Head Coach Robert Saleh, 9.1

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Antwon Staley, New York Daily News: Robert, just wanted to get your thoughts on Kwon Alexander and his progress and what you’ve seen from him since you signed him?

Kwon’s been great. He’s got the same juice and energy that I remember back in San Fran. He picked up the system really well, he’s taken to the room. I think he’s got a handshake for everybody, but really love the energy, the juice, the leadership and everything that he brings, so again, really happy that he’s here.

 

Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, just where are you guys at in terms of prepping for the Ravens? Obviously, you have this extra time, have you guys started working on them with the players or is it just with the coaches right now?

We’ve been working on them since the schedule came out and sprinkling in some concepts here and there that we know we’re going to be using for the game, so since the schedule, we’ve been working on it. Now, we are obviously in the meat and potatoes of it and actually revealing the game plan to the guys who are here and really focusing on that, so this whole week, yesterday, two days ago and today really is trying to simulate a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday of game week, so we’re installing some of our stuff and then we’ll revisit it over the weekend as coaches and then finalize it all on Monday and get rolling again Wednesday.

 

Brian Costello, New York Post: Week One is always challenging, right? You kind of don’t know what to expect in Week One a lot the times, but they have a new defensive coordinator, I don’t think Lamar Jackson played at all in the preseason, are they kind of a unique challenge in Week One or is this kind of what you’re used to?

Week One is always a little bit different I guess, just especially when you have a new coordinator. He’s coming from Michigan, he’s a part of the tree, but obviously he’s going to have his flavor from their defense obviously. With Baltimore, obviously everything revolves around Lamar (Jackson) and their run game and his ability to throw. I mean the guy’s pretty dynamic, but I think Greg Roman does a really nice job from an offensive perspective creating a lot of issues, but it’s always going to create a problem because you never know what the opposing team has kind of brought in from a new wrinkle standpoint, but the same thing can be said for us too.

 

Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: Robert, you talked yesterday about how you expect there to be a lot more close games this season with your team being better. This team hasn’t had a kicker for a full season since like 2019 or something like that, so I guess how confident are you that you have the guy to help you close out those close games?

For sure, that’s a good one. Z’s (Greg Zuerlein) been around for a while, he’s kicked in this league for a long time, he’s been a reliable kicker in this league, he’s kicked a couple of game-winners last year, so we’re very comfortable with the kicker that we have and really excited about the way he’s approached everything from OTAs to now and we’re fortunate, hopefully we put to bed all the kicker issues that this organization has had in the past.

 

Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, I think you mentioned it yesterday, maybe it was you or Joe (Douglas), I can’t remember, about slow starts were an issue last year, I think it was you, just how much does that effect everything when you’re playing from behind, just game plan wise and everything else. How hard does that make it when you’re playing from behind so much?

 

Well, it changes everything. You want to get, one – from an offensive view when you’re behind, you feel the pressure to try to generate points and to ty to pick up something and so, your game plan which is designed to start fast and keep you on schedule and move in a certain direction, you’ve got to have the discipline, but it’s a challenge to you personally because you’re also going to the sideline trying to figure out something to kickstart your team and on the defensive side, same thing. If you get punched in the mouth early, how do you settle the guys down to get them going? But, whenever you’re behind the eight ball, there’s only so many possessions that you have in a football game and if you’re playing catch up, it’s not good. If the opposing team is ahead, then they can just stay on schedule and run their game plan, you’re not creating a one-dimensional team. There’s just a lot of different things especially when you start slow and obviously, games that we started fast like Cincinnati, we were able to go blow for blow. There were a few of them throughout the season that we were able to go blow for blow, Tennessee we started pretty fast, defensively anyway, but it is a challenge because you want to start fast, but at the same time, keep the main thing, and it’s not always about how you start, it’s about how you finish, so there’s a global part to in terms of starting fast, finishing faster and things that we’ve been focusing on this year.

 

Al Iannazzone, Newsday: I know he’s in all the meetings and everything, but how much is Zach (Wilson) missing right now by not being a part of everything physically and what do you expect from him when he comes back and throughout this season?

Anytime you miss reps, whether you’re the quarterback or the two technique, it doesn’t matter. It’s playing football is the best way to get better, but Zach (Wilson) is doing everything in his power to stay exactly as close to where he needs to be as possible, fully expect Zach when he’s able to start throwing and get back into practice to catch up pretty quickly. He’s in every meeting, he’s in everything, so just fully expect him to be able to pick up where he left off pretty quickly, so I’m not overly concerned about Zach.

 

Al Iannazzone, Newsday: When you talk about all the stuff you mentioned yesterday that the team, you see this building something, his development, and his growth I would imagine are pretty critical in this, do you see that happening this year?

Yeah, before the injury he was way ahead of where he was a year ago. I know that first preseason game people put a lot of stock into those series which is warranted, but that first preseason game isn’t even close to what he’s been showing throughout OTAs and training camp and the way he communicates even now that he’s not a part of the practices and he’s just in meetings, so really excited about him getting the chance to get back to the football field to show how far along he’s come. As far as the development and the course that he’s on, we’re excited about it and we’re excited about his future.

 

Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: Robert, I just wanted to follow up on one thing you said yesterday regarding Zach and his timetable. You mentioned how last year he had those two light weeks of scout team work before he got starter reps before he came back from the injury and then you said how this year, he can do it with one heavy week of starter reps. I’m wondering, what would be different about this year from last year, especially since this year he had actual surgery?

Yeah, that one is going to be for doctors, there’s something in the return to play protocol that kind of structured it the way it did, where this one he’s going through all the rehab that he needs to, so that’s more of a doctor question. It has to do with the return to play protocol that’s assigned to the player once the injury has been diagnosed and all that stuff, Rich.

Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, where are you at in terms of the offensive line feeling like they’re coming together and gelling with the limited work they’ve had this summer together?

Yeah, the good news with that last preseason game is the group got together for the first time in game action, the bad news is it didn’t go the way we were hoping for. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t what we want obviously and I think they’ll all agree, but every single rep that we take two days ago, yesterday, today, come back Monday, same thing over the course of the week, so we have time to get the game reps in, we’re having team comps, so it’s not just going against cards, we’re competing against one another also, but we’ve got to get going. There’s an opportunity for us to catch up pretty quick and we’ve got about five, six practices left, five practices.

 

Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: Robert, I know you were asked about Kwon (Alexander) a little bit earlier. Can I just follow up a little bit just on his, we all had a chance to see his energy level since he’s got here which obviously you were well aware of before and you know I looked back at that hit that he made in the Giants game the other day. It just ignited everything and obviously, it was just a preseason game, can you just expand a little bit on what that can do to the people around him when he makes a hit like that?

Oh, I think it lights up the fans too. If you listen to the TV copy, they were on an off topic, they were talking about something else and then that hit happened and it brought them back in the game too, so anytime you have a guy who just has so much energy and his communication, his volume and his voice, the detail, the effort, his style of play which embodies everything that we talk about with that effort, technique and a violence that we expect to see play in and play out from everybody, he embodies all of it, so he brings people to life and it’s all the little things. I think like I said earlier, I think he’s got a specific handshake for everybody on the football team. I don’t know how he remembers all of that, but he’s a unique individual, special individual and I’m really happy he’s here.

 

Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: Football wise, I mean does he still have some of the same things that he had when you had him before?

Yeah, he had a lot of juice in that Giants game where it looks like he’s starting to get his legs underneath him, remember he didn’t have any OTAs, got here just before training camp, so he’s been building up to that. In the Giants game, if you just put a lens on him and just watch him throughout the game he was flying around. He looked fast, he looked fresh, he was energetic, his legs were obviously behind him because he was delivering some pops on the backs and getting on and off blocks in block protection on o-linemen, so he looked really good and, again, he’s only going to get stronger as he goes, so as long as he continues to take care of his body and attacking his rehab and regen like he knows he should, he’s going to be fine.

 

Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: Robert, with Tony Adams when you guys were scouting him, what were some of the things that you saw out of him at Illinois? And that you saw could be a fit for the defense here?

Yeah, so he’s really fast. I think he was clocked at 4.3, 4.4, so he’s got tremendous speed, he’s got tremendous football IQ, and he’s got an unbelievable mindset. We were in the draft, you know when you’re having your interviews, you have all these zoom interviews and you’re interviewing players just trying to find out more about them, which was one of the advantages of COVID is it’s brought zoom to us and Marquand (Manuel) was talking to him, our safeties coach, and asking him questions about what he wants to get out of the NFL and point blank he looked right through that zoom lens, you felt like he was in the room, he said I want to take someone’s job and here he is, he’s in OTAs, he’s doing extra. He’s one of the first one’s on the field, he’s one of the last one’s off. He’s communicating at a high level, he’s acing his assignments, he’s doing great in man coverage. He’s just dominating special teams, so just his overall body of work from OTAs to all the way to cutdown day. I mean he attacked the heck out of it and really excited for him and what he’s been able to accomplish.

 

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