Defensive Coordinator Don Martindale
Opening statement: "Training camp, I was really pleased with it. We were really pleased as a defensive staff, too. We set out [that] we wanted to play fast and physical, and when that first group was out there, that's what you saw. You didn't see us giving up any points. That was a big thing. That was a goal that we accomplished. The communication was on-point in Philly, which is a point that I've been talking about all of training camp, is improvement in communication. I was pleased with our safeties, how they communicated. I was pleased with how 'Peanut' [Patrick Onwuasor] and [Matthew] Judon and 'Phee' [Pernell McPhee] and all those guys communicated up front. So, we're really excited and getting ready to head into the season. With that, I'll open it up to questions."
A lot has been said of the preseason winning streak. How much correlation do you see between wins and progress? (Jonas Shaffer)"Anytime you play, you want to win. Coach [John] Harbaugh exudes that every day. I think it's a good habit to get into, obviously, is winning football games. That's how we look at it, and that's how the players look at it. It just trickles on down throughout the organization, starting with John and this football team."
Generally, do you see more correlation between the kind of progress you would like to see from guys on an individual basis when they're winning versus when they're not? (Jonas Shaffer) "Yes. I don't know if I'm taking it in the right direction where you want me to go with it. I think it's good to see a guy in a stressful situation, too, to see how he reacts. I think it's very important to try to win every game that you play in and try to win every play that you play in. With that being said, we've used the same gameplan, defensively, all four weeks. [If] you go back and look at it, it's the same. We're wooden Indians out there right now. So, we're looking forward to, in the pass rush, scheming up who we want to put [Pernell] McPhee on, for example. That's going to be a mystery every Sunday for our opponents, just using that as an example. But we've had some players that have turned it on and played well. Matt Judon is a guy that stands out. Marlon Humphrey is a guy that stands out. 'Peanut' [Patrick Onwuasor] is a guy that stands out, in all these preseason games that jumped out and did some nice things."
Is the pass rush something that you've seen come together? I think most people from the outside will say that's the one question mark in this defense. (Jeff Zrebiec)"I think that's a fair question. We'll see on these Sundays how good it really is. But, like I said, we've been very vanilla in our fronts, and we've been very vanilla in our pressures. Come the season, we'll have some things schemed up. I can't wait to move 'Phee' [Pernell McPhee] around. Same thing with [Matt] Judon, same thing with Tyus [Bowser]. All those guys that … You saw us in our packages last year. We'll do some different packages and turn guys loose at the quarterback."
We typically think of a nickelback as a third cornerback on the field. How do you weigh putting someone like S Chuck Clark down in the nickel spot? (Luke Jones) "Well, it all depends on the personnel you're going against, too. We have all kinds of different packages. It's the personnel that we're facing just as much as who we send out there and matchups and things like that."
How do you balance keeping your starters fresh between now, in some times of inactivity, versus when it really matters in the regular season? (Jerry Coleman)"I don't think they're really inactive. Game shape … You've watched our practices in training camp. It's a shortened version of it, but they'll be ready to go. Steve [Saunders, head strength & conditioning coach] does a great job in the weight room, and they'll be ready to go. This is an exciting time for them now, because they're getting their minds and their bodies right to ramp it up about another 25 miles an hour."
Is it basically all about Miami in the locker room? (Jerry Coleman) "Yes, that's the first game."
A lot of the talk this week is on roster questions. At inside linebacker, we know who three guys are. Would you be comfortable with three guys because you know what DB/LB Anthony Levine Sr. could do what, maybe, DB Brynden Trawick could do, maybe what S DeShon Elliott could do? Or, is that an area where you think it's almost mandatory to have four guys? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I'm not going to be in that meeting, but I'll be comfortable with whoever they give us. [Otaro] Alaka has shown some good things as well. We've all seen things. He's making it interesting. It's just like I told the defense the other day when we came back from Philly: I respect where everybody's at in that locker room right now, which gets into the guys that are getting ready for the games. The guys that are getting ready for the season, the guys that we know are going to be on this team, I respect where they're at. But I also respect where these other guys are at sitting in that room, because they're fighting for their livelihoods. So, anybody that plays on Thursday is fighting for their livelihood. Let's not forget, Michael Pierce, his rookie year, made the team after the fourth game of the preseason against New Orleans, because he wrecked that game. Things like that happen. That's why it's so exciting to go to Washington, to play that organization, and for us to take the bus trip over there to go see this fourth game. There are still some question marks on the roster, and there will be guys that make the team off this fourth game."
Have you seen S Earl Thomas III get more comfortable with the defense? (Cliff Brown)"Yes, I think he has. I think that's both in the meeting rooms, in the building, and outside on the field. You've seen him get more comfortable here. That's a good choice of words. I think that he's just going to keep going. I hope he's real comfortable when we play Miami." (laughter)
Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman
Opening statement:"Thanks for coming out. We're still in training camp mode. We have another game coming up here. It's a very important game for a lot of people. [It was a] good day of practice today, really good day. Guys were locked in, we got lucky with the weather, and we saw a little bit more juice out there. Guys are working hard, and obviously, we're getting ready for this game and getting ready for the season, so we have a lot going on right now."
I know a lot goes into roster decisions, but when you think about QB Trace McSorley, what has he done to help himself? (Aaron Kasinitz) "Trace is doing well. I thought he played well the other night in the game, did a great job of leading the team. The statistics and all that were very good, but he just played the position really well. I thought he took a big step there. Anytime a guy plays well, that's good, because really, as a player, what you put on the film is really your resume. I have to tip my hat to him. He did a nice job the other night."
How much say do you have in how much QB Trace McSorley and other guys play special teams? (Andrew Gillis) "Trace is a versatile guy, so I think anything he can do to increase his value to make the team is a positive thing. He has done a really good job. I'll never forget, actually, when I was coaching, I think it was 1999 – I can't remember the year, 2000 – but Jim Harbaugh, who was a quarterback on our team, when he wasn't in quarterback meetings or practice, he was in the special teams coach's office just learning ball, learning football, talking football. I think it's also a great way to learn the game, learn everything about it and how important special teams is."
How much input do you have? Do you lobby for guys with John Harbaugh? (Todd Karpovich) "No, we just have open conversations. I wouldn't call it lobbying. I'll leave the lobbyists in D.C. I think everyone has an opinion, and it's an ongoing conversation. You're definitely going to say what you think and try to point out the positives, the strengths, the value, and just try to get all that information out in the open for people to think about."
I know you're very deep at running back. What have you seen from RB Kenneth Dixon, and how do you see him fitting into this offense? (Luke Jones) "[Kenneth] Dixon has done a nice job through training camp. He's battling a few nicks, so it's really kind of set him back a little bit, but he's battling back. He was out here today. He's working, and that's all you can do. That's just part of football. He's doing a nice job, though. He's a productive player."
How do you balance what you're doing here in training camp with what you're getting ready for the regular season with some of these guys who won't be playing for awhile?*_(Jerry Coleman)_* "That's a great question, and we could talk at length – ad nauseam, as it were – on that. You really have a lot of balls in the air, because you're getting ready for the season, you're getting ready for today, you're getting ready for the next opponent in the preseason. So, I definitely think you're working on a lot of things at once. You'll try to give information, relevant information, to specific people, what they need to know, and try not to throw a big blanket of information on everybody. It's an interesting challenge, and it's fun."
I know you guys held out QB Lamar Jackson in Thursday's preseason game, but with the joint practices, with the reps that he did get in the first two preseason games, do you feel like he's gotten enough work to get tee'd up for the regular season? (Luke Jones) "Every day out here on the practice field, every rep, is critical out here, and he's doing a great job of embracing that idea. What we do out here, we're playing against a pretty good defense in practice. It's iron sharpening iron, there. I think he's had a really good preseason, and it's every day. He's a very young quarterback, but he's making great progress because of his approach every day. He'll be ready to go."
RB Justice Hill had a run in the preseason game. I think it was called back, but he plowed through a guy and spun off. Has his power impressed you? We knew about his speed. (Aaron Kasinitz) "Yes, that was a really nice run. He did a great job on that. It got called back on something, but yes, Justice is out here getting better every day. We're really excited about him. He brings a lot of energy, too, every day, so [it's] outstanding. He'll be a fun guy to work with."
WR Michael Floyd wasn't uber-productive in those first two games, but to see him translate what we've been seeing in training camp and those joint practices*to that game against the Eagles, was that satisfying for you, for him? _(Jonas Shaffer)_* "This is the thing: If you're a receiver, you can't control how many times the ball gets thrown to you. So, I sweep that out of my mind immediately. That means nothing. I don't look at stats or anything, because if I'm a receiver and I'm running my route, and I'm getting open, and they don't throw it to me, or I'm not part of the read – they doubled me or they clouded me – you need to do your job every play. That's what we really look at, is a guy doing his job every play. Is he getting open? If the quarterback's read brought the ball to him, was he ready for that? Was he open? Did he get open? Now, when you do get opportunities, when the ball does get thrown your way, now, what do you do with it? We see it every day in practice. I look at a guy's entire body of work. We all do. Whether or not we throw it to him, he can't control that. He can just do his job, so you have to really take that into account. Mike has done a really nice job, a really nice job."
Last night, the news came across that QB Andrew Luck retired. What was your reaction to that? (Andrew Gillis) "First of all, I had the opportunity to work with Andrew Luck at Stanford University. It was a great experience working with him. He's obviously a very talented football player, but he's a very talented human being, as well. So, I was slightly shocked and sent him a text. I'm sure I'll talk to him here in the near future. Andrew, I can't speak enough for his character and the kind of person he is. He's a special person, and I wish he and his family nothing but the best."
Special Teams Coach Chris Horton
Opening statement: "The week of Philly practice was pretty good. Our guys got an opportunity to go out and really compete against, what we feel like, is a really good special teams unit. The practices were just OK for us. When we got out into the game though, transitioned into the game, our guys played pretty well. We did some good things, saw a lot of good guys do a lot of good things on the football field. It was a solid day."
We saw that you signed K Elliott Fry. Why was he the one that you wanted to bring in? (Aaron Kasinitz) "When [assistant special teams] Coach [Randy] Brown and myself did the homework on Elliott, it came down to … We really wanted to bring a guy in to kick for us on Thursday night. We prefer not to have to play Justin [Tucker] and Sam [Koch]. Elliott was the best candidate out there. He was in the AAF. I think he was 14-for-14 on field goals. He's a good, young talent, another guy for us to put our eyes on. We're really glad to have him here and let him go out and kick on Thursday night."
If P Sam Koch doesn't play against Washington, who will be handling holding duties? (Jonas Shaffer) "We still have Cameron [Nizialek]. Cameron is still here. He's working on his holding. Cam will punt and do all those good things for us. So, we have two guys. There's an extra spot, and we'll give two good, young guys an opportunity to go out and perform on Thursday night."
I know your playing career was wrapping up when QB Andrew Luck's was just starting, but what are your thoughts on his retirement? (Jonas Shaffer) "What a great player he is. For a guy to go out and do what he's done in his six or seven years, it's been amazing. That guy, whatever he's going to do, he's made the right decision for himself. That's what it comes down to. This game of football, we all love it. I was dozing off last night and kind of saw his press conference. He just talked about how much he loved football. It's true, but we all also understand that, at some point, we have to think about life after football a little bit."
Have you gotten any clarity on the battle at returner, yet? (Jamison Hensley) "Not yet. Again, we'll continue to alternate some guys out there. It's been really, really good to see those two guys just battle it out, them being Cyrus Jones and Tyler Ervin. It's been really good watching those two guys battle it out."