Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "OK, good to see everybody – beautiful day out here in Owings Mills. You feel so blessed to be out here and be a part of this, just to get a chance to coach football and report on football – something you've dreamed about doing your whole life. [It is] just amazing, especially on this day, 9/11, a day that lives in infamy in a lot of ways, but also a day that meant so much to our country for the sacrifices that were made by the families who were involved in the air, in the Pentagon and in New York. We can all remember right where we were and the sacrifices that were made since – the great victories that were won by our military, the amazing heroic things that were accomplished by Americans – of all races, all colors, all creeds – defending what America is all about and what makes us different than every other country, because we believe in liberty. We oppose tyranny. That's what makes us different, and we should never forget that. So, 9/11 – for our military families and everybody that sacrificed so much.
"OK, on to football. What do you have? Injury report is the injury report. I don't think we know much more than what you'll see. There will be percentages out, and those percentages, I think, will be very accurate in terms of what the chances are of guys to play, and you know who the two or three guys maybe are."
John, some teams – for Denver – they'll go out Friday. You're going out Saturday. Is there any reasoning behind why you chose to go out on Saturday? (Jamison Hensley)"There is. We've done a lot of research on that – because we've been out there a few times and [because of] the altitude – and we have learned that the worst thing that you can do is go out two days before. That's what the science tells us. You want to play, ideally, within 24 hours of your arrival in the altitude, and that's what we'll be doing with this trip. Then, it doesn't affect you. That's what we're trying to do."
**When you make up that inactive list on Sunday, it's kind of a paradox. You don't have very many injuries. Is it tough to make out the list, but it's pleasant because you're mostly healthy. That seems to be what you're facing this week. *(Joe Platania) *"That's a good point. The more healthy you are with the 46 [active players], the more options you have [and] the more challenging it is, especially when you have to sit guys down that have been working really hard that really want to play. In some ways, it's a rude awakening – especially for the younger guys – when they don't get the uniform; they get the sweat suit. But, they're as much a part of it, and that's part of the league, and that's how it works. It's a good problem to have, you're right."
John, could there still be some shuffling, maybe tomorrow? Are you pretty content with the roster you have? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I would say both. We're content with the roster, but there could be some shuffling always. That's part of how it works, and we have guys on the practice squad who are ready to play."
For the younger guys, is the speed of the game now the biggest challenge for them and how it picks up? (Todd Karpovich) "Probably the speed of the game, the atmosphere – as you say – are probably the biggest challenges, and taking what you've done on the practice field or in the preseason and transferring that to the regular season environment. There will be some guys who'll handle it great, and there will be other guys that will be wide-eyed by it. We just try to tell our guys to understand that it's between the lines, between the whistles, between the ears. Just play the game, transfer what you do in practice to the game. Play like you practice; practice like you play, and you'll be OK. I think once they get the first hit out of the way – the first catch, the first tackle – they should be OK."
John, OLB Elvis Dumervil said yesterday that he's going back to Denver a completely different player than the one that left there a couple years ago even when he went back in Week 1 in 2013. What does that say about a guy at his stage in his career to be reinventing himself the way that he has? (Jon Meoli) "You're right. It says so much about him and the kind of person he is. I'll tell you, he works really hard at it. He works individually when he goes home. I've never seen a guy take care of himself any better than he does. He's always studying pass rush. He's studying the defense. He wants to be a good dropper. He wants to cover as well, even though that's not what he's known for. He wants to be good at every aspect of football. It says a lot about the program. He complimented our weight program and what [strength and conditioning coach] Bob Rogucki and his crew do in there. Having so much respect for that – [and linebackers coach] Ted Monachino and what he does – that says a lot for everybody."
John, I know he's not on the injury report, but are you pleased with what you've seen from CB/RS Lardarius Webb the last couple weeks in practice, even though he didn't play in the preseason? (Luke Jones) "I have been. [Lardarius Webb has] really worked hard. He has made a lot of progress, and he looks like Webb. He looks really good, and he's practicing like we've come to expect to see him play. I'm excited about where he's at."
Coach, with the rest of the coaches, the locker room, it's finally here – the season is getting ready to start. Is there the feeling that training camp, everything is over, it's ready to go? (Bill West) "I think so. They feel like it's time to start this part of it. We call it 'Phase 3' of the season. It's the part where we start playing the games. It's the part where you establish whether you're going to be relevant in December and January, and we have to be good right out of the gates. We're playing the best in their place, and we have to be up to the challenge."
Did you get a chance to watch the game last night? (Jerry Coleman) "A little bit. I heard a little bit about it. I watched a little bit of it while I was working." (Reporter: "There was a problem with the headphones in New England. Have you ever experienced anything like that?") "We had a problem with headphones a couple weeks ago in Philly, as you probably recall." (Reporter: "With the Patriots, though, at Foxborough in all the games you've coached there?") "I'm probably not going to get into that – the issues that we've had in different places. I appreciate the question, though. Hey, we're moving on to Denver. That's what we're doing." (laughter)
Coach, off-the-cuff question: I know three, four weeks ago you were talking about Donald Trump and the government getting together. Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said she's not running for re-election this morning. Is there any thought going into April, maybe the Harbaugh-Harbaugh ticket? (Bill West) "You know what? I've had a chance to meet Stephanie [Rawlings-Blake] and get to know her and her family. She's a wonderful person. She loves the Ravens, and she has been in a number of charity things that the guys are at, so I wish her all the best, certainly. That's a pretty tough job. That's a little tougher job than coaching the Ravens, I think. So, we'll stick with this one for as long as they'll have me."
CB/RS Lardarius Webb
On CB Jimmy Smith and him being healthy, and what it means to return to practice:"I'm happy to be back on the field, be back a part of the defense. We should be a big part of the defense. I'm back healthy, Jimmy [Smith is] back healthy – it'll be a good thing."
On if the secondary's performance last year is used as motivation, or if it is left in the past:"You could say 'struggles,' but a lot of guys got hurt and a lot of men stepped up in their places. So, I looked at [it this way]: We faced adversity really well last year. We still made it to the playoffs, we won a playoff game with the secondary that we had. Not [that] they [weren't] good, it is just that all our 'ones' [were] hurt. So for us to have all our replacements in and still do the things we did, I look at it as a win. We found Rashaan Melvin out of that – going through [those] things – and that's a great corner. Now we can use him – now – this year. But, you go through those things so you can learn."
On what kind of secondary the Ravens can have without adversity:* *"This year is big, with bringing in Kendrick [Lewis] and still having Will Hill back there at the safeties; we've got our safeties. And like I said, with me and Jimmy [Smith] healthy, it should be a big year, but [we] still have to put our work in throughout the week and study. We have to be prepared each week, and the sky is the limit for us."
On how important a full year of S Will Hill III is to the Ravens' secondary, and how Hill III has emerged as a leader:"Yes, he's the enforcer back there. He controls the defense, he's making the calls, and he's taking control on the back end. That's what we needed with playing with the young safeties last year. With him coming in, stepping in like that and demanding that leadership – demanding that control – it is awesome, and you can just tell how we've been practicing – how we've been connecting. We're just tighter back there in the back group. So, it should be a big year for us."
On how "fresh" be feels entering the season opener having missed the preseason:"I feel good – better than I've felt in some years. But, I've been to the point where I haven't played a preseason game and had to go in and start the first game. So, I've been in this predicament before. John [Harbaugh] and 'Smitty' [head certified athletic trainer Mark Smith], they know exactly what they're doing to try to get me in shape, making sure I've practiced enough, and I think it will all pay off in the end."
On facing QB Peyton Manning to open the season:"It is awesome, a great challenge. [He's] one of the best in the first game to test our secondary. What'd you say, we 'struggled' last year? So, give us our test at the first game. If we can see where we're at, that'll be nice."
On having CB/RS Asa Jackson back:"Asa [Jackson] is great. It was sad to see him leave knowing that he was the dominant player that he was at kick return, punt return. We're just glad to have him back, glad [general manager and executive vice president] Ozzie [Newsome] did find a place for him, and we're going to use him."
On when the altitude in Denver starts to affect performance:"I don't know. We're just going to play some football. You hear about it, but what else can you do? What can you do? Can you train? Are we supposed to train up there or something? There's nothing we can do. We just have to go do our job, play football and fight through it."
G Marshal Yanda
On his concerns of playing in Denver:"Just communication in a loud environment. Obviously, it is the first game of the year in Denver; we've played there before. So, in a loud atmosphere, communication is going to be huge for us – to be on the page [with] blitz pick-up and just communication in a loud environment."
On Baltimore returning its entire starting offensive line from last season:"It is nice. It just forms that continuity that we've all been there together, and we all play the same positions. Everybody should have a comfort factor right from the start, but we've got to go out there and prove it again. [I'm] excited for all five of us to be back, and we're just excited to get started."
On how strange it will be to stay on the West Coast between the first two games of the year:"That's just part of life in the NFL. You understand that in this business, you're on the go; you're doing this, doing that. You just pick up and roll and just take it one day at a time."
On how the offensive line is gelling throughout practice and training camp in preparation for Week 1:"It seems like everything is going good. Everybody is back healthy now, and everybody is working hard. We're all excited to get rolling. It has been a long camp, and we're all excited to put our best foot forward on Sunday."
On learning the playbook under new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman:"It has been good. Getting the plays down – that's what camp is for, and we got a lot of reps running the plays. It felt like we're prepared and ready to roll." On the road trip, the altitude in Denver and leaving two days or one day before a game, and his thoughts on traveling:"They said playing the first game, you try to get out there before your body gets acclimated to it; you're kind of in that shock mode. Coach [John] Harbaugh does a good job of thinking about that and researching stuff like that. We're doing what he feels is best for us, and I'll be ready to roll either way."