Special Teams Coordinator/Associate Head Coach Jerry Rosburg
When you guys meet as a coaching staff and you talk about the identity of the return man, how difficult is it – the line of it's an important part of the game, it's huge, but this is a guy [Steve Smith Sr.] we need as our No. 1 at another position? Is that a difficult decision to make putting a guy that's so valuable at another position back as a return man? (Jeff Zrebiec) "You're referring to Steve Smith?" (Reporter: "Steve Smith, or even when you have [Lardarius] Webb back there, when he was your top corner.") "It's always a factor, but the way we look at it, we want to have our best football team out there, and the best players for [those] positions are the guys that are going to help us win. I can assure you, Steve Smith is excited to be back there. He's a competitor. He loves playing football. He likes having the ball in his hands, and he's the best guy we have. He's going in the game, because we're trying to win. The discussion we have about who plays where and what their role is, is all a part of the fabric of the team. It's a big-picture discussion, and if we had someone that we felt at this time was more appropriate to put in there for that position, we'd put them in. But at this time – right now, right here – Steve Smith is our best option, and we're excited about him, because you saw what he did last week. His experience shows. His competitiveness shows. His judgment shows. It's fun to watch. I'm excited to have him back there, myself. I see him trot back there, and it gives me a lot of confidence."
A lot of guys who are really good wide receivers aren't necessarily punt returners. What does WR Steve Smith Sr. have that makes him good at both? (Cliff Brown) "I alluded to [Steve Smith's] judgment. The other thing that Steve does is he really tracks the ball well. There are certain people that have the ability to play centerfielder on a baseball team; Steve would be one of those guys. Ed Reed was one of those guys. The ball could go over the shoulder, and he would have no problem. He'd run back there, and he'd be right underneath it when it came down. Steve has that ability. His change of direction and strength of his running is something that he does very, very well. And if you've watched his tape from Carolina back in the day, he's a weapon when he's back there. He was really good. I remember coaching against him when he was younger, and it was a sight to behold."
K Justin Tucker hit a couple field goals. P Sam Koch had a pretty good day punting. How pleased were you with how your group performed? (Jeff Zrebiec)"It was a good day. We would expect that kind of performance from them, because they're good players. We were in altitude. They had good opportunities. We played well. We want to play better. We want more opportunities to help us win. We didn't win the game. The individual performance part is important to us. Getting another opportunity, winning the game, making a play – those are things we're trying to do, too, and we weren't able to do that this last Sunday, and we're going to try to do that this week."
I know you came close to blocking at least one punt. I guess it looked like CB Kyle Arrington almost was there and, I guess, maybe, missed the ball? I don't know. (Cliff Brown) "The punts got off. Their punter did a good job getting the ball off. He got it off quickly, shortened his steps, and we got some good pressure, we thought. It was part of what we did that week. Albert McClellan had a really good rush. We also had a really good field goal rush. Chris Canty put a really good field goal rush on. We didn't get the ball, so in the end, it really doesn't make any difference. It looks good. We've been watching the tape, and you all go, 'Oh!' But, it didn't matter, because we didn't get it. We need to get those."
Did you happen to keep track of what happened to the official? Have you read about it? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I heard about it, and I saw it happen on film, and it was rough. Guys were running down the field and hit him on the side in the back, and he went down. At the time, I didn't even know what happened. I wasn't aware of it, and then I looked, and I saw Dino [Paganelli] – the back judge – standing next to us on the sideline, and then I heard about what had happened. Yes, it was a very unfortunate accident. It's a rough game, and we don't want anybody getting hurt – officials or players or anybody else."
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees
A lot has been made this week about how this will be the first game the team has played without LB Ray Lewis, S Ed Reed or OLB Terrell Suggs since 1998. How comfortable are you with that leadership group and the guys that sort of pick up the slack? (Jeff Zrebiec)"Obviously, in no way do I want to diminish the fact of losing Terrell [Suggs] – he's a great player. When Ray [Lewis] left, that was hard. When Ed [Reed] left, it was [hard]. It is hard when they all leave – 'Double-J' [Jarret Johnson] – or in Suggs' case, getting hurt. But I also don't want to diminish the opportunity that it is for our guys to raise up and find other leaders. And everybody's got to take a part in this. It is not one guy that's going to come up and say, 'Ok, well, I'm going to be Suggs.' Everybody has to be their own personality; we've got to do it collectively as a defense and as a coaching staff, too. We've got to do our part. So, it is the whole defense. We've all got to rise up and just play a little harder and do a little more."
What do you like about OLB Jason Babin so far? (Jeff Zrebiec)"The fact that I think he came in in shape, because some of these guys come in sometimes and work out, and it doesn't look real good. And it is not like you've got a lot of time to get them ready when the season has already started. So, I like the fact that he came in in shape. I think he's a tough guy. I think he's really, really trying to learn; he's spending extra time with [linebackers] coach [Ted] Monachino trying to learn the system. So, those are probably the two things right now that I'm most impressed with him, is just the shape that he's in and secondly, the attitude that he's got. It is not like [he's] coming in here and [saying], 'Well, here's what I'll do.' No, he's coming in here trying to learn our defense, and we appreciate that."
ILB C.J. Mosley had a couple sacks. Obviously, he's a heck of a player. Has he gotten even better as far as blitzing? Is that something that maybe could be more of a weapon this year? (Cliff Brown)"I don't know if it is really more of a weapon. I just think that every week there's going to be somebody that we're going to … I don't say feature. It is just we've got some pressures that every week are going to probably change. And so, the thing of it is, one week it might be him, one week it might be somebody else. And so, I thought last week was kind of his week. I thought he played really well. I thought we played well as a defense. Whenever somebody gets a sack, there are usually two of three other guys that helped get that sack. So, that was the thing that he just happened to be in the right place at the right time, and he did his job."
There was lot of attention last week on the secondary. How pleased were you with how that group played on Sunday? (Jeff Zrebiec)"I was very pleased. What I was most pleased with is the way we tackled. I thought we tackled really, really well. There were a lot of space plays, and they did a good job of tackling. There were a couple plays that got over our head that luckily they didn't hit, but I thought overall, they played very well. They played hard. Overall, I was pleased, but I was most pleased, probably, with the way we tackled."
The last drive Denver had, after not really getting much on the ground, they had a long drive. Was that a function of fatigue, or what do you think was going on during that drive? (Cliff Brown)"It was a little bit [of fatigue] then. I think we … Because we start playing a little bit high – which usually when you're playing high means you're getting a little bit tired. We needed to get off the field in that last drive. I know we held them to a field goal, but if we could have held them back there and made them punt, it would have been even better for our offense. So, we've got to do a better job of that. We can't give up long drives, even if they don't lead to touchdowns. But I think maybe we were a little bit tired. We also made some technique mistakes that we shouldn't have made in critical times."
Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman
**What do you think the key is to getting going with the downfield passing game? I know there's been a lot of attention on that recently. *(Jeff Zrebiec) *"I think we have to throw the ball up the field more than we did, certainly, last week. Our performance wasn't indicative of, I think, how hard our players have worked – how hard we've practice – and I think that's where we're headed. We've learned. We made some mistakes. We'll learn from it, and certainly, part of that is taking our shots and throwing the ball up the field."
The tackles had a tough day against a really good defensive front. Is there anything, schematically, that you do to change that, or is it just a really good defense, and they had a strong day? (Garrett Downing) "I think that none of us had our best day. We've all taken accountability for that; that certainly starts with me. I think it's just going back to work and continue to prepare and do the things schematically that we think we can do to help us get better, and that's what we'll do."
Without the downfield burner kind of speedster on the outside right now with WR Breshad Perriman out, is it more back-shoulder throws? Is that how you kind of attack? (Ryan Mink) "I think there are a lot of different ways to do it. You can do it with deep-crossing routes, back-shoulder throws, and you can throw the ball deep. We threw the ball deep last week to Marlon [Brown]. He made a nice back-shoulder catch, but he was running a deep ball, and Joe [Flacco] stopped him with a throw. The defender was playing a high-shoulder technique, and he stopped him with the throw. It was a great play, and we just have to do more of that. We have to give our guys more opportunities; Joe said it yesterday. He's right, we have to do that. That starts with me."
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro has been a full participant in practice. Do you like what you see in the backfield? It seems like you could have your full complementary weapons. (Jeff Zrebiec) "We hope so. It's a day-to-day thing. It'll be up to the trainers and the doctors to [decide] where [Lorenzo Taliaferro is] at, but he has been out there working, and we're excited to have him back, certainly."
*What do you see from T James Hurst, and where has he progressed as camp went on until now? (Ryan Mink) *"I think James [Hurst] is a very good player. I watched him play last year against New England in a [Divisional Playoff] game, so he has had the experience. He has played in the big games. We faced two really good players last week; our guys recognize that. And all of us weren't at our best. We recognize that, but now it's on to the Raiders. We've spent time [preparing], we've taken notice of the things we have to do better, and we're working on that this week to get it done on Sunday."
Is there eagerness from the group to get back out there and play that game? (Garrett Downing)"There's no doubt about it. Guys have been fantastic. At 2:30 on Tuesday, we had put the game behind us, and we were on to the Raiders, and that's really the way we've approached it. Our guys have a strong mental toughness and mindset, and the last couple of practices are indicative of that – that we've put it behind us, and we're just working to get better every day to get ready for the Raiders on Sunday."
For you personally, you've spent quite a bit of time in the Bay Area. Does it bring back memories for you? (Jamison Hensley) "I haven't had time. I've been locked up in a hotel trying to find ways to throw the ball down the field more. *(laughter) *Obviously, this is a great area of the country. We're loving living in Baltimore. We're loving getting ready for the next challenge, and that's the Oakland Raiders."
WR Kamar Aiken
On moving past last week's defeat in Denver: "We already put it behind us, to be honest. Once we watched the tape, it was behind us. We're just looking to get our first win of the season, and that's all that's on our mind right now."
On pushing the ball down the field more:"We definitely have the ability to do that. Denver did a great job of doing some things that kind of caused us to shy away from it, and that's just how the game went."
On whether it's important for him to be a starter: "To me, whether I'm a starter or not a starter, I'm going to attack it like I'm the guy, and I have to go out there and make the play. That's always been my mentality, so I don't think being a starter is going to make me change my mentality."
On the importance of this week's game vs. Oakland:"They're looking for their first 'W,' just like we're looking for our first 'W.' But we can only concern ourselves with what the Ravens are going to do. We don't really care about them trying to get their 'W.' It's all about what we're trying to accomplish this year. That's our main focus."
RB Justin Forsett
On what is has been like to prepare in California for the Raiders: "It has been great. It's great for team camaraderie, just getting to know your teammates more, going out, hanging out, going to dinner. It has been a great experience. We've been loving the Bay. Of course, I played college football out here, so it's good to be back."
On the key to running the football against the Raiders: "We have to be physical. We have to make sure that we're doing little things right and take advantage of opportunities that we have, and I think we're in the right mindset to do that."
On whether there is a sense that the offense wants to show what it can do after last week's loss: "We definitely want to go out and put our best foot forward and show that we can play better, and we will play better, and this week is going to be the start of that."
On what it was like to go back and visit Cal's campus this week: "It's great. I train there in the offseason, so it's always good to come back and see familiar faces – guys that really helped me get to where I am today – and see them proud of me. To have their support, it's great."
On WR Steve Smith Sr. visiting Cal with him: "Yes, I had Steve Smith with me. And of course, Utah is in the PAC-12 now, so we got a little banter back and forth. It was a great experience just showing him where it all started at for me."
On his friendship with WR Steve Smith Sr.: "We've been close for a while now. Last year, we really started to get to know each other. We met each other in passing years before. He is just a great guy, our families are close, and it'll be a friendship that lasts longer than football."
On who is taller between him and WR Steve Smith Sr.: "We measured yesterday! You have to see it on the show that we did, but he's 70 inches, and I'm 69, so it was very unfortunate. (laughter) *But, we're basically the same." *(Reporter: "It's all about getting the right shoes.") "Yes, it's about the right soles, the right shoes, and next time, I'm going to make sure I'm a little bit taller." (laughter)