Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg
Mason Crosby had a difficult year last year and has been perfect so far this year. What kind of adjustments can somebody like him make to have a turnaround season this year? (Joe Platania)"Well, I wasn't there during his offseason, but obviously, he's been spending a lot of good time and effort on fundamentals. He looks really good on video. He hasn't made them by accident. His technique looks good, he looks like he's in good form. Obviously, he spent a great deal of time and attention to those things. The other thing, he's not kicking off, so he's got a little extra time on his hands."* *
What did Justin Tucker do to be able to bounce back after having a few problems earlier this season? (Pete Gilbert)"After the Cleveland game, I believe I told you at that time that he went back to work, and that's really what he's been doing since then. He hits a lot of kicks in practice. He likes to practice, he likes to work on the fine details and fundamentals, and he continues to do that. He's continuing to polish his craft, and I think he recognizes the fact that kickers in this league can be successful for a long time if they pay attention to those fine points of detail. [Kicking consultant] Randy Brown is coaching him on those things, they're watching tape, they're paying attention to those things, and I fully expect that Justin will continue to improve during the course of his career, because he does that during practice and after."* *
Tucker talked about wanting to have a perfect year and how the expectations were really high. He kicked great all of last year and through some important playoff games. Was he maybe humbled a little bit early on this year? (Pete Gilbert)"I don't know exactly what was said about being perfect, but I think special teams in particular – and kickers specifically – they really have one play to be perfect. That's the most important thing, because you can't look at it from a body of work where [you say], 'At the start of the season, I'm going to have 43 kicks and I'm going to make them all.' You just go be perfect on that next play. And if you're doing that time and time again, at the end of the year you look at the results and they are what they are. And I think Justin has spent that attention to that next kick, and he's done a really good job of that in practice and in games. He's kicking well, and we anticipate that he'll continue to do so."* *
Jerry, what's a coach's take on the way that Tandon Doss catches the ball on a punt return? (Ryan Mink)"Tandon catches the ball over his head at times, and it stems from him being a receiver. When he sees a spiral ball like that, he doesn't see any reason why he should put his arms under it when, 'I can catch the ball over my head, because I do this all day long and I've done it my whole life.' I had the experience with Kevin Johnson when I was at a different club. He had the same concept of it, and Kevin … I think what it takes, it takes extraordinary hands. Kevin had extraordinary hands, and Tandon has the same skills. There's times when you don't want to do that, and he knows that. I think he reacts more than anything else. I think he's planning on catching it the fundamental way, [but] there are times where he sees the action and he sees he can go snatch the ball and he does. And in one particular instance, it helped him this year. It's something that's not planned necessarily; it's a reaction to the ball. But so far it's served him well."* *
Does it make you nervous when you see him catch it like that? (Ryan Mink)"I'm nervous all the time. It doesn't matter." (laughter)
If Jacoby Jones is able to play this week, could you see him going right back to punt or kick returner, or is it something where you already have options? (Garrett Downing) "He's practicing everything. We anticipate when he's playing, that he'll play … When he's cleared for practice and he's healthy enough to play games, he'll be full-time and playing. Now, how that fits in with the rest of the roster remains to be seen."* *
Has the development of Tandon Doss as a punt returner, does that make a difference with the approach or thinking you don't have to put Jacoby Jones back there right away? (Garrett Downing)"The questions that we received last year were to the effect that, 'Does Jacoby have too much on his plate?' because he was getting so many reps on offense, and then also the return game. And I think now that our depth at receiver is coming back, and we have some depth now at returner – both with Tandon and with Deonte – we'll play the game, and whoever is the returner at that particular time will be the returner. But it gives us an opportunity to play others, certainly. Now, whether or not that will be the case, we'll find out on Sunday."
Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell
With Jacoby [Jones] possibly coming back into the mix and Brandon Stokley and Marlon Brown practicing yesterday, suddenly you went from three healthy wide receivers to having all six available. How hard is that going to be juggling and figuring out which guys are going to be out and what guys' roles are going to be?* (Matt Vensel)* "It's going to be a good problem to have considering what we've been going through. We're glad to get them back – the more the merrier. We just have to figure out as the week goes on what suits the style of play that we're going to have for this weekend. We'll take a look, and guys will go through their paces and get a sense of who's going to do what and make our decision from there."
With Tandon Doss, he didn't make the initial 53-man roster, but he was quickly back. He made his first start last week with the most snaps he's ever played. Has anything been different with him that is leading him to have that success now? (Matt Vensel) "The competition was just heavy, as is today. When you get all those guys healthy out there, it's tough. He's played well. I think you saw him play well in the preseason, and he's playing well now. He's doing a lot of great things for us. I can tell you this: Over the last year or so, since I've been here, all I've seen is him get faster, better, performing better the entire time. We just hope that continues, but like I said, it's great competition."
What can you say about Torrey [Smith] when defenses are now, more each week, trying to stop him? (Jamison Hensley) "It's very difficult in this league to continue to be really productive week-in and week-out. That's the thing that I think he's shown – consistency. I think he's growing and developing. He's still a young player, just in terms of years of service in this league. But he's a willing worker, and he's a guy that each and every week takes the challenge on of going out and performing at his absolute best. He studies extremely hard. But the guys we're going to face this weekend – [Sam] Shields and [Tramon] Williams out there on the corners – present some difficult tasks for us. So, Torrey [Smith] has been getting ready for it. I think that because of the way in which he works, he continues to improve."
Has Eugene [Monroe] progressed enough, or the way you had hoped? The fact that you're home this week, is it maybe easier to insert an offensive lineman at home as opposed to the road where crowd noise can become an issue? (Pete Gilbert) "He's worked extremely hard. He's been grinding since he's stepped in the door. He's working, he's got a feel for things, and I think he's making really good progress."
How good was it that you had Ed Dickson make plays? He's kind of gotten hounded around here for not making them. Can you address his play from last week and where he goes from here? (Bo Smolka)"I'm not certain if I've seen too many guys work any harder than Ed [Dickson]. Even you guys probably came out here and [see] that he catches balls after [walk-through] in the morning. He goes out early, and he catches before practice. Obviously, he gets his work in during practice, but after practice he's still working. He and Joe [Flacco] get together and work on routes, because he wants to really be good. I'm glad to see his hard work paying off for him. I anticipate that you're going to continue to see him blossom and do a nice job. He's working at it, and the only place that success comes before work is in the dictionary. He's working at it, and he'll continue to improve."
Last week you talked about looking back to the Buffalo game and saying that maybe you should have stuck with the run a little bit more. Were you pleased with the ability to stick with the run? At halftime, the statistics weren't that impressive in Miami, but just the progress you made in the second half… (Luke Jones)"The big thing is that we hung in there, and I think we might have had 100 yards rushing in the second half. That's how the running game works sometimes. We'd like to start faster – there's no question about that, and our goal and aim is to do just that. But we're certainly pleased that we started to get some production, which was key. The game played out in a way which allowed us to make certain we were being patient. We gave Ray [Rice] the ball quite a few times. He carried it 27 times, and we had 40 rushing attempts overall. I think that bodes well for what our offensive line did and certainly the perimeter guys that block, but also the other backs that aren't carrying the ball do a great job blocking. Joe [Flacco] got us into a lot of good plays, so things started to come together. We've got a real formidable challenge again this week against a very, very tough front."
When you're playing a high-powered offensive opponent, does that put more pressure on your offense to score a lot of points? (Garrett Downing) "Our job is – no matter where we get it, no matter how we get it – to score points. Our goal and intention is to take that ball and put it in the end zone every single time that we touch it. That doesn't change, no matter who we are playing. I think our guys take on that challenge, and obviously, it's going to be a great challenge for us this week. Certainly, we're aware of the great offense they have. It's a prolific scoring offense that certainly ranks very, very high in the league. Our job is to score every time we get it, so we try to keep it that way."
Ray [Rice] talked about how he thinks he's starting to get back his lateral movement in the hip that maybe he didn't quite have. Does he look to you like the guy you need to see out there from what you saw last year and in the preseason? (Pete Gilbert) "I think he's feeling better. He obviously indicated that to you, and I think you'll begin to see him consistently perform at a top level, and he's working toward that. Ray [Rice] is a hard-running guy. I'm not certain there is ever going to be a time when a running back is going to feel 100 percent in this league. I do think that he feels good about where he is at this point, and hopefully that continues."
Why was it important to bring back [Brandon] Stokley? (Jeff Zrebiec)"[He brings] experience and expertise in his craft. He brings a real voice of leadership to the room. There are a lot of positives, besides the fact that he's a fine player as well and has had a lot of success in this league."*
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees
How much of an improvement have you seen in the pass defense since Week 1? (Aaron Wilson) *"We've obviously improved. The biggest thing in the first game was tackling. If you really think back on the plays that Denver broke for big plays, we missed some tackles and gave them some great opportunities. When you looked in a couple weeks later in the Houston game, we gave up no big plays because we tackled well. Last game, we picked up a couple really more on leverage issues than tackling issues. I think one was a tackle, and we also let the quarterback out of the pocket and scramble on a pressure, which that's always a problem when you're in man coverage back there. So, I think it's improved a lot in certain areas, [but] there are certainly a lot of improvements still to be made. We've got to do a great job of tackling. Run after catch is always a key thing. And then the biggest thing about this game coming up, just like any game, is going to be big plays. When we haven't given up big plays, we've played extremely well. When you give up big plays … Even though I think we played well against Miami, we still gave up a couple big plays that we just cannot give up to this crew." *
**For a defense, how much of an advantage is it playing at home? *(Jamison Hensley) *"Defense, offense, everybody – it's an advantage. This crowd, especially, of all the places I've been, there's never been a crowd like Baltimore's crowd that gets into the defense and gets going. It's always a big advantage here. It's harder on the [opposing] offense communication-wise with the noise, which is also hard on us because of the noise communication-wise. But I'd rather have that … This crowd [is] the best I've ever been around in all the years I've coached, especially on defense. They just take a lot of pride in it, and we take a lot of pride in it and love playing at home."
What have you seen from Eddie Lacy and what does he add to their offense? (Bo Smolka) *"He's a guy who is really a strong back. Guys have been making comparisons this week to [Trent] Richardson, I think more because they're both from Alabama than anything else. But there are similarities in the fact that they're both downhill runners, strong, can carry the pile and break tackles. He's not a scat-back-type guy. He's a hard-nosed, Alabama running back who can hit you downhill. So, he's added a lot that way, because I think sometimes what happens, especially when you play Green Bay. They're spread out a lot, they're going to throw the ball a lot, and they've got great, talented receivers and tight ends. So, all of a sudden, you get a little spread out, and then [in] the running game, you need a back who can break tackles. You don't necessarily need the quick guy who can get the edge because you're kind of spread out on defense most of the time anyhow. If a guy can get downhill and break tackles, that's the kind of back you need. [James] Starks, I think, was that. [Eddie] Lacy is definitely that. [No.] 23 [Johnathan Franklin] is a good back, too – I don't want to take anything from him because he can take it the distance. But I think the thing that's really helped them in the running game is being able to get through the line, break tackles and get into the secondary." *
**With a guy like Aaron Rodgers, who gets rid of the ball so quickly and accurately, do you worry about giving him too much respect and not doing what you [usually] do? *(Pete Gilbert) *"I think the key with him is that we've just got to play fundamentally well. Like I said, run after catch – he's going to complete balls, and you've got to tackle. You can't let them break tackles. [Jordy] Nelson is going to make some great catches. The guy has in every game against great players. You can't let those things get to you. What you can't do is you can't give up the big play. We've just got to try to do what we do as far as up front and that kind of thing and play our game, but at the same time, be very, very disciplined, especially with our eyes. He's a guy who could be looking one way and then, in a split second, throw it the other way, where we've seen quarterbacks here so far this season – other than [Peyton] Manning – they drop back and if they look over here, they're probably throwing over here. Well, [No.] 12 [Aaron Rodgers] may be looking over there, and that ball may be over here in a split second. The ball will come out as fast as anybody. If you ever watch him on film, he doesn't have to plant the front foot to throw the ball, either. This guy can throw it with his feet square, off-balanced, with one foot forward – it doesn't matter. The ball can come out quick. He's got great vision. So, we have to have great vision to be able to do a good job against him."
Is this as well as you've seen Terrell Suggs perform since you've been here? (Aaron Wilson) *"Yes, since I've been here. I obviously knew a lot about him, too, when I was in New England watching him on film or whatever. I'd say he's at the top of his game right now and playing as well as I've ever seen. If it's the best, I don't know. He had a pretty good year that year he was [Defensive] Player of the Year. I'd say that was a pretty good year. But he's playing as well as he's ever played – I'd say that." *
**You've been having a lot of success with the four-man rush. How much easier does that make it for you in determining what you're doing in the back end? *(Luke Jones) *"Well, it gives you some flexibility in that you don't have to pressure all the time to create a problem. Anytime you pressure, whether it's zone or whether it's man, you're giving up something in the back end to try to create something up front. Anytime you can really get pressure on the quarterback, whether it's a four-man rush, it's always beneficial because you've got an extra guy back there to sub in guys to defend the pass. It's been fun. It's been nice to watch."
Is Terrell Suggs playing as well as you've seen? (Ed O'Brien) *"Yes, he's playing as well as I've seen." *
What's making that difference? How has [Terrell Suggs] changed? (Adam Vorce) *"I don't think he's changed all that much. Last year, he had an Achilles problem. I'd say that's what changed. I'd say he's playing like he did when he was [Defensive] Player of the Year. That's the Suggs [I know]. Last year was … Anybody ever had an Achilles [injury] here? You don't want one, and I'll guarantee if you had one, you wouldn't be back in six months. So, I'd say the fact that the guy came back and played with anything like that was just a bonus last year. I think he's playing like Terrell Suggs did [in 2011]." *
**How much does having Elvis Dumervil on the other side change how teams are [defending]? *(Ed O'Brien) *"A lot has been said about that, and I'm thankful as heck that we got Elvis [Dumervil], and I think he's doing a great job on the other side. That was a huge sack in that last game against Miami. [Suggs'] three sacks kind of overshadowed that a little bit because he had three, but that sack at the end of the game by Elvis – that was the difference maybe in the field goal. That was huge. But I also don't think that you can overlook, when you talk about Elvis on the other side, we've also got a guy in Courtney Upshaw on the inside who's pretty good in his own right. And when we put [No.] 92 [Haloti Ngata] and [No.] 99 [Chris Canty] in there, they're not bad. So, I don't think it's one of those things where, 'OK, we can take care of [No.] 55 [Terrell Suggs] over here, [and] we can help over here on [No.] 58 [Elvis Dumervil].' Well, somebody better help on [No.] 99 and [No.] 91. [No.] 91 – Upshaw – does a lot of things behind the scenes that may not get caught by the media or the fans. But he'll set some things up for these other guys that are very, very good."
**What kinds of things does he set up? *(Matt Zenitz) *"If I tell you, I'd have to kill you." *(laughter)
**Could you talk about Courtney Upshaw's evolution over the last year? *(Bo Smolka) *"[He's a] great player. I tell you what, [he's a] typical Alabama guy. I'm going to give coach [Nick] Saban some kudos. [He's] smart. You can put him anywhere. You can play him anywhere, whether or not it's the best thing for him physically to play out of position, but you can move him all over the place. Sometimes, you can't do that with guys. Double-J, Jarrett Johnson, was that way. You can just do some things with him because he's such an intelligent football player. You ask him to do it, he understands why you want him to do it, [and] not just memorize, 'OK, I've got to do that.' And so he may get a look some time that really isn't a good look, and kind of do it a different way because this doesn't really makes sense. Football makes sense to him, and I just can't say enough good things about him. I think this guy is kind of unheralded in some ways because some other guys overshadow him. And that's OK, because those guys deserve it, too. Courtney Upshaw does a lot for our defense."
**How gratifying is it when he gets a sack like he did against Miami? *(Ryan Mink) *"Very, because a lot of times, he's kind of setting the pick or doing something to get somebody else free and doesn't say a word – just, 'Hey, that's my job, and that's what I'm supposed to do.' That's why he's such a team player. It's always gratifying to see those guys get a little bit of stats, too."
**How is Arthur Brown playing now that he's back to being healthy? *(Matt Zenitz) *"He seems to be playing pretty well. He's coming along as a rookie. I think we've been trying to kind of slow things down at the beginning of the year, and then we had to slow things down when he got hurt. But I think he's really starting to pick things up [and] starting to understand. The other thing that's really helping Arthur Brown, too, is the fact that Daryl Smith – sometimes we forget that he's only been with us a short period of time – the more he understands, the more he can help the linebacker beside him. There are some times [when] he's very helpful in telling [Arthur Brown] what to do, and they're on the same page. Really, we have two guys in there who don't really have a lot of experience in our defense. You've got an experienced player and a rookie, but not a lot of experience in our defense. And I think the more those guys play together, the better it is."