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Ravens Sunday Podium Transcripts

Posted Aug 20, 2017

BALTIMORE RAVENS: AUG. 20 PODIUM TRANSCRIPTS

Head Coach John Harbaugh, WR Mike Wallace & DT Brandon Williams

Head Coach John Harbaugh

Opening statement: “Good to see you guys here – appreciate it. Beautiful day – guys had a really good practice, very sharp and very high level of effort. As a coach, that makes it a good day. We’re happy with where we’re at, and we have more to go. We have meetings, our assignment/alignment practice, and we’ll finish up strong the rest of the day.”

How does it feel to see Todd Heap out here? (Jamison Hensley) “It’s great. Todd was here yesterday, too. He’s been here for two days with our team, with the organization. He’s just a great guy, great Raven. I think young players, getting to meet someone like Todd and talk to him and understand the history of the Ravens a little bit and the kind of people who’ve played here, [it] just means a lot. He’s been great to be around. I think he’s enjoying himself, so it’s been good.”

Marty Mornhinweg obviously had a good relationship with WR Jeremy Maclin. What have been your impressions now having coached him and been around him the last couple weeks? (Luke Jones) “It’s been good. It’s been training camp; we haven’t been through a season yet. But, he’s a real pro, he doesn’t say a lot, but he always has a great attitude. [He] wants to work, wants to learn, be as good as he can possibly be, and he wants to be the best. That’s what we expected, and that’s what we have.”

So, at the start of team drills, “Renegade” was being played. Was that a request by you, or is that something that just came on? (Jamison Hensley) “It’s on the playlist. It’s a good song. Styx is a fine group – always loved them. It might be their best song, but they had a couple really good songs though. The ones that I like are always on the playlist. That’s on the rotation.”

Does it also get you ready, do you think, for in a few months when you’re up in Pittsburgh? (Jamison Hensley) “No, that’s a long way away. We have a lot of games before that. We enjoy that song.”

Did RB Danny Woodhead get through the game OK? We haven’t seen him out the last couple days. (Luke Jones) “Yes, he had some things in the game, got banged up a little bit. So, [we’re] kind of holding him back right now.”

You talk about undrafted guys trying to make a statement late in the preseason. I immediately think of DT Michael Pierce and what he did last year. What have you seen from him in just making the jump from Year One to Year Two? (Jeff Zrebiec) “It does speak to the transition of Year One to Year Two, even, and all the things that you can do for a young guy to understand what it takes to make it in this league. You can just look at Michael Pierce’s experience. He came in – doesn’t say much, works hard, he’s a really good player, learns, plays hard, comes back and does it the next day and the day after that, and the day after that. Here, you don’t think of him in those terms anymore. You don’t think of him as an ‘undrafted free agent’ – that label is wiped away. He’ll always have pride in that – the fact that’s how he earned his stripes, that pathway. But, he’s a starting defensive lineman for us, and he’s having the kind of camp we expect out of one of our starters.”

I know you were excited coming into camp about the depth of the back end of the defense. Now that you’ve seen it in play, is it living up to your vision coming in? (Childs Walker) “Yes, we think we have a lot of good players. You talk about the back end on defense, and we do – we have them there. Even with the two injuries, you see that depth playing out, because those are the guys who are playing and they are playing well. It kind of speaks for itself. The fact that we’ve had two guys [CB Tavon Young and CB Maurice Canady] hurt, who were basically the [No.] 1 and [No.] 2 nickel, and really, we haven’t skipped a beat back there so far … Now, it’s preseason and all that, and we have to prove it in the regular season. Our guys understand that.”

In terms of depth, how valuable is DB/RS Lardarius Webb? (Garrett Downing) “Very valuable. Lardarius is very, very valuable. He’s having the best camp he’s had in a while. I really love the way he’s playing, love his attitude, everything about what he’s doing. Leadership is part of it, but he’s doing it by example. He’s doing it by the way he practices and the way he plays every single day. That’s what speaks the loudest.”

I know you talked about DL/FB Patrick Ricard playing fullback yesterday, but are there any other defensive players lobbying to get some offensive snaps? (Luke Jones) “Of course! Of course they have, yes. I have a list here somewhere, but I might have misplaced it. (laughter) They all want to do more. That’s a great thing about these guys – they always want to do more. That’s what you appreciate about guys like that.”

You talked about DT Michael Pierce. And I know you’ve addressed that when young guys, both drafted and undrafted players in training camp and OTAs, you make it a point of effort to let them know that when you get in here, the slate is clean – it doesn’t matter. They seem to have bought into that with you guys. (Keith Mills) “That’s exactly right. [It’s about] the fact that once you walk through the doors – you’re a Raven. We’re not a hazing team; we don’t get into all that. You walk in the door, it’s a meritocracy, it’s [about] what you do. No matter if you were the first pick or the 14-year vet or the undrafted free agent or the tryout guy, it’s based on how you go play, how you practice and carry yourself and [how you] conduct yourself. Football is tough. There are a lot of tough lessons learned out here on the practice field. Guys get frustrated, they don’t think things are fair sometimes – someone bull rushes when you can’t cut [block] – and tempers flare. The thing we just try to get across is: Hey, you know what? It’s not what you say, it’s what you do. You come back and make your statement and let your pads do the talking. That’s the beautiful thing about football.”

With that said, are the scouts taking size of these undrafted guys? Are they lobbying you as well like, “This guy’s doing well; this guy’s doing well.” You know what I mean? (Keith Mills) “They don’t say much to me. You can see it though. They get a little bounce in their step when their guy practices well. I think Eric DeCosta finds a way to reward those guys when they come up with the right guys. He probably has a little system, a little bonus system in place – I hope. But oh yes, they’ll come over and give you the ol’ eye. The guy will make a play, and they’ll try to give you a look. The guys are proud. Scouts take pride in what they do, and they do a great job.”

Are you pleased with the strides TE Benjamin Watson has made after his significant surgery? (Jeff Zrebiec) “Yes, Ben looks good. He and I had a conversation today, and it was basically along the lines of, ‘Hey, how are you feeling?’ and he goes, ‘Like I’m supposed to feel halfway through camp. I feel like a football player.’ That’s about as perfectly said as you can say it. He’s having a good camp, doing very well.”

WR Mike Wallace

On the urgency level heading into Week 3 of the preseason: “It is very high. I think everybody knows that year after year, the third preseason game is the most important. We are just focused and trying to knock out the little kinks and just hopefully get ready for the regular season.”

On if he is concerned about how the starting offense has played in the preseason: “I think we will be fine. It is just progression. We have some guys injured, different lineups, different guys in and out. It is just progression. I think we will be fine. Or, I know we will be fine come Week 1.”

On his impressions of working with WR Jeremy Maclin: “It has been fun just to see him go out there and make plays. He is the same guy I have known. I knew he was going to do this stuff. To me, just getting what I expected from him making big plays and being a leader – running great routes – he is just a great football player.”

On if the offense will improve when several players return from injury: “Yes. That is the main thing. We are missing our top weapon, which is our quarterback [Joe Flacco]. Once he comes back, things will all start to fall in place and guys will feel better. We have all the confidence in the world in Ryan [Mallett], though. We will go out and [do] whatever we have to do. But, when you have a guy like Joe just sitting, you are licking your chops just waiting for him to come back, because we know the type of energy and the type of guy he is and the talent level he is going to bring to our offense.”

On if he sees QB Joe Flacco often, considering fans have not seen him on the sidelines at preseason games: “Top secret, baby! Top secret. We can’t be doing all of that. We can’t give you any glimpses of Joe. (laughter) When he comes back, you all are going to see. He has gained like 30 pounds of muscle, and he is running like a 4.5 [40-yard dash] now. I’m telling you guys, it’s crazy! You have to see him. (laughter) He is under wraps. He is like Weapon X. He is under wraps right now, but when he comes back, it is going to be crazy.” (laughter)

On if there has been a greater emphasis on learning in the meeting room because QB Joe Flacco and other starters have not played: “Not really. This is a job. We all take it seriously when we are in the classroom; everyone is focused. Just because one man is not here, it doesn’t mean you focus more or focus any less. You go about the business the same way you should, and that is with tunnel vision. Every day, I don’t think you should change your approach because one guy is in or one guy is out. If you are doing that, you are wrong. You should have that same mindset every day [to] focus in the classroom and focus on the field to get better and precise at everything.”

On if he is still confident in the wide receivers group: “You are talking to me? About my group?” (Reporter: “Yes, the wide receivers group.”) “Am I confident in my group?! Are you serious? Are you kidding me right now?! Of course! I have the most confidence in the world. We have ballers in our group. No matter if we have guys here or there [in the] training room, we are going to be OK. Whenever they step on the field, we are going to be fine. We are going to have guys who step up and make plays in the absence of those other guys. I feel totally confident – 1,000 percent.”

On if he had any flashbacks to his time with the Steelers when the Ravens played the song “Renegade” in practice today: “Yes, anytime you hear it, there is always going to be a flashback. I love that song, honestly. Everybody loves it. I think our team loves it.  I don’t think it really works for them as well anymore, because everybody likes the song. I think other teams like the song. I think everybody gets hyped. At first, it kind of caught people off guard, and it was like, ‘Alright, this is an advantage.’ But, I don’t think it is an advantage for them anymore, because whatever team goes to play there, they like the song. They get hyped as well. It gets everybody hyped, so it just makes the game better. I do not think it gives them an advantage on their side.”

On how much muscle WR Breshad Perriman has put on considering he said QB Joe Flacco put on 30 pounds of muscle: “Twenty-five pounds of muscle! (laughter) He put on 25 pounds of muscle – and speed. He went from a 4.1 [40-yard dash] to a 4.0. He is running a 4-flat now. (laughter) He is getting better; he is getting stronger. His legs are getting stronger – his hamstring. He is feeling good; he is in good spirits. We just have to keep him in good spirits, because we know the type of player he is and what he is going to bring to the table when he is healthy. We just have to keep him healthy.”

On if he has any concerns that the offense will not have enough time to get in sync with QB Joe Flacco: “No, not at all. Joe is a vet. He has been 10 years in the game. He has won a Super Bowl, he has been in every situation. He might need to knock a little rust off, but hopefully we can knock that out in those days of practice before Week 1. Once we get into the game, all it will take is a couple plays, and then you feel like you are in the game. It is like, ‘OK, let’s go.’ But, he is a vet. He will be fine.”

On if players feel increased pressure after missing the playoffs two years in a row: “Me, personally, I just go off of the last year. What happens this year and last year is all you can go off of. Two, three, four years back, that is too far. You just remember last year and not going to the playoffs and going home early. Me, personally, I need that feeling again to be back out there in the playoffs and getting some extra money. We need those checks. (laughter) When you have a family to feed … Hopefully, we can get those Super Bowl checks and make it all the way. But, when you don’t go the playoffs, it just leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Whether it is one year removed or two years removed, it doesn’t matter. Just not going, in general, the season before, hurts. Everybody knows what it is. We are focused. We have to get some guys back, but once they come back, we will be fine. And even if they don’t, we will be fine.”

DT Brandon Williams

On playing next to DT Michael Pierce: “It is amazing. [Michael] Pierce is a great player, he is coming into his own, and now he is getting more recognition to where people are going to have start double-teaming him and leave me one-on-one. Then, when they double-team me, they leave him one-on-one. It is a great relationship that me and him have and a great gel – camaraderie – on the line.”

On if he has liked what he has seen from the young defensive linemen: “Oh yes, definitely. The guys that Ozzie [Newsome] and coach [John] Harbaugh added are coming into their own. They are getting the playbook even better. They are starting to know the plays, but at the same time, read the coverages now and read the line. We are making big strides, but we still have a long way to go. We have a high bar for our room and for our defensive line and our defense – high standard for the establishment. Every day we are out here grinding and making ourselves better and better every time. When the season starts, it will be a cakewalk.”

On if there is a greater sense of urgency because the team has not made the playoffs two years in a row or if it just feels like it is “business as usual”: “It is business as usual. When we come in here, we come here to grind. We know our mission, we know our goals, and we are here every day in the classroom or out here at practice trying to strive for them every day. The guys who can’t be out here, they are working to get back out here, and the guys who are taking their spots are getting better every day and working towards greatness. The show must go on no matter what.”

On where he got the Incredible Hulk cutoff shirt he is wearing: “It is Under Armour all day. Team Under Armour – UA!” (Reporter: “I didn’t know they made those that big.”) “This is actually small. I’m skinny in here. You see the abs, you see the abs [on the shirt]? If you can’t show them underneath, you have to buy them. (laughter) That is what I did since I can have my shirt up a little bit so you can see the little four-pack or the little six-pack or whatever, instead of the keg. (laughter) We are good.”

On adopting the Incredible Hulk as part of who he is: “He is one of my favorite superheroes, along with the Wolverine and Bane, just because of how fierce they are and how strong they are and their relentlessness to craziness and beastliness. I love going out here every day and being an animal every day, but then in myself. I am the same beast I can be. I am no one else but myself, and I plan to be that this whole time.”

On if he can wear his Incredible Hulk cutoff in games or just in practice: “They might hit my pockets, but I can. I just don’t choose to.”

On the way OLB Za’Darius Smith handled his struggles last season and how he bounced back this season: “He is coming back stronger. He is listening to ‘Sizz’ [Terrell Suggs] and watching him, because he has the best blueprint to go off of, which is watching Sizz every down, every day. He is getting better at being a pro, getting into the playbook a lot more, and like I said, reading the backfield and reading the sets. [He is] just being more of a student of the game [rather] then going out and running plays. But, he is looking better. He still has work to do. He has a long way to go, but ‘Sizz’ and every other rusher are coming along great.”

On if he gets a little jealous that FB/DL Patrick Ricard gets the opportunity to be a fullback: “Yes! I can’t hide that at all. (laughter) But, I am happy for him. He is out there … Any way you can help the team, you are out there. He is doing a great job. Pat is doing a great job on defense and on offense, so he is making a statement for himself for a reason for the team to keep him around, because he is that diverse. It is great to have him as a player and as a teammate on this team.”

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