Thursday Practice Transcript - 10/27


Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg

Can you talk about Sam Koch's performance this season? He hasn't had the punts inside the 20 that he's had in previous years, but his leg strength on Monday night was impressive. (Ed Lee)
"He had a great night. Sam continues to improve. I've said that many times about Sam. One thing about Sam that you know is he's not going to rest and say, 'OK, I've got this figured out.' He's always going to analyze, he's always going to practice, he's always going to try and improve something. I think he demonstrated the other night that that's still going on. He continues to improve."

What persuaded you to have David Reed return kicks rather than Bryan McCann? (Ed Lee)
"We thought he was 100-percent healthy. We saw a really good week of practice. We saw him take some hits in practice. We were confident that if he took a hit in the game that the ball would still be in his hands at the end of the game."

For one punt return it appeared that Ed Reed was going to pick up the ball, and then he didn't and they downed it. Are you comfortable with him making those types of decisions (Ed Lee)
"I have a lot of faith in Ed. Ed has demonstrated throughout his history – both in special teams and on defense – that he has some amazing ball skills, and he judges and analyzes football probably as good as anyone I've ever seen. So when Ed thinks he can make a play, we're all behind him. Obviously, ball security is primary, and he understands that. So, with that said, I mean that particular play was too close for comfort, but we have a lot of trust in Ed, and he's earned that."

The Cardinals have blocked a lot of kicks these past few years, and Cleveland and Seattle have, too, so that's four of your last 10 games are against very aggressive PAT block teams. Any adjustments you make? (Joe Platania)
"It's really not adjustments so much as it is being certain that we have all our fundamentals down. That's what we'll work on again today, and we worked on it yesterday. When you're playing a team such as this, you don't relay scheme field goal protection. You just make sure you don't have any leaks in the dyke. That's what we've been paying attention to."

How does it work when you put Ed Reed on punt return? Does he come to you and say he can make a play here, or, how does that generally work? (Ryan Mink)
"There are certain things that go into the decision-making. Some of it's decision-making, some of it is call. So it's game plan."

The probably with Billy Cundiff and the 50-yarders that haven't gone through, for a guy with his leg and his accuracy, it's surprising. Is there a consistent theme with it? Obviously they've all gone right, but is there something more? (Pete Gilbert)
"The thing that we've been reinforcing with Billy, and he's probably his biggest critic as you can imagine, is that you need to be aggressive with the ball. That's what we worked on yesterday, and we've practiced it a lot, and we're going to continue to practice it. We have a lot of confidence that the next opportunity [that] he won't be leaning it right, I can assure you."

Is he all the way healthy? (Pete Gilbert)
"He's out there every day doing everything we want him to do."

Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron

What's the biggest surprise for you from Monday night? (Pete Gilbert)
"It's interesting, because I think everything that has been said… There are a lot of things we could say about Monday night. I do believe this, by everybody that has said something, and I haven't heard something that has been said, I think everything has been said that needs to be said. I think I got a chance after the game to say how I felt. I have to tell you this: Offensively, we know we have to go to work – that's the bottom line. We have Arizona coming in here. You guys know that I am not dodging anything, but the bottom line is, when something like that takes place, you have to find a way to look at it, and you have got to move on. If you can't find a way to get better and move on, then you give yourself no chance to get it corrected. That's what we have done. I do appreciate the question, but we have another good defense coming in here. We have to get better. I have a ton of confidence in the guys in our room – the coaches and players. We have the kind of guys to make sure that we are going to do everything to see that that doesn't happen again. I think that's the best thing we can do. At some point in time, you have to move forward."

Looking back, could you have done anything different? (Jen Royle)
"Again, I think I said everything I needed to say after the game. Not to avoid the question, the bottom line is, everything that has been, there is some truth to it – there really is, and I think we acknowledge that. There is a ton of different things. We tried to look at a 90-yard drive at the end of the game. Why weren't we able to do that? We have to be able to do that again this week. That's what we are focusing on. We found four ways to improve that drive. I think that's the great thing about our philosophy here and what John [Harbaugh] has brought here. Even when you do something well, you try to do it better. We go 90 yards in less than three minutes. We have to build on that, because that is something we can take positive from that because you have to get better and you have to move on, because this is a good Arizona team coming in here."

Is there a concern about confidence? As you mentioned earlier, especially with the young receiving corps coming off a game like that? (Mark Suchy)
"I haven't seen [any concern], under any circumstances so far this season, because we have had adversity throughout. You have to be able to handle some success, which I think our guys did after the first week, and then move through the second week – a lot of different little things – but I don't worry about any of our guys. The thing is, I want to make sure they know too that you are not calling 'shot play' from six inches from the goal line to get a 99-yard play because you don't have confidence in your guys. I think that play, I know for me, shows the confidence I have in our guys. I am not wavering in the confidence in the kind of men I've got on offense and our staff. We just have to play better and execute better. I think Ray [Rice] has said it: Ray Rice has said a number of times, when we take the fundamentals, and we take this offense, and we execute it, it looks the way we all want it to look – it looks aggressive. It looks like we know what we're doing. When we go out, and we don't execute, it looks like we weren't prepared for the game. We were prepared for the game, but obviously not well enough, and we have to execute better, and it starts with executing better against Arizona. Confidence? No worries about our guys' confidence – young guys or veteran guys."

When you have receivers struggling against press coverage, what adjustments do you make as the play-caller in the game to try to help the passing game? (Luke Jones)
"It really wasn't as much as everybody thought. If you look at the tape, there is separation. It's a matter of us finding them, it's a matter of us having time to find them. We have guys open. There are times when there is a guy open, and we didn't have time to get him. We have people behind their secondary, [but] didn't have time to get it there. Maybe one time we didn't see the guy. But, there was enough separation there to throw the football. I did hear that from somebody, but if you look at the tape, nothing could be further from the truth. There are people open. It was a collective protection or a little of this, a little of that. Usually, typically on offense, it only takes one guy to have a little slip-up that makes a play really not work. It was more that than people not getting open, I can tell you that. I think you just have to look at the tape to believe me."

Some coordinators like to be up in the booth, some like to be on the sideline. Could you talk about why you prefer the sideline? Is it a communication sort of thing? (Kevin Van Valkenburg)
"No.1, I think there are only three [coaches] that are in the press box in the league. Three or four – you have to do the research, maybe a handful. A big part of that is, if communication goes down, you are stuck – that's the No.1 thing. Now, you are shut off from the field. I was in the booth for years. I think it's a good place as an early coordinator; I thought that was a good spot. It gives you the big picture, but once you are down on the field, you can get things solved, hopefully, quicker. You can minimize the time it takes to communicate the plays to the quarterback. You can make adjustments quicker. You can feel the game better. I think that's why 95 percent of the guys are on the field. I think if you look at the head coaches that call the plays on the field. I will tell you this: I have [wide receivers coach] Jim Hostler, and I have [offensive assistant/quarterbacks coach] Craig Ver Steeg up top along with [offensive quality control coach] Jason Brooks. They do a tremendous job. I have three sets of eyes up there. It's almost as if I am up there."

When a player is having a rough time of it, other players seem to rally around him and work together. They are all on the same team and camaraderie and all that. There has been a lot of scrutiny and criticism of you. Have your colleagues on the coaching staff... (Joe Platania)
"Honestly, I don't know, but we have a great group. We are a tight group. I know our offensive staff, defensive staff. I know [defensive coordinator] Chuck [Pagano]. I have known Chuck for a long time, our defensive guys. It's not one of those places where no one will look at you. Some people really have a tough time with it, but not our coaches, not our staff and not our players. This building, I think you guys know, you get to come around here, this is a special place. We are all in this together. John [Harbaugh] doesn't just say that – he lives it. That is part of this business."

Has John [Harbaugh] been more involved in the offense this season? (Glenn Clark)
"Yeah, he has. The good news is, Day One, when I took the job, the one thing I have always understood, this is a head coach's offense. John has great perspective for me. I have always gone to John, really, for almost any head coach I have worked for, because they can give you another perspective, give you ideas. John knows our special teams, he knows our defense, and he knows our offense. He knows all three phases inside and out. It's a tremendous help."

Is there anything in particular he has done this season that has been different from other seasons since you have been here? (Glenn Clark)
"It has just evolved. It's like it would any other year – every year. The first year to the second year to the third year. We are always talking personnel, we are always getting ideas – how to attack defenses, things that he sees. [It is] just constant involvement. But, he does that in all three phases. He obviously knows a lot of football. I would say this: It's a huge help. I can speak for us offensively, it is a tremendous help."

Yesterday, Joe [Flacco] said that in the two-minute drill and hurry-up it would probably go faster if he just called the plays. What are your feelings on that? (Ryan Mink)
"I think that's something you always want to work toward. He and I have talked about that. I think Joe [Flacco] knows this and understands this: He can call any play that he feels he needs to. He can suggest at any time. He has made several suggestions this year. He knows when he suggests one, I call it. I just believe in that. I come from that kind of environment, where the quarterback gets involved in the play-calling. He has had a significant amount of input, and [we] would love for him to do that."

Is that something you just see as a development of still a young quarterback? (Rob Carlin)
"Yeah, absolutely. The one thing you always tell them is just say hey, 'You got it.' Sometimes they need help. What I have done with guys in the past, they look over and sometimes they need a play. 'Don't be afraid, don't let your pride get in the way.' If you need an idea, you need a call, all you have to do is press a button, and you can talk to the guy instantly. It's something that can really work."

Obviously there is a lot of youth at wide receiver on the roster. Are there aspects of that position, in particular, that maybe people don't understand about what the transition is like for a rookie or a young tight end as opposed to other positions? (Mike Lurie)
"First of all, every guy is different. I think it's hard to just group guys. Every guy is different. Every guy learns differently. I know for receivers, the volume of running is what gets them first. Most of them, their bodies start to break down just because they are not used to doing 'look' [scout] squad. They are not used to taking this many reps. There is a lot of different things that add up. There are so many different coverages you see. There is a learning [curve]. I will say this about our young group: This group has moved along. It may not be showing up in the stats, because we are pushing the ball to Ray [Rice], we are pushing the ball to Dennis [Pitta] now, to Ed [Dickson]. You've got 'Q' [Anquan Boldin] and Torrey [Smith]. Everybody is growing, but these guys have probably done as well for young receivers as any group I've ever been around."

Do you see similarities between your defense and what Arizona's defense is doing? (Greg Bianco)
"It's not verbatim, but if [Cardinals defensive coordinator] Ray Horton took it, he was the secondary coach at Pittsburgh. Ray and I coached together at one time. He really has done a great job considering no offseason, to get that package in, having two outside linebackers that have been in the system and some things. But, to get the system in and the amount of volume they have in… I'd say they have 90 percent of the system in place and are using it on a week-to-week basis. You guys will see it. You are going to see a good defense, and you are going to see one that looks [similar] – personnel obviously different – but schemes are almost identical."

Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano

You guys have gotten more sacks this year. What do you feel has been the biggest contributor? Obviously, you've been aggressive in going after teams with Pernell McPhee and Paul Kruger. What do you feel like, if you had to put your finger on it, has been the biggest thing? (Ryan Mink)"First and foremost, I think we're doing a better job on early downs. So, when we're getting them on third-down, we're getting our opponent in more third-and-long situations; which allows you to cut it loose a little bit more. We're creating more negative plays because we're pressuring a little bit more on early downs, and we're getting more sacks. So, the guys are doing a great job of preparing. We've got talented guys all over the place. We've got a bunch of guys who can rush the pass, who are not only up front, but [in] the linebacking corps and the secondary. So, I attribute it to a combination of all those things."

What have you seen from Arizona QB Kevin Kolb the last couple games? It seems like they've been in kind of a slide; they started off the season passing the ball pretty well with a fairly high percentage. (Aaron Wilson)"You know, I think people have been getting after him pretty good. I think they've had a hard time. They've got a good running game; they can run the ball. Obviously, that will help him. But, with Beanie [Wells] out a little bit, that's hurt him, and people are starting to tee off a little bit. I think the pressure that people have been applying has made it a little more difficult."

How much did you stress getting sacks? Last year, there was a lot of pressure, but how much did you stress getting the quarterback down? (Ryan Mink)"Probably not as much as you guys did in the media. Obviously, it was a point of contention with everybody, so we put a lot of emphasis on it. The kids put a bunch on themselves. They said, 'That's 27,' I think it was. That's unacceptable, and it's nowhere near what they've done over the past several years here. [We] made a big point of emphasis on it, and they're doing a great job of executing the calls."

You're ranked first in defense, and just seeing overall how your defense is playing, you want to finish the year like that. But after six games to be first?* (Aaron Wilson)*"I mean, we're obviously, as a staff, really excited about the way our guys are playing. But, like you said, the key thing there is it's not where you start, it's where you finish. So at the end of the day, whenever the season is over and we look back, if we're sitting there – which our goal is to be the very best… The No. 1 goal is to win a world championship. And the second one is to be the best defense in the NFL. So, when this is all said and done after February 5th, and we're No. 1, then we'll be satisfied."

What did you see in Cary Williams that made you think he would be a good starter? (Tom Worgo)"What did I see in him? He's long. He's athletic. He can run. He's fast. He's a smart guy. I think he just needed an opportunity. The way things went, injury-wise, with the group back there – it seems like it's happened since I've been here – he got his opportunity and he took full advantage of it. He's doing a great job."

When it comes to your colleague on the other side of the ball, Cam has always gotten some scrutiny and criticism, even before the Jacksonville game. Do the coaches rally around him the same way the players would rally around a player when it's not going well? (Joe Platania)"We're a team, you know? We win and lose as a team. So, everybody's got everybody's back in this building. So, absolutely."

What's the one thing you stress to the defensive backs when they're preparing to go up against a guy like Arizona WR Larry Fitzgerald?* (Mark Suchy)*"Make sure, No. 1, you know where he's lined up at all times. Don't cover the decoys; cover the guys they're throwing to. And they're probably going to be throwing to him a lot. You've got to be smart. You've got to study extra tape on him. You've seen the tape. I mean, he'll go up – and we could have three guys on him – and he'll go up and pluck that ball out of the air. He's a special, special guy. He's one of those, what we call, 'game-wreckers.' You've got to do a great job of making life hard on him. We just can't let him have free release up the field; have him run routes, and not get any pressure on the quarterback, and give him a clean pocket. So, we've got to do a great job of mixing things up with him."

Have you seen, with NT Terrence Cody's development, people paying more attention to him and blocking him differently? (Jeff Zrebiec)"They'd like to, but we've got [Haloti] Ngata, and we've got [Terrell Suggs], and we've got [Jarret Johnson] and Cory Redding. So, it's hard to say, 'OK, we need to take care of No. 62 [Cody] now. He's becoming a dominant force inside.' But, you do that, and all of a sudden 92 [Ngata] is singled up, or 55 [Suggs], or 93 [Redding], or 99 [Paul Kruger], or 95 [Johnson]… So, they can try and do it, but if they do that they're going to let somebody else go free."

Beanie [Wells] is obviously a bruiser, but his status is in doubt. What have you seen from RB Alfonso Smith? It looked like he came in and was able to get some good runs in. (Jason Butt)"Yeah, he's a formidable running back for them. He doesn't have the… He's a big guy, and they run the same runs with him, but he's quick as a cat. He's got great feet. [He can] jump cut, make you miss in the hole, and take it the distance if he gets an opening. So again, no matter who plays and who lines up back there, we've got to do a great job, as always, of stopping the run."

Yesterday, Ray Lewis was talking about Terrell Suggs and how he has adapted from a guy who just gets after the quarterback to being a complete player. Is that a hard transition for some guys to make coming to the NFL? When what they, maybe, were successful in they have to change a little bit? (Casey Willett)"'Sizzle' [Suggs] will tell you it's all about stats, you know (laughter). So, everything was pass to him in the beginning. Obviously, [outside linebackers coach] Ted [Monachino] has done a fabulous job with him, coach Monachino. He's become an all-around player now – run and pass – because of the coaching he's got, and he's bought in. He realizes that it's just as important as rushing the passer. His opportunities will come. I can always remember Rex [Ryan] talking, when he first got here, he was like a fish out of water. You start talking about hat in hands, and knocking them back, and tearing off blocks and doing this, that, and the other, because he didn't have to do a whole bunch of that coming out of college. But, he's a force. You can't… He's really, really hard to block. We haven't seen anybody block him yet, so he's doing a great job of that."

What do you anticipate from Jimmy Smith this week as far as his work load, after we really didn't see him take any defensive snaps on Monday? (Luke Jones)"Hopefully, the opportunity presents itself. We'd love to get him out there and get him back in the swing of things. We'll see how the game goes, and again, it should be there, because they love to use multiple personnel groups and they're going to be in three-, four-, five-wide sets. So, there should be some opportunities to get him out there."

It looked like Jameel McClain had one of his best games of the season. He seemed to be at the ball all game long. Is that what you saw, also? It seemed like he was there relentlessly. (Pete Gilbert)"The guy is a great pro. Obviously, he sits next to the greatest linebacker that's ever played this game, in Ray Lewis; all those guys do. They've learned from him. They've learned how to study, they've learned how to practice, they've learned what it means and what it takes to be a great player. He's in there night-and-day, so it's no surprise to us and to [linebackers] coach Pees. Dean Pees, give him a bunch of kudos, because he does a great job with all those guys. He's a brilliant football coach, and Jameel is just like a sponge. He studies, and he studies, and he studies. So, the production that you're seeing on game day is just a by-product of his preparation."

Bernard Pollard's penalty: Is that something where you asked for clarification, or you just don't want him to change the way he plays? (Casey Willett)"Yeah, didn't you see me out there on the numbers right after it happened? (laughter) I tried to get some clarification right then and there. Then John [Harbaugh] grabbed me; I thought I was going to get 15 on the play. I should have got it instead of him, to be quite honest with you. The first thing my wife said when I called her after the game, she said they were making a big deal, and the announcer said it was textbook, you know? So, he was perfect in every sense of how you teach that. To run through a guy; he had his head to the side, he put his shoulder on him [and] broke on it perfect. The timing was great. So, I mean yeah, we send in all questionable plays and then we get back… Sometimes you get back, 'Yeah, we disagree.' Sometimes 'Yeah, we agree.' And sometimes we get, 'Yeah, we missed that call.' Hopefully they'll make things right, and he won't end up getting fined for the thing."

In general, how much do plays like that around the league bother you as a defensive guy? As you said, so many textbook plays, and we've seen numerous times for different teams where penalties are called. (Luke Jones)"You know what? They love to see that scoreboard rolling out points. Offenses fill the stadium, right? Our guys, they're going to keep playing. And Pollard isn't going to change his game, and nobody else in our room is going to change their game, because of that. They're just reacting. It's total instincts, and that's the same thing that's going on all over the league. Guys don't intentionally try to do any of that stuff; you're just playing the game how it's supposed to be played."

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