FRIDAY PODIUM AVAILABILITY: Week 11 AT CHICAGO BEARS
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "I appreciate you guys being here. We had a good practice. [We're in] good spirits, and we're looking forward to playing on Sunday. What questions do you have?"
We saw QB Lamar Jackson out there. Is everything good to go with QB Lamar Jackson now for Sunday? (Jamison Hensley) "He was out there practicing today, and he looked good. So, I think he's feeling a lot better."
It's been a few weeks for DT Brandon Williams. How is he progressing? (Luke Jones) "I really don't have any updates on Brandon Williams, or any light to shed on it, other than the fact that we'll see how he feels next week."
I know we've asked you this before, but is it harder to finetune your offense when you're missing QB Lamar Jackson for multiple days in a given week and you're missing other key guys like WR Rashod Bateman and WR Marquise Brown for a couple days? (Childs Walker) "Sure, sure. It's not ideal. You're better having those guys out there practicing. Practice is very important – that's how you get good at what you're doing. That's how you get things oiled up, so it's a factor."
It looks like the weather out there … Anytime it rains in Chicago, it's bad weather, it seems like. Are you preparing for weather to be a factor, or rain, or anything like that? (Jamison Hensley) "We're expecting right now, I think, low 40s [and] 20 to 30 mile per hour winds. That's kind of what we're expecting. So, we had a perfect day today for it, and that was good for us. I'm glad we got the day we did today at practice."
That's still better than the last time you were there, though? (Luke Jones) "Oh man, that was something. Tornados, I think it hit a neighborhood and destroyed a neighborhood. They had to clear the stadium out. Remember when they took the tarp off the field? They dropped all the water on the field. Remember that?" (Reporter: "They told us in the press box to go into the stairwells. The sky was unbelievable.") "Yes, remember we tried to snap the ball, and the ball got stuck in the mud and didn't get snapped? I remember. I remember. I remember well." (laughter)
OL Patrick Mekari is back practicing, T Cedric Ogbuehi has been here for a while and G/T Tyre Phillips has been healthy now for several weeks. Do you feel like you're starting to get some options now along the offensive line where you can do different things and take advantage of the flexibility and versatility there? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes, we have more options, for sure. Guys are practicing hard. Patrick [Mekari] practiced, and Tyre [Phillips] has been moving around [to] different spots and continues to improve. Tyre is a very young player. He didn't play a lot in high school and college. He doesn't have a lot of reps under his belt, but he's very smart. He's very determined. He wants to be good. [He's] very talented. So, the more reps he gets, the better he's going to be. So, that's really valuable. When guys miss, whether it's guys like Tyre, or the Ben Cleveland's, or those young guys, when you miss three, four, [or] five weeks, or you miss a lot of training camp, it's hard to get those back. So, being out there and practicing, getting time on task, especially for offensive linemen, because you see things in real life. The game moves fast, and the more you see, the more you learn to anticipate, and you're not a step behind movement and things like that. I think that's what guys like that are learning right now. So, the more Tyre can practice, or Ben [Cleveland] can practice, or any of those young guys, it's really important."
QB Lamar Jackson
On how he's feeling:"Way better than I was a couple of days ago. I'm feeling great. I'm feeling great."
On what was wrong:"I probably had like a cold or something. I'm good now, though."
On if it feels strange to him that fans on social media show concern when he gets sick:"They're showing concern. I appreciate that. The fans are showing concern for their QB. I love that. I love that."
On why he's missed a few practices with illness this season:"I don't know. It was probably the weather change, though. That probably did that to me. So, I'm good though, because usually I don't get sick, for real. I don't get sick, for real. I used to eat my Flintstone's vitamins when I was a little kid, so my immune system should be good." (laughter)
On how much more challenging it is to get ready for a game after missing a few practices:"I try to stay into it – reaching out to coaches, coaches reaching out to me about what's going on. It's just the chemistry [of] being with my guys. Just hitting them outside the numbers, throwing the ball to them and stuff like that, getting the ball downfield. Just keeping our chemistry going – that's probably it."
On if he's playing on Sunday:"Yes, if coach lets me play, I'm playing. Yes." (laughter)
On how much it motivates him to perform well against schemes he previously struggled with and might see again, because teams might use a similar formula:"We've got great coaches. Things happen. They caught us off guard. Things didn't work how we wanted to work during the game. Coach has got a different gameplan – that's why they're our coaches – and we're not worried about it. We're going to go out there, we're going to play football, and if we see them again, it'll be different."
On his message to the team after a tough loss:"We've got to move on. We've got to move on. There's a lot of season left to play, and each game is a playoff game to us right now. We want to win it all, we want to win every game, and it starts with the Chicago Bears. We've got to go in there – because those guys are hungry as well – and we've got to play football. That's it."
On his weekend at Louisville:"It was awesome, tremendous. I loved every bit of it. Shoutout to [vice president for intercollegiate athletics/director of athletics] Mr. Vince [Tyra] and those guys, the whole staff. Without them, I don't know if it would have been retired. But man, it was definitely dope. I got to see some of my former teammates – Jaylen [Smith], 'Gi-Gi' [Reggie Bonnafon], Khane Pass, Keith Towbridge. I saw a few guys. It was definitely a lot of love, and I'm blushing already, thinking about it again. It was dope, man. I'm just thankful for the jersey retirement, the love the fans showed, the whole university, man. I wish more students would come out of high school and go to Louisville, for sure."
On his emotions during the video tribute at Louisville:"You're not the only person that told me that. I wasn't crying, man. It was man tears. They were in there, but they were just stuck, like glue." (laughter)
On catching up after missing a few practices and if he feels less prepared:"I definitely feel less prepared, because I want to be out there with my guys. I know I'm behind, because those guys, they're still on the field, doing what they're supposed to do, getting better each and every day. So, I'm probably like 2% behind them right now. I've got to catch up. It'll be good though, because I've got a great group of guys working with me."
On if it was more him missing throws or the Miami defense playing well last Thursday:"A little bit of both. We had opportunities. We had a lot of opportunities, and they played great defense. [It was] NFL football."
On if he hopes other teams try to blitz him:"Oh, for sure, for sure. Coaches got right, we got right. We all joined in, and we're going to make something happen. [If] we see cover zero again, we'll have an answer, for sure."
On how he tries to hit a big play against cover zero:"It's a little bit of everything. It's dependent on where the extra guy is blitzing from, what side he's coming on, what routes you've got designed [and] open on that play when they call that cover-zero blitz – things like that. Sometimes, you can hold the ball, or you might have a guy running a post [route]; you can throw that deep and let him make a play on the ball. But it's a little bit of everything with that."
On what it's like to play under head coach John Harbaugh:"It's good. Everyone should want to come play for [head coach] John Harbaugh – they better. (laughter) That's a dope coach. [He's] one of the best coaches [and] going to be a Hall of Fame coach – that's how I feel. He wants to win, and like I always say, I want to play for a coach that wants to win. He's competitive with everything he does, and that's what I want to be when I'm at that age – I'm going to be competitive." (laughter)
On if the offense tried a bunch of different things on Thursday and it just came down to not executing:"We were doing things. They played great defense, and like I said, we missed opportunities out there on the field. I don't really care what the naysayers say. We're trying to win, regardless, because we're out there playing. Coach [offensive coordinator Greg Roman] is calling the plays, and we're out there playing. We make stuff happen."