BALTIMORE RAVENS POST-PRACTICE TRANSCRIPTS
Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg
Jerry, with changing kickers, could I just get your thoughts on what went into the decision and Justin Tucker as a kicker? (Aaron Wilson)"What went into the decision is the same thing that goes into virtually every decision that drives our team, and that is that the best players play. And then you try to figure out who the best players are, and that's what this is all about. We are out here every day competing at all these positions. Justin simply won the job. We look forward to having him kick for us, because we think he can be a good kicker for us, not only this year, but for many years to come. He has a strong leg. Technically, he has changed the way he kicks since he arrived, and I give him a lot of credit for that, because there are some guys that really can't adjust. We saw the talent in him. We just weren't sure if he was going to be able to kick a different way that would allow him to kick in this league. To his credit, he has listened and learned, and he has adapted very quickly. We are very confident in him."
Jerry, were you surprised at how quickly Billy Cundiff caught on with another team [the Washington Redskins]? (Jerry Coleman)"No, not at all. If it could have happened any quicker, it would have, but it couldn't possibly have happened any quicker. I have so much respect for Billy as a player, but also as a man, as a father, as a husband, a citizen and a teammate. This business that we are all in as coaches and players, this is very much a relationship business. There are a lot of people in this building – that when Billy walked out of our building – really had some sense of loss because he is such a fine man. He is also a fine player. He will do well in his new position – I am confident of that. It just speaks, I think, to the kind of person that Billy is and the way he took it. He understood. He didn't like it, which we wouldn't expect him to – nobody would. But at the same time, he walked out with his head high with his confidence, and I think he is going to have a great year, because he had a great camp. I think we all saw the true Billy Cundiff when things were the worst. He stood up in front of all of you folks and all of this city and all of the nation, to some extent, and took responsibility for what had happened, didn't blame anyone and shouldered the burden in the name of making sure that he set a good example for his children. That's something I'll always remember about Billy Cundiff."
Jerry, in terms of Sam Koch, what kind of progression have you seen each year and what have you seen this year? (Aaron Wilson)"We talked about that before. I think Sam improves every season. What I've seen this year is he is continuing to develop his hangtime. We value that in our punt coverage. I think his target lines have been good. Working on consistent hangtime is the thing that he has been really focusing on during this camp."
Jerry, what have you seen from guys like Asa Jackson and Bobby Rainey, in terms of punt returners? (Ed Lee) "Asa had an electrifying return [vs. Detroit]. Unfortunately, it didn't show up in the scoreboard. There is a certain amount of return ability that we, as coaches, really can't tell them what to do. They can do it or they can't do it. He showed a lot of vision, he showed a lot of cutting ability on that long return he had. I love the fact that he just kept going. He didn't quit on it, and he gave it every opportunity to score, and ultimately he did. So, that's what I've seen a lot from him. Bobby also has shown some explosiveness. I can recall a couple of 15-yard returns that I really liked because he got vertical after he caught the ball and didn't mess around. Fifteen yards is 15 yards. They are both young. They both have a lot of learning to do. They have experience that's going to help them do that, and hopefully, we'll get them both some opportunities this Thursday night."
Jerry, are you comfortable with having a rookie back there? Or would you prefer to go with someone like Jacoby Jones (Ed Lee)"I'll be comfortable Thursday night. *(laughing) *Whether I'll be comfortable in the first game of the season remains to be seen. We have Jacoby. We know that Jacoby can return. He has had a really good preseason. He likes what we're doing with him. As of right now, he and 'Webby' [Lardarius Webb] are our leading punt returners, and he [Jones] is our leading kickoff returner at the present time, and we have others that are working in competition with him. Like we've said all along, a lot of it has to do with the load that he is going to be carrying on our offense. We understand that he is a valuable player on our offense. That's why we got him here. So, it will be shared during the course of the season. We expect that to happen. That's why we're developing other players as we go along."
Jerry do you see any similarities between Justin Tucker and Matt Stover, as far as their technique? (Ryan Mink)"One is a lot older than the other one. *(laughter) *Sorry, Matt. As far as their technique is concerned, there are some similarities. Obviously, Matt, and I think he would be the first to tell you, Matt evolved too from where he started. Some of you that have been here a long time probably recognize, not only as a pro, but his style changed, and when field conditions changed, he kicked differently on the surface in Cleveland than he does here on our surface in Baltimore. I fully expect that if Justin is in the league a long time, he will evolve as well. The thing that both of the them do very well is their ball-striking ability. If you can kind of look at it like golfers talk, ball striking is very important. Hitting a straight ball in the division we play in when you are playing in Cleveland and playing in Pittsburgh in December and you're playing in New England in January, these things are really important. To hit a straight ball and that aspect of kicking is important to us, and they both have that skill."
Jerry, last couple of roster spots … How much do you expect special teams ability to factor into those last couple of decisions? (Aaron Wilson)"I think it's always the case in any team where you get to the point where you are picking your final 53 [-man roster] and you're not necessarily picking your starters, then special teams must always factor in that, because you want to be strong up and down your lineup."
Any personality similarities [between Tucker and Stover]? (Ryan Mink)"They are both their own man, honestly. I met and worked with Matt when he was at a completely different stage of life than I have with Justin. Justin is just coming out of college, and Matt was a family man and married for a long time and a community leader and all of the things that Matt does. That would be a lot easier question to ask 20 years down the road. But, they are both really good men. They are really good, Christian men. They value their friends, they value their family, they value their teammates. In that regards, certainly, there are similarities, but they are two very different guys because we are all different. It's just the nature of humans, I guess."
Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron
**With the way that Joe [Flacco] has been playing and the receivers, are you more excited about the offensive at this point than you were last year? *(Kevin Cowherd) *"I don't know that I'm more excited. I wouldn't phrase it that way, but I would say that I'm excited about this offense and what we're doing. Again, it's a preseason game. [There are] a lot of areas we can improve in; you guys know that. There are areas protection-wise, route-wise. Joe … I thought Joe's comments after the game were really spoton. Yeah, it's a preseason game; we can get better. We know what the expectation is. We know what we are capable of doing, and I'd like to think that the other night was just a glimpse of what you are going to see here heading through the season."
Do you sense that they are more excited about the use of the no-huddle this year? *(Kevin Cowherd) *"You know, you'd have to ask those guys. You'd like to think that they're kind of excited. Going into last season, I think our guys were pretty fired up going into that opener and played well in that opener. We need to be excited. I think whether we need to be more excited, I don't know. But, we need to be excited about what we're doing, what our team is about, our opening game, Monday Night Football. Now, we still have a lot of areas we can improve on prior to that, but heck yeah. Are we more excited? I don't know, but we are excited."
With Marshal [Yanda], do you fully expect him to be ready for the first game? (Aaron Wilson) "Absolutely. Until I'm told differently, we'll be ready for Marshal to play."
Cam, just your impressions of Bobby Rainey so far throughout camp and preseason… (Ryan Mink) "Just what've you seen – good stuff. Obviously, an outstanding receiver; obviously, he has great quickness. Hey, Bobby! They are asking about you. (Comments directed to nearby Rainey.) *What should I tell them about when you took yourself out of the game? Should I tell them anything? Nothing, never mind, I didn't ask you. I'm just kidding. *(laughing) He's really doing a nice job. He's really a smart football player. Usually, the toughest thing for a young running back is pass protection, and I would say that might be the best thing he is doing. Maybe people wouldn't notice; you guys probably would. But maybe some people wouldn't notice the job he's done in pass protection, because he's not a little guy. He's stout. He's not the tallest guy, but he's really stepped in and did a great job in pass protection the other night, which is really critical for a young player to play in his first year."
And when you're talking about keeping a backup running back, he's measurable to the same size as Ray Rice, height and weight. Do you look for a different kind of size, or does it not matter? (Ryan Mink) "A good player is a good player, and as we know, he has a long way to go. He's doing a nice job. Great players – good players – come in all shapes and sizes. I don't know what the measurable is for a running back anymore. How do you measure a guy's heart? How do you measure a guy's mind? You measure Ray's [Rice] mind, you measure his heart. You don't even think about what his height is. And, this kid may be the same way."
It's all about finding out who is going to make this team and everything, but in regards to the first-teamers and Joe [Flacco], just a series, maybe, typical fourth preseason game, or not at all? (Jerry Coleman) "We are going to meet on that tonight, and then John [Harbaugh] will comment on that, I'm sure. But we have a meeting tonight at six o'clock. (laughing) You don't believe that? For some reason, you don't believe that. (laughing) I got you, but it's true."
Are there heightened expectations for the offense this year? Do you sense that? (Kevin Cowherd) "We hope so. Every year the expectation is to get better and keep getting better and keep getting better. We know what our goals are offensively, and we know what our team goals are. Expectations are a big part of this business, and I think every guy in this building really thrives on those expectations, so absolutely."
*When did you decide this offseason, collectively, as a coaching unit, to implement more of the no-huddle offense, and did you see it as a natural progression with how Joe [Flacco] has developed over his first four years? (Jason Butt) *"The back end of that question, yeah. I think it is a little bit of a progression, but at the same time, John [Harbaugh] … It was something in the offseason, just as we were about six weeks after the season. The draft was coming up, and we were just talking different things. You're looking at the draft, and then just a lot of conversations we had, and we just said, 'Let's test the limits of the no-huddle and let's see what we can do, where it takes us.' Our entire staff is … Wilbert [Montgomery] had tremendous experience with it in St. Louis. Jim Hostler did it in San Francisco. We did it in San Diego. We have a collective group … Then you get Jim Caldwell who comes in. Wade [Harman] was familiar with it. These college guys today … One of the neat pluses of it, the college guys, most of them come out of a no-huddle system. They are almost looking at you a little sideways when you huddle. They don't know how to huddle anymore. You actually teach the huddle now more than you have ever had to teach it. Huddle and quarterback-center exchange from underneath, you have to teach that, especially quarterback-center exchange more than ever, because guys usually come [from a] shotgun, no-huddle system. A lot of things [were] converging. And obviously, Matt Birk and Joe drive the whole thing. Those guys, I can't imagine guys being much better than those two."
**Does that mean fewer touches for Ray Rice in terms of carries? *(J. Michael) *"No, absolutely not. That has nothing to do with touches for Ray. Ray, we know, is one of our best players, and touches for Ray, whether it … They may come up on different sides of the stat sheet, but the bottom line is he is always a huge part of what we are doing. We are always looking to see how people are defending him to see how we can continue to get him the ball in space. But also, how does that open up everyone else? You have to realize now you have [Ed] Dickson and [Dennis] Pitta, you have 'Q' [Anquan Boldin], you have Jacoby [Jones], you have Torrey [Smith], you have Tandon [Doss]. You have Vonta Leach; you saw what he could do the other night. We have a tremendous advantage to have a fullback that can catch like he can catch. We don't have to bring our fullback off the field to do what we want to do ; you saw that the other night. It's just what we are, what we do, and Ray Rice is a huge part of that."
**My question is about Bobbie Williams: More from a personality standpoint, what has he added to your team, your huddle? And also from a playing standpoint, do you feel like he has some good football left in him? *(Aaron Wilson) *"You've seen over the last few years we've had guys come in here and give us a good year or two. You say 'The Raven characteristics,' or you hear us say, 'Play like a Raven.' This guy plays like a Raven. He's tough. He's smart. He knows this division. He brings toughness and personality to the offensive line room, our offensive room. There's nothing that fazes him. [If] he misses a play or he misses a block, he comes right back. He's like all these great veteran players. Again, they've brought in another guy from outside the organization that has what we're looking for, and he's done an outstanding job."
*Is there any sort of reluctancy in keeping just eight offensive linemen, or is it helpful in the sense that K.O. [Osemele], Jah [Reid], [Gino] Gradkowski can all play multiple spots? *(Matt Zenitz) "The backside of that is we do have young guys that can play multiple spots, and that's the key. These are young guys, but these are big men. You guys see them. It's nice to have big tackles that can play guard and give us some flexibility. Numbers? I've never gotten caught up in the numbers game, because I think every organization … Or, we believe you just keep your best 53. The bottom line is … Now you have to see how you are going to carve out your practice squad. How does your practice squad factor in? Those eight guys are critical. You talk about this game … I think maybe Dean [Pees] alluded to it: This is the biggest game in the careers of a bunch of guys Thursday night. There is a lot on the line for these guys, and I can't wait to watch some of them play. Speaking of that, the offensive linemen, I can't wait to go watch this offensive line play, because this is a big game for these guys."
On looking at the reserves, how important is when deciding on those guys to be versatile and capable in playing different spots? (Matt Zenitz) **"It's the No. 1 thing. To be a backup, you have to be versatile. You have to be a guard that can play tackle, a tackle that can play guard. You better be able to play both guards at least. And, you have to find a guy that can play guard and center, because you need at least three guys that can play center. You have seven linemen active. You have to have three of them that can play center, and a lot of times, knock on wood, I've only gotten to the third center a couple of times. But you have to have a third guy that can get the ball snapped. So, you're spoton for backups. Versatility is the key."
How do you evaluate where K.O. and Gino are right now, and if it came down to it, would they be able to play meaningful roles in Week 1? (Matt Vensel)"No. 1, they are right where they should be because of the way they work and their mental approach. They are still getting better every day, and, absolutely, we are going to need both of those guys to play and play well."
Do you like what you've seen from Kelechi Osemele, in particular, that he was at tackle, he was at guard and just able to kind of fit in and be physical? (Matt Vensel)"I guess the best way I can phrase it to you is we obviously drafted him for a reason. And there [are] obviously some things that we liked. Very seldom do you get two linemen – at least from my view – that are even better than you thought. I thought 'K.O.' was good; I thought Gino [Gradkowski] was good. We watched Gino at guard, we watched him at center, we watched him at the All-Star game. Ae watched 'K.O.' You watch, and you watch, and you watch, and both guys, from my perspective, are even better than I thought they were going to be. I thought they were both going to be really good, so I think that's uncommon, and so obviously, we like the direction those two guys are headed."
What are the factors that go into keeping either two or three quarterbacks, and what have you seen from Curtis Painter? (Garret Downing)"It's back to the roster. It's the top 53, and I think every quarterback – especially today, because more teams are keeping two like we did last year … You want to make a team's roster? Well, if you're a quarterback, you better be one of the top 53. And Curtis, you saw what he's capable of doing. He has been outstanding since the day we worked him out and the day we signed him. He's done everything he can do, so all those decisions will come down here over the next few days. But you saw the Atlanta game, and that's what the guy is capable of doing. I was thrilled for him."
Are there greater expectations for the offense this year? (Kevin Cowherd)"We like that expectations thing. We really do. *(laughter) *No, I'm with you, you're good."
Does that put any more pressure on you or the other coaches? (Kevin Cowherd)"I hope so. I really do. If you don't thrive on that … You talk to the coaches that retire, you talk to the players that retire – that's what they miss. That's what you would miss. I get to do it. I get to actually do it. I'm not behind a microphone on TV talking about it. I love what I do, and what you love about this game is the pressure that comes with it as a coach and as a player. And like I say, I'm just glad I get to deal with that pressure and not have to sit in a studio and talk about it. I get to do it, not talk about it. And for me, it's what I've always dreamed of doing since I was 15 years old. I knew this is what I wanted to do, and after being around my stepfather, I knew what I was getting into. And for me, I've got the best job in the world."
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees
Coach, I guess Omar Brown is going to get extended playing time in this game. How excited are you to kind of see how he does with that opportunity? (Ryan Mink)"Him and a lot of guys. We just talked about this this afternoon. This fourth game, I know a lot of times things are made out of it that certain guys aren't playing or guys are playing a limited time. This is really an important game to the majority of the team, not the minority of the team, because this is a chance for everybody to really show – get extended time playing, playing very competitively. It's going to be on film for everybody to see, and it's down to crunch time where everybody is making their team and making their final cuts and their final roster decisions. So, this is a big game for not only Omar, but just for an awful lot of guys."
Dean, with Ricky Brown, did his hip thing come up again, the one he had before? Or is this a new thing with Ricky not practicing? (Aaron Wilson)"I think it's a new thing. You'd have to really talk to 'Smitty' [head certified athletic trainer Mark Smith] about it, but it's not his hip."
Dean, how about where Sergio [Kindle] stands right now and how vital it is for him to play well Thursday? John Harbaugh talked about him and the fact that his role hasn't been determined, neither has his spot on this team. (Jerry Coleman)"That's exactly right. He is kind of in that group of guys, although I think he has certainly made some great strides here in this camp and in the OTAs and the whole thing, really coming back after all that time off. To his credit, he has really come a long way, and I feel good about him. Where that is right now, it still is kind to be determined. So, this is kind of an important game for him."
With Bobbie Williams, you've had to game-plan against him; now you practice against him. What do you see from him as a veteran lineman? (Aaron Wilson)"I see that I should probably have him come over and teach tackling drills, because he does it better … No, I am just kidding. (laughter) *He is a bull. The thing about him is that we have always had the utmost respect for him, playing against him all the time. I actually did certain game plan things, really, because of him, which is unusual for an offensive lineman. Usually, you are doing it based on receivers, running backs, quarterbacks. We actually did some things against them because of him. He is a tough, hard-nosed guy. I can't really assess how he has done here in camp from the offensive perspective, but it's been a pleasure to go against him. Here's the thing that I didn't really realize about the guy, is just what a great guy he is. You don't know that on other teams. Offensive linemen are always in the trenches, and it's always a battle. You're never thinking real kindly of any of them. But, he's really a class guy." How much can you put into Omar Brown's kind of streak of turnovers in preseason games? Is it something where you're like, "This guys is a definite ballhawk?" Or, is it a streak kind of thing? *(Ryan Mink)"It's a little bit of both. You can sit there and say, 'Well, he happened to be in the right spot at the right time.' Well, that's pretty good though. Being in the right spot at the right time is kind of what you want to be on defense. So, I think the fact that he is in and around the ball, that tells you something right there. I think it's both. Yeah, he maybe got a couple of lucky breaks, but at the same time, he put himself in a position to have those breaks. So, there is something to be said for that. There are certain guys that have a knack for that, and let's hope that he is one of them."