*RAVENS AUG. 28 PODIUM TRANSCRIPTS
Head Coach John Harbaugh, OLB Tyus Bowser & G/C Matt Skura
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "Good seeing everybody; I appreciate you being here. We had a good practice – guys were very enthusiastic, working hard and trying to just have the best day we can have today."
You've been here 10 years now. Do you ever get in the routine or rhythm of expecting undrafted rookies to pop up and threaten for roster spots? (Jamison Hensley) "I guess you probably do – you're hopeful. If you look around the league, I think two to four guys make it on every team, every year. So, we're not the only team that has undrafted rookies make it. It's very valuable for you, but it always has to be based on who the best players are. They have to be good enough, they have to be in your 53- [man roster], and they have to beat somebody out to do it. We have some guys competing to do that right now."
**This year has been unique for you because in the preseason, there have been a lot of injuries. So, when you hit Sept. 10 and have the first-team offense running, are you looking forward to seeing how that gels? Has it been a weird sort of circumstance for you given the preseason without some of your key players? *(David Ginsburg) *"We are looking forward to putting it all together and seeing all of our guys out there. We've been missing guys pretty much all the way through. A lot of teams have, if you look at who's played, and that sort of thing. But, probably offensively, we have more than most years. Yes, I'm looking forward to that – can't wait. Guys are working hard. It's been a little bit here and there with different guys out there, but they've all been out there at one time or another – besides Joe [Flacco]. And Joe was out there in the offseason. We'll see what it is when we get out there. I think we're going to be really good. I'm looking forward to it. We'll be rolling here next week."
Talking about the importance of the fourth preseason game, I don't know how much you remember about this a year ago, but DT Michael Pierce had that huge play in the fourth preseason game last year. Do you think he would have made the roster even without that play, or did that play really cement it for you guys? (Ryan Mink)"I don't know – that was a hundred years ago. I have no recollection of that whatsoever. I do remember the play, but I don't remember what the thought process was to how close he was to making it. He was having a good camp. You don't make a team on one play. He had a great camp, he had other good preseason games, and he just continued to play well in the New Orleans game. If you want to prove you can do it, you can't do it once. You have to continue to do it, practice-in and practice-out, game-in and game-out, to make a team, especially if you're an undrafted guy or even a late draft pick."
Does WR/RS Keenan Reynolds need to show you more as a receiver in the preseason games to make the roster, or do you try to take everything into account?* (Jamison Hensley)*"You definitely take the body of work in practice and everything else, as you put it, into account. It's never just the game. Games are important, practices are important, how he understands the offense in the meeting room – that's important. All those things matter. That's no different for Keenan or any other player here. He's in a fight, just like a lot of guys are. He's competing like crazy; he's right in the mix. He's done a really good job. He's improved tremendously, and he's in the mix. So, you're just going to have to see how it shakes out. There are some undetermined spots right now. A lot of it is going to come down to this week and this game for some of those spots."
You said after Saturday's game that you wanted to look at the film to see the offensive line. So now that you've looked at the film, what did you think of it? (David Ginsburg)"I thought they played well. We had good moments, and we had not good moments. They played well. We just have to keep improving and get ready for Cincinnati."
Specifically, what have you seen from T Austin Howard now that you've seen him in a couple preseason games? (Luke Jones)"I've seen a couple preseason games and practice, and he's improving and getting better, getting himself in shape. He's a guy that didn't have any real offseason. So, he's coming from further back, obviously. He's working himself into football shape, and he has done a good job. He's much better this last week in this last game than he was the first week when he was just coming from nowhere – as far as work from football stuff. He's doing well. I'm really excited about him. I think he's going to be a really good player for us."
**For those players who don't have that offseason, how do you gauge their progress so that they're Week 1 ready? *(Jacob Bogage) *"For any player, you just look at how they play, then you determine where they're at. Then you can say, 'OK, here is why this player is wherever he is at.' For a guy like Austin [Howard], and some other guys that haven't had the offseason, you have to understand that they're coming from behind a little bit, in terms of those reps. But, he's played well. I have no problem with the way he's played; he's played well. He's very physical, has done a good job at pass protection, and he's only going to get better from what you see right now. It's all positive."
How about G/C Jeremy Zuttah? Did he play well in his debut? (David Ginsburg)"Yes. I'm not going to really get into every single guy. But yes, Jeremy played well. Nobody played poorly. He played well, graded out well, and Jeremy knows what he's doing. He plays very hard, he's in the right spot, and he picks the offense up really quickly. I really don't have any concerns about Jeremy."
What's been your impression of DB Otha Foster during training camp? (Ryan Mink)"Hard player. [He] played his best game this last game – quick as he's ever reacted to things. It was very physical, ran to the ball really well, and he knew what to do. He's played well and was exceptional on special teams. He's done a good job."
What about rookie OLB Tyus Bowser and his development from a second-round draft pick to progressing over the spring and summer? (Bo Smolka)"Tyus – I really like him as a player and even more as a person. He's a really … Football really matters to Tyus. He really wants to be a good football player. It's all he thinks about. That's why he's going to be good, plus the talent. He's a super talented guy. I would expect a lot from Tyus this year."
Closing statement: "One last thing, about Albert McClellan. He hurt his knee last week; I don't know what day it was. We just weren't sure when he went down. He had an MRI, and he actually did tear his ACL, so Albert will be out for the season. My other comment on that will be: He will be with us next year, and it provides a great opportunity for a couple of these young linebackers who have played well on special teams. So, that's where we're at with that."
OLB Tyus Bowser
Opening statement:"How is it going, everybody? Before I open up for questions, I just wanted to send my prayers out and my support to Houston as a city, Houston University and just everybody out there that is going through the catastrophe that is going on in Houston with Hurricane Harvey. I am praying for everybody and hoping that everybody is safe. Just being out here in Baltimore, my love and support for Houston is always there. I am praying everybody is OK. Stay safe out there. God bless."
On if everybody he cares about in Houston is safe and if he has been in touch with people from there: "Yes, I have just been talking to a couple of teammates out there and a couple of people I went to school with. They just got back to school, so a lot of them are in the middle of it. I have been contacting them and just checking on them to make sure that they are safe and that they have shelter. I have been making sure that everything is OK going through the storm and stuff. I have been talking to a couple of people, and they have said that they are OK and they have been in safety. That is the positive thing about it."
On what goes through his mind when he sees the pictures and videos of the hurricane: "It is kind of mind-blowing, just to see how it is now. Just being through school these last couple years, I know we had came through a couple rainstorms, and it has flooded a little bit. Of course, the highways [have flooded] and the streets have flooded, but nothing compares to how it is now. Just seeing how it is out there, it is mind-blowing to see what the city of Houston is going through. But, I know God has a reason for everything, and I know everything is going to be alright."
On where he feels he has made the biggest strides since the moment he was drafted:"Communicating with my teammates and engaging with them and asking them for help. Being a rookie, it is my first year here in the NFL, and you have to get some type of insight on different things and different aspects and how to play the game and what to watch out for – different schemes, skills, all types of stuff. Just going to my teammates and them giving me the knowledge needed to go out there and play my best – that has probably been the most important thing out here, as far as in practice and also in the games to perform at my best."
On which teammates have been particularly influential on him:"I would say Terrell Suggs and [former Ravens OLB] Jarret Johnson. I know [Johnson] has been out there a lot teaching me, as far as taking on blocks and learning how to shed them and get past them and stuff. That has been real huge for me, especially with coach 'Wink' [Don Martindale] needing us to hold down the edge. Pass rushing and dropping back in coverage comes along with it, but the No. 1 thing that coach 'Wink' wants us to do is to hold down the edge, so he has been a huge support in that along with everybody else that has been helping me out."
On how much he looks forward to getting a lot of game action on Thursday against New Orleans: "It feels great. Just the opportunity to be on the field wearing a Ravens jersey – that is always awesome. The opportunity to play against New Orleans and [with] guys I have always looked up to and being on the same field with them and continuing to prove myself every day and prove that I can make this roster and be a part of this team and be a huge aspect [of this team] is always very important. Just getting another opportunity to be on the field [is great], because you never know when your chance is done or when that opportunity is over. So, I take every chance and every opportunity that I have to go out there and play hard and do my best."
On how different his responsibilities are at his position with the Ravens compared to in college:"It is kind of the same; it is just in college I was on the weak side. Moving to the strong side and being a little more vocal as far as my communication out there to the defensive line and to the linebackers – that is just a little bit different that I have to get used to. All my coaches and teammates have been helping me out really well, especially Matt Judon. We will play the same position, so he has been helping me out, as far as the plays and knowing what I need to do to put my defensive line and everyone else in the defense in the right position."
On if he feels that the identity of the Ravens has been built around the defense and particularly the linebacker position: "Absolutely. This is a defense that takes pride in it and wants to go out there and prove to the NFL that we are the best defense in the league. We just go out there and we go on film and we go to practice and we take advantage of the moment to go out there and be our best and just to work on our craft and continue to help each other build as a defense to go out there and be our best on the game field."
On how tough it is to lose LB Albert McClellan to injury: "It is huge – the depth for us, him being out there and helping the linebacker corps and with special teams. [He is] a big special teams guy that has been helping me out with special teams and teaching me the ropes with everything. Just to see him out is heartbreaking. I hate to see that happen to anybody; I don't care who it is. Just to see somebody work so hard and dedicate so much time and energy in this program and then to go out with an individual injury – that is tough to see. But, I am always praying for him and hoping the best and a speedy recovery. As far as what he is doing to contribute outside of it, he has still been in meetings, still has been out there teaching us and continuing to help us out. Whenever we do anything wrong or make a mistake, he is out there helping us out in each and every way, so that is good."
C Matt Skura
On how valuable it is to get multiple reps at different positions: "It's been an awesome experience for me. Coming in, I knew to make this team I wasn't going to have to just play center. I knew I was going to have to play guard. Being able to play all three of these preseason games so far, all three in different positions, it's been a great experience for me. I've been able to work on my craft at different positions and see what I need to improve. Especially when you're getting to go against the starters, against the other teams, it's great. You get to learn a lot about yourself as a player, and you see the offense and defense differently. It's just been a great learning experience."
On the challenge of changing positions frequently: "Sometimes it gets difficult, just because on the pulling plays you just have to know. Normally if I was a left guard, I would have to do something different at right guard, but once you get one or two plays in, then you're good to go. Now, I've been doing it for so long for this camp that it's been pretty natural. Right now, it doesn't really affect me at all."
On if he looks to G/T James Hurst for advice: "He's been a great guy, because he and I play next to each other a lot of times when I'm on the left side of the line. He is someone that I can count on. We both like to communicate a lot on the offensive line. He's helped me out. If I have any questions during practice about reading my linebackers or reading the defensive line, he's always there to answer my questions. He's definitely been a great resource."
On how he balances positional changes and offensive cohesiveness: "That's the biggest thing: building chemistry among the offensive line. I think you just have to go out there and everyone has to give it their best effort to make it work. Honestly, we've been moving guys around so much since OTAs that we're used to it at this point. All the guys feel comfortable with each other, whether I'm at right guard, center or left guard. It's been a pretty easy transition up to this point, and I think all the guys – even in the game – are used to going against each other."
On how he approaches the fourth preseason game:"I feel like I have to prove myself one more time. I have a bunch of family members asking me what is going on, and I tell myself, 'Never put the cart in front of the horse.' I can't get ahead of myself, because you just do not know week to week what is going to happen. Coach Harbaugh always talks about finishing, and this is the last game, and we have to finish. We want to win, and we want to become 4-0 in the preseason. I think that is a huge deal to gaining some momentum into the regular season. For me, I am just taking it like I did the other three games. I am preparing just as hard as I did those games, and I want to go out there and give it my best."
On how he feels about the progress of the running game: "I think we are feeling really good right now. We really like the schemes that [senior offensive assistant/tight ends coach] Greg Roman has put in. We really like all of the different pulls and all of the different reads that we are doing with the quarterbacks. I think it has really been improving week to week. We feel more comfortable with the offense. We feel more comfortable with the checks that the quarterbacks give us, and I think it has been showing up. Each game we are feeling more comfortable, younger guys are feeling more comfortable, and you see late in the game that we are starting to gain momentum and win those in the fourth quarter."
On if he has had enough time with QB Joe Flacco and how the team will transition to working with Flacco:"I think a lot of guys have had enough experience with Joe over the last few years through OTAs this year that we kind of know what to expect when Joe comes onto the field. Ryan [Mallett] and Josh [Woodrum] and Thad [Lewis] have all been doing a really good job at making everything as cohesive as possible, and I think it is going to be a pretty smooth transition when Joe comes into the game. I think everybody is ready for him to come back."