FRIDAY AVAILABILITY: Week 11 vs. HOUSTON
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "OK, good to see everybody here. We sure appreciate it. Obviously, [it's] a very big day here. We had a football practice. That's the main thing: getting ready for a great opponent and a really important AFC game, which we're excited to go play in. We have the Maryland National Guard Army here with some helicopters and things like that, so the guys are pretty excited about that. Some of them are scared, (laughter) but most of them are excited. So, we're working hard. One thing I know that you want to probably ask about is the events last night in the Pittsburgh-Cleveland game. I'm sure that's coming. All I can say about that is, obviously, we're worried about us. Our concern is us and our game on Sunday, and really, that's it. Nothing outside of this circle is what we're thinking about. I'm sure the NFL will address it in full. We trust them to do that, and we'll let them do the talking. We're not allowed to comment on it anyway. It's not something we're allowed to comment on, so we'll stay away from that."
How did DT Domata Peko and DT Justin Ellis do this week in practice? And how are you feeling about those guys physically, and I guess, mentally to be able to contribute Sunday? (Luke Jones)"I feel good about them to contribute Sunday. They both practiced well. They practiced hard. They're in good shape. It's not the most complicated thing to understand where to ... They have to figure out where to line up on the different calls. There are certain checks that they need to understand, but they're good at that, and they know how to play the techniques that we play. That's why we signed them. So, yes, they have a chance to play on Sunday if the circumstances work out with Michael [Pierce]."
You said "circumstances." Do you consider him [DT Michael Pierce] a game-time [decision] at this point? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes, yes."
I know you said earlier in the week that you did not know if you would have anyone at the Colin Kaepernick workout. Has that changed? (Aaron Kasinitz) "I don't [know]. To be honest with you, I didn't ask. Do we know, Kevin?" (Executive Vice President of Public & Community Relations Kevin Byrne: "I don't know.") "Does anybody know?" (Kevin Byrne: "I have not asked Eric [DeCosta] about it.") "I don't really care, to be honest with you. We're focused on Sunday."
Going forward, I know you said you can't talk about what happened last night, but they are two teams that you're going to play again. And they had some key players that may probably not play against you guys. Does that make things easier for you? Or is that something that ... Does that change anything in the strategy going forward? (Lowell Melser) "It doesn't, because we don't play them [the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers] until the end of the season. That's our 15th game and our 16th games. We're on our 10th game, so we're focused on the 10th game."
The video of you and QB Lamar Jackson [on the sideline against Cincinnati], I think it gave the country a window into your relationship with him. Outside of Xs and Os, in terms of coaching, how important is establishing a personal, human connection with players? How big a part of coaching is that? (Ian O'Connor) "That's a great point. To me, that's what it is. That's what coaching is, to me. Coaching is the relationship you have with your guys. I don't care what level you're talking about. My daughter is a lacrosse player. She's our only [child]. I watched her be coached over the years by different coaches, and the ones I really appreciated were the ones that had a relationship with her and wanted her to do well. So, that's the fun of it. I don't think you can be a coach without wanting to interact with your players and be a part of what they're doing and help them be who they are."
What do you think the chemistry that you have with QB Lamar Jackson in particular – what's that based on? (Ian O'Connor) "It's based on football. That's where it starts. We tell the guys all the time, 'We're here for football.' That's what we're here for. The beautiful thing about football is that it brings a group of people together, a group of guys and families together, from every kind of walk of life – every kind of social, economic [background], every kind of race, religion, every part of the country, every kind of background. You name it, they're playing their football, and they come together to make a team. So, it starts with football and it goes from there. That's the beauty of this sport. That's what makes it so special and so amazing. It's the ultimate team sport. You can't do anything great in football without understanding the fact that you're a family first."