Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "OK, good to see you guys here – appreciate you being here. I have an announcement to make regarding Dennis [Pitta]: I'd have to say from my perspective, we're all a little bit disappointed in the fact that Dennis is going to go on IR, but also understanding of the circumstance. The idea [is that] he had two really major hip injuries in the last three years, but he has worked really hard to rehab it. He has put in an incredible amount of work to be as strong as he has ever been. And right now, he'll tell you, he's as strong as he has ever been as an athlete. The idea was to do that and go out there for these three weeks, and hopefully, that it really responds in a way that he feels like he can play effectively, No. 1, and then No. 2, be safe playing. The process throughout the whole three weeks is he and the doctors were evaluating how it played and how it responded to the workload. They came to the conclusion – meeting yesterday – that it just wasn't responding in a way that would be safe for him to go out there and play this year. The decision has been made – really by the doctors and Dennis together – [that] it wouldn't be safe for him to follow through and play. Therefore, he'll be put on IR today. That's the plan. I know Dennis is going to be able to answer questions for you here as soon as we get done and could detail it more for you."
John, when you were talking, you used the words, "this year." Is it your opinion that TE Dennis Pitta could play in the future? I realize this is Dennis' choice, but is this just something for this year? (Dave Ginsburg) "I guess as a coach – or as an organization – that's as far as we would dare to look at it. Again, it would be a doctor's decision, along with Dennis, and probably a better question for him and them."
John, maybe you'll say the same about this that it's more ask TE Dennis Pitta, but when you say doctors – I'm sure Dennis has personal doctors – so it's a combination of personal doctors and team doctors? (Jeff Zrebiec)"Correct. He has had specialists – he can detail who they are – really all over the country, and our doctors, of course."
A guy so young, when this happens, there has to be feelings or has to be emotions involved. This guy you've coached him since you've been here since Day One. What's it like? It has to be just as emotional for him, maybe, as it is for you. (Jerry Coleman)"It's true. It has been a thing … It has been a rollercoaster ride. He was playing so well, and then to be on the field out here when he got hurt – which was really a tough day in training camp three years ago – and then last year when the injury happened in Cleveland to run over there on the field and realize what had happened as a coach … To, from a distance – I'm not there going through the rehab with him – but to be by his side and supporting him, then to have the meetings with he and his wife that were really in-depth meetings, really thought-out meetings, and to see where they were coming from and the whole thing – you have hopes. I was hoping that he'd be able to play. To see him come out here and really perform well, that part of it was a plus. But the other thing that overrides all of that is the fact that you want what's best for the player. His safety going forward, as far as quality of life, overrides all of it. It's not even close. You don't bat an eye, and you move on. That's what you have to do."
There are some guys that can't understand that it might not happen, you might have to give up football. Where do you jump in with that as far as the life perspective? (Morgan Adsit) "That's a good question. That's kind of a big, philosophical question that we all have to answer. To me, we talk about things like, 'The days are long, but the years are short,' and, 'Nobody is promised tomorrow.' What we have is, really, today and the moment and the interaction we're in in this moment. We try to talk to them about making the most of every single day, also planning for the future and having a plan going forward. Dennis is probably as prepared as anybody could be, because he thinks that way. Those are conversations you have with players on a pretty regular basis."
When Dennis came out and played with you guys, was it non-contact? (Kevin Richardson) "He went through the whole practice. Yes, he was in the contact part of practice, and he was 100 percent participating in practice, which was part of the plan to challenge the hip and see how it held up."
**John, you're obviously disappointed, but do you feel good as an organization that you guys have drafted three tight ends the last two years and also Dennis' influence on them over the last year-and-a-half? *(Luke Jones) *"Great point. We have three young guys, who you know how we feel about those guys. Obviously, they have a lot to learn, and they have a lot of growth in front of them. Dennis has been already there with them throughout, and my understanding is … I've asked him to continue to be here with them throughout the season every day, and I believe he's going to do that."
**John, can you talk about what you guys liked about RB Terrance West to bring him in? *(Jeff Zrebiec) *"We brought Terrance West on the practice squad. We had known Terrance pretty well throughout the process of the draft evaluation. He and Ozzie [Newsome] had a lot of conversations, because we were looking at drafting him. We were happy that the opportunity came to bring him here and bring him back home, so to speak. I know he's excited for the opportunity."
How much do you think having a guy like RB Justin Forsett might help a guy like RB Terrance West? (Cliff Brown)"That's a great point. A guy like Justin Forsett helps all of our guys. He helps our coaches. He helps all of us. He's a great leader and a great mentor. That should have a big influence on Terrance."
**John, did you get a chance to talk to WR Steve Smith Sr. to see how the surgery went on Monday and his spirits post-surgery? *(Luke Jones) *"I did. He's in great spirits. He's looking forward to the rehab, and he was pretty fired up about the way it went."
Coach, can you talk about the success you guys have had after the bye week and why that might be? (Jordan Schatz) "That's a good question. I've been asked that a couple times, and I really don't have a good answer for it. I hope it continues, and we'll try to make that happen this week if we can."
**You said T Eugene Monroe told you he thought he would be back out for walkthroughs and practice this week, and you said you were encouraged on C Jeremy Zuttah. Were those guys out? *(Jon Meoli) *"Eugene [was] out [at the walk-through]. Jeremy is not going to be out today. I believe Eugene will be out for the practice. We'll see how it feels, but it was fine with the walk-through. We're anticipating – we're hoping – that Jeremy will be out later in the week to practice, but he won't be out today."
**John, how tough is it to win on the road in the NFL? Jacksonville has had a very difficult time, and you on the other hand are very successful at home. Is it just very tough for them and easier for you guys to win at M&T Bank Stadium? *(Dave Ginsburg) *"Generally, if you look at the whole thing, you'll see that, really, for everybody, winning on the road is much more difficult than winning at home. It's the way it is for some reason in football. It's a tough game to play on the road. It's probably true for all the teams."
And then playing at home, you obviously appreciate your record with the exception of the 1-2 this year. (Dave Ginsburg)"We have a great fan base. The great thing about it is that our fans come to play. They are into it. It's very rare when they're not into it. If we do some good things, they really get into it, so it's on us to get them going. It's not too often where they get too frustrated with us, and when they do, man, I understand it. Our fans care. They set a high bar here. We've set a high bar here as an organization – team, players, coaches, everybody – and the fans are right there with us. They have a high bar of expectation for success. When they come out there and they see good football, they're going to get behind us. We want to do everything we can to provide that for them, so they can get behind us, because one thing builds on the next thing. Our fans were amazing last home game. They were into it, and they made a big difference in that game, really, from beginning to end. Ray [Lewis] got them going a little bit in the beginning, and then the game got them going as the game went on, and they were into it. I really want to encourage our fans to keep doing that and to make M&T Bank [Stadium] the toughest place to play in the National Football League. We have to make that happen. We have to fulfill those expectations that they have for us."
Obviously, you want WR Steve Smith Sr. out there, but can you talk about the excitement level for some of these other guys that are going to get more opportunities like WR Jeremy Ross, WR Joe Morgan, WR Chris Givens? How exciting is that to see what their potential is? (Ryan Mink) "It is exciting to see those guys. Those guys are practicing every single day. When one player goes down, another player has an opportunity to step up. That's the nature of, really, life, and certainly, it's expressed in football. There's disappointment on the one hand; there's excitement on the other hand. We're out here working every single day and trying to get this thing as tight as we can get it so those guys can perform and prove what they're capable of doing."
John, there's obviously a lot of talk about creating turnovers, and how many you guys have. How much does the coaching staff … Can that be stressed, or is it more about players being more aggressive, more opportunistic? How do you try to do that? (Jeff Zrebiec)"It's both of what you're saying. We have not gotten enough turnovers. If we're getting turnovers, our record is dramatically different. Those games could have turned on one turnover. Our defense has a history of getting turnovers. It's how we expect to play defense, and we're emphasizing it. We're trying to create schemes to create those opportunities, and we're trying to create the level of energy that you need to find the football. My brother-in-law [Tom Crean] is a basketball coach in Indiana. He said something one time that I never forgot. He said, 'The ball finds energy in basketball.' If you're the pick-setter and rolling off of the pick, you're going to get the ball if you're moving. If you're the first guy down the floor on a fastbreak, you're going to get the ball. Isn't that true for football as well? The ball finds energy. If we play with enough energy out there, and we're doing it the right way – we're playing with discipline … You don't play with any guilt if you're doing the right thing. If your eyes are in the right spot, you're not going to get beat on a double-move. So, you can play as hard as you possibly can through your technique, and that's what we expect. We want to play with a level of energy that creates turnovers."
Coach, Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley talked about his young secondary – S Josh Evans – a teammate of Matt Elam's at Florida – S Johnathan Cyprien, CB Aaron Colvin. Can you talk about what you've seen from them and how they've stood out to you on film? (Turron Davenport)"What did coach say about them?" *(laughter) (Reporter: "Check the transcript.") (laughter) *"Check the transcript. That's right. We have great respect for their secondary. We know all those guys from the draft. We looked at Josh. We looked at Cyprien. We looked at Colvin. We've looked at all those guys – even [James] Sample last year in Louisville. He has been hurt a little bit. We have great respect for those guys, and they play with a lot of energy, and they're a very physical group back there."
*You mentioned CB Aaron Colvin. He was drafted by Jacksonville as one of the picks sent over for T Eugene Monroe. Has his absence made what he does for the team – and the offensive line continuity – has his absence made that more apparent how much he means when he's in there? *(Jon Meoli) *"Eugene?" *(Reporter: "Yes.") "Anytime you have a player of Eugene's quality, that's very important. He's a great athlete, and he's a smart player, and he knows how to play. Obviously, the injuries for him have been most frustrating, because it's hard to get into a rhythm when you're not playing week after week. And then you get out there and something gets nicked up, and you're out for another week or two, and you have to restart again. But we're also fortunate to have a good, young player in James Hurst. James has done a nice job of stepping in and playing well. Although, James – by the same token – he's in, then he's out, then he's in again. He hasn't had continuity either. The biggest part of what you're saying is true: Continuity at that position would really help us. Hopefully, Eugene can stay healthy and play, because he's a heck of a player, and he's going to play at a high level as long as he's out there."
OLB Elvis Dumervil
On what the team can do to generate more turnovers: "[It has to be] a collective group [effort], starting with myself trying to do more as a pass rusher and pass rushing coverage and running to the ball and playing with more energy. We're getting close, but we're not really getting out [strong]. Hopefully, it starts rolling in this second half."
On whether it's a mindset or style of play the defense needs to get more turnovers: "I think it's more of an awareness. I think we're playing with a lot of energy. We're coming out [with energy]. We have to make it a more conscious effort of trying to rake the ball out, or when you do have the opportunity, try to seize the moment. I know our team – we're working hard, and we're working at it. We just haven't got it, yet. We're very optimistic about the second half though."
On ILB Daryl Smith being an understated player in the NFL: "It's crazy. He's a remarkable player. I remember being in Denver watching him, and I was a fan of his at that time. Being able to come here and play with him and see how … He's a great athlete, great teammate. He does a lot of special things for us. It is pretty sad that he doesn't get more recognition that he should get."
On whether ILB Daryl Smith is one of the most underrated players in the league: "That underrated word is a very fickle word to me. I think he's one of those players where he should get way more attention, for sure. But [opponents] do try to scheme him – coaches – so I think coaches and players know about him. I don't think he gets the fan voting."
On having his jersey honored at the University of Louisville during the bye week: "It was a nice, short trip. It was good to go back to my alma mater. It was a special deal. It was nice. The guys got a win, so I'm glad they got a victory there. It was cool. It was nice."
On the confidence head coach John Harbaugh portrays to the team:"It is contagious. I think it starts from Steve [Bisciotti] down from Ozzie [Newsome] to 'Harbs' [John Harbaugh]. We're 2-6, but I think we're very confident in what we can become, and we're working towards that. You have to play this game with confidence. If you don't play this game with confidence, you won't be any good, so that's important."
QB Joe Flacco
On whether he could tell how much of a difficult decision not playing this season was for TE Dennis Pitta: "You could tell. And I didn't talk to him, but when I walked in this morning, he was in there, and you could tell that he had a conversation about it. You feel for him. You know he wants to be back out here, and he has fun being here. This is what he does; he plays football. Anytime you have a guy like that that's trying to get back out and it doesn't work out right now, it's tough to see it."
On how much TE Dennis Pitta has helped him as a player: "He's a great player. He helped me out a ton. It's great to have a guy that you know you can go to, and you know what he's going to do. He's going to be in the right spot, he's going to win, and he's going to catch the ball at the end of the day. When you have a guy like that on the field with you, it makes your job a little bit easier, and he was definitely a big part of that."
On practicing with WR Chris Givens: "It's going really good. I think he's a really good player, and he's helping us a lot. He's helping us out a ton out here. Every time he has gotten in the game, he has made plays. I think guys see that, guys react well to that. I think he's becoming one of us, and he has been doing a great job."
On how important it is to have a deep threat on the outside like WR Chris Givens: "It's not always about throwing it, but when you have a guy that can do it and you can at least take those chances, I think it definitely helps you out as a football team. He's definitely going to give us that availability, and teams are going to have to focus on him a little bit just in case that we do that."
On his chemistry with WR Joe Morgan: "It's tough to tell right now. I think Joe is doing a great job getting in here. We're not skipping a beat because he's out there taking reps. He knows where he's supposed to be during the play, before the play. He's doing a great job with all that. I can't comment too much on it, but we're getting work together, and I think he's doing a good job."
On his chemistry with G/C John Urschel and if they are working on snaps this week: "No doubt. He does a great job out here. He really does. His gun snaps are the one thing – if anything – that tend to be slow, but not out here. I think the more reps he gets at it and the more he's out there making calls and things like that, he'll be comfortable with everything around him. So, he won't have to worry about that part of it as much – it'll come natural to him – and he'll be fine with it."
On whether the team feels refreshed after the bye week: "I can't speak for my teammates. It's tough for me to say [if] I feel refreshed or not, because I feel pretty good. I really do. It has been a good year. My body feels good. You go get your early-week lift, and I definitely was stronger this week than I have been after games, immediately after games. I'm sure guys feel a little bit better, but overall, they're still probably beat up."
On whether the team feels like the second half of the season feels like a new beginning: "Of course we do. I don't know if it's a new beginning, but I think whatever we just went through was part of our journey. We're looking forward to these next eight games, but mainly this next game and going out there and proving that we can be a good football team. We think we have the guys to do it. We work hard at it. So yes, I think we're definitely excited about it, and it shows when we're out here. Everybody is upbeat and ready to go."
On why the team's confidence has not wavered: "There are a lot of reasons for that. I think the biggest thing is you have to be here every day, and it's a feeling that you get when you're around a bunch of good guys – a bunch of guys that love the game and all that stuff – a bunch of coaches. I think John [Harbaugh] does a great job getting in front of us every day and portraying that message of confidence and sticking to it, and [saying], 'We're a good team.' He does a great job getting that across to everybody. I think when guys hear that – especially from the head coach – they start to believe it more and more and more. The more they hear it, the more confident they get. Just because we're losing football games – or have lost football games – that's not … When you're out there with your teammates and you're fighting a battle on the field, you're not – in the moment – thinking about wins and losses. You're thinking about doing your job and winning the battle and doing it for the guy next to you and all of those things. As long as you can keep that mindset, then you can come out here and have fun and play hard and do all those things."
WR Chris Givens
On working with QB Joe Flacco and how their timing is coming along: "It's coming along pretty well. We're doing a lot before practice and trying to get as many reps as we possibly can. It's getting better and better with time."
On whether the receivers are viewing WR Steve Smith Sr.'s absence as a challenge: "[It is] not really a challenge, more of an opportunity. Everybody is going to get an opportunity to make plays and go out there and make a name for themselves. It's tough losing a guy like Steve – our emotional leader – but at the same time, we have a job to do, and we look at this more as an opportunity than a challenge."
On whether the wide receiver group can step up without WR Steve Smith Sr.: "I think there's a lot of confidence in the room [among] myself, Kamar [Aiken], Marlon [Brown], 'J.B.' [Jeremy Butter], Jeremy Ross]. All of us feel like we can go out there and make plays. It's up to us to go do it."
On what working with WR Steve Smith Sr. meant to him personally: "People didn't know this, but when I moved to receiver in college, Steve Smith was one of the guys that I used to watch his YouTube highlights and all that type of stuff all the time. Once I got the word that I was coming here, I was ecstatic, because his game is similar to mine, and his attitude and demeanor on the field is what I try to do. I wanted to pick his brain and get an idea of why he has been successful for so long. Whatever I could pick up and add to my game, I did."
On what he learned from WR Steve Smith Sr.: "A lot [about] hand work, being aggressive with my hands and being patient with my releases. Pretty much things like that."
On whether he wants to play with as much intensity as WR Steve Smith Sr.: "That's the difference – I keep a lot of that stuff inside. I know Steve, especially, plays well [when] he makes a big play, and he gets up and does his thing. But when I make a big play, I get up like that's what I expect to do. It's one of those things where I keep it inside. When I make a catch, that's what I expect to do. If I make a big play, I expect to do that. So, you probably won't see me doing too much of that stuff."
On how excited the wide receivers are to have a spread of targets in the second half of the season: "It's exciting, because it's what you want. You don't want to play receiver and not get any targets. The fact that we're all going to get targets and opportunities, everybody should be excited. And everybody should do everything they need to do to make sure they're ready to make the most of that opportunity on Sunday."
On whether the wide receivers have a chip on their shoulders: "Yes, that's a big chip. I like to hear stuff like that. But it's one thing to hear it and use it as motivation, and it's one thing to hear it and dwell upon it. Hopefully, the guys hear that and they either take it with a grain of salt or they look at it like, 'OK, you're just one more person I have to prove wrong.'"
TE Dennis Pitta
On his disappointment to not return to the team and his plans beyond the 2015 season:"Obviously, I'm extremely disappointed that I won't be out there this season, and [it is] something I've been working hard to be able to do. Unfortunately, I won't be out there this season with my team, but I'll continue to rehab and do everything I can to make sure I'm healthy and put myself in the best position I can."
On what factored into the final decision to not play and how difficult it was to heed the advice of the doctors:"I think I made it very clear from the start that once I started feeling good and got to a point where I could run and do all that, I had a desire to play. Obviously, I wanted to be there for my team and be able to help them and add any value that I could moving forward. So, I worked hard to be able to do that and was in constant communication with the team and the doctors about everything, and obviously, there was concern from the beginning from the doctors, just because I had done it twice. [There were] certainly reservations on their end. We got to this point where I felt good enough to try and practice. And I got on the practice field, and really, it was a time for me to test what it felt like in as game-like of a situation as we could simulate and see how it responded. It was really a trial period for us to see what happened, and this is all new territory for all of us, doctors included. It didn't quite respond the way we had hoped, and sitting down with doctors over the last couple days, we decided that it was certainly too much of a risk at this time and too unsafe to take the field. That was a decision we made collectively. Certainly, I had some say in it, as well, and the doctors, but at the end of the day, we can't ignore what sound, medical science has to say. That's where we are right now. I'll go on IR [Injured Reserve] and continue to be here around the team, in meetings, rehabbing and doing everything I can, and we'll reassess it when the season's over and get to that point."
On if he plans to retire or play again:"I don't think I'm even ready answer that question. Certainly, there [are] no plans to retire at this time. I'm going to continue to rehab, and it's something that we'll have to continue to evaluate. At the end of the year, we'll see where it's at."
On how his hip responded to practice and what he needed to see before making a return:"Obviously, we wanted to see no issues at all, and I won't get into the details of how it felt, because sometimes that's tough to explain. But there were things, both on and off the field, that weren't feeling right and were certainly feeling different from the first time around. I have a little bit of experience with this injury, and so I know how it should have felt and needed to feel. Although I felt good when it was warm and felt like I could move pretty well at practice, it wasn't quite right at this time."
On if the doctors indicated when they expect the injury to improve to a point he can return:"We haven't really gone down that road yet. We're assessing it, kind of, one day at a time, and this is where we're at right now. Right now it's not good enough to take the field, and it's not quite safe enough to where we'd all feel comfortable with me being out there."
On if he considered overruling the doctors:"Yes, certainly. Obviously, I really want to play, and this is what I feel like I want to do and should do. I've wanted all along to do everything I can do be out there, and that's why we've gotten to this point. I think if it weren't for my desire to be on the field, I wouldn't have even been on the practice field these last few weeks. But I've kind of pushed back hard against everything that they've been saying to try and really get a good indication of where it's at. It's been difficult for me, obviously, accepting the fact that I won't be out there this season. It is what it is, and I'll continue to keep working."
On projecting a sense of calm throughout the rehabilitation process and if he can be at peace if he has played his last game:"It's too early to say. Obviously, I don't want to have to think about that right now, but certainly, that's not how I want to end my career. No player wants to play their last play getting carted off the field. And so, I'll continue to work, and hopefully that won't be the end of the story."
On why he wants to return to football:"Obviously, I'm not playing right now because the risk is high, so I'm not completely ignoring the risk factors involved. But I'm a football player, and that's what I've always wanted to do. And I have a sense of duty to my teammates and to this team and to this organization. This organization has given me a lot over the last few years. And certainly, with the contract extension in the last two years, and I haven't been on the field much. For that, I feel a sense of duty to be able to get out there and help my team. And I love football. I love competing, and I love playing at the highest level. And [that is] something I don't think I'm ready to give up."
CB Jimmy Smith
On why the Ravens believe the season's second half will yield different results than the first:"You know what kind of team we are. You know how we're resilient. We're not going to fold because things haven't gone our way. The whole second half of this [season] is, we just look in the mirror and [say], 'OK, this is where we've got to get better to get where we want to go.' And, obviously, the goal is to go 10-6."
On not having WR Steve Smith Sr. on the practice field:"Hasn't it been pretty quiet? Day One after 'Sizz' [Terrell Suggs] left, it got real quiet, and then now Steve [Smith Sr.] is gone. You can hear a pin drop. It's very different to see [practice] without those players. Even though Steve has only been here for two years, it's just like he has been here for so long; he's such a big part of the Ravens team, organization. It's like he's gone now. It's kind of weird."
On his reflection of the first eight games and what he needs to show in the final eight:"I've just got to keep improving, getting better, just getting back to myself, pretty much." *(Reporter: "Do you think you're close to being back to yourself?") *"You guys write one thing; I feel totally different than how you guys feel. So, I'm not going to get into that, but I've just got to keep playing ball."
On what can be done in practice to generate turnovers in games:"Part of that is just going out there and being aggressive sometimes – going out and hitting the ball carrier. There are things you can't do at practice that you have to do in the game, like putting a helmet on a ball, punching a ball out. Sometimes you might punch a dude in the ribs at practice. [You] try not to hurt [your teammates], but there [are] just things – kind of almost habits – that you have to start picking up at practice, and that will turn over in the game."
On Jacksonville's WRs Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns:"The Allens – now that I've done some research on them – they seem legit. They look like pretty legit receivers. [Allen Robinson, No.] 15 goes up, gets the ball – a huge catch radius. [Allen Hurns, No.] 88 is just very, very good, to me. I think he has a lot of YAC yards – run after catch. But together, they're a good duo, and I expect the first-rounder [Blake Bortles] to come in and do something against us, as well."
On if he was surprised when defensive coordinator Dean Pees told him to play more aggressively:"Honestly, I don't even want to … I don't know. I don't know. I don't know." *(Reporter: "Do you feel you need to play more aggressively?") *"I feel like I've just got to keep getting better, keep playing my game."
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS CONFERENCE CALL
Head Coach Gus Bradley
On the Jaguars' young WRs Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson flying under the radar while having a productive season:"You're right. I think that they've been both pretty productive. We've seen them grow over the last course of six, seven games, and they're growing in confidence. And I think, both of them, the first game that we had, [they] had some drops, but they overcame them. And [we] just have seen a lot of consistency from them. So, they're both young, second-year players, but the maturity that has taken place, I think we're really pleased with it."
On developing young receivers and dealing with inconsistencies as they progress:"I think there's going to be some of that. We talk about a race to maturity with our team, because last year, I think, on offense we had eight rookies that started. And we kind of knew that was the makeup of our team. So, the idea was to try to get these guys to mature and play like sixth- or seventh-year veterans in their second and third year. There's a process to it, but I think, more than anything, it's leadership. And I think at times, we felt like there was a void there, because they're such a young receiving corps. We really didn't have that veteran presence to show them the way, and I think Allen Hurns has been that guy that has really stepped into that role. And his mindset, the way he goes about it, he's a true pro at a young age. I think he has been very important in the process of the development of the receivers, as well as a guy like [wide receivers coach] Jerry Sullivan, who has been around a lot of receivers coaching for many years. I think he has done a great job with that group, too."
On his expectations for WR Marqise Lee to play Sunday and how he fits into the offense:"Well, we hope [Marqise Lee plays Sunday]. We'll see how this week goes with him. We'll go out there today, and he'll get some opportunities. Marqise Lee is a highly-competitive guy, and he has had these injuries that have lingered on. The downside of it is that we haven't had many practices with him, but hopefully this week he takes another big step. I think he's a guy that's explosive that has got good speed and competitiveness; those are all traits that we've seen in Marqise that he has brought to the table, even in the limited amount of time that we've been able to work with him."
On if coaches can teach the ability to force turnovers:"Well, we've got to do a better job, too, defensively getting turnovers, and I think every team in the league preaches turnovers or creating take-aways. You have certain drills and circuits, and it's a mindset. And I think that you believe that … You watch the tape, and you see guys going for the ball and going after opportunities. Then you just have trust that [turnovers] will eventually come. But, you're right, I think sometimes getting the quarterback off the spot or [applying] pressure or forcing him to make quick decisions, that sometimes gives you opportunities for interceptions, but it's a combination of things. We had two opportunities for interceptions in our game against the Jets, and we didn't capitalize on them. That's part of the game, and I think the players, they've got to have trust that if they continue to do their techniques and perform as a well-oiled unit, that those opportunities will come. But, sometimes when you don't have some for quite some time, that's a challenge in itself."
On the development of S Josh Evans, CB Aaron Colvin and S Johnathan Cyprien:"It's very similar to the receiving corps, as far as the maturity deal. Johnathan Cyprien has come along; I think he's becoming more consistent as a safety in our scheme. I think he has a better understanding, and it appears like he's playing with more poise, especially when he's down closer to the box. Josh Evans is just one of those guys that you know what you're getting. The defense really trusts him, as far as knowing where he's going to be. [He is] a good communicator and has shown good leadership back there. Aaron Colvin is a guy that we picked up. [We are] very, very pleased with his progress. Here's a guy that, in his second year, is playing outside in base and then comes inside in nickel. And that's a challenge in itself, but I think it's a challenge he really welcomed; and he has been productive for us there."
On if the Jaguars alter their approach to away games due to recent struggles on the road:"We don't talk much about that. We really talk about each opportunity we have, and the whole idea is that never-ending, constant improvement. And whether it's on the road or at home, it shouldn't matter. We've got to go play at a high level. And it comes back to, for us, that we're seeing solid play, but then at critical times in the game, at times, we're not making plays consistently. You see flashes, like in the Buffalo game, but then it showed up again in the Jets game. So, I think that's, right now, what we're striving for. We realize that when we're in these one-possession games, it really shows up that there's little room for error, and every decision and every play matters so much that you really have to be on it. And I think that has been our focus, rather than how we are going to do this on the road versus at home and the conversations like that."
On the Jaguars' draft philosophy while selecting wide receivers to complement QB Blake Bortles:"I think when we took over – Dave [Caldwell] was hired as the GM, and I was hired as the head coach – we had this philosophy that we knew, kind of, where are roster was at, and we really wanted to put a heavy emphasis on building through the draft. We felt like the emphasis on the coaching staff was to be developmental coaches, and that's what we went out and sought out – guys that could be good teachers and really bring these guys along. We knew we were going to invest in youth and try to get faster, and we tried to incorporate an offense that allowed guys – as well as defense – to play guys at a young age and could play fast a young age. That was really our philosophy going into it, and we, Dave and I, have both aligned on it. We understand issues that are created with it, but we're trying to build a team that can sustain being successful year-in and year-out, rather than the flashes. And sometimes that's a difficult journey, but it's one that we both welcome and understand, and our team understands. And that race to maturity that we're talking about, we're starting to see some guys play at a high level at a young age, and I think the team has a lot of trust that [if] we just keep going, eventually it will come."
On why they have invested heavily at wide receiver in the draft:"When we went through the draft, that was our mindset. [Our mindset] was to get some talented receivers around the quarterback when you draft a quarterback, and that's why you saw – I think both in the second around – we took Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson. Now, Allen Hurns was a free agent that we happened to hit on, and he has been a great asset to us. So I think, going into it, it was more to try to build around Blake [Bortles] and get some talent on the perimeter around him."
On spending time with TE Crockett Gillmore at the Senior Bowl, what he saw from Gillmore and what he likes about the tight end:"We really liked Crockett [Gillmore]. I thought that – just as a player and what he was all about in that week that we were with him – his intensity, his athleticism and a willing blocker [are] all those traits that you're looking for. And just his personality and [everything] about him, it was never ever too big for him. We all felt like he had a chance to be very successful at a young age in the NFL."
On what RB Bernard Pierce as brought to the team:"You know what? He has been a great addition. I think that he's understanding. He has never played a lot of special teams before, and he's starting to play quite a bit of special teams. So, that's been new for him, and I think that he brings a certain mindset to the group on offense. We've got a young running back in T.J. Yeldon, and I think he's willing to share his experiences with T.J. and help him with that process. But he has been really good [and a] really good addition for us in the locker room, really good addition for our team, and we all hold him in pretty high regard."
On how much the Jaguars' pass protection has improved since their last meeting with the Ravens:"It has improved. I think we're much improved from last year, but we're not consistent enough to call us a good-protection team. I think that we do throw the ball quite a bit, and there are some opportunities. And with Blake [Bortles] – Blake is going to try to extend the play and try to make some things happen, and with that, sometimes there [are] sacks that come about. I think we recognize that; the offensive line is getting a better idea about how Blake moves around in the pocket. We understand, at times, we're going to have some sacks. We're trying to limit them as much as possible, and we've got some young players in the offensive line that are also learning their way. So, hopefully each week we can improve on that stat, but I think it's better. It feels better than it was in the previous year."
QB Blake Bortles
On competing with two young, talented receivers in WRs Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns:"I think it's super special. To be able to come in with those guys as rookies and to able to go through and grow and watch those guys grow [is special]. [We] got our first offseason together and did some work there and then continued to carry that over into the season. So, I think it's unbelievably special. Those guys are really good football players, and they're even better guys. They're awesome to be around, and they're getting better each and every week; and it's fun to watch and be a part of."
On the Jaguars' vertical passing threats and the big plays allowed by the Ravens' secondary:"I think guys have been able to attack them in certain areas, and that's football. I think that happens in every team. I wouldn't say it's necessarily a big weakness of the Baltimore defense and that we're going to throw a ton of balls down the field. I think we're going to stay within our game plan and be who we are and do what we do, but it's definitely something that you notice watching tape, is the amount of shots taken and the successful shots taken, for sure."
On the Ravens' defense sacking him eight time last season and whether anything stands out about the scheme: "I think we had 65 [sacks on the season], so there was a lot of sacking going on. I think we've done a good job. [General manager] Dave [Caldwell] brought some good guys in – 'Wis' [Stefan Wisniewski] and Jermey Parnell, obviously, Greg Olson – the offensive coordinator – coming in. He has a huge emphasis on protections and being sharp there, especially from the quarterback position. It's something we've tried to clean up. Obviously, [we] gave up six [sacks] last week, which wasn't good, but last year was definitely a meltdown from all angles – quarterback, offensive line, everywhere. It's something we've put a lot of work into, and hopefully don't want to let it happen again."
On whether Baltimore is a tough place to play and the difficulty of winning on the road: "London [is] eight-and-a-half hours away, but I guess they count that as a home game. I didn't know this, actually, until yesterday – somebody told me. I don't think it's in anybody's mind. Baltimore is definitely a tough place to play. [Their] fans are awesome, so they'll be into it. I don't think it's bothering anybody and anybody is pressing or doing anything, trying to get over the hump of not winning a road game in almost a full season."
On playing with WR Breshad Perriman in college: "I think the obvious is the size and the speed, the measurable Combine stuff – how big he is and how fast he is. I enjoyed playing with him. I think I was there with him for two years. Obviously, the vertical threat that he puts on the defense is as good as it gets. He can go down the field and make plays for you, really, at any time if you throw the ball anywhere near him. He made my life pretty easy in college, and he was fun to play with. I'm definitely sorry to hear about him being banged up and wish him a speedy recovery, for sure."