*RAVENS AUG. 23 PODIUM TRANSCRIPTS
Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach Marty Mornhinweg, Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees & CB Jimmy Smith
Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach Marty Mornhinweg
Opening statement:"Alright, let's wrap the last game up: The fellows did a reasonably good job on the travel thing. We did have some pre-snap penalties, however, that we have to clean up there. If you remember the first ball game, I believe we had none, and this time we had a few. So, we have to clean that thing up. The guys played hard, they played physical, played reasonably fast, as well. We've got to take care of the ball. We put three balls on the ground. We had a couple turnovers on the interceptions, so we have to do better there. All in all, it was a pretty good step forward. We accomplished a lot of things we wanted to see in the ball game. Some of them didn't go as well as we had expected, so we're working on that as we go through the rest of this preseason. Of course, we're back home this week, and the guys, I know, will be juiced up for Saturday night. Then we have to plan on how we're going to play them, and John [Harbaugh] will discuss that at some point, I'm sure, with you."
**Seeing TE Maxx Williams make a big play, the way that he did … You haven't seen him do that in a uniform since he was battling through injury. What does that mean, when you see that potential taken to the field against another opponent? *(Pete Gilbert) *"As recent as three weeks ago, Maxx was still rehabbing [his knee]. Then, all of a sudden, it was 10 days, two weeks ago – I'm getting my days all mixed up, just a little bit still – but 10 days, two weeks ago, Maxx hit it – running fast. So, I think Maxx is back and even better than he was when he first got here, before the injury. I think he's doing a fantastic job right now. We'll see if he can keep coming."
Did you see some progression from QB Ryan Mallett from Week 1 to Week 2? (David Ginsburg) "He is [progressing]. There were a couple of plays there, that I'm sure he would have liked to have back, and there's a couple plays … And geez, I have to help him a little more on that thing, I mean we all have to help him. He did some great things in the game. If you remember, he moved pretty well. There was a third down in the pocket and up-and-out one time … Really was a front door, one time … So, he did some really good things. Once again, he's chasing that consistency. I want to see a little more consistency [from him]."
**Considering how much of a point of emphasis it was in the offseason, where are you, right now, seeing with what the running game has done in the first two preseason games? What would you like to see? And, do you see the third game as the dress rehearsal for the season? *(Luke Jones) *"John [Harbaugh] will speak to you about that – that particular 'dress rehearsal' thing, because we're possibly going to do it a little different. The run game – the guys have done a great job. Greg [Roman, senior offensive assistant/tight ends coach] has done a fantastic job there. The tight ends, the fullback spot, the line and our backs are all doing a great job. Our receivers are doing some damage in there as well. Our run game … Joe D [D'Alessandris, offensive line coach] has done a great job, fantastic job. You look at what that line has been through here recently – nobody has blinked. That's big. So, we've got guys that have played multiple spots and continue to do that, and [they're] playing pretty well there. That'll be a big, big part of our football team if we can run the football against a really good defense."
People are always talking about the wide receiver competition at whatever camp. Is this, sort of, the time where you see some separation over those final two or three guys? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I see it as more than that. Everybody on this ball club, I tell you … I go back … It wasn't over a year … I'm only exaggerating a little bit, it seems like every other year. We end up keeping a man that in that third and fourth preseason game, he does a couple of things. He plays great – not good – but, great at his position, and he does some damage on special teams. 'How can't we allow this guy to not be on our team?' That type of thing. Several of them have become excellent players in this league. Everybody on this team has a chance to make this football team. Now, getting back to the receiver competition – there is. It's hot and heavy. They're all just a little bit different; they have different strengths. These next couple of games are big for that receiver spot."
What kind of conversations, or involvement, have you been able to have with QB Joe Flacco behind the scenes, to make sure he's engaged? (Garrett Downing) "That's a good point there. All you guys have good points today, it seems. It's a filter to buy some time until I figure out what I'm going to say. *(laughter) *Now, in fact, I believe it was just yesterday – again getting the days mixed up – it was yesterday … No, it was the day before yesterday. [We had] a nice, I don't know, hour, maybe hour-and-a-half-long meeting; it was just excellent, schematically. I mean, he's on it now. He's in all of our team meetings, offensive meetings, as well as the group and quarterback meetings – all of the meetings with very few exceptions. He is on it. The day before yesterday, we went through a little scenario, and he's on it that way. Now, you know, I'm twitching to get him on the field here one of these days, and we'll have a nice little plan for him there."
Back to the tight ends, have you been pleased with what you've seen from TE Benjamin Watson, in terms of the overall training camp? (Childs Walker) "Yes, that's another good point, you see. (laughter) Too many times? Ben – recovering from a major injury, much like Maxx [Williams] – he came into camp, and Greg [Roman] and the training staff did a great job with him. We worked him in, stair-stepped him up there, and he's playing at a high level at this point. He hasn't' played … Really, the last ball game was big, in fact, we talked about it in the offensive meeting. That was big for 'Big Ben' [Watson]. I mean, he hasn't played in a long time. Then he went out [and] I believe he had, if I remember right, eight plays and did some pretty good things within those eight plays. This week? It won't be significantly more, but it will be more."
**Throughout the course of this camp, have there been times when guys on your side, noticed OLB Tim Williams flash a little bit? *(Jason La Canfora) *"Tim is an excellent pass rusher. I usually don't talk too much about the defense and special teams. Our defense, huh? Our defense looked pretty good. That's about all I can say there, but he's a heck of a pass rusher. I'm glad he's on our team, along with a dozen other of the fellows."
*Is there a time you would like to see QB Joe Flacco practicing for you to have a comfort level? (Jeff Zrebiec) *"I think I know, and I think Joe thinks he knows, when this will happen. So that way, I think I know. So, we think we know. Look, if it's before that – probably not much before, but a little bit before or after – we'll adjust the plan. As long as he's back with a reasonable amount of time to prepare, I think we're going to be just fine."
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees
What have been your thoughts on LB Kamalei Correa in the first two preseason games, and what would you like to see from him Saturday? (Luke Jones)"I think he has played well. There are certainly things he can get better at, like we all can. I'm pleasantly surprised by some of it. I think he is grasping everything. He has very few, if any, mental mistakes. The only thing I think is that sometimes because he hasn't played in there a whole lot, sometimes when you get a new play that you have not ever seen before, you might be a little slow reacting to it. But, that is pretty normal for a guy who is playing a position for kind of the first time – inside. I have been pleased with him so far. He runs to the ball. I think he is really trying to play physical. He looks like the guy that we drafted."
Can I apply that question to the whole defense? What have you seen thus far? It has been spectacular, numbers-wise. What would you like to see improved if possible against Buffalo?* (David Ginsburg)*"The thing that we have to be is consistent all the time. The biggest thing we are looking for right now is no mental mistakes, playing physical and just really pursuit – effort. You get those three things … We have good enough athletes; so does everybody else. The difference is usually going to be the effort to the ball, your aggressiveness, the physical play that you have and then not making a mental mistake. More games are lost sometimes than won because somebody makes a bad mistake or plays soft in coverage when they are not supposed to or whatever that might be. To me, that is a mental error. If you are supposed to be up there pressed and you are not pressed, then that is a mental error. Whether you are playing man-to-man or not, that is still not what we are looking for. So far, that has been fairly good. That is the thing that we are looking for – just consistency. And like we said at the very beginning, we have to finish. You have to finish everything. This is the start, not the finish. We have a long way to go."
How has CB Jimmy Smith looked in OTAs and training camp? He is healthy, he is not coming off of an injury, and he has been out there the whole time. How has that helped you in preparing and figuring out what you can do with this defense? (Pete Gilbert)"Well, I think you look at the whole defense in general. When you have a group that can play together all the time, the communication gets real good, and then you feel comfortable as a coach kind of calling anything, because you know they do a great job of communicating. When somebody is out for four or five weeks, and they come back or they have been hurt and they weren't in OTAs, sometimes you worry about the communication and how much you should do, because maybe they really aren't communicating like you would want. The more any team plays together, they get used to how the guy talks, when he talks, what he is going to say, how he signals, all those kind of things. I think that always helps. It is not just Jimmy. I would say it is the whole defense in general, trying to keep that unit plus a couple of extra guys. When I say unit, it is not always 11. It is usually 14 or 15 guys that are playing together all the time and getting used to each other in how they play."
CB Jimmy Smith talked about the cohesiveness of the group and how he feels they are more together than any other group he has played on. Do you feel that? Can you sense that? How does that affect you? (Garrett Downing)"I think that it goes back to the last question. It affects you in communication. What I see is the football part of it. Them being friends in the locker room, off the field and all that kind of stuff, I can't really speak to that. That is Jimmy's answer. What I see is guys feeling comfortable talking to other guys. Guys off to the side talking about how this play happened, even in practice. [They are saying], 'This happened, this happened. What did you see? What did you see?' That doesn't always happen on every team. A lot of time guys are just worried about themselves and [thinking], 'I just have to do my job.' When you really get a good unit together, they can help each other. They can talk about each other's job. Not that they are trying to do the other guy's job, but they can talk about, 'What did you see on that play? Here is how I saw it,' instead of, 'This is how I saw it, and that is all it was.' That is good to hear from Jimmy, and I think the guys have a little spirit about them. Hopefully we can keep that going."
What is your assessment of OLB Tim Williams and his development and what he may have to offer Week 1? (Jason La Canfora)"Well, I think what he has to offer is exactly what we drafted – a guy coming off the edge. He has a good pass rush. I think the run game is a little different than what they used to see in college. It is almost like playing as an outside 'backer for us. It is a little different. But as far as pass rush, pass rush is pass rush. I do not care whether it is college or whether it is pro. I still see that from Timmy [Williams]. I think he has quick twitch; I think he has great edge rush. Like I said, I think he is what we drafted. I am pleased with him. He is like all the rookies. They all have to learn the system and learn the scheme, and that takes a little while. But as far as when you are just out there and he just gets to go, I think he can sometime be special."
Also there certain schemes or otherwise that you can make him plug and play and accentuate his natural skill set and maybe not have him do as much of the stuff that he is still working on. (Jason La Canfora)"I can."
How do you feel about your pass rush overall? (Mike Preston)"I think it has been good. It could be better. What I have really been pleased with, actually, is kind of the push up the pocket from the big guys in a couple of these games with Brandon Williams and Michael Pierce and some of those guys. You are not necessarily seeing sacks, but you are seeing a good push on the quarterback, which is making him get rid of it early and also sometimes have to come over the top a little more than what he wants and maybe not being able to complete it. I think it has been good. It has not been great, but it has been good."
Understanding you do have depth there, how disappointing has it been for CB Marlon Humphrey not to be able to get some of these preseason reps?* (Luke Jones)*"It is very disappointing. This is a great opportunity for him. We want to see what he can do out there. And it is not his fault; it is not our fault. It is what it is. But, it is disappointing, and hopefully we can get him out there soon."
How special of an athlete is DT Brandon Williams? (Jamison Hensley)"I think he is a special inside tackle, and I think he really understands blocking schemes. I think he does a great job in there. I think he is a good communicator with Michael Pierce and the other guys that are in there. He has kind of taken on a veteran leadership role, which he kind of really is now – one of the veterans up there. He has to have a great year for us. He knows it, we know it. If you are going to be a dominant defense, then you have to be play really good inside. You have to play good everywhere, but it all starts right up the middle, just like in baseball. It is nose guard, middle 'backer, free safety and it goes out from there. We have to have a great year from him."
When the regular season starts, you do not really think about the numbers from the preseason. However, you are pretty much No. 1 in every category defensively in the preseason. Is there anything you can take from that? (Jamison Hensley)"It is better than being last. *(laughter) *That is what I can take from that. I would like to be that high. I do not care whether it is preseason or whatever. I want to be that in the season, too. The whole idea of us going into this year was that we want to be a great defense and we want to finish. You have to start to finish. I would rather have a good start than a bad start and be sitting there worried about a bunch of stuff. But, I'm still worried about it. To say it doesn't mean anything, I think coaches tell you that. I think that is crap. You want to go out there and you want to play well every day and every week no matter who is on the field. If it is the first team, the second team, the third team – whoever that heck that is – you want to play well. You want to play well in the preseason games. You want to play well in the fourth quarter of the preseason game. You want to play well in the fourth preseason game. If you don't want that, I don't know why you are coaching, and I do not know why you are playing. Yes, I am pleased with it so far, but we just have to keep it going."
How valuable is LB Albert McClellan's versatility for your defense? (Ryan Mink)"He is one of those players like an Anthony Levine [Sr.]. There are always a few guys that you can kind of plug in a little bit everywhere. Albert is one of those utility guys that can play inside 'backer, outside 'backer, and he can be a rush end. He can play kind of our rover guy sometimes in sub [package]. He can just do a lot of things. Plus, there's the fact of what Albert brings to us in maturity, in the classroom and off the field. He is a true pro. He is a veteran that the young guys look up to. The other thing is that he is a physical presence. He plays hard, and he tries to play physical. That is kind of what we look for in all of our defensive players. He kind of epitomizes it."
With the depth that they have added during the offseason and the improvement of the younger guys, could this be the best defense that you have had since you have been here? Does it have that potential? (David Ginsburg)"I really can't answer that question. I just hope we can be good. We are working to be good. We are working hard to really be as good as we can possibly be. How we end up there, I hope it is at the top. But, we will see."
CB Jimmy Smith
On undrafted rookie CB Jaylen Hill: "Jaylen Hill – ATL. Great player. He's coming up strong. He's been making plays in practice, making plays in the game, and obviously, caught the coaches' attention and your attention, too, because you're asking me about him. He's a good player. I really like him. He's very coachable, and with people going down in the secondary this year, he has a shot at being on the field playing. The biggest thing for him is just making sure he understands the plays and the ins and outs of playing nickel. [It's] fast-paced with the 'ones.'"
On if he's excited about this year's defensive group: "We keep reiterating it, but as far as defense as a whole, as a unit, preseason is preseason. But, we want to go out, and every opportunity we get to showcase what we've got, we want to. So this next game especially, we've got to go out there – however long coach has us out there – and shut the offense down. That's going to be the only thing that really matters. If they come out here and move the ball on us, we're not going to feel good at all. We keep talking about how strong [the defense] is, but the proof is in the pudding. When we go out here on Saturday and play, that's what we really are – what we are on out on the field."
On how he feels leading up to the season opener: "I feel good. Not fighting back from injury is obviously one thing, but being out there, being with the unit, gelling, all of that, means a lot going in. I like to get in [during] preseason and training camp, to get those reps in and get the technique down, watch and see all the things you need to work on. Whereas, trying to do that during the season is a whole different type of situation. Like I said, I feel good. I'm taking care of my body, but the main thing is just being out there and getting the reps."
On if he's excited about his potential this season: "I'm excited – not personally – but more as a whole. You read all these crazy things, and obviously, you're not supposed to, but you hear all these great things about this defense, and I kind want to see us go prove it. So, it's not just a bunch of people saying things, but it is us actually proving it."
On if there are any weaknesses in the defense and how the defense has strengthened: "It's definitely been upgraded. We've added pieces, key pieces, to the defense that's going to help us finish the season, hopefully, strong. As far as weaknesses go, yes, every team has its weakness. I don't know [ours]; we're not going to show it – definitely not going to tell you it. I'm sure we have one, and if we ever do find a glimpse of it, we'll fix it."
On what gets him most excited about the defense:"It is kind of a weird thing to say, but I guess what gets me excited is the group we are doing it with. Over the years, I played with Ed Reed and all these [guys], but the way we gel and how cohesive we are as a unit, it has been different since I have been here. [It has been different] since any group we have had – the Super Bowl unit. We have had tight corps groups, but this one is different in the sense that everybody on defense is together. It sounds kind of corny to say, but it is like we really are all friends. We all sit on the bus [together], we all joke, and it means something down the road and especially on the field when you are talking to players and trying to pick somebody up or you are trying to push somebody else. Somebody is not taking it offensive or critical, they are taking it as I need to get better to work for the team and work for the defense as a whole."
On what has allowed this group to be so close:**"I could not tell you. I could not tell you. It is just the way it is. This year it is a special unit. We feel it. I think the defense as a whole feels it. We know it, and like I said over and over, you have to prove it now. I think it starts in the team rooms, the meeting rooms and on the field."
On what he likes about what DB/LB Anthony Levine Sr. brings to the unit: "[Anthony] Levine and [Lardarius] Webb – I am bringing him into this, too – but they are like our Swiss Army knives. They can play any position, really, and do well at it. The fact that we have Levine and Webb at positions where they can do anything, it makes our defense that much better. Two veteran guys that can tackle, that can cover, can run down on special teams, do anything – it just makes our defensive unit that much stronger."
On if rookie OLB Tim Williams has flashed in practice: "You have seen him. You have seen him flash. We need him to keep flashing. We need him to be consistent. He is going to get his opportunities. He is young. The sky is the limit for that guy."
On if he felt that he was the foundation to the defense after watching the defense struggle when he got injured last season: "No. The foundation is the pass rush. Solid play up front helps the DBs. When somebody goes down and you do not have a lot of depth, it hurts no matter who would have went down. We had a year where [Terrell] Suggs went down, and the whole defense seemed like it fell apart as well. I wouldn't put it solely on me. We didn't have a lot of depth in that position last year, so it was glaring when one player went down."