MONDAY (7/30) TRAINING CAMP TRANSCRIPTS
Special Teams Coordinator / Associate Head Coach Jerry Rosburg
Can you talk about P Kaare Vedvik and your assessment of his progress thus far in training camp? (Ed Lee) "Kaare is taking advantage of all the coaching he's getting from [specialists coach] Randy Brown and the rest of the specialists. He's a guy that when we brought him in here, we knew was extraordinarily talented. He did a lot of things for his team at Marshall – he was the placekicker and also the punter. When we recruited him here, we targeted him here as a punter, because that's what he wanted to do, and that's where he showed off best in the camps that he attended. After having worked with him now for a few months, he's really demonstrating that he's also a placekicker. Where you make that line, where you make that decision, is still to be determined. It's going to be up to Kaare, be up to wherever his career takes him. He's demonstrated to us that the talents that he has can be used [on the] punt team and on the field goal team. The exciting thing for Kaare and for all of us, I think, is we have an extra preseason game – the Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio – where Kaare will make his NFL debut. He's going to be doing both."
How can him competing with both K Justin Tucker and P Sam Koch set him up for the future?_ (Ed Lee) _"We've had a lot of guys who have gone through these doors. I'm thinking of Graham Gano and Will Lutz and Steven Hauschka and even Richie Leone, who's playing in the CFL. We've had a lot of guys go through these doors ... And even Patrick Scales. Guys who are playing in the National Football League that came here as undrafted free agents. Our players and our coaches take it very seriously that we're going to try to get these guys ready to play in the National Football League. We try to recruit players that have the talent level to play in the league – then it's up to them, but it's up to us to try to mold them into NFL players. So Kaare's path now, now that we're this far down the road, we're working on both and we're going to continue to work on both. Where he ends up playing – whether it's punter or placekicker – still remains to be seen."
Do you think he'll have to choose one ultimately? Or can a player play both?_ (Ryan Mink)_"In Canada they can. I say that seriously. In Canada they can, if that's where his path leads him. They love those kinds of guys. Richie Leone [is] playing up there, and he's an example. Kenny Allen last year played in Canada. So those are guys like Kaare, both punted and kicked in college. The difference is when you go to … Justin Tucker punted and kicked in college, too, but he's clearly a much better kicker than he was at punter, and that's the path he went. Graham Gano was a punter and a kicker in college, as some of you may know. We focused him … We thought his talents were going to be best expressed as a placekicker. Like I said, it has to express itself. I don't think he's going to be doing both in the National Football League – unless the rules change and we're fighting that tooth and nail. But he could do it in a league that only had one specialist, certainly. We're going to see where it takes us. It's a fun ride right now."
Is there a part of the new kickoff process you're most interested to see how it unfolds and looks against another team?_ (Jamison Hensley)_ "Yes. What I'm really anxious to see is the timing and spacing of the play. Where are the kickoff players when the ball's caught? Different coaches have different philosophies in preseason. We've always kicked the ball short, because we want our kickoff team to practice. We want to see them cover kicks. We don't want the other team to just take a knee in the end zone and the play's over. That's not what preseason is about in our opinion. But we can't control what the other team does. We're going to be trying to return the ball every time it's kicked to us on kickoff return, because we want to practice our kickoff return. There's no agreement made before the game, but we hope we get returnable balls. We're going to give the opponent returnable balls. We want to see how far our guys are downfield, and we want to see the timing and spacing of the play. That's what's going to interest me the most."
What are your expectations of the rookies on Thursday? (Ed Lee) "On special teams, my expectations are the 'Play Like A Raven.' That being said, there's a lot to that. We want them to play hard and fast and physical and finish and all those things that go into playing when you're playing for our team. There are going to be mistakes where there always are. We're worried less about that than how they play. We hope they can put all the nerves aside [with] playing your first NFL game. I've never experienced it, but I can imagine it's going to be a step for them all. So just pull that aside and go play as hard as you can – that's what I'm hoping for."
Can you give us an update on the returner competition? Has WR Tim White separated himself in any way? _(Ryan Mink) _"I really don't think we've had an opportunity to separate. I think we're still in the mode right now where we're training everybody, and we're going to see how they play. We have five preseason games, thankfully, and we have two practices against opponents where we're going to be fielding punts. It's going to be some live fire out there, so the opportunities are going to be there for it to make that determination. I wouldn't even venture a guess at this point, because things change rapidly in the league. But Tim is going to get the first shot – he's earned that. So, when we line up in Canton, Ohio, at 8 o'clock on Thursday night, '14' is going to trot it out there."
Defensive Coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale
Opening statement:"Not a whole lot changed [since I last spoke at the podium] – we're still growing as a defense. I do think we're playing harder and [have] less [minor errors] later into practice. We're still not even close to where we need to be yet. We're excited about this game, this opportunity to A) go against somebody else, but B) challenge the defense. I've talked to you guys about this before. In honor of who's getting inducted into the Hall of Fame, Ray [Lewis], I want our defense to play with his effort, with his enthusiasm and for his love of the game. I can remember when he came back for the first playoff game against Indy, he broke a playoff … When we were together there in 2012, he broke a playoff tackle record at the end of his career. Why? Because of his effort getting to the football, his love of the game and his love of his teammates. That's what I want our guys to think about when we go here into Canton. Ray will be watching, and we want to make him proud. With that all, I'll open it up to questions."
Do you think that's why the physicality of practices has started to jump up? (Kyle Barber) "Yeah, they're getting used to it. They're getting used to carrying their pads. We're making an emphasis, as far as coaching, for fitting up ball carriers, because you have to get going into this game. Usually, this first game is where you see the most missed tackles – in the first preseason game whenever that may be. So, we're really making an emphasis on that, and it is getting more physical. I think that's good for us, because John [Harbaugh] said this before, I think we need to callus up these young guys. I think that's what we're doing. He does a great job of having a feel for that."
Is it tricky when they're not full-on tackling yet? Head coach John Harbaugh had mentioned that you may or may not do it, but then you're in the first game and you're tackling. (Bo Smolka) "I don't want to say it's tricky, because they're all great athletes. They can stay on their feet and practice with pads or without pads, and usually, there's not too many collisions. But when they're in pads, obviously, they know they have the protective gear on, and they're going to fly a little bit more. Will there be missed tackles? I'm sure there will be. The players, especially the younger players, the angles will change. Even though it's a preseason game, now guys are starting to fight for their job. That's what's exciting about the preseason game. Coming to the game to watch … A lot of people won't come to the game because they know this guy is only going to play 10 plays – whoever that guy may be, let's say 'Sizz' [Terrell Suggs] or whoever it may be. If you're a true football fan, you want to come to these games because you've got young guys, and they're fighting for their futures. I say fighting for their lives, but their fighting for their futures in this league. So that's what's exciting for me to watch."
What's the competition between ILB Kenny Young and ILB Patrick "Peanut" Onwuasor?_ (Mike Preston) "It's still ongoing. They'll both make strides, then they'll both fall back. One guy will play better one day, and Kenny Young will fall back, and it's vice versa with 'Peanut.' It's going to be a great competition that's good for our defense." _(Reporter: "Is it more of a pass coverage issue with those guys?") "No – it's a whole thing, the whole linebacker thing. It's executing the defense, knowing the run fits. It's an overall thing, as far as playing linebacker. It's not just down to pass coverage."
I know you're not concerned, but how good was it to see CB Marlon Humphrey have an active practice? (Luke Jones)"That's why I wasn't concerned. Like I said, his body of work is just … Marlon has done a great job, and the other young rookie corners are starting to come along, too. There'll still be those plays that every now and then … You know what the good thing is? The way that '5' [Joe Flacco] is throwing the football, too. He's throwing it in spots – and same thing with all the quarterbacks, Lamar [Jackson], all of them. We got some receivers who are going up and making some plays. It's a great challenge for us, too.
How much does that help the defense, even compared to last year when QB Joe Flacco wasn't out here in training camp? How much does it sharpen you guys when you have an offense that's challenging you every day?_ (Ryan Mink)_"It helps us – it really does. It helps us, because the offense is giving us difficult looks, too – with Joe being back there, Lamar [Jackson] being back there, with all the different things they are doing. So. it really does help us."
Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg
Opening statement: "A heck of a practice today. I'll tell you what: I'm getting juiced up for Thursday night, 8 o'clock, so you can imagine what the players' minds are doing right now. The guys are getting juiced up for us. It's an important practice tomorrow, and then certainly Wednesday, and then the game Thursday night. It's an important stretch for an awful lot of people. An awful lot of young men, it's really important for. We're giving them a little bit for Chicago today, so we'll have a few days to hone in on that, the fellas that are playing. And I'll tell you what: I'm excited. Did I say I'm excited yet? All right. Let's open it up to questions. Here we go, very good!" (laughter)
We've talked about QB Joe Flacco, the quarterback. How is Joe Flacco, the wide receiver, today? (Jamison Hensley) "(Laughs) I'll tell you what: Both of them did a pretty good job on that, didn't they? We'll see where that goes."
Not necessarily for this game, but just the preseason as a whole, the kind of trickery stuff, is that something you want to put out there during the preseason? (Garrett Downing)"That's a good question. There are two philosophies to the thing – and I've done it both ways – where you show very little, and so they don't quite know what to prepare for, or you show them so much that they have a hard time preparing for it. We've got five games, and it's hard not to show much and give the fellas a chance to have some success. So, we've got to show a little bit here throughout this preseason. We've got the staff here. The offensive staff has a pretty good plan, and it's not set in stone, so we can make adjustments for all five games. Good point."
Does that just show QB Joe Flacco's athleticism and the things that he can do? I think some people might have the perception of him just being a straight-back, dropback. Do you think things like that show his athleticism? (Jamison Hensley) _"That's a very good point. The answer is 'yes.' Would you like a little bit of an explanation?" _(Reporter: "Sure.") "I remember him coming out – a big guy, big arm. But then, once you dug into the film, holy smokes! He's really a good athlete, especially for his size, and then he showed that throughout his career. I'm so jacked up, because this is the first time he's been healthy in what, a couple years, in camp, and you can see it. You can see it both on the field, and you can see it on the film, so he's healthy. That's a good thing. His athleticism shows up just a little bit, even in practices, so that's a good point."
Marty, how has QB coach James Urban impacted you from a day-to-day standpoint from the context of, you were handling coordinator and quarterbacks coach the last couple years, and now he's focused on the quarterbacks? _(Luke Jones) _"First of all, Craig [Ver Steeg] is heavily involved in that as well, so Craig does a heck of a job there. James and I go all the way back, as you know, many years. He had some great, great success. We're very close that way. We've worked together before, and he's taken the bull by the horns and run with it and done an outstanding job. And Craig is still involved. I'm trying not to be in there as much. It's hard, but I'm trying very, very hard to do that. Good point. James is doing an outstanding job. You can see his work."
But do you think that's helped you, just from a big picture standpoint? _(Luke Jones) _"Yes, there's no question about that. I've coached coordinator and coached the quarterbacks several different times. It is a long, hard grind when you're doing it that way. Now, not to say I didn't enjoy it, because I did, but it certainly gives you a little more time and a big-picture look at things. Good point."
What are you looking for from the first game action from QB Lamar Jackson out there? What are some of the specifics that you maybe want to hone in on when you're watching that?" (Jamison Hensley) _"That's another good one. Man, you guys are pretty good! You guys went to school and everything. Journalism school, or is it just natural?" _(laughter)(Reporters: "A few years." "Some things take a while." "Naturally-gifted talent.") "What was the question? Naturally-gifted?" (laughter)(Reporter: "If I can remember it! What specifically are you trying to hone in on when you're watching Lamar in his first game action?") "That's another good point. That's why I was giving you a little juice – and buying a little time to think.(laughter)Lamar, I want to see him play the quarterback position the way we do it. There are a lot of details with that. Just a couple things I think you're after are: He's done a great job. I'm just telling you. He's smart, he's talented, and he is a hard worker. He's made a couple little adjustments on some things, and I want to see that happen in game time, because here's what typically happens: They'll do it, and then they'll revert back. Any player at any position does it. And with reps and reps and reps, here we go, and it becomes more consistent. So, playing the quarterback spot, a couple little adjustments that he's made, I want to see that during the game, and then turn it loose. Just turn it loose and play ball. That's what we're looking for."
Just along those lines, Marty, QB Lamar Jackson is a guy that obviously out here in practice, they're not getting hit. The quarterbacks aren't getting hit, and so much of his game is that ability to run and make some plays out here, where you don't know what would happen if it were real game action. Do you feel like the game reps for him are maybe even more important, considering that the running element is such an important piece of*what he's doing?*(Garrett Downing)"In practice, we try – in many cases, in certain periods – we try to simulate the game and even make it harder in some periods than it will be in the game, because you get better that way. Then, preseason games are important because of the speed, and it's fast and it's a game. Then, that's quite different than regular season games, by the way, and then regular season games are different than playoff games. There's a little process there that we all have to get through that. This is sort of the second step. I know he's excited about it. Have you guys been able to speak to him?" (Reporter: "We'll talk to him tomorrow.") "He's excited, and he should be. All the guys are excited. Hell, I'm excited! All right, are we in good shape? Have a great afternoon!"