THURSDAY MEDIA AVAILABILITY: WEEK 6 at Titans
Special Teams Coordinator/Associate Head Coach Jerry Rosburg
What happened during the field goal block in the Cleveland game? Is it a concern to have two field goals blocked so far this season?_ (Cliff Brown) _"Yes, any kicks that are blocked are always a concern. That's our primary focus in practice is protecting our punter and our kicker. We've had three [blocks] in five games, and it's clearly an unacceptable number. What happened? Well, first of all, it was a really good play by their player. He got a great get-off and we had an edge issue. We just weren't completely solid on our edge. We were a bit too tight, and by the time we punched, he was clear of us. It's one of those situations that just a matter of inches makes a huge difference – just like our field goal block at the end where Tony [Jefferson] blocked the kick. Their guy got four fingers on it, and our guy got three, and that's the difference between winning and losing sometimes. That particular play turned out to be a huge factor in the game. All those things are very concerning – we'll continue to work on it. The guys that are doing it know what they're doing. I have full faith and confidence that we'll get it fixed."
There's been turnover in the return game. WR/RS Chris Moore hasn't really factored in the return game this year. Why not, and is he in the picture on kick returns? (Bo Smolka) "Chris Moore did a fine job for us a year ago. It was really a change of job duties. He's been playing tackle for us previously in kickoff return before we moved him back there, and then we had some returners. We had a different roster composition – so we had guys who had been kickoff returners before, and we had confidence in [them]. We were trying to use Chris' skills along with those of our returners, and we can't have two returners at the same time – at least we don't. So that's why the move was made. As far as Chris' contributions going forward … Chris played a fabulous game as a gunner. You may have noticed that. He continues to play well on offense when given the chance. He's really a fine player, and anytime we give Chris the opportunity to do something, he usually comes through for us because he's so competitive, and he's in great shape, and he's very talented. Whatever we ask him to do, Chris usually comes through."
What stuck out to you about CB/RS Cyrus Jones? Do you see him returning punts? (Pete Gilbert)"Well we had scouted Cyrus extensively when he was in college, and he was a fine returner in college. Then the start of his pro career wasn't quite so illustrious as we all recognize. He has skills. As we all know, he's a fine corner and a returner. We needed some help at corner, and we needed help at returner, and that's why we got Cyrus back is my understanding. We'll see how practice goes. We're working with him. What we do may be a little bit different than what everyone else does. We had a brief chance to work with him previously, and we're trying to teach him a lot of things – not just how our return game runs. He's a fine talent. We're happy we have him."
Do you look at CB/RS Cyrus Jones exclusively as a punt returner? He didn't do too much kick returning, just a little bit. (Bo Smolka) "Just like all our other players – the more you can do. We look at him as a corner; we look at him as a returner. However you can help us – coverage teams, defense, return game – however you can help us, we'll use him."
A few people mentioned yesterday that with DB/LB Anthony Levine Sr.'s increased role on defense, you'll have to watch his snaps on special teams. Is that something that you have to be cognizant of?_ (Childs Walker) _"Yes, we did. This last game … The effort of our players was fabulous. I watched the tape on the bus and on the plane on the way home. As disappointed as I was in the outcome, I was so encouraged by the effort that our guys put out throughout our roster. We had Tony Jefferson coming in on the field goal block – just an extraordinary effort. We got Jimmy [Smith] out there in punt return. We had Brandon Carr out there in punt return. Matt Judon went in and played outside linebacker for us on our punt return team and just did a fabulous job – just collapsed the edge. You may have seen a couple of his rushes. He just dominated his side of the plane. So how does that fit in with Anthony Levine? Well, it goes back to 'the more you can do.' Anthony is such a factor right now in our defense, that we as specials teams have to adjust. We have to have someone cover for him, because he can't do everything all the time. That's when the depth and the breadth of your roster comes in. If he's playing that much on defense, and we have to have someone else pick up the pace on kickoff team; we did that. If someone else can help us on punt return; we did that. So, your statement about Anthony's contribution is accurate. We have others that are willing and able to go in there and step up for him on special teams."
With WR/RS Tim White getting moved to the practice squad, do you have to say anything to a young player like him so he doesn't get discouraged?_ (Ed Lee)_"Sure. Yes, we're all human. Nobody likes that to happen to us. Anybody right? If your editor calls you [and says], 'Hey, I need to speak to you...' That's not a good conversation. We're all human. When situations like that happen, we all need a little guidance when we're young people. Tim is no different. He's a fine young man and a talented guy. I know he has a big heart and he wants to do well. I've been involved with Tim for, as you know, quite a while. So yes, we had a conversation. I'm not going to share the intricacies of that conversation. I know he's determined. He's determined to be a great returner in this league and a wide receiver in this league. He has an abundance of talent, so my job is to help him get there."
Head coach John Harbaugh brought up reluctantly that WR John Brown might be in play as a punt returner. Then when we talked to John Brown, he seemed very enthusiastic about the idea. Do you think he can be dynamic there in select situations? (Childs Walker) "I've mentioned this a couple times already at this podium: The more you can do. John, as you probably know, had experience in Arizona as a returner. He's a highly talented guy and he has such a big role in our offense right now. We don't want to diminish that role, but if we need help, John is willing to help. He's out there practicing, and he wants to help in any way he can. If the point comes where he needs to go back there and help, I'm sure he'll do a fine job."
What are the conversations like when you decide to put a guy who has such a big role on offense on special teams? Who makes that decision? (Aaron Kasinitz)"I have bosses. I'll have that conversation with coach [John] Harbaugh, and coach Harbaugh will have that conversation with Marty [Mornhinweg, offensive coordinator] and all the offensive coaches, because he's so integral in our offensive plan. If we ever make some of those moves, obviously, it's a part of the bigger picture. The plan – well – we're not just going to throw him back there just for fun. We're going to have a plan for him, if that should come to pass."
Defensive Coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale
Opening statement:"We're hard at work right now. We just came out of meetings. That's why I was running a little late coming down here. We're looking forward to this next challenge, just like we are every Sunday. We have some good things that we're doing right now on defense. We're doing very well. And we're still just … John [Harbaugh] always talks about chasing perfection, and that's where we're at. We're trying to … We take nothing for granted, and we're going to keep just plugging away, plugging away, plugging away as a defense. So, with that, I'll open it up to questions."
What was the best thing that you took away from your time working with Dean Pees? _(Childs Walker) _"It goes back to my thing of, this game is about the players. Always has been, always will be. I don't sit and reflect on things like that. If you coach – especially at Baltimore – if you coach at Baltimore, you're going to know guys. You're going to know 'T.A.' [Teryl Austin], who's at Cincinnati now, 'Johnny Eggs' [John Egorugwu] and 'Les' [Leslie Frazier], who are at Buffalo. You're going to know somebody on the other sideline. But what we're concerned with is [Marcus] Mariota and the Titans' offense right now. We haven't even brought it up. I think that anytime I reflect on something like that, I'm taking away from getting prepared for this game."
With that being said about QB Marcus Mariota, how do you contain the ability to run and pass and try to not allow him to get out in the openfield? _(Kyle Andrews) _"We have a plan, but as you say, Custer had a plan, too. We'll see what happens and how we react to it. It's obviously a difficult situation when you play against a quarterback who can run the way he runs and the different type of offensive scheme that they have. That's a challenge, without a doubt, and that's what we're going to try to keep him from doing, obviously."
Both ILB C.J. Mosley and S Eric Weddle noted that QB Marcus Mariota has been running a bit more this year. How much is that an advantage for you, tactically, if you know that that's his tendency? _(Ed Lee) _"I don't know if it's an advantage or not. I know it's not helping my sleep much. I think that what has happened is that … I talked about series of events, and it's series of events for them as well – what type of game they're playing, who they're playing, how that team is rushing them, things of that nature – that it seems like in the tape we've watched this year, that he has run the ball more often than not in passing situations, in scramble – the actual scramble, not just the run."
What did you think of CB Jimmy Smith's first game back? He played a little bit less than the other two corners. _(Aaron Kasinitz) _"I thought Jimmy did fine. He didn't give up a completion. Obviously, as you can imagine, going into your first game after that time off, it jumped on him, but I thought he played well."
Like you said, you guys are doing so many things well. The turnovers haven't been what they were last year, at least so far. How much do you stress, "We want turnovers," but you don't want them getting out of position trying to get them, because that might mess up everything else? (Ryan Mink) _"That's a good answer. _(laughter)Really, you just said it best. I think turnovers will come in bunches, like when you pull the olive out of the olive jar, and then they all fall out. I think that's what happens with takeaways. We're playing fundamentally sound, and we're playing tight coverages, and we had a lot … Last week, we had eight PBUs. Those PBUs become picks. Like I said, I was really proud with the effort that we gave last week and the effort that we've given already in practice. They'll come in bunches. I'm not in a panic about it, if that helps."
For several, years here, DB/LB Anthony Levine Sr. was considered more of a special teams player. Has it gotten to the point where you have to look for ways to get him on the field, because he's so successful and productive? _(Jeff Zrebiec) _"I think you've seen him on the field, and what's happened, once again, with how we're playing games, he's been on the field more, because we use dime, the sub. We have sub, and we have 'big sub,' if you will, and we've used him about equally if you look at it. Second-and-longs, we've been mixing that in more than what we have in the past."
With DB/LB Anthony Levine Sr. doing it, though, at age 31, has he always had this talent, or has he kind of been cultivated through those years on special teams to arrive at a point where S Eric Weddle yesterday called him one of the team's best defenders? (Jonas Shaffer)"I think Eric is right. I agree with 'E-Dub' [Weddle], because I just know this: I could give you some long drawn-out answer, but if the game is on the line, I want [Levine Sr.] in the game. That's the best compliment I can give him. If the game is on the line, I want him in the game. We want him in the game. When I say 'we,' his teammates want him in there, the coaching staff wants him in there, the head coach wants him in there, so that's the best compliment you could give a player. And, that's through his hard work and understanding the package, and he's been that way since I've been here."
FB/DL Patrick Ricard got his start with NT Michael Pierce out last week. Where have you seen him make strides as a defensive lineman? (Ryan Mink)
"I think Pat plays really hard. I think he's in a different spot, as you know, because he plays both offense and defense, and I think Pat plays really hard, as well as the other guys up front. I thought 'Big Baby' [Brandon Williams] played a heck of a game in there, and hopefully we can get Michael back. Up front, they're playing really well, the inside guys, as well as the outside guys."
Staying up front, did you anticipate that DE Willie Henry would play, I think, 39 snaps? Did you anticipate that kind of workload for him? _(Ed Lee) _"We didn't put a pitch count on him. I think when a game goes into overtime like that, that your number is going to be skewed anyway. You're not planning on saying, 'Let's play him this [many times] just in case it goes into overtime.' I was surprised when I saw the number, but I thought he played pretty well."
Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg
Opening statement:"Let's wrap the last game up. The guys played hard. The coaches worked hard, and it didn't happen. Now, why? And so those are really the things that we've been paying attention to. There are some things that you have to do to win a game, and then there are some things that you just have to stay away from or you give the game away, and we did several of those things. Just big picture, the thing, we talked about it as a team. If you look at it, the last two ball games, we've fumbled down there on the goal line and thrown an interception on the goal line. These are things that good teams just stay away from. There are other things. We're pretty good penalty-wise, but we got one right at the wrong moment. I could have done better, looking back on the thing, period. So, all of us are into the hard work, into the preparation for this game, and we have to move on fast. I told the fellas, 'Get it corrected. Look at the big picture. There are some things we have to do to win games, some things that we just can't do, or we give one away, and then let's move on fast, period.' Now, this game is a big game. [Tennessee] went through kind of a similar deal last week, and we're at their place. Dean [Pees] has done a fantastic job with this defense. They're talented, well-coached; they do a lot of things very well. They're a very consistent defense, as you can see by their numbers. They're excellent, I believe No. 1, in the red zone. They're excellent on third down. They're excellent against the pass, on and on and on. So, we have a great opportunity and a great challenge this week, going in there into Nashville."
WR Michael Crabtree took a lot of responsibility on himself for dropping some balls in the last game. How can you, as a coach, help him get past that? _(Childs Walker) _"Let me just tell you: Typically, when you're doing well, you better go to work. When something like this happens, you better go to work. He has the right mentality. I would rather have nobody else on the field in those situations as we continue than Mike Crabtree – done. And, he knows that. He understands that. I think all the players and the coaches feel the same way."
It looked like QB Joe Flacco was under center a lot more. Is that something that you're going into next week thinking, it's just scheme-to-scheme, week-to-week? _(Kyle Andrews) _"Yes, every gameplan is different that way versus any different type of defense. Situations come into play, all those things, but yes, it's different every week."
WR John Brown said yesterday that he saw more double-teams, or he's seeing more double-teams. He kind of had this grin, like he expected it. When he's doing well, that makes sense, but, how can you counter that, or what opens up? _(Bo Smolka) _"The guys are one-on-one. It's that simple. And were some plays where, geez, it was a triple-team one time, and we threw the ball elsewhere. Yes, that will happen, and it will continue to happen, I suspect."
Is that a good sign of respect for WR John Brown? For a lot of guys maybe going – not for you, but maybe around the league – he went kind of under the radar when he came here. To have that attention from defenses, is that probably the biggest sign? _(Jamison Hensley) _"His numbers were pretty good, so yes, fully expected it."
How did TE Hayden Hurst look in his debut? _(Aaron Kasinitz) _"Good, and then he had a fantastic practice yesterday. So that first week, if you look at it, you have a rookie who has never played in a league game coming off of a major injury. He was knocking a little bit of rust off last week, and then, man I was excited, because he practiced really well yesterday. I think he's on the [rise]."
Is Sunday a bit of a chess match where you see stuff that you've seen before in practice, but you can't get caught into it too much, because Dean Pees is also game-planning against something that he's seen? _(Brent Harris) _"That's a good point. You just don't want to chase too many ghosts. You get into these things. Nice, tight gameplan, let's get the preparation done, and let's get the hard work done, and then we roll."
In looking at the film as you prepare for this week, do you see some things that jump out? (Brent Harris) _"Oh sure, many of the things that we've seen in practice [in years past]. You're talking about Dean [Pees] on the defense?" _(Reporter: "Yes, the way they run their defense.")"Yes, absolutely, and then there are some differences as well. And, you get the differences sometimes and in many cases because of the personnel that you have. He's trying to put the guys in the best spots, like we do on offense. Same thing on defense. It's a good point."
DB/LB Anthony Levine Sr.
On his recent defensive performances: "I come in and go to work. I try and perfect my craft, especially on special teams. Honestly, I use a lot of those techniques out there. You see ball, you go to the ball. If you can play fast, you can play hard, and that's what I do. Me being a special teams player, that never bothered me. I'll always be a special teams player. Wherever the team needs me, I'm willing to go. I'm ready to do whatever."
On if it was hard to be patient and earn his spot on the defense: "No, I feel like everyone has a role on this team. I always played me role. Even Jerry [Rosburg, associate head coach/special teams coordinator] would tell me, 'The more you can do.' Coach [John] Harbaugh preaches that, 'The more you can do,' [also]. The more you can do, everything will work out for you. I just keep working and keep doing what I can do, and things will line up when they line up."
On how satisfying it is for his work to be rewarded with opportunities: "I love it. I want to get the opportunities that I'm getting. I'm trying to make the most out of every single one of them. If I keep getting opportunities, then I'm going to keep going in there, play fast, play strong and try to make plays for the team so we can win."
On defensive coordinator Don Martindale saying that there's no one else he would want more in the game when it really mattered than Levine Sr.:"He said 'no one else more than me?'" (Reporter: "Yes.")"No one?" (Reporter: "Yes.")"I'm glad I have the respect of my coaches and my teammates – that's the most important thing to me. The most important thing to me is to have the respect of my teammates and my coaches. I'm honored that he would say that. That just shows that I have to go work hard today in practice."
On how he has earned that praise this season:"The work that I put in on the practice field. They see the work that I've been doing, they see that I'm reliable, that I'm dependable. I just have to keep pushing on that, working on that. I can't feed in to the noise. Like now, 'Oh, Anthony Levine is doing this and doing that.' At the end of the day, I just have to keep working and keep doing what I'm doing, and hopefully I can keep making plays."
On his reaction to coaches suggesting they limit his special teams snap counts: "Man, I mean, I have to get in shape. I have to get in shape, because I have to run down on kickoff, block guys on kick return, punt, punt return. Hey, if we're going to win the game – I'm all for it. I'm all for whatever I have to do."(Reporter: "Would you be kind of sad actually, sad to lose some of those special teams snaps?") "Yeah. Have you ever been in our special teams meeting?(laughter)Yeah, I would, because honestly, I pride myself on special teams. Me personally, I believe that I am one of the best special teams players in the league. I like to go out there and try to dominate the game on special teams as much as I can. Me not being out there on special teams … Shoot. It's been a while since you haven't seen me out on special teams, right? That would be different."
On if special teams snaps are more exhausting than defensive snaps:"One special teams play you're 100 percent, just out going. It's everything you have on that one play. I can't … You have to go get it or you're going to get messed up out there. You have to go."
On offenses being put in situations that favor his skill set: "I'm glad I came into the league the time that I came in. If I had come in like 12 or 13 years ago, I would've been [player No.] 100 for them. I'm glad – I'm glad I'm out there. I'm glad I'm able to make plays. I'm glad I can run down and cover tight ends, running backs, receivers, whatever. I just have to keep doing that, keep pushing."