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Ravens Transcripts: Monday Practice

Posted Jul 29, 2013

Head Coach John Harbaugh

 

Opening statement: “Ok, two things: First of all, congratulations to Jonathan Ogden, probably the best left tackle that ever played football. [He] played here in Baltimore [and is] one of the two faces on the Ravens’ Mount Rushmore, for sure. I just remembered … [Senior vice president of public and community relations] Kevin [Byrne] just reminded me of the first time I had a chance to meet him after getting the job. During the press conference … I think the first meeting might have been with Jonathan Ogden, and I was really excited to meet him. And then he told me he was going to retire. (laughter) After I wiped the tears off my cheeks, I hugged him, and I begged and pleaded, ‘Can we get one more year out of you?’ But he said no. On another note, Vonta Leach is signing with the Ravens right now as we speak. He came in today to work out, did a great job in the conditioning test [and] a nice job in the workout. He’s in shape and ready to go, and we’re pleased to have him back.”

What does it do for this offense to have Vonta’s physical presence back? (Aaron Wilson) “Having Vonta back gives you a physical presence for sure with your offense – short yardage, goal line. Also, it’s a leadership presence. Obviously, we’ve been hopeful that this would happen all along. This is not something that we weren’t hoping for, and it worked out in our favor.”

At the end, was that just a ding for Haloti [Ngata]? (Aaron Wilson) “Yes, there’s nothing there.”

With Vonta coming in and Kyle [Juszczyk] still in the mix, how do you plan on working those two guys in during training camp? (Matt Zenitz) “It’s good to have two fullbacks, and we haven’t had two fullbacks. We normally do in training camp – have two, and throughout the course of the preseason, it will be valuable for us. There will be plenty of reps for both of those guys. We’ll find ways to get them on the field.”

Is there any change in the strategy of the way the offense was run with or without Vonta? Or do you just plug him in now and have an All-Pro fullback? (Dave Ginsburg) “That’s right. We’re in the install phase right now. So, all we’re doing is installing our offense. We’re not really concerned with who’s here [or] who’s not here. We’re just running the plays as we install them to put in our base packages. Vonta being here gives us a dimension that’s valuable for us. So, when we head into the Denver game and thereafter, having him in the mix is going to be important for us.”

When you talk about the dimension, what does Vonta bring to this offense? (Brent Harris) “What does Vonta bring to the offense? I mean, really? Do I have to explain that? (laughter) You want to hear it? (Reporter: I’m looking for the sound bite.) No, I don’t have one for you. Everyone knows what Vonta brings to the offense – everybody that watches football. But thanks for asking.”

Have you seen Ray Rice and his reaction? (David Ginsburg) “I have not seen Ray Rice’s reaction. I’m sure he’ll be pleased. (laughter) I’m excited about it. I mean, it’s great. It’s great news. Vonta – we’ve been in contact, and Ozzie [Newsome] and he have been talking all along, so it worked out great for the Ravens. It’s good news.”

He gets his jersey back, right? That you gave to [President Barack] Obama? (Jerry Coleman) “You never quite understand the complete picture there, do you – the point? (laughter) You understand why we gave him [No.] 44, right Jerry? (Reporter: Yeah. Well, you’re the history buff.) These guys we’ve got to deal with.” (laughter)

You were waiting for the MRI [of Dennis Pitta] yesterday. Is there any update on what you learned from that, or is it pretty much what we expected? (Jeff Zrebiec) “There is an update on that: Our doctors, who are phenomenal, took me through the [anatomy of the] hip. I got a physiology course ‘101’ on what hips are like. There is a ball and a socket. Were you guys aware of that? Basically, the ball was pushed out of the socket and pushed backwards. It’s an injury that happens a lot of times in car accidents. He got his knee caught up under him in an awkward way when he fell. I think there are only eight documented cases of this injury in football that I’ve read about. There’s an article on that in recent years. So, it’s a very rare football injury. The good news is that there’s a fracture, but it’s in the back part of the bone, and it’s in the big part of the bone, and it’s a very tight fracture. So, it didn’t move at all. There’s no ligament damage, no cartilage damage. It’s a clean break if you want to use that term, and he should be rehabbing in 6-8 weeks. So, it’s good news. Nothing has changed as far as our plans as far as the season goes. We want him to be back in the future [at] 100 percent.”

So, you’re optimistic for next year as far as Pitta’s availability? (Matt Zenitz) “Correct.”

With Brandon Copeland, what have you seen from him and what kind of an impression has he made so far? (Jeff Zrebiec) “Brandon Copeland, a Gilman [School in Baltimore] guy. He’s done a really good job. We’ve moved him to inside linebacker, which is not a position that he’s played, and he’s picked it up very quickly. He’s a big, physical presence. He’s smart, he’s tough – just like you’d expect from a Gilman guy. And, he’s working his way into having an opportunity to play pro football.”

With Michael Oher, what does it mean to have him installed on the right side from the get-go and have all that time to play on the right after a good playoffs? (Aaron Wilson) “Michael having a chance to play on the right side throughout the whole offseason and through training camp should be a real benefit for him. He’s had to make that move back and forth, and that makes him very versatile, but it’s going to be good to get all of those reps under his belt going into the season.”

John, how have you seen Torrey Smith grow? I know you’ve talked before about him being a guy that improves every day. What have you seen from him early in this camp? (Luke Jones) “Torrey is a guy that improves every day. He really does a great job, and he is the perfect example of how to maximize your ability. That’s what I see in Torrey Smith. It’s a lesson for all of us to learn, because he’s not a guy that questions, he’s a guy that trusts … He decides who he trusts, but he trusts his coach, Jim Hostler, and he trusts his quarterback, and he just tries to do and tries to understand and tries to grow as a football player, and he makes the most of every single day. He’s as far along as anybody could possibly be at this stage of his career.”

John, when a player like Dennis Pitta goes down, what is the general shift in the offense or how do you maneuver things? Is it kind of the “next man up” philosophy? (Ryan Mink) “The philosophy when you lose a player at this stage is that you just keep plugging. Because at this stage, we’re figuring out who we are anyway as an offense. We haven’t made any determination three or four days into training camp what our offensive personality is going to be, because you always have to build your offense around your players. And you have to see how your players work together and what they do well individually and who emerges. So, the fact that it happened this early is probably something that makes it a little bit less difficult in that sense.”


WR Torrey Smith

 

On if he feels more pressure after WR Anquan Boldin was traded and TE Dennis Pitta got hurt: “No, I never feel pressure at all. My job doesn’t change. I’m a receiver for the Baltimore Ravens. When Joe [Flacco] throws the ball, catch it. When Ray [Rice] is running, block. So, my role doesn’t necessarily change – just running routes like everyone else. Obviously, I expect more out of myself performance-wise whether they were there or not. I think we have a bunch of guys. It’s tough to lose Anquan [Boldin]. Obviously, he was the leader of our group and a great leader on our team – [Dennis] Pitta, as well. It’s an unfortunate injury. We are going to miss him out there, but I’m sure he will rehab and come back stronger than ever. We have a ‘next man up’ mentality. I think we have some guys who are ready.”

On if the loss of TE Dennis Pitta will make everyone step up: “I think that it’s kind of overrated. You obviously lose a guy who’s tough. [Dennis] Pitta was definitely Joe’s [Flacco] security blanket at a lot of key points. He made some clutch plays for us. That’s why you have a team. Someone is down; the next one has to step up. That’s why we practice the way we do so when the opportunity comes, whether it be through injury or someone having to leave, guys will be ready.”

On how confident the wide receivers are to pick up the catches that WR Anquan Boldin had last year: “I’m very confident in all of our guys, and I think that’s a credit to our receivers coach, Jim Hostler. We have all grown so much over the years, and everybody is continuing to get better each and every day out here. I think the biggest thing for us is to all become consistent in everything. I think that’s the key to becoming successful in this league and as a group.”

On what he has seen from TE Ed Dickson so far: “Ed [Dickson] has had a good offseason making a lot of plays and tough catches. Ed is Ed. It’s not like he has never been reliable in the past. He has played for us, and he has made some huge plays of us, as well. Obviously, he will be relied on a little bit more on the passing game because him and [Dennis] Pitta rotated a little bit. I think he’s up for it. It’s not like he has to go out there and do anything special. He just has to be himself.”

On if he sees WR LaQuan Williams as an established receiver: “LaQuan [Williams] worked his tail off. That’s like my brother. He was in my wedding party. That’s my guy. He worked his tail off this offseason when we trained that month that we had off in between camp down in Miami. He worked his tail off. He had a tough, shoulder injury. He will back, hopefully, next week, and then he’ll get back next weekend.”

On WR LaQuan Williams having a good camp before he got hurt: “He was doing very well, but that’s LaQuan [Williams]. He’s a great receiver, and I think, obviously, given the opportunity, he can go out there and perform. People forget that when we played the Steelers a couple of years ago [in 2011], LaQuan was the third receiver, and he made two clutch catches on the [game-winning] drive for us. Obviously, he can make big-time plays in the right situations.”

On key goals he has made for himself: “Catch everything, score all the time … It’s not like I really have any personal goals, any numbers or anything. Obviously, I expect more out of myself. People like to talk about the 1,000-yard mark. I feel like I should have done that already, and that’s on me. I’ll make it happen.”

On if he has seen anything different from offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell: “I think that he approaches it all the same. He’s a great leader. I think that he remains calm when we are at the top, and we are very successful whether it’s in practice or in games or even when we aren’t doing our best. I think that’s the best quality about him. He never loses track. He is definitely one of the best in the business.”

On if there are any new wrinkles in the offense: “Football is football. There are only so many different things you can do, and I think that we have the schemes in place. It’s on us to go out and execute.”

On schemes changing with TE Dennis Pitta out: “No, guys get hurt each and every day in this league. You see it everywhere. A lot of teams lose guys that you, obviously, can’t prepare for, but the offense isn’t going to change. The same offense is going to be called – just a different guy is going to be running them. I think that, obviously, [Dennis] Pitta is a tough loss for us, but someone is going to have to step it up, and that’s why you have a team.”

On his thoughts on the Ravens’ cornerbacks: “I think they have done a great job. I think Chykie [Brown] has come a long way as all of those young guys since we’ve been here. Jimmy [Smith] is healthy, and he is playing. He is playing well right now. Obviously, Corey [Graham] is continuing to build off of last year. And, [Lardarius] Webb is coming back. I’m definitely confident in our corners. It’s the same corners that we played with last year and won the Super Bowl with them. Obviously, Carey [Williams] is gone, but everyone is still there. We have sold core.”

On what he has seen from rookie TE Matt Furstenburg: “That’s my guy. Obviously, he came in from Maryland. Furstenburg is doing great. I’m happy for him right now. He has been making some plays. In the offseason, obviously, there is a learning curve for everyone. He is getting more comfortable now, and he is starting to show his talent. Obviously, he has an opportunity to make the team. I think he is headed in the right direction. As always, you have to keep working and make the play when your number is called and block for him. The tight end is a little different. You have to block a little more.”

On his thoughts on wearing thigh and knee pads: “I don’t know what I can say without getting into trouble, so I don’t want to say anything. Knees and thigh pads are part of the game, I guess a part of the uniform. It’s weird, because I’ve always worn knee and thigh pads until I got to the league now. Obviously, I remember my first day of practice. Me and Tandon [Doss] come out [with] knee pads and thigh pads in. We jog onto the field, and Anquan [Boldin] was like, ‘What are you all doing?’ I was like ‘What do you mean?’ He was like, ‘Go take your pads off. Receivers don’t wear pads in the league.’ We had no clue. Now, I feel like I put them back on, they don’t even feel right anymore. Whatever they think is going to help us. I guess it will save you from a thigh contusion or a bruise or something. I don’t know. It’s not going to help with anything else.”

On what he took from WR Anquan Boldin on being a better professional: “The most I learned from Anquan was just being able to watch him. He’s the definition of a professional both on and off the field. The way he carried himself as a man for us to look up to coming into the league, there is no better person for us. He wasn’t one of the vets that felt threatened by us. He tried to help us along the way. We can’t thank him enough for that as young guys. For us, it’s our time now to go out there and do it. We all know what it takes to take care of your body, to make sure you stay on top of your game. Obviously, route running is something that we have to watch him do. You can get coached, but it’s also to be able to watch somebody who knows how to do it right. He’s consistent with it. That’s what we are all working to – a consistent level.”

On how good it was to see OLB Terrell Suggs healthy: “Do you all see what [Terrell] Suggs looks like right now? He’s all ripped up. He worked his tail off this offseason. He’s way more than explosive last year. Obviously, he is coming off of an injury, but his bursts are just like they were my rookie year when he was the Defensive Player of the Year. I think with him and [Elvis] Dumervil and [Chris] Canty and [Marcus] Spears, it’s a heck of a D-line.”

On how he doesn’t allow himself to think about getting injured: “I don’t think about it, but I know it’s a reality that it can happen to each and every one of us. I’ve broken my leg before, so I know what it’s like to be out and have to watch from the outside. You never know how you are going to come back. The most important thing that I take from injuries is this game is ‘NFL’ – not for long. You have to have a backup plan. That’s why you do things in the offseason and try to figure out what you like, at the same time, while still working at your craft, because, like I said, [Dennis] Pitta’s [injury] was a routine play. I fall like that all the time. I guess they say he dislocated, didn’t break it. So, it happened. Obviously, we have a great training staff here. You just never know. You have to be ready for something else.”

 

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