HEAD COACH JOHN HARBAUGH
*Opening Statement: *"Good to see everyone here. I really appreciate it. We were fortunate enough to have the Governor here – Governor [Larry] Hogan was here. [His] daughter Jaymi, who's a Michigan fan, by the way – Go Blue – and [his] grandson, Cam, was here running around [in a] number eight jersey, just like about a thousand … How many kids? Ten thousand, five thousand? (SVP of Communications Chad Steele: "We'll go with ten thousand.") _Ten thousand, you name it. It's my prediction. _(laughter) But, football players … Little kids, little-league football players out here just screaming the whole practice. What a great time that was. So, first day in the pads, [it was] about what you would expect. Guys working hard, they were into it. The energy and effort were really high. Execution was spotty, which you'd expect for the first day in pads, for some reason it's always like that. So, just have to keep getting better every day. What questions do you have?"
We saw G Ben Cleveland out there today after passing his conditioning test. What are your impressions of him with his first day of work being a padded practice? (Jonas Shaffer) _"Ben [Cleveland] was back here, it was great that he was here. He passed [his conditioning test] this morning. Then, he did a leg lift. He did his legs. Then, he had practice today in the heat. So, he's had a full day. He'll sleep well tonight. _(laughter)It was good that he made it."
After one week of practice with the new schedule, what has the response been from the players and coaches? _(David Andrade) _"It's been good. I haven't heard any complaints."
With the pads on, is the time for the running backs to start separating themselves and getting more involved? _(Todd Karpovich) _"It starts to get to be that way. We're not tackling live yet, so it's a little closer to what you're looking for, but the physicality will certainly ramp up. If anything, I'm pulling them back right now. I pulled the range in just a little bit. Now, that's going to start loosening, because they're going to start making it loosen. As they get into it, they're going to get more and more physical, which is fine. But the more physical it gets and the more real it gets, the more real it will be for the running backs, to your point."
We saw that T Ja'Wuan James wasn't out there today. Did he have an injury from the stadium practice? _(Childs Walker) _"Yes, he has a little nagging thing going on, so I just kind of decided – we decided together to give it a little rest."
How has T Ja'Wuan James looked to you? It has been a few years since he's been a week-to-week football player. _(Childs Walker) _"He's moving really well. He's moving well. He's playing on the left side. He hasn't been a left tackle; he's been a right tackle his whole career. So, he probably would rather be on the right side, but sometimes necessity is the mother of invention. He's getting an opportunity on the left side right now. So, pads come out, see how that thing feels, see how it holds up … That will be the key."
We saw T Ronnie Stanley out here signing autographs. Is it too soon to speculate when we will see him on the field? _(Ken Weinman) _"It is. It's too soon. It's not going to be imminent, but he's feeling good. He looks good right now."
It seemed like S Kyle Hamilton responded well to his first day in pads today. What were your impressions of him and how he's coming along? _(Ryan Mink) _"Yes, I saw someone – it wasn't any of you guys, thank goodness, but someone gave the opinion that he's a limited guy who has to play in the box. Because they saw him try to cover a guy who ran like a 10.4 [seconds] 100 meters. I don't know. We're not going to match him up against a 10.4 [seconds] 100 meters guy, but he played man today pretty well, as you saw. So, he's going to be very versatile. He's going to play in a lot of different spots."
We love it and fans love it, but how do you evaluate one-on-one drills for receivers and defensive backs? _(Jonas Shaffer) _"That's one of those drills where the defense is wearing the ankle weights. There's no pass rush, there's no one in the quarterback's face. They have a little bit more time to throw, they're not under pressure, which they would be. That's a zero-man type of scenario. So, it's toughest on the DBs. If the DB gets a win there, it's a really good win."
*What is your initial reaction to the news today of Browns QB Deshaun Watson's six-game suspension? (Morgan Adsit) *"It's a great question. I do have a lot of opinions on it. I'm not at liberty to share them at this time, but that's for the league to decide. I respect what [Ravens owner] Steve Bisciotti has created here, and [president emeritus] Dick Cass, really, almost 10 years ago. Basically, what we decided – Steve and Dick decided – and we're all still here … [Executive vice president] Ozzie [Newsome], [EVP & GM] Eric [DeCosta], [senior vice president of football operations] Pat Moriarty, that were involved in that … Basically, we're kind of zero tolerance. You have to know the truth, you have to try to understand the circumstances, but we've stayed away from that particular situation. When we draft players, when we sign them as free agents, we just haven't dealt with it. That's Steve's decision, and I'm glad that we have that policy."
OFFENSIVE LINE COACH JOE D'ALESSANDRIS
What's been your assessment of C Tyler Linderbaum so far, especially today, with it being the first day in pads? _(Cordell Woodland) _"Tyler [Linderbaum] is doing a really nice job. He's come in here, from Day One, learning the system, learning communication, applying it. [When] you correct him, he applies it again, fixes the problem, and he's doing a really nice job. His leadership role is growing. He's doing a really good job for us."
As a rookie center, what do you want his relationship with the quarterback to be? _(Jonas Shaffer) _"I think that's always going to be a growing relationship. I know Lamar [Jackson] is so welcoming, and Tyler [Linderbaum] is the same way, so they'll make this thing blend, and they'll make this work, and that's the most important thing. They're teammates, and it's for the team."
We've watched T Ja'Wuan James make the transition to the left side. It's been described as going from right-handed to left-handed. Is it really that extreme? _(Pete Gilbert) _"It's like you're writing right-handed all the time, and now, all of a sudden, you're starting to write left-handed. It's all motor skills – development of motor skills – and being comfortable doing it one way. But he's in the process of working at it, and he's athletic enough to do it, so I think his progress has been very good so far. And it's early – first day in pads – so we'll see how this continues to grow."
When T Ja'Wuan James was in Miami, people would praise his unusual flexibility and mobility for a guy as tall as he is. Have you started to see that now that he's getting healthy? _(Childs Walker) _"I saw that when I worked him out many years ago; I went to Tennessee when he was coming out. He was very athletic then, and he's still athletic now and very coachable. [He's] a good young man."
Just how good do you feel about your right tackle situation now that you have an experienced vet in T Morgan Moses there? _(Ryan Mink) _"Morgan [Moses] is just a good vet, right? What is it, 113 [consecutive] starts without missing one? He's tough, he's physical, he's coachable, he's accountable. So, you've got all those good qualities, and he's a good teammate. So, we're excited about having him."
Can you talk about how the physicality and intensity picks up when the pads come on and how that kind of helps you as you look at these competitions? _(Garrett Downing) _"That's part of pads – it's a contact sport. So, we try to do everything legal and teach good technique, fundamentals. The defensive line is doing the same thing. We blend together with each other and make it work to see if we could be very good offensive and defensive lines by working good against each other – good against good."
QB Lamar Jackson has a unique skill set at quarterback. How have you adjusted the way you teach, and how different does that element of his game make things for your line? _(Mark Viviano) _"Lamar [Jackson] is a phenomenal athlete – good passer, good runner, and he's a skilled athlete. He can do many, many things. We know that, so we block accordingly. We try to read how the defender reacts to him, try to – as I use the term – helmet-adjust to that defender, because the relocation of the quarterback or a running back, whoever that is. And that's a process that we work on – to try to grow in that area. But Lamar makes a lot of spectacular plays that help us look good, too."
Are you specifically looking at C Tyler Linderbaum to see how he handles pads and contact for the first time? _(Ryan Mink) _"Yes, but it's a work [in progress]. You can't judge him just on today; it's just part of the equation of teaching. So, we put the pads on today, [and] we all looked, maybe, a little slow or sluggish, and there are some things we looked good in. But we'll be better by the end of the week, and same thing for all the players."
How much harder is it to make judgements when you're in pads so infrequently compared to 20 years ago? _(Pete Gilbert) _"That's why we evaluate each day – pads, no pads – and assess the progress of that player. [We] try to help him. If there's a deficient area, try to help him in his deficiency. [With] his strength, encourage his strength, and try to make him a better player."
What kind of impact can TE Nick Boyle and FB Patrick Ricard make for the offensive line when they're asked to block? _(David Andrade) _"Both of those guys are good players. They're physical players who play that position. They bring a different physical element to the game when they're in the game, and they love to play. They look like an extra guard for us, but they can catch the ball pretty darn well."
We saw today how hard it is to get around T Daniel Faalele when he gets a body on somebody. Where does he need to make the most strides? _(Childs Walker) _"For Daniel [Faalele], it's just daily progress – just take [it] one day at a time. [We'll] keep coaching him. He's very coachable, he corrects himself very quickly, he applies the coaching quickly. So, it's daily progress, and he's making nice strides. He's a pleasure to have right here."
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman said that G Ben Powers is in the lead for the left guard spot. What is it about Ben Powers that you really like? _(Ryan Mink) _"It's an ongoing competition right now. Ben [Powers], right now, is doing a really good job. Ben did a nice job last season. Unfortunately, he got hurt. He's come back from his recovery from his injury, and [he] came back into camp in really good shape, and he's doing a really good job. He's got very good vision, he's very instinctive, [he's a] good communicator. So, when you do all those things, you have to gel the line together and trust each other when you communicate. So, he's doing a great job there."
I know G Tyre Phillips has spent some time at tackle, but now he's getting work at that guard spot. Do you think that experience was helpful for him? _(Jonas Shaffer) _"Yes, Tyre [Phillips] is a fine young man, too. He works his tail off, and he's growing. We've just got to work for more consistency, and I've got to help him along the way with that."