Head Coach John Harbaugh:
Opening statement: "Hey guys, good to see everybody – long time no see. We have [senior vice president of public and community relations] Kevin Byrne back from hip surgery. [Vice president of public relations] Chad [Steele], you got me, man. Chad Steele told me the day of Kevin's hip surgery that, that night Kevin was on the treadmill, and I believed it knowing Kevin. *(laughter) *You got me. So, we had the guys back. Everybody was back safe and sound, and we went to work today with meetings and did some field work there. I guess [there are] two announcements to make: Brent Urban … Well, one announcement and one non-announcement: Brent Urban is back practicing this week. The non-announcement is I don't have any news on Dennis Pitta until Wednesday when we'll know for sure. That's our last day to make a determination, and I don't have an announcement until Wednesday on that."
You've always had a very unshakeable faith in your team and in your coaches no matter if the record is good or bad. As you get back to work with a home-heavy schedule in front of you, can you make the playoffs? (Joe Platania) "Of course we can. We're planning on it. We're very optimistic about what's in front of us, our future. [We] love our players, love the way they work, love the enthusiasm that they had today coming back and getting ready for Jacksonville. We'll take it one day at a time, one game at a time."
Are you encouraging that kind of talk from your players, because there were a lot of guys talking about that inside the locker room already today? They were talking the "P" word and even some guys talking about running the table. There were other guys just saying, "Hey, one game at a time. Like you said, we just want to go 1-0 this week." So, it was varying opinions. (Jerry Coleman)"I don't really encourage or discourage talk, so to speak, as you asked the question that way. They can say whatever they want and whatever they think. Our guys say what they think. They can say what they think. Everybody understands it's one week at a time. All of our guys understand that this is the game that matters. We need to be 1-0 this week, and we have a lot of 1-0's in front of us that we have to take care of before that stuff can be reality. Really, it's conversation for a later date. We have to earn our way to have that conversation, for sure. But I expect our guys to have high expectations. The standard here has been high. We've set a high bar here for a long time, and we're proud of that. We have high expectations, so we're not going to let those expectations go. We're not pleased with where we are – just like the fans aren't pleased, coaches aren't pleased, players aren't pleased. Nobody in the organization is pleased with where we're at, and we're very determined to turn it around."
Do you look at it as you felt before you went into the bye – you're at the exact midpoint. You can't forget about 2-6, but do you maybe feel you're starting anew here with the final eight games, and it's almost a new season, as it were? (Dave Ginsburg) "You can look at it that way. The season does split in half, it splits in quarters – all those ways of looking at it is part of it. Like we said, we have challenges every single week. Every single game writes its own story. This is a big game this week. It's an opportunity, and we just have to focus on the task at hand."
John, DE Brent Urban's situation, is that something … Is he a guy that you have to monitor closely, because he hasn't played a whole lot of football in the last two years, or do you think he's a guy that can be on the field in game action relatively soon? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I think both are possibilities. You make a good point. We're going to have to monitor him really closely, because as you said, he hasn't played a lot of football in the last couple years. He has played maybe three or four weeks of training camp since he got here two years ago, so these are going to be really valuable practices for him. We'll have to see where he's at – how he's playing, how he's moving, how the bicep responds to what he's doing out there – and try to make a determination about whether he can help us or not. We have a maximum 21 days to determine that. If he can help us be better, we'll bring him up. If he can't – because of not being ready – then we'll have to put him on IR [Injured Reserve]."
John, I know running the football has always been a big part of the Ravens' philosophy. I was curious how you assess how you guys have run the football so far this year, and moving forward, might it be more important to run better, A) without WR Steve Smith Sr. and B) the weather turning the way it probably will? (Cliff Brown) "That's all true. You're right. We've been committed to running the ball. We can run the ball better, more effectively – yards per carry, yards per gain. People have determined that it is important to stop the run against us, and they've committed a lot of resources to doing that defensively, and we have to counterpunch that. We have to have an answer for that, and those are things that we understand. We can run the ball better, but we can also protect our run better by making people pay for over-committing to stopping it. That's going to be something that we're going to pay attention to trying to do."
About a month ago, you said DT Timmy Jernigan was still getting his practice feet under him and getting the effort to where you guys wanted it to be full time. Do you feel like he's a player in the second half that can build on that and be the guy you thought he was going to be? (Jon Meoli) "I do. I think he has really practiced well for the last month, and he has played well. He's consistently better every single week. He's playing with a lot of energy. He's really flying around. We have high expectations for Timmy in the second half of the season."
Along those same lines, S Terrence Brooks, I know he has been backed up by the injuries, but what have you seen from him growth-wise on the field that says he can have a bigger second half? (Ryan Mink) "That's another guy to watch. He's really practicing fast. Every time he gets going, it seems like something knocks him back, injury-wise, just like it did three weeks ago. Now, last week he practiced really well. He's a guy that has a chance. He can cover ground back there. He has good ball skills. He's a hitter. He's a high draft pick. He's a guy that can really help us."
Looking at Jacksonville – I don't know how much tape you've seen of them – but two big receivers with WR Allen Robinson and WR Allen Hurns. What type of matchup challenges do they present? (Todd Karpovich) "You're right. Both those guys – Robinson and Hurns – are very similar. They're kind of similar-sized guys. Robinson is a little bigger. They're [big] catch-radius guys. They're strong-to-the-ball guys, good body-control guys. They're guys that can make catches against you. We're going to have to be strong in our coverage around those guys. Obviously, Jimmy [Smith is] a matchup there. 'Webby' [Lardarius Webb] is a little bit different. They create some matchup problems for us. The other issue is Marqise Lee. We expect him to be back this week, and he's the fast guy. We really loved him coming out of SC [Southern California]. He's their slot receiver, their speed guy. They have a lot of talent. They have two tight ends that, obviously, are very good pass-receiving threats as well. The young back, T.J. Yeldon, is really doing a good job. [Toby] Gerhart, of course – the old Stanford guy … Two [seasons] ago, we played him when he was with Minnesota. He had a couple runs on us. We don't forget those things."
John, you mentioned the young receivers that Jacksonville has; how difficult is it developing wide receivers, translating the college game to the pro game? Is that still one of the tougher transitions as far as developing young guys? (Jamison Hensley)"[It is] a great question. It's a little more challenging now because the style of the offenses are so much different. Some of the pro offenses actually run the college scheme, and [there are] a limited number of routes in their offense. But, most of us are running a much more diverse route tree, and you don't always know if those guys are going to be able to run the routes or even if they're going to really be able to sort out the assignment, especially if you move them to multiple positions. So, some guys make it, and some guys don't. Some guys, it turns out, can't figure it out or can't really run all the routes. And other guys, who you might not have anticipated, just blossom because you didn't always see them doing it in college. So, it's probably a little tougher than it used to be because the offenses are a little different."
It may have been a few weeks since you've been asked, but any news regarding WR Breshad Perriman and is there a chance that he could be practicing soon? And if not, the alternative, maybe, just shutting him down because he hasn't played at all at any NFL-speed level since training camp? (Jerry Coleman)"I don't have any news on that, and he [Breshad Perriman] has been rehabbing. I expect to get some information on that really soon. To me, as you said, the clock is ticking. If he can't get out there and practice soon … I'd love to get four games out of him, just so you can see him and he can develop for four games. But that means now we need four weeks of getting him ready to play four games, and I haven't been told that he's going to practice this week. So, I think that's a conversation that the doctors and [general manager and executive vice president] Ozzie [Newsome] need to have, and we need to make a determination on that real soon."
With you guys bringing in so many young wide receivers, obviously, with the injury to WRs Michael Campanaro and Steve Smith Sr., are you guys taking it as a "let's evaluate all these young kids" [approach] to see who might be on the roster next year? (Matt Stevens)"No. We're trying to win games this year. I don't think there's any doubt that's part of it; that's always in the back of your mind, but we're bringing guys in to win. We really like what Chris Givens has done for us, a guy we brought in three weeks ago. [We are] excited about Joe Morgan being a part of what we're doing. The guys that we have, I'm excited about, and we think they can win for us."
I know you said a decision won't be made until Wednesday, but to you, did TE Dennis Pitta look free and fluid and just look pretty good in practice the last couple weeks? (Jeff Zrebiec)"He [Dennis Pitta] did look good in practice. We had a tough time covering him. He was doing stuff from the 'look' team and made a bunch of plays out there and just kind of looked like his old self out there. But, don't construe that as saying that he's ready to go, because it's not about that. It's going to be about he and the doctors … The doctors are going to take a hard look at that and decide – help him decide – 'Is this really safe?' And it's going to be based on how the hip is responding to the practices. Dennis is going to play if he can; there's no doubt in my mind, based on what I've talked to him. If it's safe and he feels like he can get out there and the hip is responding well, he's going to play. And if it's not safe, then he's not going to play. It's really going to be … It's not a black-and-white decision, but this is a decision he has to make with the doctors. But he wants to play. It's just a matter of whether it's going to be safe or not, and that was what this three-week period was for. So, I'm sure tomorrow – it is an off day – we'll sit down have a pow-wow on it and figure out if that's what we're going to do and what the doctors and he say is the best thing."