Combine Pressers: Washington, Lions, Chargers, Ravens

Head coaches and general managers continue to speak to the media at press conferences in Indianapolis, and we’ve already rounded up the highlights from several of them so far today. Here are a few more noteworthy comments from some NFL decision-makers, with all links go to the Twitter accounts of various reporters in attendance:

Washington head coach Jay Gruden:

  • In perhaps the most newsworthy moment of any of today’s pressers so far, Gruden said that Robert Griffin III will open the 2015 campaign as Washington’s starting quarterback. There’s still plenty of time for things to change between today and September, but on a day when Jay Cutler couldn’t get a vote of confidence from the Bears, it’s notable that Washington seems committed to RGIII.
  • According to Gruden, the Washington front office is in contact with the reps for high-priced players like Pierre Garcon, Barry Cofield, and Stephen Bowen about possible contract restructures. Discussing Garcon specifically, the head coach stressed that the veteran wideout is still very much in the club’s plans.
  • Echoing the mantra of new GM Scot McCloughan, Gruden said Washington’s philosophy will be to target the best available players in the draft.

Lions GM Martin Mayhew:

  • While he admitted that a new deal with Ndamukong Suh isn’t done, Mayhew remains confident that the two sides will work something out. According to the GM, the defensive scheme, coaches, and players are all a good match for Suh, and the club will definitely “keep working on it.”
  • The Lions still haven’t decided whether or not they’ll resort to the franchise tag if the team and Suh don’t reach an agreement by March 2. Detroit also remains undecided about the fifth-year option for offensive tackle Riley Reiff, and hasn’t yet made any final determinations on any free agents except center Dominic Raiola, who won’t be re-signed.
  • Mayhew can envision a situation where both Suh and Nick Fairley return to Detroit, but he can also imagine a scenario in which neither player is back. The Lions aren’t sure yet how seriously they’ll pursue Fairley, but will meet with his agent, Brian Overstreet, this week.
  • The general manager also has a combine meeting lined up with the agent for free-agent-to-be Matt Prater.
  • According to Mayhew, the team is engaged in dialogue with some players about contract restructures to clear some cap room. Although the GM didn’t identify anyone specifically, one of those players could be Reggie BushMayhew said the team hasn’t determined yet what the running back’s future with the team is.

Chargers GM Tom Telesco:

  • The Chargers plan to meet with the agent for free agent running back Ryan Mathews at the combine this week, according to Telesco. The GM added that the Chargers are “a different team” when Mathews is healthy and on the field.
  • The team is currently planning for D.J. Fluker to play right tackle in 2015, rather than continuing to try him at guard. San Diego figures to have some holes to fill on its offensive line this offseason, so having a set plan for Fluker should help identify the spots that need to be addressed.

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh:

  • According to Harbaugh, the team’s free agents want to return to Baltimore, and the team wants them back. “That bodes well for us,” Harbaugh said.
  • It’s not clear if the head coach’s comment applies to every Ravens free-agent-to-be, but when he was asked specifically about Torrey Smith, Haloti Ngata, and Lardarius Webb, Harbaugh said, “They want to be back [and] we want them back, so we should have a good chance.” Smith is eligible for free agency, while Ngata and Webb are candidates for contract restructures or pay cuts.
  • Harbaugh also expects wide receiver Steve Smith to be back with the Ravens in 2015. The former Panther has two years left on his contract, but will turn 36 in May, so retirement may be a viable option soon.
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