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Ravens Transcripts: Friday Podium

Posted Aug 30, 2013

Opening statement: “Good to see everybody. We played a game last night. We have continued preparations for the Thursday night opener at Denver, which we’ve been excited about [and] we’re looking forward to. We can’t wait to play this game and be a part of it to open up the NFL season – that’s a big honor. We’re playing a great football team, a team that we have tremendous familiarity with and tremendous respect for. It should be a heck of football game.”

How are the current injury statuses of LaQuan Williams and Deonte Thompson affecting the roster cut situation for tomorrow? (Joe Platania) “It’s affecting it. We just have to see how it shakes out.”

At this point, do you think it will be Gino [Gradkowski] starting at center? (Aaron Wilson) “Yes, it will be Gino [Gradkowski] starting. A.Q. [Shipley] … I always consider A.Q. a starter, in a sense. He’s played tremendously well, as has Gino. They’ve both done a great job, and we’re fortunate to have both those guys playing that position for us.”

Will James [Ihedigbo] be the starting strong safety and will Matt [Elam rotate] in from there? (Aaron Wilson) “James [Ihedigbo] has been running with the ‘number ones,’ and he’ll continue to do that. Matt [rotates] in and plays a lot. He’ll continue to do that whether it’s in the regular package or the other packages that we have. Both of those guys are going to play a lot of football – just like our corners. Our corners, all three of those guys are going to play a whole lot. Even Chykie [Brown] as the fourth corner is going to play a whole lot. That’s modern football.”

After having gone through training camp and the full preseason, where do you think your team is now? What do you like, and what do you not like or are concerned about? (Jim Corbett) We’ve got concerns everywhere. Every single spot we’re concerned about. We want to make [this team] as good as we possibly can in every way we can. It’s a long season, so the improvements that will be made between Week 1 and Week 16 will be dramatic, we hope. This is the beginning, really, of the season. At this part of the season, we’ve worked as hard as we can work, and that’s what I like about our team. We work really, really hard. We’ve got a tremendous attitude. We’re probably as far along now as we possibly could be. How far that is we’ll find out Thursday night. But, it’s an opener, and openers are what they are – they’re unpredictable. So, we’ll just have to see.”

You still have roster moves to make – I think you have four corners right now with Asa Jackson’s suspension. Do you have any plans to go out and get a corner? Four just seems a little light heading into the season. (Luke Jones) “It’s always possible. I don’t know if a corner of that caliber is going to come available. It’s pretty hard to say that that’s going to happen, but we’ve got some flexibility. Chris Johnson is a guy who is still available, and he’s practiced with us. We feel like he’s a guy we could bring in if we needed to. I know he’s in outstanding shape. We stay in touch. And then, Michael Huff can play corner, so we have some flexibility there.”

Do you think Dallas Clark is knocking off some of the offseason rust? (Aaron Wilson) “Yes. I’d like to give you more.” (laughter)

Could you elaborate on the progress you’ve seen from Dallas Clark? (Aaron Wilson) “Dallas [Clark] has made nice progress. In all seriousness, that’s why we played him in the [fourth preseason] game. The idea was to give him a chance to get out there and get some more time on the field catching balls and get his nose dirty a little bit in the mud there and block those guys. He did all that, and he came out of it stronger for having done it. It was good for him. He’ll get stronger and stronger as the season goes on, I would anticipate. I know he’s excited to be back at it. He’s still got all of the skills that Dallas has always had, so it’s good to see all those things.”

What progress have you seen from Marlon Brown and Aaron Mellette? (Matt Zenitz) “It’s been good progress. Marlon [Brown] and Aaron [Mellette] have played really well, especially for rookies. Those guys – they don’t feel like rookies out there. Marlon has had the advantage of playing at a big program in the Southeastern Conference, and I think that shows. Aaron has had the advantage of having caught hundreds of balls in his college career. Both of those things are showing up in camp. I would anticipate that those two guys will be a factor here going forward. How much they’ll play early, or how much they’ll be a part of the game plan and those kinds of things are really, really hard to say. But, they’ve put themselves in the mix. We’ll make a final decision here [Saturday], but it looks good for those two guys.”

I know you can’t be specific with the roster breakdown, but is it feasible to carry eight wide receivers? (Jeff Zrebiec) “You can do anything you want. There’s no rule against carrying eight receivers.”

Does that leave you vulnerable at other spots? (Jeff Zrebiec) “It would leave us lighter in other spots, obviously. I’m not going to name the roster yet. Those guys all played well. We’ve got a bunch of guys, and I would like to think that we would hear from somebody, and some of the calls that we make would yield some fruit in the next 24 hours. We’re heavy at certain positions, we’ve got players, and we’re not going to just let a good player walk out the door here. We’re just not going to do it. So, in the first week if we have to go heavy at one position … We could do that for the first four weeks [if we have to] and go light at another position to keep our best players, we’ll have to do that. Because I think we can game-plan and get through a game, [but] we want to do it with our best players. We’d love for someone who has a need, or who has a strength in an area where we need something, you’d like to think that we could do some business. We are heavy in certain areas, and wide receiver is one of them. It’s kind of interesting, you look at that position and people considered it a weakness of ours. There is a lot of depth there. Who becomes the stars that everybody talks about in terms of being a strong wide receiver group remains to be seen. But all of those guys are going to be really good players in the National Football League, and just because they aren’t household names now doesn’t mean they won’t be soon.”

Are you any closer to deciding a status on Dennis Pitta? Is he a guy that you could consider for the Injured Reserve/Designated for Return? (Bo Smolka) “We are. I think early next week, Tuesday or Wednesday, we have to make that decision, and I would say things are progressing favorably towards that. He’s doing a really good job. I saw him today, and he spent some time with Steve Bisciotti today, too. So, he’s working really hard, and he’s had no setbacks, and there’s optimism there.”

Since you’re only able to use that Injured Reserve with Designation for Return once per season, is it difficult to weigh that decision, especially considering the inevitable risk of injuries down the road? (Luke Jones) “You’ve got to weigh that, but you can’t predict and deal in hypotheticals. Dennis is a great player, in our opinion, and this is an opportunity that seems like it might make sense for him.”

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