Training Camp Transcript - Practice 8/29


Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg

On whether he has established a defined nucleus within the special teams: "The nucleus is defined pretty much every day. I mean, we've had guys working with different guys all the way through training camp. Now, this year is a little different because we haven't had the OTAs. We're mixing young with old, old with young, experienced with inexperienced. We're mixing new punt returners with veterans and veterans with the younger front. So, we're kind of mixing and matching. The real test will be on September 11. We'll find out who's on our roster real soon, and then we'll hone those guys in for our opener."

On how the lack of an offseason is changing special teams' performance: "No offseason is something that everyone is dealing with. The thing I've been trying to focus on, in our department, is trying to do a better job of adapting than everyone else. Everybody is dealing with the same issues. Everyone is dealing with the same calendar. Everyone is dealing with the same personnel. So, we're just trying to be better than everyone else and this point."

On P Sam Koch's performance last season and what he is doing this season to improve: "Sam had a fine year. I think it was represented by the fact that his peers thought that he was a Pro Bowl-caliber [player]. He finished behind Shane Lechler, who certainly was deserving of that high honor. I think Sam is now probably noticed by more people. Everybody in our building pretty much new Sam's talents for a lot longer. The thing that's really developed in Sam, over the last few years, is the fact that he's developed his plus-50 [yards] punts. His pooch punts are a weapon for us. Now, he's developed hang-time punts for us that are giving our coverage a little time to cover. Those things he's working to improve are consistency and ball flight. Every day when he's out here he wants to have a practice where he doesn't miss a ball and he turns every ball over. So, that what he's focusing on. And then, at the same time, he wants to get where his hang-times are consistent as well."

On how much of an impact Koch's new drop technique had on his performance: "I think with an athlete like Sam, where it was just a small adjustment, it made a big difference for him. For a guy with his talent and skill, it can matter. For, perhaps, a lesser punter, it might not make as much difference. But Sam had a lot of skill and wanted a challenge before he got here, and it was just one of the things that worked for him. But, we tried a lot of different things, and we'd just share ideas and some of the things he adopted and some he didn't. The drop happened to be something he did adopt, and it worked well for him."

On whether rookie WR LaQuan Williams' performance on special teams has surprised him: "I don't think he surprised us. We thought he had some possibilities before he got here, and that's why we wanted him to be on our team. And the opportunities he's had, he's made the most of. I think LaQuan will be the first to tell you he's far from the finished product. He did some things the other night that his last punt return made up for – let's put it that way. He mishandled the ball in the end zone on a kickoff return. After the one he dropped, he came back over [and said], 'I'm not doing that anymore.' I was really happy to see that he had another opportunity to make a play and he did make a big play. And, it had an effect on the outcome of the ballgame."

On whether he is concerned about ball security going forward: "Unfortunately, for us, the mishandled kicks have always been eight or nine yards deep in the end zone. You typically don't catch a kickoff going over your shoulder. We've been lining our guys up deep in the end zone already. It's one of those things that look dirty and you want to clean it up, but the ones I'm more concerned about are the punts. Fielding the punt is obviously more difficult. I want to see us do a better job of getting under the ball and securing the ball after the catch. Hopefully this last game will provide us with some opportunities to do that."

On whether he is worried that the return team will become complacent because of the new kickoff rule: "I think that you'll probably see a different mentality, with the kicking team, once we get into the regular season. I can't speak to complacency. I would hope that there would be no complacency in an NFL kickoff cover unit. Hopefully hope there's not on ours. I don't think there is. But what's going to happen is, as the preseason winds up and the regular season begins, you're not going to see those balls nine yards deep coming out of the end zone. In the preseason, coaches and players alike are going to take more chances because they want to see some returns. They want to give guys the opportunity to return and give their guys the opportunity to block. They want to see coverage; they want to see if people can cover. I think as we get down the road into the regular season, there are going to be fewer of those deep balls. That's just my opinion."

On whether he feels he can truly judge the return team: "I can judge from the other night. We did a really poor job of getting cut off from the backside. And we worked on that today, and I think we did a better job coming forward. The three returns they ran on us – I think we did a good job on one of them. We got holding called at the point of attack. There was another one right at the point of attack; we played that one really well. The other two we didn't play real well, frankly. I think it may, or may not, be a product of no live action. We haven't had a lot of live action, and we made a couple mistakes in those returns that we have addressed. Again, I'm glad they happened now instead of during the regular season. So, it gave us an opportunity to do some coaching."

Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron

On whether he sees the whole face of the offense changing with significant additions and departures this offseason:"We do have some new faces, but we've got a lot of guys that have been around, too. Ray Rice, Joe Flacco, Marshal Yanda… So, it's a little bit of the way the League is, but we've got a lot of guys that we've got confidence in. I think the additions we're making are great additions for a lot of reasons. I'm just excited. These guys got a little bit better today, and change is part of the deal. You might as well deal with it and try to get better. And I do think all these things are done to help us win and help make us better. That's the bottom line, and I think we're doing that."

On whether he expects WR Lee Evans back on the field soon:"Sure, absolutely. And he's in meetings. He's bounced around pretty good. I don't know the exact timetable, but yeah, we would like to think he's going to be back pretty quick."

On whether rookie WR Torrey Smith's confidence has been shaken at all with a few struggles:"It is a process for guys. I know we all want things to be instant, we want guys to just jump right out of the blocks and dominate in the National Football League and just go from there. It's easier said than done. He's a great practice player, works extremely hard. Over the years, guys that approach things the way he's approaching the game get better [and] improve, and that's our expectation for him – is just to get better and to improve. He and Joe [Flacco] are spending some extra time together. He was in the building yesterday – one of the few guys in the building – and those are all good signs. He's got a bright, bright future, and sometimes it just takes a couple of games under your belt to get comfortable."

On whether there have been any particular reasons for Smith's dropped passes:"I just think it's just overall learning the system. We've got to get him to where he doesn't even have to think about the play – just go out and play [and] let his natural ability just show itself. And I think that's going to come."

On whether they have decided if QB Joe Flacco will play at all in the final preseason game:"We haven't finalized it. You'll see a lot of Tyrod [Taylor] in, probably going to see Hunter [Cantwell] in there some, too. But we haven't finalized how much the 'ones' are going to play. This is probably a little bit of a unique year for two reasons; one, because of the lockout, and two, just because of the new faces that are here in the last few days. And you never know, there may be some more in the next couple of days. So, we'll see."

On whether this final preseason game is another chance for QB Tyrod Taylor to make his case for the backup QB job:"Absolutely. And I think… Joe [Flacco] has been… It's amazing what that room can be like when you've got a guy that's been in the system going on his fourth year. And I think having Joe in there, and then Tyrod comes in, even without the offseason, Joe has the ability to translate for him. And what a huge advantage for him to get up to speed quicker than any other young quarterbacks we've had. Joe didn't have that advantage when he was a rookie, because all the guys were new to the system. So, I think Joe has been a big part of his development. Those guys work together extremely well. They're different in a lot of ways, but mentally, they're the same in a lot of ways. Both are very bright, very sharp, very into what we're doing. So, I think there's some great chemistry there, and we want to get Tyrod as ready as we can."

On what the comfort level is right now for Taylor to be the backup QB:"I don't know that you have a comfort level with anybody in their first year, and maybe a lot of guys in their second year, because there's just a lot of unknowns. But I do like his approach; I do like what I've seen. I think he's going to get better and better and better, and I think we're the type of team that if he has to come in for a quarter, or a series, or for whatever reason, we'll find a way to get the job done."

On whether he notices players on the roster bubble and if their day-to-day work and attitude changes late in the preseason:"I think some guys do and some guys don't. For whatever reason, some guys can figure it out, and then other guys don't quite see it the same way. But for the most part, I'd say our guys are dialed in. They understand that for the most part, you've got to shine in special teams. And you saw some of that the other night. I saw David Reed make a great play, I saw Marcus Smith make a great play. I don't get to see a ton of the special teams, but I got to see the tape, and I think the young guys that are showing up on special teams are the guys that really get it, because that's your first opportunity to make a contribution."

On whether he would like to see his starting offensive line get a few snaps in on Thursday night to work on their game chemistry:"The most important thing for me is how we practice. Going against our defense is, for the most part, in a lot of ways better than any preseason game that we can play. Now, that being said, I think in the next couple days we're going to decide whether we think that's in our best interest. I think John's [Harbaugh] got some feelings on that, but I think we've said it: 'Let's just wait and see.' We want everybody ready to play, and then I think we'll make some kind of decision here in the next couple of days. I'm focused on, really, how we practice right now, because going against Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis, that can get our guys ready to play."

On how tough making the decisions at WRs included on the 53-man roster will be:"I hope they're tough. I hope they're tough at tight end, I hope they're tough in the offensive line. I think we've got some tough decisions to make at the wide receiver position. Our running backs, we've got a nice group. You know, I hope all those decisions are tough. Obviously, a lot of guys are practice-squad eligible, and then you want to be able to hang on to some quality practice squad guys to see if you can develop them. But I hope all these decisions are tough."

On whether the offensive line will be ready to go for the season opener with all of the recent changes:"Absolutely. We don't have a choice. This is pro football, and I think we all know what that means. No one really cares. No one cares. By the time that game comes around, the expectation for the player, for us as coaches, for the fans, is that we're ready to play. No ifs, ands, buts about it. No excuses. We're getting ready to play. I've got a ton of confidence in [offensive line coach] Andy Moeller and his ability to get the job done; he and [assistant offensive line coach] Todd Washington. The men up front… Matt Birk… We've got a group that is committed to getting ready, and there are no excuses in our hip pocket. We're going to be ready to play."

On how C Matt Birk looked in practice today:"He looked good today. And it's early. He'll get a couple more practices under his belt, but he is… You could stand here all day and talk about the great things about Matt Birk – how smart and tough he is. We need Matt Birk, and I'm thrilled to get him back."

On his initial thoughts of T Bryant McKinnie:"It's exciting, just to have a big, physical, left tackle that can complement Michael Oher. And really, you can't say enough about [Michael Oher's] ability to do what's best for the team. And that's huge. I don't know how many guys who just are going to do that with the class that Michael Oher does it. So, I think that helps. But, I think [McKinnie] is a proven player. He's got to continue to work on his conditioning. I saw he, Ray Lewis and Ed [Reed] working after, doing extra running after practice. I think he's going to do everything he can to make this organization proud for bringing him here. I like his attitude, I like his approach. And I don't know how you get a player like that this late in the training camp, but we seem to find a way to get it done."

On if either TEs Ed Dickson or Dennis Pitta has done anything to separate themselves as the starter:"I think that's going to be… They're different. I don't know that they're really going to separate each other. They're going to work in unison. You're going to see them both in the game in different packages. In my mind, we've got two starting tight ends, and each brings something unique to our offense. So, we're going to utilize them both, and I think we approach them both as starters."

Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano

On the new face of the defense:"Yeah, I think you're going to see that in the whole National Football League – not only here, but everywhere else. It's kind of nice to add the young guys in there. But, it's also nice to have the veteran leadership that we have. It's comforting to have Ray [Lewis] around and Ed Reed around and [Terrell] Suggs and 'Double-J' [Jarret Johnson] and all those guys. But, it's good to have a little injection of youth."

On what he's seen from rookie DE Michael McAdoo: "You know, probably about what you guys have seen. Big, tall, long, angular guy that has been away from football for a while and needs to get with [strength and conditioning coaches] Bobby [Rogucki] and 'Mother' [John Dunn] and spend a tremendous amount of time in the weight room – getting stronger and getting more physical that way. But, he's got skills. I know right now that he can be an edge pass rusher. But, he's got to go to work in the weight room and put some bulk on that frame."

On what the guys "on the bubble" can do to do gain a spot on the roster: "Like I told them, I said, 'You've got to go out there and every opportunity, every snap that you have, you have to take advantage of it. Whether it's 10 snaps or 40 snaps, you've got to go play really really well.' They're not only trying to make this team, they're trying to make 31 other teams. Everyone in the League is going to watch this tape. So, they've got to go out. They've got to perform. They've got to be productive. They've got to play well. Just go out and execute the calls, have fun and see what happens."

On CB Domonique Foxworth's progress: "When you see the things that are happening out on the football field… We've talked about this before. The time away was, obviously, a major detriment to 'Fox.' He had to go through an offseason surgery and rehab. That set him back. He's just got to keep his nose to the grindstone and keep pushing. We've got to be smart with him as far as how we use him right now and how many reps we give him. But hopefully, that will start to come around and he'll eventually be 100 percent."

On how much of the final roster is determined by numbers: "We've got to… Nothing is etched in stone right now. We feel like we've got a lot of guys who can go in and play next to Ray [Lewis] and play at a really high level, so that's a comforting point for us. But again, we've got a ton of guys here. There's a lot of depth there, and when we go in and start doing the math and doing the numbers, we know exactly how many we're going to get to keep on defense. So, we're all fighting and battling and we'll see how this whole thing shakes out."

On what the exact number of players is that the defense is going to get to keep: "I haven't been told yet. (laughter) I know mine is a lot higher than what they're going to give me. I said 18 or 19 on offense and we get the rest. *(laughter) *They didn't like that. But, I wish I knew. Whatever it is, we'll have a bunch of Ravens in there."

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