HEAD COACH JOHN HARBAUGH
Opening Statement:"[It's] good to see everybody. [I] appreciate everybody here. It was a big night last night. Glad you all made it out of without any damages your houses, [we had a] big storm, but it did cool things off, it seems like, right? We had a good practice. [It was] a little bit cooler. [I] appreciate the effort of our guys. [There are] a lot of kids out here today. We love that. The kids are having fun. So, what questions do you have?"
Are you calling your shot against the Eagles with the 1-0 t-shirt? (Jonas Shaffer)(laughter) "Well, yes. I guess it is. It always is that, right? You always want to be 1-0. We talk about one day at a time, one play at a time, so we'll go with that."
We're going to hear from running backs coach Willie Taggarts today. Obviously, he has some family history with the Harbaughs. What has he brought to the running back group? (Luke Jones) "Willie [Taggart], we go way back. He's a Harbaugh brother. We're Taggart brothers, I guess. My dad and Willie are so close from the time when Willie was a quarterback through coaching my dad, coaching Jim [Harbaugh]. [It's] just such a close relationship. My dad and Willie's dad were great friends, so having Willie here is a bid advantage for us. He's a very established coach, great offensive coach, great head coach – ground-breaking head coach in so many ways – in college football. Now, [for him] to be here with our guys, I know our players love him. He's added so much to our staff, so we're just thrilled we were able to bring him on board [and] his family, Taneshia and all the kids and stuff. We're rolling with Willie."
With quite a few deep plays down the field today, are you seeing any little things that show you these guys are getting more comfortable in this offense? (Cordell Woodland) "It was good to see the plays made downfield. We've been close a lot of times, as you know, throughout camp, but they were completed, and they were competed under heavily-contested coverage, too. So, you see guys tracking the ball, running good angles on routes, they have coaching points that they follow, and I thought they did a good job with that. You always want to see big plays."
I know we ask you any week, but is there any update on when RB J.K. Dobbins might come back to practice? Beyond that, how do you feel about the progress from the running back room?_ (Childs Walker)_ "Well, I feel very good about the running back room as far as how they're practicing. I think every single guy is doing a really great job and stepping up. I mean you can go right through every single guy, and they're all doing excellent out there. I love the way they're playing, so that's been exciting. Of course, J.K. [Dobbins] … The ball is in J.K.'s court. We have talked. We talked again yesterday. We had great conversation. I do expect him back very soon, but I don't have anything to say about it. It's up to J.K., so hopefully that will happen soon."
I know this is looking very far ahead, but is there issue with putting in sweat equity during this part of the season so that you get rewards? _(Jonas Shaffer) _"Well, yes, but I don't want to talk about any specific player in that sense, but generally speaking, of course. Of course. Generally speaking, to be a great player, you know you need to put in the time and the effort and just get with the team and get right. [J.K. Dobbins] wants to do that in his case, and that's why I kind of expect him back here pretty soon."
When we get into the preseason, we talk about the preseason win streak. Do you even know how many straight games you've won? (Jamison Hensley) "Of course I know how many straight [wins]. Of course. Is it 23? (Reporter: It is 23!) Alright, then."
Is this something you bring up with the young guys? Is it any kind of a talking point whatsoever? (Jamison Hensley) "No, it's like … Do you know what it's like? It's like a no hitter [in baseball]. It's like a hitting streak. It's unspoken until maybe after the game. But it's something I … It's funny because in the big grand scheme of things, OK, people have their opinions, and I get it. Different things are important to different people, and I know that the guys who played in those games, the guys that made the plays to win those games in the fourth quarter – because most of those games were won in the fourth quarter with guys making plays – they'll remember it. It's important to them for the rest of their life, and therefore it's important to me. So, it's meaningful in that sense, but we're playing a game. We have a lot of goals [and] a lot of things that we're trying to accomplish. It's not about that at all, not even about that per se. It's about becoming better as a football team, evaluating our players and each individual guy improving. So, that's what we're looking for."
You said a couple times that WR Odell Beckham Jr. has had a good plan. Do you have to almost hold him back sometimes because it seems like he's out here every day and getting better? (Jeff Zrebiec) "He's right on schedule. No, not really. I feel like he's just kind of pushing himself as he sees fit, and it's been almost full steam ahead. The last couple of days has been his most work, and he's probably had his best days. So, I think he's right on schedule. He's just a worker. He likes football. He likes being around the guys. [It's] no different than the other guys. He's into it, and you appreciate that."
Leading off of that, you've seen from WR Odell Beckham Jr. the ramp up, and he's produced more. How reassuring has that been on the plan and the schedule you set for him? Does it reassure you on who he is on the field? (Kyle Barber) "Yes. You go by what you see for sure. Bill Parcells said it. He said, 'I don't go by what I remember. I go by what I see.' That's a good adage for a coach in any sport, especially football. So, you want to see it, and guys are doing … I see Melvin Gordon out there. He's working on his own [and doing] extra. Here he's been around, he's been at every practice, [and] he's taken every single rep. [He's] having a heck of a camp, so there's a lot of guys that you put in that category."
How impressed have you been by what you see from RB Melvin Gordon III? It's one thing to see him play for other teams, but now that you see him for a couple weeks now on a practice field, how have you taken that in? (Cordell Woodland) "I agree. I think he's looked really good. I've seen … What's interesting to me is I feel like I've seen acceleration. His ability to change speed through the hole and accelerate [and] change the angle on a tackler. We'll see in the games. Obviously, he's a very talented player, and he sure looks good to me."
We never got a chance to ask you about DB Trayvon Mullen. Is he done for the season when you put someone on the list that early?_ (Jeff Zrebiec)_ "It looks like it, with the toe … It's a toe surgery. I really ... I can't say exactly if it's the whole season or not, but it's a pretty definitive toe surgery."
RUNNING BACKS COACH WILLIE TAGGART
This is the third Harbaugh that you've worked for. What's it been like working for head coach John Harbaugh? (Kyle Barber) "It's been like working for [former head coach] Jack Harbaugh all over, and it was the same way working for [Michigan head coach] Jim [Harbaugh]; it was like working for Jack Harbaugh. It's been great. They all have different personalities. They all are great coaches and go about doing things their own way. And it's been pretty cool to watch John and how he goes about running the organization, our team and our staff. It's been good. Now, I can say I've worked for all three of them, and I can tell you all three of them are different, but they're the same. So, it's been fun."
What are you seeing from this group of running backs right now? (Cordell Woodland) "I've been really excited about all of the guys – starting back in the spring time and going through the new offense. I've been really impressed with how the guys are taking the time to learn the offense. And they make my job easier when they come in and know exactly what to do; then you only have to coach them up on the little details of things. But our guys are pros; they come to work to go to work every single day. [They're a] great group of young men, and [I'm] really excited. I get excited every day I get to go in that meeting room, because they bring it every day, and they want to get better."
What do you like about RB Justice Hill's all-around game? (Childs Walker) "Justice [Hill] – he's a guy that just does things right. He's going to be the first in the meeting [and] the last to leave. He's going to know everything he's supposed to do and [what] the people around him [are] supposed to do, and he's going to be there for the young guys to help them. Justice has been great. He's been a great pro, a great teammate. He's been great to coach; I really enjoy coaching him. He's a guy you can put in, and you don't have to worry about him knowing what to do; he's going to know exactly what he needs to do."
How important has it been for you to build a relationship with RB J.K. Dobbins? (Jonas Shaffer) "Well, I think it's important to develop a relationship with all the guys – not just J.K. [Dobbins], but all of them – to get to know them. I haven't worked with those guys before [or] coached them before, and I think that's a big part of coaching – is, [first], get to know them; get to know them on a personal level, and for them to get to know me on a personal level. I think once we do that, then it's easier for me to coach them, and it's easier for them to be coached by me. So, that started way back when I got the job and started that relationship, and we've been building that along the way. And like I said, I enjoy every single one of the guys – J.K. included – and it's going to be fun."
How are you enjoying your time in the NFL, where you don't have to worry about recruiting or classes, and you can focus on just football? (Cliff Brown) "Sometimes I've got to check my phone to see if it still works. (laughter) I don't have to be checking that all the time anymore, and I'll tell you, that is different. It's the first time I've coached in the NFL; I've been recruiting for so long. And really, it's different not looking at your phone, not texting and doing those things. I feel kind of awkward a little bit, but it's nice to be able to coach football, and that's what you're doing – you're coaching ball and getting those guys ready to go. And to be a part of a great organization like the Ravens has just made it that much better."
How did the opportunity with the Ravens come about? Were you looking for a jump to the NFL? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Again, I didn't know exactly what I was going to do, and then I had some opportunities. I had some opportunities in college, and then this opportunity came with the Ravens, and having the opportunity to work for [head coach] John [Harbaugh] … Again, it was hard for me to say no. And then being able to come work with John, I just looked at it as, 'Now I get an opportunity to be the assistant coach that I wanted for me; I can be that for Coach Harbaugh.' And it's great. It's been 13 years since I've had my own room and [be] able to coach ball and be out there again. So, it's been fun being around that [and] doing those little things again."
What is your sense from RB Melvin Gordon III on what point and stage of his career he is in? (Jamison Hensley) "Well, I think [Melvin Gordon III] is a young man that's hungry. He's hungry; he wants to help. And what's been great is – [because he's] a great addition – he's brought some competition to that room. But he's also brought … [With] him being a vet [and] being here and being a pro, [he's] teaching the young guys how to do those things, and you can see it – how he prepares, how he studies. And again, he's been great from that standpoint – really helping the young guys out. I had one of the young guys come to me like, 'Coach, I see what you mean now about how to study and all.' He spent some time with Melvin, and Melvin was teaching him different ways of how to learn the offense. I thought that was pretty cool, because Coach Harbaugh always talks to our team about their worth, and it comes in a lot of different ways. And for 'Mel' [Melvin Gordon III] to do that to a rookie, and for the rookie to be excited about being coached up by a vet was pretty cool."
RB GUS EDWARDS
On his first impressions of the new offense:"I love it. We've shown a lot of flashes. [We've] got a lot to work on, but I think it's work. [Offensive coordinator Todd Monken is] finding a lot of ways to get guys open, a lot of ways to spread the ball around. I'm excited to see how everything [plays] out."
On if he feels the offense will be more spread apart and run through less defenders in the box:"Yes. It's a great opportunity to see some lighter [defensive] boxes. In the past, like you guys are aware, we had to run through some tougher boxes. So, [it's a] great opportunity to our running backs in some space and I think we're going to make the best out of it."
On if he is feeling 100% physically at this point: "Yes, I feel great. I feel great. I've been practicing every single day. [I] didn't have to pull back, not once, and I'm just building off of that."
On how good it has felt to be 100% physically knowing how hard he has worked to get to that point: "It's a blessing, for real. I had a lot of people around me that really helped me. Shoutout to the Raven organization for keeping me around and just giving me all the support that I need. It's been tough, but I'm back, and I'm happy, and I'm excited to see what this year brings."
On his perspective on RB J.K. Dobbins' contract situation: "I mean, I see him every day. He's in there. He's still working hard. I know he's going to be ready, because that's the type of guy he is."
On if he is excited to show other aspects of his game like in the receiving game: "I'm ready to do whatever this offense allows me to do. [I'm] ready to make plays in different ways, and I feel like that's something I've always been able to do. This offense is going to put me in that space to make those plays and get open in checkdowns and stuff."
On how he feels during training camp this year compared to how he felt during this time last year:"Oh, it's night and day. At this time last year, I was probably questioning myself like, 'Man, how is it going to play out? Am I even going to be back next year?' It was a lot of doubts, and this year I'm just … I feel great in the position that I am right now, health wise. I'm just ready to do what I can for my team."
On if he is eager to see where he goes as a player since he is healthy and has more experience: "Yes. I think it's Year Six. I have a lot of experience under my belt, and saying Year Six, it seems like, 'Wow, this time's flashing.' But, I'm ready to have my best year. I'm ready to put it all together. I feel like I'm in a great position to do that, and I have a chip on my shoulder. I just want to prove a lot of people wrong."
On if the chip on his shoulder is if he can come back and be better than he was before: "I mean, I fought through a lot last year. There were a lot of times where I had to step back from the game – even during the season when I [had] just [some] little knicks and stuff. So, this year I feel like I just have so much to prove. And maybe it's just an inner thing but still."
On his scouting report on Melvin Gordon from what he's seen from him so far: "He's been showing me a lot of flashes catching the ball out of the backfield. He comes to work every single day. This is year what, I think eight? I might be wrong, but he's bringing a lot of experience to the room [and] speaking up as a leader. It's been great having him in the room."
On if he wanted to change his body at all after all the injuries he's been through:"I'm just taking care of what I have to do in the training room. I'm still in there every day just making sure that everything is strong ,and everything is ready. I'm in a great position, and I want to keep building off of it."
RB MELVIN GORDON III
On how training camp is going for him: "It's going good. You know the first couple of weeks … I wasn't here for minicamp and OTAs, so I kind of got the playbook a little late. It's coming along. I'm starting to feel a little more comfortable, [and] I'm starting to play a little faster. Coach [Todd Monken] is throwing some new stuff at us every day, [and] he's keeping us on our toes. It's good for us though, but for now, [I'm] feeling good, but [I] could be better."
On why he thought coming to the Ravens was a good opportunity for him: "It's just a great organization and that's just kind of what I want to be a part of. I went to Kansas City and I've kind of seen what a great organization is [and] what comes with a great organization. So, rings come with good organizations. This style of offense kind of fits what I do. [It] always has since I've been at [University of] Wisconsin. You only hear great things about this organization around the league. I just thought it was a great opportunity to come in here and show what I can do."
On his impressions of Todd Monken's offense: "I think it's good. We really won't know until we go out there, [when] we go out there and show what we can do this weekend and later on and so forth … but right now just going up against our defense, I think we've been doing pretty good. We have a really great defense, and we move the ball at times against them. We go back and forth. I think Coach [Todd Monken] has done a good job for putting plays together for us and putting guys in positions to win."
On if he wants to play in the preseason: "It's the coach's call. You could look at it either way. I don't really know how Coach [Todd Monken] does it here, but however he does it, we'll be ready for it, so that's that."
On how his body feels at this stage of his career: "I feel good. I've always shared the ball since high school, really. In high school, I shared the ball with Vontae Jackson. He went to [University of] Wisconsin. I shared it with Montee Ball. I shared it with James white. I had that one year where I played by myself. When I got to the Chargers my first year, I shared it with Danny Woodhead. [My] second year I was able to do it by myself because everyone else was hurt. [My] third year, [I shared it with] Austin Ekeler. I had that for two years. Then I went to the [Denver Broncos], [I shared it with] Phillip Lindsay. Then after that, I played with Javonte [Williams] for two years. I've been blessed and lucky to have a great running mate thus far, and it's kind of helped me. I think it helped me out a lot, so my body does feel good. I definitely don't feel 21. I still feel good for the most part."
On his first impressions of QB Lamar Jackson:"I didn't really need to see anything differently. I witness that firsthand being across from him when I was with the Chargers. I was just like, 'This dude is a freak.' We had to bring in an extra DB as a linebacker to try and stop him at what he [does]. So, obviously, running the ball is what he [does], but he can make some great throws, too. That's been cool to see up close, so I'm excited to see what he [does] in this new offense."
On his stance with running backs feeling like the position is less respected financially: "We just have to go out and play. At the end of the day, I think the talking and this and that is not going to get anything done. We just have to shine in the brightest moments. When we get to the playoffs, the backs that are on that team have to take initiative and be like, 'You know what? I'm going to take over.' I think that's when things will start changing. At this point, it's tough. The league is changing, and it sucks to say. It's a passing league, but you still need a great run game. Let's not get away from that. I think for us to really get change, because the CBA, I don't think changes for another four of five years or something like that, so we're kind of screwed, I feel like for the next couple of years. The only thing we can do is just kind of stack it and ball out. We have some great backs on every team I feel like that can do that. It's challenge out to us."
On his perspective of the RB J.K. Dobbins situation: "I really don't have one. How he feels towards what he has to do is on him. Everybody's situation is different. I dealt with the same thing. I had a lot going on. I can't say what he's thinking [or] how he's going about it, but I do know what type of player he is. I've watched film on him. He's a great player, so when he comes out, he's not going to do [anything] but help the team and better us. When he's out here, it's going to be open arms. We're going to be ready for him to make plays and do what he [does]. He's a playmaker."
On what the running back room can do to not let that become a distraction: "We just have to go out there and do what we have to do, man. At the end of the day, we just have to go out here and help the team. At the end of the day, that's what it's about. Like I said, when he comes back, whenever that may be, we're going to embrace him. The team is going to embrace him. I think he has a lot of respect around the locker room. [With] me just being new to the locker room and seeing how guys interact with him, there's no bitter feelings towards anything. I think the guys love him in the locker room, and he has a presence there. We know what he can do, but we know what we need to do, too, as well, as a running back room. We're all looking out for one another. We're just going to go out there, and we're going to put our best foot forward. We want to shine, too."
On if staying out after practice is something he's done throughout his career or is it new:"No, I've been doing that my whole career, man. I just want to stay on top of my game. I dropped a pass out here [today], so I went and got on the jugs, because I was a little [ticked] about that. Anything I feel like I lack or something I feel like I need to get better at, that's what the extra practice is for at the end. They give us a little time to do a little something, so I've always done it. I hate to be unprepared. So, like I said, if [there's] anything I feel like I need to address that I felt like I lacked on in practice, I'll get it after."
RB JUSTICE HILL
On how training camp is going for him: "It's been a fun camp, just being out here [and] learning – learning the new system, it's been fun. It's like going to a new team. It's been fun going out, just being able to process things and just getting a whole bunch [of] reps in."
On offense coordinator Todd Monken's offense: "Yes, I mean, getting the ball in your hands as many ways as possible is always ideal. So, it's been fun coming out here with [offensive coordinator Todd Monken]. It's a different system, being able to do things outside and getting some space. That's a running back's dream, so it's been fun."
On featuring his skillset: "Definitely. As [a] running back, you want to be able to do it all. So, if it's a powered game, you want to be able to do that. If [offensive coordinator Todd Monken] wants us to be in space and do things out there too, I want to be able to do that. I'm just honing in on the details every single day, trying to stack and get better. I mean, it's a running back's dream out here."
On his approach to featuring his skill set:"Opportunity always comes, and whenever it's my opportunity, I'm always [going to] be ready. So, every single day, it doesn't matter who's in front [or] who's behind; I just take it one day at time. And whenever it's my time, my time will be here."
On his thoughts about RB J.K. Dobbins:"We're all excited to get J.K. back out here, he's a playmaker. We talk every single day. Whenever things get ready for him, he'll be right back out here. Until then, we're out here learning and having fun every single day. We have a whole bunch of guys in the room, and it's fun to see everybody show what they can do."
On people around him asking him about RB J.K. Dobbins' situation:"Not really at all. I mean, we just come in and work."
On his impression of running backs coach Willie Taggart:"He brings a good energy, [a] super cool guy. As a running back and being in the room, you always want that chemistry. So, he helps build that camaraderie with all of us. So, it's been fun. He's a good dude, a good coach, and [I'm] excited to play for him."