Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "Hi, everybody. I apologize for how I look; I haven't seen myself without a mask on all week. So, I guess I forgot to shave, but I'll try to clean that up. (laughter) I hope everybody is doing well. What questions do you have?"
With the six players who are the high-risk close contacts, have you heard if they've had any symptoms along those lines? And are you still optimistic about getting most of them back tomorrow morning? (Jamison Hensley) "I am optimistic about all of them. I have not heard anything about any symptoms at this point, but I don't get momentarily reports on that. I just assume that if there's something going on, I'll hear about it. That's kind of where we're at, but nothing has really changed as far as I know."
The passing attack is a strength of the Indianapolis Colts. Do you think this is a disadvantage for you? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "I'll tell you; it's a challenge for us, for sure. They want to run the ball – there's no doubt about it. They have three very good running backs. They have a very talented offensive line [with] very good players in there that are well-coached. They want to run the ball, and they stick with it. They had success in the second half against the Lions last week, for sure. But I do think that Philip Rivers drives the offense. And when you have Philip Rivers driving your offense, you're going to be excellent at throwing the ball. They have good, young receivers who they like. [They have] three very good tight ends, and their backs are good receivers. He [Philip Rivers] does a great job of ID-ing the defense and moving the ball around to where it needs to go – and they have a good offensive line to pass protect. So, of course they're going to be a very good passing team. We're gearing up for that, and hopefully, we can slow those guys down."
Were you ultimately satisfied with the work you were able to do this week, despite all the adjustments you had to deal with? (Childs Walker) "Yes. It's not the perfect thing; you always want everybody at practice, but I have learned, over the years, that you never … You might assume that one thing might lead to this specific outcome, but what I've found is that you really can never predict that; you really never know. What you think is for evil turns out to be for good. I think it's important for us to just kind of keep that in perspective and do everything that we can do that's in our power to do, which our guys did a great job. Coaches and players worked hard. The guys who weren't out there practicing were doing all the things they could do to prepare. You trust that and you go play the game and do the best you can. So, I feel very confident with that – yes."
Going back to the Colts – they don't have gaudy sack numbers, but they're really good flying to the ball. What do you see with the speed of their defense and the way they attack the football? (Todd Karpovich) "They do – that's a great observation. They are one of the best pursuit defenses in the league; that's something we pride ourselves in very much here with our defense. They talk about it there a lot. We practiced against them two years ago. We had a chance to get a little bit of a peek at how they coach it, and they really do a good job of that. Yes, that's something we're going to have to deal with, for sure. That's a big part of what they do defensively, and they have a lot of speed out there."
We didn't get a chance to ask you, with G/T Tyre Phillips, could that be a short-term IR stay? Or is there something more significant found with Tyre Phillips' ankle? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I think it'll be a short-term IR stay, yes. It's an ankle sprain. Hopefully, that will be the case, but that's what we're anticipating."
As far as WR Dez Bryant, you can elevate him at any point. Is there any chance of elevating him this week, or maybe in the upcoming week or so? (Jamison Hensley) "Like I said, I think we'll just stay with what we said; when we feel like he's ready to come up, in shape, knows the offense well enough and has enough compatibility with Lamar [Jackson] on enough plays, then we'll bring him up. So, when it happens … I think it will happen. I don't think it's something you want to force-feed in there. So, we'll just have to see as we go."
What have you learned about your team – especially this week – and yourself as the head coach? (Stacey Dales) "I've learned that I don't shave as often when I wear a mask every day, because it doesn't seem like it matters that much. (laughter)
"I think it's a great question. We always learn about ourselves and our team through this and all that. I don't want to overstate it, though. I just think it's something that you deal with. It's part of it. It's part of life right now. Every single person in the country is dealing with these kinds of things in their lives. So, the cool thing about football is that – and I say this all the time to our guys – it's a microcosm of life. It's a metaphor for life. And it is real-life, because it's our lives. So, there are certain rules that are in place, and you do your best to follow them; sometimes you fall short. But our guys are doing that, and what I've found is that I'm proud of the guys because they really, really work hard, and they're very conscientious, and they try to do their best. And when they make a mistake, we hold our guys accountable, of course, and they hold each other accountable more than we do; that's the great thing about our guys. I don't know if I've learned that about them; I've been reinforced of the type of character that they have, and that's how I feel about it. It's new, it's new for the whole country. I guess the message here … I know I'm getting a little long here; I'm trying to think my way through this, because I haven't really thought about the deep question. I do think that the metaphor here with the NFL is kind of a good one in the sense that you do everything you can to keep each other safe from this virus, and yet you still continue to take on the challenges of life and try to be excellent in the things that you do. And the other thing is [you] try to maintain the relationships. Like in a team; a team is about relationships, just like families are about relationships. And even though you can't do all the things you used to do, you're still going to work hard to keep the relationship strong and the communication going. So, if it's a metaphor that way for everybody else, great. I definitely see it both in my personal life and then also in this professional part of it."
When we talk about QB Lamar Jackson running the ball, everyone talks about his speed and his athleticism. But from your perspective, you don't see too many quarterbacks running in-between the tackles. What kind of level of toughness does it really take for a quarterback to run in-between the tackles? (Jamison Hensley) "Oh, absolutely. There are a few more doing it. I've seen that play you're talking about run by five or six teams now, in the league, so it's becoming a popular play. It takes a tremendous amount of toughness – absolutely. I think that's a great observation. I hope that doesn't get lost on anybody. Just think about it; it's funny, when you're 21, 22 [years old] – and a lot of us were playing football – we were all about that. Now, you get to be our age and you watch what goes on between the tackles, and you have to say, 'Wow, there's a lot going on in there. It's coming from a lot of different directions. Those are some big bodies – big, fast, violent activities going on in there.' So, I absolutely think it takes a lot to run in there. For quarterbacks to do it, like Lamar [Jackson] – to your point – it does show a lot of toughness."
As far as QB Lamar Jackson dealing more with adversity this year, how have you watched him handle that and grow through that? (Pete Gilbert) "I do. His character, it shines through. He's 23. Now, he's a 23-year-old who's seen a lot and done a lot, for sure, but he's still … Like all of us … I was just mentioning about learning; we all learn, hopefully, until you're not here. He still has a lot to learn, but the great thing about Lamar [Jackson] is he recognizes that. He understands people are making him the focus, and he has to find ways to, basically, tighten up his game and beat those things with precision and accuracy, and his mind and all those different other kinds of things that quarterbacks use. It's definitely the toughest position to play in football, and they're doing everything they can – a lot of smart people and talented people – to stop Lamar Jackson the week that they play him. The other part of that is it's not 11-on-1; it's 11-on-11. So, they can focus 11-on-1 if they want, but there are 10 other guys out there. And that's the thing we try to get across to our guys."