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Ravens Practice Transcripts 08/21

Posted Aug 21, 2012

Includes Head Coach John Harbaugh and LB Ray Lewis

Head Coach John Harbaugh

Opening statement: “Great to see everybody. Thanks for coming. It’s cooled down. It’s probably the first cool practice we have had the whole training camp. The guys and the coaches sure appreciate that, and it was really good, sharp practice.”

Would you expect the starters to play at least into the second half? (Aaron Wilson) “I think we’ll see. It’s going to be like the third game format, which is usually a three-quarter format, and we’ll just kind of work back from there with guys and as far as how many reps they get and see how it goes. I’d like to see them get a lot of good, extended work.”

Can you talk about, in a division like the AFC North, having a guy like Sam Koch, how consistent he is year after year, he’s one of the best? (Michael Fast) “He is one of the more underrated players in the league, let alone punters in the league. If you look in the AFC, it seems like the AFC is just stacked with great punters, so Sam doesn’t always get that recognition he might deserve. [He is a] great directional punter, very consistent, gets it off quick. He’s a tremendous pooch punter in the plus territory. He just does everything really well.”

Marshal Yanda yesterday it looked like he got undercut at one point. Is it related to that, the day off? (Luke Jones) “Yeah, he kind of tweaked it a little bit. It’s nothing serious, but we had a little pileup there, which we were kind of disappointed by. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. We just gave him some rest today.”

What has Bobbie Williams brought to the team in terms of leadership? What has he added to the locker room? (Aaron Wilson) “You’ve probably seen that. Bobbie is just an outgoing personality. He’s got a lot of fire, really positive, up-lifting kind of guy. [He] fits our locker room really well. Guys love being around him, so he’s brought that kind of leadership style. It’s been good.”

Yesterday you kept it kind of basic in terms of your coverage with your secondaries. In this upcoming game, will it be similar, or will you potentially mix it up a little bit? (J. Michael) “I’d say it’s probably pretty similar; it’s still preseason. We aren’t getting too complicated with what we do. We are just kind of running our camp, our base defenses against all four of these teams.”

Does each game have specific things you look for from a communication, chemistry, other than just seeing the performances from certain players? (Peter Schmuck) “The performances of certain players are a really big part of it, but the performances of groups and units together is probably more important, because that’s how the game is played. We would expect that to be the case – guys working together better, fewer communication mistakes, being more synchronized. You hope all through the season that continues on through. If you don’t … And through the season, if you stay healthy, you have the best chance to make that happen, because the same guys are out there working together. You can imagine why that would be important. We want to build that, obviously, through the preseason.”

What kind of look is Nigel Carr giving you on and off the field at this point? (Aaron Wilson) “He’s been great. Nigel’s done a great job. He’s a good, young addition. He’s taken a lot of reps; he has potential as a player. [We will] just kind of see how he plays here the next couple of weeks.”

LB Ray Lewis

On what the team will be doing in the third preseason game to get ready for the regular season: “I think everything starts with communication and start dialing in. Your focus really changes. For offense, getting good drives going and finishing drives [are important]. For defense, going and not letting drives continue, get off the field [with] three-and-outs and things like that [are important]. I think it’s a good chance for the starters to start communicating with each other now and really start dialing in and getting ready for our regular season.”

On what he thinks of playing at a lower weight and if he is happy with it so far: “Yeah, it’s awesome. It’s awesome. I feel great. I feel great just running around – just excited to really get the regular season started and everything. Anytime you finish 17 years of training camps, that’s a blessing within itself. So, me, I’m just really excited, regardless of whatever else.”

On if he is ready to start the regular season today: “You know what? You kind of get your juices flowing. I’ve got to go turn my brain off, though, and I get to really just get some relaxation in and get ready for the game. But, this is a good test for us. These guys run the ball pretty well, and for us to come in and have this type of test right now, being our third preseason game … So yeah, I am a little ready.”

On if he feels the defense is still the backbone of the team: “At the end of the day, that’s why we’re called a team. It doesn’t matter who takes the lead, who does whatever. If we go into games and win games together, that’s the bottom-line emphasis. It doesn’t matter what it is. Me, Ed [Reed] and the guys who are on our side, we are going to do what we are supposed to do [and] what we’ve always done. So, that’s not going to change for us. For us, offensively, what we’re doing, the tempo and things we’re creating … Are we excited about it? Absolutely.”

On what he knew about LB Albert McClellan when he was in high school at Lewis’ alma mater [Kathleen HS in Lakeland, Fla.] and what he means to the defense now: “I definitely knew about Albert [McClellan]. Albert was really down the line [and then came here], which is funny. He’s just one of those guys. He’s just one of those guys that’s going to work hard. He is going to give you everything he has, and that’s what you appreciate about him. He’s a very humble man, and he plays the game with a certain love and certain passion for it.”

On how the up-tempo offense impacts the defense: “Everything is on the move. Offense comes out, and everything is click, click, click, click, click. For us, you have to be clicking the same way. In this league right now, a bunch of offenses are going to that up-tempo pace, and a lot of people don’t do it as much. They kind of slow it down just to see what you are in. But for offense to give us a lot of different looks like that, I think it’s great work for us.”

On the way OLB Paul Kruger has played: “[Paul] Kruger has always been one of my favorites, just simply because of who he is and the way he plays the game. I think now, with ‘Sizzle’ [Terrell Suggs] being down, I think he has a greater opportunity to really step up and increase his role and the things we’re doing, letting ‘Double J’ [Jarret Johnson] go and things like that. Kruger is that next guy to come in and teach these young guys and really show what his specialties are, and that’s really getting to the quarterback.”

On if he compares the roster to other teams, or if he just lets it develop: “You always have to let it develop, because you just never know what’s the next one, you never know who’s next, you never know who is going to take their game to another level. So, you just let it kind of play out, and as the preseason starts getting out, the regular season starts to come in, you really start to see who first that mold and what players will be on the starting 11 on each side of the ball.”

On his impressions of OLB Courtney Upshaw so far: “He has been banged up a little bit. But, as far as just the way the guy loves to play the game and his excitement about the game, I think that’s really exciting when you add him to our defense. And definitely the way [defensive coordinator] Dean [Pees] is going to use him, moving him around a lot and really letting him come off that edge – that’s what he does. That’s kind of what he did in college. Anytime you see Courtney and you see him out there, you see that he is one of those kids that really likes to grab it, learn and then go have fun with it.”

On if Upshaw is feeling better: “I think he is really getting comfortable. You get past the first two weeks, and these young guys really start to settle in. Don’t let me put too much on him, because he still has a long learning curve to go. But, I think the excitement of it when you do see him, he is running around, he is making certain calls, and so he’s really getting adjusted to it.”

On if this year’s defense is as strong as it’s been in the past: “The question that will always be is the only thing that will ever figure … The only way you can ever figure that out is at the end of the year. That’s it. You can’t … Year after year, we always try to compare this defense to that defense. It’s just impossible to do. The thing is, you have to play the whole season out. Once you play the whole season out, you’ll see where it goes from there. “

On his impressions of NT Ma’ake Kemoeatu: “‘Kemo’ called me earlier this offseason, and I briefly spoke to him and just kept up with him and told him to get in the best shape of your life, and whatever’s going to happen, is going to happen. But, for ‘Kemo’ to be in there right now, ‘Kemo’ is playing like a man. He’s playing like a grown man, and I think you have two different ‘Kemos.’ When ‘Kemo’ first came in, you have a very young kid who is just coming in with raw ability. Now you have an older man – an older, wiser veteran who understands the game and is in probably the best shape of his life.”

On different philosophies between current defensive coordinator Dean Pees and former defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano: “Every coach has a little twist here or there. It’s always one thing that they are going to do a little bit different than the other, but pretty much it’s mostly the same. At the end of the day, it always ends up being the same thing. Coach Pees is just a great intellectual coach. He wants you to understand not just what the defense is doing, but actually how you are being attacked and things like that. And not saying that Chuck wasn’t, but coach Pees really puts a lot of emphasis on that.”

On what he is looking to get out of this game in terms of pressure on the quarterback: “I don’t know. How do you assess that? I don’t know how you assess that. You have three or four different groups going in at a time. Whether we’re getting off the field or not, I think that’s the biggest thing on how you assess that. Whether it’s coming from blitz packages or just base defenses, if he was just beating his man one-on-one … I don’t really know how to assess it past that. I think the way to really assess it is to just go in and finish this preseason game. Do what we do, and whatever that entails at the end of the day, we will figure it out.”

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