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Press Conference Transcript - Training Camp Practice 8/10


Head Coach John Harbaugh

Opening statement: "OK, good to see everybody. Got a good shells practice – it was sharp – and now we're going to turn our attention to Carolina on Thursday night. Of course, we had Mike [Tirico] and Jon [Gruden] and 'Jaws' [Ron Jaworski] out here, so that was kind of fun. And, I think we're ready to play our first preseason game."

On if he senses players' excitement for Thursday's preseason game:"There was a lot of enthusiasm. They got a little bounce in their step, so I think they are looking forward to the game."

On if CB Prince Miller appreciated a couple days off this week: "Well yeah, Prince had a momentous moment, right? He went down [to Georgia], and it was the birth of his first child. We gave him a couple days off here to do that, and he did have fresh legs out here today. I think it helped him. He kind of had the little bounce in his step, but he'll play a lot on Thursday night along with those other young guys."

On if he knows who will be ruled out for Thursday:"Well, I've got a pretty good idea. If you want to ask specifically, I can tell you about some guys. I don't have a list in front of me, but…"

On if T Jared Gaither will play:"Jared, I don't know that, but I don't think he'll be able to play just because he hasn't practiced enough. I don't know if the injury is going to hold him out, but it would be hard for him to play with the little bit of practice he's had."

On if CB/RS Chris Carr will play: "Chris Carr could play. It's a matter of whether we decide to put him out there or not."

On if CB Fabian Washington will be ready to play with his recovering knee injury: "He's ready to go. It's just a matter of whether we want him to go. I think we'll take him out during pregame and see how much work we get done, and we'll just decide. But, we're not going to push it, I can tell you that."

On if G Ben Grubbs' injury during practice was minor: "Don't know. We'll find out. It's not major, but whether he'll play Thursday night with it or not… We're going to be cautious on all that kind of stuff."

On if he knows what the plan will be for the kickers on Thursday:"We're going to actually alternate every kick. That's what coach [Jerry] Rosburg wants to do. He feels like it'll keep both those guys in the game for the whole game and give them a fair amount of reps, so we're looking forward to that."

On if they'll flip a coin to see who kicks first:"You'll have to ask Jerry that. It's up to him. I don't know. Good question."

On if they'll alternate kickoffs and field goals: "Yes, but check with Jerry on that."

On if T Oniel Cousins has made progress at camp: "I think what Oniel has done has been pretty amazing. He's just made up so much ground in the last week that he's practiced. He looks good, so he should play quite a bit."

On if he's excited to see the rookies play in a game: "[I'm] very excited to see them in game action for the first time. I know they're excited to show what they can do, so I think they'll play well. I'll be surprised if our rookies don't go out there and play well."

On if he has any rookies in mind that will steal the show: "Well, you never know. That's the great thing about this deal – you just never know which guy's going to step up, who's going to get the opportunity, who's going to get the ball thrown to them on either side, who's going to be able to get a sack. Special teams will be big for those guys. [They] pretty much have an opportunity to stand in on special teams every time you run down the field, so it'll be interesting to see who takes advantage of that."

On if he will be fired up for the preseason games:"Well, the first preseason game, the first time as a head coach, you have no idea. You don't want to totally mess up the game and have everybody look at you like this guy doesn't know what he's doing. So, you're more nervous about the first one. Now, having been through it a few times, [I'm] probably a little more comfortable in that setting, but still it's a game. It's different than practice, and it's a chance to work on all the things that we worked on – even the coaching staff, as far as challenges, communication from the booth to the field, from the field to the players. Those are the things that we're going to have to really work through."

On how important it is to win in the preseason: "I can see it either way. I don't think it's critical. You could lose all four preseason games and win a Super Bowl. My guess is that's been done before. But, we'd sure rather win. I'd sure rather get the feeling of winning, so we're going to try to win them all. That's our goal. If we don't win, they obviously don't count, but right now that's the task at hand. That's what's important now, and we're going to try to win on Thursday night, and we're going to try to win them all."

S Tom Zbikowski

On whether he still feels like a rookie trying to earn a job:"You always do, because there are always people coming up ready to take your job. And really the way our team is, I think the goals that we've got set, everyone's got to have a role on the team. So, me playing safety [or] me playing special teams, whatever it is, that's my role for now."

On whether there is a different comfort level because of the few starts he had last season:"Anytime you get game experience, [it's] always going to help you out. No matter how many practice reps you get, it's still practice. It's not like the game, so getting the game reps, getting a feel for how the game is played and everything really helped out."

On whether he will still return punts even though he may have an opportunity to start at safety:"If you find out, let me know. I'm not sure. I'll go back [there]. [I'm] just catching punts all the time just to see what will happen. And once again, whenever they need me, if I'm playing safety and I'm getting a little tired… You know what I mean? [I'll] get a break, but if I'm fresh, hopefully I'll be doing them."

On whether he has worked specifically on returning kicks at all during the offseason:"I think a lot of it is just getting the feeling back of catching those punts. Really, I think once you've done it and really learned how a ball drops and how it comes off a kicker's leg, so when you do it in college and [have] never done it in the NFL, it's a whole other set of legs, a whole other bag of tricks that they can do. Just seeing what Sam [Koch] can do, how many different variations of punts he has, you've always got to be practicing, always be catching balls."

On whether he views this as an opportunity with S Ed Reed's uncertain status:"It's football. That's the way it's always been. It's a physical game. You never know who's going to be up and who's going to be down. If you're on a team, you've got to be practicing like you're going to be starting, because most likely – if you really look at the NFL – [with] 53 people on a team, there are going to be injuries, and eventually you're going to be playing somewhere."

LB Jameel McClain

On coming a long way since being a shy, quiet and undrafted rookie: "I'm still the shy, quiet and still undrafted guy. It's definitely been a long process, and I've got a farther way to go. But it's work, like always."

On if he is happy to get the preseason started: "Definitely. It's tiring hitting the same players every day. We all know each other, and we're tired of hitting the same-colored jersey. It's about time that we get a chance to take out our camp frustrations on another team, and I know the other team is feeling the same thing. So, I'm pretty sure we're all excited, and I'm definitely excited to get a chance to showcase some of my abilities."

On what it will be like to hit the field Thursday with the starting defense: "It's another preseason game. It's a chance to show the coaches that you can play this game at the full capacity that it's supposed to be played at. For me, going out first or going out last, it's not a matter of that. It's a matter of where you finish at the end of the day."

On where his development has been this offseason: "It's just work this offseason. Once again, working with my speed coach and getting a lot of work, and then, with my strength coach, Andrew Jackson, my brother. So, just getting an opportunity to go out there and now, knowing the defense, and getting a chance to settle in, and more so focusing on one or two positions has been able to slim down my load a little bit."

On if it was tough switching linebacker positions in the past: "I wouldn't say it was tough in the past. It just was something that was a part of my game, something that I always did and I was always accustomed to, playing a lot of positions. Obviously, it's always going to be a lot easier if you can focus on one or two things. It's like if you go to work and your boss tells you that you've got to do five projects in one day. You're going to be like, 'Dang, I'm used to doing one or two.' (laughter) So, getting to do one or two things is definitely a blessing and it has been able to narrow things down for me."

On the biggest thing he has learned from LB Ray Lewis: "The biggest thing is definitely patience and passion. It's two words for me, that simple. He's patient with the game and he understands the process. He understands what's coming and everything. Just the passion and desire that this game requires – Ray is a living testament of it."

On when he realized he belonged in the NFL: "I knew I belonged the day I came out of my mother's womb. I was born to play this game. I'm born to go out there and hit somebody and play with a high intensity and a lot of rah-rah. So, it's not like I came here wide-eyed, like, 'Man, I don't deserve this.' I understand that you've got to work for everything in life, so I'm my biggest critic and my biggest fan. It's for me to put in the work all the time."

On if his bandaged hand is OK: "My hand is perfect. It's because I'm getting my shadow boxing on, that's all. The air hurts." (laughter)

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