Opening statement: "Good to see everybody here. Thanks for coming out. That concludes our minicamp portion. All we have left is a rookie week next week. The veterans are now done. [I'm] very pleased with the effort, very pleased with what we accomplished. I think we are in a good place as a football team. We will get about five weeks away on our own now to continue to prepare to have a great training camp. That's where we are at."
Considering the losses of people during the offseason, is your defense a little bit ahead of the game from what you have seen the last couple of days? (Mike Preston) "We will find out where we are at. I'm really happy with where we are at in terms of what we have accomplished and how we look out there, but we will find out when the pads come on more specifically."
Was this more or less about some of the new guys getting to know some of the old and installing stuff so the guys for the next five weeks will have something to study and something they can work off? (David Ginsburg) "It's about that, but it's about a lot more than that. We are accomplishing a lot of things out here. But, that's part of it, sure."
What were some of the other things? (David Ginsburg) "How much time do you have? (laughing) It's building a team. It's all about all the things that go into building a team. It's the scheme. It's the technique. It's the situations. It's the conditioning. It's the tempo and the pace. It's all the things that go into lining up and playing a game on Sunday. That's what we are preparing for. We are preparing for our next game, and we are trying to build our team. And, of course, we are evaluating all along the way."
What has impressed you about
In hindsight, is it a little different building a team like this during minicamp when you have so many new faces and with so many guys who you are so accustomed to having for such a long time not here anymore? (David Steele) "I feel like we have had this situation every year. If you counted the numbers, we have always been in situations where we had to replace a lot of guys. It probably gets a little more attention because of who those guys are. I don't know, [former Ravens TE] Todd Heap was a pretty big name and [so was former Ravens WR] Derrick Mason. [Former Ravens DE] Cory Redding was a very valuable part. The list goes on. But, when you are talking about two first-ballot Hall of Famers [in LB Ray Lewis and S Ed Reed], that does have an impact. This is the first time we've had to deal with that, so it has been a little bit different."
Can you provide an update on
When you guys re-signed
Sometimes you hear coaches that have won championships talk about talking to other coaches about how they went about defending it. Do you think it's that big of a deal that you may want to talk to someone, or will you kind of do things the way you have? (Cliff Brown) "That's a good question. I talk to the people I usually talk to probably about what is going on. You probably can figure out who those people are. No, it hasn't been too much different. Every year you face different challenges. This is new in a lot of different ways. You just try to do the best you can and make good choices and good decisions. We have a good team here. We have a lot of players that really care. We have a lot of leadership – young and veteran leadership. We have a great building from [owner] Steve Bisciotti right on through [general manager and executive vice president] Ozzie [Newsome], of course, [assistant general manager Eric [DeCosta], [vice president of football administration] Pat [Moriarty] and [director of pro personnel] Vince [Newsome], and the coaching staff with our coordinators and our coaches always give us great input. It's a team effort. Really, truly it is a team effort in all those kinds of areas."
Coach [Teryl] Austin was very complimentary of Jimmy [Smith] yesterday. I know there was a lot of positional battles that will happen over the course of the summer. But, in particular, are you looking forward to seeing how the competition between Jimmy [Smith] and Corey [Graham] plays out? (Matt Zenitz) "Jimmy [Smith] and Corey [Graham] and ‘Webby' [
What have you seen from those two guys in particularly, Jimmy [Smith] and Corey [Graham]? (Matt Zenitz) "They both play really well. Corey [Graham] made a bunch of plays on the ball out here today. He plays in a bunch of slot, and he plays outside. We were going through the walk-through, and he was working on his technique, peddle weave things. The guy is a tireless working, and I would say the same about Jimmy [Smith]. Jimmy is younger. I think he's patterning himself a little bit after Corey with the work habit part of it. He has taken major steps towards being all the player that we wanted him to be. Jimmy's biggest issue has been, I think two things: They never threw at him in college. They didn't even test him. He has been tested a lot more here, and that's helped him. And, he's been injured quite a bit. Being healthy now is really going to help him."
You said after the Super Bowl that you weren't going to be defending it, but that you were going to be shooting to win the Super Bowl. Is that the feeling you think you've got here at least during the minicamp – not so much defending a Super Bowl but building a team that could win? (David Ginsburg) "Yes, That's exactly what it is. Our guys understand that, and that's been their mindset as far as I can tell. They're looking forward to the opportunity to do something really special, just like every year. [It's] just different this year."
You have this lapse here before training camp. Guys are going to go away, and then they scatter. Obviously, you will talk to them about things that are expectations away from being here in Owings Mills. But, what are some of the pitfalls they'll face, and do you worry sometimes more about veterans than the rookies with lapses like this when they're away from football? (Mark Zinno) "It's a good question. The thing that we've been very blessed with is that our guys have done a great job of that. And, we're not immune to it – as team or an organization – and we've had our share of issues, but our share of issues have been a small share. So, I would expect our guys to continue to do a great job of just being pros and being quality people and citizens, and I'd be very surprised if anything like this was a problem."
Is there anything you'll be doing different during this time? (Mark Zinno) "We like vacation a lot. We're going to be getting away and getting some great family time."
More demands than in past years when you were not the defending champions? (David Steele) "No. No, fortunately not. No more demands – not that we have on the itinerary anyways."
Were you expecting any more demands on your free time basically? (David Steele) "I didn't have any expectations for it. We're doing fine and as much as we can do, but the most important thing is family time. That's what we're spending our time on. Thanks."
That being said, Father's Day on Sunday – I mean everybody knows the story, but just the influence your dad had on you, with regards to football or life? (Brett Hyman) "Right, Father's Day. There will be a call made, I'm sure. And, he'll want to talk, which is fun. I'll have a lot of questions for him to [answer] your question of who you call and ask. And, that will be the greatest Father's Day gift that probably I could give him or that I could get either. I'll get a chance to spend time with my daughter, but I hope all the fathers out there cherish every second of it. It seems to me a little bit like a player – when you don't have something, you better not take it for granted. We only get our kids for a short span in this life, and there's nothing more precious and valuable than our kids. That relationship means everything to me, and I know it does to all of us standing around here that are dads. Some of you guys who aren't dads yet – [Mark] Zinno – your time is coming buddy." (laughter)
Do you have to beat Jim to the phone call? (Mark Zinno) "There's always a race. Birthdays – there's always a competition of who can get to the phone call first. Believe me, my dad does keep track. He keeps track. (laughter) I have East Coast ties, so it should be an advantage there."
Senior Defensive Assistant Steve Spagnuolo
Does it feel like old times back with [head coach] John [Harbaugh] and [run game coordinator] Juan [Castillo]? (Aaron Wilson) "Yes, I'll tell you what, that's a big time blessing. You don't know that you will ever be able to do that. You leave each other, and you hope someday that you are back together. God-willing in this business, you can do that. It's great. It's great every day."
Is this sort of a reboot for you? The last few years you have been moving around … (Aaron Wilson) "It's been a tough two years, but I'm focusing forward, and I'm excited. To me, the way I look at this is this is a privilege to be a part of a great organization. That was evident by what went on last year, but it really doesn't have as much to do about last year as all the things that John [Harbaugh] had told me in the last five years as we shared conversations. I'm just a lucky man – very, very lucky."
What did you take from your head coaching experience, and it's not that it's necessarily a step back backwards as an assistant and what did you take from that experience? (Mark Zinno) "I'll tell you what, people say this all the time, and it's true: You learn more from the setbacks than you do really from the successes. I think the book – and we all keep a book – has gotten thicker and thicker of notes and a lot of things not to do, but a lot of things we felt really good about. John [Harbaugh] and I were just talking about that last night. God has a plan for everybody. Mine happens to be taking this road, and it brought me here, and I'm ecstatic about it."
What do you feel like you can provide with your defensive background with the things you have picked up along the way? (Matt Zenitz) "Hopefully, either a sounding board or an added idea or another set of eyes. John [Harbaugh] and I used to talk about this all the time: You can never have enough eyes with some kind of experience to kind of give some feedback or an idea or something that we might have done, or I saw somebody else do that I worked for. I worked for some great people: [New York Giants head coach] Tom Coughlin, [Kansas City Chiefs head coach] Andy Reid. Of course, John knows all about Andy, so that wouldn't be anything new to him. But, I think that's more than anything what it's all about."
They said earlier in the offseason that you would help out wherever you are need. Is there anywhere in particular … (Matt Zenitz) "No, I'm not focused anywhere. I'll leave that up to [defensive coordinator] Dean [Pees] and John [Harbaugh]. I'll tell you what it's been a great education for me. I will tell you this openly, and I'm not over in the offensive meetings … This is an outstanding coaching staff. But, this defensive coaching staff is as fine as I've ever been around. You start looking around, and Dean has been a head coach; he's coordinated other places. [Linebackers coach] Ted Monachino, you talk about a great teacher. I sit in there in [inside linebackers coach] Don Martindale's meetings – tremendous teacher, technicians. Matt Weiss [defensive quality control coach] is a young guy. [Secondary coach] ‘T.A.' [Teryl Austin], [defensive line coach] ‘C.B.' [Clarence Brooks], I've known for a long time. These guys have coached a lot of pro football – a lot of football period. I'm going to tell you what: I'm enjoying that. You don't get a chance to do that sometimes when you keep doing that (makes hand gesture of going up). This has been … They are outstanding is all I can tell you. We watched film of Baltimore Ravens' defense or offense to steal ideas all the time. A lot of times you look on another team's roster and you say, ‘They have great players. That's why they are good.' It's not just great players here. It's great players and great coaches."
Have you and John [Harbaugh] ever joked about when you guys played … (Aaron Wilson) "I knew somebody was going to ask that. I knew it was coming up. We did. We joked about it 24 hours later. And to be honest with you, it was a joke when I said it. You know how that is. But, we laughed about it. We laughed about it the other day."
You seem like you are in a pretty stress-free state. You seem like you are the least stressed coach in the NFL … (Mark Zinno) "I can tell you this: There's stress in the NFL no matter what position you have, but it's a little bit different. It's been enjoyable. I can't wait to get to training camp and [getting] into the games and be in the fire with these guys and see how they do it. I've had great respect for, certainly, John [Harbaugh] always, even when we were assistants together. I remember we used to test each other. I'd watch him coach, and he'd want the feedback. And, I'd ask him to watch me coach and give feedback. We've been doing that for years. It's great to be with him. But, yes, a little less stressed. That's a pretty good statement."
You mentioned having setbacks, and obviously, all coaches go through that. At some point you would obviously like to look forward and not back. How does it feel to know that your reputation is still such that you can land in a place like this where it's not always the case with someone in your position? (David Steele) "Good point. Maybe I lose sight of that. Blessed is all I can say. I'm a firm believer in God. I just think he had a plan and things happen for a reason. Someone gave me this quote – I thought it was a great one, and I kind of hang my hat on it: ‘Sometimes rejection is God's protection.' You just move forward. I'm fortunate to know somebody that I care about, have a great deal of respect for, and he was willing to bring me in when he really didn't need to. He didn't need to add anything. They have everything they need. They do as good of job as anybody. I've been around here for three months inside the building, here at practice, administration, marketing, you name it – top notch."
You are focused right now, but do you have aspirations to … (Aaron Wilson) "Oh yes, yes, deeply. But for right now, I'll tell you this: I think Dick Vermeil, I listened to him speak one time, and his advice to young coaches, any coach was, ‘Be the best at whatever job you have right now.' So, I'm trying to be the best that this particular position and let the rest take care of itself."
Did you think at all about taking a year away? (Cliff Brown) "I did. I did. John [Harbaugh] and I talked really … I thought I might have been headed that way. I'll tell you what I did. This was beneficial, too. I would have never thought this, but three months that I was not in New Orleans before I had gotten here, I had spent a bunch of time at colleges, because you can see the wave. The game on Saturday is filtering into the game on Sunday right now. Those coaches at that level right now have a handle on some of this. We are talking about that option football. I was down at Alabama with coach [Nick] Saban, at Ohio State with Urban Meyer who is a friend, [Texas] A&M, Boston College, Connecticut, but I wouldn't have had time to do that had this not happened. But then, after a while, you want to be a part of something. It all worked out. I think the timing was great."
Even without Ray Lewis and Bernard Pollard, do you think this year's defense is better than last year's defense? (Barry Barnes) "I don't make predictions like that, but I will say this, and maybe it was when the guys put the real football pants on the other day … This is as good as looking football team that I've ever seen. I'm talking about physically and stout. Defensively – I think Corey [Graham] might have talked about it just a little while ago – but I'm a firm believer – both sides of the football – that you win upfront. I'm not as familiar with our offensive guys right now, but defensively, wow. I had little visions of the Giants' front that I happened to be privileged to be working with. They are good all the way around. I keep going back to the coaching, but good players and good coaches lead to success."
How has your working relationship been with Dean [Pees] specifically up to this point with you having experience as a coordinator? (Luke Jones) "Great. I go back … Dean [Pees] has been a head coach [in college], a coordinator in the league in New England. He's been successful. Now he has won a Super Bowl. I'm glad I have the chance to sit in on the meeting with him and listen to him talk to his coaches, talk to the players. Beg, borrow and steal business; that's what we try to do. Hopefully, I can offer something, too."
You speak of endurance, what do you think of Chris Canty now that he's here, what can he do? (Aaron Wilson) "He's bigger than I thought. Of course, they are all big to me. He was not there when I was there. I missed him by a year. We had a conversation here about the Giants and how much respect we had for the organization and the people. He knocked the ball down [in practice], and I think intercepted [it]. I don't know if it was a practice you all were at, but you can't coach that height. He puts his hands up, man. There's not a coach in the world that can take a six-foot guy and do that. He's been very impressive to me."
What have you seen from
You mentioned visiting some of the different colleges. What do you think you gained from it? (Matt Zenitz) "What I did was I … It was kind of a give and take. I cliniced a little it with their staffs, and I also asked for them. I really focused more on the zone read, the option football that has made its way here. Really the defensive coaches and what they do against it, but to be honest with you, I tried to find as much time as I could with the offensive coaches that ran that thing, see what they were looking for. When they know you aren't playing against them, they tend to share some ideas. It was a good growth process and the education of football for me. It was good."
Is it easy to say in the places that you have had success you have seem to have had great players and other places where coaches have struggled the talent isn't as great. Is it fair to say that if you have great players, it makes your job a little bit easier as a coach? (Mark Zinno) "It certainly makes a coach's job easier, but I do think you need both. This is a players' game. I've always felt that. I think when you watch it, you can sense it. It's hard, but I'll tell you what: You can take a bunch of good players and not have success, because the coaching isn't real good. I do think a bunch of good coaches can take – let's call it an average – and bring it to a certain point. We are all trying to get to, obviously, where this organization got this year. You need some elite players in the field, and this organization has them."
When you think back to your time with the Giants and you think back to that defensive line, Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck and some of those players … Haloti [Ngata] was complimentary of some of the rookies the other day –
On minicamp in general: "I think it went well. The defense did really well. We started to come together. OTAs we started a little slow. You see guys start to pick it up in knowing the defense and play a lot faster, so I think it went really well for not just me, but for the whole defense."
On his impressions of rookie S
On if Elam is further along than most rookies: "Yes. I would say he's picking it up very fast. He's at safety, they're putting him in the dollar package; he's coming down playing nickel. When you have the ability to play all those positions, it's pretty impressive. You don't see that that much, especially in the first couple months of being on the team."
On how S
On how CB
On if he thinks he'll be more dangerous this year: "I should be. Obviously, I've got high expectations for myself. I pride myself on making plays, and I want to go out there and do whatever it takes to help the defense win. So, I pride myself on doing whatever and making plays for the defense, and that's what I plan on doing."
On what he brings to the table: "I like to say that I'm a playmaker. I make plays. I get my hands on the ball. I can catch pretty [well], so that helps being on defense. Most defensive backs can't catch the ball, so if you just catch the ones that come to you, you'll be all right."
On what senior defensive assistant Steve Spagnuolo brings to the table: "Whenever you can get a coach that's been around on a lot of different defenses that bring a lot to the table, it helps. All insight he can give you helps, even if it's just little things. In this league, the little things add up, and it helps you as a player. As far as recognizing routes, the more you can understand what the offense is trying to accomplish, it helps you as a defensive player. That's pretty much what it has been so far – just trying to help you be a smarter player and a better player."
On if he expects to play special teams less: "That's always how it is. If you're starting on defense, you probably do two phases max. Obviously, I'll always have a role on special teams. That's where I came from. I love it. I enjoy it. So, I'm pretty sure I'll still be on a couple phases, so I'll do whatever Jerry [Rosburg, assistant head coach/special teams coordinator] asks. If I'm not dead tired out there, if he asks me to play four phases, I'll do it."
On if it's exciting to see so many new faces on defense: "Very exciting. Being a DB, just looking in front of you to see all the new guys we have on the defensive line, it's unbelievable. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't. We've got potential to be a great defense. If everything comes together and we continue to work as hard as we possibly can, with all the different guys we've got on D-line – the rotation we could possibly have up there, the new guys at linebacker and the speed we've got on the defensive backs, it can be an unbelievable defense out there. We see it. We definitely see it. We will continue to work as hard as we possibly can to make it happen."
T Bryant McKinnie
On how minicamp went with so many new players: "It actually was a good experience for all of us. Everybody got a good chance to compete and for everybody to be here. It went pretty good. We're learning a new silent count, so we've been working on that all minicamp."
On if he had to introduce himself to any new players, like OLB
On working with run game coordinator Juan Castillo: "Juan [Castillo] is a pretty good coach. He focuses on our technique, and that's something that I kind of get away from sometimes. So right now is a great time for us to work on our technique and me in pass protection – sitting straight back. So, Juan's been a great help."
On if there was a time in the offseason he thought he might not be with the Ravens: "Yes – after the draft, and I started taking a couple of trips to other teams, [I thought] maybe I'd be somewhere else. But luckily I ended up coming back."
On working out and visiting other teams: "It was kind of hard because you were on planes and [there was] a lot traveling, so it cuts into your workout time, but I was able to do it. But for four or five days, it was a little rough."
On if he was close to going somewhere else: "I always wanted to give the Ravens an option to match whatever other teams offered. So I would tell my agent to check back to see what the Ravens have going on and we'll decide from there."
On whether he feels like he's defending a Super Bowl or working to get one: "To me, it feels like we're working to get a Super Bowl, because there are a lot of new people, a lot of new faces. The chemistry has to grow with all the new people and everything. Different people have to play different roles this year, as far as stepping up and becoming leaders."
On how he feels physically: "Physically, I feel like I'm 26, so that's a good thing. I feel really good this year. I'm moving around pretty well, so I'm pretty happy with that."
On his impressions of the Ravens' rookie class: "The rookie class is pretty good. The DB that we got – I don't know everybody's name yet, but I think he's [No.] 26 [S Matt Elam] – he looks pretty good out there."
On the young offensive lineman: "Some of the offensive linemen are looking pretty good as well. I'll be able to tell a little bit more once we get into pads."
On if anyone in particular sticks out: "‘Wags' [G/T
On if it's strange getting in a huddle without C Matt Birk: "Matt has been there probably my whole career, except for like a year or two. [It is] a little bit [strange], but we had Gino [Gradkowski] last year, so I'm kind of familiar with Gino, and I'm getting to know A.Q [Shipley]."
On how it is to have Dumervil on his side: "That's one person I can check off the list I don't have to worry about, so it's good to have him. Other teams have to worry about him, [Terrell] Suggs, Courtney [Upshaw] and everybody else now."
On if it's easier having a set starting lineup for the offensive line: "Yes, so you can get a chemistry with the guys and you know what each other is thinking without even saying anything. The communication [is] on point."
On his level of confidence in C
On if he feels more stable this year than at this time last year: "Yes. This time last year, I didn't even participate, so yeah, I definitely feel a lot better in minicamp."
On how different it is when things seem up in the air: "You just have a lot going on mentally, but right now I'm more focused so I can have a good year and be the best left tackle in the league."
On if being the best left tackle in the league is his goal: "That's my goal."
On how he will measure his success at left tackle: "When people turn on film, they'll just see that I'm dominating, and I just feel that I'm going to do better than everybody else this year."
On how close he feels to being at that level right now: "I feel pretty good now, so just give me a couple more reps."
On whether he is better at blocking or playing tennis: "Definitely blocking, but tennis [is] not too far behind." (laughter)
On his tennis serve: "Serve is key, and the forehand, too." (laughing)
On how fast his serve is: "Not quite as fast as Serena [Williams] and [other professionals], but mine is probably in the 90's at least. Their [serves] are like 100-something."