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Ravens Third OTA Transcripts

Posted Jun 6, 2013

Includes Head Coach John Harbaugh, S Michael Huff, RB Ray Rice and WR Torrey Smith

Head Coach John Harbaugh

 

Opening statement: “Good to see everybody. Thanks for coming out. We had a really good day – finished up Day No. 9 of the OTAs, so we are pleased with our progress. We had some special guests here. We had Dave Pietramala from [Johns] Hopkins, the lacrosse coach is here as you guys saw. [They are the] newest member of the Big 10, is that right? Just informed of that; that’s pretty neat news. That means Maryland and Hopkins will be in the same league in lacrosse – great rivalry. Then we have the athletic director here, Dave Sayler, from Miami, the Miami University [of Ohio] is here. Bill Gunlock is here. Bill’s son Randy played at Miami – played with [area scout southwest] Jack Glowik who is one of our scouts. Bill is a guy who recruited my dad at Miami back in 1958. My dad went to Bowling Green. Bill still hasn’t forgiven him for that. (laughter) [They are] good friends.  Good to have him here.”

 

What was it like coming back today after getting back on the field after such an amazing day yesterday? The energy was pretty good riding that? (Pete Gilbert) “No, not really. The energy was really good, but [we’re] not riding that. I don’t think that is a motivator for this team. This is a new team. Most of the guys … A lot of guys that practiced today weren’t on that trip yesterday. I was most excited about getting back to practice today. I told the guys that this morning. That was what was most exciting. Just as far as yesterday, it was great. I appreciate the hospitality of President Obama and all the White House staff. They were fantastic. They were really, really hospitable. It really makes you feel good about your country. It makes you feel good about the strength of your country and the good people. High school kids from Chicago that were there makes you feel good about the future of our country. So, we are back now. We are at work.”

 

How long have you been eyeing Daryl Smith, and what do you feel he brings? (Jeff Zrebiec) “Daryl [Smith], obviously, we have been eyeing him – to use your term – for about 10 years in the National Football League. He’s always been a superb player. It’s interesting. He’s probably a little bit under the radar as far as the national media goes. He’s just been a tremendous player. Everyone in football knows who he is. So, I think he’s a great fit for our team for who we are, what we are all about. He’s going to do well for us.”

 

What was it like during the presidential stride yesterday? I know you want to talk about today, but you and [general manager and executive vice president] Ozzie [Newsome] and the President walking up to the players, that had to be outrageously neat? (Glenn Younes) “That was a moment. That was quite a moment to walk. We had a chance to spend some time with the President underneath a waiting area there for five or six or seven minutes there before we came out. He just couldn’t have been more gracious and entertaining. It was fun. Then walking out there, you sure had the sense of the magnitude of the office, and yet he was quipping jokes and having fun with us. It was just a great moment.”

 

Everyone knows what kind of speed Torrey Smith brought to his position from the day he got in the league. How has he grasped the rest of the route tree, No. 1, and No. 2, how is he adjusting to being the leader of the unit now? (Joe Platania) “He’s adjusted quite well. He runs all the routes very well. Torrey [Smith] is a guy that is only going to get better, because he works hard at it. He’s not a guy who spends any time thinking about anything other than what he can do today to be the best he can be. That’s what makes him so good. So, he’s running all the routes really well. We have a lot of leaders on this team – nobody less than Torrey Smith. Torrey’s a great leader. He’s been a leader in his family, high school. He was a leader the first day he got here in a lot of ways. He’s a guy that we think a lot of.”

 

Speaking of leaders, what does it mean to have some veterans that haven’t been here like guys like Vonta Leach now that they have a chance to mesh with the rookies and show them the ropes? (Aaron Wilson) “It’s good to as many guys here as we can possibly have here every single day. The more guys we have here, the better we are going to be. We aren’t going to be better if guys aren’t here. We are going to be better the more guys we have here. I feel good about the turnout. We have averaged well over 80 guys all through the offseason programs. It’s been a great offseason.”

 

John, does the vibe change when it’s a mandatory camp, or not? Is there a more sense of urgency like we are getting close now? (Bo Smolka) “No, we have a sense of urgency every single day. Our guys – that’s our mindset here. Our guys have a 100-percent, full-throttle sense of urgency every day. You need to.”

 

John, with Torrey [Smith], what are some of the things that make him a great leader? (Pete Gilbert) “Torrey [Smith] is a lot of things. Torrey is a good person. He’s a humble person. He’s a hard worker. Obviously, [he is] a really talented guy. He’s a real engaging guy, and he’s honest. He’s very trustworthy. You could go on about Torrey and a lot of other guys. You know him. He’s a heck of a guy.”

 

Can you talk about Deonte Thompson at wide receiver, a position that people talk about is a need? (Glenn Younes) “Deonte [Thompson] … I hate to mention Deonte without mentioning David Reed and LaQuan [Williams] and Tandon [Doss]. Tandon has been sick the last couple of days with a flu kind of deal. But, all of those guys have done exceptionally well. But Deonte, since you asked the question about Deonte, has taken major strides. He’s made a lot of plays out here. [He is] another guy who is running the route tree very well. Of course, he brings speed to the table. [He is] a very talented guy who is working really hard.”

 

How does the level of excitement from the ring ceremony compare to the White House visit? (Adam Vorce) “I think everybody knows that I’m not going to make a comparison between those two things. (laughter) These are good problems, because they are kind of getting in our way a little bit right now. We are focused on our season going forward. Our eyes are already on the next horizon. They have been. They have been that way for months, and yet you go back and revisit … It was good to see the guys. That’s the main thing. Some of the guys who haven’t been here who aren’t with us anymore – it was great to see those guys. It will be great to see them Friday night. Beyond that, really – in all truthfulness – our eyes are on the next horizon.”

 

Have you seen the rings yet? (Adam Vorce) “No, I’ve seen a model of them. I haven’t seen the rings. I haven’t been allowed to. They were locked up yesterday. They came in a Brinks truck.”

 

Courtney Upshaw said he has dealt with some personal things this offseason, and he’s trying to get down from being back under 285. Your thoughts on where Courtney is at? (Aaron Wilson) “My first thought is that he is playing pretty well. That’s my first thought. He understands the defense exceptionally well. He’s working really hard. Courtney’s weight issue – which he does need to lose some pounds – is that he doesn’t eat right. Courtney eats too much, and he doesn’t eat all the right foods. He knows that, and that’s something that he’s going to have to get a handle on or he’s not going to be the best he can be. He’s aware of it. We have everybody in our building involved in it. He’ll be in fighting shape, I promise you that.”

 

With Matt Elam and Michael Huff and their skill sets, does that kind of allow you to have more interchangeability at the back end with those two and the way you can use them in different ways together? (Matt Vensel) “They are both very fast. You are talking about the safeties … They are both very fast. They both cover exceptionally well, and they are both really good tacklers. Yes, we will be able to play them interchangeable at free safety and strong safety and hopefully create some problems for people.”

 

Do you expect Chris Canty to be ready to go? (Jeff Zrebiec) “Yes, he’s fine. Chris is healthy. Chris and Marcus [Spears] both have personal family issues this week. They have been here mostly rest of the offseason.”

 

 

S Michael Huff

 

On if he is motivated after seeing all the Super Bowl festivities: “Yesterday was tough, because they left me. I had my suit laid out the night before, and then I got here and the buses were gone. I’m just excited to be here around the festivities. Like they said, [they] get the rings tomorrow. Just to be around it makes you hungry, and you want to get another one.”

 

On his adjustment period coming to a new franchise: “I think the adjustment period has been good, because I’ve had a lot of veterans taking me under their wing. Ray [Rice], Torrey [Smith] and Corey Graham have kind of taken me under their wing. They kind of teach me the ropes on the field, off the field, things like that. The adjustment period has been good.”

 

On being a veteran leader while still being a new guy on the team: “Really just lead by example. Like I said, just go out here and work hard every day. Show them that I’m here to work. I’m here to carry on the legacy and the tradition. Like I said, just win some games.”

 

On his impressions of S Matt Elam, and how they will mesh together: “I think we’ll be good. We’re both interchangeable. We can both play strong safety, free safety, we can both play the nickel. We can do it all, so that way offenses don’t know who’s doing what before the snap. I think it will help the defense.”

 

On if it is challenging knowing that there is a changing of the guard at the safety position: “I think we know we have big shoes to fill. Like I said, obviously, Ed [Reed] is one of the greatest – if not the greatest ever – to play the game. Definitely, it will be a tough task, but obviously, we are our own players. We just have to go out there and kind of play our game, not kind of live in the past, [but] to start our own legacy. I think we will be just fine.”

 

On him not being able to be S Ed Reed: “Nope. There’s only one Ed, and there’s only one Michael Huff. So, I’m just going to go out there and play my game.”

 

On if he’s had a chance to talk with Reed since he’s been around these past few days: “I’ve talked to him a few times, like I said before, because I’ve been talking to him for a while. He’s been one of my mentors and been one of the guys I watched. Obviously, with Ed, he’s one of the greatest to ever play. So, I obviously want to emulate him and make plays like he does.”

 

On what kind of player WR Torrey Smith is and what he’s seen from him in OTAs: “Just a play-maker. He kind of does it all. He can get the five-yard hitch and go like 90 [yards], or else he can catch the deep ball. So, he’s just making plays and doing whatever it takes to help the offense.”

 

On his impressions of QB Joe Flacco now compared to what he thought of him before coming to Baltimore: “He’s a lot better. I knew he was good before, but just seeing him every day in practice, just seeing him put the balls here in certain places; I’ll think I have great coverage and somehow he’ll find a way to squeeze it in there. So, he’s definitely an elite quarterback and definitely one of the best in the NFL.”

 

On how important next week’s mandatory veteran camp will be with so many new faces: “It’s huge. It’ll be the first time we’re all here, and for [Terrell] Suggs and all of our guys here to be around each other and just kind of learn each other. But I definitely think this is a great defense, and I think hopefully we’ll be better than last year.”

 

 

RB Ray Rice

 

On his experience at the White House: “It was pretty cool. You just don’t prepare for things like that. [It was] a once in a lifetime opportunity, so I definitely took everything in. I caught myself just staring at times, while guys were taking pictures of stuff. Hopefully, through the text messages and all that stuff, they will share a few pictures with me and stuff. But, it was quite the time. I always get a crack on bothering [Vonta] Leach – seeing Leach’s jersey being given to the President. (laughter)

 

On having a front row seat at the White House: “I didn’t ask for it. They said, ‘Ray Rice, we want you right here.’ I have to be able to see what’s going on. It was a good place to be.”

 

On head coach John Harbaugh saying at the White House that the team expects to be back next year: “When he says that, I think he truly means that. I think every season that I’ve been a Raven and every year it was always to not just win games, it was always to win a Super Bowl. I think every year the goal doesn’t change. Just because we have one – I mean two for the organization – his tenure, we have one … You love the feeling, so when he says that you want to get back there next year, we know it’s going to be a journey, but that’s why you work as hard as you do right now.”

 

On having FB Vonta Leach back in the building: “Having him back here, having all the guys … For me, having all the guys back in the backfield, but having Vonta back and getting back for minicamp and seeing him pick up right where he left off [is great]. A lot of guys, sometimes when they aren’t here, even for me last year, was different when I wasn’t here. I wasn’t able to play football. I can always be in shape, but I wasn’t able to play football. Getting him back here and getting [his] football tools together really helps out.”

 

On how he sees Leach mentoring FB Kyle Juszczyk: “Him and Kyle are two different players – same with me and Bernard [Pierce]. I don’t think you can compare the two, because they are totally different players. How can he mentor them? Vonta is going into his 10th season. I think there’s a lot of knowledge to be gained from that, because from a blocking aspect, Vonta is the best at it. But from a hybrid fullback/tight end aspect, Kyle can catch the ball. He can do a lot of different things. I think from a learning aspect, you can always take from a guy who has played 10 years in the National Football League.”

 

On how much more comfortable he is with RB Bernard Pierce after being with him for a season: “I’m comfortable spelling myself at any time. I’m going into Year Six, and I’ve been healthy and blessed, and I know I can still play at a high level. I think that when you are trying to win, trying to win at a high level … Last year was a very long year, and us being able to take the blows off of each other and being able to spell each other without having to worry about having to miss a beat, was really, really key for us. There is only one ball to go around, but at the same time, you were seeing what we were able to do with the run game. Obviously, a lot has been spoken about what we lost, but a lot has not been talked about what we gained in a wide receiver.”

 

On if he has recovered from last season: “I’ll be honest, it was different this year. It was different. I’m a guy that my body is my temple. Last year, I didn’t get a chance to be here. I was in shape, but when you have to recover from a Super Bowl, it’s totally different, because then you have appearances. You have different things that you normally don’t have [during] an offseason. But, I was able to get a lot of the offseason program in. I only missed one OTA for a family reason. I got to do all the OTAs. I’ll be here for mandatory minicamp. I wasn’t playing football at this time last year. That was totally different. I’m picking up right where I left off. It took me about a week and a half into camp to get my football stuff back. Now that I’m actually playing football, when training camp comes, start throwing stuff at me again, I will be able to pick up on it right away.”

 

On turning the page to next season after the White House and the ring ceremony: “It’s always refreshing when you go out places and they acknowledge you as a Super Bowl champ. But, for me, the old saying, ‘An old pat on the back, will always set you back.’ We appreciate it. The rings are going to be very special to us. You’ll never take them for granted. But having that White House, ring ceremony, back to work, really puts it in perspective of where we are right now. If I’m not mistaken, [we are] just a few weeks out from training camp. Once we get our rings, I guess you get to say … Summertime when you go home, take some pictures with them, lock them up and take them out on a nice dinner date, I guess.” (laughter)

 

 

WR Torrey Smith

 

On President Obama talking about his late brother and what that moment meant to him: “It was definitely a special moment. Obviously, my family couldn’t be there to understand that the leader of our country has us in his prayers and was thinking about us, which is huge. For him to even acknowledge that, it meant a lot.”

 

On how surprised he was by that moment: “I was definitely surprised. We had so many great things happen last season, that to me, that’s more of a personal issue than I take it as a team issue. Obviously our team here, and my family here and this organization, they helped me out a lot to get through that. But I really wasn’t expecting that at all.”

 

On how excited he is to get his Super Bowl ring tomorrow: “Yesterday was probably one of the coolest days ever, and Friday is going to be even better. I can’t wait. That’s what it’s all about in terms of understanding what it’s like to go to the White House. I watched it for so many years on TV, watching the college National Champions and the NFL Champions, and to be a part of that, that’s what makes it real outside of the parade. Those are just regular festivities – our parade wasn’t regular, let me not say it that way. (laughter) But our parade wasn’t regular, that’s expected, but when it comes to meeting the President and actually seeing the rings, for somebody like me who’s never won a thing, I might act like a woman [does] when she sees her engagement ring. (laughter) I can’t wait. I can’t wait.”

 

On President Obama saying something to him about his hair yesterday: “It threw me off. I was like, ‘Oh, he knows I cut my hair!’ (laughter) It was pretty cool. I went up to him, and I’m not expecting him to know who I am, but obviously he’s a fan of sports and that was probably the coolest thing to me, the fact that he acknowledged that I cut my hair. That was pretty cool.”

 

On what his leadership role has been this offseason with the absence of WR Anquan Boldin: “I think naturally, myself, I just try to lead by example. Even veteran guys, they’ve respected me since I’ve been here, so I don’t want to try to go out there and be like Major Payne, the drill sergeant guy. I just go out there and be myself; that’s leading by example and trying to do the right things. Obviously, we have great leadership here in our locker room and with our coaches, so for me, I just go out there and try to lead by example. And I can tell it’s a little different; the younger guys lean on me, and all of our guys, we look at each other the same, who have been here the same time. I can tell still tell they look at me in a little bit different way, but it’s the same. Leadership-wise, I feel like I do it naturally, so I don’t feel like I need to go out there and do anything special.”

 

On if there is anything he felt he needed to focus on with regard to his game this offseason: “I think again, I came into the offseason, I felt like I was way farther along at that point then obviously I was the year before. And I feel like I’m way farther along now than at the end of the season, which is what it’s all about. You want to see progress and continue to grow and continue to get better. And I think I’m looking like how I want to look, getting there, obviously. To me, I still have a long way to go, and it’s about doing the right thing all the time.” 

 

On if there is too much to be made of people speculating the Ravens need to bring in a veteran wide receiver: “I have no clue what they have going on [upstairs]. But I’ve spoken on it before. I feel like it’s our responsibility here, we have guys here, we’ve all been here for – well it hasn’t been that long – but two, going on three years, and David Reed a year longer than that … This is his fourth year. So, I look at it as a challenge for us. We all understand the offense. We’ve all watched Anquan [Boldin]. We’ve all played ourselves, and it’s on us to go out there and make it happen. They drafted us and developed us for a reason, for this time now, to go out there and get it done. So, we take it as kind of a challenge to keep this group together and make it so coach Harbaugh and Mr. [Ozzie] Newsome and everyone feels comfortable with us as the guys.”

 

On if he is faster with his haircut: “I know it feels a lot better in this heat with my haircut. (laughter) But I’m not going to lie; the only difference I’ve actually been able to tell was that when I look up, I can actually look straight up, because my pony tail in the back, it kept me from looking all the way straight back; it was like a fight. I’d look back and then I’d have to fight to look back. (laughter) But now, it’s pretty smooth.”

 

On if he thought the NFL world would ever be talking this much about his hair: “Who knew? (laughing) You just never know.”

 

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