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Ravens Transcripts: Tuesday Practice

Posted Aug 13, 2013

Head Coach John Harbaugh

 

Opening statement: “Good to see everybody. Thanks for coming. [It was a] tough week of practice – really tough week. We had a lot of heat, we had a lot of hitting, and we’ve really worked hard. We got a lot done, but it’s camp, and we’re in – coach [Dean] Pees [defensive coordinator] said it – the ‘dog days’ of training camp hit us this week. And our guys pushed them really well, so I’m pleased with that. They’re tired, but they’ll have to get their legs back and do what they can and get ready for Atlanta. So, that’s where we’re at.”

In terms of the preseason game, do you feel like your [first-team] guys might go a half? (Aaron Wilson) “I don’t know. It will be somewhere in that neighborhood. Usually the second preseason game is a half, but again, like we say every time we play a preseason game, it will depend on different guys. Different guys will be on different plans, so it’s hard to say exactly.”

You’re a guy who likes his options, and you’ve got another one on the field with Dallas Clark on the field today. I know it’s only one day, but what did you see from him? (Joe Platania) “He looked good. Both of those guys [also WR Brandon Stokley] looked good. They both did a nice job. Dallas [Clark] – it was his first day today, and Brandon – it was his second. They showed the skill set that you guys have seen over the years. They really looked good. They moved well. We’ll just see where it goes in the next week or so, but they did a nice job.”

You usually do a good job of bringing in established veterans late in camp. Could you talk about what you look for when you’re trying to make that addition? (Ron Snyder) “When you bring those guys in … Off the top of my head, I can’t think of who all those guys are, but I’m sure you’ll list them in your article. We have done pretty well with that, probably, since you asked the question that way. You can go back to Willie Anderson, right? To me, it’s the right kind of guy. It’s the guy who’s interested in this kind of a situation – usually the guys who want to compete. They’re not afraid to compete and work hard, and they want to have a chance to win. I think those guys are interested in that. [They are] a couple of receivers, [so they] like the fact that Joe [Flacco] is here. That interests them a lot. So, [we’ve had] just good guys who want to work hard and compete.”

Dean Pees was complimentary of Courtney Upshaw the other day. What are your thoughts on his play? (Matt Zenitz) “Courtney [Upshaw] has done a great job. Courtney has had a really good camp. He’s moving around really well. Conditioning-wise, he’s right there. He’s done a great job with that. He’s worked as hard as you can work. He’s done a tremendous job with that, and along the way, he had a baby. So, he’s had a full plate during training camp, and I really like where he’s at. He should have a really good season.”

Torrey Smith has worked the last few years with older, more experienced receivers – mentor-type situation. Now, he’s kind of graduated. Is there still stuff he can learn from Brandon Stokley? (Peter Schmuck) “Torrey [Smith] is the kind of guy who wants to learn every single day. With Brandon [Stokley] here and Dallas [Clark] here, I’m sure he’ll be listening to everything they say and watching everything they do. That’s Torrey’s mentality. More than anything, though, Torrey gets a lot from [WRs coach] Jim Hostler. Torrey listens to everything that he’s coached to do, and Jim does a great job with him. He tries to do exactly what he’s asked to do and he improves.”

Is he in a different place as far as his development, having been with Anquan Boldin? (Peter Schmuck) “Well, Anquan [Boldin] helped him a lot, too. All those guys helped him a lot, and he’s willing to take help from anybody that he thinks can help him.”

The center battle – would you categorize it as a friendly competition, heated, and is it even right now? (Dave Ginsburg) “I would say it’s a good competition. Those guys [Gino Gradkowski and A.Q. Shipley] are both playing very well – that’s what it is. They don’t play against each other, so it’s hard to say, given one of those definitions you gave, because they don’t line up against each other. Their competition is really against the nose guard or the linebacker or the defense, whoever it might be. But they’re both playing really well, so that’s a good thing for the Ravens. We’ll just have to see how it plays out in the next couple weeks as far as who earns the starting spot.”

You said after the first preseason game, if there was one thing [to fix], it was the communication stuff. How difficult is that to fix, and do you think it’s a product of new faces, this time of year, or what? (Jeff Zrebiec) “Both. We really only had one major issue in the secondary last week. It wasn’t like we had a number of issues. We had the one major issue that led to the big play. We’ve had that very call out here dozens and dozens of times – that very same check, that same formation, that they’ve gotten it right. But, the more reps that a secondary can get in the games, the better off they’re going to be. So, you get the walk-through reps, you get the scrimmage-type reps, and then you get the game reps. Those guys will play a good amount just because of that. It helps those guys back there a lot.”

I know a lot has been made about the second and third receiver jobs, but it seems like you’ve had some young guys make some plays. I know cuts are still a couple weeks away, but how tough is it going to be, just based on what you’ve seen from those guys the last couple weeks, to decide on the last couple spots? (Matt Zenitz) “The good thing is that we’ve got guys who are making it tough. They’re playing themselves into position to be considered. That’s what you want from a young guy, so it’s going to be a good situation, and it’s good for the Ravens to have a number of guys in the mix. But, the separation begins right about now in training camp because this was a tough week, and it will continue to happen over the next couple weeks. I would be confident, though, that a number of guys who don’t make it here will probably make it somewhere else in some way.”

Is it fair to say that some of those young guys are emerging more than others in the last week? (Matt Zenitz) “I think they have. I think some guys have come on. You’ve seen it. You watch practice. Guys have come on and made some plays. (Reporter: “Your opinion matters more than mine.”) Well, you know … What do you want?” (laughter)

Does [Marcus] Spears fit the non-significant injury category? (Jeff Zrebiec) “[Marcus] Spears has a hamstring. It depends how it heals. I expect him to be back pretty soon, but it’s hard to put a timetable on it.”

Does not being in pads for training camp make it more difficult for guys that are coming in and playing for spots? (Bill West) “That rule just applies to the regular season, so we can put them in pads as much as we want in training camp. We’ve had them in pads two days this week, shells yesterday, and then we took them out of the shells today. We had a very physical week, so we had all we needed. We got plenty of physical work.”

Are you ever surprised by how some of the young guys will react to a veteran coming into a new situation, figuring they might lose reps or their chances of making the team might be diminished? When you bring in veterans like Brandon [Stokley] and Dallas [Clark], how are guys reacting to the notion that some other guy is going to come take their job? (Mark Zinno) “I think our guys have reacted … They’ve competed, [and] they’ve stepped up. I see different guys talking to those guys and explaining to them the offense and the routes. That tells you what kind of guys they are. You earn the job on your merits. It’s not about who’s here [and] who’s not here. It’s about how you play. If you play well enough, you’re going to make it. And if you play well enough and you don't make it here, you’ll make it somewhere else. So, it’s really more of a competition against yourself and how well you can play and how good you can get and then see what happens. That other stuff is pretty much out of their control, and I think they understand that.”

A lot of offensive lineman talk about [run game coordinator] Juan Castillo, and they really enjoy working with him. I just want to see what you think he’s brought to the table since he’s been here. (Garrett Downing) “We’ve had great coaching here on the offensive line all the way through, and Juan [Castillo] has just been a tremendous addition to that. He’s a great coach. I’ve known him for a long time, [and] I’ve watched him coach. I would say Juan is maybe the finest teacher of football in the National Football League. He teaches the game as well as anybody you’re ever going to see, and those guys – they like to work for him. They want to stay out to get extra reps because they understand that the things that he’s teaching them are going to help them be a better player [and] maybe make it somewhere, if not here. The thing that I love about him, too, is [that] he’ll work with every guy. Even some of the guys who are going to have a tough time making it here – he’s putting in the extra time with those guys. And that’s hard work for a coach. So, he’s just a tremendous coach, and he’s added a lot to our offense, too – pass protection-wise and run game scheme-wise. [He’s] a great addition for us.”

You’ve made a couple of roster moves, and [Dennis] Pitta hasn’t been put on IR. Is it just procedural or are you holding out hope that he could be ready at some point? (Jeff Zrebiec) “Well, it’s not procedural. We’ll put him on IR when we’re certain that he’s out for the year. We know it’s a serious injury, but when it came back that there was no ligament or cartilage damage, then that maybe gave us some hope. So, we’re going to wait and see how that bone heals over the first five weeks since the injury and see where we’re at.”

 

Run Game Coordinator Juan Castillo

How is the offensive line progressing during this camp? (Aaron Wilson) “They’re doing a good job working hard, and that’s part of the philosophy here. The thing about the offensive line is that they always [have] to work harder than everybody else. I think the whole group is doing that.”

How good can the guard tandem of Marshal Yanda and Kelechi Osemele be? (Aaron Wilson) “It’s going to be one of the better ones. That’s the way they are working, and that’s the way it’s going to be. The thing that we’re trying to do right now is create some good competition with the depth. You guys know that it’s hard to keep five [linemen] going the whole time. What we’re trying to do is we’re trying to get 10 guys [ready] so if something happens, we can just keep on going.”

For whoever is going to be the center, what do you need to do to boost their confidence? (Glenn Younes) “The nice thing right now is … Everybody says, ‘Who’s the guy?’ We’re talking to them and [saying] we need to have some separation. Somebody has to come to the top. The problem is that they’re both playing really well right now. They’re both doing a good job. In the pass protection, they’re both using their hands really well and they’re both good leaders. You guys have seen that on the field that they’re both tough and ready to fight. They’re really doing a good job. We’re going to just … The games are very important. Gino [Gradkowski] started last week with Joe [Flacco]. This week, A.Q. [Shipley] will do that. Probably in the third game we’ll split them up, and then we’ll make a decision.”

What have you seen from Rick Wagner so far? (Garrett Downing) “Right now, what we’re shooting for is – what Rick [Wagner] is shooting for is to be the third tackle, to be the backup left tackle if something happens to Bryant [McKinnie] or the backup right tackle if something were to happen to Michael [Oher]. That’s where he is and that’s where he is working. He’s doing a good job. We’re very fortunate on offense that we have some pretty good players to go against No. 55 [Terrell Suggs] and No. 58 [Elvis Dumervil], who are two of the best. Rick has really been able to go against two of the better outside linebackers – or rushers – in the NFL, and he’s done a really good job with those guys.”

Can you talk about the growth of Jah Reid so far through camp? (Ryan Mink) “Jah Reid is a good football player. I think you can ask anybody on defense, and they’ve seen that. He’s done a good job with his hands in the pass protection game. He’s done a good job in the run game. He’s a good football player.”

What characteristic have you tried to impart upon the offensive linemen? (Garrett Downing) “Physical, which is really what Baltimore is all about. I just fit in with what they do. [I] make sure that the offensive line is the most physical part of the team [and that] we’re the most physical offensive line in the NFL.”

How nice was it to get your feet wet with the team at the end of last year? (Glenn Younes) “Yes, I think that was very important. I think it was important for the guys to get comfortable with me. At least they got to know that I was going to be on the staff and I was going to be a part of that Baltimore Ravens staff. I think it was very important.”

How much does it help having Marshal Yanda in the lineup? (Bill West) “It’ll help when he gets back. Right now, he’s just in practice. I think the thing that’s important is that we have to understand that if he’s not in there, we’re still good. Jah [Reid] will do a good job, or whoever is in there. It’s important for the team that whoever is in there does a good job. Injuries happen in the NFL – that’s part of it – but we’ll be glad when he gets back in there.”

Why is Kelechi Osemele so well suited for the guard spot? (Aaron Wilson) “He’s a big athlete that’s very tough, that’s very physical. The thing with ‘K.O.’ [Kelechi Osemele] is I think he wants to be the best guard in the NFL.”

We see you go out and yell at the linemen on the field in practice. Is that something you’ve always done? (Ryan Mink) “I played linebacker. I played linebacker in the USFL. When I moved to [coaching] offensive line when I was in college … The coach that I played for in college, he wanted to get me on the staff, and the only position that was open was an offensive line position. Back then, which was 25 years ago, I didn’t really know much. The only thing I knew … I said, ‘You know what?’ The offensive linemen were the biggest guys, the strongest guys. They were the hardest-working guys, and I thought, ‘Now, wait a minute, defensive guys always thought offensive linemen were soft.’ I said, ‘You know what I’m going to do? I don’t know anything about technique right now, but I’m going to make that group the toughest part of the team.’ Part of that was when the ball is thrown that you go down and you cover. It’s a lot easier initially, but when [the opponents] hear you [say], ‘Cover, cover!’ and you’re running right behind them … After a while, it’s like everything else is muscle memory.  It’s almost like they hear [that] you’re yelling and they start going downfield. The reason that’s important is, when you catch those little passes that are for five, 10, 15 yards … You guys hear the defense talking about ‘gang tackle.’ Our job as a defensive guy jumps on one of our wide receivers to ‘gang tackle’ [is for us to go be physical]. It doesn’t happen, and that’s what we’re working for.”

Who were they yelling for you to ‘Cover, cover!’ at the Tough Mudder? (Kevin Byrne) “Coach Harbaugh.” (laughter)

Can you describe your relationship with Coach Harbaugh? (Glenn Younes) “We’ve been working together for 10 years. The thing that’s nice on my part is … Coach Harbaugh knows the way I coach, and that’s nice to know that I can just be myself. It really fits into the way the organization is and the way he is. Coach always knows that my guys are going to work harder than anybody else, which is the way coach Harbaugh wants the team – to outwork everybody in the NFL. I’m excited and can’t wait.”

 

TE Dallas Clark

On his first impressions of a Ravens’ practice: “It was good – just really exciting to be out in a football environment. It’s been way too long, and to be asked to come out and help the defending champions is quite a compliment, and I just want to find my place to fit in and help out wherever I can help out.”

On what the last month or two has been like for him, and if he was beginning to think he might not play at all this year: “I didn’t really think that … I wasn’t trying to think that yet. I was just really trying to stay focused on my two boys and play with them. They make a good distraction, if you will, and every now and then, you look at the watch and you see August on there, and you’re just like, ‘Wow, I haven’t seen that date and been around the family environment [at this time], ever.’ So, that was different. It was challenging at times, but I’ll tell you what, it was different, but I enjoyed the changes. But when you start thinking about football, you just start getting excited and you want to be in that environment. But as players, you don’t get to make those decisions. You can just sit around and hope that one of the 32 general managers wants you [and] needs you and makes a phone call. I’m just very fortunate that Baltimore made that call.”

On if it’s a hit to his ego to be sitting around waiting for the phone to ring: “No, I’ve been around long enough to understand … As our old defensive coordinator from Iowa said: ‘We’re just a brick in the wall.’ In a couple of years, you’re going to be forgotten anyway. So, I’ve tried to keep that mentality, that I’m no bigger than the team that I’m on, and so as long as you try to stay humble and try to stay on an even keel like that, it helps with this type of situation. All I’ve had to do is look back at the run we’ve had the last 10 years, and I’m very appreciative and very excited about that. You always want another chance, but like I said before, you don’t get to make that call. So, it was just kind of the process, where you’re at and this stage of your career.”

On if he’s noticed anything different from offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell between the last time he was on his team and now: “That definitely helped and definitely made it more exciting to have that familiarity with a coach, and especially the offensive coordinator. So, just sitting in the first meeting today with him was … His demeanor, his direction and control of the offense hasn’t changed. [He is] just [as] when he was the head coach with the way that he addressed the group. So, he just took that experience, that environment and just took it to the offense. He’s just a tremendous leader and just a guy that you just don’t want to make him mad. You want to give everything you have for him. So, it’s just one of those things that it’s a comfortable fit.”

On what his plans are for the game on Thursday night: “I don’t know. I’ll tell you what: I didn’t even know what I was doing out in practice today. (laughter) It’s one of those [things], they just threw me in and [said], ‘Do this play.’ I’m like, ‘All right.’ So, we’re still at that phase. Unfortunately, it’s not completely [Indianapolis’] offense where I can just go, ‘Oh, this is ...’ So, there’s a little carryover with concepts and whatnot, but really, it’s a new offense and I haven’t had this short of a time to learn an offense. So, I’ve got to put on my thinking cap. The game? I have no idea what their plans are, so I’ll be kind of curious myself. So, we’ll find that out.”

On how difficult it is, even as a veteran, to join a team this late in camp: “Well, the good thing is you really can’t reinvent the wheel. A seven-route is a seven-route; there [are] just little tweaks that every coach has, and you’ve just got to learn those different little quarks that come with it. Everyone has a different way of learning, and as long as you can just kind of group it or kind of make concepts make sense, bring in old verbiage and compare it, say, ‘Oh, this is like the old 69, or the old 79, or whatever …’ So, it helps with the learning curve, but it’s still just getting in the book, looking at it. But I’ll tell you what: You do your best learning out here [on the practice field], making the mistakes and looking like an idiot and just causing a whole big ruckus and just being in the wrong position. (laughter) That’s the only way you can truly learn how to play football. You can sit up and answer all the right answers, but it’s the heat, it’s the third down, everything going in, you hear the call; that’s when you need to get it and that’s what practice is for. So, I’m excited to be out here and work on that.”

On if the opportunity came together relatively quickly with the Ravens: “There were a couple of teams … It was all kind of the same, everyone was kind of the same, just talking, curious, kind of trying to figure out my situation and if I was done or not or if I’d been working out. All the small talk, but then Baltimore obviously kind of took the reins and showed a lot more interest. Then I talked to other teams and just let them know what was going on, and then it was kind of an obvious, fortunate decision. So, it was one of those that the best case happened – hopefully on both ends, but certainly on my end. I was very ecstatic that Baltimore was one of the teams that called.”

On what he told other teams when asked if his career was done, and if it’s neat to be extending his career at this point: “It’s one of those things that I have the luxury to kind of be picky, and I was. There were a few other teams early on that we chose not to play for, and so I wanted to be in the right situation where I feel with my skill set I can help, and I think this is a place that obviously wants to win, has proven they can win, and I just want to be a small piece of helping them to do that.”

On who he will lean on in the locker room to increase his learning curve: “Joe [Flacco], absolutely. You can talk about it all you want on the sideline with your coaches and stuff like that, but I need to know what he’s thinking, where he needs me to be on certain situations and things like that. That’s how Peyton [Manning] and my relationship [was], and that’s how we had the most success. It’s just, ‘Where do you need me? What are you thinking when you see this?’ We just talk it out, so I’m looking forward to those conversations and getting on the same page.”

On how you go about doing that: “Dinner, over lunch, or just, ‘Hey, on this play …’ Or watching film, ‘On this play, I did this. Is that what you see?’ It’s constant. It’s from the day I got here – which was yesterday – to now that I’m learning more of it I can actually kind of talk. Yesterday, we couldn’t even talk, because I had no idea what anything was. So, now I’m starting to get a little verbiage, so we can kind of talk on the same level. [I] just kind of keep picking his brain.”

On if QB Joe Flacco was an attractive piece to him choosing the Ravens: “Absolutely. Yeah, he is a gamer and just a great leader and just can flat-out play the game. As a receiving tight end, that’s your No. 1 [criteria]. That was No. 1 wherever I was going to go; they had to have a solid quarterback, and this is better than that.”

On if he feels he has a lot to offer in the locker room with a lot of younger receivers on the team: “That’s for them to pick up if they want to pick my brain, but right now I’m below them. They’ve been here for the last two or three weeks, whatever it’s been, so I’m the backseat guy and I’m just trying to learn the offense. Eventually when I get the offense, and get to know the players, then I can maybe take a leadership role, but right now I’m mouth shut, just go to work and just try to make this team. Then we’ll see where that goes after that.”

On what he feels his game provides to the offense: “Just getting first downs, getting touchdowns and maybe some blocking – surprise some defenses with some blocking. (laughter) I love blocking. I know I don’t have the stature, but it’s something I take great pride in, is being the complete tight end. I’ve always wanted to be, and that’s what I think has kept me playing in this league as long as I have. So, I always have that mentality. It’s up to the coaches to decide what they like and what they don’t like and what they think I can do.”

On what he took away from his one season in Tampa Bay last year: “It was a great experience. It was one of those that I knew no matter where I went, it was going to be different, obviously being with the Colts for nine years. So, I was not in a position [with which he was familiar], and I didn’t even think any place I was going to go to was going to be like Indianapolis. I had a good mindset, but it was still one of those things [where] it’s a different environment. It was great people, great organization, but it was just – offensively – I don’t think I fit in the best with what they do. So, that was a big change, adjustment for me, mentally and physically. But just being here a couple days, when I look at the plays and see what … This makes sense. I can see myself [here]. I’ve done what the plays are and know what to do. So, that’s comforting, but it was a great learning experience, and definitely you learn something every year. Every year is a different year, every year has a different challenge, and it’s what this business is all about. Not all of it is just going out there, running around catching balls. It’s a lot of other stuff that goes into it.”

On the lengthy conversation he had with OLB Elvis Dumervil on the field after practice: “Favorite color, you know? What books we’re reading. (laughter) No, it was just talking – he’s a new guy, I’m a new guy, just familiarity with that and how he has adjusted, and just talking about that, and obviously, playing against each other and just the mutual respect for one another. He’s a fantastic player, and it’s great to call him a teammate.”

On if he’s sticking with No. 87 or he’ll try to pry No. 44 from FB Vonta Leach: “No, there’s no chance [I’ll get No. 44]. There’s a time where you just don’t even ask. Leach has had a phenomenal career – if he was like a four- of five-year guy, we’d have a conversation. But I respect him too much as a player to even ask him. It’s really hard; as long as I don’t look down, I’m still 44. (laughter) [No.] 87 is on the back of my head, it’s down [on my jersey], so in my mind, I’m just wearing No. 44. I don’t know what people are talking about [calling me] 87. (laughter) I haven’t even really … I haven’t looked down. I looked down one time, and I’m just like, ‘That’s weird.’ But I picked 87 for one of my favorite receivers of all time – Reggie Wayne. And playing with him and one of my favorite teammates I’ve ever played with, so I told him last night that I got his number and he was pretty pumped about that. But I learned a lot from that guy, so it was kind of … I felt good about having 87. I would love 44, but 87, we’ll make it work.”

On if he ever fixed cars with WR Reggie Wayne in Indianapolis: “No, I just admire and look at them, and every week was a different car. Yeah, he likes his automobiles, that’s for sure.”

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