Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "It is good to see everybody out here. As Jamison [Hensley] just said, they turned up the heat out here today. It is good for us – a full-padded practice in the heat, two hours. I thought the guys did a really job with it. I'm proud of them, and that is how you get to where you need to go as a football team."
You talked about the preseason, which got a little news out there. Have you heard any kind of feedback from anybody about those comments? (Jamison Hensley)"You mean like the powers that be? No, every now and then, I make the mistake of reading the comments below some of your guys' articles, and I always realize what a mistake that is. There a few … Actually, when you read that stuff, there are some people that make some really valid comments. There is a percentage there that is very smart and understand what you are trying to say. That stuff is for people at the top to decide. That is for those at the top of the league – the owners and the Players Association. They will figure it out. We are comfortable with whatever. We can work with whatever they decide to do. The league is great, and I think the way it is organized has been incredibly successful for the fans and everyone that works in the NFL. I am just grateful for the chance … I told the guys this today; this ties in to … Today was our first cut day; I think it ties into that really well. When you spend an hour-and-a-half talking to the guys that you release this morning – and every personality, every situation is a little bit different – guys are incredibly disappointed, but also, oftentimes incredibly grateful and hopeful. You just can't help but be grateful to walk into the meeting room with the team and be a part of this. It doesn't last forever. Nothing lasts forever for anybody. I'm just incredibly grateful to be a part of this and to have a chance to go out there and compete and do my best. I know the players feel the same way that had a chance to come out here and practice today. However, they want to format all that stuff – whatever is best. I'm just … You know me; I'm never shy to put an idea out there."
You mentioned you have seen the message boards. You don't post under any names, do you? (Jamison Hensley)"No." (laughter)
It is a cold business. There is not much room for sentimentality. But is letting a guy go the toughest part of the job? (Joe Platania)"I don't know if that is the toughest part of the job. There are a lot of tough parts of the job. If you have any empathy … We build relationships here. We told the team, 'One thing that is important about our organization – it starts with Steve [Bisciotti] and it is what we believe in – is anybody who comes in here and is a part of us, as a player, coach or employee, should feel like they are part of the Ravens family.' That is how we do it. It starts with our owner, Steve Bisciotti. It is what we all believe in. When a relationship changes for a player who is not going to be here at the end of the day, that doesn't mean it doesn't hurt a little bit for everybody. It just makes you grateful for the chance to keep going."
I guess it wasn't surprising for TE Benjamin Watson to be on Injured Reserve, but is it disappointing for CB Kyle Arrington? (Luke Jones)"I think you make a decision. I don't know the details of the concussion protocols or what the tests were or anything like that. Kyle has had a tremendous career, and what he decides to do going forward will be based on if he wants to move forward or move on to the rest of his life with his family. Those are decisions that guys make, and Kyle will make the right decision. I have so much respect for him as a player and a person. He is a family man. He is one of the best people you'll get a chance to meet in this league. We will see where that goes, but I think that decision that is part player decision, along with the doctors. I don't know how they came to it. I wasn't involved in that, but I can understand it."
Going back to the preseason comment, in terms of contact and all that, you said maybe just scrimmaging and contact amongst yourselves. I think a couple of your players afterwards said there is value in a hit or two. For instance, a guy like WR Breshad Perriman – let's say we went with your theory and he never got a chance to play in a preseason game. That would be alright? He comes in the NFL without anything, or is that a special case scenario? (Jerry Coleman)"Every individual case is what it is, and you deal with situations as they arise. The players' point about playing in live action … If that is something the players feel is important, then the Players Association will probably make that part of what they do. I'm all for it. I don't have a problem with preseason games in that sense. I love going out there and competing. I do hate to see a guy get hurt in a preseason game, but it is part of the game; it does happen. I also know that you can do a lot of work in practice. You can do a lot of work in scrimmages, where it is a little more controlled. That is all stuff that can be worked out. You don't need to get caught up in how it is organized. It is organized in a way that creates opportunity. The main takeaway for me was bigger rosters. I really think bigger rosters are really important and valuable. It is time for that. That is the main takeaway for that point. I think there is a lot of support for that. I would love to see that part of it happen."
RB Kenneth Dixon went down Saturday. What had impressed you about him? (Mike Preston)"[He is] a very mature player for his age – just a guy that always has a smile on his face. He always comes to work. He is very eager to learn, and he is very elusive and very strong. I think he pushed the pile one time, along with some of his teammates, 5-10 yards. He is a hard-running guy. He is a guy that can create yards on his own. He also pass-protects, and he catches the ball. He has a chance to be really good. I think I can include him in the group of four [running backs]. All four of those guys have done really well. It is going to be a loss for a little while, but I was grateful for the fact that it is not going to be more than a few weeks."
What are the chances of WR Breshad Perriman getting on the field against New Orleans? (Jamison Hensley) "If the doctors clear him, he will go. It goes back to Jerry [Coleman's] point. Basically, I think Jerry was really asking me if Breshad Perriman was going to play in the game. *(laughter) *I understand that. If he can play, he will play. I do want to see him out there playing before he gets in a regular season game. It would be something that we would want to see him do if we can. That will be up to the doctors."
We saw S Terrence Brooks out there after practice catching the tennis balls. I guess beyond the dropped interception … He played the entire time. How did you think he played? (Luke Jones) "He played well. He is going to want two tackles and that play back. **You watch the total body of work – he handled himself well, really no missed assignments. He played hard, and he played well. You aren't going to see a guy work harder at his craft than Terrence Brooks. It really matters to him. He wants to be a good player, and that is one of the things I love about him."
You wanted to see OLB Matthew Judon get some time against the "ones." What were your impressions of him?* (Cliff Brown)* "I thought he stepped up. I thought he answered the call. He had a big sack for us and played fast. The speed of the game for him coming from the Division II level is going to be a transition. It is way faster [in the NFL]. This is way faster than the Southeast Conference, let alone where he is used to playing. But he is really catching up with the speed very quickly."
The day-to-day injuries – guys who have been out for a week at a time or two weeks – how much does that complicate your roster decisions and making sure you have enough guys for the game Thursday? (Jeff Zrebiec)"Two major considerations [are] you have to factor in what you think a guy is going to be and what a guy has done. That is not a perfect science. Certainly, [you factor in] how much we are going to play guys. You need to get through this game, and you need to have enough guys that can play in the game. We also want to keep guys as healthy as we can, so that is the balancing act."
John this made national headlines. You know Colin Kaepernick maybe a little bit through your brother. His decision not to stand for the national anthem … You have strong beliefs about this country. If one of your players came to you and said that to you and said, "This is my belief, coach." What would your response be? Have you thought about it? (Jerry Coleman)"I think as a coach, it is something you always think about. We deal with that on a regular basis, because we are talking about adults – grown men. We are talking about a free country. I'm grateful for the right to express my displeasure, and that is what Colin chose to do. It is certainly his right to do it. I know Colin through Jim [Harbaugh], and of course when he was out here [in 2014 for practice and the preseason game], I probably met him two or three times and talked to him. He comes from a great family. He has been brought up the right way with good people who care about him and love him. He reflects that in how successful he has been. I know Jim really likes him a lot, so I respect him. I respect his choice for whatever it is. As far as our players go, it becomes about respect. I think you respect the opinions of everybody in the room and respect their right to express their opinion. Voltaire so eloquently stated, 'I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend until death your right to say it.' That is the principle our country is founded on. I don't think you can deny someone the right to speak out or mock or make fun or belittle anybody else's opinion. You stand on your opinion, and when you state your opinion, it takes a little bit of courage, and there are going to be people that disagree with it. I tell our guys, 'If you are going to say something publicly, think about it. Make sure you really believe that, because when you speak out there, it is out there, and it belongs to you now.' The other part of it is that we are a team. Anything that we do should never … You respect our team, our organization and the other players, and you respect the mission that we are on and what we are trying to accomplish. None of us ever want to do anything that is going to detract or disrespect the efforts of all the other players on the football team. I think that is the balance that all of us have to strike when we speak out about something like that – or anything we do, whether it is choices we make off the field in our family life [or something else]. We have had that experience with guys making mistakes in their private lives, as well, and doing wrong things in their private lives, as well. Those are things that definitely do not help the cause."
What did you think G/T Alex Lewis the other night?* (Mike Preston)"I appreciate that football question. *(laughter) I really was impressed – really impressed. He made a few mistakes. He was late on passing off a couple twists in games, and he might have got edged once or twice in terms of getting his weight back under him when guys get you off balance, stepping back, sitting down and getting your hands back underneath people and those kinds of things that are technique things. But he is a quick learner. When he makes a mistake, he adjusts quickly and doesn't make it twice. The same thing for Ronnie [Stanley]; I think you would say the same thing. Those guys are really on the same trajectory in a way. They are both doing really well."
Along those lines, is G/T Alex Lewis' play and G/C John Urschel's absence, making that decision more complicated? (Cliff Brown)"That is a great question. We probably are considering that right now, but we haven't had that discussion yet, just because John hasn't been out there. That is something we have to consider."
How important is this time for TE Nick Boyle and TE Darren Waller, two guys that won't be on the initial regular season roster, but need to prepare themselves for when they can come back. (Jeff Zrebiec)"You notice that we have played both those guys extensively, obviously, because we have needed to because tight ends have been dinged up throughout camp. Thank goodness we have those guys. I would put Daniel Brown in the same category; he has taken a lot of reps, too. It is very valuable, because that is the only football they are going to get. Darren – who is right there – for four weeks and Nick for 10 weeks. They are guys that figure into our future, yes."
How confident are you in the rest of the other guys after losing TE Benjamin Watson? (Jamison Hensley)"I'm confident, because I have faith in a lot of things. I know that things are going to work out for the good, and we are going to work hard for that. Crockett [Gillmore] continues to improve. He has been out of football for a long time; he was hurt. Even getting in football shape, in terms of his leg strength, his balance, his power, his explosiveness – that stuff is coming back quickly, but it is not there yet. Dennis [Pitta] has missed a lot of time, so we have to get him back out there. I do think he can practice and play with the time, but we have to get him out there. He was not out there today. Maxx Williams is going to be back out here practicing shortly. His issue, we had to rest it for a few weeks. He will be back out here practicing shortly after the New Orleans game."
Just to be clear on TE Dennis Pitta, you said you were talking before the Bills game, not before this Thursday? (Jeff Zrebiec)"Before the Bills, right."
WR Jeremy Butler
On what he has shown the coaching staff in training camp and preseason games: "Just hard work paying off, just trusting the process and staying patient. But, [I'm also] enjoying the game and having fun as it comes to you."
On how much pride he takes in being a playmaker: "A lot. That is my job as a receiver; we get the offense going. If the ball is in the air, our job is to catch it. I definitely take a lot of pride in catching the ball and making a play when it comes my way."
On how difficult it is during this week to see other players get cut:"Emotionally [difficult]. At the end of the day, we are human. You build relationships with guys. But, it is just the nature of the business we chose and you have to deal with that. But you can't really let it control your thoughts; you can't really let it linger on. Just make the most of it, do your job and stay focused on what you have to take care of."
On if he feels he has to prove himself in the last game to earn a roster spot: "I don't really think about it too much. I just want to go out and have fun and play football. I get to play another game; I just take it one game at a time, have fun and enjoy it."
On if this time last season was tough for him: "It was tough, because coming off Injured Reserve that year [in 2014], actually not playing that year, it was definitely tough to get back out there. [I had] a lot of anxiety and nervousness."
On how he keeps his mind from not focusing too much on the final 53-man roster: "I started reading this year. That has been helping me – reading a lot. Small activities – I like fishing; I went fishing with a teammate. Playing [video games], [NBA] 2K; we play that a lot. I'm just enjoying the moments of life in general. At the end of the day, we still have a life to live. That is how I approach it."
On what he is reading: "'When the Game is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box.'* *It is a great book."
On how much the game experience he got in the second half of last year helped him for this season: "It definitely built a foundation – something to build off, something to improve on, something to get film of yourself – to actually see yourself out there with the team – 'ones' and the 'twos' making plays. As far as right now, I don't think it can do anything for me, so I kind of just let it go and build on each day and stack days on top of each other."
On if WR Kamar Aiken has given him advice on how to deal with this time of camp:"Definitely. He talks to me a lot. We hang out outside of the facility, too. We talk about life, everything. Of course, the football conversation comes up. He definitely gives me advice, keeps me motivated – talks about ups and downs and how to handle the process and just staying humble and staying patient."
On something specific WR Kamar Aiken has told him:"It is real cliché, but control what you can control. You really think about it, all you can control is your opinion of yourself, your work ethic, your attitude and how you approach everything."
DB/LB Anthony Levine Sr.
On how tough it is as a player to see teammates cut: "It is very tough. I went through that process myself coming in out of college. I saw some guys this morning. I've seen that look before; it is sad. I was telling C.J. [Mosley] and Zach [Orr] during warm-ups … I was like, 'Man, it was tough seeing those guys walk out today.' But it is a business, and we know what it is. I was just telling those guys, 'Keep working and keep God first, and everything will be alright.'"
On how much pride he takes in playing multiple positions:"I just take pride in my hard work. I just go out there, and I work hard. I work hard every day. That is mostly what I take pride in. I don't take pride in how many positions I can play; I just take pride in being able to go out there and work hard."
On how challenging it is to play multiple positions: "It is challenging. But again, I just go out there and take coaching. My coaches, they take their time with me and help me out. As long as I give them all I have, they give me all they have, and it works out."
On his memories on going into this week on the roster bubble:"This week is stressful. It gets stressful when you are that guy that is on the bubble, on the outside looking in. You are just trying to do whatever you can to catch the coaches' eyes. You are trying to go out there and make all the plays. It is tough; it is a stressful week."
On if the players talk amongst themselves who is on the roster bubble or if they are quiet about it because they know how tough it is:"I know how tough it is. I have been the guy that has been on the bubble my whole career. Every year I come in, I have to make the team. This year, I have to come in and make the team. I'm not sitting up here like, 'Oh, I made the 53-man roster.' I still have to prove myself every year. It is not [players] sitting around like, 'Hey, man, did you make the team?' or 'Hey, man, you know who made it?' Only guys that … Nobody is safe. Like coach [John Harbaugh] was talking about today, there is going to be a time when he has to pack up and move on. You are never safe. Every year you have to go out and prove yourself. It is not about what you did last year; it is about what you are going to do this year. Every year, you have to come out and show them that you still have it."
On his ball skills improving and taking advantage of turnover opportunities: "It is just hard work – coming out here every day, working hard, taking coaching. I feel like I'm getting better every year, so that is all I'm doing – just working hard and taking coaching."
On what it was like when he got cut by the Packers: "The first time or the second time?" *(Reporter: "The first time.") *"The first time I got that call I was sitting in the hotel, the Wingate. My phone rang, and I looked at it and I didn't answer it. It was a 920 number; I didn't answer it. Next thing you know, my room phone rang. I was like, 'Dang!' So I didn't answer it. I went to the bathroom [and] my roommate, he answered the phone. He was like, 'Hey, man, it is for you.' I was like, 'Damn.' I took the call, went in, and they told me they were going to put me on the practice squad. I was still [thinking], 'Alright, cool. I'd rather not go home, so as long as I made the practice squad.' You know – just keeping working. The second year when I got [the phone call], that was even tougher because I just had my son. I was like, 'Man, what am I going to do now? I have a family.' Then, the Ravens gave me a call, and I've been at home ever since."