John Harbaugh Press Conference: 11-3-05

On his initial impressions of P Reggie Hodges: "We have known about him for a while. We tracked him through college and through the draft. He had a good workout yesterday and even a better practice once we started practicing. We think he is very talented, very strong and very athletic. He has a lot of upside."

On why he struggled in St. Louis:

"Well, his numbers were pretty bad. He had some bad punts and some real short pooch punts. He had 22 punts. He had a couple of short pooch punts and he had a couple of short balls that bounced back on him during the Giants game. It's not very many punts and he hit some bad balls, so you're going to have low numbers. He is unproven and he's a rookie, but he is a draft pick who has a lot of talent and a lot of potential. We saw a lot of good things in his mechanics and a couple of things we think we can work on and get better."

On what makes him believe he can handle the pressure punting for the Eagles:

"At least he has punted in NFL games this year. So, he has been in those kinds of situations. But, we don't know. How do we know? You hope he can do it. I believe he can do it. I think we have really looked at his technique, his talent and his mechanics and we think he can do it. But we don't know for sure. We will see."

On why they didn't bring in P Sean Landeta:

"Landeta is definitely on our list. We have looked at Sean. We know Sean, we had him here at training camp and he is on our list. So, that's a possibility."

On whether he feels K David Akers can play this week and how he felt after kicking yesterday:

"I think it depends on how he feels this morning. We will see how he reacts today after kicking again after how he kicked yesterday. How sore is he and how he kicks today, back-to-back. That will be a big part of it. He did well yesterday and didn't have any ill effects, so it looks like he as a good chance."

On whether the plan is to keep Akers kicking FGs and allow K Jose Cortez to continue doing kickoffs:

"For this game, yeah. We will just keep him on FGs this game. We have Jose to do the kickoffs and Jose will be up for sure, one way or the other."

Whether there is any risk having Akers kick:

"Is there any risk? We have been told it's fully healed. But is there any risk? I'm sure there is, just like anybody. There is always a risk, probably a little more of one due to the fact he's been hurt already this year. I'm just a layman. I will be watching closely to see if there is any tweak, but he's our kicker and we need him to win games. He's excited to get back and kick."

On whether CB Lito Sheppard will be available for punt returns this week:

"Yes. If he is playing, he will be available for punt returns."

On how much all the changes in personnel, creates inconsistency in the play of the special teams:

"I think it is just something you have to deal with. It is what it is. It's reality and there is adversity in this league. I don't know if anybody has ever gone through this many kickers and punters, but we can still go cover kicks and punts. I don't even think it's a factor. We just have to go do our job. We are going to have to do well on special teams to win this game. They have a great group and it's going to be a challenge."

On whether he felt the special teams unit had its best game in Denver:

"Any time you lose, you don't feel as though you played well enough to win. We didn't play well enough to win, because we didn't win. We need to make a play. I think we need to make a play in the return game to flip the field and score points. Maybe we did that the week before and we won and we didn't do that in this game and we didn't win. That is the bottom line. The coverage units are a lot better, no question."

On whether he thinks the returners played better than they have:

"I thought [CB] Rod [Hood] did a very good job of hitting it up in there. He ran hard. He got 5 more yards after the hit most of the time. That is really what you want to see and then the blocking was a lot better. There are some things that are getting better."

On how Redskins returner James Thrash looks this season:

"He's sharing time with [WR] Santana Moss in punt returns. They rotate those guys in there. He's doing very well and he rotates with [RB] Ladell Betts and [FB] Rock Cartwright in the in the kick returns. I would not be a bit surprised if we see a lot of James Thrash returning this week."

On whether it would affect the special teams units if WR Reggie Brown starts at WR this week:

"Well, Reggie plays gunner for us on punts. He's a young guy and he can handle it. But, we will probably try to find a way, if he is gassed a little bit, to get someone out there for him. It just depends on how the roster shakes out and that is up in the air right now."

On what he plan is for RB Ryan Moats:

"Well, I think Moats can be a good special teams player. He's in the development stages of a returner. Is he ready to be a full fledged kick returner in this league? I think he can certainly do it, but for where we are at, he is probably not ready yet. We probably saw that. We are going to keep working him at gunner, keep working him on kickoff cover and punt return. He blocks and does things like that. So, when and if he is active, whether it is this Sunday he will play on special teams. If not, he will just keep working."

On whether he feels set using Hood on kickoff return duty for the rest of the year:

"I don't know, we will see. I have no problems with Rod. We are confident in him and I think he is getting better, but we have other guys working in there as well. [CB] Dexter Wynn is a possibility and [RB] Lamar Gordon is a possibility. We are willing to put back there whoever it takes to make plays and get yards."

On what Cortez has shown him so far:

"Jose has gotten a lot better over the last five years. If you know Jose's history, he was a kickoff guy who was a big banger with a big leg, who really struggled to make FGs. So, he's done a great job on his own in the last 4 or 5 years to become a good FG kicker. But, there are a couple of technique things. On one particular hash, he's got to keep one particular shoulder tucked a particular way. That is the one thing we are working on and I think he's done a good job and he's made a lot of FGs in practice. There is always something, technique wise you can get better at."

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