Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement:"Good to see you guys. Thanks for coming. Had a good practice – a good, tough, hard-nosed practice. A lot of good, tough, hard-nosed situations, and that's how you develop a tough, hard-nosed football team."
How are Bernard Pierce and Deonte Thompson? (Aaron Wilson)"No comment on any injury situation. It's training camp. If it's something serious, I'll let you know. I'm not going to get into every little knick and bruise that we have on our team. I know you've got to ask and everything, but let's not waste our time. If it's serious, you'll know about it."
**How happy are you based on what you've seen from LaQuan Williams, and what exactly did you see from him against Tampa? *(Matt Zenitz) *"He played great; LaQuan played great. He was responsible for three touchdowns, right? He scored two and set up one. Two of those were on special teams, one was on offense, and a lot of that touchdown on offense was based on the hurry-up speed tempo that we use and we kind of wore their defense out a little bit at the end. The corner was just sucking wind and he ran right by him. So, I'm proud of those guys for that, and I'm really proud of the way LaQuan played. He's a heck of a player and he did a great job."
How much more is LaQuan Williams putting himself into the mix at wide receiver with performances like that? (Matt Zenitz)"I don't really have a gauge on that. I don't have that thermometer handy right now to gauge that."
When you have a guy like that, who it's not come easy for, who's had to work for everything, is there a certain amount of pride when you watch a guy like that have a game like that? (Rob Carlin)"Yes, but [that's] for everybody. I don't want to say there's more pride for one guy than another guy. As a coach, you're always proud for all your guys. But, LaQuan is a special guy. Here's a guy that a week ago had a shoulder issue that would have kept a lot of guys out for a couple weeks. A lot of guys wouldn't have played with that shoulder he had. He came back, and he practiced and he played with it and was rewarded with that kind of a performance. So, to me, that's a good lesson for guys trying to earn their way in this league. He's a very tough guy."
What's been your impression of Marlon Brown so far and his progression? (Ryan Mink)"Marlon has done a nice job. Marlon is a guy that had the ACL last year – I think Nov. 1 – came back from it, obviously, very quickly. So, credit his rehab with [University of] Georgia down there and also his work ethic. But you saw him in the game. He played well, that's how he's practiced, [but] obviously, he's got a lot to work on. But he's working himself into the competition."
What are your thoughts on going back to M&T Bank Stadium tomorrow? (Kris Jones)"[We're] really excited about that. It's going to be fun – can't wait for it. Our guys are looking forward to it. It's our home. It's the best stadium in football. It's classic – it's a classic stadium. And even though it's a little older now – it's been around for a little while now – it seems like it's brand new. You walk in there and it's just sparking in every way. It's always fun to go to M&T Bank [Stadium]."
Do you use that as a little bit of motivation, too, for guys who are battling to make it on the roster, just the fact that they get to play in that stadium? (Kris Jones)"In all honesty, probably not. It's probably not motivation. They'll be excited to do it, and maybe that's motivation in itself, but making the team is a great prize, and those guys are working hard to try to do that."
Can you talk about Daryl Smith and what he's done during training camp? And what did you see from him the other night in Tampa Bay? (Matt Zenitz)"I thought Daryl Smith played great in every way. There wasn't one negative aspect of his performance. He's going to be a very big part of our defense this year."
Same thing with Josh Bynes. He saw significant playing time with the first-team defense. How is he coming along in camp? (Matt Zenitz)"I would say Josh has only gotten better. He equated himself very well in there, as you saw. He played like a starting inside linebacker. So, he's the leader right now for that spot, and he's going to be challenged by a couple other guys strongly, but he played very well."
Do you see your defense having a lot of versatility and depth? It seems like a lot of guys are brought into the mix. How do you determine who starts and who doesn't? (Clifton Brown)"It's a good point; we have a lot of guys who can play a lot of different positions, and that's what we've always tried to do here, but we probably have a few more pieces. That remains to be proven, but it feels like we might have a few more pieces than we had last year and the last couple of years even."
Adrian Hamilton made a couple of plays the other night. I know he's been mostly a pass-rushing guy, but what other parts of his game has he developed in? (Matt Zenitz)"Adrian played well. He's a guy that sometimes you think of as a one-dimensional guy, and truthfully, he has been that. Up until Thursday night … Thursday night he played the run very solidly and he played his assignments well. So, I feel like he played himself back into contention, and he's back in the mix."
How much of a learning curve is it with communication for the secondary, in general? It looked like during the game there may have been a little breakdown there. (Kris Jones)"You're right. That's the whole thing in the secondary. It's not the whole thing. First of all, talent, secondly, individual technique is huge – which we have areas to work on there, too – but we're very far along as a technique secondary. [Secondary coach] Teryl Austin does just a tremendous job coaching those guys. And then communication is the final piece. And that's why those guys have to play a little bit more, even in these games. They have to play together in practice, because every kind of formation comes up with all the defenses we run, that you just have to see them. And they have to be able to anticipate them, and do it over and over again until it becomes second nature. And that's our base defense that we had the missed check on that one and got caught without a deep player back there and gave them the big play. Defensively, our whole issue, we played really well, except for what? Penalties and mistakes. And if we don't do that on defense, people are going to have a tough time moving the ball on is. Same thing can be said for the offense, really. It was really penalties and mistakes. That first quarter wasn't as good as we thought it should have been, and if we play good solid football – like we will – and you expect these things in the first preseason game. But that's the key for us, and we're capable of being very good if we do that."
WR LaQuan Williams
On how it felt to score multiple touchdowns vs. Tampa Bay:"Just seeing hard work pay off, it was definitely a good feeling."* *
On being a difference-maker this year:"Once [my] number gets called, it's my job to go out there and make plays. I feel like I'm very capable of doing that."* *
On the improvements he needs to make going into his third season:"Just understanding football period – understanding where I have to be and understanding what Joe [Flacco] is reading. I think that's the biggest part that's helping me going into my third year."* *
On who he is as a football player: "Hard-working, dedicated and never give up."* *
On coming from working at a paint store to being an NFL player: "It doesn't feel like that long [ago]. The process is definitely long – to keep working and keep pushing yourself [and] motivating yourself. It definitely feels like somewhat of a long time."* *
On what he's doing to compete for a roster spot: "Just making every play. That's what it comes down to. This league is a 'make-play' league, with a defender on you or making acrobatic catches. Just making a play – I feel like that's what I have to do to solidify a spot."* *
On WR Torrey Smith helping his development:"Torrey helped a lot pushing me through [adversity]. [We] just help each other, push each other through. We know each other's body language [since] we've been through it for so long [that] we know when we need an extra boost. That's the most important thing with having Torrey."* *
On how his making plays has earned the confidence of his quarterbacks: "Definitely, once you do it a few times for a guy, he'll feel comfortable coming back to you and throwing [the ball] up and give you a chance when it's even."
QB Tyrod Taylor
On how he felt he performed against Tampa Bay:"I performed well. There are some things I can do better, and as a team we can do better, too. [We] got a chance to watch the film today as a unit and dissect our play; there are a lot of things I can learn from that game."* *
On how much further along he is in his third year, and if he feels confident to play well if called upon: "I've always been confident in my ability. But of course, being in the system going into my third year definitely makes things easier on the field to communicate with the guys, get the guys into the right plays versus certain defenses. So, I guess just the maturity of being in the offense over a couple of years definitely brings more confidence when it comes to things like that."* *
On the importance of gaining his teammates' trust in the huddle: "Oh, that's very important, and you've got to display that in practice for them to trust you in the game. If you are able to get everybody together in this heat – while it's hard – then they can definitely trust you in the game. That's my job, is to continue to keep pushing them and get better and practice that way so it can transfer over to the field in games."* *
On WR LaQuan Williams: "He played well for us a couple of times his rookie year, and he's been playing well for the three seasons that he's been here. He's just being confident in his playmaking ability [and] going out there and making plays. He does it all the time in practice. He's a confident guy and he's a playmaker and it's showing on the field. It's my job to get the ball to him and that's what I have to do."* *
On if he enjoys running all the different option packages: "Yeah, it definitely throws the defense off. The main thing the coaches wanted me to do was not take too many shots on my body, especially this early in camp [to] preserve my body, but at the same time get a good look at it on film. That's what we wanted to do versus Tampa, and maybe in the future as well. So, as long as we get a chance to get it on film [and] see what we did well about it and see what we don't like about it, [we can] build from there."
WRs Coach Jim Hostler
What are your impressions of Marlon Brown and what he's done so far throughout camp? (Ryan Mink) "He's young, he's growing, [and] he's coming off of an injury, so each day he gets a little better. He gets a little more … He's coming along pretty fast for where he was, not having an offseason."
Do you think he could be a good red zone guy with his height and whatnot? (Ryan Mink) *"Oh yeah, he's an inside and outside guy, so he's done it both. He's a full-field guy. He'll be a big target in the red zone. Third down, he can play inside, [and] he'll be a big matchup inside for us. It's just a matter of developing, learning what to do and growing." *
**One of the things that stuck out to me as far as Marlon is obviously he's a big guy, but it seems that he moves really well for a guy his size. He's fluid in his movements. Is that something that stuck out to you guys? *(Matt Zenitz) *"He's explosive. For a big guy, he's explosive. He can get in and out of routes. He's sudden. He's not a long-striding guy who takes time to build up speed. He can get to top speed pretty quickly. Those are all exciting things. You have explosion and a body like that – that's what we've got."
**I know that LaQuan [Williams] is somebody who's made plays in training camp and preseason – even before this year. Where do you feel like this year that he has made strides? *(Matt Zenitz) *"This year, he's finished a little better in training camp. In the past, he's had real good offseasons. He's come to the training camp and maybe not finished as well as he has had to. This year, he's done a much better job of finishing plays. It showed up in the game. So, I think that's a little bit farther along than he's been in the past."
**I know you've said Jacoby [Jones] is the No. 2 guy as far as the receiver job goes, with Tandon [Doss] in competition, too. Is LaQuan someone who's in the mix for one of those? *(Matt Zenitz) *"I think they're all in it. Deonte [Thompson] is in it. Our strength is outside. No matter who wins the job, we're still going to have four guys who can play out there. We've got a lot of speed [and] a lot of guys who can play outside. So, whoever wins it will have earned it, but the other guys are going to play."
**I know LaQuan is somebody who doesn't stand out in any particular way from a physical standpoint – he's 6-0 tall, maybe not a 4.4 [seconds] guy in the 40- [yard dash]. What does he do that you guys like in particular? *(Matt Zenitz) *"Well, he's dependable. The quarterbacks trust him, he gets to the spot, [and] he knows how to get open. He's more of a receiver than a lot of guys. A lot of guys are fast and they play fast, and they maybe don't have all the natural ability that a receiver has. LaQuan has a lot of it. He didn't play a lot in the past, but he's got natural ability. It comes natural to him – playing the position. So therefore, things are natural. The angles, getting to the spots – is a little bit easier for him."
**From your perspective, why are so many teams using so many of these three-receiver sets? And also, what does it say about the talent around the league at the position that all these teams can put three productive receivers out there? *(Matt Vensel) *"It puts a lot of pressure on defenses. The passing game in itself obviously … It puts pressure on defenses. The ball goes up and down the field more when the ball is completed. So, [if] you want to put that kind of pressure on the defense, you're going to have to play with three guys and sometimes four guys. Spread people out, utilize the whole field, remove some of the physicality out of the defense and put in a little more spacing and skill. You have to have that. The way the college game is, too – because it's played a lot like that now – there [are] a lot more of those guys out there. So, you see it a lot more coming into this league. It may not look the same as the college game, but it's the same premise – spreading people out, getting people in space, people with speed, people who have got to get covered, or it's going to be big plays."
**From your perspective … I don't know how much of a chance you get to work with him … Ray Rice, when he lines up in the slot, what kind of receiver skills do you see from him? *(Matt Vensel) *"He has excellent receiver skills. He catches the ball extremely well. He can go inside, he has no fear and his transition from catch to run is unbelievable. So, the ability to catch a ball and hit top gear [and] make somebody miss – not a lot of guys have that. Ray [Rice] has it, obviously, so when he touches the ball on the perimeter, it's the same thing. It can go a long way."
**With no Dennis [Pitta] and no Anquan [Boldin], the perception is maybe there is more pressure on the whole receiver group to find somebody or some bodies to take over. Do you agree with that? *(Clifton Brown) *"Oh yeah, there is [more pressure]. You take our top two inside guys out of the equation, there's going to be some pressure. Guys are going to have to step up. Guys are going to have to do things that they've never done before. They're going to have to carry the team. They're going to have to make plays in critical situations. That's where we're at. We've got a lot of guys outside. We'll be fine. We can run; we've got a lot of speed. We've just got to find those couple guys inside that can go in there on third down and make plays in critical situations to move the chains. And that's where we're at – we're trying to discover those guys. We've got a couple [guys] that we've got that are working, that are good players. They just … Nobody knows them. So, until they do it, we're going to be answering that question the rest of the year."
And obviously it's still only two weeks into training camp, one preseason game in. Is it fair to say that it's still very much a work in progress in terms of finding your No. 2 and No. 3 guys? (Matt Zenitz) "Right, because Anquan [Boldin] leaving and Dennis [Pitta] [getting injured] means that one more guy has got to move up. That's all part of the process. How far that guy comes, how fast he comes – that's all part of the process of playing in there. And it's different in there. Guys have to … There's bodies, there's angles, there's no defensive backs that have to worry about deep help. They've always got help, so it's a lot different. Playing in there is going to be a challenge, and we're going to have to evolve through that and grow as we go."
**Was there any level of disappointment the other night, just in terms of the rain and weather? Does that change the evaluation a bit? *(Matt Zenitz) *"No. We had a couple opportunities to make some plays, and we're disappointed we didn't – easy things that should have come up cleaner than they did. But that's going to happen no matter where you're at. You can turn on any NFL game, and there's going to be some guys who don't make the plays when they should. It's just a matter of what you do after that – growing, getting better [and] not looking back, but moving forward."