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Post-Practice Transcripts: August 21st


Head Coach John Harbaugh

On using crowd noise during practice in their indoor facility:"It's better than going out there Saturday and getting crowd noise and being shocked with it. It helped us. We had a few issues that we improved on."

On the importance of the third preseason game:"You guys make the judgments and evaluations. We're just trying to get better. We try to get better every single game."

On the potential for CB Chris McAlister to play against the Falcons:"We'll see."

On the unreliability of the defensive radio system:"It's a big concern. They need to be able to hear the radios. Is it us operating it? Is it the signal not coming through? What is it exactly? We're studying that right now and we want to make sure we have it right, because when they don't get the call, then we're not on the same page. It's been spotty in practice, too."

On if a good performance by QB Troy Smith would make it difficult to start anyone else:"What you're asking me is, 'If he plays well, is he going to be the starter?' We haven't decided. But it was a good way to word it, though. It's not difficult to make a decision about what's best for our team."

On the status of TE Todd Heap:"He's had that hamstring for a long time, along with the ankle. So we're being very cautious with that right now. Our stance with Todd is that if he's 100 percent, we're going to have him out on the field. Before that point, he could play right now, I think, but let's not push him unnecessarily. He had 2½ really good weeks of practice, and that was good work for him."

On if CB Samari Rolle will play this week:"I'm hopeful Samari is going to play a little bit. We'll see how he does."

On how much he would like to get Heap and DT Kelly Gregg game action in the preseason:"You'd like to, but it may not be the best thing for him. Those guys have played a lot, and they had good camps up until they had their issues, so I think our No. 1 priority for those guys is Cincinnati."

On whether there is a concern that Gregg won't be ready for the season opener:"Until you see a guy back, you don't have him back. But we're confident that we're going to have him back."

On whether S Jim Leonhard or rookies such as S Tom Zbikowski would start with the first team:"Jim will start with the 'ones,' but I think those guys will work in at times before the end of the 'ones'' time. A lot of that is going to be fluid. There will be guys coming out who are 'ones' who will come out a little earlier than the rest of the group. It's just all individualized."

On Leonhard's preseason:"Oh, he's done well. He's done very well. He's had a heck of a camp. He's proved himself as a player. He plays all the phases of special teams as well, and we're excited to have him on our team."

On TE Daniel Wilcox playing Saturday:"He's trying like heck to get in and play, so there's a good chance he'll play if we don't have a setback between now and then."


K Matt Stover

On the passing of Gene Upshaw:"Shocked about Gene Upshaw's death. As a player rep for 16 years and somebody who's been on the executive committee, it's very shocking. It's a tragic time for Gene and Terri and for his family, for the boys, and for our union, too. He's been a great asset for us and it's disappointing that that's happened. I'm going to give it time to mourn as a group of player reps and a league, and give him and his family the respect that's due."

On how Upshaw was as a leader:"He had a tenacity. He had, what I call, courage to deal with some hard issues and some hard times in the NFL. To lead guys through strikes and lockouts and scab games and to not take income, a salary [was courageous]. [He was] somebody who made hard decisions, sometimes very unpopular. As you know, there's been a lot of opposition to Gene, but he led like he felt the union needed to be led, and you can't fault a man for that. There's been a lot of disagreement with him, but there have been so many great things that he's done for our union, including the way the new CBA has been since 1993. I've been a part of that group since 1991; I've been a player rep, and it's been a great ride for me. I've reaped the benefits of those who came before me, Gene being one of them, as well as him teaming up to be part of the union as I've been a rep for 16, going on 17 years now."

On how quickly the union will regroup:"I do know that we've already placed an interim executive director, Richard Berthelsen, in office. I think that is very wise. Our executive committee immediately responded to make sure that the union realized that we have leadership intact, and that the players understand it and the NFL owners know that we have proper leadership. I think that's key to any type of organization. As I look back, that's been in my heart during this whole process."

On Upshaw as a player:"He was a Hall of Fame player, and that's why I say that he did a lot of things prior to my generation of players, and I'm now three generations into it. He laid the groundwork for guys such as myself and players of today, not only for what he did for the union, but also how he played and the caliber of person that he was. I can't say enough about that. At this point, it's a shock to all of us. It's something where we as a union and as players are going to take some time to grieve. I'm hoping that I can go to the funeral and pay my respects to him and his family."

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