John Harbaugh Press Conference: 11-11-05

Whether this game against the Cowboys is a barometer to tell how much the special teams units have improved: "To me, every day is a barometer. We go out and practice every day. We have played three games since Dallas and every play is a barometer, every rep a guy takes is a barometer. We are in the middle of it, so we have to fight to improve and get better, work hard and go out there and compete."

On how much injuries affect his coaching:

"Injuries pile up everywhere around the league. It affects you, but it brings new guys in. [LB] Dedrick Roper is in here and he looked good yesterday. We have [LB] Matt McCoy who is a high draft choice for us, we expect him to be a good player and I think he will be. They are just going to have to step up and play very well in [LB] Jason's [Short] absence, but that is where we are at. We have a punter that we need to grow fast. But we have [K David] Akers back kicking field goals, so there are some plusses too, but we don't think about the injuries. We just have to practice well, play well and get ready to find a way to win a game."

On how P Reggie Hodges is doing:

"Again, we think he is a very talented guy. We think he has very good mechanics and he did well with the pooch punts. He got them down there inside the 10 a couple of times and that was big. He almost had a 3rd one that just barely bounced in the end zone, but I think his field punts could have been better. He could have gotten the ball out away from his body a little better and down the field a little bit better. He is a work in progress and we hope he progresses very quickly, like in a couple of days."

Whether CB Lito Sheppard will be used as a punt returner:

"Lito will be back there returning punts along with [RB] Reno [Mahe] and [CB] Dexter [Wynn], who are still in the mix there. We have not really changed our plans, so it will be the same as what you have seen."

On who will be used as kickoff returners:

"Kickoffs are the same."

On how close Akers is to being able to kickoff:

"There is no way to tell. He has not really kicked off at full speed yet, other than some of the drills he has been doing with some soccer balls and stuff like that. So, he's not going to kickoff on Monday night. We have the same plan with [K] Jose [Cortez] and we will take it from there."

On Akers' contract extension:

"[Jokingly] I have great piece of mind now that David has financial security, it makes me feel really great. No, I think it is well deserved, he has earned it. I think it is a great accomplishment by the Eagles to get him locked up, because he is a hard worker who is a young kicker in the terms of kicker years and he is going to be kicking in the NFL for a long time at a high level. It's a smart move by both sides."

On whether he wants to endorse his brother, Jim, for the Temple head coaching job:

"I endorse my brother, I endorse [special teams quality coach] Ted Daisher. Those are two great coaches. Ted had an interview this morning and from all accounts it went really well. He's a great coach and that is a great job. It's a great opportunity. A lot of people don't see that job and understand what they are doing, but they are doing some good things there. If they want to talk to [brother and head coach of University of San Diego] Jim [Harbaugh], he would be very interesting for them to talk to as well. He's done a great job at San Diego and nobody could be prouder than me with what he has done there."

On whether field position will be a major key on Monday night:

"Absolutely, I think it was a big factor in the first game. You have to give the Cowboys credit. They started us off with the kickoff return and they kept pinning us back there with their punts and we couldn't punt ourselves out, we couldn't cover ourselves out and we couldn't make a play to get ourselves out. You have to give them credit, so we have to do a lot better in that area."

Whether he believes the organization gave him enough players to be successful on special teams:

"A lot of that stuff is beyond your control, too. Nobody thought that our long snapper would be kicking off for two games. Those things happen in the NFL and to me, they are not even a consideration. There is always going to be turnover and you are always going to be putting new players out in special teams. We have to find a way to play at the highest level we can. Statistically we have not done that, but I appreciate the effort and I think guys are getting better every day. As far as I am concerned, we have an 8 week and even a 1 week season. We have to go out there and play well."

On whether he believes the team is close to having a big return on special teams:

"Are we close? I don't know. I think we are getting better blocking people and our returners are running harder with a little more purpose than they did at one point in time earlier in the year. Hopefully, we will get some more returnable balls. From the punting standpoint, people have been punting great against us. It's hard to set up a return when you have a 5.0 hang time punt. By the same token, we have to block people well enough to return any punt they punt to us, so we better be close. We need to make a play, which is the idea."

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