Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement:"[It's] good to see everybody. Thanks for waiting – I appreciate it. [I had] just a little business to take care of with the guys. They deserve an ear, I guess I could say, but they practiced really well the last two days. To come off the game [and] come out and practice the way we have as a football team the last two days, I'm really proud of that as a football coach. That's all you can ask for. We continue to try to improve, get guys healthy, evaluate our guys and try and get ready to play Cincinnati here in a couple weeks."
John, was it a day off for everybody, including G/T Jah Reid, or did something come up with him? (Aaron Wilson) "Jah has a little head dinger. I don't know the extent of it or how long it'll be, but he hit his head yesterday, so he's [going through the] concussion protocol."
You spoke of it yesterday, but TE Owen Daniels, again, sat out of practice. Is that just the leg resting? (Glenn Younes) "There's no tear; there's no pull. He has some swelling in his leg with use, and we're playing it safe right now rather than pounding his legs out. It's training camp. He's an older guy, and I'm just following [head certified athletic trainer] Mark [Smith's] instructions on it. He feels like he needs some rest still, so that's what he's getting. But there's no injury there."
What are your thoughts about the pass protection over the first couple of weeks? (Jamison Hensley) "I feel good about the pass protection. It's been good. On the play-action stuff, we haven't been able to hold the ball quite as long as we need to get it downfield like we want. That has to do with people rushing the passer sometimes on play-action, which is maybe part of why the run game has been so good. There's give and take there a little bit. Overall, the pass protection has been good so far."
John, what have you thought about your run game so far? I know that that's a real emphasis this year with offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak coming here. (Tom Reed) "I feel good about the run game so far, and we temper it with the fact that it's two games in the preseason, and what matters is what you do when it counts. So far, so good. We just want to keep working and try to keep improving every day."
With RB Lorenzo Taliaferro, what do you think of him so far in terms of how he's adjusting to the NFL? It seems like one of the things he's still trying to work on is his ball security and running the ball low. (Aaron Wilson) "Those are all the things we have to work on, especially with young guys. Lorenzo has done a really good job. He's a hard runner; he's a big body; he's really seeing the plays really well; he's done a nice job in pass protection, and he has good hands. Those are all the things you look for. Now all the [other] things [like] turning the ball over – coughing the ball up is never going to be OK, but nobody is more conscious of that than he is. Today he had a ball in his hand high and tight all day, and the veterans made sure of that. Our guys do a great job of holding our guys accountable, and that was good. He'll be working on that."
WR Marlon Brown made a nice stop on special teams the other day. It seems like he's playing that role well, too. How's he doing in that setting? (Garrett Downing) "You're right. Marlon has done a great job on special teams, and he did have a big tackle. Really, all of [our special teams players] are [doing well]. The thing that we've seen – and it's really good to see – all of our younger guys have really stepped up on special teams. In two games, we've played really well in those phases. It makes it even tougher to pick guys. Sometimes you have special teams guys standing out and other guys don't quite understand what's at stake. All of our guys have bought into it, and they're all playing pretty well. That's a good thing."* *
Coach, you've talked about the leadership council meeting with them in the past. How early does that process begin? Does it start in training camp or during the offseason? Is it a year-round process with these guys? (Jerry Coleman) "It's already started. You were just here, right? Right. Is that why you're asking it?"
Yes, because you've talked about it openly in the public. (Jerry Coleman) "Well, we've started the process."
I was wondering if it was year-round or during training camp? (Jerry Coleman) "It's probably year-round, in terms of talking to those guys, but officially it starts in training camp. We voted for the leadership council the very first day we got back, and we have six [or] seven guys on there – I believe it's seven guys. It's not just those guys. There are guys who aren't on our quote-unquote "leadership council" who are involved in decisions we make every day. One thing we try to do – and we really do, and you know this, and that's why I appreciate you asking the question – but we really try to involve our players in everything we're doing. That's part of the process. It's their team, in the end. They're the guys out there playing the game. They end up being huge leaders, especially by example, and those guys have done that. They've done a great job of it. Now we need to just go out and win some games and validate the things that those guys are doing."
Have you seen progress with the red zone offense? (Aaron Wilson) "Yes, red zone has been good in games; it's been good in practice. We put a lot of pressure on our defense; our defense challenges our offense. We're working on red zone every day. It's something we've done here for about three years. Every single day we're working on red zone, and hopefully that'll pay off, because it's the most important part of the field."
This weekend's game is a bit of a rivalry game and it's your last chance to get everything together before the regular season against the Bengals. What do you say? (Jeff Seidel) "The main thing is it's our third preseason game, and we're really looking at ourselves. We're not too concerned … You don't concern yourself with your opponent so much in the preseason, in terms of game-planning or scheming. There's a little bit of that [with] the third game because you want to introduce your players to the process that you're going to go through in the regular season. And of course, we love playing the Redskins. We love the 'Beltway [Battle]' rivalry thing. We only play them once every four years in the regular season, but our players know their players; our fans know their fans. Like I've said many times before, we'd love for all the Redskins fans to have their AFC team be the Ravens, to have that kind of a regional feeling about one another. That would be the best thing. But it should be a good football game. I watched them play last night. They're a very good football team. [Redskins head coach] Jay Gruden does a great job. We've seen him in [our] division for a number of years. [Redskins defensive coordinator] Jim Haslett – he brings it from about every direction you can bring it with the pressures and things. [They have] a lot of good players. It'll be a fun game."
John, there's so much emphasis on the passing game league-wide, but when you look at this division and what you guys are doing – Pittsburgh brought RB LeGarrette Blount in, the Browns have switched their running backs – do you think in the division there's going to be more of an emphasis this year on the running game? (Tom Reed) "There are some similar philosophies in our division, [but that] probably has a little bit to do with where we play, though. I look at the NFC North, and they've gone from the black and blue division to just an air-it-out division. It probably just depends on your personnel and your philosophies. The Bengals loved to run the ball with Paul Alexander as their offensive line coach. [Browns head coach] Mike Pettine is going to run the ball, without question. [Browns offensive coordinator] Kyle Shanahan believes in running the football. Those two schemes will be similar. Pittsburgh, obviously – they've had a renewed emphasis on running the ball. You hear them talking about it and you watch them play in the preseason. But yet, at the same time, all these teams have quarterbacks. Off the play-action and the ability to convert on third down – that's what ends up moving the chains and scoring points. It's important in this division to run the ball and stop the run, but you better be able to stop the pass, too, because there are some really good quarterbacks and some receivers in this division."
John, what'd you think of how QB Joe Flacco played the other night and just kind of overall this preseason? (Aaron Wilson) "He played well. He's played well all through training camp. If we get a couple breaks – we don't get a screen pass batted down; we get some drives going; we [run] the ball very well; we hit some passes. … He made some good decisions not throwing some passes, too, in terms of just not making bad decisions and making safe decisions. He's played well, and he has to continue to improve like everybody."
QB Joe Flacco
On how the offense has done so far midway through the preseason:"Good. We still have some things to work on. The good thing is we've dealt with a good amount of things so far and have had to react and keep ourselves going. We've done a good job."
On if he believes the Ravens' red zone offense will improve this season:"It better be if we're going to win some football games. We have good players. We have a good idea of what we're doing. We just have to go out there and execute, and we're doing that right now. So, we can expect to go out there in a game and do the exact same."
On what hurt the Ravens' offense's red zone efficiency in 2013:"Overall, we probably let teams come after us a little bit too much and didn't make the plays when they were presented to us. We're doing a good job getting the ball out getting it where it's supposed to be, winning one-on-one coverage. Those are the key things down there – quick wins and getting the ball out of your hands and just keep going forward."
On how much more confidence he has in the offensive line compared to years past:"I feel great behind them right now. I don't know what that says. I always feel comfortable behind them on Sunday. It's just a matter of going out there and doing it. I feel great. They're playing really well; they're playing really fast. They're mentally freed up to the point where they can just go be physical. As an offensive lineman, that's a big thing, because that's your No. 1 job. When you don't get to do that and you're kind of sitting back and trying to sort things out, then things can go the wrong way. That's not happening."
On how it helps to have much more comfort in pass protection:"It definitely helps. To be honest with you, I don't really notice it too much. I don't remember getting hit in this past game, and you go back and watch the film, and I got hit a couple times. You don't really remember when you're out there and the bullets are flying. You're just trying to make plays and get the ball downfield to your guys."
On if it has been hard to assess the offense this preseason:"I don't think it's been hard to assess. We only had one drive [in the first game] and we did what we were supposed to do. In the Dallas game, we didn't start very fast and we weren't out there that much, but I think we reacted well. We responded well with what had happened, and I think we did a good job. Obviously, there are things to clean up and we'll like to be a little bit better, probably."
On how much of a test the upcoming game against Washington will be:"Every game is a test. That's what it is, to put it kind of formally. Every Sunday is our test on how we prepared the week leading up to it. These guys are a good team and they have a good defense. We're going to have to be on top of ours in order to play well."
On the timing and chemistry he's built with his receivers:"It's good. It's all about running the route the way the offense is built to and me taking my drop and getting the ball out. Everybody really should look the same. That's kind of what we're working towards."
On how his comfort with C Jeremy Zuttah is developing:"It's going well. I guess I feel good under there." (laughter)
On C Jeremy Zuttah's ability to make calls at the line of scrimmage:"It's not like I really do too much. He's directing those guys and making it go. It seems to be going pretty well."
On if C Jeremy Zuttah helps take some things off of his plate that he no longer has to worry about:"Mhhmmm." *(laughter)
On how much stock he's putting into the upcoming preseason game:"I don't know. See? I just said that right there. 'I don't know.' (laughter) In every team meeting, that's like one of the things they play that I say. (laughter) I'm supposed to stop saying that." *(laughter)
On if the media should ask him questions about things he does know:"Umm … I'm going to get made fun of again for it, but...* (laughter)* This is obviously an important game as far as preseason goes, because it's the most we play. We're going to play into the second half. You want to go out there and you want to do a good job. We're ready and we're poised to do that. We have a good football team; we've been practicing great. I expect us to go out there and play very well. That's what we're going to do, and it's definitely what we want to do. We want to go out there and play well and have the confidence to go into the regular season feeling like we're ready to go."
On Browns QB Johnny Manziel and if he, being "Joe Cool," ever lost his cool before:"Yeah, I flipped [Terrell] Suggs off yesterday at practice. (laughter) I honestly can't believe it doesn't happen more often. It doesn't, though. It really doesn't."
On if he's ever lost his cool with the fans or with an opposing team:"No, no. I mean, opposing team? Yeah, I can see that. To the fans? Not necessarily. But the opposing team … When bullets are flying, man, it's a football game. It can be pretty crazy out there. When you watch it on TV [or] when we go back and watch it on film, you don't account for all the things that are actually going on out there. Guys are tired as can be – all kinds of stuff. People are saying things to each other. That kind of stuff can happen. You don't want it to, obviously, but I always think all those things are blown out of proportion. [The media] want something to talk about, so this is it today."
On if he was harassed by opposing teams early in his career like QB Johnny Manziel:"Not really, but I didn't have everything on me like he does and dealing with all that. Like I said, when people say stuff to you, what do you do? You react. And usually you react in a way that you might not necessarily want to, or you might not necessarily always react that way. I hate to say it, and you don't want to make it this way, but a football field is a place where there's a lot of emotion. Sometimes those things happen. Obviously, you want to limit it to the point where nobody else sees it, but it is what it is. I think we've all seen the middle finger before, and we should get over it." (laughter)
G Kelechi Osemele
On how he thinks the offensive line is doing so far:"To begin with, I think we have a really good arsenal at our disposal. I feel like we've been physical all camp, so we'll be physical in the red zone. I really feel confident in Joe's [Flacco] arm, and our receivers have really stepped up. Steve Smith has been making plays all training camp. So, I think all that combined, we should be better this year."
On whether he prefers running the ball: "[Answering that is] really above my pay grade. Obviously, my preference is to run the ball in the red zone, but whatever we do, we'll get it done."
On whether his back is holding up well: "Yes, I feel great. I've been maintaining [my back] and taking care of that every day with treatment and core and all of that stuff. So, I'm feeling really good right now."
On whether he likes the offense's emphasis on running the ball: "Exactly. That's what I like about it the most. I feel like, as an offensive line, it's good to set the tone early and come off the ball, knock guys off the ball, assert your dominance, and, obviously, the play-action off of that and the passes off that [are important, too]. With the linebackers getting up in there, you have early success with the run game. I'm really confident."
On if he felt like the Ravens got away from the run game last year: "Yes, I would say we got away from that a little bit. We threw the ball a lot in past years, and with [Gary] Kubiak coming in here, and installing his offense with the zone and everything, and the play-calling being more balanced, and maybe even shifting towards the run a little bit more – just a little – I feel like that should help things."
On how confident the offensive line feels about the way it is playing: "I think we're playing really confident, because we have so much experience. Eugene [Monroe] has been around the league for a long time; he [was] a high draft pick. And Marshal [Yanda] has been to multiple Pro Bowls. I'm back healthy. So, if anything … Rick [Wagner] has been playing better, so if anything, we should be better than we were last year."
On whether running the ball builds confidence for the offensive line:"Yes. Obviously, with last year not running the ball as much – and that being on the offensive line – [it] is something that we take pride in. So, if we can run the ball early this year, that should continue to build our confidence throughout the season."
On whether he likes the blocking scheme: "I love it. I think it opens up lanes for Ray [Rice] to go out there and do his thing. And 'B.P.' [Bernard Pierce] is a guy that can make a read really fast on the ball. He's very explosive. In order to … Being able to spread out the defense like that, and let those fast guys get in between the tackles and get outside the tackles, and stuff like that – spread the defense out, gas them up, get them tired – I think that should be really good."
On how T Rick Wagner has taken to his starting role so far: "I feel like during minicamp and OTAs, he was still trying to get a grasp of it. And we all were – it being a new offense. And that's a struggle for a young player, learning the playbook one year, and the next year it's a new offense. But now that he has gotten some time with the playbook and gotten multiple reps, all I've seen is improvement."
On how well the offensive line has the scheme down at this point: "We're still in the beginning stages, but at this point, I feel like we're on our way – we're well on our way. I would say we're on the right path and [will] get another opportunity at the Redskins game to go out there and put it to use. But, I feel really confident."
On what C Jeremy Zuttah brings to the offensive line: "He is really athletic. He is stronger than he looks, and he is highly intelligent. Having a guy that can go out there and make the calls quickly – and be agile and athletic enough to also help in the run game, as well as be the center that has to be the quarterback for the offensive line – it's a pretty potent combination."
On whether C Jeremy Zuttah has the offensive calls and terminology down: "Yes."
On if going to the Pro Bowl is an individual goal he has: "Yes, I think about it daily. That's something that wakes me up in the morning and gets me going. It's my personal motivation to come out here every day and grind and get after it and get better. It's one of those things where it's a carrot right out in front of you. You set goals and aim and go after it."