Special Teams Coordinator/Associate Head Coach Jerry Rosburg
Do you think you have enough options at returner? I think we counted nine or 10 guys getting a chance back there? (Jamison Hensley)"It's a long line back there. *(laughter) *We had a punt return drill at the end of practice, and I looked down there, and they are all standing in a bunch. I said, 'Well, I don't know who is who, so get them all off the field and go one at a time.' *(laughter) *We have options. That is what training camp is for, though; it is good to have options. It is like any training camp; it is competitive. Practices are competitive, and they want to get out there and show what they can do. The repetitions in the preseason games will be very valuable."
At this point, would you prefer to have one designated guy who you know is going to be your punt returner?* (Ed Lee)"I think everybody would like to know who their quarterback is. Everybody would like to know who their left tackle is. Everybody would like to know who their corners are. Everybody would like to know who their pass rushers are. Everybody would like to know everything about their team and have it all solved, but that is not reality. Everybody has issues, and our issue right now is finding *the returner amongst the masses."
What elements are you looking for? Is there something that can make one person stand out from the others? (Ed Lee)"Yes. Punt returner is a different skill than kick returner. Chris Moore returned kickoffs for us last year, and he doesn't play at punt returner. He is not a punt returner; he is playing on the front line. We are looking for a punt returner first and foremost, because that is a different skill than kickoffs. Kickoffs, you can stand back there and catch it. A lot of guys can do that. We are looking for a punt returner – someone that can catch and secure the ball, make someone miss, get positive yards and have the ball at the end of the play. There are a number of skills [and] athletic talents that go into that, but being able to track the ball and catch the ball is No. 1. Because if you can't do that, then it does not matter how well you run or how many people you can make miss, because we won't put you back there."
Does it take a certain mentality, especially on punt returns, because you are asking a guy to look at a ball knowing that there are 11 guys running down wanting to take you down? (Jamison Hensley)"Sure. You are protected though. It is not like … You can wave fair catch at any point in time. It is not like they have free reign to hit you. Does it take a certain mentality? To answer your question, yes. I think certain people are better at it than others. That is our job to figure that out. You can find returners in the National Football League that are good at their craft; some of them have a higher level in security in that regard than others. Some of them will risk it all the time, and thereby, are risking the fate of the football. Somewhere in there lies the balance of you want an aggressive confident returner, but at the same time, you want to make sure you have the ball at the end of the play."
Jerry there is a lot of talk about WR/RS Keenan Reynolds' transition as a receiver, but what strides have you seen him make on special teams and as a returner? (Jeff Zrebiec)"I complimented Keenan this morning in the special teams meeting. We had a kickoff return drill yesterday, and he is – as you might expect – a bright young man. He really has changed the way he is returning kicks. He is running into the ball very well. He is securing the ball very well. He is seeing his keys very well on kickoff returns. I have seen a lot of improvement in him from even in the spring time. He looks really good, in my opinion. The punt return part of it is something we are still working on, and he seems to me like he catches and tracks the ball much better than he did a year ago. As we all know, a year ago here he was just starting. As we expected and as we talked about last year, we expect to see improvement from him. That is why we got him, because we think he is a talented young man, and he is good with the ball in his hands. We have seen improvement – a lot of it."
When K Justin Tucker has a season like he did last year – one of the best seasons for any kicker ever – where do you start on how to get better? Where does that conversation start? (Ryan Mink)"We have an expression when we start spring practices – the football school and the OTAs – and [the expression] is called, 'Renew.' We have to make ourselves new all over again; we have to start all over again. What it is, is a reminder that nothing carries on by itself. You have to make it carry on. If you have been good, you get a chance to do it again. If you have not been good, you have a chance to get good. Justin has been very good, obviously. The numbers speak for themselves. The whole operation has been at a very high level, and we are excited that they are all back and here together again. We have to get to the same point we were when we were good last year during the season. We are just starting in preseason, just yesterday's first couple practices. If you put the tape on and you are a finely-tuned view like [specialists coach] Randy Brown would be, it does not look the same yet. We still were successful on our field goals, but we know what we want it to look like, so we have to fine-tune it. We are confident in all three of those guys, Justin included. Practice will make us better."
I know you have only had limited time with WR Griff Whalen, but what have you seen from him this far? (Ed Lee)"I am familiar with Griff, obviously, from coaching against him and seeing him around the league. I anticipated when he came here … I never have coached him. But, he obviously has skills with the ball. He understands returns. He has been in the league, he has done it before. His experience is valuable. We are going to try to see how many other things he can do. The best thing I thought Griff Whalen has done so far is … This may come as a little bit of a surprise to you, but the best thing he has done so far is play "2" in the kickoff game and the scout team. He ran down yesterday on a drill and beat the guy on the edge and was outstanding. That gets my attention. As we all understand, we have an expression around here: 'The more you can do.' If he can be our returner and be a '2' on the kickoff team and contribute in some other fashion in the other phases, then I am really excited."
With the NFL changing kickoff rules, do you think in any way that diminishes the value of returns? (Ed Lee)"I think those guys are really valuable. I think the play is very valuable. I would not for a second diminish the value of what our guys are doing. Now, in the scope of the game, if somebody wants to look at it that way, that is fine. But, our guys, we do not look at it that way at all. We think what we are doing is really, really important."
When you get a kid out of college, some of them have played special teams and some haven't. Can you tell right away which ones have played and how they value special teams play? (Stan White)"I can tell right away, because I have watched them all on tape. I know which ones have and which ones have not."
Is it harder to assimilate the guys who have not played? (Stan White)"Sure. The other part of it is that there is a lot of college football that doesn't cross over in NFL football, particularly with the punt aspect of it. Like, what we did today in practice in punt return, those guys have not done that. Even the guys that played on the punt return team have never done that. Because in college, you can just release and run down the field. It is a different game. To your question, the guys that have experience playing on special teams in college are better than the guys that have not. But, they still have a long way to go because the game is so different."
Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach Marty Mornhinweg
Opening statement: "The fellas are working hard – great preparation! We're sort of right at the front end of all the instillation. [There's] a lot of material in our base – blocks and movement, nickel, screens, all of our third downs, and a lot of situations. We start our situations very early here. [It's] a lot of material, and the guys are working hard. [We're] excited about the football team and about our offense. So let's open up to questions."
How challenging has it been not having QB Joe Flacco out there? (Luke Jones) "He's a team leader, and he's Joe Flacco – so, yes. He's getting himself right in the training room with Mark [Smith, vice president & head certified athletic trainer], the staff and all those doctors and things. We'll get him back out here at some point. In the meantime, we get our work done. We get our timing down. It's a great opportunity for the other fellas."
The new guys on defense, how are they acclimating themselves? (Todd Karpovich) "Our defense is very good – fast, physical, they're very versatile, talented. [It is] a very, very good defense that only pays dividends for us in the long run. No question about it."
What has been your impression so far on the battle for center, left/right guard? (Jordan Schatz) "There are battles going on everywhere at many of our positions. Competition is good. Competition elevates your play, and they're pushing each other. There's a lot of great competition going on, and that's a plus for us."
What have you seen out of TE Maxx Williams coming out from his injury? (Jamison Hensley) "Pretty good. Now, he's kind of in a process right now, but he certainly looks good. He's a tough, physical guy, great hands – all those things. He has a lot of skills. He needs to do this thing right with the trainers and Greg [Roman], his position coach. So, we're trying to do that thing right."
Has RB Javorius Allen made good progress this offseason? Have you liked what you've seen so far? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Buck [Javorius Allen] is getting better every day. Buck is a good football player. We're happy to have him on our team. He's earned himself some reps and time in the preseason. We'll see; he's a good football player. We're pleased that we have him on our team."
*WR Breshad Perriman, WR Mike Wallace and WR Jeremy Maclin talk about being the best trio of receivers in the league. Do you like that confidence?(Jamison Hensley)* "You know that – absolutely. Let's leave it at that. I like their juice. They bring juice everyday – great confidence."
**What have you seen from C Ryan Jensen as he continues to be the starter at center? *(Ryan Mink) *"Well, as you know, Ryan is a tough, physical guy. Even today, Day Three [there were] a couple center-quarterback [snapping] deals going on. We have to get that ironed out. Other than that, he's doing a heck of a job. He's a good football player."
Was that a diamond formation I saw out there? Two fullbacks, a tight end … Is that an offseason addition? (Gerry Sandusky)"We've done it before, but we're very multiple. Personnel groups, formation shifts, motions – we're like that."
What's the strength of that formation? (Gerry Sandusky)"It's big people, you can gain some angles, there's come pretty good play-action off of it, and those sorts of things. I don't want to get too much into scheme."
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees
*What have you seen out of CB Marlon Humphreys so far? What has impressed you about him? *(Ryan Mink) "He's made plays. That's the thing you want to see back in the secondary. No. 1, you don't want to see him give up big plays. There are going to be balls caught underneath, and we're going to play zone kind of stuff, but, the No. 1 thing is that he's making plays. He had a couple picks and a knockdown, which should have been another pick. The biggest thing is that he's not given up big plays, and he's making plays."
What has been your impression of LB Kamalei Correa so far this camp? I know last year he was a bit disappointing. (Jordan Schatz) "He was disappointing to you guys, but wasn't disappointing to me. He was a rookie. Everyone likes to talk about these guys being 'disappointing.' I'd like to see everyone in their occupation their first year, and how good you guys were as journalists, or anything else, in your first year. The guy was a rookie. He has totally matured differently this year. He's also making plays. He's made a pick in about every practice. He knows the defense and the scheme much better. I'm really proud of him. I think he took a lot of criticism that I don't think he should have taken. I think he's bounced back from that."
Has OLB Tyus Bowser been showing potential in getting to the quarterback? (Todd Karpovich) "He has. He's another guy that in OTAs it was all new to him. He has really taken a step here, I think, in the first few days of training camp of coming back more prepared. Coming out of OTAs, I thought, 'OK, it's going to be a little while in training camp.' But, he's come out here more prepared than I thought. He's a quick-twitch guy. He had a play the other day, on a drop in coverage as a SAM linebacker, that I haven't coached many SAM linebackers that could have made that drop. We bring guys in who rush the passer, set the edge, and the last thing is to drop. It was a great drop. To me, that's kind of what I look at – the positives of those guys and what they can do for us. I think he's going to be a competitor."
DT Brandon Williams has talked about wanting to get to the quarterback more. Is that an area where you think he can even take his game further? (Jeff Zrebiec)"Sure. In defense of him a little bit, there's the fact that we didn't use him there. It's kind of hard to be a pass rusher on third down if you're not in the game. I think he's a guy that can push the pocket, and he's got some quick twitch. If all of a sudden they try to go one-on-one with him, thinking that, 'This guy can't pass rush,' he has some power. He'll push the pocket back there on the quarterback. I think we have to use those guys a little more than we did in the past."
How much do you like seeing the young pass rushers around with the speed on defense? (Jeff Zrebiec)"What I like is the depth we have – that's what I like. The more guys that can play up for the game and go to special teams, then give us 30 or 40 plays, that can also spread the wealth among the 21 guys we have up. Instead of one guy having to play 60 or 70 snaps in a game, maybe he only has to do 30 or 35, because the drop-off isn't as drastic. What I like about our young guys is I really like the combination that we have. I think we have young, energetic guys, but we have enough veteran guys with great leadership in there that I think is a good combination. Key thing is we need to keep everyone healthy. Depth is always great as long as you have depth. I feel that there are a lot of guys right now that could go into a game and play and contribute. We just have to keep them healthy."
How much do you enjoy having three high-caliber safeties from a versatility standpoint? (Luke Jones)"It's great. Tony [Jefferson] was kind of like how Eric [Weddle] was a year ago. He just walked in the door and fit in the system, the scheme, the players, the coach Harbaugh standards; he's just one of us. I think he's just as happy to be here as we are having him here. I feel good about all three of those. It's like I said: Keep those guys healthy, and we have a really good rotation out there."
**What do you see in some of your young defensive lineman? *(Ryan Mink) *"I think it's great competition. It's going to be interesting, because it's going to be hard to keep them all. It's going to be a tough one, but that's what good competition does for you. They're all young guys. Brandon Williams is probably our senior veteran. How many years has he been in there? Five? Something like that? Except for 'Sizz' [Terrell Suggs] up front, we are a young group. Just like those outside guys – they're young, except for 'Sizz.' Again, 'Sizz' provides leadership in the classroom and on the field that we want. But, we've got these young guys who are really fighting for a spot."
What are you seeing from OLB Matthew Judon in his physical progression? (Luke Jones) "I think he felt like coming out of OTAs that he needed to lose some weight and stuff so that he can move a little better in the space. The one thing that happens to us, and our scheme, a lot of times is that people will try to get the SAM linebacker walked out and get him in space a little bit. It's tough if you're a big guy, thinking all the time playing the run. It's a passing league. As much as we talk about stopping the run, this is a passing league. It is, has been and will continue to be. So, those guys have to be able to drop and do those things. Tyus [Bowser], I think, did a great job. Matt felt like coming out of OTAs that, 'OK, I need to get a little lighter so that I can move a little better.' It's not going to hurt him in his pass rush or the run game, and it'll help him a lot in the passing game."
What did you think about OLB Matthew Judon's pick, when he dropped and covered yesterday? (Ryan Mink)"It was a great pick. Unfortunately, he actually should have been in different coverage. (laughter) He was in the right coverage, he was just late getting there.* But,* he got there in time. It's like a guy shooting a three- [pointer]. 'No, no, no, no! Nice shot.' You know? One of those."
How would you describe CB Marlon Humphrey's composure? (Jamison Hensley) "He's a mature guy. I think that comes from dad and mom. He's got great parents. I think the thing about him is he comes from a program in Alabama, where there are a lot of guys coming back to that program who are in the NFL that can tell him what it's going to be like. He also has a father who was an outstanding player in the league. He has a lot of things going for him that maybe other players don't [have] coming into the league. I think he came into this whole thing very mature and humbled. He was a first-round pick. If you remember when you interviewed him, he almost felt like he wasn't going to be a first-round pick. He was surprised in a way. We weren't. That's a great way to be. You'd rather have a guy be like that than, 'I should have been picked higher.'"
What's your assessment on OLB Tim Williams thus far? (Ed Lee)"Great, just what we thought. They all have ways to go. I mean, we're three days in. We are so far from being where we need to be. But, he's the guy we drafted. He looks like the guy that we drafted."