Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "OK, thanks for being here. I really appreciate you guys being here on the bye week. We had two really good practices both days. I couldn't be more impressed with the way our guys came out and practiced and worked and [had] attention to detail. We were in full pads today, and it was a physical practice, and there were certain things that we really wanted to work on specifically. Each guy had individual things that they had determined that they were going to work on. I thought our guys did a great job, and we got better over the last two days. So, that's what we were trying to get accomplished."
Just schedule-wise, how's the rest of the week going? (Morgan Adsit) "The players will be off from here on out, which is the rules. They deserve it, and it'll be great for them to get away and to recharge their batteries a little bit [and] get with their families. Coaches will work today and tomorrow, and then the coaches will have Friday, Saturday and Sunday to get away and get some time with their families."
John, what about WR Joe Morgan did you guys like? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I guess our first introduction to Joe, specifically, was a pretty long play he had last year on Monday Night Football [when he played for the Saints]. We all remember that – his speed on that. He is a guy that has been up and down on their roster throughout the course of the season, and our scouts had identified him as a potential roster-add early on, and we've been talking about him in our personnel meetings all season, so that was something. As far as Chuck [Jacobs] goes, he's a guy that they also had his name as far as a guy that was in training camp and had the ACL [anterior cruciate ligament] last year and was in training camp with the 49ers. I think we saw him practice here the year before, but my brother [Jim Harbaugh] had good things to say about him, too. Our scouts liked him, so we were able to get him on the practice squad."
John, the second NFL head coach [Ken Whisenhunt] was fired after the first half of the season. How fortunate do you feel knowing the stability of a franchise that has only had three head coaches? (Jamison Hensley) "I'm thankful every day for the opportunity to, first of all, breathe. (laughter) And secondly, to coach, and to coach for the Baltimore Ravens. It's a tremendous franchise, has the best owner in the league bar none – Steve Bisciotti – and best general manager [Ozzie Newsome] and the best team president [Dick Cass] and the best building. All those things combine to make a coach's job something to be very grateful for. It's just a great organization, and when I walk in the doors, I'm very grateful to be here."
Do you have any more of an update on C Jeremy Zuttah? I know the other day you hadn't heard, yet. (Luke Jones) "We decided to hold Jeremy out. We held Marshal [Yanda] out. We held 'K.O.' [Kelechi Osemele] out today; he practiced yesterday. Eugene [Monore was] out. But things do look good for Jeremy. We'll know more Monday – see if he practices Monday, Wednesday – but things do look good."
Coach, this is going to be, I would assume, the first extended amount of time to be away from the players. In talking to them before they leave, is there any particular message that you delivered to them or mindset that you want them to focus on? (Turron Davenport) "We did. We mentioned it. It wasn't like a big, long lecture, but it was a message, and we all agreed that we would take care of our business and stay out of trouble. Everybody's in full agreement on that. I have their word on that, and I'll be expecting them to follow through on it. Seriously, I don't expect anything to happen with our guys. We have a bunch of guys that [we] have full faith and confidence in that they'll make the right choices and do the right thing. If somebody stubs his toe, then obviously there are always consequences of some kind for that."
I saw a camp was announced with you and your brother for the offseason that you're going to do a camp with him up in Michigan. (Ryan Mink) "Oh, was it? OK." (Reporter: "Yes, your thoughts on that?) "I haven't thought too much about that. Jim told me we were doing it. (laughter) No, he asked me about two weeks ago if we would do it, and it's going to be at their clinic – I believe, spring clinic. I'm not even sure of the date." *(Reporter: "I'm not sure, either. But yes, spring clinic.") *"We'll be including some of our coaches. [They] will be a part of that whole deal. It'll be, really, for high school coaches. [It is] an opportunity to reach out and work with high school coaches. I promise you, we learn a lot from coaches at all levels as well. Hopefully, we'll have a chance to share some football ideas with great high school coaches."
It's not every day that you hold out most of the starting offensive line, but every day after practice offensive line coach Juan Castillo is out there with the reserves – G/C John Urschel, T James Hurst and everyone who is out there right now. What does that do for them in keeping them ready? (Jon Meoli) "That's a great point about working the offensive line after practice. I'm on John Madden's sub-committee, and this actually comes up every single meeting, and it's something that's near and dear to coach Madden's heart. We talk about protecting quarterbacks and how important quarterbacks are in the National Football League to the health of football. We want to keep those guys upright and healthy, and we build a lot of rules in order to do that. But the one thing sometimes that gets lost in the CBA and all those kinds of things is the fact that good offensive lines protect quarterbacks. Young offensive linemen need development. Probably quarterback and offensive line are the two most difficult positions as far as the cohesiveness and the technique that go into it, and they don't always get the work they need throughout the course of the offseason. So, an opportunity to have our young linemen out here after practice and working extra with Juan is really – and [assistant offensive line coach] Todd Washington, also – is really very valuable to their development. We think that's really important."
**John, I know the high opinion you guys have of WR/RS Jacoby Jones. Are you guys pretty set there, or is he somebody you could explore going forward? *(Jeff Zrebiec) *"That's a great question. [Vice president of public relations] Chad [Steele] just told me coming off the field that [Jacoby Jones] had gotten released. I didn't know that. We had worked, obviously, with Joe [Morgan] and Chuck [Jacobs] yesterday in a workout and decided … At some point in time, Ozzie [Newsome] had pulled the trigger on that in the afternoon. So, that's the first I'd heard of Jacoby's situation. I would assume it's something that we'll talk about today a little bit and see where we're at."
QB Joe Flacco
On the loss of WR Steve Smith Sr. and shouldering more of the offensive load moving forward:"It's tough to say how you handle it. It's a tough loss, obviously. [Steve Smith Sr.] is a great player, but he's a great teammate, great friend and all that. So, it's tough to lose him, but [we've] just got to move on and move forward. It's the hard truth about football. You've just got to move on and do what you can."
On if he feels like he must take his game to another level to overcome the injuries:"It really is tough to do that, and I think the thing you try to tell yourself to do is stay within yourself and just let the plays come to you and play within what we're doing. If anything, that's what you're telling yourself, because when you get out on the field, I think the tendency might be to try to do – in the moment – try to do too much. So, if anything, the biggest thing is just trying to stay within the rules and do what we can and just keep telling yourself, keep preaching to yourself, that's going to be the best for the team."
On if he feels the wide receiver group will allow them to be the type of offense they want to be:"Yes, I do. I think these guys did a great job filling in when Steve [Smith Sr.] didn't play already. We've had tight ends down, and I think everybody has done a great job of filling in. And in that game [Smith Sr. missed], we didn't have a bad day. We were able to be pretty productive and all that stuff. We came out here this week and worked on some new things, trying to get ourselves some completions and get guys open in simple ways that everybody can react to and play fast with. That's the biggest thing. We've got a young group, I think they're talented, and we've just got to get better and better."
On the challenges of establishing a comfort level with new receivers:"The biggest thing is just bringing them up to speed and getting them comfortable within everything that we're doing. And then from there, we'll [develop] comfort between myself and them. The thing for us right now is that we've got to be as good as we can every week. While we're getting better and better, we've got to be able to win football games, and that's what we haven't been able to do. I think we're heading in that direction. But, only time will tell, and we've got to get out there and play and perform."
On the priorities of the bye week:"Just working on some of the things that we probably haven't been great at throughout the first half of the year. And then, like I said, trying to get some easy ways to move the ball and get some quick hitters." *(Reporter: "Is that simplifying things offensively, or what do you mean by that?") *"Not necessarily. I think just seeing what we've done and being able to take advantage of some of the things that you see on film, some certain areas of the field that we feel like we can take more advantage of. In third-and-short, we haven't been great, and [we are] just trying to come up with some better ways to be better in those areas."
On getting on the same page with WR Chris Givens fairly quickly:"He has done a great job when he has been thrown in there [of] not being afraid and going out there and playing full speed. And he's just, in the moment, he's been really good. When you're a good player, that's usually what happens; you raise your game on Sunday that little bit, and it makes it easy for myself. It's not necessarily anything that you can replicate in practice. It's just about getting out there in a game and making the plays, and that's what he has been able to do."
On if he likes the added speed at receiver with WRs Chris Givens and Joe Morgan:"Yes – I need to see more [from them] – but it's tough to say right now with a quick bye week practice. But it's exciting to get guys in here and see what we can get from them."
On the opportunity to get the tight ends more involved with the offense without WR Steve Smith Sr.:"We definitely have to get them more involved [in] a lot of different ways. If we can get some production out of those guys, they're usually easy completions. They might not be [for] a ton of yards, but they're going to keep the chains moving. So, anytime you can get those guys involved in the game, it's big, and I think we're starting to see some guys play really well. You've seen Nick [Boyle] the past few weeks; he's getting out there, he's playing well, he's making moves and he's doing things with speed. He's another guy that's kind of a gamer. He gets up there and plays really well and reacts well to pressure. So, yes, if we can get those guys involved, that'd be great."
On if it is beneficial to mentally rest and remove himself from work during the bye week:"Yes, no doubt. This is a long, tough grind. Obviously, physically, but mentally, too. You have to be able to get away and get your mind quiet for at least a little bit so you can come back fresh and ready to go for the next half."