John Harbaugh Press Conference: 8-23-05

War Nest
Posted Aug 23, 2005


On whether they may keep two punters on the roster if P Dirk Johnson doesn’t return in time: “As far as the roster goes, there are lots of options. [Head] Coach [Andy] Reid and [vice president of personnel] Tom Heckert are kind of working all of that stuff out. We just have to play it out and see how Dirk is and see where we are at come that last cut.”

On whether the punting position is Dirk’s job to lose or it has become competition with P Sean Landeta signing:
We’ve talked to Sean. Dirk has proven himself as our punter here and he has done a great job. We are in a situation where we need a guy to come in and punt well for us right now. In this league, what George Allen said, ‘the future is now.’ I don’t think you ever know what is going to happen down the road, but Dirk has done a great job, he’s a heck of a punter and we all know what kind of punter Sean Landeta is. So it just makes our team stronger.”  

On where former Eagles punter Mark Mariscal is in his career:
“I think Mark Mariscal is really close to being an NFL punter. We were just going through his charts, a matter of fact, we were going through them with Sean; Mark did not have a bad practice. He put together a string of really good practices and that is hard to do, to be that consistent. I think now the key is to be able to transfer that to a game setting. In a lot of situations, and we were there with Dirk a couple of years ago, you’ve got time to develop that guy, bring him along, put him in those settings. We just don’t feel like that is where we are at right now, where we have time to facilitate that transfer right now. But I think if you put Mark out there sometime this year, he would punt real well in the NFL”  

On why they would sign Landeta with only two weeks left in the preseason and Dirk coming back:
“I think we are not sure if Dirk is going to come back. He just had surgery a few weeks ago. The way I understand it, and Coach Reid can answer the details of it, it’s going to go to right to that time frame, whether he is going to be ready or not. I think we want to make sure we have our best scenario for the opener and then really just kind of play it by ear from there.”  

On how CB Dexter Wynn and WR Justin Jenkins’ injuries affects special teams:
“It’s like a parade of hits, we keep getting guys nicked up. Knock on wood, we haven’t had too many major things and we are going to get those guys back eventually. But it kind of makes it tough in the preseason because our numbers are way down. Although it gives a lot of guys an opportunity, young guys, to get out there and play special teams early in the game. But we just have to go to the next guy and just get guys healthy as we go. There is really nothing we can do about it.”  

On whether anyone besides RB Reno Mahe will get a shot at punt returning:
“We are going to continue to work with [CB] Rod Hood in there in the preseason. Of course, [RB] Brian [Westbrook] and [CB] Lito [Sheppard] always do it. We don’t see them doing it right now in the preseason. But Reno and Rod Hood will do it in games and we also have [WR] Robert Redd to do it in games. So we have plently of guys to get us through and Reno is proven. We know what he can do.”  

On Reno saying that he was a horrible returner last year:
“I wouldn’t characterize it that way. I think he had a solid year. He didn’t make big plays and I think he is capable of making yards, no question about it. But that didn’t happen last year, but he caught everything, held on to everything, got positive yards. That’s a solid year.”  

On whether the special teams units playing in the game on Friday will be close to the units he will go into the regular season with:
“I think they will be piece meal to what we are going into the season with. We’ve got so many guys that won’t be playing at all, other guys who will be playing more on defense because guys are hurt on defense and stuff. You will see probably, I’d say about 50% at one time or another, guys playing together. We won’t have our units together, but you don’t have to right now. We need to put the pieces in next to each other and get guys playing their position well. We will put it together, I think we are in the process of putting it together.”  

On whether he will have his units together for the 4th preseason game or he will wait until the season opener:
‘We will do it a little bit in this game, as much as we can. We will do it as much as we can the 4 th game, as healthy as we are. But you can only do it relative to how healthy you are. If we don’t have Dexter Wynn, for instance, healthy enough; he can’t go back to return punts. That is kind of the same situation all across the board. [LB] Mike Labinjo has got a little bit of a knee. How much will he play? Depending on how much he plays is how much he is out there on special teams. So it’s just hard to say. My guess is, to answer your question; we will not have everybody together until the first game realistically.”  

On whether they ever considered K David Akers punting before they signed Landeta:
“That’s one of the options. We’ve looked at every option. Any option you can think of, I would guess we’ve thought of. That’s still not out of the realm of possibility. Dave can punt. It’s just a matter of whether you want to do that and would that be the best situation.”  

On whether it would be frightening to have Akers punt because he is so valuable:
“It would be a consideration. If someone runs into him, then you would have a problem. It would be a risk you have to decide you would be willing to take.”  

On whether he has seen Landeta punt recently:
“I’ve seen him punt, just not recently. I’ve seen him punt many times. He punted last year, so you know he can punt. The thing about Sean, he’s going to tell you right where he is at and he has been punting all along. We will get a chance to see him over the next two weeks, which is nice. So you see him for two weeks before you go into the regular season, you acclimate your cover guys to his punting style. We are not going to try to change Sean to our cover guys. We are going to teach our cover guys how to cover Sean’s punts. So all that is part of the process I think we will get a chance to do over the next two weeks. Plus, get him kind of in game shape, so to speak.”  

On what is different about Landeta’s style compared to Dirk’s style:
“Everybody is a little different. Some guys are directional punters; some guys are hang-time punters. I think Sean is kind of, if a field punter is the right work, I don’t know he would agree with that or not. He’s the kind of guy where he is going to give you the best ball for the situation. So your cover team has to be very flexible in terms of covering the field and just figuring out where that ball is at. Sean’s not going to tell you it is going to be a right, left, or middle. He’s going to get out on the field; he’s going to give you his best punt. That’s how it was when he was here before and we just have to teach our guys how it works.”  

On whether he misses former Eagles LB Ike Reese and what he did with the younger players:
“I just miss having Ike around. I miss Ike. It’s always good to have Ike around. It’s a different camp because we have always had that leadership from the one guy. We’ve gotten great leadership from a lot of guys. I can name guys like [S] Quintin Mikell and Rod Hood and [LB] Keith Adams and [LB] Mark Simoneau. All of those guys have stepped up and been tremendous leaders. But, it’s been different and you miss a guy from that perspective.”  

On whether any rookies have gotten his attention:
“I think the two tight ends have done very well; [TE Andy] Thorn and [TE Stephen] Spach have jumped out for their physical play. Although they have made technique mistakes, they are physical, tough guys. The linebacker, [LB Matt] McCoy is doing a pretty good job, he’s learning, getting better; [LB Martin] Patterson, of course. [LB David] Bergeron is always a tough guy; he’s always in the right spot. He’s the kind of guy that is always in the right spot, doing the right thing. [WR] Reggie Brown has really done a great job in practice as a gunner and a vice guy and taking it really seriously. So, he will probably play a role in special teams, depending on what his role is as a wide receiver. We will have to see, but he is ready to do it if we need him. [FS] Jeremy Thornburg has really come out in the last week. He really has picked it up. Then [S Sean] Considine he has been out there everyday, but we have seen him in an active setting since he got hurt so it will be interesting to see how he does.’  



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