretch this year. He was really excited about it. I think he was feeling it was going to go the other way. I think I was feeling it was going to go the other way. It's good news."

On what has been the most impressive thing in the passing game this preseason: "I would say it's all of it put together. You guys always want to look for the one thing, which is fair, but to me, the way it all ties together [is more important]. But you add protection, and blitz pick-up has been really good. The fact that our defense gives us so much pressure in practice – our backs have done a good job of working from edge to edge and picking up secondary pressure. Young tackles have done a really nice job. [Matt] Birk has been solid in the middle. Checkdowns, screens, combination routes over the middle of the field, like the one Troy [Smith] threw in the middle of the field for the first down at the end of the game was really a special throw that we probably didn't see last year. So, all those things have made it better so far, but it's still the preseason."

On how rookie T Michael Oher played on Saturday night: "He went against one of the best defensive ends in football. Also, [Julius] Peppers was on both sides in that game, so Joe Reitz went against him, too, as did [Jared] Gaither. They all faired pretty well. We gave Joe a little more help than we gave Jared or we gave Michael. Those two guys blocked him, pretty much without help, for the most part. Although, Peppers had a couple nice plays, as you would expect. That was a great test for us, and they did a nice job."

On LB Brendon Ayanbadejo's versatility in pass situations: "Brendon is becoming a linebacker. Brendon was probably pigeonholed a little bit – strictly a special teams guy for a lot of his career – is kind of the point you're making. He's worked really hard to become a better linebacker, to the point where he's competing for the starting dime spot. Vic Fangio has been his biggest advocate, along those lines, and has really done a great job of developing Brendon in that way. He's played the pass pretty well all through camp, but he played the run a lot better in this game, in those sub situations. You could see we were better against draws, and we were better against screens on third down, this week than we were the week before. Brendon had a big part of that."

On the status of rookie LB Dannell Ellerbe: "That's a health thing. He was really doing well in practice. We haven't seen him in games yet with the knee. So, were hoping we can get him out there Thursday night. He really needs to be out there, but you can't make it heal faster than it's healing."

On whether Ellerbe is on the bubble for making this team: "Yeah, he's in the mix."

On how TE Todd Heap's performance at Carolina has helped open the outside for receivers:

"It's going to open up a lot for us. Todd has been doing a tremendous job at finding his place in the offense, and really doing what the coaches have asked him to do. You've got to understand, Todd came in, and he was a pass-catching tight end. Not to say that he couldn't block, but he was probably in the top two or three pass-catching tight ends for a long time. And then a new system comes in, and he becomes more of a blocker. And, that's because we had some injuries in the process. But he became more of a blocker, and he accepted his role. He excelled very well, and when we needed him he was there for us. So, this year it will be the same way. Todd understands what his role is as our tight end, and we all know what our roles are. If a play is asked to be made, we need to make it, and Todd is just getting better in this offense. That's all he's doing. The second year in this offense, Todd will be a lot better than last year."

On what he says to the bubble guys who are fighting for a roster spot:"Keep hope alive.* (laughing)* No, that's just a joke. [I tell them to] keep it all in perspective. Go out there and have fun. Don't let anybody steal your joy. This is not the end all, be all. There are 31 other teams out there, but make sure whatever you put on film, it's something good. Everybody can't make the Baltimore Ravens, but there are 31 other teams out there that they could get a spot on. This is an audition – whether it be for this team or another team. But make sure you put your best foot forward going out there."

On how he looks at preseason game four as a veteran:"Each day, go out there and get better each game. Go out and get better. I didn't play particularly well in the first game. The second game I played a little bit better, but there were still a lot of things that I needed to get better in. Then the third game, I corrected a lot of mistakes that I had, because my grade was kind of low the first two games. So, I wanted to make sure I went out there and did what I needed to do to not make any mental errors or mistakes out there. In this last game, I want to make sure that when I walk off the field that when I come back in here and we start grading, that I'm close to, if not, 100 percent."

On whether this has been a soul-searching time for CB Samari Rolle in regards to his injury:"Samari just wants to play. But he understands that the injury that he has is a serious one. You never want to go out there and put yourself in a position where you're going to get hurt. Like I said, this game… It's a game. It's not the end all, be all. You have to live a life after playing football, and Samari understands that. So, whatever he needs to do to get himself 100-percent healthy, [he should do] because you're talking about a neck. You're not talking about a knee or an ankle, you're talking about a neck. Something that, if not corrected and you try to go out there early, you could possibly be paralyzed. So, I just want Samari to do whatever he needs to do to make sure that he's healthy. I couldn't care less if he could be back out there. I would love to have him out there, but his health comes first. And if he can't come back out there, at least he can continue to go day to day with the things he needs to do with his family and play with his kids. But other than that, get healthy, and if you come back, obviously we would love to have him, because he's one of the better corners in the league. But if not, make sure you're healthy."

On how much WR Kelley Washington has impressed him:"Kelley is out there having fun. I enjoy watching him. I enjoy playing alongside him."

On if he enjoys the attitude Washington carries with him on the field: "I enjoy it. Honestly, I've been watching Kelley for a while. Being in Tennessee, I watched him play at UT, and he had that flash there. He's a guy that went out there and had fun and enjoyed the game. And I enjoyed that part about him – watching him when he was in college and then to see him when he went to Cincinnati and playing in that offense, then going to New England. Now, he comes here, and it's the same thing. He brings an attitude to an offense that you need. He goes out there, and he's having fun. Regardless of what the situation is – whether he gets a first down or a touchdown – it's the same thing. It's exciting, and that's the way you're supposed to play the game."

On how the team reacts in the huddle after Washington is dancing for a first down:"It's fun. Man, I am telling you, it is fun because you see the enthusiasm that he has, and he plays with. It can fire you up as an offense. You might need that kick in the rear end every now and then. Kelley helps bring that to our offense. Like I said, whether it's a first down or it's a touchdown, he's going to bring that extra [push] to the game and to our offense that we need. And it can help us out a lot."

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