BALTIMORE RAVENS POST-PRACTICE TRANSCRIPTS
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement:"OK. Good to see everybody. Thanks for coming over, especially those of you who traveled last night – those few of you that were there. Appreciate you guys being there. [I] won't mention any names. Joe [Platania], you weren't there. (laughing) You wanted to be though. [I] appreciate that. We feel like we've had a very good offseason. We've had a very good preseason, training camp. We've gotten what we would have hoped we would have gotten done. You never know exactly where you are until you start playing the games for real. We will find that out soon enough. [We are] very pleased with our players. I really, really, really, really like this football team, really appreciate these players. We have a group of guys that really know how to work, a group of guys that are really very united. There is a strong bond in that locker room, even through a day like today, which is a very difficult day. [There are] a lot of guys who are very much a part of what we were doing, and obviously, can't be here just because of the way the rules work with the numbers, but those guys will always be part of us, as well. And, some of those guys will be coming back. That's where we're at right now. As far as injuries, injury reports are on Wednesday through Friday, so there won't be any more comment on that until Wednesday. I will say this: We got out of the game with nothing major, so you know. I don't anticipate anybody being out with the possible exception of Jah Reid, although he's actually getting pretty close, so we will just have to see how that goes. As far as who we release, that will be coming out later today. I'm sure a lot of the agents have already put a lot of that out there, so you know from them, but we won't make any official announcements, and we still have a couple more decisions to make over the next few hours."
How tough was it to make some of the calls, because it looked like there at the end of the roster there were some debatable stuff or just difficult to figure out? (Aaron Wilson)"It was tough, and we're still up in the air on a couple of things right now, and it has to do with some things that we – some unknowables – that we have right now in terms of who might be out there and available to us; all kinds of possibilities are still out there. We will just have to see how it shakes out, but what we will be striving for is our best 53 for now. And then – you know in this league it is very fluid – nothing is certain. Once you get past the first week, you go to the second week, and you see where we're at."
Did today's walk-through have anything to do with your determination or was it all decided basically after last night on what you saw on the film? In terms of making the final roster, you guys just held a little session out here today. Did that matter at all in terms of your determination? (Jerry Coleman) "Oh, did you mean this walk-through here as far as evaluating? No. This walk-through is not part of the evaluation process. This is part of the preparation."
With some of the new guys that were undrafted, how much did they give you a good look this preseason, whether they make it or not – [Bobby] Rainey, [Deonte] Thompson, [Nigel] Carr, guys like that? (Aaron Wilson)"We were really happy with all the guys. [They are] just a tremendous group of guys. I thought our scouts, starting with Ozzie [Newsome], Joe Hortiz and his whole department – Joe Douglas heads up the free agent part of our scouting – they did a great job. That was probably our best group as far as having a group in here, and I really think it helped our practices. Not just the fact that a number of those guys have a chance to make the team, and some have made the team for now, as we know, but also the fact that they gave us great practices. The better the practice, the more competition you have, the better team you become."
With that in mind, do you expect to kind of form most of your practice squad, if they clear waivers, from guys that you've had in? (Aaron Wilson) "You just never know. I could say yes, and you probably do expect that, yeah, you'd expect that, but there can always be monkey wrenches thrown in that."
**Since this was the best group that you've had in here of undrafted rookie free agents and what not, would you say that this year's cut process was more difficult than in years past? *(Ryan Mink) *"Well, then I would have to make a comparison, and I really don't remember the years past that well, in all honesty. It seems like it's a blur, but [they were] good players. Anytime you have good players … The thing that we do, I think we do a good job of here, is we have a tough training camp. Those guys get a lot of reps. We get them a lot of reps in games. We strive for a lot of reps in games. So, after a while it shakes its self out a little bit, and the choices become fairly clear toward the end, which is good."
How much does it help having this time off, a little extra time? You didn't have to play pretty much a lot of the first-teamers. You have the days because of Monday Night Football, a couple extra days. How much does that come into this? (Brent Harris)"It will help. It will help a lot, because we think, that's what this weekend is for. We came out and had a good workout here. We got some good work in, some good mental work, especially. Now those guys will get some time over the weekend. And, it's not just physical, it's also emotional. [They will] get a chance to kind of get themselves organized, see their families, and then we'll be back at it Monday."
John, what kind of a look did guys like DeAngelo Tyson and Bryan Hall give you, because they had a lot of playing time last night? (Aaron Wilson)"They played well. They played well. They both did a very good job. We had Bryan Hall play middle linebacker the whole second half, you may have noticed. We were in a defense we really don't ever play in the second half, and I think [the Rams] only scored three points."
Was Levon Kirkland maybe the last time a 290-pound middle linebacker played in the NFL? (Aaron Wilson)"Sure, why not? I'll tell you one thing about Bryan Hall that you notice … And he had 20 family members there [in St. Louis]; he is from Paducah [Ky.], which is two hours from St. Louis. He is very versatile. He plays every position on the [defensive] line. He plays a little bit of special teams. He could probably give you something on offense as a fullback or something, and now he has middle linebacker on his resume."
Coach, is there genuine sense of excitement to be in the regular season mode? I know you have been game-planning for Cincinnati for awhile, but now you can really focus on it full-force. (Jerry Coleman)"Yeah, there really is. You do start getting a little anxious. You take it one step at a time. You never want to take anything for granted, but now, yes, the regular season is here, and everybody is excited about that, and you can feel it out there on the field."
John, if you stick with the up-tempo offense into the regular season, does that play into the strengths of your offensive line, and if so, how? (Matt Vensel)"Well, we hope so. We hope it plays into the strengths of all of our guys, including our quarterback and definitely our offensive line. We'll have to see. We've got some guys that have worked hard, so they are in great shape, so they can keep the tempo. It won't be like we do it every play for every game. It will be something that we mix in. It's something we think our guys can handle and excel at."
How much do you think the conditioning is a concern for some of the older guys that might start on the line? (Matt Vensel)"I get where you're going, and I'm probably just not going to go there with you, but they can handle it. They've proven that. You're talking about Bobbie [Williams], B-Mac [Bryant McKinnie] and Matt Birk. Those guys have had a heck of a camp. So, they've proven they can handle that pace in games and in practice. So, I am really not worried about that part of it. I don't think that's going to factor in to any kind of final decisions. It's going to be based on how they play. We're happy to have some depth. It's good to have some depth, whether it's young depth and veteran starters or young starters and veteran depth. That's all a positive for us."
John, at the last moment, the NFL's Management Council and the Players Association got together and moved the trade deadline back and also changed the IR rules. What do you think of having more time to think about trades, because you have two more weeks and also being able to designate a guy for the IR spot? (Aaron Wilson)"I am all for it. Those are definitely good decisions and good rules. When they came out and we talked about it, I saw no reason not to do it. The more opportunity you have to get players who are healthy and can play on the field, it's good for everybody – it's good for the game, good for the fans, good for the players."
Would you like to use that IR rule? (Aaron Wilson)"Sure, if we have a guy that we need to use it for. Right now, I don't know if I see that guy. If it applies, we'll definitely take advantage of it."
Are you still confident about the progress of Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson that they are headed towards Week 1? (Jerry Coleman)"Yeah, and we'll know a lot more on Monday, Wednesday and even especially Thursday when we pad it up a little bit. But, they seem to be ahead of schedule, both those guys."
John, can you comment on what your experience is like as a head coach having to part with guys who are trying to realize their dream? And have the four seasons prior to this helped you with perspective that you can give them? (Mike Lurie)"It's probably too much to even try to express here. There is no other thing. We all put ourselves in those shoes. We've all been in a situation where we are sitting across the table in our lifetime – and probably more than once because most of us are a little bit older – where we are sitting across the table, and we're hearing that. Whether it's, 'Hey, you're here. You have a chance. You're hired,' or, 'No, you're not hired. You're not going to be accepted into this school.' Whatever it might be, every person has had that experience. The thing I have learned now, for the fifth year doing this, is that it's a huge responsibility, the way you frame that for the player, for the person. It's something that from experience we all know. We are going to take that with us the rest of our life. I can remember word for word when I was told I wasn't going to play as much as I wanted to play in college and I was not going to be what I thought I wanted to be. Word for word I remember what was said and will never forget it. So, as a coach, you try to remember that and take that responsibility very seriously, because we have really good guys – guys who have poured their hearts and souls into trying to be a part of this. What more can you say than that, really?"