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Transcripts: John Harbaugh Monday Press Conference (9/11)

Opening statement: "[I] just wanted to make mention of 9/11 [with] today being 9/11. Most of us our age, or a lot younger even, remember where we were on that Tuesday morning. I was in Philly [with the Eagles] game planning for a game – I think it might have been against the [New York] Giants. I'm not sure, but I just happened to see the second [plane] go in [to the World Trade Center]. It's something you never forget. [I've] been to the memorial now – a couple years ago. [I] would highly recommend it to anybody and everybody. Go spend as much time there as you can. The stories are amazing and compelling. For our country, what an important day this is.  

"As far as the game, [I'm] just really happy and pleased with the win. I'd say the No. 1 thing I'm pleased with is the effort. The effort that our guys played with was about as good as it gets. It was standard-setting effort in all three phases, and that was something that you can hang your hat on, and you can win with. The physicality was there along with that. [I'm] just really happy with that. Also, the idea that we made plays that we had to make in critical situations to win the game. I thought guys came up with plays, stops, conversions, touchdowns, getting the ball in field goal range, making kicks – all the things – even punts. You look at Jordan [Stout]'s punt early on from backed up. I think he had a 60-plus-yard punt, 50-plus-yard net. Flipping field position from your own 10-yard line – that's [a] pretty great play that sometimes doesn't get noticed. Those kind of plays were made during the game, so [I'm] really happy with that. The things that we … Obviously, it's always this way after your first game and really it's this way after every game, but there's so many things we have to work on – so many things from an operation standpoint [on] both sides of the ball and special teams – execution standpoint [on] both sides of the ball on special teams. Penalties – just way, way too many penalties. Too many times we took chips, and we put them back in front of our opponent. We don't want to do that. We want to keep the chips – hoard the chips. You win with more chips, and we don't need to be giving them things that are caused by us not doing the things we need to do quite the right way. We'll be looking at that real hard this week and looking hard to improve in those areas. That's what we refer to as 'winning football.' We'll be talking about that, but individual efforts – focus, playing hard, want to. [I'm] really proud of the guys and really proud of the win against a good Houston [Texans] team. I've said this before about certain teams early in the season – 'They're going to win a lot of football games this year.' Mark it down. You'll see. That's a good, young football team. What questions do you have?" 

Do you have any injury updates with S Marcus Williams, T Ronnie Stanley and C Tyler Linderbaum? (Jamison Hensley) "I do. Again, I'll just confirm – J.K. [Dobbins] is going to have the Achilles surgery to repair that. He texted me last night. We texted back and forth, and [he] told me not to worry [and that] he'll be back better and stronger than before. His spirits will be good. Marcus has a peck injury. He's consulting with the doctors right now. He'll be out for a while. [It] may not be a season-ender though. There's different options that he has, so we'll keep you updated on that soon because he'll have to make a decision soon on a possible surgery there. Tyler [Linderbaum] has an ankle sprain, so I'd say [he's] week-to-week right now. He may be out for this game [against the Cincinnati Bengals]. Ronnie [Stanley] has a knee sprain. Again, that might be kind of similar to Tyler right now. We'll see where those guys are at, but they could be out this game, and we'll be counting on the [other] guys if they are out to step up and play." 

Does CB Marlon Humphrey have a shot to play in the next game against the Cincinnati Bengals? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Marlon [Humphrey] has a shot. He has a shot, but it depends. It's pretty early in the process [of him recovering from a foot injury], but it's possible. We'll see." 

Is there an injury update on TE Mark Andrews? (Brian Wacker) "Same thing. Mark [Andrews] looks good. We'll see how he does. I'll prefer those to the [injury] report. [That] probably is going to be your best indicator." 

Was there any kind of setback with TE Mark Andrews on Friday at practice? (Jonas Shaffer) "You never know. We hoped he'd make it [but he] couldn't make it to the game. We were trying. He was trying. [He] just didn't get there." 

Was there a point where S Marcus Williams tried to play through his injury during the game? (Cordell Woodland) "There was. It happened. [Marcus Williams] didn't really realize what it was. It just kept bothering him as he went. [He] made some plays, too. Marcus played great. It's a tough one for us. There's no doubt. I'm disappointed in that. All three of those guys [Williams, Tyler Linderbaum and Ronnie Stanley] are great players. Those are guys that we're hoping to get back in different times. But, he did. He played some more plays. He played well in those plays, and then it was really bothering him. He got checked out, and that's what they found." 

S Geno Stone played and filled in for S Marcus Williams extensively last year when he was out last year. Does that help you a little bit knowing what you can expect? _(Luke Jones) _"Well, yes, we're still going to play great defense. I still feel really good about our defense because Geno [Stone] is going to be Geno. He's not going to try and be Marcus [Williams], and he's going to play the way he plays, and he's proven he can play very well back there. So, I have all the confidence in the world in Geno, Daryl Worley and anybody we might bring in here. We have some options. But those guys especially Geno who's done it before, yes, 100 percent, [I have] all the confidence in the world in Geno." 

OL Patrick Mekari went in at left tackle once T Ronnie Stanley was hurt. Is that the plan to stick with him right now as Ronnie heals from his injury? (Cordell Woodland) "Yes. Patrick [Mekari] is our backup tackle [on] both sides, and Patrick's played a lot of football. So, he'll play well. Also, it's not a guy we're concerned with in terms of how well he'll play. He'll play well." 

With C Tyler Linderbuam possibly being out, are you glad you have C Sam Mustipher on the practice squad? _(Childs Walker) _"Absolutely, and Sam [Mustipher] did a good job [in the game]." 

Will RB Melvin Gordon be bumped up from the practice squad, or will you be looking outside the organization for a running back? (Bo Smolka) "No, I think we're good. I like the guys we have. Melvin [Gordon], he's here for a reason, and [we] certainly didn't expect it to be this quick, but that's why he's here. That's why he wanted to stay here because he likes it here. He likes the offense, and he likes the environment, and he's heck of a talented guy. You saw him in the preseason. He's a proven [running] back. So, I'm very, very glad that he's here."  

When you say you're good with the running backs you have, you don't foresee looking outside the Ravens organization for a running back? (Jamison Hensley) "No I don't. That's not what I'm looking to do, but if you want to ask [General Manager] Eric [DeCosta] what his thoughts are, give him a call." (laughter) 

RB J.K. Dobbins was the perceived starting running back. Now that he's done for the season, do you think it will be a committee between those three guys? (Jamison Hensley) "I wouldn't have put it in those terms before and so, why would I answer the question in those terms after? We have [running] backs, and we play our [running] backs. They all play. They play well. We love our [running] backs We love all of our guys, and it's just nowadays, in the NFL, a lot of guys have to play. That's pretty clear, and you roll guys, you play personnel groups, there's a lot of strategy to it, and every single guy on your roster has to be able to win for you as a starter. So, you pretty much consider all the guys starters, really. [I'm] just being truthful about it. They all have to be able to play that well. They're on the team for a reason. It's because they're good enough to do it, and all those [running] backs are going to play quite a bit."  

A lot of the players seemed visibly affected by the news of RB J.K Dobbins injury. What is your general message to the team when an injury impacts a player? _(Carita Parks) _"I really don't have a general message. The message is understood. The guys understand it. You were also probably hearing the questions, the way they answered the questions [and] they answered it in that sense. They understand what it means. It kind of goes back to the last conversation in terms of everybody [being] a starter, and now certain guys get opportunities and step up and show what they can do, and we'll be counting on those guys to do a great job. And I know they will. So, [I'm] disappointed when injuries happen, [but I'm] excited for the guys who will get an opportunity and you move forward because the games keep coming."  

RB Justice Hill has been here for a while, and he's done well on special teams, but it seems like every time he's asked to do something he steps up. Does he now have a chance to have a bigger role?_ (Cliff Brown)_ "The way he's played speaks for itself. You guys have seen him play. The fans have all seen him play now through the years, but also in the preseason and yesterday. So, I don't think it needs any explanation. I have tremendous confidence in Justice Hill. He's a very good running back. He's a very good all-around player, and it's going to be a great opportunity for him."  

G Kevin Zeitler said the offense probably didn't execute to the standard and QB Lamar Jackson said the team was rusty. When you looked at the tape, did you see a lot of things or were things just a step off? What was your broad take on the offense? (Childs Walker) "Absolutely. Lots of little things, even communication [and] just the way we were operating, it was up and down. It was a little spotty. We had some really good moments; many good moments, but you're also admitting not good moments. And [it's things like] just being on the same page, where we were lined up, timing up motions, getting out of the huddle as quickly as you wanted to, at times. [Also] route running, blocking, schemes, which linebacker we were working towards. There's just a myriad of things that go into playing a football game [whether] that's operating, offensively or defensively and special teams. It's a lot of moving parts. We have to get the parts moving more in sync, and it's early in the season. It's not unexpected, but I promise you, we want to be chasing perfection. We really don't want to be not hitting on all gears at any time, and so, we'll be working really hard to get better in all those areas this week. That's what the tone in the locker room was last night for sure. You probably saw it with your questions. The guys know it, and they're excited to get to work and get better and keep building."  

You already expressed a lot of optimism about CB Ronald Darby, but how please were you with the way that he played yesterday – I think he played all but 7 or 8 snaps – knowing he's only 11 months away from his injury? (Luke Jones) "I thought [Ronald Darby] played really well. I guess if the underlying question is, 'Did you want to play him that much?' and, 'Will you play him that much going forward?' It's like, we have a good guy in Rock [Ya-Sin] also. [He] got in there late. He's going to be a lot stronger this week, too, so we'll have a chance to play [and] to roll our guys in. Then, when Marlon [Humphrey] gets back, we're going to be feeling good about our situation there. Yes, I think Ronald played really well given, like you said, [he was coming] off an injury. You even kind of forget that recently. He looks good to me. I'm really, really happy he's on our team. He's a great guy, he plays super hard, and [he's] a competitor. He's just our kind of guy." 

Another person that came back and played from an injury is WR Rashod Bateman. Was it encouraging to see him make a few catches sought out contact? It seemed like he was playing physical and playing well. (Garrett Downing) "Yes, [Rashod Bateman] did. Rashod played really well. [He] made the big catch down the middle into the red zone and blocked really well. All the receivers did. He was just excited to be back out there and be fighting in a game. There's a lot of great days ahead for Rashod, for sure." 

I think there was only one designed rush for QB Lamar Jackson yesterday, and it was the QB sneak. Is that something that will be a week-to-week or drive-to-drive consideration, how to get him involved in the run game? (Jonas Shaffer) "Well, yes. I mean that is, but there was more than that in the plan. There were more than that called. It wasn't the only one, our quarterback sneak, so [Lamar Jackson]'s reading a lot of those runs out. Some of them are RPOs [run pass options]. Some of them have a quarterback run element in them as well, so there were numerous ones in there, actually. It will be week-to-week, yes, and he's going to have to be … That is an element of his game that defenses are going to have to account for, for sure, every week. They're going to have to account for him both out of the pocket, extending plays and also with the QB-driven plays, and we have a myriad of those plays." 

We saw WR Odell Beckham Jr. get a lot of snaps yesterday. How much of that was planned, or how much of that was dictated by matchup situations? (Brian Walker) "It's both. [That's] kind of the way it goes. [Odell Beckham Jr.]'s our starting wide receiver, so he played like a starting wide receiver. He played a lot of plays. He's healthy. He's excited to be out there, and that's going to translate. He had a couple big catches – a huge catch at the end – that got us in field goal range. It put the separation in the lead that we needed. [There was a] big pass interference [call] that he drew because of the way he ran his route and got open. I thought he was a factor out there. [He was] another guy that blocked exceptionally well. He was into the game. He was playing physical. It was fun to watch him play." 

Yesterday after the game, OLB Odafe Oweh praised defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald for drawing up plays to put players in positions to succeed as a pass rusher. You heard that echoed by other guys who compliment him on his teaching ability. When you were going through the process of interviewing him a few years back, did you know that he would be that creative and that good of a teacher for this job?_ (Jonas Shaffer)_ "Yes. That's why [defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald] got the job. [I] had been with him for many years. He basically grew up here as a coach. We have a great coaching staff. Mike is a good example of the coaching staff, but he's young, and he's smart. He's very determined, and he turns over every stone and comes up with ideas, but he also vets his ideas, and not just his ideas. He's collaborative with the guys. We have a great staff. [Assistant head coach/defensive line coach] Anthony Weaver, you're not going to find a better leader [or] better defensive coach than Anthony Weaver. He's going to be a head coach very soon. [Inside linebackers coach] Zach Orr [is a] heck of a young linebacker coach. Zach gets those guys rolling and teaches details at the same time. [Defensive backs coach] Dennard [Wilson], we added Dennard from Philly. He's added so much to the secondary in terms of ideas and technique coaching. He's also a very demanding coach along with [pass game coordinator/secondary coach] Chris Hewitt. He's been here many years and coordinates our pass defense. He just does a phenomenal job with that. Chris Hewitt, Dennard [and] Zach, eventually these guys are all going to be coordinators and head coaches. Then, [outside linebackers coach] Chuck Smith, adding Chuck to the defensive side was big, and I think you saw kind of that energy that guys brought to the pass rush, right? Chuck deserves a lot of credit for that, and he does a phenomenal job with those guys. I think I got everybody on the defensive staff. There're more guys [who are] younger. They'll wait their turn. We have a phenomenal staff and I'd say the same thing about the offensive staff and the special teams staff. Your question was about Mike, but I turned it to the whole [defensive] group. It's a great coaching staff." 

There were a ton of injuries leaguewide yesterday. People want to reason for them. Whether it's field, whether it's preseason preparation, whether it's how hard teams are practicing, there always has to be a reason for them. From your perspective, when you have four guys go down, do you feel like you're damned if you do or damned if you don't as a coach. Is it just inevitable at times? Whether you play guys in the preseason or you hold them out, does it feel inevitable? How do you kind of process it when you have such a hard day like that on the injury front? (Jeff Zrebiec) _"Well, I mean I think I've learned that there is no answer. If there was an answer, then that would be what everybody is doing. You practice guys, or you don't practice guys; you play them in the preseason, or you don't play them in the preseason, and injuries happen, and that's the reason. And would you do the other thing? It's like being on a hamster wheel; you're on the hamster wheel, and you're not getting anywhere. And really, that's kind of how this injury conversation is going in the NFL. I think progress is being made, for sure, but looking at whether you play in the preseason or don't, how many reps you take in practice, or you don't take … We're all ramping our guys now. Is there a long enough ramp, really, to ramp the guys properly? I'd say no. So, I think the people that are doing the studies on this, they know that, too. So, what they're going to have to do eventually is they're going to have to change the whole thing – the whole preseason process – and update it, because it's just been, basically, by what's always been done, and they know that it's not enough time to get guys ready to play in that short preseason period. So, there is a way to do it, because … You do the studies – and they've done them – and they know what the way is, and I think that the NFL and the NFLPA [National Football League Players Association] are going to come together on this. They're going to come up with the best thing for the players to keep the players healthy so they're ready to play, because if you don't do enough, and all of a sudden, you go a play a game … The game is taxing as it is – it is – and you have to have … You've got to be ready for [it] to be taxing that way. So, if you don't do anything and you go play an NFL game, bad things are going to happen. If you overdo it, [and] as you push through to get ramped up, there is a chance things are going to happen; you get soft-tissue injuries and things like that in practice. Then you've got the inevitable third part of it, which is just injuries happen; guys, they get fallen on, they get caught in an awkward position, because it's a contact, collision sport, and the more games you play, the more of those injuries are going to happen. That happens in the preseason and the regular season. I believe the NFL and the Players Association are of the right mind, and they want to do what they can do, and they'll get together, and they'll come up with a good solution, and we'll see some major changes in the way the preseasons are built in the future."(Reporter: With the longer ramp up, are you saying [to] maybe start training camp earlier? I'm not understanding.)_ "I mean, that's pretty obvious – what I'm saying. So, there are ways to do that and figure it out with the whole big picture in mind – from February until September."

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