Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman
Opening statement: "It's great to have everybody here. I'm really excited about the beginning of the season. Every year, the first game, I think this is the third year in a row that we're playing a team in the first game with a new defensive staff. So, that always makes it interesting. You're never quite sure what you're going to get. You try to prepare your unit to be ready for anything early in the year. Guys are really tuned in. Looking at this Raiders defense, they've really tried to revamp. They have a really explosive D-line. They've made additions to their linebacking corps and their secondary. They're playing really well. They tuned that up a little bit, as well. Guys are excited for the challenge, and we're ready to get on that plane. Any questions?"
You have all these new running backs in your room. What has been the main focus this week as you try to get them up to speed? (Childs Walker) "When something like that happens, you really just have to get into sprint mode – get them as much as you can, get them as much of a foundation as you can and kind of coach as you go. We kind of call it 'country coaching.' So, you're coaching them in the hallway, in the cafeteria, everywhere. So, it's a sprint, and I'm really impressed with how these guys are attacking it. These guys are really good players, and we're really excited."
The mental challenge goes without saying, but you've talked so much the last couple of years about ball handling and the mesh point between the quarterback and the running back. How challenging is that to try to build that rapport in just a matter of a few days? (Luke Jones) "Yes, it's a challenge, but we're up for it. The guys have been working really hard on it. So, we recognize what it is, and we're ready to attack it."
You look at all the combinations, you only had one running back that's been here for more than three practices. Do you have to limit anything, knowing that probably two of these running backs are going to be relatively new? Do you have to limit anything knowing how new they are? (Jamison Hensley) "You have to make good decisions on it, but I'm really impressed with how these guys are picking things up. It's not their first rodeo. So, we're going to go in there and roll."
In a situation like this, how much does it help to have a quarterback like QB Lamar Jackson who can do so many things with his legs? (Cliff Brown) "I'm glad to have Lamar [Jackson], period. I don't really care about the rest of it. But we feel really equipped to get out there and compete at a high level. It all starts with Lamar Jackson; everything runs through him."
What has impressed you the most with RB Ty'Son Williams? He's a guy that a couple weeks ago, he was going to make the roster, but probably not in this significant of a role. (Jamison Hensley) "Ty'Son [Williams] has impressed us from Day One. [On] look team reps last year, we had a scrimmage in the stadium last year where he really jumped off the screen to all of us. We feel great about Ty'Son. He's done nothing but impress."
How excited are you for the passing game? We know what QB Lamar Jackson has done. We know just kind of the passer he wants to be, so what do you think of that? (Jonas Shaffer) "We're really excited about everything. I think we've put a lot of work in that area, but we've put a lot of work into everything. So, this is the kind of game, the first game, you're not quite sure what you're going to get. So, you have to go into that game with a lot of options and see how that game plays out – what are they trying to take away and that type of thing. As always, offensive football – it's all about execution. So, that's what we're working for."
I know the music has been blaring at practice. The noise factor out there, do you feel that's something that you guys are ready for? (Cliff Brown) "That's a great question. Home field advantage in a loud stadium, that forces you to prepare for it. So, we have a couple different ways to go about that. Our guys are really dialed in on it. So, we feel really good about it. We put a lot of time into it."
Defensive Coordinator Don Martindale
Opening Statement: "First of all, I want to take a minute here and recognize the 20-year anniversary of the victims of 9/11, and their families, and the first responders that were running towards it when everybody else was running away from it. I'm sure a lot of us saw some of the specials that were on last night. It makes it just happen again when you talk about it. I just want everybody to know our thoughts and prayers are with them, and what a tough day it was for America. With that, I'll open it up to questions."
You lost CB Marcus Peters for the season. Everyone knows how significant it is, but from your standpoint, you know what he means to this defense. How big of a loss is this? (Jamison Hensley) "I think [head coach] John [Harbaugh] hit the nail on the head yesterday with, 'We had our period of mourning,' because we're all brothers, and this is such a close unit. I was talking to Jimmy Smith about it; another thing that's great about this organization is that … This is my 10th year, and fourth year as a coordinator, and it's family, and when you see something like that happen, your heart is broken for the player himself. To answer the second part of your question, we have such great organizational alignment that we have the 'next man up' mentality, and that's not just 'coach speak.' Will we miss him? Yes. Like I said before, he's a football savant. And for those of you who didn't know, the second half of the Washington preseason [game], he called the entire half – Marcus [Peters] did. That's the kind of football knowledge he has. [He] did a great job. I always like doing that with some of the veterans, so they can see how it is on the other side when you're holding the call sheet, and he did an outstanding job. As a matter of fact, he broke [Eric] Weddle's record. (laughter) So, it's something we do in the preseason; it's pretty cool. But we're going to miss him. We're going to miss [our] brother, we're going to miss the football knowledge, but yet, I think I'm on record saying that 'Double-A' [Anthony Averett] has got Pro Bowl talent. This is his opportunity. He needs to [step] up, just like everybody else just goes up a rung. And like I said, with the alignment of the organization, we have people for situations like this, and it's a credit to [executive vice president & general manger] Eric [DeCosta] and 'Harbs' [head coach John Harbaugh] and personnel. It's one of those things [where] we know what's going to happen."
In terms of creating turnovers, that's something you obviously lose with CB Marcus Peters being out. Do you have confidence in CB Anthony Averett's ability to do that? (Childs Walker) "I have confidence in the entire defense to do that. I think that goes hand-in-hand with the rush, the pressure, the coverage – all those different things. You've also heard me say that turnovers come in bunches. When he has the opportunity to get his hand on the football, he's going to catch it – I do know that. But he hasn't played a full season yet. And that's the other thing – is that, yes, that's one of Marcus Peters' biggest deals; he takes the football away from opponents."
Can you just talk about CB Chris Westry's skill set, what you've seen from him this entire camp and how he fits into the equation? (Cliff Brown) "I know you guys have seen the guy. I mean, it's just unbelievable – how he looks just coming off the bus – but his confidence is growing, and I'm not afraid to put him out there on Sunday. We're not afraid to put him out there. So, I'm looking forward to that."
Is he the tallest cornerback you think you've coached? (Jonas Shaffer) "I don't know. Yeah, sure. (laughter) I don't know. (laughter) He probably is, yes. I'm trying to go through them right now."
What makes Raiders TE Darren Waller that special that allows him to put up such insane numbers? (Luke Jones) "He's a great athlete, and he was tough when he was here and taking the reps against the defense. There were some times [when] we'd just say, 'That's Waller.' He's everything that you knew he would be. I'm happy for him – not [on] Monday night, but any other time I'll be happy for him – because he's a good person, and he's gone through a lot of things to get where he's at, and we really respect that. I think last year he was second in the league, as far as the guy who was going to get the ball in the red zone, both in yards and everything else. So, he's definitely a target and one of [Derek] Carr's favorite targets."
Special Teams Coordinator Chris Horton
Opening statement: "Good afternoon. [It's] good to see everyone. Thank you guys for coming out. Just before we get started, obviously, today we celebrate the 20th anniversary of 9/11. I think most importantly, we should definitely say a prayer to those families that were affected in this horrible tragedy. Our hearts, for sure, go out to those families. I know we all sit here, and we're all blessed and think about life every day, but within a blink of an eye, we know exactly what can happen. So, let's just, as we go throughout our days, think about those families.
"From a football standpoint, our guys are ready to roll. It feels like forever since we've played a football game, right? So, our guys are ready to roll. We've had two good weeks of practice to just kind of fine tune our skills, our fundamentals and our techniques before we get into this game. [There's] going to be a lot of unknown. I don't know who's going to be out there for those guys, but I do know one thing – there are going to be 11 guys out there, and it's going to be an opportunity for us to play Raven football. Questions?"
You signed one running back, RB Trenton Cannon, who has a pretty good expertise on special teams. How much of an immediate impact can he make on special teams? (Jamison Hensley) "When Justice [Hill] went down and Trenton's [Cannon] name came up … We had an opportunity to practice against him, so we definitely knew of him. It's going to be a good addition for us, because he's similar to Justice in that role and in the things that we're going to ask of him. We're just expecting him to go out and play our style of football. Obviously, there are going to be some things that will probably come up, just because he hasn't been here that long. He hasn't been through our practices, but we're trying to get him caught up as much as we can. I'm pretty fired up for the kid; this is his opportunity. I think he'll go out, and he'll play well."
Everyone is focused on the running back position, obviously, but when you have injuries and there's back-end roster shuffling and practice squad shuffling, it usually affects special teams a good bit. How much have you had to juggle things and see guys in different spots, knowing RB Justice Hill was probably supposed to be one of the core special teamers and not having certain guys when you're juggling different things? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I wouldn't say it's easy, but it kind of is pretty easy. I think as a special teams coach, you kind of go with the guys that are available. It sucks losing guys, but it's just part of our jobs. Whoever is available, it's really our job to get those guys ready to go. We kind of adapt and adjust to certain situations all the time. Things happen in games [and] we have to plug another guy in, [and] another guy has to play. So, it's just one of those things, man. I think we're always preparing ourselves for those situations. When those things do happen, it's football. [It's] next man up, and it's my job as a coach to really just get them ready to play."
We've seen the rookies out there in prominent special teams role. Are you fairly happy with where they are as a group, in terms of being able to help in that capacity? (Childs Walker) "I am, I am. Unlike last year, when we talked about the unknown, those guys literally … All they had was training camp; they had no preseason games. This group of rookie have [gone] out, [and] the guys that have played for us, I played them a lot, because I need to find out about those guys. The guys that are going to play for us on Monday Night Football, I think those guys will be ready. Obviously, there will be things that will still come up, because they're so young, [and] they still haven't played a lot of football. But if they go out, they trust their technique, they trust their fundamentals, they'll be ready to go."
That field goal unit played in a lot of relatively quiet venues last year, just because of the fans not being there. What do you expect from the fans, and are you looking forward to getting back out there with them in the crowd? (Jonas Shaffer) "It's one of those things where … Last year, there were no fans; this year, I've heard this place is going to be pretty loud. They're just going to have to go out. We've got some things that we kind of practiced with music today, just to try to assimilate some of those things, but we've just got to go out and play our game, do our thing and not really be affected by the crowd noise or anything like that. Still, at the end of the day, it's still football – get the snap, get the hold, get the kick – and we should be pretty good."
Last year, WRs Devin Duvernay and James Proche II didn't really have any NFL experience as a punt returner. Both of them now have experience as a punt returner. How tough of a decision will it be in determining who goes back there to field punts? (Jamison Hensley) "I think it's all comfort level, and I trust both of the guys. I think any guy we call upon will go out and get the job done, but it's [better] to have two than not have any. We've got two guys that are, still, again, fairly young, but they can go out, [and] you trust them catching the football. I think both of those guys, as we move forward, will have success for us."