Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement:"Welcome, it's good to have you guys here. We had a good practice. It got hot today, which is good for us. We had a tough practice – long practice, full-contact practice – not tackling, but everything else. [It was] another full-contact, and we improved. I know we improved as a football team. That's what practice is all about. Our guys did a heck of a job. I'm proud of them. They came to work, and they have their eye on a couple things. One thing is obvious – immediately – is Thursday night [with our] opportunity to play down there against the Saints. A lot of players are going to play in this game – guys who have a lot at stake. We'll have an opportunity to improve, but also, there's going to be a few positions at stake, opportunities for guys here and elsewhere to show that they can play in the NFL. And then the other thing is getting ready for Cincinnati and the regular season. Those are the two objectives today."
With the Bengals game coming up, do you feel like CBs Jimmy Smith or Lardarius Webb will get to the point where you'll have them out here practicing? Are they going to practice this week or maybe early next week? (Aaron Wilson) "I'm anticipating that, yes."
As far as the wide receiver battle, is that still pretty close? I mean, offseason, training camp and three preseason games … Is it seeming like it's pretty bunched up right now at the wide receiver battle? (Jamison Hensley) "Yes, the wide receiver battle – you're talking about for that fifth [or] sixth spot, or seventh spot; 'around six.' (laughter) It is bunched up, so it's still very competitive because all those guys are doing so well. Nobody has dropped out of the race, and they're all proving they can play."
Is CB Asa Jackson making progress? I saw him out here doing some of the lateral stuff. (Aaron Wilson) "Asa is making progress, yes. He looked good today moving around."
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro is a guy who's gotten a lot of touches and reps during the preseason. He didn't put the ball on the ground last game. How has his progress grown from the starting to training camp until now? What have you seen from him? (Clifton Brown) "He's proving that he can play. He's had some really good runs. He seems like he's a good fit for the system. There are things he needs to work on, and he's well aware of those things, and those are things he'll get a chance to work on again Thursday night – just like he did the last two days. Obviously, protecting the football was … If you watched him run, that was really on his mind last week against Washington. That's something he needs to do and then continue to do it while he's also gaining yards – do it naturally. [He's] doing a great job – hard worker. He's going to be a heck of a good player, no question in my mind."
What is your sense of WR Michael Campanaro? How is his ability to get open going to help him make this football team? (Chris Miller) "That's probably Michael's thing. He runs the option routes; he can run double-moves. He's quick in and out of his routes.* *He runs all the routes. He's a good player outside, too. He does a nice job outside; he does a good job inside; he's in motion; he gets in stacks. He pretty much gets open all the time. And he catches the ball and he gets upfield. He's done a really good job, and those are the kinds of things you want to see him doing in real life. You want to see those things in a game. When the bullets are flying and when you have to convert a third down and everything is on the line, football-wise that's what you hope for. I'm very confident he'll do that."
John, on Saturday, the second offensive line was pretty young. Have you liked what you've seen from them so far? Have you come to with those guys be the top backups? (Jon Meoli) "Our depth at offensive line is at least as good as anybody else's. You look around the league … It's hard to have 10 starting offensive linemen on your roster. Nobody has that. I feel like we're developing some good young players. We have some veterans in there. Of course, A.Q. [Shipley] is a backup. Gino [Gradkowski] is a very good backup now. The guy has started all year; he's been here now in his third year playing very well. Jah Reid … He had the concussion, but up until he had the concussion, he was playing really well. He had a few mental mistakes in the game Saturday night that I was concerned about it, and then I learned he played after he was hit in the head the whole game. I give him a lot of credit for doing that. He'll be back. He'll be back practicing, I'm assuming, on Friday. [Ryan] Jensen has had a good camp. James Hurst is coming on. All those young guys are doing a good job. You try to develop talent behind your starters, and I really believe we have good guys developing in there."
Have you made a decision as to whether you'll play RB Ray Rice or not in that finale? (Jamison Hensley)"We have. I really don't want to get into who is playing and who is not playing, specifically."
*When we talk about roster construction, a lot have spoken taking two or three quarterbacks. How difficult is that of a decision for you guys? I know in the past you have shown you're not afraid to go with two. (Jeff Zrebiec) *"I don't think it's difficult. You just decide who your best 53 players are. If the third quarterback is in the top 53, he's on the team. If he's not, he's not. It's simple."
**John, as you try to build your roster up, with all of the trades going on and the amount of opportunities that sometimes can be out there, are you looking into other possibilities of making the roster better? *(Aaron Wilson) *"We look at that every year, the opportunities to make trades and things like that. And every year, I'm usually disappointed that we don't get anybody, because people don't want to trade good players. Although we got Josh Wilson, what three, four years ago? And that was a big one for us. Ozzie [Newsome] did a great job. So, it's not as predominant as you would like to think it is going to be, but by the same token, maybe there will be a guy that will fall and somebody is going to have a real need for something that we have to offer. So, I know Ozzie and Eric [DeCosta] and Vince Newsome and George [Kokinis] and those guys are all talking with everybody around the league in terms of what's out there. Not that we feel we have any desperation things that we have to get, but from the standpoint that there's something that we can get better, we want to do that."
Do you try not to get your hopes up high? It sounds like sometimes you tend to think there might be something to come. Do you try now to say, "OK, let's wait and see if something happens?" (Jamison Hensley) *"Like I tell them: 'We have a good team. We can go play right now.' I like our team right now the way it stands. If we can get better, great. But, [if] you get your hopes up, they're probably going to be dashed. So, no. But then Ozzie [Newsome] … You can never count Ozzie out. He's pretty special."
WR Michael Campanaro
On whether he and his family are still body-building: "My family is, but right now I'm swamped here every day with practice and working out with the strength and conditioning team here. They still are. They're up and running."
On how much pressure he feels going into the final preseason game: "I don't think it's pressure. It's more … You're aware of it. It's a big game, and I'm actually excited to let loose. It's going to be my first chance to play a lot in a game, to be able to get into a rhythm and get a lot of opportunities. So, I would say I'm more anxious to get out there and play [and] get more opportunities this game than the previous three games."
On what he wants to show everyone Thursday night: "My game, how well I know the offense and how I can be versatile on offense and special teams. So, I should be getting a lot of opportunities, a lot of playing time, with some of our starters down and not getting as many reps. I'm looking to go out there and play a great game."
On QB Tyrod Taylor: "Tyrod is great. He is our backup, but I think he could start on a lot of other teams around the league. But we definitely have [built] some chemistry throughout training camp and [by] playing a lot of ball together. So, it's going to be a lot fun playing with him this game coming up. I know he's looking forward to it as well."
On whether the players are more anxious since the roster was cut to 75: "Definitely. I think a few days ago – when [the roster] got cut down to 75 – it [was] a tough day around the building. So many good players that … It's a numbers game. Only so many [players] can make the team, so it was a tough day for the team. We had been playing with these guys all camp and putting in the work, so [the anxiety] is picking up a little bit. Everyone is hoping for the best, and you can only control things that you can."
On the confidence you need as a rookie when fighting for a roster spot: "You have to go back to what you know and why you're here, why they drafted you here – the things you can do to build on – and think about that and have the confidence. [We] have been out here playing all OTAs and training camp and making plays for the team, so I think building on from when you first got here to now [and] the type of football player you are – and with that confidence – [you] take it out to the game and translate it onto the game and make some plays."
On the biggest lesson he has learned from WR Steve Smith, Sr.: "I would probably say his attitude that he brings to the game – his approach. He has been playing now 14 years, and you wouldn't know he's out here … You think he's fighting for a roster spot like a rookie like myself. So, I think that's one thing I've taken from him. Every day he comes out to practice, and he's such a professional. It's something you can see firsthand – you're out here watching it. So, it's great to have someone in the room like that."* *
On how much the fourth preseason game will determine whether he makes the roster: "I think it's a huge game. I honestly don't know what goes into [making roster choices], but [the coaches] always talk about [how] they're looking for consistent players. They want to see guys day-in and day-out do it. So, I think I've had a strong training camp, and I think this is a great opportunity for me to go out there and translate some of the things I've been doing out here on the practice field into a game."
QB Tyrod Taylor
On his goals for the game against New Orleans:"The main goal is to win. We put in a lot of work throughout this preseason – this camp – and we have a lot of talented guys. The main objective is for our offense to go out there and to put up great numbers – do the things that we do well throughout practice and let it carry over to the game. But the main objective is to win. As far as a personal goal, [it's] just to continue to improve on my game and show the things that I can do."
On if he looks forward to Thursday night's opportunity:"I look forward to all the preseason snaps that I get. Being a backup quarterback, you never know when your reps are going to come, but you know you're going to get a chance to play in the preseason. I cherish these moments and I look forward [to them], and I'm excited to play with the guys that I have around me."
On where he's made the biggest strides in his game:"It's a new offense, so just running that. I'm getting that under my belt and going out there making plays – actually doing it against another defense. We have a great defense that we practice against each and every day. To go out there and have some successful plays against another defense definitely shows that you're making strides and that you're getting it down."
On WR Michael Campanaro fighting for a roster spot:"He's a speedy guy [with] great hands, confident in his ability to go out there and make plays. I love getting the ball to him. I haven't been able to connect with him much this preseason, but I did get two balls to him last week. It was good for him to get his hands on the ball and to finally have a moment for him where he's like, 'OK, well I caught my first ball. Let's continue to get better.'"
On the advice former NFL QB Jeff Garcia gave him about running a West Coast offense:"Just to get the ball out [of] your hands. The rhythm of a West Coast offense is to get the ball out [of] your hands, timing throws, pre-snap reads and just overall getting adjusted with what the defense is going to give you. Just going out there, like I said, getting the ball to the guys we have on the field are some of the things he talked [about]."
On earning his teammates' trust as a backup quarterback:"It's very important. Each and every day you come to work, they expect you to be a professional. You have to treat the job as if you're coming in to be the starter. That's one thing that I've always had the mindset [of], as far as my work ethic [goes]. I'm prepared to be the starter. But you never know what can happen or when it may happen, so you have to be ready. [There] can't be a loss of confidence [from] your teammates or your coaches, that this guy can't go out there and prove that he can play. My job is to prove that to them each and every day I step on this field."
On preseason reps being an audition for other teams, too:"I feel like every time you step on the field, not only are the eyes of the organization that you play for [on you], but every other team is watching, because everything is filmed. Anytime you get a chance to play, you're definitely building your resume and showing other teams, as well as the team that you're with, what you can do."
On if he expects to play the whole game against the Saints:"I'm not sure as far as playing time [goes]. They haven't given us [that information], numbers-wise, but I'm expected to play a lot. I know the starters are not playing, so I'm expected to play a lot."
On backing up QB Joe Flacco:"We've built a strong relationship. There's been some winning seasons. Last year was a little disappointing, but we've had fun times, and there's been down times, too. As far as competition [goes], we've always competed and pushed each other to be our very best. I'm pushing him; he's pushing me. We expect the best out of each other, and as well as anybody else that's here. Keith [Wenning] this year, and previous years, the other guys as well."
On how much more prepared he is now compared to a few years ago:"I'm confident in my ability. Whatever the situation may be, I think I can go out there and provide, make plays, run the offense, [and] be the leader. I believe I'm a natural leader. That's always been in me, but I'm confident in my ability to go out there and make plays. If that happens, I think that I can go out there and move the ball, and I think my teammates and coaches know that as well."
On what he likes about Gary Kubiak's offense:"It's fun to run. Like I said, the players that are in it definitely make it more exciting. I just look at our practices each and every day, and when you watch our practice film or when you watch us in preseason, [you recognize that] we have talent across the board on offense, as well as the defense. But speaking of Kubiak's offense, I think we have the playmakers for this offense to make it run. I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do this last game [and] going into Week 1."
On how the second-team offensive line has come along:"They've been fighting their butts off each and every day. They've been playing well. [They've been] giving me a bunch of time to go out there and get through my reads. I love playing with those guys – just competing. And that's one thing that they do each and every day. Throughout training camp, they've been competing and pushing each other and just fighting with our defense."