head coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "Good seeing everybody – appreciate you all being here. Obviously, we've set the roster as much as it can be set in the National Football League, and we're happy with it and excited for the players we have. The guys that made the team, obviously, it's a great accomplishment for them. Congratulations to each one of them – both on the regular 53-man roster and on the practice squad. We're ready to move forward at practice and get ready to go play Denver."
With 10 practice squad spots to fill, was there any special emphasis made to getting another return candidate or two on there? (Joe Platania) "I don't know if it was an emphasis. You always try to look to get the best players you can, and returner, obviously, is a thin position for us. So, we brought in Jeremy [Ross]. You saw that. He's a guy with a lot of history in Detroit. It was kind of amazing that he had practice squad eligibility at this point, with some of the new rules. So, he's able to go on one of those two spots that are special spots for veteran players, and that's a big plus for us. We're really looking forward to getting a look at him and trying to incorporate him into our system."
*Coach, I know in the past you've talked about some of the potential candidates [for returner]. You mentioned WR/RS Michael Campanaro and CB/RS Lardarius Webb and WR Steve Smith Sr. – a couple of those guys. And you've said you don't think that injury is as much of an impact with returns as it is, maybe, on other plays on the football field. A couple of those guys – Campanaro and Webb – have had injury in the past. The other, Steve, is getting up there in age. So, that's not a factor at all in your mind for the return guys? *(Jerry Coleman) *"I guess I'm not following the question. It's always a factor, but what are you asking me?" *(Reporter: "The risk for reward in terms of injury against what you can accomplish with these guys being back there?") "There's always a risk for injury at every position. I don't know the exact numbers of being a defensive back versus a punt returner, as far as the injury percentages and those kinds of things. But, you have to put your best players in position to play. You have to be strong at every position, and you have to do the best you can with the roster that you have. We're not going to shy away from putting whoever back there that gives us the best chance to win. That's the most important thing, all things considered. Obviously, considering what you're talking about as well is part of it, sure."
John, in your mind, do you know who at this point will be fielding those punts, and – part two of the question – would you be willing to tell us? (Jamison Hensley)"Yes and no, basically. *(laughter) *I guess that answers it."
Same thing with kicks? (Jerry Coleman)"Yes, we have a pretty good idea of what we're going to do. We have options. Certainly, all options are on the table, and we'll see going forward. I don't think we're in a position to make any announcements exactly, yet. Like I said, we have more than one guy capable of going back there and doing it, and some of them might be situationally as well. We'll have a plan come Sunday."
Can you talk about the decision of putting RB Terrence Magee back on the active roster and what he showed up until this point? (Cliff Brown) "[Terrence Magee] did a good job. Obviously, it's a great accomplishment for a guy to come in as an undrafted rookie free agent and make the team, and he earned it. He wasn't the only one. I thought Fitzgerald Toussaint also had a very good camp. Obviously, with the injury [to Lorenzo Taliaferro, and] with our running back situation being a little bit thin, it gave us a need there as well. All those merged to give him a shot to make the team. He would've been with us either on the practice squad or the 53-man [roster] one way or the other. He played really well. He's a north/south guy. He's physical. He runs hard. He has been good in pass protection. He has been good on special teams. He's a good football player."
John, you were really excited about your depth going into training camp. Is that excitement still there despite some of the injuries you've had to deal with and maybe some of the struggles of the reserve defense in the preseason? (Childs Walker) "We have a lot of confidence in our depth. I wasn't really pleased with the way we played as a unit out there a lot of times. Maybe the injuries are part of that. Maybe guys just weren't playing as well as they need to. All of those things factored in, but you move forward from here. I like our young guys. We're a very … Comparatively speaking, we're a pretty young team. I really do, I love our guys. I love the way they work. I love the way they compete, and I can't wait to see them in live action. That goes for the starters right on through the special teams guys, really, backups – whatever you call them – in this league. This is not college football. This is pro football. They all play, and they all have to play to win in whatever role they're in when they take the field. We have to count on every one of those guys."
John, ever since the schedule came out, people have been talking about specifically your team having five of seven [games on the road] to start. Now that you're in the process of beginning that kind of journey, how challenging is it to know you're going to be playing only a couple times at home for the first couple months? (Jamison Hensley) "I've never been able to answer those questions very well, [about] how challenging it is. It's challenging, certainly, but the whole league is challenging. I don't care where you go when you play. It seems like some teams do … They don't have to play on the road on Monday night, or they don't have to play … They don't have to travel after a Monday night home game. I don't know how many teams are faced with those challenges, but I'm sure other teams have their complaints as well. And who cares? Nobody cares. Nobody cares what our issues are. As a matter of fact, people are looking … Our opponents are looking and our enemies are looking very favorably upon our challenges, and they're hoping that our challenges will bring us down. We have to make sure that doesn't happen."
John, was there a specific position that you and the coaching staff and the front office people were identifying [when deciding] who makes the 53-man roster that was more difficult in terms of the decision at that position about who makes the team? Was there a specific position that was harder to evaluate? (Chris Miller) "None of them were harder to evaluate. I don't think a specific position … Really, I didn't rank them, in terms of difficulty level, to be honest with you. We had some issues. We had to think about the offensive line, obviously. We had to think about the corner position. We had to think about the wide receiver position. The running back position came into play with Lorenzo [Taliaferro's] injury. The tight end position was fairly well set. The safety position there was a choice or two to make there. The inside linebacker [position] was pretty well laid out. Outside linebacker was pretty much laid out. D-line, we had some decisions to make, in terms of whether we end up keeping an extra player. I guess that's my ranking."
Special teams, too? (Ted Patterson) "Special teams plays a huge part of it. I think we took that into consideration, big time, especially with the safeties. That was a big part of it. Also, wide receivers played really well on special teams, so we were able to keep some guys at wide receiver that contribute on special teams, so that helped us."
CB Charles James, the Ravens added him to the practice squad from the Texans. What have you seen from him that you thought you wanted to bring him in here from Houston? (Garrett Downing) "I think our scouts saw the most. I went back and watched the tape. I liked what I saw after the fact. [Charles James is] a feisty guy. He covers tight. He's also a return guy. He played really well on special teams for the Giants and for the Texans, and we'll see how he does. He's going to come out here, and he's going to get on the practice squad and compete, and [we will] see what kind of player we have. But, I love his personality. He told me he left his socks at home, but then I saw some socks in the locker room I didn't recognize, so we'll see." (laughter) (Reporter: "Is he going to wear socks on the practice field?") "We don't have a sock rule at practice, so we'll see. It could get interesting out here."
According to the 53-man roster, there are only 12 guys that I counted that are new to the team this year. That's relatively low turnover. Could that help you going forward with that kind of continuity? (Joe Platania)"It could. We do have carryover. You mentioned special teams, I think?" *(Reporter: "Just as far as the 53- [man roster]. Just 12 new guys.") *"I don't know how that compares to other years. I guess – because you asked – it must be low. I do feel like we have continuity, though. I feel like we have a lot of young players that have … They're younger guys, but they've been with us. They've been with us from the beginning, to your point. Guys like [Anthony] Levine [Sr.] – he has been here a while – and those kind of guys that we have a lot of confidence in playing their roles and understanding their roles. That goes with the question about the backups. There still is a lot of enthusiasm for those guys."
John, I know when you started out in Denver in 2013 [it was a] totally different team, a lot of different players. Do you go back and … Does anybody go back and watch film of that just because of … Maybe not to not analyze what your players did, but maybe what you did and how they reacted to it? (Jamison Hensley) "We watch it from a schematic standpoint – and I guess you put your plays in a scenario – but it is not so much like going to Denver. We don't really look at that. We've been to Denver. We've been everywhere. Guys are going to respond the way they respond. Our young guys need to follow the lead of the veteran players in those kinds of environments. Denver is a very difficult place to play. It's a huge stadium, it's right on top of you, and it's very loud. Obviously, they have a really good football team, which is the most important part of their homefield advantage. They were 8-0 last year during the regular season. I don't think they've lost too many games there in the past few years. But, we've beaten them, and we're very confident, and we believe we can go win anywhere, so that will be our mindset."
Now that you are able to tuck the preseason away, the topic often times has been OLB Za'Darius Smith, DT Carl Davis. You have been able to reflect on the preseason. How do you feel going into the season knowing that two rookies are going to have a key role on the defensive side of the ball? (Turron Davenport)"We feel good about it in the sense that those guys have earned the right to do that. You say, 'How do we feel about two rookies having a key role on defense?' It depends on the two rookies. Carl [Davis] has played extremely well. [He] fits into our scheme, our package really well. We saw that. We were happy to get him, and he has done nothing to disappoint us. Za'Darius Smith, he's learning from three of the best. You have two veteran guys and one up-and-coming guy in Courtney [Upshaw] that he gets to learn from. He's learning how to play the game the right way at that position, and he's built for the position, and he really wants to be good. We're happy with both those guys."
John, I can't imagine any team has a younger tight end group than you guys have. How pleased have you been with their development heading into the regular season? (Jeff Zrebiec)"I really have been pleased with the tight ends. It's a great question, because you're right – could there be a younger group of tight ends? How far back would you have to go to find a younger group of three tight ends in this league? I'm really excited about them. I can't wait to see them play. I feel like they're … I feel like they have what it takes. I feel like they're going to acquit themselves very well."
John, how much have you seen of QB Peyton Manning in the preseason? And if you have, does he kind of look … People always talk about Peyton and the aging process. Does Peyton still look like Peyton to you? (Jamison Hensley)"Yes, he still does look like Peyton [Manning]. He's back there. He's wearing No. 18. He's patting the ball. He's making checks. He's under center a little more than he has been in the past, but we don't know what we're going to get, in terms of scheme. We've just have to anticipate and play our game and play the way we want to play. He looks as good as ever from the reps that I've seen."
Have you seen any Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak [effect]? You know what Gary likes to do. Have you seen any influences on that offense yet? (Jamison Hensley)"Yes, it's definitely Gary's [Kubiak] offense. You can tell Gary and [offensive coordinator] Rick [Dennison] are installing their offense, and Peyton [Manning] has done a great job. It's not so different. It is not so different than what Peyton has done in the past. It might not be in the shotgun quite as much, but he's still changing some plays at the line – maybe not quite as many, but certainly changing some. It's very similar to what he ran in Indianapolis, really. It bears a lot of resemblance to what he did in his younger years back in those days. It's all stuff he's very familiar with and obviously capable of running."
Did you get a good chance to pick Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak's brain last year for maybe any carryover into this year? (Jerry Coleman)"I'm trying to check and see if [Gary Kubiak] picked my brain too much. *(laughter) *Let's see if everything is intact here. You never know. *(laughter) * But, that stuff is probably overrated. It was a good question. I think it's overrated. We have tremendous respect for Gary, for [offensive coordinator] Rick [Dennison], for [tight ends coach] Brian [Pariani], for the Broncos. It's a great organization. Those guys are great coaches, but more than that, [we have respect] really for their players. They have very good players. That's why they're such a good team."
WR Steve Smith Sr. and CB Aqib Talib, they have a bit of a history. This is obviously Steve's last season opener, so you know emotions are going to be high. Is this a week where you kind of pull him aside and tell him to stay dialed in and keep the emotions in check? (Turron Davenport)"I haven't really thought about that. I guess I'm not too aware of the history. What's the history?" *(Reporter: "Steve saying, 'Ice up, son.' He and Talib, when Talib played for the Patriots …") *"Was that that one?" *(Reporter: "They got into an altercation. Talib got ejected. That's pretty much it.") *"That's it? We'll let bygones be bygones, I think. *(laughter) *Let's go play football."
DE Brent Urban seemed excited for you guys keeping the door open for his return. Can you talk about the decision for that? (Jerry Coleman)"Obviously, we think he's a good football player. We have high hopes for him. [We are] very disappointed. He has had two years now where he has had long-term injuries in training camp, and it really goes back to college. That's probably why he slid in the draft. We all understand that, but this is an injury he can come back from. This is a league where big guys are very valuable, especially at the end of the year, and we think – just from a football business perspective – putting him in that slot is good for us. It's going to be up to him to work like crazy and get back and get ready to play."
You mentioned keeping extra defensive linemen, but I'm not sure if that came at the expense of the offensive line. How important was it that G/C John Urschel and C Ryan Jensen can play multiple positions to building that roster on Saturday? (Jon Meoli)"That's exactly right. I think that really played into it. Jah Reid … I know Jah has his detractors in town, but Jah was playing the best football of his career. That's why so many teams pounced on him. He had his pick. He made a little money by going somewhere else, so good for him. He was practicing very well. I'm a guy that has always been in his corner. I like him a lot, personally, and he was playing well. [Offensive line coach] Juan [Castillo] had done a great job with him, but it just looked like we had enough depth because of the versatility to go a little lighter – for the time being – on the offensive line and go a little heavier on the D-line."
John, are there guys at this point that are definitely not playing or that you know will not be ready? There is nobody you would rule out at this point? (Jeff Zrebiec)"Like I said before, I'm probably just going to go with the injury report on that stuff, and I think you'll know by who practices who is going to play, to an extent. [Breshad] Perriman comes to mind. I saw the reports [that said]: 'He has a chance,' and I was like, 'Yes, he has a chance.' I think I was pretty clear. It's probably not a real big chance, because he hasn't practiced. When he comes [back] … I don't have a timeframe from the doctors. I don't think it's tremendously far down the road, or we would have done something else with him, as far as his status. When he comes back to practice, that'll probably be a pretty good indicator that he's going to be in the lineup pretty soon. That goes, really, for all of our guys right now."