Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "OK, good to see everybody – thanks for being here with us. [It was] a good week – a good, focused week of football. That has been a real plus for us. The guys have had a chance to spend a lot of time together, and really, what they do is they talk a lot of football, and they have fun. They make fun of one another and do what teammates do when they're around one another 24/7. But, all the focus is on Oakland – it's on the game on Sunday, and it's on doing what needs to be done – in other words, playing really good football, executing where we need to execute and getting the job done play after play, and that's what we're working on right now. San Jose State has been fantastic. They've done a great job [lending use of the] facilities and the use of the weight room. They've just been very accommodating and very, very good. Obviously, it's a first-class operation here at San Jose State. The city of San Jose and the people at the Hilton have just been first-class as well. It has been a great experience, and we appreciate it."
So, you feel like this was – at least until game time – you feel like this was the right move for what you needed to get out of this week? (Jamison Hensley) "The wisdom is in the results, as we all know. If we go out there and take care of business, then it was a good move."
John, with OLB Terrell Suggs being down, there's a stat that you guys haven't played without Ray Lewis, Ed Reed or Suggs since 1998. How confident are you in the guys you do have. You've long said, "We feel like we have a ton of leaders in the back end." (Jeff Zrebiec) "I'm very confident. I'm very confident in all of our guys. Football is a team sport. We have 53-plus [players on the team], and we have guys in various stages of their career. Various opportunities are gained by this, so there are guys with opportunities through the misfortune of one guy, and another guy steps up and has his chance, and that's the beauty of football. It's the beauty of life. Terrell lives with us, [as do] all the guys who've left over the years. They move on to their things, but Terrell is still here. He's still a Raven, and he'll still lead and be a part of what we're doing. Other guys will step into those roles, and I'm very confident that they'll do a very good job of it."
Three practices for OLB Jason Babin enough to feel good about putting him on the field Sunday? (Brent Harris) "Yes. [Jason Babin is] a veteran player. His whole thing is just making sure he knows where to line up. He has been in defenses. [He is] a really smart guy. I'm very confident that he can line up and play good football. He played [during the preseason]. It's not like he's a guy that hasn't been playing in training camp. He has been playing up until a week ago, so he's in football shape, and he's ready to go."
John, the defense, obviously, played pretty well in Denver. I'm just curious about your perception of that unit this year. You have some different pieces now, particularly without OLB Terrell Suggs not being there. I guess I'm more focused on your secondary. Do you feel like that unit that you have this year – if they stay healthy – can be a real strength of the team, where last year the secondary, obviously, had a lot of injuries and there were some problems? (Cliff Brown) "I think we're as good as our last performance or our next performance. Guys in the secondary, or any position you want to talk about … The focus is on the upcoming challenge, and we'll find out how good we're going to be by what we do. It comes down to what you do. You can sit there and speculate all you want [that], 'We should be good here. We should not be good there.' Any team can do that. You have to go out and play. I'm confident in our guys. The question keeps coming up, 'Are you confident?' Of course we're confident. What are we doing here if we're not confident? We believe in these guys, and we believe in the work that they've put in and how much they care, how good they are. That's what you stand on, and then you have to go out there and do something about it, and that's what we're looking forward to – the opportunity to do [that]."
ILB C.J. Mosley had a couple of sacks the first game. He's obviously a very good player. Have you seen – I don't know – even maybe a little bit better [out of] him getting a knack for when he gets an opportunity like that, that he is really zeroing in maybe to help your pass rush more than he did last year? (Cliff Brown)"Sure, and [C.J. Mosley] came free a couple times [against Denver], and he has also worked really hard on just one-on-one. We spend a lot of time in training camp on one-on-one pass rush opportunities for our linebackers and our defensive backs. That's something that's really important. You're not always going to scheme up a free runner. We sure try to, and we love it when we get it. By the same token, when you're one-on-one, you've got to make that a mismatch in your favor no matter what rusher you are, and that's what you work hard to do. So, C.J. has the ability to rush against a running back or, really, anybody very effectively, just like a number of our guys do because we work really hard at that."
Special teams coordinator/associate head coach Jerry Rosburg was very complimentary of WR Steve Smith Sr. as being the punt returner this year. I think we've discussed this before, but I'm going to ask it again anyway. How do you see that as – and you know the question – about outweighing or weighing the risk vs. reward by putting one of your top receivers back there? (Jamison Hensley)"It is – I've answered it a number of times – the same answer. You outweigh it by what gives you the best chance to win; that's really what it boils down to. What gives you the best chance to win this game? And going forward, what gives us the best chance to be the best team we can be going forward? I think [special teams coordinator/associate head coach] Jerry [Rosburg] said it too, that all those things factor in, and it is not a simple this or that, either or. You've got to decide what gives you the best chance [to win]. We're going to put a good player back there, and I have a lot of confidence in the other guys as well. Steve [Smith Sr.] is not the only guy you're going to see out there, but Steve is really a heck of a good player. And if our guys block well for him, he's going to make things happen. We want to win, and so does he and so do all our guys. Usually good football players, they want to do more and more all the time. He's like that; [Lardarius] Webb is like that, just as far as the punt return position. I think all the players really feel that way."
Ed Reed used to lobby to get some shots back there. (Brent Harris)"Yes, right." (Reporter: "If he were to lobby to get some shots back there – if you've got CB Lardarius Webb on one side and WR Steve Smith Sr. there – both standing there. Are they lobbying, or how you deal with both those guys saying, 'Hey, I'm ready.'?")"Well, you'd be disappointed if they weren't [lobbying]. You kind of want guys to want to be out there, but they're smart guys; these are grown men. I think [when] they look at the situation, if they felt like it wasn't best for them to be out there because we had somebody else that they felt like, 'I'd really rather see him out here given all the considerations,' they do it, but your team is your team – it's who it is. And we've got other options in the hopper. There's no question about that. We're not just sitting there without options. We've got choices, but our focus right now is this game. And this is the game that we're preparing our personnel for."