Transcripts: Tuesday Podium Transcripts

Head Coach John Harbaugh

Opening Statement: “Good seeing everybody here; I appreciate you being here. We’re at a critical time now, obviously, in training camp, with the last game and a lot of things going on with the roster and stuff like that. We’re very busy with that, but at the same time, preparing – not just for the opener, but for the first, really, four games of the season – as coaches, and studying the teams we’re going to play and things like that. So, [there are] a lot of balls in the air. It’s an exciting time. We’re fired up with where we’re at, and we’re ready to get the regular season started. But before that, the Washington game brings a lot of opportunity for some answers and some opportunities for guys. We’re looking forward to that. With that, we brought in one player, Fish Smithson, as you know, from Kansas. [He is a] defensive back. I believe he’s a Baltimore guy, East Baltimore. His family is fired up, and he’s a great young man. I just met him upstairs, and I’m looking forward to seeing how he does as well. That’s where we’re at.”

WR Seth Roberts was getting a lot of time with the “ones” before he got hurt. What were you seeing then, and is he a guy you want to take a look at on Thursday? Do you feel like you know where you stand with him? (Luke Jones) “That’s a good question. Possibly. We’re talking about that right now, whether we would want to play him or not. Some of it has to do with how healthy he is. He practiced the last couple of days and looked good. He was playing really well. [He is] a veteran guy, an experienced player. He brought that to the table, and he looked great. There is a possibility that he could play on Thursday with some other guys. The answer to that question, for all of those guys, is a lot of guys won’t play at all. Guys that we don’t feel like we need to see, and the starter-type guys that we don’t need to see won’t play at all. There will be some guys who are possibly starters, who are our younger guys, that we feel the need to work. They’ll play some. A lot of guys who are excited about the opportunity and want to get out there and prove themselves and see if they can make this team or another team will play a lot. That’s kind of how we’ll do it. So, name to name, we’ve made some decisions. We’re up in the air on some other guys. That’s the general outline.”

What do you get out of something like movie day? Is it just blowing off steam? Can you learn something about leadership style from that? (Kirk McEwen)“Leadership style? Eh, not from a movie so much. I guess we could see which movie guys pick. What would we learn from that? I don’t know.” (Reporter: “Sometimes personalities come out when you’re away from the field.”) “They do come out. There’s no doubt about that. You’re exactly right about that. (laughter)But we had a lot of fun. That’s the thing. I was told there was a lot of speculation over the last couple of weeks about when the busses were going to pull up. A lot of guys were asking. So, that’s kind of become an expectation now, let’s say. (laughter) I may have to get more creative next year with another field trip besides a movie, or they’ll want two field trips. But really, the guys earn it. They earn it. Our guys practice really hard, and there’s a time for work, and there’s a time for rest. I felt like that was the time to get an opportunity to kind of hang out, and like you said, get together and enjoy one another’s company. They had fun. It was a good deal.”

There has been a lot of talk coming into camp about the offensive line. C Matt Skura is somebody who seems like he really sees that job. What have you seen from him over the course of camp? (Garrett Downing) “Matt is very reliable. Matt has become a real tempo-setter for us. He knows the calls; he knows the offense. That’s really important for a center – which way to take the protections, which way to take the runs, who we’re blocking, what stack we’re working to. All of those things are really not easy things to figure out on the run in the heat of battle, especially from the perspective that a center has. They don’t have a great view of things down there. He does a great job with that. He’s been a very steady rock in there for us. He’s done a really good job. I’m excited to see how he does this year. He’s ready to roll.”

Is the fourth preseason game a different animal for you, as a coach, because it’s so directly tied to those decisions that come a couple days after it? Is it the same mentality as the other three preseason games?(Childs Walker) “It’s different. Every game is a little subtly different. It’s hard to explain it. Maybe you have to be on the inside to understand it, but each of those four games brings its own set of priorities. It’s nuanced, probably, is the word. But this is different. It’s kind of fun. It really is a fun game to be in. You like to see those guys get out there and play all those snaps and see how they do. Everybody gets fired up to watch those guys play. We’ve had guys make teams in that last game. So, it’ll be a fun game. Our guys are going to want to put their best foot forward. We’re going to want to put our best foot forward as a team. Obviously, the Redskins, they’ll play hard and physical. They always do. It’ll be a big challenge for our guys.”

Defensive coordinator Don Martindale mentioned that DT Michael Pierce was one of those guys that made the team in the fourth preseason game. Do you remember that game or any other examples like that? (Aaron Kasinitz) “Off the top of my head … Again, I didn’t bring my list out. I have to remember that next time. (laughter) Mike is the guy that jumps out the most. You’re right. He just blew the game up. He knocked the ball loose and recovered a fumble down there close to the end zone. He was definitely a consideration going into the game, a strong consideration. I don’t know that you can come out of nowhere in the fourth preseason game, but he sealed the deal, for sure, in that game.”

*We’ve seen first-round quarterbacks struggle as rookies. For what QB Trace McSorley has done this preseason, how impressive is it for him to do all of this as a rookie, especially one who has taken as many reps as he has? _(Jonas Shaffer)_ *“He’s done a good job. It’s hard. It’s a hard position to operate. I’ll say this, too: The preseason is different than the regular season. I think back to when Jim [Harbaugh] was in San Diego … Ryan Leaf, who, God bless him, is coaching now and stuff like that, he had an amazing preseason. He was shredding people, but it was Cover 2 and Cover 3, and all of a sudden, he came out and they started blitzing him in the first game, and it was a long year. They should’ve kept Jim as a starter that year. (laughter) I promise you, they’re sorry they didn’t! They would have had a much better season. So, you keep that in mind. But I digress. (laughter) Trace [McSorley] has definitely, definitely, earned the right to be in our plans, one way or another. We’ll see how it shakes out. We don’t know. It’s a decision that still has to be made, but I think he’s done everything he can do, for sure.”

At this point, do you still feel the left guard competition is open?_ (Aaron Kasinitz)_“Oh yes, it’s still open. We haven’t decided. I talked to a couple of guys this morning about that. My mind is still open. I’m sure there are people in the building, coaches and such, who have their opinions, but I’m very open right now. It will probably, in all honesty, remain a competition until somebody establishes themselves as the established starter. There’s a difference between being a starter and an established starter. That person is going to have to continue to earn that by how they play into the regular season, and I’m quite sure a certain one or more guys will step up. All of those guys are going to be really good players in this league. It’s just a matter of how quickly and what the fit is for us. I like all of those guys. They’re all good players.”

*When you say you talk to them about it, do you tell them to take that starting position? _(Cliff Brown)_ *“[I say] that it’s open still. That was the question, is it still open? Yes, it’s still open. What’s the advice? Have a great practice today. Go out there and practice your best today, just like you’ve been doing. Play your best on Thursday and let the chips fly. We’ll see what happens when next Sunday comes around. And beyond that, the world is not going to end next Sunday, as far as we know. If it does, it won’t matter anyway. (laughter) So, after that, you continue to compete and earn your way, whatever happens.”

*For a guy like CB Iman Marshall, who hasn’t practiced for the last couple of weeks, is it at a time so close to roster cuts … Could you go in a couple of different directions? _(Jeff Zrebiec)_ *“We could go in a couple of different directions. Those will be, probably, strategic decisions that get made. He’s injured, and he’s not healthy to start the season, either. We’ll have to see where that goes. If he was healthy to play on Thursday, he certainly would, but he won’t be healthy to play on Thursday. We’ll just have to decide what’s best for the organization and best for the player. He’s definitely in our plans, long term. And short term, even, [he] could be. So, we just have to see what we do about that this weekend.”

Does CB Tavon Young’s situation affect things because of the rule about coming back on the initial 53-man roster? (Jeff Zrebiec) “It sure could. That’s going to be something that we’ll have to figure out. That’s something we talked about with the balls in the air. Those are all the different balls that are in the air right now, and I don’t know what we’ll do with all of that.”

Any word on ILB Chris Board? (Kirk McEwen) “[Chris] Board is back. He’s cleared. Jaylon [Ferguson] is cleared for the game. They’ll both practice today. We’re good.”

You’ve talked about all the decisions that come down into that fourth preseason game, but a huge topic of conversation has been whether four preseason games are necessary. If tomorrow, we live in a world where there are two preseason games, how would you adjust to that? (Ken Weinman)“We’d be good. As coaches, you figure it out, as long as everybody is on the same [page]. There has to be a certain amount of preparation. I watched the Florida-Miami game. It was exciting. It wasn’t real pretty, and that’s OK. That’s college football. I don’t think the NFL fans would tolerate that brand of football in the regular season. It’s more complicated here. Our quarterbacks see more coverages. Our defenses see more formations and plays and things like that. The NBA plays all summer. They play year-round in hockey. So, guys have to do what you have to do to make sure that the caliber of the playing is up to par. What is that? How do you do that? If you give us enough time, we’ll figure out how to do it. We need enough practices. We need practices against other teams, scrimmages, all of those kinds of things. Do we need four preseason games? No, I think we could do it with less. Four preseason games are OK. If there’s a better way to do it or a way that’s more player-friendly, injury-friendly, we could figure that out, too, for sure. I do think the NFL is working on that right now, and the Players Association.”

QB Trace McSorley

*On his emotions going into the last preseason game: *“Excited – just another opportunity to get out, show what we can do as players and as a team. It’s the last time to be able to get on the field before the season starts. It’s a big opportunity for a lot of guys to make their case to be able to stay here. So, I think it’s a really good opportunity and an exciting moment.”

*On his emotions from the previous preseason game at Philadelphia: *“It was kind of emotional a little bit, but it was just exciting to be able to get in there and get an extended opportunity. It was a really good day for our offense. We went out, and we were able to execute really well, be efficient and put points on the board. Overall, it was a good game that we were able to get out and put some good stuff on film.”

*On if the upcoming game is special for him because he grew up in the D.C. area: *“Honestly, not really. It’s just another game, and it’s kind of just the mentality that it’s the most important one, with it being the next one. I’m not putting too much on it with it being the hometown team and all that kind of stuff.”

*On if it is difficult to not think about where he fits into the roster, and if he thinks about it at all: *“Not too much. There’s only so much that you can control as a player, and what that is, is what you put out on the field and how you practice, how you play in the game. All the other stuff are decisions that are outside your control as a player. You just want to come in and do everything you can. Obviously, you want to put the best product on the field, personally and collectively as a unit. At the end of the day, [it’s about] just focusing on what you can control on the field, and everything else kind of plays itself out.”

*On if he feels as though he has done enough to make the final roster: *“It’s kind of hard to say. It’s a big body of work. I’ve just tried to come in and prove every day and take the next step in practice and in games, continue to improve and get better and do everything I can to show the coaches that I want to be here and that I can make a difference here and be on this team.”

*On if he was disappointed that the game at Philadelphia was cut short: *“Just from the standpoint of that we had a bunch of Penn State guys on the other sideline that I couldn’t talk to after the game. _(laughter) _Obviously, you want to see a lot of those guys be able to get out and get their opportunity – guys like Joe Callahan and a lot of other guys who got cut short, unfortunately. It definitely was tough to kind of see it from that standpoint. I was bummed out from there.”

*On if he knows how much special teams he will be playing in the upcoming preseason game: *“We haven’t talked about the reps and that kind of stuff that will come with this game. I’m going to be ready for everything, though.”

*On areas he can improve after watching film: *“Just continuing to take the next step as far as being comfortable, finding the open guy at times, not moving too much in the pocket, that kind of stuff. Really, it’s just being able to take the grading from that, put it behind us and look forward to this week.”

*On if he thinks he has had a lot of opportunity in the preseason with QB Robert Griffin III’s injury: *“Yes, kind of exactly what you said – you never want to see a guy go down like that, especially in practice or something like that. It sucks to see that happen, but it was an opportunity. It was something that I kind of looked forward to as far, as taking that opportunity, as far as being able to get on the field and getting more reps, more experience, that kind of stuff, and be able to learn as much as I can. I think from that standpoint, it was an opportunity for me, and really, for some other guys in our room.” 

*On what he thinks he has proven this preseason: *“I think being able to come in, being able to move the offense, wanting to do more things for us. Taking care of the ball a little bit better, I haven’t been great in that area, personally, from what I feel like. But, moving the ball as an offense, and at the end of the day, being efficient and putting points on the board and giving our team the opportunity to win [has been important]. With our defense, they tend to make it easy on an offense, because they’re so good. But I think it’s just being able to come in as an offense and as a quarterback and be able to lead the team, move the ball efficiently, get points on the board.”

*On if the preseason has given him confidence that he can be an NFL quarterback: *“It definitely has, as far as being able to get confidence, especially being able to come out and doing those things that I said – moving the ball, putting points on the board. At the end of the day, winning games is the ultimate goal, and we’ve been able to do that.”

*On if he has had any “cool” moments in the preseason, like WR Miles Boykin seeing much of the rookie draft class on the field at the same time at Philadelphia: *“Yes, it was kind of the same moment Miles had. We were all in the huddle – me, him, Marquise [Brown], Justice [Hill] and even Ben [Powers], so it was our rookie class as a whole on offense getting in there. It was kind of just a cool moment to see we all were in there, in that opportunity, starting in the huddle together. It was just a really cool moment, I think, for all of us. We all kind of looked at each other, and it was the mutual [recognition]. We all understood what we all saw at that point.” (Reporter: “So nothing was said?”) “I think Miles was like, ‘This is pretty cool that we’re all in here at the same time.’ (laughter) And we all just kind of looked at each other like, ‘It is pretty cool. Shoot.’”

*On if he had encounters with Washington players growing up near the Redskins’ facility: *“Yes, I definitely ran into a lot of guys. I’m kind of fortunate that a lot of those guys that played there ended up retiring and staying in the area, so I have some mentors from that standpoint. A guy like Eddie Mason is a guy that, to this day, I stay in contact with. He’s just been a sounding board and a mentor for me. I definitely did have some cool moments growing up, running into guys like Sean Taylor. And, from that standpoint, being able to see and meet those guys, when I was a kid growing up, at their training camp practices … [It’s] kind of like how we had all those kids out here [for training camp]. I was one of those kids at the Redskins’ practice. It was really cool from that standpoint for me and my perspective now, being able to see the other side of it. But yes, I definitely did have those moments growing up.”

*On if he grew up a Washington fan: *“Yes, I grew up a ‘Skins fan.”

*On when he met Sean Taylor: *“I ran into him a little bit at a restaurant and a couple other things. My mom was a real estate agent, and he was one of her clients, so over time, it ended up that I ran into him a few places, just tagging along with her.”

*On if the upcoming game means anything extra to him being in Washington: *“It’s just a cool moment. I think it will be. Honestly, I wasn’t really die-hard as a fan or anything like that. I just followed the team because I was in the area. I was a fan of them, but it’s just another opportunity to go out and play in the NFL and play against an NFL-caliber team from that standpoint. I’m not looking too much into it, honestly. I’m just trying to look at it as it’s a very important game for us, and in our schedule it’s the next one, so it’s the next one we need to go out and get a win.”

*On if the veteran players have told him what to expect this weekend with cuts looming: *“Not really. We haven’t really discussed that. Pretty much all that has been said is just be ready to play as much as possible. You never know what’s going to happen in the game on Thursday. As far as Friday and Saturday go, [they] really haven’t discussed it with anybody.”

*On if he has a plan of what to do while waiting for the call: *“I really haven’t thought about it at all. I’m just going to play it by ear.”

*On how he bounced back from a rough practice in Philadelphia: *“It’s just the good and the bad. You have to be able to take both of it, and you can’t let it affect what’s going to happen next. Coming out of Tuesday’s practice, it was definitely not a good performance by myself. We just didn’t finish well. So, I think it was just one of those things where I had to watch the film. Coach [James] Urban said, ‘Take your medicine. You have to watch it; you have to learn from it. But then, you have to put it behind you.’ So, I think that’s something that just comes with the position, the good and the bad. You have to be able to take it all and move on to the next play.”

*On if he would have done anything differently on his touchdown run: *“We got a touchdown, so it’s hard to kind of say. I probably would rather avoid the big hit. Running into three guys, probably not the best decision. (laughter) If I could do it, maybe just try and dive for the corner, do that again. At the end of the day, when you get down there, you have to get the touchdown. There probably are a few better ways I could do that, though.” (laughter)

DE Chris Wormley

On advice to young players this week with cuts coming: “Just go out there and do your job. That’s what the coaches are looking for, especially in this fourth preseason game. They want to see you perform at your best. They want to see you go out there and do what you’re asked to do and then take the coaching points that they’ve been trying to tell you for the last month or so. Go out there and make some plays, and if the Ravens aren’t going to keep you, then put tape out there that 31 other teams are going to want to say, ‘Hey, let’s take this guy and take a chance on him.’”

On if he’s starting to think of himself as a veteran: “Yes, I think so. The first year, I guess my second year as a vet, I was still trying to learn, still trying to feel my way through the organization and trying to get comfortable with the guys in the locker room, the coaches and just trying to see where I fit in on this defense. Now, I think I’ve kind of taken that step forward where I can solicit some advice to the younger guys that are looking for it and then try to help them any way I can.”

On times he spoke up this year as a veteran: “I think it’s not more so speaking up, but maybe pulling a guy aside and giving them my advice from my point of view and seeing maybe the mistakes or the things that I haven’t done to the best of my ability and use that towards helping them put themselves in a better position to succeed.”

On DT Daylon Mack’s development and his redemption after forgetting cinnamon rolls: “Daylon Mack is going to be a good player. I think he picked it up a lot those two practices against Philadelphia. Coach challenged him a little bit before those practices, and I think he stepped up to the challenge. And he’s a big force in the middle. He’s got two great mentors in [Michael] Pierce and Brandon [Williams], so I think with those two guys leading the way in his development, he’s going to be a good player. And I think he’s redeemed himself [from the cinnamon situation]. He actually brought the cinnamon rolls that I asked for and then actually had Cinnabon come in and hook the guys up, so he’s redeemed himself.” (laughter)

On Mack going above and beyond to redeem himself: “If he just would have got the cinnamon rolls to begin with, the peanuts wouldn’t have happened. The packing peanuts wouldn’t have happened.”

On if he was surprised how much attention the packing peanuts prank got: “A little bit, but I was more angry or maybe jealous that Daylon Mack got more attention than I did. (laughter) He was getting TMZ and NBC and even Cinnabon reached out to him, and I was the one that spent the money, spent the time. I was sweating after a camp practice, packing all these peanuts in his car, and I got very little recognition. (laughter) But it’s OK. I wasn’t looking for the clout anyways.”

On the development of the Ravens’ inside pass rush: “I think we’ve got three or four guys that can really make a difference this year in the middle. Bringing [Pernell] McPhee in, he’s a great leader on and off the field, and he’s someone that has taught me a lot in just these four weeks of camp. Willie Henry is definitely one that’s supposed to be a guy that can get us five or six sacks this season. I think myself … The two big guys [Michael Pierce and Brandon Williams] in the middle have shown great push in the preseason games and also out here in the one-on-ones, and then Pat Ricard has come on pretty well over the past couple preseason games. So, I think there’s going to be a great rotation of three, four, five guys that are going to be in the middle and getting that pressure that we need up the middle.”

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