Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement:"Good to see you guys – appreciate you being here. [We] had a good practice again today, and now the guys will be away. The coaches will continue to work for a few days on self-scouting and also game-planning upcoming opponents. Then, the coaches will get a couple of days over the weekend."
How beneficial do you think this bye week will be for offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg to have a chance to self-scout? (Ryan Mink) "I think it's really important, really, no matter what, especially with the fact that we need to get our offense going. These two practices were very valuable that way, especially so because of Marty's situation. He gets a chance to really continue to rep and establish the things that he wants to do going forward."
How good was it to get G/T Marshal Yanda back on the field? We don't talk about it much, but he hasn't missed too many games over the years because he plays through pain. It must feel good to get him back. (Luke Jones) "It's really important. He's definitely the lynchpin of our offensive line. It looks like he'll be back. He was out here for parts of the two practices, and I expect him to practice fully next week. We'll see. The rest of the guys should all be back, too. That's something that's really important and valuable, and I'm excited about that."
The CBA says you can only practice a certain amount of days during the bye week. Given the current state of affairs, what would you rather do, give them the whole week off or work them hard all week? (Joe Platania)"You gave me two options, and neither one of them I would do. That's like when you ask your kids a question: 'You can either have the asparagus or the green beans.' And your kid looks at you like, 'Really? That's my only two answers?' (laughter) I think, really, what we ended up doing would be what I would choose. I think the two days, the two practices we did, would be about right. The guys do need some time away. It's going to be really good for them to get away emotionally, physically. This league is tough physically, so they need some rest, and they're going to get some time with their families. That's valuable."
Does it happen every year where you feel like they need a break, or is it more because of how this October turned out?* (Morgan Adsit)* "I think it's more about where it is in the season. It's seven weeks in. If you were in Week 2 or 3 or 4, early, you might feel like you wanted to practice a little bit more, but as you get deeper in the season, you really do need the time."
For you, football is pretty much your whole life for the season. In the bye week, do you watch any football, or do you try to check out? (Jamison Hensley) "That's a great question. I'll watch college football because of the Big Ten. I'll be watching the Big Ten, but also I'll be watching girls' lacrosse [for his daughter]. (laughter) That will be what I'm spending my time doing. I'm really looking forward to that."
Tape of girls' lacrosse? (Ryan Mink)"The tape? (laughter) No, I don't study the tape. I don't coach her. I tell her to go hard. I'm looking forward to that."
How would you assess QB Joe Flacco in the first seven games of the year? (Jamison Hensley)"I'm a Joe Flacco guy. I believe in Joe. Joe is one of the most important keys for us – if not the most important key. Certainly, on offense, he's the key to the whole thing. Joe Flacco is a great football player. Joe Flacco is the key to our success. We need to all do everything in our power [to ensure] all of the things are falling in place for him. He can play. He can throw it. He can make decisions. He can score touchdowns for us. He can do all of the things we need to do. We need to make sure that we give him a chance to do that. Joe will take care of what he needs to do. I'm not worried about Joe taking care of what he needs to do. That's something that we all go to work on. Joe works on it harder than anybody – cares about it more than anybody. We need to protect him. We need to run routes. We need to create confidence in our passing game. We need to run the ball well. We need to do the things we need to do to make the offense work, and Joe will make the offense work."
When you have two veteran guys dealing with injuries like G/T Marshal Yanda and OLB Terrell Suggs at these practices, does that send a message to the roster with these leaders fighting through injuries? (Jeff Zrebiec) "That's probably a good observation. We have tremendous leadership. Our guys, they lead by – they say things, sure – but they lead by example more than anything. To see those two guys out here, as you say, fighting through, coming back from injuries and practicing like they're practicing says a lot. It says everything, really."
**John, you don't get asked about the practice squad too much, but have you seen WR/RS Keenan Reynolds make some progress? He seems to stay after every practice and work on things. *(Jeff Zrebiec) *"Thanks for bringing that up. Keenan Reynolds is improving. He's really making progress as a receiver. You probably saw some of the routes here at the end of practice that we worked on. He's really smoothing things out. He's certainly got a ways to go. I wouldn't anoint him as that yet, but he's definitely gotten there in punt returns as well. Although, he dropped a couple today, and I was all over him. But he is really working hard. There's no doubt in my mind Keenan Reynolds is going to be a very good receiver in this league."
Since RB Terrance West became the starter, he has been getting the majority of the carries and he's done well. Moving forward, have you decided that no matter who it is, it is better to give one guy most of the touches? (Cliff Brown) "We'll never make that decision. To me, that debate will be ongoing. It will just depend on the circumstances and the player forever on every different team. Terrance West has done a heck of a job. Kenneth Dixon looked even more juiced up today. He's starting to get healthier and look more 100-percent maybe than he has in the last couple of weeks. The other guys have looked really good as well. We'll just play it out as it goes."
QB Joe Flacco
On how he is feeling physically: "I feel good – just as you would expect seven weeks into a season. There are little things here and there, but I feel really good overall."
On how the process of mentally getting back to football has gone after suffering his knee injury last season:"I think it has gone pretty good. I don't think that I think about it at all when I am out there. I think there are times where I say, 'Oh man, I took a hit right there in the knee.' But I think it has held up well, and I am not worried about it while I am out there."
On the importance of having a healthy offensive line:"Building a good team always starts up front, and it starts with those guys. We are going to try to overcome anything we can, but those guys are a huge part of our success. Having everybody be healthy goes into that. Obviously, everybody deals with little things here and there, and each team has their own issues with that. It will definitely be a big part of it."
On the importance of getting away for a few days during the bye week:"I don't know. I was already talking to [VP of public relations] Chad [Steele] today about the fact that I had to even talk to you guys today was annoying. (laughter) I was like, 'Can't I just go home and relax for a couple of days?' (laughter) No, I am very comfortable here. It is not like I need to get away and do all kinds of crazy things and really relax and get my mind off of it. Even if I have a day off, I am going to be in town. It is possible to just come in here and do something. I am not really too worried about just bouncing out of here and going crazy or anything."
On if being at home with a newborn baby or if being at the Under Performance Center is more relaxing:"It is a safe place over here, for sure. (laughter) *It is not the newborn, it is the three crazy ones that are a little bit older." *(laughter)
On if TE Crockett Gillmore not being very involved in the passing game is a byproduct of TE Dennis Pitta coming back and Gillmore being used in protection:"Yes, I think so. Crockett does a lot in the run game and protecting. We get Dennis out in the routes and let him get the ball and things like that. I think that is definitely the biggest part of it."
On how he would assess his individual performance this season: "That is a tough question. I am obviously not playing good enough. We are not a good offense, and it starts with the quarterback. I have to be better. We have to be more precise, and that starts with me – just more consistent overall. Those are the issues, just being precise and consistency."
On what he thinks has to be done for the offense needs to do better: "When you are an offense in this league and things are not going great, a lot of the times you can be so close. I think we are on that verge of being really close. But it is a bunch of little things, and it is not just one thing; it is things that add up. It is the short passing game that you are not always just completing with your eyes closed. Every now and then, you miss one, and it stops your drive. It is penalties. It is a little bit of protection. It is a little bit of run game. It is very little things that can be cleaned up pretty quickly. But at the same time, when you have that many things going on, you have to be really focused for a full 60 minutes and every single play. Everybody on the team has to. That is why this game is an awesome thing – 11 guys have to be fully locked in for 60 minutes in order for it to work. Nobody notices that. We do not even notice it when we are out there playing. But it is the reality of it. Right now, we just have one guy here and there doing something that is a little bit off – myself involved – and it halts a whole drive. When that happens throughout the course of the game and you have a good amount of those, it leads to what we have been dealing with, which is not putting any points on the board and not giving ourselves really any opportunities to put any points on the board. I don't think we had any red zone opportunities this past week, and you are not going to score a lot of points when that happens."
On if the bye week will be a good time for offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg to further the offense: "Yes, for sure. But the coaches are the same way as the players. They need a little mental [break], too. But it will definitely be a good time for those guys to slow it down and come up with a game plan with a little bit of a longer week and really look at the last seven weeks and see what we have done well and maybe find ways to integrate that a little bit more. It will be a good thing."