Transcripts: Tuesday Podium Transcripts from Philadelphia Joint Practices

Head Coach John Harbaugh

Have you gotten a birthday gift for executive vice president of public and community relations Kevin Byrne? (Jamison Hensley) “Kevin Byrne, happy birthday Kevin Byrne. That’s a great way to start it out. Thank you. Kevin is 70 years young. You wouldn’t even know it! You see this guy playing basketball and racquetball? Man, not a day over 69. (laughter) Happy birthday, Kevin.”

Now that you know what the NFL might be trying to move towards with a couple preseason games, do you kind of see this as part of the future, these joint practices? (Nick Fierro) “I think the joint practices are really good. I do. We had two great days, two teams that are very like-minded in what we wanted to get out of it. I thought we had a very physical, very hot [practice] and no issues. You might’ve had a little shoving match or talking going on here, but it was really good fun. I just felt like we got a lot of work done. I wouldn’t be opposed to that at all. I’m on record … I don’t know how many of these preseason games we really need to play, but I also understand there’s a lot … There’s a lot to the bargaining process, so we’ll see what happens.”

When you were here, you had some of these teams come through. Was it different than it is now because the preseason is so different? (Jon Marks) “We didn’t really have those. We had scrimmages back with Ray Rhodes. My first year, we had the scrimmage against the Bills, and that was only a one-day deal. The practices for us really hadn’t started until about five, six years ago. We came here in ’15; we went with my brother [Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49ers] in ’14. It’s really kind of new for us, too, but it’s been good. Every time we’ve done it, it’s been good.”

We’ve talked about potential slot guys with CB Tavon Young out. Is CB Anthony Averett a guy you could use there? Is he versatile enough to play in the slot? (Jeff Zrebiec) “Yes, he was in there today and yesterday, so he’s one of the guys working in there. Almost all of the guys work in there. Marlon [Humphrey] has been in there, Jimmy [Smith] has even been in there, so it just kind of depends. For us, the way we’re operating right now, it depends on the call, it depends on the matchup, things like that.”

Is there anything definitive with CB Tavon Young either way? Have you made a decision? (Jamison Hensley) “Nothing definitive. I think it’s probably … It’s in the opinions of the doctors. I’m sure there are different ways of looking at it, so they’ll probably see how it goes in the next week or two or three, whatever they have to do, and see what the progress is.”

What has it been like watching TE Nick Boyle grow over the last couple years, and how important is it to have a strong leader in that tight end group? (Unknown) “It’s a great point; Nick is a leader. Those guys look up to him, his style of play and the way he goes about his job. Nick is all business. He’ll laugh and have fun, but quickly turns his attention right back to the task at hand. Loved him, loved him ever since he got to the Ravens, and I’m glad he’s our tight end.”

It’s been a few years since you’ve seen QB Carson Wentz up close and in person. What do you think of his progression? (Unknown) “He looks good to me. Whenever you play against somebody, maybe they look better to you than they do to your own [eyes] – if you’re with the guy – but I think the Eagles are very happy with him. I can see why. He’s one of the top quarterbacks”

The guys that didn’t practice today, anything concerning, or just the normal bumps and bruises of camp? (Ken Weinman) “Yes, nothing really concerning. Nothing major that I’m aware of at this time. As we know, that can change.”

What is it like being back here, seeing so many people? (Jon Marks) “It’s fun. It’s fun coming back. The place is still beautiful, the surroundings. I’m wondering if some of these sandwich places are still here or not. (laughter) It’s just a great organization. Mr. [Jeffrey] Lurie was so good to us, and of course, Doug [Pederson] is a class act. He’s kind of a connection to the past. It’s good to see that the Eagles are in that kind of mode that they’re built the same way they’ve been built for a long time. And, that continuity leads to success. It’s great to be back that way.”

Since the end of last season, you talked about improving QB Lamar Jackson’s ball-handling. What has been worked on, and what have you seen in terms of progress with him? (Mark Viviano) “It’s been way better. If you’re just watching the practice, you probably saw it. Lamar makes very few mistakes with ball-handling right now. The snaps have been much more accurate than they were in the past, so that starts everything off on the right foot. You haven’t seen a lot of the more complicated ball-handling plays, but the ones we have run have been well done. We had one where it was all quarterback today. We didn’t pull it properly, so that was on Trace [McSorley] to do a better job of that, and he usually does. We’re way ahead of the curve on that.”

I know he hasn’t been here long, but what are your impressions of QB Joe Callahan? (Unknown) “Joe has done a good job, a Delaware guy over there at Wesley [College]. He’s a good quarterback, has a very strong arm, leader, smart, really tough competitor. Hates making a mistake; hates it. And as a coach, you appreciate that, because we hate mistakes, and he doesn’t make very many of them. So, he has the right kind of mindset.”

QB Lamar Jackson

*On what he thought about the team’s two days of joint practices in Philadelphia: *“I felt like my team came out here and we got better each and every day. We stuck through the grind. Today, we had one rookie step up, Ben Powers. We had ‘Boze’ [Bradley Bozeman] come in and fill in for our left guard. Guys just stepped it up. We did great today.”

On what rookie WR Miles Boykin adds to the offense: “You see him make great catches on the sideline. [He is a] lanky guy. He has speed. He’s explosive. He’s going to be a great tool this year.”

On how the Eagles’ rushing the passer challenged him this week: “[It was] very challenging. That was the first time I’ve seen a very explosive defensive line, besides ours. They got after it a little. Our line held it down. It was very good on both sides.”

On his connection with WR Miles Boykin early in practice today:“Except for that one I missed; I want to get that one back. I was on the sideline going through it, the motions. I wanted to cry about it. (laughter) But [we] moved on to the next play. We got better. We made two more great catches on the sideline. We’re going to be good this year.”

On what it is about his connection with WR Miles Boykin that seems to be clicking: “He finds a way to get open. He runs a great route. He has great hands. He’s a good receiver.”

*On if there is anything that he would like to accomplish in his third preseason game: *“Score points, come out with a ‘W.’ I want to win and keep the streak going.”

On the fact that he looked more crisp today in practice: “I looked bad yesterday?” (Reporter: “The red zone drill yesterday…”) “Oh, OK, OK. I thought I looked bad yesterday.” (Reporter: “Were there adjustments you made after yesterday?”) “I watched film. I saw a lot of incompletions, and I tried to turn them into completions today. That’s all I did. Guys got open, guys caught the ball, and we just had success.”

*On what he has worked on with ball security, and if he feels stronger in that area: *“I got on the JUGS machine, caught a few passes. No, I didn’t. (laughter) Just working with our running backs coach, Matt [Weiss], and got out there with the running backs, holding the ball, putting my wrists over the ball to try to have the least amount of turnovers. I had one today on the interception. I thought the whistle was blown, but it’s all good.”

On if ball security is a significant concern: “No, it’s not a concern. My concern is on winning. That’s my motto. I go by winning. We have to fix … We have to wait until the regular season to see what goes on.”

On how much he has grown from the beginning of OTAs until now:“I wish I was the reporter. I would ask you that. (laughter) I think I grew a lot. I got in the playbook, learned as much as I can. I got way, way ahead of where I was for OTAs, like you said. I dialed in, got [with] my guys in the summer to now. It’s been incredible, just working hard, getting after it. I just got better. I felt comfortable, and [we’re] just doing well so far.”

On how important it is to enter practice feeling like he is having fun: “I love the game. I love music. I know you guys watch me on Instagram and stuff like that playing my music. So, when they play music, I’m just getting hyped like it’s gameday. Turn practice into a game.”

On what cheesesteak recommendations he received in Philly:“They sent me Max’s. They sent me all types of cheesesteak restaurant names, but I went to Oh Brothers, something like that. Philly’s? Something, I don’t know. (laughter) It was good! I went to Max’s earlier, during the summer on break. It was great. It was great. But I don’t know, man, it was pretty good, all the cheesesteaks I had!”

K Justin Tucker

Opening statement: “In the spirit of [former special teams coordinator] Jerry Rosburg, I should say, ‘Fire when ready.’” (laughter)

*On if he tries different techniques to see how they work out during the preseason rather than choosing specific things to work on: *“We have more of a, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ type of situation going on here, starting with Morgan [Cox] and Sam [Koch]. At this point, I think I’m just assistant kicker and the ball could probably kick itself. The way those guys operate makes my job so much easier. Every single day, we’re coming in with acute focus on getting better at something. We’re not going to be trying new stuff that we don’t need to, but if something could be improved upon, we’re certainly going to explore that when we’re out here on the practice field.”

On if he sets goals at the beginning of the season: “Coming into my rookie year, my second year, my third year, I would have a specific goal in mind. It would typically be something along the lines of, ‘Convert X percentage of my kicks, get to a Pro Bowl.’ But I feel like I’m at a point in my career where it’s more important to take stock each and every day and appreciate every moment for what it’s worth. For me, that just means taking it one kick at a time. My goals for the season are as simple as, today, coming out here and making whatever kicks I have lined up for me in practice. That might sound really elementary, but that is the truth. I just really try to take it one kick at a time. As long as we’ve been taking that attitude, we’ve made a lot more kicks than we’ve missed. I should rephrase that: We’ve made a lot more kicks, and I’ve missed a couple here and there, and those are, fortunately, few are far between.”

On if there are any physical aspects of his game that feel different than they did when he was a younger player: “Thanks for bringing up that I will be turning 30 this year and reminding me that I am one of the grey beards on the team now. _(laughter) _But I haven’t even hit my prime, yet. I’ll leave it at that.”

*On how he feels about Colts K Adam Vinatieri kicking at age 46: *“Vinatieri, 46, ain’t even hit his prime yet! _(laughter) _The guy is incredible. He’s one of my heroes in sports, in football. Watching guys like him, Phil Dawson, our own Matt Stover, Robbie Gould – seeing those guys do what they do, their age notwithstanding, it’s really incredible to watch. It’s something that I feel like, any specialist who wants to get better, you have to watch the guys who have been doing it really, really well, or are currently doing it well, and who have done it well for a long time. Those guys absolutely fall into those categories.”

*On assistant special teams coach Randy Brown’s influence on the specialists: *“I owe a large part of my individual success to Randy Brown, absolutely. Randy came in my second day of training camp my rookie year, and he changed the type of kicker that I was. He told me this, he said, ‘You can be an 80-percent guy, or maybe an 80-percent guy in the AFC North, doing what you’re doing right now.’ And he told me, ‘These are the things that you need to do to increase your chances at becoming an 85-, 90-, 95-percent guy in the AFC North.’ So, without Randy then, without Randy now, and all the time that we’ve had in between the last seven-plus years, I would absolutely not be the football player that I am today. Randy is incredibly important to, not just myself, but Morgan [Cox] and Sam [Koch]. And now, with his increased role with our whole special teams [unit] … Randy is a very important part of our organization, and I’m happy to get the chance to work with him every single day.”

*On if there is something about how assistant special teams coach Randy Brown teaches technique that is so instrumental to the specialists’ success: *“It’s just that he has a unique talent, that he has an eye for what it looks like to kick a good ball, or throw a good snap, or punt a ball or hold a ball. He knows the ins and outs of what it takes to do all of those things. Beyond that, he’s an excellent communicator. I think the hallmark of a great coach is being able to communicate to a variety of different personalities effectively, and Randy absolutely knows how to do that.”

On if he had a chance to see Eagles K Jake Elliott this week: “I’m glad you brought him up. He’s one of the handful of kickers that, when I’m looking to grab something from somebody else’s game and make it my own, he’s one of the guys that I will watch. To come out here and see Jake doing his thing in person, he’s definitely an impressive kicker. His track record speaks for itself. It’s really cool the number of big kicks that he’s made in such a short time. I’ll absolutely be wishing him success.”

On what techniques he has picked up from Eagles K Jake Elliott in the past: “I can’t give away trade secrets. (laughter) I appreciate you asking.”

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