Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "OK, good to see everybody. I appreciate you guys coming on. We're working hard, and we're excited for Sunday. What questions do you have?"
DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney has been on the injury report all week with a knee injury, but it looks like he's going to play. How does he change the game, I guess, for the Titans there? And what challenges does he present for you guys? I know you played against him last year when he was with Seattle. (Todd Karpovich) "[He's] a very dynamic player. You never know exactly where he's going to play. He's a very elusive player. He's just a very creative player, I would say, with amazing … Of course, he has very impressive talents. So, he's a guy that we have to know. We have to know where [No.] '99' is; that's somebody … We have to know where all their guys are, but he's certainly one of those guys you have to definitely account for."
We were out at practice and saw there were no DT Brandon Williams and DE Calais Campbell. Is there still hope for those guys? Or are they ruled out? (Jeff Zrebiec) "You'll know at four o'clock with the injury report if they're ruled out, or not – right?"
QB Trace McSorley didn't practice for the second straight day. He was listed as "not injury related." Can you give us any details on his absence? (Jamison Hensley) "No. It wasn't injury related, and that's really what it is."
I know you mentioned earlier in the week that you were exploring some things on the offensive line going into the next week. I'm sure you don't want to say exactly what you'll do, but how did those guys practice this week? And what are your expectations for the offensive line on Sunday? (Aaron Kasinitz) "Yes, [that's] a fair question – no doubt. They practiced well. I think our whole team really practiced well. We've been practicing well and improving every single week. That's what you try to do; improve every week in the things that you do. Our guys have done that. I'm really impressed with the way our guys practice. They practice really well and really hard – that's how you become a good football team. Ultimately, that's how you win games. We're judged on wins and losses at the end of the day, certainly. But the process is very important to us as players and coaches, because we understand what that leads to. So, offensive line had a really good week of practice, and the expectations are high. They're high for those guys, and they're the ones that put the highest expectations on themselves. So, we expect to go out there and play well."
DE Derek Wolfe is a guy that doesn't necessarily put up monster stats traditional stats-wise, but how important has he been with what you've done all year, but especially the last couple of weeks with DE Calais Campbell and DT Brandon Williams missing time? (Luke Jones) "Very important. He's played really well. He's a captain for this game. He's been a dominant force in there. So, [he's] exactly what we thought we would get when we signed him in the offseason; just a leader, a hard worker and just a really talented guy. I'm really, really glad he's on our team. So, that's a really good point you're making."
When we talked to ILB Patrick Queen yesterday, he talked about feeling like he really didn't play up to the standards that he holds for himself last weekend. How have you seen him sort of respond to that this week? (Childs Walker) "Yes, he's been great. The one thing about Patrick [Queen], and there are many things about him … He's very accountable, and he's very hard on himself – if that's the word you want to use – but I think it's a really good thing as a football player. He doesn't make excuses, and he just seeks to find the way. He's a very young player, so a lot of things are new. It's always going to be a process. Every day and every game is going to be a new thing for him until next year when he does this again for the first time. So, he'll learn from those mistakes. He's a quick learner, and he'll be fine. That's why you stick with guys like that. I have no problem at all with his level of accountability."
For WR Dez Bryant, I know he's on the practice squad, but do you foresee him possibly being elevated for this game? (Jamison Hensley) "Possibly, yes."
I heard a couple of players, this week, talking about the intensity of Wednesday's practice and going fully padded. Was that a typical Wednesday practice? Or was that kind of a response to the physicality of the Titans and kind of wanting to get things going a little bit? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I think both. You can't practice in pads every week at this time of the year. There's a limited number of padded practices you can have during the season, so we try to space those out [in] the second half of the season. We kind of have a way of doing that that we've done over the years. So, this would've been a padded practice day in the normal calendar. But it was a really intense practice. You know, they usually are with our guys. You put the pads on our guys, they're intense practices. But, yes, it was. It's what I would call an excellent practice, and that's how you get better."
With QB Lamar Jackson, he's done a great job at avoiding contact, even when he runs. Have you ever had a discussion with him about possibly sliding, or thinking about sliding, or anything like that? (Jamison Hensley) "Yes, we have. I think Lamar [Jackson] is … One thing about that – and it's a good point … I go back to Joe Flacco. Joe was a good slider, but Joe did a pop-up slide, right? Joe was a pop-up slider. So, that means you hit the knee and boom – you're going to pop up. That's good for second base, but once he got his knee brace, it didn't work out so well. Can we all remember that? So, trying to get Joe to bring that slide back down there on his hip a little bit, like we were all taught in grade school – it just wasn't his thing. So, I think it's kind of that way with any athlete. They've kind of got their way of doing things to some degree. As a coach, you really have to work around that, especially with guys at this level of athleticism."
FB/DL Patrick Ricard
What was your neighbor's reaction when you confronted him about stealing your food? (Todd Karpovich) "So, when he answered the door, I just asked him – because I have a picture of my [food] sitting on his doormat, and it's not there. I just asked, 'Why did you steal my food? I have a picture of it sitting right here, and it's not here.' He just started kind of stuttering and didn't know what to say. He was just like, 'Oh, I didn't know whose it was,' and all this stuff. And I'm like, 'Well, you didn't order it, so why did you take it?' After all that, he finally gave me my meal, but it was already on a paper plate; he was about to start eating it – and it was only outside for about 10 minutes. We kept talking and stuff, and I told him who I was, and then, he ended up giving me my appetizer and dessert. Then, I went home, tweeted about it – didn't tag anybody or anything. And the next day, DoorDash reached out to me; Outback [Steakhouse] reached out to me. So, they took care of me.
"And then, actually, last night, when I was home, I had someone knock on my door. And that never happens to me; people don't just come over to my house and start knocking on my door like that. So, I was like, 'Is this my neighbor?' And it was. It was actually the mother. She knocked on my door wanting to apologize for her son taking the meal and paid for it. You know, everything's all good. It was just a crazy … I get it; free food shows up at your door – why not? So, it is what it is at this point."
We understand it's always 'next man up,' but how difficult was it to lose TE Nick Boyle, and how do you guys as a TE/FB group go about replacing what he does for you? (Luke Jones) "Nick [Boyle] is such a big, vital, important part of this team and this offense. He really is a big part of our identity. So, I really think it's going to be a group effort from everybody on the offense to try to replace what he did for this offense. I can only do so much, and I'm going to do what the coaches ask of me to do. We trust every guy here to step up and expand their roles in maybe ways they really haven't done, because Nick has done it for such a long time and at a high level. So, we're going to try to really execute and just get ready for Sunday."
From your perspective, why do you think the run game hasn't gone quite as readily as it did last year? Is it what the opponents are doing? What's been your view on that? (Childs Walker) "I can't really say. All I can do is just prepare and do the best I can do whenever my name is called. If you just look at last year's team to this year's team, one vital part, you could say, Marshal Yanda was just an absolute animal – and that's not discrediting our O-line in any way. We trust those guys. We have to just execute and just try to make the most of when the run calls are made."
Correct me if I'm wrong, but after the Patriots game, you tweeted something like, "We know who's next" or something along those lines. Has there been a lot of talk about that playoff game this week? Or are you guys so far beyond it and have "bigger fish to fry," so-to-speak, that it's not even a major discussion? (Jeff Zrebiec) "We're kind of past it at this point. I think some guys maybe still have that chip on their shoulder, and kind of remember how it felt to have a special year and end that way against those guys. But yes, I think we're past it as a team, and we're just trying to go week-to-week, and whoever comes on the schedule, we just have to prepare for and get ready to play."
Similarly, when the front office added DE Calais Campbell, DE Derek Wolfe, drafted ILB Patrick Queen in the first round, a lot of people said, "Hey, this is a response to what happened against Tennessee. This is a team that wants to get its run defense improved." Did you see it that way, or was it just a more holistic approach to making this defense even better than it was last year? (Jonas Shaffer) "Baltimore is a place where they pride themselves on defense, so whenever it's possible to get great defensive players in here, they're going to make it happen. I'm not quite sure about that; that's all up to [executive vice president & general manager] Eric DeCosta, the front office and the coaches. I just know they love defense here, so if they're [able] to get guys who are going to improve this defense, they're going to do it."
With TE Nick Boyle down, it seems likely that one of those three practice squad guys might come up. I know that's not your job, but what can you tell us about those three guys given that you've been in the room with them for a little while? (Aaron Kasinitz) "This whole year, it's been me, Nick [Boyle] and Mark [Andrews], and we've had practice squad guys in here, and they've all been doing a great job. They're all trying to learn, improve, and it's exciting now for them to have this opportunity to step [into] a role and to play. I think they're all excited. They all had a great week of practice, and I'm excited to see who it's going to be, who's going to play, and I'm excited to see how they will do."