Special Teams Coordinator/Associate Head Coach Jerry Rosburg
How do you feel about your returner situation going into Week 1? (Ryan Mink)"We're ready to go."
Do you feel like there is, perhaps, less of a need, maybe, or that the kick returners see less action just because of the thin air, and it is early in the season, and the ball should probably be traveling pretty far? (Ryan Mink)"The science would probably tell you that, but we've been preparing all week and all training camp and all offseason to return balls. If we get one, we've got to be ready for it. That's the way we're looking at it."
Jerry, I know you said you were ready to go. Do you feel good about having a couple options, even on the practice squad, just to continue the evaluation process even as you get into the season? (Luke Jones)"We like our players. I've been asked this many times during the course of training camp. We like guys who can do more than one thing. Our returners need to be more than just returners. We've got some really good football players on this team that can be returners. That's really important to us."
As far as downfield coverage guys, there seems to be a good veteran core of continuity there with S Brynden Trawick and ILB Albert McClellan and guys like that. Do you seem to have an advantage over most teams in the league in having that continuity? (Joe Platania)"I think we do have a real solid core, veteran group. And you named Albert [McClellan] – and he's a strong one – Anthony Levine [Sr.], and even Zach Orr, at this point, has a full year under his belt, which makes a huge difference than coming in cold – and Brynden Trawick. And Kamar Aiken is an outstanding special teams player. His repetitions might be a little bit different because he's playing so well on offense. You need those kinds of players to be good on special teams in this league; it is highly-competitive. The caliber of players you're going against is so high, you need those kinds of players just to be able to compete, and then you need to play well. And if you play well, then you've got a chance."
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees
When you study Denver's offense, does it look a whole lot like the offense you practiced here against last year, or is it pretty different? (Ryan Mink) "[There are] similarities. Nothing is always ever quite the same. Plus, the fact that even if you're playing the same offense, guys tweak things that they want to do a little different. Plus, their personnel might be a little different than what our personnel was [last season]. Plus, the fact that you know that [Gary Kubiak is] not going to show everything in preseason that he's going to show in this game, everybody is kind of that way. But, are there similarities? Certainly. It looked like Gary's offense."
Are in-game adjustments more a part of Week 1 than any other week, especially when you're going against a guy whose offense you've seen a lot of, so he probably is going to tweak things like you said? (Ryan Mink) "Yes, absolutely, because the thing of it is, you're never ever certain what you're going to see. It could be a combination, and I'm sure it will be a combination of Gary's [Kubiak] offense and a little bit of what Peyton [Manning] did in the past. We have to be able to make some adjustments on the sideline, at halftime, whatever it might be. You always have to be that [flexible]. Probably you're right, [that there are] probably more [in-game adjustments], especially early in the season and in the first game than maybe any other [game]. If you're playing a team that has had the same coordinator – maybe for four or five years – and they're in a system and winning and all that kind of stuff, then maybe it's not going to change quite as much. But even then, teams … We self-scout ourselves. We know what we run on defense. They know what they run on offense, and they're always going to try to change it up so that you don't have a beat or a tendency on them."
**Offensive line coach Juan Castillo has his guys do a lot of cut-blocking drills every day. Do you prepare yourself to see a lot of that in teams like Denver? *(Joe Platania) *"You do. It's always hard to simulate, because you're always worried about the injury factor in practice. But the biggest thing is you know, and you know how to play it, and then you just have to be able to play it. It's not an easy block, but we know it's going to happen, absolutely."
You know your opponents beforehand, but when you see how the schedule is going to go and Week 1 – what it looks like – do you think about two years ago at all? Is it hard not to be like, "I remember having a season opener in Denver in 2013."? (Morgan Adsit) "I blocked that season opener out of my mind, except for the first half. You have games … We're not the same team, not the same personnel. I don't think you can ever look at that. I didn't look at the last Super Bowl [with Baltimore in 2012] like I looked at the one before that [while with New England in 2007]. The one before that, we lost in the last two minutes; that [next] one, we won. To me, it has no bearing on it."
**What's the biggest challenge in preparing for QB Peyton Manning? *(Brent Harris) *"I always used to take the assumption that he knows what we're in rather than us trying to think that we're too clever and that we're fooling him. I always just take the assumption that he knows what we're in. We just have to play well. We have to tackle. We have to do all the things that – fundamentally – any defense says they have to do. You have to run to the ball, you have to hit, you have to be physical, and you have to tackle. All this other stuff – scheme stuff – you hope some of it works, and not all of it probably will. But, when it all comes down to it, it's still … We just have to outplay them, period. With Peyton, just assume that he's going to know. He has been around the game for a long time, and he's a smart guy. I've faced him a lot of times, and that's just kind of how you approach him."
Because QB Peyton Manning gets rid of the ball so quick and they were so good in pass protection, do you have to be creative in trying to get the pass rush to where it could affect him? (Brent Harris) "I think you have to be creative, but you have to also always take into account [that] you can only be as creative as the guys that you have on your own team can allow you to be. You can draw up all these X's and O's all you want to. What you have to find out is, will this actually fit our personnel and what we do and can we do it? I've seen a ton of people blitz [Peyton Manning] and have guys absolutely free, and they're three yards from the quarterback when the ball is being caught. What affect did that have? Everybody sits there and says, 'That was a great blitz. The guy was free.' No, it wasn't a great blitz. The guy caught the ball and ran, so it's not a great blitz. I think sometimes, yes, you're going to scheme things, but at the same time, it doesn't have a chance to actually get home and work. And if it doesn't – no matter how pretty it looks on film – if you start bringing a free safety from eight yards deep, that always looks great [and the] guy is wide open. San Francisco ran one of those in preseason, and that was great. The guy was at about the line of scrimmage when the ball was being caught 10 yards downfield. Was anybody blocking him? No, but it doesn't matter. You take all those things into account: 'Is this going to be effective?' And if not, don't run it."
You took pains to point out that the game two years ago was a blowout, and you've said you blocked it out. CB Jimmy Smith said he has blocked it out. They had several big plays that added up to a lot of yards and a lot of points, but a lot of the plays you said were made [on defense]. Can you still draw on those? (Joe Platania) "Yes, I hope we draw on those, after that same season, I think, because we improved from that day on some of those same plays. I just don't really … How did we do against Philadelphia the year that we won the Super Bowl?" (Reporter: "Lost.") "Did we look good? No. That's my point. It makes no difference what that game was. It doesn't matter if it was 52-0 or it was 13-12. It really makes no difference. I'm not going to sit here and dwell on a game that we didn't play well. I'm going to sit here and draw on the things that are positive and things that we did do well and what can we do with this team. This is not the same team that we had two years ago. That game means nothing to me. And if any coach sits and looks at a game [from] two years ago, he's a fool."
Understanding what QB Peyton Manning can do through the air, is there an extra reminder this week, knowing that the Gary Kubiak offense historically has run the football so exceptionally well [and] just that everyone's playing assignment-football in the running game as well, aside from what Peyton has done in his career? (Luke Jones) "We always have a defensive philosophy that we have to stop the run first. You can never let a team be a two-dimensional team, because if they can run it and throw it, you have no chance. So, you have to at least … Even in the game that we lost last year against the Patriots, they couldn't run it. We just needed to play the pass better, right? We kind of got what we wanted. We just didn't play the pass well enough to win the game. That, to me, [means] you have to always make it … It's always going to be Gary's [Kubiak] offense. It's always going to be Gary's philosophy that they're going to have a good running team. Even [if you] forget Gary, even back when the Colts had [Peyton] Manning – and you think clear back to when he was in Indianapolis – they still could run the ball. Everybody worried about Dallas Clark and Reggie Wayne and [Marvin] Harrison and all those guys; I can remember all this. Hey, they ran the ball. And if they ran the ball on you, they'd kill you throwing the ball. You always have to take something away."
Last year, there was a lot of attention on the secondary. Are you pleased with how that group has sort of come together? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes, I wish we were a little … I think the guys are doing a good job. The only thing I'd say coming out of preseason is depth-wise, I was hoping we'd be a little more solid in some of the games than I thought we were. I really felt like the first-line guys and the next couple of guys were in pretty good shape. We just have to stay healthy like everybody else."
DT Timmy Jernigan getting back on the field at practice today, how huge is that going into this game? (Ryan Mink) "It's big. We needed guys. That's why we drafted [Timmy Jernigan]. We need to get him back and want to get him back."
You mentioned a few weeks ago rookie DT Carl Davis needing to step up and be a part of what you do. How do you feel about him at this point? (Luke Jones) "I really feel good about [Carl Davis]. I think he's a good rookie. He's a big, strong guy. He has gotten better every week. [He] takes coaching from [defensive line coach] Clarence Brooks every day, and Clarence is not easy on him, let me tell you that. I love the kid. I think the kid is really going to … He's going to make some rookie mistakes – they all do – but I really feel like this guy has come a long way just in the short amount of time that we've had him."
You still have OLB Terrell Suggs and OLB Elvis Dumervil, obviously. I'm just curious about your pass rush, as far as how you feel about it going into the year, as far as being able to pressure the quarterback and not having to do exotic things. Do you feel good about that? (Cliff Brown) "I think, obviously, with Elvis [Dumervil] and 'Sizz' [Terrell Suggs] back, that's two big ingredients right there off the edge. Then what we have to do is make sure we solidify the inside, because last year we got a lot out of [Pernell] McPhee, and he set up a lot of things [well] for those two guys, plus himself. So, we're working on that. I think we have a good chance of getting that done. The biggest thing is having those two guys back, [which] is always a key."
For a pass rusher with as many different moves as OLB Elvis Dumervil has, is the first game of the season kind of an opportunity for him to break out new things? Have you seen him do anything different this year? (Jon Meoli) "That's all up [to Elvis Dumervil], and it's always based on the guy that he's playing over. That's nothing that I could ever answer. I don't think any coach could ever answer that with a good pass rusher. He's going to study the guy that he's against, and he may not be against the same guy all the time. So, what may be good against one guy may not be good against another guy. That's him individually, and hey, he's one of the best pass rushers there is, so I'm sure he has it figured out."
Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman
Opening statement:"Obviously, Game 1, it is a very exciting week for all of us to find out more about our football team – our offensive football team. We know we're headed into a group of guys [with] a very athletic defense, two premier outside linebackers, two premier corners and a bunch of guys who can run really well. [They have] a first-year player and second-year corner that are very good, as well. We know we've got our hands full, and we're excited about it."
You've been in the business a long time. You've got a lot of stickers on your suitcase, as they say. It is the first game with this new team – do you still get the same adrenaline, the same excitement? (Joe Platania)"I think I do every week. As a coach, I think we all do. We all get excited to play the games, and we want to see how all our players will do. And we're excited, mostly, for our players, because they're the ones playing the game, and it is our job to do everything we can to get them ready and do their job to go out and play. We're excited for our guys, and I know they're excited to play."
Going against Denver, it is kind of a unique situation because Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak ushered in a lot of the principles of offense last year. How much do you have to tweak things, because he knows the core principles, at least, of this system? (Ryan Mink)"I think you go in and just try to do the best you can running the plays that our guys can run the best. First games are always – there's a lot of unknown. What are they going to do? What are they thinking? What are we thinking? And that does … That can wear you out. I think the most important thing is that our guys know what to do in each and every play, and we can go out and execute it at a very high level."
Defensive coordinator Dean Pees was just saying that he felt like Week 1 of a season is a game that has a lot of in-game adjustments, because – like you said – you don't know what they're going to be doing, specifically. You don't have game tape. Do you feel that way, or do you feel like – kind of like you said – you just do what you know how, do what you do well? (Ryan Mink)"I think you do some assessments throughout the game, and in the first quarter, you – in each and every game – you say, 'Is this what we prepared for? Are they giving us something new?' If they're giving us something new, let's make sure we can handle it. It might be a protection issue, a new coverage we're seeing [or] somebody playing a different position, doing something else that we haven't anticipated, and we make changes at that time. But, I think you go in, No. 1, just trying to execute your plays and letting your rules take care of the adjustments that have to be made, and along the way, if there are things that have to be done, you correct them."
Every few years, we hear things like the run-and-shoot, the Wildcat, the read option. This game – this marquee game – we have guys like QBs Peyton Manning and Joe Flacco – big, strong, drop-back types. To me, that says, has quarterbacking really changed, or have offenses really changed despite all these occasional tweaks? (Joe Platania)"I'm not going to stand on the podium and start to assess where the game is going with quarterbacks. I know that we're facing one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game in Peyton Manning and one of the premier quarterbacks, elite quarterbacks, in the National Football League. And we're lucky to have Joe [Flacco] with us. So, I'm excited about that. I think we all are, and anytime you get a chance to play a team that has this type of talent, it is exciting, because it allows you to set the tone for your season and what kind of team you're going to be."
Now that you've had the chance to work with him for seven months, what have you learned about QB Joe Flacco that you didn't know going into this? (Luke Jones)"That's a loaded question. I didn't know anything [about Joe Flacco] going into it. I tried to judge it on a day-by-day basis, and I've said it, really, throughout, that Joe is a highly-intelligent guy on a football level, certainly, and otherwise. He asks good questions, he communicates very clearly and he works very hard at it. He's always prepared each and every day to go to work; it is important to him, and the team is important to him, the organization is important to him. You don't know that going in, but it is certainly clear to me that that's the way it is going into the season."
With RB Lorenzo Taliaferro out, you said there would be a good opportunity toward the end of the preseason to get a look at RBs Javorius "Buck" Allen and Terrence Magee. Did what they did in the last two preseason games advance their case of having a bigger role? (Jon Meoli)"I think that they're going to play. [Javorius] 'Buck' [Allen] is certainly going to play, and we'll see where we are with Terrence [Magee]. The more you play – the more you have a chance to get this kind of experience – the better it is for the individual player, the better it is going to be for us in the long haul. We feel real good about those two kids, and we're excited for Justin [Forsett], No. 1. But Justin is going to come out of the game at times, and Buck is going to go in there, and Terrence may get a few opportunities as well. It is important that they've gotten a … They spent the OTAs, they've got the minicamps under their belt, they have preseason under their belt. They've had success, and they've made some mistakes, which is only going to make them better. So, we're excited about where they're headed."
OLB Elvis Dumervil
On his thoughts of going back to play in Denver: "We're excited as a Ravens [team] – 2015. We worked hard all offseason – minicamps, training camp, preseason – so now it's kind of cool to see all our guys go live."
On whether he has talked to any of his former teammates in Denver: "No. Not at all."
On if he thinks about the Ravens' 2013 season opener against the Broncos: "It's an honest question. You watch film and you try to see what you can do and make sure you're not in that same situation again. Give them credit; they beat us that year nice and good. This year, [this is a] completely different team, coaching staff, so we're excited. We like our chances. We understand it's a hostile environment to go into. [Denver is] a very talented team – a well-coached team – but we've been working hard, and we have some things that we want to get done this year, and they're just the first team in the way. So, we're excited for that challenge."
On whether he gets to try new pass rush moves in the season opener: "Are you working for Ryan Harris or somebody? *(laughter) *Yes, always – you always want to work on your arsenal, add some things. I'm a student of the game. I like to study pass rushes. It's one of those deals where you can always get better. There's always room for improvement. I'm excited. I've been working on a few things, and I'm excited to see what happens."
On his approach to getting pressure on QB Peyton Manning: "It's always a challenge. [Peyton Manning is] probably one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. [He has a] quick release. He's smart. He knows what to do with the ball – has great talent around him. The offensive line is really good, too. It's going to be a tough challenge for us up front, so we have to make sure that we can do our job to help the secondary."
On how confident he is in the pass rush with new players and the departure of OLB Pernell McPhee:"Like I said, with a quarterback like Peyton [Manning], it makes things very difficult. [They have] big playmakers on the outside. The offensive line has some new guys, but they've got a lot of talent. We have a good coach; you can hide a few things, as well. So, you combine those things, and you create a nucleus. We've got to go in and really put our best foot forward."
On what is different about him as a player and a pass rusher since he was last in Denver:"I think my body. I think in Denver I wasn't as much [of] a pro as I am now. Give credit to the Ravens. The atmosphere [for me now as an older player] is taking care of my body differently. I think when you go through a couple injuries, you start to realize that you can't just get up and go play football like you used to. So, I think more of my choice … At the end of my career there, I was banged up quite a bit, and I really didn't know how to take care of my body. Now, things are a little different. I have a nice little routine, and I feel good about the strength program here. And I'm doing things necessary to be healthy. I think a healthy player makes a good player."
On being complimentary of rookie OLB Za'Darius Smith's performance, his development and the message to Smith as a veteran:"Just soak it in. I talk to him all the time. He's excited. He has a ton of potential. I just told him, 'Take one play at a time, and don't make the game more than what it is.' We practice hard here; we go against one of the top linemen you can face on our team. So, sometimes you can get caught with the fear of the unknown, and I just try to explain to him [that it is] just like we're in Owings Mills – just a little bit more noise. But, just try to take it a play at a time."
DT Timmy Jernigan
On how it felt to get back on the practice field today:"It felt great. Of course, it's kind of aggravating not being able to be out there [recently] and to miss game reps. But, it felt good to be back out there today and able to get around and move around a little bit."
On how he feels about playing Sunday:"I think it's going to be a real close call. I've got a good feeling about it. It feels pretty good – just the little bit of reps I did at practice. The biggest thing is just seeing how long I can go for and making sure that thing doesn't give out after a while."
On the overall depth of the defensive line:"We're good. I'm very excited, as far as where we're at. There's always area for improvement and everything, but I knew from way back in OTAs we were going to have a good group. Nothing surprises me about how anyone is playing right now."
On if it's difficult knowing how much responsibility the team has put on him and having stops and starts this preseason in terms of injuries:"That's part of the game, though. That's not saying I'm a horrible player because I got hurt or anything; that just means I got hurt. That's something I can't control. When I'm out there for the four quarters, if I don't do what I said I would do, then I could be able to answer that question for you a little bit better."