THURSDAY AVAILABILITY: DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF vs. TITANS
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "Good to see everybody. I appreciate everybody being here. [It was a] good practice. Guys are excited. We just have to lock in mentally and spiritually and get ready to play our best football on Saturday night, and that's what we'll be shooting for."
I know you said you weren't going to talk about injuries, but we have to ask. How did RB Mark Ingram II look out there today? (Childs Walker) "He was limited participation. That's the definition of it, so we'll see how it goes."
Your guys are, obviously, prepared, but excited to have homefield advantage in the second round of the playoffs with this crowd. (Jim Forner) "We are excited about the crowd. We're looking forward to it. It's kind of history now, as far as knowing that we have that. We're just focused on the game more than anything else. We're happy that it's at our place, but if it was on the road, you'd go play it the same. So, it won't be different for them. It's going to be played between the lines, and we're going to have to play our best football."
In the old days, you guys used to charge-up the fans a little bit before a game. Do you have anything to say to them – what you want from them on Saturday night? (Peter Schmuck)"The old days. Is that when I was still here? Or was it before that?" (Reporter: "Before that.") "Even before that. The older days, the olden days. Do our fans really need to be charged up for this game? I really don't think they do. Our fans understand what the opportunity is, and I'm pretty sure that our fans are going to be our fans. So, I'd be happy to give them a pep talk at some point in time if they want one, but I don't really think they need it. Our fans are going to be incredible and amazing and loud when [the Titans'] offense is on the field and quiet for our offense. We have the best fans. We have the most knowledgeable fans in football, so that'll be a big part of it. And, everybody has to do their job, including the fans."
What's the meaning of the hoodie? (Jeremy Fowler) "Oh, we've had this for a long time. It's been around for a while. I have to go over it again now, repeat it? It's Lamar's [Jackson] thing. It's the African Wild Dog. I think they're an endangered species right now, so that's part of it. Plus, there's a little bit of a carryover for the way we want to play. They hunt with great discipline, as well."
I imagine it was a depth signing with T Andre Smith, but what went into that? (Aaron Kasinitz) "I don't know. He was available. He's a good player; he has a lot of history. So, what went into it? I wouldn't think too much into it. It's simple. He's a good player. We needed an offensive lineman. We also have Will Holden, who is a depth player for us. We're happy about that, so I feel like we have good depth on the offensive line right now. But we're healthy, too. We have all of our guys right now ready to roll, and you can't ask for a better situation than that up front."
Between the receivers embracing a blocking role and other guys maybe not getting the snaps they may have in the past and just sharing a role, how important has unselfishness been to what you guys have accomplished as a team and sort of embodied what you guys have built here? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Right, that's the whole point of a team, and our guys have embraced that. It's definitely worth acknowledging, and it's a good question, in that sense. I feel like our guys take it for granted, take it in stride, because of the type of people they are, and they understand it. It's the team, the team, the team. There's nothing more important, and that's what we're here for. Every decision, everything comes secondary to what's best for the team, and a lot of times what's best for the team is also best for the player and best for the coach, which is go out and play your best football and do whatever it takes to win. So, if you're not the ball carrier, you're the blocker. If you get the ball in your hands, you carry a great obligation and a great responsibility, because you carry the hopes and dreams of all of us, including the fans, in your arms when you have the ball in your arms. When you're responsible for backing up your teammate on a tackle and getting there and being there for him, that's a great responsibility. You have to have each other's backs, and that's what, really, it's all about. And I do believe what you're saying is right. Our guys have embraced that part of it. That kind of thinking, they've embraced that, and that's what helps to make you the best team that you can possibly be. And that's what we're going to try to take into the game on Saturday night."
In your current offense, is the role of the tight ends substantially different than it would be in last year's [offense] or the year before? (Peter Schmuck) "Yes, it's different. We've always kind of been somewhat tight end-oriented. If you go all the way back – the [Dennis] Pittas and the Todd Heaps of the world and all the guys we've had – this has been a tight end organization in some ways, and quarterbacks have always appreciated the tight ends here. So, that's been a big plus, but it's different because it's a different offense. We really have never played two tight ends or three tight ends as much ever. I don't know who has, really. I may have to look at the numbers. Maybe you guys could look at that and see. We probably play our tight ends more than most teams have in recent history, so it's a big part of who we are. It is a reflection of the offense that we run, and it's also partly due to the fact that we have those guys. If you have the guys, you want to put them out there, and I even put Pat Ricard in that category, as well. Fullback, tight end, those roles are all meshed together, so we have a great group of four guys there. To see those guys do well ... I know Ozzie Newsome is walking by here [past the press conference]. We're talking about tight ends. (laughter) Hey, that says it all right there." (Reporter: "I think that Patriots team with 'Gronk' [Rob Gronkowski] and [Aaron] Hernandez had a pretty high usage rate.") "Yes, well, go back and do your math, and we'll find out who had more three tight ends [sets] out there. Who was the third tight end on that team? Can't remember, can you?" (laughter)