Special Teams Coordinator/Associate Head Coach Jerry Rosburg
How is WR Michael Campanaro doing as a punt returner? (Garrett Downing)"He is doing well. He's got a lot of reps catching the ball. We finally today got some full field coverage. We haven't done a lot of those, so we had some opportunities to run against a good coverage unit. And for all of our returners, [the] primary thing we're working on is ball security, catching the ball, making sure the ball is secure, moving forward, not moving sideways. He's made good progress."
You talked a lot about Sam [Koch] last week. How's Richie Leone doing just as a punter? (Jon Meoli) "If you were able to see the special teams part today, Richie [Leone] did well in the team drill, and I think it's a result of the fact that he's now more accustomed to our tempo. Every punt team [is] different, every unit [is] different, and punting [the football] out of your hand, or punting it just for the snapper, is a lot different than putting it with the whole punt team. Today was a day that Richie made a step forward because he was punting out there with a punt team, with a rush, and his tempo and his comfort level was much higher. He was much better today, and we're encouraged by that."
What did you think about Sam [Koch] hitting a 60-yard field goal? (Garrett Downing) "He is a great athlete. Then Richie [Leone] comes back and hits a game-winner. [Kicking consultant] Randy Brown is right now riding high, because we've got our two punters to kick 50-plus field goals. It doesn't surprise me, really, that they're able to do that, because they're both really good athletes. But I think it points to the kind of players that you have at this level. It's remarkable some of the things these guys can do, and that's a testament to that. They've practiced just a couple of times, and they go out there and warm up, and get ready to go, and they knock a 60-yard [field goal] through and a 54-yard game-winner. That's fun; that's great stuff."
Jerry, Ray Guy going into the Hall of Fame, you being a special teams coach also … Talk about the value of keeping the "foot" in football – how much pride do you take in seeing him get that recognition?* (Luke Jones)*"I think it's a wonderful thing. I think we all recognize that Ray [Guy] was really a pioneer, and he changed games with his leg. The college award being named after him is really notable for that. He's a guy that was such a valuable asset to his team, and all punters aspire to do that. It's great to get that recognition. It brings the punting game into the forefront where people are looking for the next guy. So, I'm putting it out there right now: Morten Andersen – he's the next guy."
When it comes to covering punts inside the 10-yard line, or securing those end zones, do some guys just have a knack for that? How much can you teach that? (Clifton Brown)"That's a really good question, because we work on that a lot, and I say this to my assistant, Cpt. Anthony Coaxum, U.S. Army retired … I say to him all the time, 'This must be a lot harder than it looks,' because we watch the tape and I say, 'How can you all do that?' It's not easy, and as much as we practice it, there are times where you look out there and [say], 'How can you not make that play?' But it's hard. We likened it the other day to Willie Mays having to run over his head and make that great catch that he made in the World Series, and now this guy that might hit him on the way to the wall. So it's not an easy skill, and that's why we spend so much time working on it. We work on it with the JUGS gun; we work on it with the punters; we work on it returners back there. It's a tough skill, but it's such a big play. If we can down the opponent inside the 5, or even inside the 10, we'll take it. But your chances of scoring points if you're able to stop them go up tremendously, so that's why we spend so much time working on it."* *
Is there anybody that you have coached that has shown a knack for [downing punts]? (Clifton Brown) "Wide receivers typically are more accustomed to catching the ball. It's good to have somebody that has return ability that's able to do that. Josh Cribbs was, probably still is … You can put him out there and be there because he [has] such good hand-eye coordination, and he's big. The other part of that is you can't set somebody down there and run them down there. They're getting blocked, and they could get blocked by the returner as well, so it's a physical play as well as steal play, so he was very good at it. Jeromy Miles is good at it. We've got other guys who can do it. We're looking for the two best guys for Sundays."
Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak
Your backup quarterback, QB Tyrod [Taylor], what have you seen in his progression? Everybody keeps asking about how Joe [Flacco] is progressing. How is Tyrod? (Jamison Hensley) "I've been very impressed. Tyrod [Taylor], obviously, [is] very athletic. But for a guy that's not of stature, the size-type of guy, he's got a very good arm. Ty really bought into what we're doing. He's working extremely hard. The thing I love about Ty … I know his goal is to be a starter in this league, and that's what you want as a coach. So, [he's] very competitive, pushes Joe every day [and is] doing a great job."* *
Does [Tyrod Taylor] fit the system well? (Ryan Mink) "Yes. I think he fits very well, because he moves so well, keeps people honest when we run the ball that he can boot and do those types of things. But he's impressed me as a pocket thrower. He's bought into our steps and how we teach things and is just a bright young man. And the team … I feel a leader out there when he's got our guys, and that's important. So like I said, I'm very pleased with where he's at."* *
[Tyrod Taylor] has been used in some Wildcat, in some different formations in the past. I don't know how much you like to do those things. (Ryan Mink)"You never know. We teach everything. You have to do things offensively sometimes for your defense so they can get looks. Whether or not that ends up being part of what we do, I don't know, we'll see. But [we] try to teach everything, so that we're helping not only ourselves, but our defense if it ever comes up. And obviously, he's very capable of doing something like that."
Can you talk about G Kelechi Osemele and his athleticism? (Pete Gilbert) "I was telling John [Harbaugh] the other night: 'You know, I think we've got a chance to be a pretty good screen team.' Our guards not only are big and physical, but they can get out and run. [Kelechi Osemele] has made some really impressive plays downfield [while] chasing a ball. I know he was beat up last year and hurt, but we need to keep him healthy. With he and Marshal [Yanda] in there, in this league, you've got to feel very good about that group. So we're excited about our inside right now, and we've got to keep our five guys healthy and find some depth along the way."* *
Gary, with your passing system, more short passes in the West Coast system, do you expect QB Joe [Flacco's] completion percentage to rise? (Ryan Mink) "We're going to try to make big plays off of what we do running the ball – that's the key in this league. You've got to find a way to get some big chunks of yardage. But I try to gauge my guys through camp and throw in that percentages and stuff. And [Flacco] has been excellent from that standpoint. Everybody has their way of doing things, but the thing we're trying to do offensively, obviously, is cut down on turnovers, stay on schedule with what we're doing, and we've got to get the ball out a helluva a lot quicker. That's got to help our guys up front. We can't be up here [near the top of] the league in sacks [allowed]. We need to be up there the right way, I guess I should say." **
As far as TE Owen Daniels, down at Houston he was considered a No. 1 tight end. Is this a different role for him? Does he have to adjust to a different role?* (Jamison Hensley)"It all depends how we play. If we're playing a lot of two tight ends, he could go out there and play 50 plays on a given day. So the great thing is to have two veterans like Dennis [Pitta] and Owen that … They keep people honest. The thing I've been impressed with – I've know Owen – but the thing I've been impressed with Dennis [Pitta], on the line of scrimmage, Dennis is doing a really good job, and that's part of their job, too. We know they can get open; we know they can catch balls. But if we're going to run the ball well, everybody has to give it up for the team, and I've been impressed with what Dennis has done."* **
Gary, what have you seen from WR Kamar Aiken? (Garrett Downing) "First off, [he] is explosive and he's big. I tell you, in all my years in the league, I don't know that I've ever seen as competitive a situation as we have at receiver right now. I mean, I would have no chance telling John [Harbaugh] which five or six I would want right now, and that's a good thing as a coach. You notice John [has] been resting some players. He rested Steve [Smith, Sr.], he pulled Torrey [Smith], he pulled Jacoby [Jones]. We keep doing good things; that's a great sign. So, this is going to be very competitive, and how it plays out is going to be good for this football team. Special teams will be a big part of that."* *
Gary, you guys are going to have some joint practices with the 49ers. As a head coach, you had some experiences with that. What were your experiences like, some of the pros and cons? (Luke Jones)"I think it's very good. It breaks the monotony of going against yourself every day and it gets very competitive, which you're trying to create all the time, and John [Harbaugh] does a great job of creating a competitive environment out here each and every day. But I think it keeps guys going through the grind of camp as you're trying to become a good football team. What better group to work against? That's a great football team. They've been to three NFC Championships, so getting to play them and work against them can only help us get better."* *
Are there any drawbacks to [joint practices?] When you experienced it, maybe you had to adjust. Are you going to give John [Harbaugh] tips on organizing? (Luke Jones)"No, I wouldn't say there were any drawbacks. All the ones I've been a part of [have] been very good. I've traveled and done it; stayed at home and done it. I think it's all very good. I think our players are looking forward to it."* *
Does it feel like a game week? (Pete Gilbert)"It'll be interesting, because we're going to work against them after we play them. I've done it the other way around; I've never done it this way. So, it'll be interesting. But when you line up against an opponent, it's always gameday. That's just the way these guys work."* *
Are you looking forward to seeing your offensive system in a game situation? (Adam Vorce) "Yes. My biggest concern … I think we've made a lot of progress. One of the things I've been concerned with is when I left the field or coaches left the field, we showed some struggle signs, especially with some younger players. But when we went to the stadium the other night, with the atmosphere and the noise, I think we handled it pretty good. I think we're getting better each day. It's a building process for us, and the quicker we get there, the better for our team."
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees
Dean, ILB Josh Bynes…Can you talk about his development and what you've seen out of him? (Jamison Hensley)"Josh is one of those guys … We talked about him early on in camp [and used] him as an example to some guys – the fact that the guy comes in here as an undrafted free agent, gets a chance to play [and] then gets hurt, hurts his back. I mean, [he] breaks his back, basically, and fights back from that. That right there alone ought to tell you [enough] about the kid. He's an overachiever [who] just knows what to do, [and] he's in the right spot. [He] just keeps fighting his way to stay at the top. I'm just real proud of him, and he's a great example of guys that … When you come in this league, guys that think maybe they don't have a chance because they went undrafted. That doesn't mean anything. If you give the effort, both on and off the field – mentally, I'm talking about knowing what's going on [on the field] – you have a chance. That's why [he's] been able to play. I have no qualms when he goes in the game about how we're going to play."
What have you seen from OLB Courtney Upshaw – some things that maybe don't show on the stat sheet? (Aaron Wilson) "The thing of it is, sometimes when he sets the edge on a tight end, the ball may cut back immediately, and guys don't see that. You see the cutback, you see the play, but you don't really know why the guy cut back. Well, he cut back because Courtney has the tight end knocked about two yards back in the backfield. Now, you notice him if the ball ever gets outside – all of the sudden, then it's on him. But the thing of it is, he does such a great job of setting the edge, and he's gotten better and better and better in coverage the more he's played it, because he didn't really play it in college. He came from, really, scratch, kind of like [how] Jarret Johnson did, in a way. Those guys come from nowhere and end up … That's the biggest problem they have early on is coverage, and he's really developed a lot that way."
Have you guys seen progress from OLB Courtney Upshaw with his conditioning? (Aaron Wilson)"He's in great shape. I don't really know what his weight is. That's something that he and John and the strength coaches have, but all I really watch is just his movement out there [and] not so much whether he's heavier or lighter. Whatever he is, I just want to see how he's moving, and I think he's moving great."
Dean, cornerback depth is the topic of conversation surrounding this team. Is there more made of it than you think? (Pete Gilbert) "No, I don't think there's more made of it. There's some depth and there's competition. We have to come out of this preseason … Somebody has to rise to the top. The cream has to rise to the top, and somebody has to take the job, and I don't know right now who that is. I feel pretty good about Jimmy Smith on the one side, and then there's a lot of competition over on the other side. Right now, I couldn't tell you who that is. Those guys just have to keep competing. That's the great thing about the preseason – we get an opportunity to evaluate them. We may do some things that I may not normally do in a game just to put those guys out there and see what they can do. This is the time to experiment and see if they can do it, and not when the season starts."
DE Chris Canty was up here the other day and he was talking about how he's learning with the younger players after one year spent in Baltimore. What are your thoughts on Chris and his role with the team? (Michelle Gordon)"Chris is really a great professional player. He has a maturity about him that the younger players cling to. He does a great job in the classroom being very, very mature. And the thing of it is, what he alluded to there a little bit – the fact that he's only been here for a year … It's always different at every club that you go to, whether it be the Ravens or no matter who it is. Everything is handled a little different, and we always talk about the 'Raven Way.' And so he's still in a little bit of development there of how we do things, but he's a great professional. All the younger guys really look up to him."
With OLB Elvis Dumervil, what are your expectations for him and in the pass rush overall with him and OLB Terrell Suggs? (Garrett Downing) "One of the things that we have to do with Elvis [Dumervil] is really put him in a position … That's kind of our job as coaches, with scheme, is to put him a position to be successful. He's a guy that came from Denver, [and] even when he came from Louisville – again, he's not a guy who's played a lot in coverage … So to sit there and drop him out on third down or something like that [is] probably not the wisest thing in the world to do. We have to put him a position where he can be successful – put him a position where he can get one-on-ones with guys and let him do what he can do. That's our goal."
You talked about the position battle at cornerback. How is CB Asa Jackson stepping up? (Clifton Brown) "I'll tell you what: Asa had a heck of a day today. I watched him down there in one-on-ones. I don't usually go down to one-on-ones – I just go with the front – but I went down to one-on-ones today, and Asa is really competing. He's having a real, real good camp. And then he had a big play right there in the two-minute situation, which you know I've talked about a bunch that we have to get better at that. We have to end drives and finish with the offense on the field at the end of the game – not the defense. So, that's big for us."
How much has CB Asa Jackson been set back with the time that he's missed? Has it been a particular challenge to his development? (Clifton Brown) "No, I don't think so. He's always been involved in … He's been here long enough to know how we play things, how we do things. I don't think that's had any factor."
What have you seen from S Terrence Brooks, and what is the biggest challenge for him? (Luke Jones) "[His biggest challenge is] just the volume of staff that we have. It all starts with communication. It's like anybody in here – when you are familiar with something, you can do it fast. When you're unfamiliar with something – I don't care whether it's writing; I don't care what it is in this world – if you're not familiar with it, it slows you down. And right now, sometimes he goes out there, and our safeties have to do our communication. I can make it easy, but I'm not, because that's not going to help him. I can go out there and call the same easy coverage, and he lines up in the middle of the field and plays deep middle-third. But that's not what we do. We keep throwing more at him, more at him, more at him. He just has to keep swallowing it and taking it in. He's working hard at it. It just does not happen overnight. I've been around a lot of safeties in this league. Sometimes guys that come over from other teams … All of the sudden, they're over there playing Tampa 2 all the time, and come in here and we have 19 different coverages and all different kinds of little things [with] tweaks off of them, and sometimes that doesn't come real natural – especially for a rookie. So, he's doing fine; he's doing great. He just has to keep developing."
You've had S Will Hill for about four or five days now. What have you seen out of him so far? (A.J. Perez)"[I wish] he was eligible for the first game. I'll tell you what: That guy is really a good, good football player. He's big, he's fast, smart and been great in the classroom. You talk about a guy coming over from another team catching on – Day One he walked out there and kind of knew what was going on just from sitting in the classroom taking notes and getting back in the playbook and seeing what we have. He's an impressive guy."
How important is it for this defense to get its swagger back? Is it important to you to get that confidence back out there on the field? (Dave Ginsburg)"Absolutely. We've made no bones about it and you don't have to say that we didn't have it, [because] we didn't feel like … We were the ones who didn't think we had it as much as we need to have it. I'm not saying that we're bad, because we weren't bad. But the fact of it is we have to be dominant, and that's what we're trying to do now, is be a dominant defense – get back to where we belong up there in that Top 5 or Top 3 and have people fear coming in here and playing us. I don't know that we had that last year at times. At times we did; at times we didn't. Well, we have to quit saying, 'Times we didn't.' We have to have it all the time. That's what we're trying to develop, and that's what we're trying to get done."
How exciting is it going to be to see all that work pay off in the first preseason game? (Adam Vorce)"I'll tell you after the first preseason game. It'll be great playing San Francisco. [We're] playing a really great football team. I just want us to go out there and play hard, and I want to see us play with some reckless abandon and just get after people and knock them around. I know there will be mistakes in the first preseason game, and there always are. But I want to see us play hard and just be a violent defense. That's what we're looking for."