MONDAY PODIUM AVAILABILITY: WEEK 10 AT MIAMI DOLPHINS
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "Alright, [it's] good to see everybody. I appreciate you being here. I'm sorry for the late hour. We're on our way working on Miami, and we're looking forward to the game. What questions do you have?"
As far as QB Tua Tagovailoa, it seems he was limited today. They're not really giving that much explanation whether he's playing or not. Does that affect your preparation at all? (Jamison Hensley) "We just don't know, so we're prepared for their offense. When you watch them and watch the tape, they run their offense, but it's a little different variation with the two quarterbacks. They emphasize different types of plays, more with one or the other. So, we just have to be ready for all the options."
We've seen DB Brandon Stephens play quite a bit, including filling in for S DeShon Elliott earlier in the year. How is he progressing? How prepared do you feel he is now to step into what's going to be a bigger role? (Luke Jones) "Yes, I think he's going to be very prepared, and he has to be. He's going to be stepping into that bigger role, and it won't be just him. There are other guys that will be a part of that, too. Jimmy [Smith] has been playing safety and Geno [Stone]. Anthony Levine [Sr.] has played a lot of football here. So, all of those guys will be taking parts of all that process there. We brought Jordan [Richards] back, and Jordan is always in the mix. So, it will be a group effort."
You made a point of complimenting the running backs yesterday. With RB Le'Veon Bell in particular, do you feel like there's been sort of a mutual learning process since he's been here where you guys have sort of figured out how he can help you and he's sort of figured out how he can help you? (Childs Walker) "Yes, I think he's very confident. I talk to him a lot. He's confident in the plays. I think he's excited about the offense. When he first came here, he was excited about the offense. He felt like he could fit in really well. So, he was hitting those holes, man. Just talking to him this week, he knew he would. He told me that. He goes, 'I'm ready to go.' So, you get in games, and you go have guys play. These guys are pros. He knows how to carry the ball. When we were in situations [where] we needed yards, he got them for us. It was good to see."
TE Nick Boyle, how has he been practicing? Do you think he'll be ready for Thursday? (Todd Karpovich) "He's been practicing well. I think he will be ready for Thursday. We'll just have to see where we go with all of that stuff. So, he's in the mix."
As far as RB Le'Veon Bell, I know you've had a lot of other players come through, but he's one of those players you went against for so many years. Early on when he first came here, did it feel a little strange because this was a guy you had prepared against twice a year for so many years? (Jamison Hensley) "Oh, him and Alejandro [Villanueva] both when they both got here. You would think, but it really hasn't been. When they get here, they're Ravens. They're into it. They're part of the team. These guys are, like I said, pros. I think they're enjoying being here, and we're enjoying having them. They're playing good football."
The Vikings yesterday, the common factor amongst the defense, at least, was that you guys wore them down in the second half. Having that identity, is that something that gives you the ability to be a little more patient when the game doesn't start your way, knowing that you want to wear teams down to hopefully win in the second half? (Cordell Woodland) "Yes, I think that's a good point. We did stay patient. Even though we were behind, I felt we did a good job of staying patient. It helped us to get that touchdown at the end of the half, because we felt like that was really part of the plan – to try to keep them on the field. If we could keep them on the field, we thought we'd have more and more success as we went, and it turned out that way."
The Vikings added a couple more players to their COVID/Reserve list today – practice squad players. Was there any concern? Did you express any concern? Because it seemed like their numbers were elevated and they were having a lot more increased positive tests as the game got closer to you? (Jamison Hensley) "We were watching it, because we went through it last year. But with people being vaccinated, you have to believe it's not going to be potentially as crazy as it was last year, like in our situation. So, we didn't give it too much thought, really."
QB Lamar Jackson is obviously focused on Thursday's game, but on Friday, Louisville is going to honor him and retire his number there. Seven years ago, you had the honor of being honored by Miami of Ohio in the Cradle of Coaches. Having put yourself in his position where something you have done will endure, what do you think that kind of moment is going to be like for him? (Jonas Shaffer) "I think it's going to be really meaningful for him. We were joking about it – you have to be a really good player to get your jersey retired. So, they're still wearing No. 8 at Miami of Ohio, right? (laughter) But they're not wearing No. 8 at Louisville. So, there you go – that's the difference. But we both wore No. 8. (laughter) He's just a great guy and such a humble guy. He was really surprised by it, wasn't he? When you guys saw it? It was really cool to see. So, congratulations to him and to Louisville for believing in him. That's neat. I'm happy for him."
I know you always try to pace yourself on the short week as much as possible, not doing as much as you would during a normal week. With the high number, especially on offensive snaps, do you try to even decrease as much even more? I don't know if you can, but does that even factor into anything? (Jamison Hensley) "We had chairs out for the early walk-through, I can tell you that. So, guys were sitting behind the early walk-through. Normally, we make them stand. So, that was our one concession today." (Reporter: "I think one guy was on a medicine ball.") (laughter) "You're right. You're right."
CB Jimmy Smith only played one defensive snap yesterday. Was that just a factor of matchups? Do you expect him to have a bigger role in games down the line? (Childs Walker) "I always expect him to play more than that. I think it just kind of worked out that way with the personnel groups that we ended up calling based on what they were putting on the field. So, that would be a good question for 'Wink' [defensive coordinator Don Martindale] when he comes up here. But we always plan on him playing more than that, so we'll see where it goes."
How pleased were you to see the yards after catch for the wide receivers yesterday? WR Marquise Brown had a ton of them. It just seemed like that was something that that group kind of showed a lot of yesterday. (Ryan Mink) "[That was a] really big deal. We've been talking a lot about it. Those guys are determined to catch and get up field and make the most of their opportunities to gain yards. I think we're getting better and better at that every week."
DE Calais Campbell
On playing in Miami, Florida, where he attended college:"I've played a lot of good games in Miami back in the college days – that was a lot of fun – and I've played there as an opponent in the NFL a few times, too. Any time you play in the NFL, it's a great place to play football, no matter where you're at, but when you play in places that you have some history, some friends, it adds a little extra. It makes it a little more special."
On playing on a short turnaround:"Yes, it's tough, but that's the nature of the business. We know we're going to have to do it. You prepare for it and just go through the whole process, and we'll try to be at our best on a short week – take care of our bodies and all of that. But you definitely wish the offense didn't have to do that many plays going into a short week, but at the end of the day, we have to do what we have to do to get a win. And coming back on a short week, going on the road, it's going to be another tough challenge, but I'm confident in my guys. I think we're going to be well prepared, and we'll do everything we need to to take care of our bodies, and we'll be fine."
On getting a key stop on defense in overtime:"Yes, it felt good to come through and make a big play. I felt like we had our opportunities earlier in the game, and obviously, we could be playing better. But at the same time, we feel like we did enough to get the win, and it's something we can build off of going forward. In this business, any time you get a win in overtime, a tough ball game, you come back from behind and find a way to make the plays to get a win, you're going to celebrate that, you're going to feel really good about it. I think it's something that we can use going forward to kind of build on. It's something that can give us momentum so we can hopefully go out here and put together another winning effort. It's tough to win in this league. But we're sitting at 6-2, and the No. 1 goal, as [head] coach [John Harbaugh] always tells us at the beginning of the year, is try to get to plus-five [wins] as fast as possible. So, we have an opportunity this week to get to plus-five for a second time, and hopefully we can get it done this time."
On if playing so well on third down and in the red zone adds to the frustration when the defense struggles:"Yes, well, we know how good we can be, and we have glimpses of it. We play excellent football the majority of the time, and then we just have those let-downs here and there. But in the game of football, you learn – when you've played as long as I have – that you can put together good streaks, and it's hard to put together a full 16-, 17-game streak. So, the good thing is, is that even though [in] these last eight games, we haven't played as good as we could play, we know that we're capable of playing at that higher level, and there's no time better than the present to get into that space we want to be in. So, for me, I feel like this is a good opportunity this week, Thursday Night Football, to go out there and play [with] a really good defensive effort, good team effort and get rolling. If we could put together a little streak here, stack wins, I feel like we can definitely put us in position to be where we want to be."
On the loss of S DeShon Elliott:"Yes, it seems like we're always dealing with something. He [DeShon Elliott] is one of those guys who brings a lot of passion, a lot of energy into the defense. He plays the game the way that you want your safety to play the game. He has a lot of heart, a big heart, and he's a guy who can do a lot of stuff, from coverage in the box and tackling and just being a playmaker. And so, that's going to definitely be something that we feel, but we have guys in this building that we believe in. They're going to have to step up and make plays, and it's just another opportunity for somebody to step in there and earn the right to be a 'Raven,' get on the field and help us win ball games."
On the expectations for the interior pass rush over the second half of this season:"I think we're going to get it rolling. I think a lot of it will be just playing better earlier in ball games and getting leads, too. Just the way the games have gone, we've definitely missed out on some opportunities just from not playing great ball early on, especially stopping the run and all that good stuff. But I do think that we're in prime position to really take-off and start making some big-time plays. Sacks and turnovers are two things I really feel like we can improve on, on defense, with the guys we have, and I feel like it's going to come soon. We've just got to stay the course, keep working, keep 'chopping wood,' and those big plays are there for us."
On what stands out to him about CB Tavon Young:"Boy, I'll tell you, he's a competitor. He has a lot of heart, and he brings just a poise to the defense. He's been through a lot in his career. When you talk to him, you know that he's a passionate guy and loves the game of football. I think when you go through a process when you miss time like that, it just makes you appreciate the game and each opportunity you get to play the game. So, he keeps us in the moment and just taking it one play at a time, which I feel like is the best winning formula you can have – is just being locked-in and embracing that one moment that we get each play."
WR Rashod Bateman
On the advice the veterans have been giving him about the quick turnaround:"Really just take care of your body, get as much rest as you need. It's a quick turnaround, and really that's it, that's all you can do, that's all you can say. The coaches are taking care of us day-by-day, so we've just got to stay locked-in [and] take care of our bodies."
On how encouraged he's been with his own performances so far:"I think I've impressed myself a little bit. It's my third game out, I'm getting more comfortable in the offense, getting more comfortable playing in the NFL. So, right now, I'm just having fun [and] staying locked-in."
On how he caught the one-handed six-yarder late in the game:"It just happens like that sometimes. Then, I got tackled, I was down, and then we just went from there. But the tough catches come when you're not really expecting it, and I definitely wasn't expecting it that time. So, we just made it do what it do."
On what he enjoys about WR Marquise Brown's style of play:"Really everybody, and just Marquise [Brown], his energy. He definitely leads the group. He brings that swag. He brings the energy. He really gets us going. I think we all can see that once Marquise gets going, definitely, the whole offense is going. So, I definitely look forward to playing with him in the future, too."
On he and QB Lamar Jackson's having chemistry this early on:"It's definitely cool to see, but the times that we were out there, we made sure that we were connecting. If it didn't work, we ran the route again; we ran it back to make sure we got that feel of a completion. I think little things like that have definitely helped us in the long run, and we're going to continue to do those things to make sure that we get comfortable."
On his first 11 receptions converting first downs, and how moving the chains has been a priority for him:"Not just for me – for anybody – you've got to get first downs to score touchdowns, so that's big. I'm excited that I'm able to contribute and help the team the best way possible. So, if I'm a first-down guy, then I guess I'll take that role."
On what has impressed him the most about QB Lamar Jackson:"I would definitely say his football I.Q. Being at this level, your football I.Q. has to be very high to compete and to be successful at this level. And [when] he comes back to the sideline, he talks to us. Even at practice, he just sees things in a whole different way that we don't see, and it helps us, because we don't see what he sees at all, and he doesn't see what we see. So, being able to communicate that with him and get that feedback, it definitely helps us a lot."
On embracing the 'Batman' mantra:"Well, honestly, I didn't embrace it until I got here. People have tried to make it work, but they didn't really make it work. But when I got here, Baltimore really put it on, so I kind of embraced it and took it on. Especially around Halloween, it really took a jump, so I have fun with it." (laughter)
On if he remembers the last time he was in a hostile road environment:"I was in college – I know that. But a road game is just like any other game; you've just got to make sure you prepare, go in and attack every down just like it's your last. So, we've just got to go in and do that, and I think we should be good."
On how eager he is for his first NFL touchdown:"I'm ready. (laughter) I'm ready. I feel it coming. Hopefully it's coming soon."
On if he has a celebration in mind for his first NFL touchdown:"I do want to give a ball to my mom, but that depends on where we play."
On if he's itching for a breakout game and if he feels that inside going into this week:"I feel that every week. It's just only a matter of, is it going to happen? So, hopefully it does soon."
On the importance of getting off to a faster start as an offense:"That's always the best idea – come out [with] a fast start. You want to play fast the whole game, you want to accelerate in the middle, [and] you want to finish strong. You want to do all those things necessary to make sure you get that jump. But as a group, we do feel like we need to come out fast, [and] we're going to do everything that we can to do that."