HEAD COACH JOHN HARBAUGH
Opening statement:"Good to see everybody here on a football Wednesday; I appreciate it. A beautiful one, no less. What a great day for football. Every day is a great day for football, but today was a great day for everything. It was great being out here. The guys, you can tell they're in high spirits, had a good practice; it was a really good practice. So, we're pointing towards Monday night.
"I do have one announcement on the personnel injury front; Rashod Bateman has decided to go ahead and get a surgery for his foot. He's going to get the Lisfranc surgery. It was one of those ones where it was up to him; he, and his agent and his family talked it over, and they decided it would be in his best interest to do that. So, we support him on that; we understand what he's doing. What questions do you have?"
Will that be a season-ending surgery for WR Rashod Bateman? _(Luke Jones) _"Yes."
How disappointing is that for WR Rashod Bateman, with his expectations for himself and how much you guys were counting on him? _(Luke Jones) _"Yes, it's just a fact. It's not really so much about that; it's just a fact, and you move forward with it. He'll move forward with it. Rashod [Bateman] is a great guy. He really wants to be out there, he wants to play, wants to have a career, wants to do well. That's not going to change. Different things happen in life; there are roadblocks sometimes, and sometimes the best way is to just go through it. That's what he's doing right now. He'll come back stronger than ever, and before the story is written, he's going to have his day in the sun."
What was your initial reaction to acquiring ILB Roquan Smith and what have been your early impressions of him? _(Luke Jones) _"I was happy, I was happy. [A reporter] tried to get me to let the cat out of the bag and spill the beans, but I refused to do it. It wasn't finalized at that point either, by the way, just for the record. It's a great addition; compliments and kudos to [executive vice president and general manager] Eric [DeCosta] and to the scouting department, and [vice president of football administration] Nick [Matteo] and [senior vice president of football operations] Pat [Moriarty] and all those guys. They just did a great job of putting that together and making that happen. We're excited; he's out here practicing. I can't wait to see him play Monday night, just like you all. So, we're excited."
What kind of skillset does ILB Roquan Smith have to complement this defense? _(Kyle Barber) _"He's a very good inside linebacker. All the things that go with that … Obviously, he can move really well, and he knows how to play the game in there. So many things carry over in terms of the ways we play our coverages, so he's very familiar with what we're doing. I just think he needs to get used to the terms and things, and that hasn't been a problem so far. So, we'll see what it looks like on Monday night."
With the addition of ILB Roquan Smith and OLBs Tyus Bowser and David Ojabo getting activated to the 53-man roster, is there growing excitement for this new-look defense? _(Cordell Woodland) _"Yes. We've been excited. We've just been trying to grow every single day, every way we can with what we have at that point in time. So, guys have been working really hard. I see Kyle Hamilton walking up the sidewalk there, and he's been working really hard, had another good practice today. That's what you just try to do; you try to take a step every day to get better in every way you can. Then, when you add players like that, that's obviously a big shot in the arm as well, too, so those guys are doing the same thing; just trying to be their best. Then you go out there and you compete, let it rip and see what happens."
Is the expectation for OLB Tyus Bowser to play on Monday? If he does, what is the expectation of what he could bring? _(Shawn Stepner) _"The expectation is for him to play. What does he bring? All of the things that you've seen before. He's a very versatile linebacker; he brings you a linebacker skillset and a pass rush/edge skillset. So, all the things that that entails, that's what he does."
Are you expecting WR DeSean Jackson to play on Monday night? _(Bo Smolka) _"I think that's a good possibility. We're going to keep seeing how he's doing, but I personally think he's probably ready. If he's ready two days from now, then he'll be out there."
Looking at the Saints defense, MLB Demario Davis and DE Cameron Jordan have five sacks each. What are you seeing from their front seven? _(Todd Karpovich) _"Your point about their front seven is really valid; they're good. They've got a really good front seven. It kind of runs through their outside backers and their inside backers, for sure. All four of those guys, all five of those guys are excellent players. You have two active defensive tackles inside that run around and play sideline to sideline. So, you have to handle the ends; they're great players. You have to handle both inside backers, and then they have a really good SAM linebacker [Kaden Elliss], too. He's up on the line of scrimmage sometimes, sometimes he's back playing stacked, they blitz him. So, all those guys do a really good job."
Does QB Andy Dalton look like he always has to you as you get ready for him? _(Pete Gilbert) _"Yes, he does. Andy Dalton is [a] very steady quarterback. He's capable in so many ways. We've played him so many times; we've seen him on tape so much. We understand his game, and we understand how he can win for an offense. So, our job is going to be to do everything we can to take those things away from their offense. That's a challenge, because they have a lot of good players around him, but we have all the respect in the world for Andy Dalton. He's made a big difference in their offense; they're playing good offense, and he's done a good job."
Did everything go OK with RB J.K. Dobbins' scope surgery? _(Jonas Shaffer) _"Very good question. I would characterize J.K. [Dobbins]' surgery as a smashing success as far as you can tell right now. So, he came out of it; he has no additional scar tissue since he has come out of there. That was a key thing in the first couple days; does scar tissue start to accumulate? It did not. They got almost all of it out, and it was significant. When they went in – [Dr.] Leigh Ann Curl did the surgery and she told me when she went in there, the MRI didn't tell the whole story. You like to think it does, [but] until you go in there you really don't know what you have. The MRI didn't see all the scar tissue that was in there, so what he was dealing with was very significant. For him to get that freed up, I can't wait until he's out here running around in three or four weeks. So, yes, success."
How important is it to work on crowd noise this week before you play in New Orleans? _(Kevin Richardson) _"Very important. You'll notice that we're on this field, [and] we put the speakers up against the side of this metal building here and it reflected all the crowd noise out to the field. So, we're trying to make it as loud as we can."
When you lose a player like WR Rashod Bateman, what does that mean for the rest of the wide receivers and their ability to step up? _(Jamison Hensley) _"It means opportunity for those guys to step up, and that's what those guys want; that's what they crave. They're excited about that opportunity. They're disappointed for their friend, but they're excited for their opportunity to step in and fill those roles."
TE Taysom Hill has been very effective on some QB power plays. How tough is it to stop something like that, even when you know it's coming? _(Jonas Shaffer) _"The key to stopping them is you have to play really sound defense, and everyone has to do their job in a very physical way. It's the same thing you talk about with our offense; it adds an extra blocker to the equation, and he can throw. So, we have to just do a great job against that offense. We run a lot of those plays, too. So, we're practicing hard against it. It's not just that; he's a very good runner, he's very physical, he's a very smart player, a very tough player. All those things come into account."
QB LAMAR JACKSON
On his reaction to learning that WR Rashod Bateman will miss the rest of the season:"I'm just finding out about this. That's my guy, you know? We were looking forward to having a great, long season, but God had other plans. But I wish him [Rashod Bateman] a speedy recovery. And we've got a lot of great guys in our receiving group, and I've got full, 100% confidence those guys are going to make things happen for us this season. So, we're just waiting on 'Bate' [Rashod Bateman] to get back. But we're good."
On his confidence in WR Devin Duvernay:"Yes, like I said, I'm very confident in my guys. We've just got to keep doing what we're doing. [There's] a long season ahead of us. Just keep doing what we're doing. We're good."
On the offense's success running the football:"It was very good to see, but we don't really know what our opponent is going to give us. [When we] go out there each and every week, it's going to be something different that a team is going to throw at us, so we've just got to be ready for that. Like you said, our guy [Rashod Bateman] went down, but we've got other great guys. We're going to be good."
On how good it was to see TE Isaiah Likely perform the way he did last week:"It was great to see – great to see him [Isaiah Likely] finally get his chance and opportunity to do what he does. We will need a lot more out of him, though. So, he's just got to keep going."
On the play of C Tyler Linderbaum last week:"Michael Oher. He [Tyler Linderbaum] pulled a Michael Oher from The Blindside. (laughter)He did. He did, man."
On if the level in which the offensive line is protecting helps allow the running game to be more versatile:"I believe so – just how fast our linemen [are], how smooth they are on their feet. A lot of big guys can't move like that, besides … Like, I see, Trent Williams, the tackle, he moves pretty solid, and one of our guys, Morgan Moses, moves light on his feet; Tyler [Linderbaum]. But I feel like it's going to help us out a lot with the run game and stuff like that – no doubt."
On what he's seen from T Ronnie Stanley since his return to the field:"Ronnie's [Stanley] play style speaks for itself. We all know what Ronnie can bring to the table. We've been missing that for the last couple of years. But we're going to have to take it a game at a time. He's been doing wonderful so far."
On attending the AEW wrestling event in Baltimore last night:"I got called out. (laughter)I wasn't thinking he was going to call me out. Chris Jericho called me out; I was like …(laughter)I didn't really hear what he said at first, and then they told me, and I started laughing. I'm like, 'This man is crazy.' I enjoyed it though, because growing up, I was a huge fan of wrestling. So, it was cool to go see that."
On who his favorite wrestler was growing up:"I was kind of hopping around. Like, I just had my favorites: Jeff Hardy, John Cena, Rey Mysterio, Eddie Guerrero – those guys. I was locked in back in the day. I used to always watch it." (laughter)
On what it will take to ensure that the passing offense won't miss a step without WR Rashod Bateman:"Guys just keep doing what they're doing. Keep working hard in practice. This is where it starts at. Just keep building chemistry each and every day, trying to get one percent better. I feel like the sky is the limit for our guys – that's all."
On what he's seen from WR DeSean Jackson:"He [DeSean Jackson] doesn't really show his speed; he's just floating, and it looks so smooth. So, any time I just throw him the ball, it just falls into his hands, if anything. He's still the same DeSean to me – from what I grew up seeing. We're just going to have to see when he gets on that field."
On autographing a fan's sign after the Tampa Bay game:"Yes, yes. He asked me [if I could] sign it for him. But I just saw the sign fall, and I just picked it up; I'm reading it, and then I saw what it said, and I started laughing. He was like, 'Can you sign it for me?' And I just signed it for him. It was cool. He's a fan of ours, so I was good."
On if the second half of the Tampa Bay game gives him confidence that guys can step up and the offense can keep flowing, despite a few absences due to injury:"No doubt. We have guys. We've been having guys. We've been having those same guys; they just waited for an opportunity, and they showed it. We're just going to need that each and every game, because our main guy went down. So, those guys just have to step up and do what they're supposed to do. I feel like they will."
On if he gets fired up when the front office goes and gets a guy like ILB Roquan Smith:"No doubt. We're a team here; it's not a one-sided thing going on here. So, no doubt, I was pumped up. I asked my guys, I asked the linebackers and the secondary how they felt about it, and those guys were dialed in. They were like, 'Yes, it's a good pickup.'"
T RoONNIE STANLEY
On the loss of WR Rashod Bateman for the year and how hard it is for everyone to deal with that mentally:"It's never good dealing with injuries, mentally. It's hardest on Rashod [Bateman] himself, and we just know that we're going to do our part in making sure that we take care of business on the field and that we're also here for him mentally. Me, I know how it is coming from injuries, and it's a tough thing being in the middle of the season, making playoff runs, contending for Super Bowls. He's our wide receiver No. 1, and we know how much he wants to be out there with us. Me and our whole offense have confidence in all the other guys. We know those guys are ready to step up."
On if he has talked to WR Rashod Bateman about the challenges of injuries, given his own personal experience with injuries:"I will now, now that this has kind of unfolded. I will definitely talk to him more now about the path ahead."
On if there was ever a point in time where he doubted that he would get back to playing at the high level he's at right now:"I don't think there was a point I really doubted I'd get back to this level. I just knew if I got the right amount of time and attention to what I knew I needed, I knew I could come back and play at a high level."
On the way the offensive line is able to cover ground and if it opens up new dimensions for the run game:"I just think that's just kind of what we're used to here. As long as I've been here, as long as we've been running this type of offense, that's kind of what I expect us to do in all situations and all games. Every game isn't going to be the same, but that type of style that you saw that you were just mentioning, that's something that I expect us to do pretty much with any team that we face."
On C Tyler Linderbaum blocking Tampa Bay ILB Devin White 10 yards downfield last week, and what the reaction is when the offensive line room views plays like that:"We love it. Anytime you see any player, let alone a rookie, make a block like that, we give those guys the praise. There's maybe not as many 'showy' blocks like that on the film that everyone sees, but there are some really impressive blocks. Guys make a lot a lot of times, and that was one of the really good blocks that everyone was able to see. Also, we were able to highlight on [it] in the room, and that's something that Tyler [Linderbaum] is really good at."
On how he feels and if he is where he wants to be physically:"I'm getting there; I'm getting there."
On if the extra time between games is helpful in recovering:"Yes, very helpful. Coming off a short week, two games, five days, it's definitely needed."
On his alma mater Notre Dame playing Navy at M&T Bank Stadium on November 12:"Yes, I'm very excited. I'm pretty sure that I'm going to be there, checking my guys out. I get to hang out with my old O-line coach again, see those guys and see what he has those guys doing. I'm sure it's the same things that we were doing when I was there, so I'm excited. I think it's a cool opportunity."
On if he was able to get physically stronger during his recovery from injury:"Definitely, 100 percent. I knew especially coming off the injury the second time, the challenges that I faced being in shape, trying to get in shape without being able to put any weight on one foot really. I did a lot of different hybrid-type workouts, a lot of core stuff, and just really stayed consistent about it. I think that was the biggest thing for me, is just being consistent and doing things six days a week throughout the whole offseason. It may not have been heavy lifting every day, but I just did a little something every day and just kept building on that."
On how much the loss of WR Rashod Bateman impacts the offense:"It's a huge loss. He's a dynamic wide receiver. He's a young player, and he's only growing and he's only getting better. We're going to miss him. A competitor like that who plays at a high-level, that threatens the defense … We're obviously going to miss him, but at the same time, he knows and we all know that we can't kind of sulk around. We have to move forward, and as much as we miss him, we have confidence in our young guys to step up."