Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "OK, I appreciate everybody being here. We just finished up with what amounts to our Friday practice, although it's on a Saturday. Guys are in high spirts and are working hard. We're looking forward to the game on Monday night. With that, what do you have?"
We talked to T Orlando Brown Jr. yesterday and he said that he has to do a better job protecting QB Lamar Jackson and not give up four sacks. When you look at this matchup with DT Chris Jones, it's another big challenge for the offensive line. What does he bring to the game? (Todd Karpovich) "They'll line him up in different spots, obviously. They'll kind of try to pick matchups when they rush four. It's not just that, they'll bring everybody. They'll bring blitzes to create free runners. They'll also bring blitzes to create one-on-ones. Certainly, between 95 [Chris Jones] and 55 [Frank Clark], those are the two guys that they love to create the best matchup for, but they're not the only good pass rushers. So, it's a big challenge. It's going to be really, really important in this game that we do a good job with pass protection."
How loud can 250 friends and family be at a game? (Jamison Hensley) "We're about to find out. We're about to find out. Everything is new. We get a new, new every time. So, we'll see, but it's good to have family and friends there. I know the players and coaches are really happy about it and looking forward to having their families be able to come to the game. It's definitely a big deal. We are very thankful to the organization for setting it up and to Governor [Larry] Hogan for making it happen. It's very important to our families, and they're appreciative."
As a follow-up to that, do you know if they are going to be within distance where you'll be able to hear them? And also, do they count against the decibel level that you're allowed to pump in? (Jerry Coleman) (laughing) "That's another question we have to ask. I don't know where they'll be exactly. I'll be looking for my wife, she'll be somewhere up there. The decibel level is up now. They ramped it back up a little bit. I don't know … Supposedly, last time, we were at the decibel level, but you could've heard a pin drop in our stadium last time and in Houston. Unless the decibel level was above zero last time, which I know it wasn't, we couldn't hear anything. It might have to do with where the speakers are at or whatever. But whatever it is, we practice with noise and sound. It's not going to be anything overwhelming for either team, I don't think. It's just the new normal, and we'll see what it's like."
Just curious how DT Justin Madubuike looked this week, and whenever he is able to play, what kind of element does he bring? (Aaron Kasinitz) "All of the guys, except for Tavon [Young], will be available to play. So, we'll just kind of have to work that out in terms of what we feel like serves us best, in terms of the players that are active – like we always do. He's a rookie, so he had a good training camp. Obviously, he's a talented guy who we were really happy with in training camp. This year, just like always, you put those guys out there and you see for the first time what they can do; be it your opening game, or in Houston, or on Monday Night Football against the Chiefs. That's what 2020 is all about."
With CB Tavon Young, his season-ending injury, is it just a procedural thing that you guys haven't put him on injured reserve? (Jamison Hensley) "Yes. Yes, it is. I don't know what the reasons are. He will be put on injured reserve at some point soon, I'm sure."
You guys have been so good at your starts, even offensively. Are you involved much in the process of the scripting or having input as far as the scripting of plays? Do you know how many plays offensive coordinator Greg Roman really does script to start off a game? (Jamison Hensley) "Greg [Roman] … Yes, I do know how he does it. I have conversations with Greg about that. I don't script the plays. I usually say I'm excited about what he's planning. Every now and then I might go, 'Hmm,' but not too often. (laughter) I'm just really, really happy with our offensive coaches, with Greg Roman [and] his process. I really don't want to share his process with anybody, right now. It's kind of our process and his process, but we have a process, and it's really good. I'm just really happy with our coaches. Greg is a great leader there with that. [Assistant head coach/pass coordinator/wide receivers] David Culley does a great job, and [quarterbacks coach] James [Urban], and [offensive line coach] Joe [D'Alessandris], and [running backs coach] Matt [Weiss], and [tight ends coach] Bobby [Engram], and [assistant tight ends coach] Andy [Bischoff], those guys all do a great job. [Coaching analyst – offense] Travis [Switzer], [assistant offensive line coach] Rich [Angulo], [senior assistant/running backs] Craig [Ver Steeg] … I want to make sure I get everybody; we have great coaches."
LB L.J. Fort
I think it was in training camp, in the summer, when you said that you think you really stuck on to the team last year because of your play on special teams, but you're off to a strong start. You bounced around a lot of places – at times, even signing as a fullback. When you were getting cut and having to go to different places, was there any time that you kind of doubted whether you'd be able to stick on? And what would you attribute to finally sticking in Baltimore? (Daniel Oyefusi) "Yes, absolutely. I've been on like seven or eight teams, and it's been a grind. And when you're on 'P-squad' [practice squad], and you're getting cut multiple times, there's always doubt in your mind if you'll be able to find a home. But I just kept sticking to it, working hard, and fortunately, found a home here in Baltimore, and I'm loving it."
How excited are you to play on Monday Night Football? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "Like my linebacker coach said, 'It's every kid's dream growing up to play on Monday night.' So, I'm super excited, and I'm sure everybody is too."
With the stretch coming up, you have three home games, a bye, and your only road trips are to Philadelphia and Washington D.C. As players, are you aware that you're not going to have to step on a plane until November? Just not having to do something like that, does that work into a team's advantage at all? (Jamison Hensley) "We like to go week-by-week and just focus on what's at hand, because you never know what's going to happen. Especially in this season, things are unexpected and always happening. So, we're just focused on the week that's in front of us and preparing that way."
How difficult is RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire to match up with, especially with the creative ways head coach Andy Reid and QB Patrick Mahomes like to get him involved? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes, from what I've seen, he's a tough runner and he's shifty, so it's definitely going to be a group effort – everybody just hustling to the ball, playing Raven football and wrapping up and driving your feet. So, it's going to be fun."
The team announced yesterday that 250 family members will be able to be at the game. Do you personally have anybody going, and have players talked about that at all? Are they excited to have at least a few fans in the stadium? (Aaron Kasinitz) "Oh, yes, for sure. We've been wanting that to happen for a while now. We go home to them every night, so … I think they're just as excited as us to be able to come to games and watch in person. So, everybody's looking forward to that."
You talked earlier about sticking to it in the NFL. With defensive coordinator Don 'Wink' Martindale's system, and you being in it for a year, how much of a factor – even though, obviously you deserve most of the credit – goes to you feeling comfortable in this defensive system? Where it kind of brings out your best? (Cliff Brown) "Yes, as a linebacker, I feel like this is the perfect system you want to be in. There's not a ton of thinking, and you can be aggressive and play fast. And then, when you have a D-line [defensive line] like we have in front of you, it makes things a lot easier for you, so you have room to make plays and do things like that. Being it's my second year in the system, I feel way more comfortable. Week-to-week, our coaches do an amazing job of making sure we're prepared. I feel like we're the most prepared team in the league every week."
Who on the Chiefs stands out that people aren't noticing? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "They're Super Bowl Champions, so that speaks for itself. They're a great team. They have the highest-paid player in the league, so he's a great weapon. And then the running back [Clyde Edwards-Helaire], for sure. And their receivers, there's speed all over the place. That running back, he's been the most impressive to me – being a rookie and showing up."