JOHN HARBAUGH – HEAD COACH
Opening statement: "OK, good to see you guys. I see everybody flashing up on the screen there. It's good to see you. I assume many of you were at the stadium. We had a really good practice. The buses just pulled in. So, we're back, and the guys will get dinner, and they'll be finished for the rest of the day today. I'm really happy with it. I thought it was fast [and] very physical. We got a lot of good work with the young guys. We got some live work in two different periods, which is really positive for those guys. And [I'm] looking forward to seeing the tape. So, what questions do you have?"
Can you address the release of S Earl Thomas III? (Jamison Hensley) "I think the statement speaks for itself. There's really not much more to add to that, and I'm just planning on leaving it at that at this point."
S DeShon Elliott seems to have a lot of confidence from his teammates, but he has been hampered with injuries over the past two years. Is he a guy you think can finally make an impact in Year Three? (Todd Karpovich) "Yes, I expect him to. He's been practicing really well, he's worked hard all through the offseason, and it's his time. So, here we go."
How did you like the fake crowd noise today? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "It was louder than I thought it was going to be. That's the decibel level that we're supposed to have as the background in games, and it was definitely something that you could hear. [It was] probably similar to what you have in the stadium when the crowd is there at a normal level. So, it was definitely something that was part of the atmosphere. We also had music, which ramped it up a little bit. And all of it was really … It was fun. We enjoyed being there."
QB Lamar Jackson hasn't practiced the past two days. What is the reasoning behind that, please? (Jamison Hensley) "Yes, we have a couple guys - I think Marcus Peters is another one, and Justice Hill is another one – who have some soft-tissue things, and we'd just rather be safe with those guys right now and give those things a chance to get better and be right."
With regards to the players, there were reports that the players really talked with you about S Earl Thomas III's situation and how much that may have impacted things. Can you speak to that at all? (Jerry Coleman) "Not really – no reason to. We always talk. We have great communication with our players. As you know, we talk about everything all the time. And that's where we're at with it. We always talk, about everything."
Did they have a role in any of this? (Jerry Coleman) "Like I said, I'm going to leave it at the statement."
How did you feel being back in action at the stadium today? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "It was great. We needed it. It was a change of pace. Guys have been here at the facility for a long time. We've only been in pads for five-or-so days, and the guys are feeling that, because they've been really practicing hard. But they've been here through their conditioning and all the non-padded practices for quite a while. So, to get to the stadium – a different environment – they were excited. The rookies were really excited, and I think it showed in the effort they put forth."
I understand you're going to let the statement stand for what it is, but can I ask you what S Earl Thomas III gave you while he was a Raven, and what you'll miss without him? (Mark Viviano) "No, I'm good. We're good. Moving forward. Eyes all ahead. Eyes ahead."
You already talked about S DeShon Elliott, but in terms of other options at free safety … I know you guys have talked about maybe looking at CB Jimmy Smith more at safety. Would he be an option in the conversation as well? (Childs Walker) "He's already practicing there. You've been at practice, so you've seen it. He's been back there in certain packages, in certain coverages, playing safety. But we have good safeties. I like the guys we have. The young guys are practicing. We'll see how they do. And we'll just do what we always do; we'll put the best players we have out there, we'll prepare them and get ready to go play. If other players turn up, then we'll get those guys ready to go play. It's nothing different. This is how it goes whether it's a personnel change or an injury or anything that might come up."
Yesterday, Assistant Head Coach/Pass Coordinator/Wide Receivers David Culley said QB Lamar Jackson had a tired arm. Is the soft-tissue injury in the arm, or can you say anything? (Aaron Kasinitz) "No, I'm not getting into all that. I know you guys are sleuthing it out and all that kind of stuff – playing Dick Tracy – but it's training camp. We're getting close to the season, and we're really not talking about injuries too much."
How do you feel about your players' attention to officiating, penalties and things like that? You had officials at the stadium today, correct? (Aditi Kinkhabwala) "Yes, we've had officials … They're college officials, and we've had them at all of the padded practices. So, we've only had four at each practice, which is a decent number. We usually have five or six in a normal year. We won't have the NFL officials here. They're not going out on the road this year. But it's very helpful. And they put their eyes on it and call it like they see it, and I think it helps our team to prepare for game situations a little bit better."
JOE CULLEN – DEFENSIVE LINE COACH
Just wanted you to talk a little bit about DE Calais Campbell and DE Derek Wolfe [and] how they're adjusting to the team? What are your expectations for them this year? (Todd Karpovich) "I'll tell you; those are two guys who have played well in this league for a long time. They've been doing a good job adjusting here. They're two leaders; they've played well. Calais [Campbell] has been a perennial Pro Bowl player, and Derek [Wolfe] had a really good run [in] Denver, and we're really excited to have both of them here and they'll play a prominent role for us."
With the additions of the many rookies you have on the defensive line, as well as your free agents, will this allow FB/DL Patrick Ricard to concentrate more on the offense? Or will he be a two-way player again? (Kevin Richardson) "Pat [Ricard] has done a great job for us on both sides of the ball. He made the Pro Bowl last year as a fullback/tight end, and we're, kind of, keeping him there. Obviously, he's always hovering around, wanting to play both sides. But with the additions that we have, we feel like he'll be able to stay on that side of the ball."
Can you talk about the two rookies – DT Justin Madubuike and DT Broderick Washington – just what you've seen from them and how they fit in the defensive scheme? (Daniel Oyefusi) "Justin Madubuike and Broderick Washington have done an outstanding job. They're really learning the system. They've done a great job since they've been here [at] picking things up. They're competing every day to get better, and we expect them to continue to get better. And we also have Aaron Crawford, an undrafted free agent, who's really doing a nice job. But we expect big things from both of those guys and they're both doing a good job."
How would you describe the chemistry between your players so far? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "I think it's been really good. We've had a remake in the room, and the chemistry has been outstanding. Brandon Williams, he plays a big role in that. Calais [Campbell] has a great personality. Derek Wolfe and Justin Ellis and the guys that we've brought in – the chemistry has really been great. They're working hard together. It's been the way I want it."
I'm sure you knew quite a bit about DE Calais Campbell before he got here, but is there anything that has surprised you in having him in person? Having him in your meeting room? (Aditi Kinkhabwala) "One of the things that he's done a great job of – and so has Derek [Wolfe] – is that Calais [Campbell] is really … I knew he was a really good player, and obviously through the years in the league … But he's really a leader in terms of helping the young rookies out. Brandon [Williams] has done the same over the years, but that's really sticking out – is really how he's taking the time to not only coach the rookies up on the football field, but obviously, about the game of life as well. [He's] doing a great job of that."
As you look to Week One right now, there's no tape, and the [Cleveland] Browns have a completely rebuilt offensive line. So, what do you do? How do you prep? How do you prepare? (Aditi Kinkhabwala) "The guys that they do have back, we watch tape on that. And then, it's a new staff, a new scheme, so it's uncharted waters for them as well. Obviously, we have a lot of our people back, but it's one of those years where you're not going to see any preseason tape, you're not going to see some of the guys. You're going to have to go back to previous teams that they were with, and also previous schemes that coaches have been involved with. And really, we just kind of – as [defensive coordinator] coach 'Wink' [Don Martindale] says and coach 'Harbs' [John Harbaugh] says – really, it's about us and worrying about what we do."
CHRIS HEWITT – PASS DEFENSE COORDINATOR
We just talked to head coach John Harbaugh. What kind of impact does losing S Earl Thomas III have on your secondary and your pass coverage? (Todd Karpovich) "I thought Coach [John Harbaugh] already talked about that, and I think we're moving on in a different direction. So, if you guys want to keep on talking about Earl Thomas, I think we've already addressed that."
We've obviously seen S DeShon Elliott these past couple of training camps, [but] haven't gotten to see him in regular season action. How would you describe his style of play and how he might fit as sort of a free safety? (Aaron Kasinitz) "DeShon's [Elliott] been ready to go ever since he got here as a rookie. I've been really impressed with him from the time that he came in here. He's a hard-charging kid. He knows the defense. He's in his third year. He's had some unfortunate injuries that's limited him to I think, what – six or seven games? Something like that. But he's definitely deserving to play, and I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do when he gets out there. He's definitely ready to go, and he has great chemistry out there with the rest of the guys. They're hyped up to have him out there."
S DeShon Elliott, it's been tough for him with the injuries, and he's a confident kid that's wanted his shot at the field. Can you talk about how he's handled that in having to wait for his turn to be able to impact this defense? (Ryan Mink) "Every opportunity that he gets to make himself better, he's done that. It's always been about doing … He attacks whatever is in front of him. What's important now for him, right now, is just to get ready to play against Cleveland. But he's attacked every situation just like that. Whether it's in the offseason attacking the weight room, in the meeting room, he does everything to make himself better. He gets up in the morning, he's here early. He's leaving late. So, I'm extremely impressed with DeShon [Elliott] and have been ever since he's gotten here. I look forward to seeing him play."
Head Coach John Harbaugh talked a little bit about CB Jimmy Smith at certain looks at safety. You've been around Jimmy for a while. What characteristics of him as a player do you think will translate to him being able to succeed, and we know it's not a full-time position change, but if he takes some looks at safety? (Jeff Zrebiec) "The reality is – and I've talked about this before – the way that we play in our secondary, we have a lot of guys who do a lot of interchangeable things. We move guys around, whether it's a guy playing corner, a guy playing nickel, or a guy playing safety. We're going to optimize our looks as far as matchups are concerned. So, if there's a reason for using Jimmy [Smith] at safety, we'll do that. But as far as what I can see since Jimmy's come back, he's lost some weight. He looks great. He's running great. He's still a topflight corner in my eyes. So, we'll look at the matchups as we go forward in all those games. Whether its versus a tight end or a bigger wide receiver, whatever it is, we'll use him in that fashion. So, we'll continue to keep on moving him around, and he's embraced that role. I'm proud of what he's done so far."
How did you see today's performance by S Nigel Warrior? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "Nigel Warrior – Tennessee Volunteer. Nigel's a great kid, and right now, he's just learning how to play football and trying to take that next step to try to get himself on the football team. I think right now what Nigel's got to do is to help [special teams coordinator] Chris Horton out on special teams, and then find a niche on defense. Just moving forward, he's just got to go out there and go play. We'll see what happens with that."
With S DeShon Elliott, when we watch him at practice, he's a very talkative guy, very confident out there on the practice field. Do you see that in meetings, and things we don't see? Do you see that confidence exude in him elsewhere as well? (Jamison Hensley) "Yes. He's definitely a confident young man – sometimes too confident. But he definitely doesn't lack for confidence in any endeavor. He's just been that kind of kid. He's an energy bunny. He comes in the building and he's just ready to go. When he gets out on the field, he brings the energy to the rest of the defense. He's just one of those guys. I love the way that he plays."
S Geno Stone - a guy you're just getting a chance to work with. I'm just curious about your early impressions of him with what you've seen so far? (Cliff Brown) "Like I said, with all of those young guys, I don't want to put any undue pressure on those guys. They're still young and just learning how to play football. They really don't know what the National Football League is all about and how fast the game is going to go. Sometimes, I have a little bit more confidence about what they can do on a practice field until the point where they get in a real game. Just from what I've seen on the practice field, Geno's [Stone] an extremely smart kid. He's picked up the defense fast, and he's just got to continue to keep on developing his skills, and hopefully, we'll see what happens."
I'm curious, it looked like CB Anthony Averett had a really nice practice today. What have you seen from his progression in his young career? (Ryan Mink) "Like I said last year, we have a lot of great players in our secondary. Anthony's [Averett] one of those guys. Having Anthony and we've got … You guys didn't even mention Tavon [Young]. We've got Tavon back this year, which is a huge addition – that's like having another first round draft pick coming back inside of your room. As far as Anthony Averett, he's always been a guy who's very confident, very easy going, the game is easy to him. He just goes out there, and he goes and plays. It doesn't matter who's in front of him, he's confident that he can go out there and cover anybody. I have that utmost faith in him that if I ever put him out there in the game, that he's going to be able to go out there and do his job. But we have a lot of great players in our secondary. It's a long line, but 'Double A,' he's right there. Don't get it twisted – the kid can play."
MIKE MACDONALD – LINEBACKERS COACH
LBs Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison aren't going to have the luxury of playing in preseason games – it's completely unprecedented. How do you think those guys are going to respond on September 13 against the Browns? (Todd Karpovich) "Obviously, this offseason is quite a challenge for us – it's different. The thing that we have to do a good job of is making sure they're getting enough live, competitive snaps against the 'ones' where we can see what they can do. That's really the best we can do at this point. I think today we had a good series there with the younger guys, but as we get going, making sure that they get the right looks [so] that we can evaluate them accordingly. But the one thing I like about those two guys – considering their age – is their maturity. They came in here – 'P.Q.' [Patrick Queen] just turned 21, I think Malik is 22 years old. They've got a great football foundation behind them, so they come in here with some linebacker pedigree considering how much time Patrick played at LSU in only a year-and-a-half. So, I like where they're at. They're ahead of where most rookies would be in a normal season at this point, I believe."
Coach Macdonald, what has impressed you about the rookies? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "Like I said, the number one thing is their maturity. I'd say the next thing is really their competitiveness. I know they don't make the same mistake twice – that's something that we harp on. It's always trying to figure out something new to mess up, and that's going to happen as rookies. But the thing we want to make sure we're doing is we're flying around, we're being physical, we're communicating the defense, making sure everybody's on the same page. That's a work in progress, but those guys, once we correct it in the film room, they have a nice ability to be able to take it out on the field and then figure it out as we go and keep moving forward."