Special Teams Coordinator/Associate Head Coach Jerry Rosburg
Coach Harbaugh said after the game that you need to get guys that can catch the punts. You guys waived WR/RS Kaelin Clay today. How do you see that shaking out? How challenging has that been? (Jeff Zrebiec)"We need to find a returner. For training camp from this point forward, one of the big missions we have is to find out who that player is and how he fits into our roster. Just having a returner is the start of it. You have to have a guy that's able to catch the ball and secure the catch and hang on to it afterwards, but he also needs to fit into your team. That's the challenge. We'll keep working on it every day, and we'll find out what happens this week in the game. The game reps are so valuable for us. That's why this last weekend's game was so disappointing, because we had our first game reps, and we put the ball on the ground twice."
Do you feel like that guy is here? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I do."
Are WR Steve Smith Sr. and S Lardarius Webb options? (Garrett Downing) "They're both very good returners in their own right. Obviously, Steve Smith was outstanding when he was a younger man. He's still outstanding in catching the ball and securing the ball, but his role is still yet to be defined, as you all know. 'Webby' [Lardarius Webb] has had good history with us. We have those guys in the bullpen, so to speak, but we'd like to find another returner. "
**So you're willing to use them, but you don't necessarily want either of them to be "the guy?" *(Garrett Downing) *"I want them to be the guy if that's where we end up, but the rest of training camp, it's our challenge to find another guy."
Were you aware that S Eric Weddle had the ability to be a holder? (Luke Jones)"Yes. We worked on it during football school and OTAs. It was good to get him out there. We needed some practice. That was the perfect opportunity today."
**Jerry, when you talk about the new rules and how good these punters have become with directional punting and not allowing a lot of returns, does that affect the decision-making and the importance of a returner? *(Jeff Zrebiec) *"The kickoff, kickoff return rule, it remains to be seen how many opportunities there will be, and if they are, how they will differ from years past. Punt and punt return, I don't think the numbers say that that play is necessarily being minimized. It may be. It's our goal to do that; that's why we do what we do. But not everybody can do what Sam Koch can do."
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees
How are you doing now that OLB Terrell Suggs is back? (Joe Platania) "It was nice to see 55 out there. That was fun. He's always fun in practice. It was great to have him out there."
What's the challenge to work him back in with wanting to get him ready for the season, but he's a guy coming off an Achilles injury? (Jeff Zrebiec)"I don't think anybody knows his body better than he does at this point in time in his career. It has to be a little bit of a feel between coach [John] Harbaugh, [vice president and head certified athletic trainer] Mark Smith and him. We'll work him in as we can work him in. His health is the most important thing right now. He knows the defense. He knows what we're doing. He's been in all of the meetings. Anything we've changed, he knows. Now it's just a matter of getting him ready. Those three guys know it better than I do."
I'm sure it's better to have him on the field, but what sort of resource has he been in the meeting rooms? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Invaluable. Especially some of those outside guys that … We have a tendency to take defensive ends in college and make them outside 'backers, and that's not always an easy transition. Usually, it works out good in the long run, but not right off the bat. Having him in there to talk about his transition to it and other guys' transition to it has just been invaluable."
Dean, we heard that OLB Terrell Suggs passed the conditioning test weeks ago, and according to coach John Harbaugh, he was the closest to coming off the Physically Unable to Perform list. It seems like he's in tip-top condition, and I know you are waiting on what coach Harbaugh has to say in terms of playing time, but do you feel like he could step on the field and play in a game now? (Jerry Coleman) "That would be up to him. I guess the way I'd answer it is I'd ask him if he thinks he can. Guys that have played a long time know their bodies better than we do. Coaches have a tendency to tape it up and go in. He knows better than anybody if he's ready to play right now. He passed that conditioning test with flying colors a couple of weeks ago. That's been a decision between the three of them – coach Harbaugh, Mark Smith and him – when he came back. It will be the same thing; it will be a decision between those three guys of when he's ready to step on the field. I just want him to be ready at the Buffalo game. That's all I care about."
Can you verify? There was a report that it was a total surprise to coach John Harbaugh that he went out and passed the conditioning test behind everyone's back. Is that accurate? (Jerry Coleman) "You'd have to ask coach [John] Harbaugh. I can't tell you whether it surprised coach Harbaugh."
You had a few guys that weren't on the field for your starting defense on Thursday night. What did you think about the first team's performance? (Luke Jones) "We did alright. There was some good and there was some bad. They started out and got us on our heels with the reverse and then a quick pass. I thought the coverage was tight, even on the pass that they completed to Greg Olsen right there on the sideline. Eric Weddle was right there on him; it was just a good throw, good catch. But we got them stopped. The thing that I thought was good coming out of the first game was we played really well in the red zone. Thank goodness, because if we hadn't it wouldn't have been the same outcome. What we didn't do well was we didn't play well on third down. We had plenty of opportunities to get off the field and just didn't do it. We have to improve in that area. Everybody had good plays at this point, and everybody had poor plays. I had poor calls along with good calls. It was just a typical first game. I'm happy with the way they played though. I was really happy with the effort. I thought we flew around and tried to play physical. Other than the one quarterback run and the reverse, they would have averaged 1.8 yards a run, and that's always at the top of our priorities."
With OLB Terrell Suggs, have you considered limiting his snap count and getting OLB Za'Darius Smith in there more to ease the burden on Suggs? (Ryan Mink) "I think it's always going to depend on the team. I don't think I can give you an answer that that is necessarily going to be the case. I think it's going to depend on the team and what kind of scheme they run, whether it's a running team, passing team, or if they're a wide open team. The good thing is I think we have some guys that can play and can spell guys. I don't know if anyone would have to play a 70- or 80-play game. I'm hoping we don't have to play 80-play games on defense. Time will tell. I really don't know."
Do you have a preference for the sideline or the booth during games? (Garrett Downing) "I've always like the sidelines. I know I've been in a booth here the whole time, except for the first couple of games of 2012, but I always was on the sideline for all of my time at New England and really in college. I spent a little time in a booth in college when I was with [Nick] Saban – that was the only time. What I do is it depends on the staff. I really felt like before our communication wasn't as good as it needed to be, so I felt like I needed to be in the box, because there's one less communicator that has to go to me before I communicate to somebody else to get the call in. I feel like right now I wanted to try it down on the sideline in preseason, because I feel a little different about the staff right now. We have a little more of an experienced guy in the box in [secondary] coach [Leslie] Frazier – especially being in the secondary. If that works out, that would be great. But if that doesn't, I'll go back up in a minute. It just really depends on the staff. It has nothing to do with the team or anything else. Don't read anything more into it than what's best for our staff."
If you have a healthy OLB Terrell Suggs for an entire season, as a guy that is devising the scheme, how much does that impact your planning? (Jamison Hensley) "Tremendous. That should have been obvious from last year. Once we lost him, it was different in the second half of the season than it was the first half. We really totally adapted the scheme the second half of the season, because we knew we didn't have him anymore. Meanwhile, we had already committed to the first half and we tried to adapt, but it wasn't as good as we wanted it to be. Having him in there for a full season would be a great thing."
Dean, has it been challenging with the reps and game preparation to have so many DBs out? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yeah, it was. Even today in practice, we had a bunch of guys, I think three or four guys, that were out. The only good thing about that at this point in time is that you can then take a look at somebody, maybe even at a different position, just to look at him and get a feel for him more. Maybe if everybody was there, that guy wouldn't have got … The backup kid wouldn't have gotten as many reps in practice or in a game. There's good and bad, but obviously, you'd like to have everybody there."
Was that the deal with CB Maurice Canady, who came back today? (Ken McKusick) "He was in there today. He was back out there today. He wasn't in there at the end. I don't really know why. I don't know if he was out or not or maybe just tired, because he's been out for a little while. We'd love to see him get some snaps."
Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman
Opening statement: "How is everybody doing? It was good to see Crockett [Gillmore] and Mike [Campanaro] back out there today. I'll leave it open to questions."
If WR Mike Campanaro is healthy, what do you think he can give you?* (Garrett Downing)* "I think that Mike is a versatile guy; he can go inside or outside. He is a good slot receiver, certainly. He gives us experience. We saw a little bit of that in the Pittsburgh game last year. [We are] able to utilize him in specialty roles, quick screens and around some things like that. He does an excellent job in those areas as well."
Where are you putting G/T Alex Lewis on the offensive line? He has really moved around a lot, left tackle and left guard. (Ken McKusick) "We have him back at guard this week. With John [Urschel] out, he will get most of his work there. He has showed his versatility. He played tackle at Nebraska most of the time or the times that we saw him on tape. But he has certainly shown he can do both [tackle and guard]. He is a bright young man who is able to transition in both spots. His value just increases dramatically when you can play more than one spot. This is a great time of the season to be able to move him around and get him experience in both spots."
What do you see as a role for FB Kyle Juszczyk? Fullbacks have kind of changed in the NFL, but he is someone that can do a lot. (Garrett Downing) "Yes, I think you saw that in the game the other night. You saw it today. He was on the line of scrimmage, he was running up the field routes, he was running intermediate stuff. Kyle does have the ability … He is a legitimate blocking fullback. We all know he has the ability to catch the football out of the backfield; he did an excellent job of that last year. He can do certain things on the line of scrimmage. Between that and his special teams capabilities, that is a guy who brings a lot of value to what we are doing offensively."
Head Coach John Harbaugh had indicated that the PUP guys would all be ready by the season opener. We saw OLB Terrell Suggs come out here today. Might some other guys be closer? He had talked about WR Breshad Perriman possibly being ready by mid-August. (Jerry Coleman)"John [Harbaugh] knows where things are. That is really a question for him and it is a question for the training staff. I'll just leave it those guys to give you best answer possible. I can't do that."
What did you think about T Ronnie Stanley after being able to watch the tape? (Luke Jones) "I was really excited about Ronnie; we have been excited since the day he got here. He has had a very good camp – a solid camp. He was able to make the transition under the lights the other night. He had a good game. There are certainly corrections to be made, but he had a solid performance certainly. That is a good sign of what is to come."
Head coach John Harbaugh talked earlier this training camp about making sure to get FB Kyle Juszczyk involved. What does he sort of bring with his skill set? (Jeff Zrebiec)"Ask him (points to Garrett Downing), because he just asked me the same question. *(laughter) *I'll repeat myself; that is OK. The thing that Kyle does is, No. 1, he is an excellent blocking fullback and lead back in our two-back offense. He fits the bill there. I think we saw how he caught the ball out of the backfield in the backfield position, as well. We had him in the flats and the sidelines. We will continue to utilize him up the field, and he is transitioning into playing on the line of scrimmage as well. He is really considered one of our tight ends, as well, in a lot of our formations. He has all of those capabilities, and I think you saw that today, two or three times, he was on different types of routes from the line of scrimmage."
Are you excited over all that you have seen from the tight ends? Even guys who you may not have Week 1, due to suspensions? (Jeff Zrebiec)"I am generally excited about the whole group, but certainly we have a talented bunch of guys at that position."