HEAD COACH JOHN HARBAUGH
Opening statement: "Good seeing everybody. [I] appreciate you guys being here. Obviously, [it's] a short week. [We're] right back at it with [the] Cincinnati [Bengals] right in front of us. [It's] a very important divisional game against a very good team. We're looking forward to it, but we have a lot of work to do, and that's what we're onto today. What questions do you have?"
Are there any significant injury updates with T Ronnie Stanley and CB Marlon Humphrey since they did not practice today?*_(Jamison Hensley)_* "Not long term. I'd say day-to-day. Hopefully, we'll get them to Thursday. There's a chance, and we'll see where we're at."
Are you concerned about a liability with S Marcus Williams since he seemingly was struggling to wrap up when he's tackling, especially with his left arm, or is he just going to fight through it?*_(Bo Smolka)_* "I think it's going to keep getting better as he gets more comfortable. He has some limitation there with the protection he has on it right now, but as it gets stronger, and it's getting stronger, he'll need less of that and give him a little more range of motion. I think he's going to be just fine. [He's] moving around good. He's a big part of what we're doing."
Have you identified any reasons as to why the team starts games off fast and then bursts in the fourth quarter?*_(Brian Wacker) _*"I think it's the National Football League. It's tough. It's a long season, and yes, probably the story is we've started fast really every game. That's pretty unusual. If we had finished strong in every game, we'd be undefeated, which is what we'd like to be right now, but we're not. Those three games where we didn't finish the way we needed to, we lost. That's what we're working on right now, certainly – [we're] looking at the details, like you said, within it, this, that, whatever the detail might be. That's part of the process. This thing is a journey. You're never set. I think we like to look at it and say, 'OK, this is what they are, and this is what they're going to be all year.' It's like, 'No.' Every team is forging the season as they go, and things happen. You get [a] gameplan, you don't play things great, you play things great, plays come up, plays get made, plays don't get made. To me, it's the miracle of the National Football League. That's why everybody watches it – it's so exciting. We just know what we have to work on right now to get better, and that's what we're working on."
What is the biggest challenge of the quick turnaround getting ready to play on Thursday night?*_(Jerry Coleman)_* "Probably two things. The one thing is the physical part of it for the guys. It's just a big challenge, but they have to do it once a year. They're up for doing it. They know it's coming, so our guys are ready to face that challenge and try to be their best Thursday. Then, [there's] the mental part of it – being ready with the gameplan and putting the gameplan together. We were right on the gameplan today right after the game [yesterday]. That's quick, but we felt like we were prepared as a coaching staff. Having a division opponent is helpful with that."
Do you find that players like to get back to work after a disappointing game?*_(Childs Walker)_* "I think they do when they have a Thursday night game. A lot of the guys come in [on Monday] on a normal week. They'll come in and lift on Monday. They'll watch the tape a lot of times, even though it's their off day. Different guys do it differently."
Is there anything different about a Thursday night game from the players in terms of it being in primetime under the lights? Does that add a little juice for the players, or is that just media members' hype?*_(Brian Wacker)_* "No, I think there is. I think they're excited about Thursday night. Thursday night's a primetime game. It's the only game on. It's a national TV game on Amazon Prime. They'll be excited to play. It's a big deal."
Is there anything you can add to your comments yesterday about RB Keaton Mitchell not playing much in the second half of the game on Sunday?*_(Luke Jones)_* "It's a very good question. I think it's something that's probably … As you look back on it, [it's] part of the process of getting a young guy in there and working him into the gameplan as part of the process as we go. I don't think we felt probably as an offensive coaching staff we were going to throw the whole gameplan on him. Those are the plays that get called from the groupings that were called in the second half. Looking back on it, would we have wanted him out there more? Yes. I think that'll factor into this gameplan. The way it got called – those plays weren't the ones he was scheduled for. I'll add Mark [Andrews]. He had two passes in the game. Is that what we want? Absolutely not. The ball goes where it goes sometimes, but we want the ball to go to Mark [Andrews]. That's also part of the dynamic as the season goes along trying to work through those things."
You mentioned yesterday, QB Deshaun Watson being elusive and getting out of the pocket. When you had a chance to digest the game, what did you see with that, because it seemed like guys were getting pressure. Was it over-pursuit?*_(Kyle Goon)_* "Yes. It's a great question. You almost, sometimes it was … Basically, we pressed the pocket too close to [Deshaun Watson], and he was able to get away. We had a few holding calls when he tried to get out of there, too, but then it's a little tough to tear off, so there's definitely a … It's a fine line with a quarterback that strong and that good. [He] broke a tackle or two. We have to do a better job of that. We have another one this week coming in, who does the same type of thing just [in] a different way. Joe Burrow is just as good as getting out of the pocket and making plays, so it's going to be a big point of emphasis."
How different do you think the Cincinnati Bengals are going to be Thursday compared to the first time you played them? You mentioned QB Joe Burrow and his mobility, and he's healthier.*_(Shawn Stepner)_* "Yes. They are 10 games in, and they're a different team, just like we are [and] just like every team in the league is. They have … [Joe Burrow] is healthier, [and] other guys aren't. It's a different time."
From a coaching perspective, it's tough not to, with some of the late-game stuff, to question everything – [Do you think] 'Are guys are trying too hard? Are there certain calls that we can do to change this?' How much do you put on yourself to figure out the root for some of these late-game issues?*_ (Jeff Zrebiec)_* "We look at the football. You don't have time to dig into the psychology, if that's what you're asking me, for the root causes. Maybe there is some historical reason for it. I'm not exactly sure, but we're just looking at the football. We fix the football. That's what we're doing. Our guys are good about that. We have a very honest culture, a very straightforward culture. We don't gloss anything over. We all look at ourselves. We're in a partnership; that's how we look at it. It's pro football, so the players and the coaches are in a partnership together to try to play the best we can, coach the best we can [and] put the best performance out there that we can together. That's really how we do it, and that's part of the whole process of the whole season. You can't panic. You don't get all upset about one game, just like you don't get over-happy about one game. You kind of try to keep an even keel and keep moving straight ahead through the water."
Did you get an explanation for the delay of game call? Did you think the clock was reset on your last offensive drive?*_(Jeff Zrebiec) _*"They explained it. Those are hard [calls about] why they pump the clock [or] why they don't. We thought we were going to get a pumped clock later when we took the delay of game. They had a guy on the field injured, [and] they didn't pump the clock on that one, so I'm not sure. I'm not sure."
Did you get an explanation for what looked to be a crackback block?*_(Gerry Sandusky)_* "Not yet. We sent it in. Hopefully, we will [get an explanation]. I saw it on tape."
It felt like the game kind of slowed down yesterday with the number of injuries and penalties. Can it be hard for an offense to stay in rhythm when that happens?*_(Noah Trister)_* "That's a good question. I just think you have to deal with it. You just have to deal with it. There are a lot of delays. [It's] part of football, I guess."