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Transcripts: First Mandatory Minicamp Availability

Posted Jun 17, 2014

Head Coach John Harbaugh

Opening statement: “It’s good to have everybody here. Of course, we appreciate you being here. It is a great day for football – 100-degree heat index, I think – just how we like it this time of year. And our guys worked. It is so exciting to be back here this time of year.  Every one of these phases we talked about is a new level of excitement, and this is the first one where the whole team is together.  We put the pants on here and we look like a football team, even though we’re not quite in pads yet.  And our guys did a great job.  It’s hot, we practiced fast, we doubled down a lot of periods, and our guys don’t bat an eye.  We were done 15 minutes early.  That was the reps we had; we practiced that well.  So, I’m really pleased with where we are right now.  I want to give a shout out to the rookies; they’ve been here for a long time.  They’ve been working from 6:30 in the morning to 6:20 at night, and they’ve come a long way.  They put themselves in a position to compete, so we’re happy with that.  A couple of other things: We released a couple of guys today – Aaron Mellette and Adrian Hamilton.  Both of those guys failed physicals.  We will continue to monitor those guys in the next six weeks and see where they are.  Guys that didn’t practice:  Parker Graham didn’t practice today.  He came up with something in the physical; I don’t think it was serious, but I really can’t remember what it was to be honest with you. Bernard Pierce, shoulder, he went through the individual [period].  And Jah Reid, he continues to get better.  He will definitely be ready for training camp.”

Were you pleased with the tryouts of the corners here today? (Aaron Wilson) “We were pleased with them.  I couldn’t sit here and distinguish one from another right now.  It’s just too hard to watch all that with the naked eye. But they all looked good.  They all got through the practice. They are all in shape, which is a credit to those guys.  You come off the bench, so to speak, and here you are in a fast practice like this.  I thought they did a good job.  We’ll go back and look at that tape really closely tonight, take a look at those guys again tomorrow and see where we are.”

Given the restrictions you mentioned, what are some of the goals you’ve set for these three days that would allow you to consider this mandatory camp a success if you were to accomplish them? (Jerry Coleman) “We just want to get better as a team. It would be hard for me to list specifically, because we’d be in the 100s, honestly, because we work so much stuff.  There are fundamentals, there are schemes. Executing our basic schemes – we need to improve on that. That’s probably the main thing. But within that we are working situations.  We are in a two-minute situation, and we’ve got a victory shove going off the goal line – those are the obscure things that you continue to work on. So, it’s just becoming a better football team.  You can see it.  It’s not hard to figure out when you’re standing back there watching practice.”

Do you have a feeling this will be a big year for Haloti Ngata given he is healthy and wants to be a leader? (David Ginsberg) “With Haloti, that’s the thing – the expectations are always very high.  He expects that; that’s how he likes it.  He’s healthier, as you said, you just mentioned that – he told me that this morning – than he has ever been in the offseason.  So, he’s probably able to train better than he has in a few years.  The expectations are very high for Haloti.”

Haloti has always led by example.  Would you like him to be a more vocal leader or is it better for guys to just be themselves? (Garrett Downing) “Haloti is not going to change his personality.  I have always felt like he was a great leader according to his personality.  He works hard and he talks to guys.  He’ll continue to do what he’s always done.  If he feels like he needs to talk a little more, it would be great.  We love hearing from him, and every time he has something to say it’s something worth listening to.”

Is your goal to pick up corners before training camp, or was today’s workout more of just a chance to look at guys in case they are needed in the future? (Matt Zenitz) “I would say both.  We’ll find out. We’re taking a look at all the guys who are available.  Those guys are guys who want a job.  So, their agents are calling and we’re talking to them.  That stuff is always going on behind the scenes.  Hey, let’s kick the tires a little bit and find out what these guys are all about.  A lot of these guys are proven players that have had injuries the last couple of years. So, we’ll see if they’re healthy, for one thing.  Each one of them has a different story, so let’s bring them out here and take a look at them first hand.”

Do you think you could possibly sign a corner this week? (Matt Zenitz) “Sure, absolutely, sure.  We’re going to take the best 90 guys to training camp, and we’re going to have the best bullpen that we can for training camp and always have the strongest roster that we can.”

Are you pleased with the conditioning levels of the veterans, including those who may not have been here for the voluntary workouts? (Luke Jones) “It looks good.  It’s hard to evaluate all that, but I’m certainly not disappointed in anybody.  They all look good.  If I was going to single a guy out, it would probably be Terrell Suggs.  He can give you the numbers, but I’ll tell you this: The numbers were very good. You can tell he’s been working really hard.”

With the change in offensive coordinators, how do you feel about the continuity of having veterans back? (Brent Harris) “Yes. There’s a lot to be said for continuity.  We’ve got high goals. We have high expectations for the defense, no question.”

Are the next three days completely the set up for what you will be doing in training camp?  Is it to let this guys know what they have to study come the end of July? (David Ginsberg) “Yes, more or less.  We’ve been through this install now probably six times.  So, we’re going back through it again.  It’s all about repetition. That’s what these installs are.  That’s how Bill Walsh did it, and all of us, some way or another, seem to be coming off that tree.  So the more times we go through it the better we are going to be, and we keep adding situations. But this is, I’d say, the staging ground for training camp right now.”

How does the offensive line look now that Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil are here? (Matt Zenitz) “The offensive line going against those guys? You really can’t evaluate it right now because you’re not in pads that way.  I like the offensive line.  From what you can see, they’re in sync, footwork looks good, assignments look very good.  We’ll find out when the pads come on.”

 

OLB Elvis Dumervil

On if he senses any difference at this time this year as opposed to this time last year: “It’s definitely a lot better this year round. I’m familiar with the package, obviously the city and moving in, getting comfortable and residing where you live in – more the off-the-field stuff. All those things are settled in. Teammates have always been great since I arrived, so it’s been great.”

On what he thought about his first season in Baltimore: “Not good enough. We definitely have room for improvement.”

On if there is one area he feels the defense could really improve upon: “We can get better in all phases. We did a lot of good things last year, but we just didn’t do it good enough to win games and get to the playoffs and have a chance to get to the championship.”

On if there is anything in particular he wants to step up a little this year: “I just want to get better in all phases – run, pass, rushing, coverage, and just bring more production to the field.”

On whether he did anything different to prepare this offseason: “I gained a few pounds. It’s a different division from the [AFC] West, so I’m [very] prepared this year, for sure.”

On how he feels about some of the offseason acquisitions: “It’s good, man. From what I’ve seen, we got a bunch of guys who love the game, so that’s always important. They’ve got a good attitude for football, they love to practice, they love to compete. So, those types of things are key ingredients to having a good defense.”

On NT Haloti Ngata saying he hadn’t felt this good in a while: “The big guy looks good. It’s good to see him feeling better, because he’s the anchor of this ‘D.’ Once we get him going and he’s feeling great, it just opens up everything for the inside ‘backers, the outside guys. So, having the big guy ready to roll, that’s a good thing to hear.”

 

NT Haloti Ngata

On being healthy heading into the upcoming season: “I felt great this year, just because two years ago I got hurt in the Super Bowl and I wasn’t able to get on workouts fast enough. So this year is definitely a different feel. I feel great, faster. It’s definitely different this year.”
On what his philosophy is coming into mandatory minicamps: “This year I just tried to lose more body fat and just stay around the same weight, because towards the end of the season I lost some strength. But [I’m] just trying to lose body fat and lean up a little bit more.”

On his shifting placement on the defensive line: “[It’s] just what I’m used to – just throw me wherever. They can use me, and I’m just happy that I can be versatile and go back and forth. It doesn’t matter now. I’ve been in different positions throughout my whole career, and it’s just the same for me, I guess.”

On being a veteran among a very young defensive front: “It’s great. The young guys, they’re amazing. Just seeing how athletic these young guys are, [like Timmy] Jernigan and seeing [Kapron Lewis-Moore] out there running around … So, it’s awesome. Brandon Williams is doing great. It’s fun being able to see some of these guys progress, and hopefully we can create a great unit to be as dominant as we can all season.”

On the younger players adding depth on defense: “It’s huge. We get some depth on the D-line. A lot of these young guys are doing really great, so I can probably rest a little bit more [and] be stronger in the fourth quarter.”

On focusing on getting a few more sacks in 2014: “Definitely. Last year was definitely a down year in sacks, but hopefully I can get more and work on my craft and get better and better.”

On if there is another level he feels like he can get to this season defensively: “With the pass rush, definitely. I want to get better and better and try to at least get to double-digit sacks. That’s something that I’ve never done. Hopefully I can continue to get better and get to my goals.”

On returning the reputation of dominance to the Ravens’ defense: “We have the opportunity to. I think a lot of it falls on some of the veterans to lead these young guys. We definitely have the talent with all these younger guys coming in. Hopefully [Terrell Suggs], myself, Chris Canty and all those guys can rally this unit up and become a dominant defense again.”

On what it will take to establish a dominant defensive unit: “What it actually takes is leading by example. For me, I’m not much of a vocal guy, [rather] leading by example. But I probably have to get out of my comfort zone and speak up more. [I’m] just trying to rally up these younger guys to play to the best of their abilities all the time.”

On when he started to finally feel good after last season: “Probably right before camp, I felt pretty good. I was great actually right before camp. I was probably good before camp.”

On reports about the Ravens contacting him about a contract extension: “I would love to be a Raven for life. If we can get something done, that’d be great. We’ll just let my agent and Ozzie [Newsome] take care of that business off the field.”

On double-teams during practice being a sign of respect: “Definitely. I love being able to get double-teamed, because as long as I open up holes for other guys, that’s going to help them make plays. I’ll just do my job taking two guys.”

 

TE Dennis Pitta

On if he feels he has returned to his old self: “Yes, I feel good. I feel like I’m running well, planting well, and I’m not worried about the hip at all. It’s not giving me any issues, so that’s encouraging.”

On how he is enjoying the way tight ends are used on offense: “It’s a fun offense to be a part of as a tight end, and it’s still a learning curve for me. I’m still making mistakes and trying to work my way through it and [learn] my assignment, but I think when it all comes together, I think we’re really going to like the final product.”

On not being lined up in the same spot very often: “I have done a lot of different things in this offense already. I would assume that would continue to increase, but like I said, I’m trying to get down the basics still right now and trying to be effective at some of our basic plays, and hopefully, I can get in a position where I can play a variety of positions.”

On what he has learned from TE Owen Daniels: “Owen has been a huge complement to what we’re doing here, and he’s, No. 1, a great football player. He’s had a lot of success in this league and continues to make plays out there. He’s been critical for me to be able to learn from. He’s been in this offense, I think eight or nine years, and done a great job at it. So, I’m able to bounce questions off him, see how he runs certain routes and how he does things. It helps me become better.”

On early impressions of rookie TE Crockett Gillmore: “Crockett is a good football player. He’s a tough kid and he’s big and physical and a great blocker at the point of attack. I think that’s what stood out the most this early on. He’s going to be a valuable asset for this offense moving forward.”

On if there is any carryover from last season’s hip injury: “No. Like I mentioned before, the hip feels great and it’s nothing I even think about when I’m at practice, so that’s a good sign. I feel like I’m at 100 percent and able to run and do what I need to do.”

On whether or not his explosiveness has come back: “Yes, it was a process, and I feel like it’s back. I feel like I’m able to do the same things I did before, so that’s a good sign.”

On having more playmakers on offense: “We do have a lot of playmakers on this offense and a lot of weapons and a lot of guys that create mismatches all over the field, so it’s encouraging being able to see that and know those guys are going to help us a ton come this season.”

 

C Jeremy Zuttah

On his level of comfort playing center: “It’s a little bit of a thing to say you can play between Marshal Yanda and K.O. [Kelechi Osemele] out there, but I feel good. I’m getting comfortable out here.”

On mastering the responsibilities of the offensive line: “It’s pretty important.  You’ve got to learn ahead of the curve.  It’s helpful to have the other guys around at first. You guide them through it a little bit. We have such pros out here. They put extra time in, and we’re all on the same page.”

On what kind of a player DT Haloti Ngata is and what it’s like to go against him: “He’s quite a player. He’s so big, and at the same time, he moves like one of the quicker guys in the league. To be able to go out there and face that type of player every day is just going to be a great experience for me.”

On his familiarity with the blocking schemes in Gary Kubiak’s offense:“I’ve run the same type of plays, probably more leaning on the type of plays coach Kubiak’s calling now – we mix it up more. I think it gives me a chance to perfect that craft and run the same type over and over again. I’ve watched a lot of Houston film over the years, and I’ve seen the way they run it, so I’m pretty familiar with it.”

On what the Ravens’ offense is capable of this year: “We have a lot of playmakers and we have the right pieces up front, so as long as we keep plugging away and keep taking it one day at a time and [keep] getting better, who knows what we’re capable of.”

On how long it took him to feel like Baltimore was his home: “It took a little bit. I’ve been in one place [Tampa Bay] for six years, [so] it does take a little bit of an adjustment period. But I think it’s going to, obviously, work out for the better for me. I feel ready to be here and ready to work.”

 

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