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Ravens Friday Transcripts

Posted Jul 25, 2014

Head Coach John Harbaugh

Opening statement: “It’s good to see everybody. [We had a] good practice – a good, tough, hard-nosed practice. It’ll be our last practice in shells; we’ll be in pads tomorrow. We have a day to finish up here. We’ll have meetings, we’ll have lifting, we’ll have core work, we’ll have our AACT practice later in the day, and then we’ll have night meetings with installs for tomorrow. We’re in camp mode. It’s wall-to-wall football right now.”

CB Lardarius Webb was inside for a while. Can you talk about that? (Aaron Wilson) “I don’t have an update on that. [It was] nothing serious.”

You guys signed S Will Hill. What was the thinking on that? (Aaron Wilson) “Ozzie [Newsome] commented on that already, right? [He’s] a good football player. I had a chance to get to know him; I like where his head is at this time right now, and we’ll see how he does. Didn’t Ozzie give a statement on that?”

Are you happy with the cornerbacks and where the guys are so far? (Pete Gilbert) “I’m happy with where everybody is at right now. They’re really competing; our guys are fighting. They’re really trying to pay attention to detail, just trying to do the little things well. If you do the little things well, big things have a tendency to go well for you in the end, as well. That’s what we’re trying to do right now. It’s early in camp. I’m not disappointed in anybody. As a football team, we look good so far.”

When CB Jimmy Smith turned a corner, how much was it being physical? (Jeff Zrebiec) “Jimmy is a big, physical, long guy, so that’s something he’s going to be able to naturally do well. That’s a strength for him, and you probably want to play to your strengths – no matter what the endeavor. But it’s not just that. You have to play off, you have to be able to play the zone coverage responsibilities that you have to play. He’s improved all across the board. His technique has come a long way. He’s become a technician of sorts. I’m not going to get him too happy about it with what I say, because he still has a long way to go, but he’s really committed and dedicated to playing the position the way it’s supposed to be played.”

Darian [Stewart] was a guy secondary/assistant head coach Steve Spagnuolo knew. I’m curious to know what you think of him. (Clifton Brown) “Darian has done well. Every time I watch him, he’s in the right place, he’s doing the right thing. He has great body language. He’s working his rear end off, and he looks like a football player. He’s a good tackler playing the ball well. It’s going to be interesting to see [how he does] when the pads come on, and then on into the game. But I’m very pleased with Darian right now.”

This will be my last RB Ray Rice question: Do you know if he is going to appeal? (Jamison Hensley) “I do not, and if I did, I wouldn’t tell you. It’s not for me to say, but I don’t.”

As far as CB Lardarius Webb, how have you seen him grow the last few years? (Brett Hyman) “I love Lardarius. He cares. It matters to him. He wants to be great. He’s faced some adversity with the hip flexors and all that, and that’s a tough injury to come back from. We had a number of guys who worked their way through that – Jimmy [Smith] and some different guys. He’s fighting through it like crazy. He’s going to be fine. It just takes time, and you have to work through it. I love him; I love his passion, the way he works, and of course I love his talent. He’s a good person; he’s a good dad. I’m really proud of what he’s done the last few years.”

Secondary/Assistant Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo

On what he’s seen from CBs Chykie Brown and Asa Jackson: “I’m going to talk about Asa first. He has really jumped out there and impressed everybody – players, coaches. He’s doing a lot of things we knew he could do. He’s a feisty player, and people are going to knock him because of his lack of height, but he plays big. He’s been really good. Chykie has [grown] leaps and bounds. We were working on something today … We really need to detail some of the things he’s doing. But he was blessed with long arms and great ability. We’re looking for him to just keep progressing, and he’ll be fine.”

On what it’s going to take for CB Chykie Brown to put all of his tools together: “We had a little bit of it so far in practices, and I know it came up a little bit last year, [but] it’s kind of that point of confrontation when the ball is arriving that we really need to work at, and he knows that. He needs to be able to turn and find the football and make a play when the situation calls for him to do that. He has all the ability in the world, and he works his butt off, and anytime you can work with a guy like that, we’ll get somewhere.”

On the biggest jump that he’s observed from CB Jimmy Smith: “It’s funny how that happens in this league with guys. Sometimes that’s just natural. What you’re seeing is the talent that the Ravens knew they were getting when they took him as early as they did. That’s starting to come out now, and he’s comfortable with the system. On defense, and I know it’s the same on offense, too, but the more you run the same system, especially out on the edge there, and you get more comfortable with the safety or who’s telling you what to do, the better you can play, because you can just naturally play and not worry about thinking. That’s what you see with Jimmy.”

On how CB Jimmy Smith carries himself and communicates with others: “Now it’s hard for me [to say because] I wasn’t here when he was a rookie or [during] his first two years, so I don’t really know that. But I know the guy I see is a very confident corner. You can’t play corner in this league unless you’re confident. He has that, and God blessed him with a lot of ability, too. So, [I am] going to make sure he doesn’t mess it up.”

On the competition at nickel: “We’ve lined up [Lardarius Webb] there and Asa [Jackson]. I know ‘Webby’ got dinged a little bit today. We’ve actually worked Darian Stewart and Matt Elam in there a little bit, because when you cut it down to 53 [players] and the numbers get thin, guys have to play different positions. Right now, it’s settled in that Webby would be the guy, but unsettled in the fact that you have to have a backup and you have to have two guys that can fill in there. We’re still working our way through that.”

On if he emphasizes last season’s struggles to the secondary this year: “You always evaluate what you did the previous year. Dean [Pees] has done that – the whole defensive staff has – and the one thing everybody’s disappointed in is the big plays. The one thing about having the responsibility of being in the secondary, whether you’re coaching or playing in it, is ultimately on a pass play that is deep, it falls on those guys. We take it personally. We talked about it this morning, as a matter of fact – the pride of not giving up deep pass completions, even out here in practice. We don’t want to do that. I told the guys we don’t care if it’s a walk-through, a jog-through or full speed – you don’t want to allow it. Now, it happens – we have some good players on offense, too – but we keep competing, pounding the fundamentals, and hopefully we don’t give them up.”

On how S Matt Elam has grown from Year One to Year Two: “What really was nice is I did see Matt as a rookie, and like all rookies, he had a little hurdle to overcome. He was struggling this time of year last year, but it’s really nice. Darian Stewart is a veteran, but you stand those two guys side-by-side … I asked ‘Stew’ to just learn and be a new guy and let Matt come to the forefront with calls and running the show. Matt has done that, and he takes a lot of pride in doing it. He’s doing a nice job of it right now.”

On if S Matt Elam is now playing his natural position: “I’ll tell you what we’ve done right now: We’ve gone with a right and a left safety, because when you do that, you can practice [and] they learn both sides; they learn all the techniques. At some point, we’ll settle into what we call a strong safety and a free safety, but we haven’t done that yet. We’ll let that work itself out, and we’ll slot the guys where we think they fit.”

On what he’s seen in CB Deji Olatoye: “You know what impresses me most? That you were able to say his name. It’s still ‘Day-gee’ to me. (laughter) I’m impressed by that. Maybe I should let you answer the question? He’s great – a confident guy. It helps that he was friends with Jimmy Smith, and so you come somewhere where you know somebody and you’re comfortable. And he’s a long-armed, physical, competitive player, and he’s done a nice job to this point. I’m not ready to crown him anything right now, but we’re impressed, coming as a free agent, with what he’s done.”

On what new free agent signing S Will Hill brings to the team: “I know a lot in that I’m obviously familiar with the coaches on the New York Giants. I’ve talked with those guys in the past, even before Will Hill was available, and I remember them just having glowing remarks about him as a football player. When he walks through the door, he looks like a linebacker, and yet he moves around like a safety. He fit right in there. He went out and he got some reps. We had him in a meeting for an hour last night, and we were all watching the film, and I don’t believe he was way off base and blowing coverages, so that’s encouraging. We’ll see.”

On if he talked to the Giants’ coaches before the S Will Hill signing: “This was more in conversations that would come up as football coaches do – ‘Hey, so and so is really impressive.’ I don’t think we had a phone call. I know I haven’t had one recently.”

On what he’s seen from S Darian Stewart: “I know ‘Stew’ real well. In some of these other questions that were asked, I remember Stew when he was just a young free agent player in this league, and [now] I see a grown, mature, confident guy that I think fits really well in our room. He’s kind of slipped in there. I’ve noticed he’s taken a backseat, which you have to do when you change teams a little bit, and that was early on. And now, I see his personality coming out. I think that will happen more and more. I think he’s going to be a great leader for us. I really do.”

On S Darian Stewart’s strengths on the field: “‘Stew’ is one of those guys that when we took [him] as a free agent, the thing that stuck out was that he was a very explosive guy. I’m talking about change of direction and not necessarily just straight speed. He’s showing that a little bit now. I remember that being vivid when he was a young guy. When we took him, my hope was he’d still have that. He still does.”

On if coaching S Darian Stewart in the past makes him more comfortable in the defense: “It makes him more comfortable. Any time you go somewhere and you’re familiar with guys. It helps me a little bit, too. We know how to communicate with each other, work with each other, and it’s worked out great. I think it will help. Some of the other guys are probably saying, ‘Hey, what’s this guy like?’ It’s probably good for them.”

On how much it hurt to see CB Aaron Ross tear his Achilles during a conditioning test: “That was really unfortunate. I talked with him real quick yesterday afternoon with the injury, and it’s a freak thing to pop your Achilles during a test. It’ll take a little while [for him] to get over it. When we signed him, he was jacked up. He was excited. This is a great football organization and defense, and he was all fired up coming in. And then to have that happen, he’s really disappointed, needless to say.”

 

CB Jimmy Smith

Opening statement: “Can I start off? The incident that occurred is still a legal matter, so I’m not able to discuss that right now, but I’ll gladly talk about football. But, when it’s handled, I will talk about it and give you my side of the story. Now we can get to football.”

On whether [the incident] is a distraction at all: “Not in the least.”

On how to improve his game after last season: “It’s time for me to show up – to really show up. It’s my fourth year, and it’s not about contracts and all that. It’s just time for me to take my game to another level, and I’m ready for that.”

On why he says it is time for him to show up: “Just because 8-8 last year, our defense was ranked No. 12 overall, and our secondary and our up front has a lot to do with that. So, we’ve got to be a Top 5 defense, Top 3, No. 1, really. In order to do that, it starts with everybody on it, and I’m taking ownership to say that I need to step up with everybody else on the defense.”

On what “showing up” requires: “Be better than last year in every way I can – get more turnovers, more plays, whatever I can to help our team.”

On what it is like to be a new father: “I did have a little bundle of joy. If anybody has kids, you can’t even really explain the feeling you get when you see something you created come out, especially when you’re watching the whole thing happen – like wow. But, it’s a very humbling experience, and it will change you as soon as you see your son, or soon as you see your child, it changes you immediately.”

On if having a baby will affect the way he approaches football: “It already has. It already has. It’s a responsibility that you can never give back. [My son] relies on me for the rest of his life, and he doesn’t even know it yet. But for me, it’s huge; it’s my world right now.”

On if he feels more pressure this year without Buffalo Bills CB Corey Graham no longer in Baltimore: “Not at all. We have some very talented corners – Asa [Jackson], Chykie [Brown]. We get [Dominique Franks] once he passes the [conditioning] test. He made some plays out here in OTAs; you guys have seen him. So, I‘m not really at all concerned about that. We’ve got guys that are going to fill the void immediately.”

On the chemistry in the secondary since losing CB Corey Graham: “Honestly, I think the chemistry with our back end already is better than it was last year in training camp with the new guys, to me. I feel like our whole secondary … We understand each other, we talk, and [secondary/assistant head coach Steve Spagnuolo] does a great job in meetings. He takes time in meetings to make sure everybody gets what we’re doing, and everybody can work off each other, and he really emphasizes those things. So, I think in the meetings he does such a good job that it makes all of our defensive players, our DBs at least, communicate a lot better and be more focused on details and the right technique more than on your talent, or how fast you are.”

On the communication of the secondary last season: “I can think of three [plays] already that were just miscommunication, but then there are other times people have to step up and make plays.”

On his confidence level going into this offseason compared to last season: “I would like to say it was the same, but honestly, I feel like every year kind of just builds confidence, especially for a cornerback [when] it’s everything. Going into this year after having an OK last year, I felt pretty good. I always feel very confident in my skill level, but I feel more confident having a year under my belt, seeing what it’s like, going through all that last year.”

On whether experience gives him and CB Lardarius Webb confidence: “Absolutely. The experience gives you confidence. You see the way [Lardarius] Webb plays out there. He can read every route immediately, and that just comes with him being in his seventh year, I believe, in the league. His experience of years playing under the belt, going against all these receivers, it builds his confidence, so that’s why he’s the player he is.”

On CB Asa Jackson: “Well, Asa has improved his game by staying on the field so far. He’s a talented competitor, and if he can stay on the field, like I said, he’s going to be a great contributor – if it’s on special teams, corner, whatever. He’s a talented little guy.”

On CB Chykie Brown: “Chykie, he has been stepping up. He had a couple plays here and there, but overall I think what people don’t know about Chykie is Chykie really understands football – like he understands. He’ll be in the meeting and he’ll tell you ‘Hey, this is about to come, this is about to come, this is about to come.’  All he has to do now, when he’s out there, is calm down, focus and get right with that.”

On how facing the Ravens’ offense helps prepare the defense: “Going against [Gary] Kubiak’s offense, everything kind of looks the same, but then they run every single route out of it. So, it’s great keeping discipline, patience. They saw us jumping offsides a few times today. He has a great offense, and I think that’s going to do nothing but, especially for training camp … Iron sharpens iron, so we’re going to be going at it every day.”

On a possible contract extension with the Ravens: “I’ve got two years left, and I’m pretty sure I’ll probably go all two years. That’s my mindset anyway.”

On whether he has become a leader on the team: “Yes. I’m not a vocal guy; I’m not going to be like, ‘hoorah-rah,’ but I definitely try to lead by example. And that’s weird to say right now since everything has happened. I feel like as a fourth-year player, if guys look up to you, I think you definitely have to step forward and be some type of leader. It may not be a vocal guy; it’s about what you do on the field and how you carry yourself as a professional.”

On S Matt Elam’s leadership: “Matt is going to have a huge year this year – I’ll say it now. He’s going to be lightening back there. His natural position, when you see him on film right now, he looks great. He’s making all the calls; he’s commanding the defense. Sky is the limit for that guy.”

S Darian Stewart

On if he feels a little more comfortable now that he’s been with the team for a few months: “Most definitely. I’m feeling really comfortable. [We’ve] got good chemistry working with me and Matt [Elam], as well as Lardarius [Webb] and Jimmy [Smith]. So, it’s pretty good.”

On how he would describe his style of play: “Versatile. I feel like I can tackle well, as well as make plays on the ball. So, I can do it all.”

On previously being a type of hybrid linebacker and what that role was like: “It was a 4-2-5 defense, so I was playing more like a nickel-like linebacker. I felt like that position right there showed my athletic ability. I was able to cover a slot and three wideout sets, and just made plays.”

On what he remembers about the big hit he had on RB Ryan Williams a few years ago: “I just remember the crowd going crazy and getting teammates excited and fired up. It was a good play.”

On what he feels like he has to do to show in the next few weeks that he deserves a starting job: “Just stay healthy. That’s it. When I’m healthy, my play speaks for itself. I feel I can do it all, like I said. Just stay healthy – that’s good enough.”

On if he is doing anything different to try to stay healthy: “As far as keeping a jug of water by me, just staying stretched out, that’s pretty key to it, and just coming into camp in better shape than I was in the past.”

On coming into camp with secondary/assistant head coach Steve Spagnuolo, who was his head coach in St. Louis: “I felt very comfortable coming in with Coach. He’s like a father figure. He brought me into the league, so having him with me, it’s good for me.”

On if he remembers a play in his first season where he ran a guy down in St. Louis: “There’s a lot of plays out there, so I vaguely remember that.”

On how much he enjoys the contact aspect of football: “That’s what it’s about as far as the defensive player. You’ve got to love contact, especially at this level. I’m all for it; I don’t back down from any contact.”

On what his impressions were of the Ravens before coming here and if that has changed at all: “I’ve always been a Ravens fan. Even growing up, watching Ray [Lewis] and Ed [Reed], they’ve been here for the longest and they were the best to do it. So, to be a part of this organization, it’s a blessing.”

On if it has become tougher to make a big hit while making sure the hit comes in the legal strike zone: “You just play football and let everything else play out. We’re going to hit you regardless, so hopefully we get the right spot. But if not, we just have to pay for it.”

On if he feels lesser known because he’s dealt with injuries and if he feels like he can be somebody that breaks out and surprises people: “Most definitely. That’s probably the only reason why people don’t know my name, is because of injuries. But, this year it’s going to be a little different.”

On why he feels so confident: “I feel like I’m in great shape and I’m just focused. I’m just ready to show the world.”

On what he’s been learning from S Matt Elam and what he’s been trying to teach him as well: “Matt is a solid player. He’s a smart player. We’re playing right-left safety, so we can play off one another. If one of us is to go down, we feel comfortable replacing one another, so it’s cool.”

On being a low key veteran right now, and the coaches wanting Elam to make most of the calls in the back end: “That’s a first-round pick; he’s going to be here. And making sure that he has the confidence to run the show back there, I’m all for it. I know what’s going on; I’ve been in it five years, so it’s all good. If I saw something, we’ll get it corrected. So, it’s cool.”

On if his comfort comes from being with coach Spagnuolo for five years: “No, just seeing a lot of football. So, it’s a little bit of everything. It’s nothing new.”

Please Note

The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on BaltimoreRavens.com represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Baltimore Ravens' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Ravens officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.

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