Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement:"Good to see everyone. [We] appreciate you being here. [There is] really nothing to announce. The announcements, as far as some of the roster moves that were made, were made already, so you have those. I don't know what I could add to that. I'd be happy to answer any questions on it, but I can't think of what would be really relevant. We're getting ready to go play St. Louis, and we're going to do our best to go out there and try to win that game, within the parameters of what helps our football team going forward into the regular season."* *
Some of these guys were talking about [how] they don't want to get into the anxiety of it. They just try to treat it like another game. Is that the approach that you preach to these guys? (Aaron Wilson) *"That's the right approach. I don't know if we preached it, but it's a message that they're taking to heart. Daryl Smith even mentioned it to them when he did the 'wise words' [post-practice huddle breakdown] the other day. You go out there and do what you've always done. Be yourself, be your best self, play hard, have fun, and do what you can do." *
Do you know what's happening with Art Jones – he hasn't been practicing for the last few days? (Aaron Wilson)"Art [Jones] had an issue. It's not football-related. It was kind of a … I'm going to leave it to Art to explain what it was, but it was more of a personal health thing that's not serious. We just held him back this week."* *
Without getting into the specifics of conversations you had with guys you have to cut, could you talk in general terms how tough it is for a head coach to have those conversations? (Chris Miller)"Well, it's emotional – there's no question – when you have that conversation, because you understand what's at stake, and you're a part of his dreams. As coaches, we try to do everything we can to help every guy realize that dream, and these guys are here for a reason. We have a lot of good players. We have to make a lot of tough cuts. But by the same token, anybody that says it's harder for me than it is for you, that's just not true. That's bologna. It's harder for the person going through it. But, we've all been through that professionally. It's definitely harder when you're the one going through it. We talked to our team about that, and [we] just have great respect for players in this league [and] have great respect for how hard it is and the disappointment these guys face."* *
Could you tell us what goes through the process in your mind thinking of what the equation is – will it be part of the fourth game and what you see also in practice in deciding? (Jerry Coleman)"I don't have that equation. I wasn't good at math. I didn't even take calculus. I wasn't interested in it. (laughter) (Reporter: "Can I rephrase that?") "Sure." *(Reporter: "The process that you will go through in making your determination.") *Well, we'll just look at it and decide who the guys are that help us the most to be the best team we can be. That's really what it is. All of the little variables that go in there are different for every situation. Then, you've got to make some – just to be fair – you do have to make some assumptions. We're going to need this type of a player at that position, or we're going to because we have this guy here, we need this guy over there. Those are the things that come into play. If you keep this person, it may mean this other person fits more. But, if you keep this other person, it's a different type of an equation. Now, I get it. I see what you're saying now." *(laughter)
How often, in your experience in the last five years has it been so close between two players where it's so much of a coin toss that one play in that fourth game could make the difference? (Peter Schmuck)"Probably not often, in all reality. But, I would say [that] in this game, there are a couple of those. There are a couple guys that, perhaps if they really, really play well, they could really play themselves on [to the team], or guys could play themselves off. It's possible."* *
How comforting is it to have, with Joe [Flacco] as one of the faces of your franchise, that he's a guy you can count on, on and off the field, to do the right thing? (Matt Vensel)"You mean to do the right thing? I'm not worried about Joe [Flacco], as far as showing up somewhere where he's not supposed to be, or some picture turning up that's going to be embarrassing. Is that what you're kind of referring to? (Reporter: "Well, just everything in general, and also just the intangibles.") *The biggest concern with Joe is these commercials. *(laughter) I mean, the guys are on him. His acting ability and his delivery – it's improving. *(laughter) *I'm surprised you guys haven't asked me questions about that, like his progress and how far do you think he's come as an actor." *(laughter)
How do you think Joe's impact as an actor has benefitted … (Chris Miller)"I think he should keep his day job. How's that? *(laughter) *But, the thing about that question – thanks for asking – [is that] we feel that way about all of our guys. We really do. We are really proud of our guys. Knock on wood … Anything can happen at any time, but we feel good about our guys. When they leave the building, we feel like they're good family men. They're going to do the right things. We've got young guys. Guys do young-guy things sometimes, but we really feel good about the character and quality of people that we have here as players and coaches and the whole organization."
[There's] so much focus on the 53-man roster, but you do have that practice squad. That must be a tough decision as well [with] whether to let the guy go from the organization as a whole or try to keep him as a project going forward into the future. Can you talk about that process? (Mark Zinno)"The practice squad equation has to do with that. It has to do with developmental players, developing the guys that you think are going to be able to help you this year and or down the road, but also who you need to practice. That's what it's called; it's the 'practice' squad. If you're heavy at one position and light at another position, you have to keep more practice squad players there. You may have another player at a heavy position that you can't keep on the practice squad just because you're not going to have enough, say, defensive lineman to run the practice. There are factors there as well."* *
For this game, with the quarterback situation, do you try to use it as knowing that Tyrod [Taylor] doesn't get as many reps during the regular season? [Do] you want to see him get as many [reps] even in the fourth preseason game? Then, [do] you also try and decide whether to keep two or three quarterbacks with Caleb [Hanie] in there as well? (Garrett Downing) "Yes, those would be considerations that you would definitely take into account when you're making that decision."
Would the protocol with this just be Caleb [Hanie] and Dayne [Crist] for this last [game] or likely … (Aaron Wilson) "That's a possibility. It could be Tyrod [Taylor], too. Joe [Flacco] won't play."
There was a lot of talk before camp about the leadership mantle being passed from Ray [Lewis] to Ed [Reed] to whomever on defense. Are you satisfied with what you've seen in that regard with the leadership part of the defense? (Keith Mills) "Steve Bisciotti made a great statement: He said somewhere along the way, 'I think we're going to surprise people with the leadership ability on our team.' I felt that way all along, and I feel that way even more now as we finish up the preseason."
Can you talk about Chris Canty in the locker room and on the field? (Glenn Younes)"Chris Canty is a great example, and you guys see him every day. He's just another guy who is a 4.0. There's nothing that he doesn't bring to the table every day. As a player, person, leader – he's got it all. He's been a great addition for us."
Is there more you think you're going to learn about the leadership in the regular season of what you've seen in training camp? (David Steele) "We'll learn all the way right up until the last game, whatever that is and beyond. You always do, right? The thing that's good is what the guys who left brought to the table isn't really gone – it's still with us. All the things that we learned from Ray [Lewis] or all the other guys that have been through here over the years – we still have that – it's still part of us. So, that's exciting."
Anything specifically? I know there is sort of an overall aura towards the idea everybody has. Is there anything specifically said that [you can say], "Yeah, that's definitely something that came from Ray [Lewis]?" (David Steele)"There are no original ideas, right? Ray [Lewis] has a great way of expressing a worldview – his worldview. Some of the things that he stands for, I think most of us would agree with. There are a lot of things that we all believe in that Ray would talk about. One of the things he talked about – to answer your question – is that he would always ask the question, 'What is your destiny? Where are you going? What are you going to be known for and remembered for?' That's because that's where he was in his career; that was consuming him and was on his mind. He would have young guys think about that. Even old guys, that's something to think about, right? That's something that I personally take away from what he used to talk about. That was always a theme whenever he talked."
I know it is limited in what you want to show during the course of the preseason, but [are you] encouraged at all just by what you've seen from the pass rush during the preseason? (Matt Zenitz) "Yes, [I'm] encouraged by the pass rush. Probably … You take the preseason games and the practice all into account. We're going to have a really good pass rush. There's no question that we're going to be able to rush the passer with three, four, five or six. We'll do all of those; we'll mix it all up."
What was your message to the smaller group that met right before you came off the field? (Brett Hyman) "[It was] just team business. That's nothing really that anybody would be interested in. Maybe you're interested in everything, but that's not something we would share. It's just team business."
Just for clarification: Tyrod [Taylor] has passed his concussion test? (Jerry Coleman)"I know he's passed the physical balance part of it. We're waiting for the test result on the other part of it. [I] haven't heard anything negative on that. [I] just haven't heard yet."
So he'll just be a game-time-type decision? (Jerry Coleman) "Yes, or sooner. As soon as he passes the test, he's cleared to play. We do not anticipate that being a problem; we really haven't. If it is, that would be a little surprising."