THURSDAY (8/23) TRAINING CAMP TRANSCRIPTS
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement:"Obviously, it's a beautiful day, cool. The humidity broke, and we had a very energetic practice. We felt like we had a two-day mini-week here between the [Colts and Dolphins games]. It's a short week, but we had two practice days to get out here and really get better, work on playing faster, thinking faster, putting our guys in as many pressure situations as we could, and they did a good job with it. And now, our focus will be, the next few days, will be preparing for Miami, and then playing Miami on Saturday night in the preseason."
Do the injuries to the offensive line, would that affect, in any way, how much QB Joe Flacco might be playing on Saturday? _(Jamison Hensley) _"We'll see. It's just going to really depend on how much Joe needs. I'm confident in the guys we'll put out there that they can protect Joe, and I'm confident that we can run schemes that will protect him. They have two really good pass-rushing ends, obviously, and we have to make sure that we keep those guys under control, no matter who's the quarterback. We'll do what we need to do to do that, and then we'll just play Joe as much as we think he needs to get ready for the regular season."
Do you have a sense yet of how long-term of a thing you're looking at with T Ronnie Stanley? _(Childs Walker) _"It's very short-term. Very, very short-term. Like I said, it's no different than what we said after the game. It's just minor."
Plus, there's G/T James Hurst. _(Luke Jones) _"Minor, yes, another minor deal. Just a little tweak. Nothing to be concerned about past this week."
What can you add on CB Jimmy Smith's situation? The punishment came down. It's now eight-straight games, technically, that he's been suspended. Your reaction to it all, and how he's handled it? _(Jerry Coleman) _"Really no reaction, other than Jimmy put out a statement. The team put out a statement. Everything was said that really can be said. I don't have anything to add to that, and we'll move forward and try to win football games. That's our task, and that's what we'll be focusing on doing with the guys that we have. That's what you do in football. You play with the guys you have for that week, and we won't have Jimmy Smith for the first four weeks. And, the other guys will step up and get the job done. That's our plan."
Is it something, not in a negative way, you're used to, because he did miss some time last year, so you had to adjust, and now you have a set of characters in that you have more depth. Is that more of an advantage? (Jerry Coleman)"I think it's true. I think that's true and accurate. I'm very confident about the guys that we're going to put out there and play, and I'm looking forward to it. It can't get here soon enough, as far as I'm concerned. So, we'll take care of [our business and] get as much done as we can between now and then, be as good as we can be. As far as Jimmy goes, he has two more weeks to get out here and practice and play and be the best football player he can be for when he does come back."
Do you play him in both preseason games? (Jerry Coleman)"Yes."
The team's statement about CB Jimmy Smith referenced a decision-making process to allow him back on the team. What was your role in that? _(Aaron Kasinitz) _"Not really a major role. I support it and am just moving forward and trying to get ready to play the first game, really."
Some people, obviously, when you're dealing with anything with domestic abuse or anything, and this franchise, what it went through with Ray Rice, did that factor into anything with going through with CB Jimmy Smith and any of the extra steps taken? _(Jamison Hensley) _"Like I said, I appreciate the questions, and I guess I'm the one standing up here answering them, obviously, but really, I don't have anything further to add to all that. My focus is going to be on getting our team ready to play in football practice and football games, and that's what I'm spending my time thinking about."
Did the helmet stuff yesterday, did that change anything for you guys? I know you guys had a couple penalties early. (Jeff Zrebiec) _"Helmet stuff? What happened yesterday?" _(Reporter: "The new rule saying that…")"There's a new rule? I'm not familiar with that. This is news to me!" (laughter) (Reporter: "Not a completely new rule, they're just saying if it's not intentional, if it's ruled accidental, with the helmet, that they're not going to call it.")"I had not seen that yet, so I really probably can't comment on it at this point."
You guys got a couple of those penalties early. To my knowledge, you haven't gotten one since. Is it something you've worked on, or no? (Jeff Zrebiec)"It's not. I'll kind of stand by what I said in the beginning, and this is … I think all our players feel this way. All our coaches feel this way. It doesn't affect us. It's not a change for us. We've never coached, and our players have never tried, to drop the head and lead with the helmet, especially with the helmet in a way that uses it as a weapon. We've just never done that. You'd have to go back. I don't think you could find … It'd be very rare. I challenge somebody to go back and find very many of those over the last 10 years here. It's just not the way we coach tackling. We've coached: 'Eyes up, see what you hit.' We have our helmet across the bow. Yes, accidentally, sometimes you try to get your head across the bow, and sometimes things shift on you in real time, and that's probably what they're trying to address. It hasn't changed one thing about the way we've coached our guys, because we've always coached tackling that way, and I do believe that's been reflected in way we've played the last two games. We're just kind of business as usual on that, and we try to play the right way."
A lot of cornerbacks kind of decline when they hit their 30s. What's the difference with CB Brandon Carr? Why is he still [at this level]? _(Aaron Kasinitz) _"That's a great question. He could probably answer that better than anybody, but what I see is a guy that works at his craft every single day. When he's not out there – you guys watch practice, right? When he's not out there taking reps, what's he doing? He's in behind working on his footwork. If he's not working on his footwork, he's talking to one of the younger guys or one of the coaches about football. Every second, he's locked in to what he does, and to me, that's a good lesson for all of us."
As far as the situation you're in where you have, what, two games in five days, how do you address that in terms of planning for this? You've known it all along, and now it's here. _(Jerry Coleman) _"That's a good point. I told the guys, this is great preparation for the season, because we're going to have an oddball start to the season. We're going to play Sunday-Thursday right out of the gate. Wow, what a great opportunity to prepare for that. We got just what we needed, is the way we're looking at it."
Is the "keep two quarterbacks, keep three quarterbacks," is that something you expect to go down to the very end before [roster cuts]? I know you have a while to make these decisions, but is that one of the ones that's probably going to loom right there until the very end? _(Jeff Zrebiec) _"I think so. I think that's one that's going to go right to the wire, and it'll be dependent on a lot of factors. I'll say this: There's no question that the best quarterback thing to do would be to keep Robert Griffin. He's proven it. He's played exceptionally well, and it makes our team better. No matter who the 'two' is, who the 'three' is, who's active, who's not active in a game, you want to keep your good players, and he is a very good player. He has played at a starting-caliber level in the games that he's played, and he's an experienced guy. I'd rather have him than not have him, for sure, but there are other factors that go into that, and we'll have to figure all that out. Ozzie [Newsome] ultimately will have to make that decision."
CB Brandon Carr
On his reaction to CB Jimmy Smith's suspension:"I was prepared for it. Definitely devastating news, heartbreaking, but we understand. I understand that the situation, the matter, is serious with the climate in the world today and what's going on. But at the same time, you don't anticipate those types of things happening. Very unfortunate for Jimmy, his family, the organization, of course, but hopefully we all can learn from this and become stronger."
On if the situation has been weighing on CB Jimmy Smith and if it's a "relief" that it is resolved: "I wouldn't use the word 'relief,' but the judgment has been made. A decision has been made. You have to deal with the consequences. We as individuals, we as human beings, we're not perfect. Things happen throughout our lives, and you have to deal with the consequences. Jimmy is a professional. He is an adult, a grown man, and he understands ramifications. He understands the seriousness of this matter, but all we can do now is just move forward and become better from the situation."
On if not having CB Jimmy Smith for the last four games of 2017 helps with preparing for the 2018 suspension: "We always miss Jimmy when he's not there on the field. His presence is always felt. But at the same time, the name of the game anywhere, any locker room I go into, is the 'next man up.' The coaching staff, veteran players and organization does a great job of getting the right guys in, first and foremost, and it's up to us inside these walls to get everybody ready to play. You never know when your name can be called. [You have] situations like this that you can't see it coming, but make sure the next guy is ready. And, I feel like we have the guys in the locker room, have the guys on the sidelines, to come out here and step up and make the plays. We feel confident in who we have in the personnel. We're just looking forward to getting guys on the field to see how they perform out there."
On if the team is better equipped to deal with the absence of CB Jimmy Smith, compared to last season with the injuries to the secondary:"Yes, we're deeper for sure. Like I said, we have a lot of talented guys who are finally back able to produce for us this year. We have a lot of guys in general that are hungry, just hungry for the opportunity to get their name called to get on the field. [In a] 16, 17-week season, a lot of things can happen. This is the first of many. Hopefully we can kind of minimize it this year and keep everybody on their feet and keep everybody healthy. But I think we have a firepower in our back end that can step in and fill those holes."
On growth he's seen in CB Marlon Humphrey:"I can tell he's more comfortable on the field. He's confident. He's come into his own – his personality, both on and off the field. He's a special guy. I'm looking forward to seeing him making plays. He has a ton of confidence in his ability and what he can do out there on the field. I see a big attitude change for him this year, because he knows that a he can go out there and play with the best of them. We already knew that, but now he can [show everyone]. He had some success last year. We look for him to build on it this year."
On the secret to his longevity in the NFL: "I'm just blessed, man. (laughter) I don't know. I've been asking that question for 11 years now. I don't have an answer. Some of it is luck. The man above takes care of me. I try to take care of my body as much as I can, but I try to dedicate my offseason for this grueling season – 20 weeks. We've been here for what, four or five, and we have two more games of preseason left, so it's a long season."
P Sam Koch
On how he looks to grow and maintain his success each season:"Kind of like what me and Patrick [Gleason, director of public relations] were talking about – we were talking about this earlier. Me and [Justin] Tucker, each year we come out here and it's like starting over. We go out there and we try to focus on the fundamentals that we had from last year and build upon those – from punting, to the timing of the snap, to the timing of just the whole operation with the punt team and the rest of the guys. It takes a lot of time to build that up, and with these preseason games it's been very helpful. So it's one of those things … And with Tucker and Morgan [Cox] on field goal snaps, it's all that timing and building up from the foundation."
On what he has seen from the punt returner competition:"We have a lot of athletes out there, and a lot of guys that have a lot of potential to be a great punt returner or kick returner for us. I assume that's what you're talking about, correct? We have a lot of guys with a lot of skill, and it's just one of those things that we keep on practicing. I show them various balls so that when they go out there on gameday, they're not surprised by certain ones and [can] keep focusing on the fundamentals aspects of that."
On if he added any new kicks to his bag of tricks:"Any more kicks? I think it's more so just refining what I have and making little tweaks from there and stuff that we can get better at in certain situations – whether it be with the wind variables or grass versus sod versus turf-type stuff. One of those things kind of … With the new grass out here, things are playing a little different with it being so new. So it's one of those things that we're adjusting to and kind of make it somewhat like a game. Miami has new turf this week that they just put down; it'll be very similar to this. It's nice to be able to practice on something like that and learn that before we go down [to Miami]."
On how much pride the specialists take in seeing great kickers and punters come through Baltimore and find success in the league, like rookie P/K Kaare Vedvik: "Kaare Vedvik is probably, by far, one of the most impressive guys that I have seen come through here. Whether it be in his punting or kicking, he has done a great job. His ability to go out there and perform the way he has, has been truly phenomenal. He's got a great leg – which you have to have a great leg in order to get into this league to begin with. But his ability to pay attention to the details as a rookie has been one of those things that you don't see from a lot of people. He truly wants to get better. He's taking all the information that me or Jerry [Rosburg, special teams coordinator/associate head coach] or Randy [Brown, specialists coach] or [Justin] Tucker has given, him and he's taking it and is using it. It's been a delight to see him grow just in these very few weeks that we've had him and the way he continues to grow each day."
K Justin Tucker
On being sent out for a 59-yard attempt during the Colts game: "I think the idea is [that] we make kicks out here in practice, and we want to just bring it into the game. I'd like to see that kick go through probably more than anybody. But at the end of the day, the most important thing is just hitting a good ball. More often than not, we believe that we'd come back with three points. I'm hopeful that we'll continue doing that. I think that's a way we can help our team win games – just by putting points on the board from all over the field."
On if he sets goals heading into each season:"Sure. I think generally, I just want to do well. I want to help my team win. More than anything, I try to take – at this point – I try to take it one kick at a time. That's advice I got from my agent coming in here my rookie year. It's kind of rang true ever since I've been here. Just taking it one kick at a time has led to us making a lot of kicks. But more generally, more broadly speaking, it's about putting points on the board and putting our team in a position to win games. That gets me more fired up than anything, than any individual accolade, because I've been fortunate enough to experience what a postseason run, what a Super Bowl win feels like. That's always a goal. We're chasing that – anything less than that is subpar."
On if playing indoors or outdoors is a factor when considering a kick:"I don't know. If you just look at the last two games, we were outside at M&T Bank Stadium and attempted one from 60 [yards]. Then next week we're inside at Indianapolis, and we attempted one from 59 [yards]. I would say it like this: Each game, each set of conditions – talking weather, field conditions, etc. – each day in the stadium is unique. It's about compartmentalizing what you find out in pregame and trying to bring that into your attempts during the game. We've done a really good job of that in the past. We're looking to continue to do just that and taking our pregame assessment of the conditions that day, that moment in time, and making the most of them when the kicks matter the most."
On catching up with NFL great and Colts K Adam Vinatieri:"I think you hit the nail right on the head. Adam Vinatieri is the greatest kicker of all time. Getting a chance to just be around him … I didn't 'kick it,' so to speak, so much with him during practice, but in pregame I got an opportunity to talk to him a little bit. I talked to him two years ago in pregame when we were down there. He is absolutely my inspiration as a kicker. He was the reason I took it upon myself to become a better kicker in ninth and 10th grade. I saw this article in 'Sports Illustrated' about him going to Abingdon, Virginia, to work with Doug Blevins. I saw this article, and my dad and I reached out to coach Blevins. He made a trip down to Austin in Texas when I was 15 years old, worked with me for about a week – and this is a guy who has been around some really good kickers – and he told me, 'You have the opportunity to follow in Adam's footsteps.' I took that to heart, and I haven't looked back since. It was definitely great to get an opportunity to meet a guy that I really look up to and a guy who has done so well for so long."
On his alma mater Texas playing at Maryland this upcoming season and if he will be attending: "I think we'll probably be pretty busy. It is cool to be living out here in Maryland and to see my alma mater, Texas, getting a chance to play the Terps. That'll be an exciting one to watch."